A great support system..

Everyone needs a great support system. I am very lucky that my parents have always been supportive. Mental illness runs in my family unfortunately for all of us. My Mother suffers from depression. I’m not sure when she started having symptoms, but from things we have talked about it seems like we were around the same age. My Dad thinks she suffered postpartum depression. She disagrees, but that is not important. Because of his concerns he started reading up on depression. In trying to help my Mom he also helped me. When he was reading about depression he started to realize that I was suffering from it as well.

Both of my parents are very supportive, but I have to say I don’t think I would be where I am in life if it wasn’t for my Dad. He never gave up. As hard and time consuming as it was he never stopped trying to help me. The most important thing was he always listened to me. If I didn’t feel comfortable or didn’t like one of the doctors we would find another. I went to a lot of different doctors until I found one that worked best for me. We both loved her.

My Dad made sure I took my medication. We even tried different natural treatments he read about. By the way St. John’s Wart smells like a dirty fish tank and doesn’t help with depression. When one medication didn’t work we were ready to try the next.

There was this one doctor I saw I don’t remember his name, but my Dad I and both thought he looked like Nikita Khrushchev with a beard. (I was homeschooled and we were studying Russia.) I didn’t feel like he listened to me when I was talking. Also he picked his nose during a session (Gross!). I stopped seeing him, but had not found another doctor yet. I was taking Effexor at the time and it ran out. My Dad asked for a refill and he said no. It is a big mistake to tell a parent that you are going to let their child run out of medication which will put their health in jeopardy. Especially my Dad who is super protective and has a brother who is a malpractice attorney. He gave me a refill.

Since I was having a lot of trouble finding a psychologist I liked, when we decided to try the one my psychiatrist recommended my Dad went to the first appointment alone. He wanted to meet her first and get a feel of what she is like. I remember her telling me once she remembers that appointment very well. LOL! My Dad is hard to forget. He was the perfect combination of support. He gave me space to do it my self, but would step in when I needed him. He still does.

In some ways my Dad is my super hero. It is hard to fight alone, but I’m lucky because I know he will always fight with me. Our relationship isn’t perfect, but no parent/child relationship is. One thing I do know is that my Dad loves me. I know that he will always support me and is proud of me. My parents are my biggest support system. I am thankful for them everyday. Even at 35 years old when I feel like having a melt down I know I can call one of them and they will help me get through it.

One of the things I want to accomplish with this blog is to help people that don’t have support system. I want to help people find one. With me or with each other. I don’t want anyone to go through this alone.

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Knowledge is power…

One thing about me is I love to learn. Not really in school even though there were a couple of subjects I liked. I guess you can say I have learned a lot about myself mostly.

When I was 11 and was diagnosed with depression I didn’t know what to do with that information. Back then we lived in a small town in North Carolina. The library was a small building which it shared with the Mayor’s office I think. It was a room really, but my Dad would take me there because I loved to read. I would go the kids section and get a giant stack of books to take home. Even though he didn’t like carrying all those books my Dad encouraged it because even though I loved it I always had trouble reading. It took a long time for me to learn to read. But once I started I never stopped.

It was in that library I started a very important journey. When I was 11 we were in there for our usual trip to the library. At that point I was old enough to venture out of the kids section. I found a section on psychology. I looked at some of the titles and found some on depression. It wasn’t a large section, but I found a couple as a kid I could understand.

Research and knowledge became my new best friends. When I found out at 14 I was really Bipolar I hit the books again. Even though I have not had any new diagnoses in this area since I was 14 I have not stopped researching. I have found some great books. You will see some of these books are dog ear’d and highlighted. A former co-worker was taking a psych class and knowing I am Bipolar she asked if I could recommend one for a paper she had to write. I brought her my favorite. It was highlighted, and had notes in the margins. (The Bipolar Disorder Survival guide by David Miklowitz, Phd.) She said the book was helpful, but my notes helped the most. I didn’t even hesitate to hand over something so personal because this is a person who wants to learn the truth. She wanted to know what people with bipolar disorder really go through. I also trusted her.

These books didn’t just teach about bipolar disorder or depression they also had tools to help me learn to get through it. My favorite of all the doctors I saw Dr. Curry she gave me a book I treasure. When I was a teenager I wanted to become a psychologist, ( I didn’t become one.) but thought I couldn’t because I was Bipolar. She disagreed with me. She said I would make a great psychologist and she being Bipolar had nothing to do with it. She gave me a book written by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. She was a professor of Psychiatry at John Hopkins School of Medicine and one of the foremost authorities on Bipolar Disorder (back when it was still called Manic-depression). She is also Bipolar. In the book she writes about her life and struggle with the illness. The first time I ever heard about Lithium was in her book. She talks about not being able to have morning classes when in medical school because Lithium made her throw up so badly. This book (An unquiet mind) taught me my illness is not a weakness unless I let it make me weak. This book and Dr. Curry’s belief in me lit the fire that has kept me going for years. I was able to stay strong and fight after reading about how she did it.

When I was younger the internet was not as good as it is now. Now you can find all this stuff online. I find new articles all the time. Sometimes my Dad will see stuff and email it to me. Strength is what keeps me going, but knowledge makes me strong. If there are any books or articles that have helped you please share them.

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Know your medications…

One very important thing when you take medications for mental illness is to know as much as you can about that medication. The medications prescribed for mental illnesses are normally very dangerous if you mix them with the wrong things. The pharmacy and your doctor will tell you things like no alcohol or caffeine. The problem with these medications is that not all doctors outside of this particular field know a lot about these drugs.

Recently my neurologist gave me Cambia for my migraines. She gave me 3 samples to try, and told me she would prescribe it if they work. It did and she called it in. I went to pick it up and the pharmacist told me it can cause Lithium toxicity in the blood when taken with Lithium. Which I do. She knew what I was taking. Why did she not check that before giving it to me?

My primary care doctor was in a car accident and is out for a while. So, yesterday I went and saw someone else in the practice. I was there for a cough. She asked me if I could take Zyrtec. She asked which antibiotics I can’t take with the Lithium. I’m pretty sure that is her job to look that up.

Once when I was really sick on a weekend I went to the CVS minute clinic. The PA prescribed Z-pack. I went to pick it up from the pharmacy and they told me it interacted badly with the Lithium. They called the PA and told her that. She said it was ok. I took it and had a bad reaction to it. Luckily I was at work that day since I work at a doctors office.

After the Z-pack interaction the doctor at work who helped me told me to follow up with my doctor. I did and she said never take anything anyone other then her gives me with out checking it out first. She had me download an App where I can program my medications and then just type in the one I want to take to see if there is an interaction. I did at first. Then I stopped doing it, because I trusted doctors to check first. That was my mistake. She was right. I am responsible for my own health.

I strongly recommend you download one of these Apps. If you take Lithium like I do there are a lot of things you can’t take. I took Cambia 3 times and it could have killed me. I talked to the doctor and we figured out if I don’t take it often or close to when I take my Lithium I should be okay. I can only take it if my migraines are a 3 or more on the pain scale and at work. This really made me see what my doctor was saying.

The best advice to people who take these kinds of medications is research and check for drug interactions. Because not all doctors are experts in these kinds of drugs. You would hope they would look it up because it’s there job, but you can’t trust that they will.

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High Functioning Anxiety pt 2…

This is the second part about an article I read about 18 consequences of High Functioning Anxiety.

7. It is your fault – We have all felt this. No matter whose fault it was in our heads it is all our fault. ‘I messed up again’ “If I had not done that this wouldn’t have happened’. We blame ourselves for everything even if other people don’t. Honest mistakes happen, but not when you have anxiety.

8. You constantly compare yourself to others – OMG, I do this so much. It feels like I do this all day long. I want to tell my inner voice to shut the hell up. My self-esteem being so low can be blamed on my anxiety. When you constantly compare yourself to others you will always fall short in your own mind.

9. You over think the small things – In my mind there are no small things. I just the other night laid awake worrying about what sleep pants to bring for my sleep lab. I picked the perfect ones if you were wondering. I sat in my car last night thinking my appointment is at 7:30 is it alright if I ring the buzzer at 7:25. The paper said I could bring my own pillow, but are they going to think I weird that I brought a pillow. Now I will say the strange shit running through my mind the past few days did distract me from thinking about someone watching me sleep for a short period.

10. You obsess over every mistake – I don’t know if you do this or not, but I will randomly think of something I did in the past and just pick up where I left off punishing myself. Stuff will just pop up. Even stuff from when I was a kid and will feel as guilty as the day it happened. Sometimes to the point where I feel sick to my stomach.

11. Conversations don’t end when people stop speaking – Perfect example last Tuesday. My coworker and I met with our bosses to talk about working be as a team. That conversation has been going on in my head for 7 days. Every time I look at her or my boss. What I should have said or shouldn’t have said. Did I sound like a bitch? Did I make myself clear on what I was trying to say?

12. You find it hard to interact in person – I will say I am that awkward person in group settings that is standing by herself. That being said I would rather talk to a person to their face then on the phone. For me the phone is way worse and I don’t know why.

13. You find it hard to concentrate – When I was a kid I was told I had learning disabilities. I think they were right, but after reading this article I think some of it was anxiety related. They gave me longer test times and I knew the answers, but I still failed. My Dad never understood why when he asked me the same questions at home I got them all right. I always tried to explain to them that it was the pressure of taking the test. Now I think what I was trying to say was that it was my anxiety about taking the test. Studying didn’t do any good if I was too anxious to absorb the information.

14. Your digestion suffers – I never put 2 and 2 together before reading this. When I go out to eat my stomach gets upset. I end up in the bathroom. But if I eat that same food at home I am just find. I always say restaurant food makes my stomach upset. No eating out and having anxiety makes my stomach upset. I also get really bad heartburn and reflux from foods that shouldn’t cause it.

15. You aches, repetitive habits, and tics – I play with my hair and jewelry. I wear rings just so I can distract my inner worries. I will twist them around my fingers. My hair is up most of the time because I will constantly touch it if I don’t. If I wear my glasses instead of contacts I spend a whole conversation with someone adjusting them.

16.  It may affect your heart health – See the article down below. You will find this interesting.

17. You see the world differently – This has a lot more to do with people who have anxiety from a traumatic experience. Like my fear of driving after I got T-boned in to a light pole. I now overreact to small things while driving. Even causing panic attacks that cause other accidents.

18. You just can’t stop it – No matter how many times people tell to stop worrying about it. Or it’s not that big a deal, I CAN’T STOP IT! That is not how my brain works. I’m so glad your brain doesn’t drive you crazy over stupid shit, but mine does. Telling me not to do it isn’t going to make it stop. I would love to be able to do things with losing sleep over them. Or making myself throw up. In a past blog I talked about the just do it people.

https://self-made.io/18-consequences-of-high-functioning-anxiety/5819/

 

High Functioning Anxiety… Pt 1

I am sorry it has been days since I posted. I live in North Carolina so all this hurricane stuff has gotten in way. Then I had a in lab sleep study Monday night.

I want to talk about an article posted on Facebook that I read about High-Functioning Anxiety. I have been diagnosed as having HFA (to many words to type). The article is called 18 consequences of High-Functioning Anxiety. I will post the link, but I want to talk about these 18 things.

  1. You exhaust your mental power needlessly-  I was working a office job were I was going a lot of interacting with people. I answered phones and had to make a lot of calls as well. One day I saw my psychiatrist and was telling how exhausted I was at the end of the day. I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired. What he said is by far the smartest thing he had ever said to me. Your brain is like a computer. When it is overloaded it will start to shut itself down. My mind was trying to function at 100% and deal with my social anxiety.
  2. Constructive criticism slays you- Now nobody likes criticism, but when you already have anxiety it is way worse. No matter how nicely someone says it I will take it as a knife to the heart. If someone points out I did something wrong my full focus from that point on when doing that task will be to do that one thing right. I will lay awake at night thinking about it for days. Every time I see that person I will like I have let them down when most of the time they don’t even remember the conversation.
  3. The future terrifies you – If I let myself think about the future I will send myself down a labyrinth of fear and self doubt that will give me sleepless nights. People say don’t worry about the future or the past. How? If you know the secret to making these thoughts stop please let me know. Those are the two things that I worry about the most.
  4. You experience debilitating mental exhaustion- They already touched on this one a little. No I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of my off hours “resting”. I told one of the ladies at work when she asked what my plans for the weekend were that since I spend 40 hrs a week dealing with people on the weekends I just don’t want to be around people. I spend so much mental energy at work talking to my coworkers and the patients that come. I am the face of the office sitting at the front desk. That is not easy.
  5. You can’t have a social life – Nope. I hear all the time about how I need to start dating. You are pretty and have a great personality it will be easy to find a husband. I have enough of my own stuff to deal with. Putting all my metal energy into work for 8 hrs I don’t want to come home and have to put more into another person.
  6.   You suffer from sleep disruptions – As I mentioned at the top I just did a sleep lab to find out why I don’t sleep. Well this might be at least one of the reasons. I have trouble falling asleep. I wake up in the middle of the night several times and have trouble falling back to sleep. Sometimes I don’t fall back to sleep. When you lay awake at night it gives you a lot of time to think of all the stuff you are worried about.                                                       To be continued..   https://self-made.io/18-consequences-of-high-functioning-anxiety/5819/

 

Darkest moment…

First let me say sorry for not blogging in a couple days. Work, stress, & hurricane prep.

Everyone has had their dark moments. Depression takes you to some pretty dark places. When people share their moments some may be darker then others. You have to remember to that person it seemed like the end. No ones lowest moment is worse then someone else. That being said I wanted to share with you guys the darkest moment that I can remember having.

Unfortunately people with depression and Bipolar disorder do commit suicide. That is a very sad fact. As many times in my life I wished I was dead I only attempted it once. I’m not even sure if I was doing it on purpose. I am the youngest of three girls. When I was in high school the middle sister JLC (we will call her) was in college. She had come home to visit. My parents were going to drive her back. They wanted to know if I wanted to come with them so I could see her apartment. Now my sister is smart, beautiful, friendly, and always seemed perfect. She is everything I never thought I was or could be. I always got her teachers and they were always disappointed I wasn’t as a good student like JLC. You could say I was jealous of my sister. I didn’t want to go see her college apartment. Basically I was being a brat.

My sister is also sensitive. For example when the oldest and I fought as kids the middle sister would cry. We wouldn’t get in trouble for fighting. We would get in trouble for making JLC cry. When I said I didn’t want to see her apartment it hurt her feelings. So my parents called me out on being a brat. My emotional state as a teen was a very unpredictable. I could be fine one minute and then just breakdown for no reason in the next. So, when my parents got upset with me I got VERY upset myself. I started crying. I couldn’t stop crying. Every jealous thought and insecurity just got bigger.

I thought my parents hated and loved JLC more. I was going over in my head all the things about me they could hate. All the things I hated about myself. I remember not being able to stop crying. The pain seemed endless. I just wanted to die. The pain was just so bad I never thought it would end. My life seemed hopeless. I remember thinking I want it out of my head. I wanted the pain to stop and it was coming from my brain. I started hitting my head on the wall. I just started banging away. The compulsion just came out of no where, but I couldn’t stop. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t. It felt like something had taken over my body. I just wanted all the pain to stop.

So, I sat crying and banging my forehead against the wall for I don’t know how long.  I remember my parents came up at some point. I think it was my Mom, because my Dad can’t get up the stairs very well. I think they came to see what the banging sound was. Which ever parent it was pulled me away from the wall. In my mind at the time they seemed more mad at me then worried. I could be wrong, but at the time obviously I was feeling like they hated me. I had a bump on my forehead, and I want to say a little blood. I can’t remember if that is right or not.

When I think about that night all I can think about is the pain. Not from my forehead. From my brain/heart. As bad as my depression has gotten I have only ever had that much pain one other time. That was last month. When I was depressed last month the pain I was feeling reminded me so much of that night. That is what got my attention that something was wrong. I called my Mom and talked to her. I made her aware about how dark I was feeling. She called and texted to check on me for a few days. I went into work even though I know that was not a state I needed to be in at work. I just didn’t trust myself to be alone. A few of my co-workers picked up on it. One took me aside and let me cry it out.

That amount of pain is something I will never forget. When I look back at that time when I was in high school I can’t help but think that was a stupid reason to get upset. If I had killed myself I think that would be the dumbest reason ever. But at the time that overwhelming pain and sadness made me want to die. It seemed like there was no hope left for me. I was worthless and nobody loved me. I was ashamed to even talk about this for a long time. With the many therapist I have seen when they ask have you ever tried to kill yourself I said no to most of them. I have talked about this with very few people, because I didn’t think they would understand.

Sometimes it feels like there is no hope left, but there is. Please remember that.

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My emotional tool box…

When I was sixteen I started seeing a psychologist and she was great. She left the practice to be with her kids more and came back later. While she was gone I saw another great psychologist. They were both very important in the change that would be coming in my life. They taught me so much. One thing they had in common was what they called an emotional tool box. They taught me how to use mine.

I am Bipolar II, and as you might know that comes with worst episodes of depression then the manic episodes. That is why I wasn’t diagnosed with Bipolar disorder at first. My episodes of depression have always been worse. They have been my main focus for most of my life. They seem to consume everything. My emotional tool box helped me learn how to deal with them.

I learned how to tell when I am depressed. Not always right away, but I do know the signs and can spot them. I learned to tell the difference between situational and chemical depression.  Once I knew which I was experiencing I knew which tools to use. If it was situational a funny movie or show to distract me. Listening to music. Talking to friends and family to work through what ever the problem was. Chemical is a lot harder and not as easy to get through. I am very lucky in the fact that I have always been a rational person. I’ve always been able to look at myself and see things how they are. This won’t work for everybody and it may only work for me. I remind myself that it is all in my head. That it is a episode that will pass. I just have to get through it. I remind myself when I think about wanting to die how selfish that is. That it will end my pain, but will cause my loved ones pain instead. I remind myself that I have lived through worse and I am still here. It is a constant dialogue in my head. It is kind of like talking someone down I guess, but you are doing it for yourself. I also share with someone what I am going through. It is normally one of my parents. I live alone so it is good to make someone aware I am in a bad place. They call and check on me. My Mom will stop by. I can’t stress enough how important it is to let someone in your life know that you are having a hard time.

These tools have helped me so much. I went from feeling helpless to feeling like I had some control in this mess. Those wonderful ladies gifted me with the tools that have gotten me through life. They are the ones to who taught me about this concept, but I’m the one who came up with the tools. They are all things I figured out on my own with guidance from them of course. Between these tools and the medication I was put on at the time I became me again. My personality was back. I was spending time with friends again, I started taking care of my neighbors kid after she got off the bus. She has become a great friend and a little sister to me. I started dating. I felt like I could breath again.

I had hope for the first time in so long. I want everyone to have that hope. To find themselves again. Start your tool box. Find the tools that will help you cope with your depression. Everyones tools are different. What works for me may not work for you. There is one thing I will tell you that you need most. Do not do it alone. You can do all the work, but let someone know you are suffering. A therapist, a friend, a spouse, or family member it doesn’t matter. Just don’t try to handle it all on your own. That is setting yourself up to fail, because being alone just makes the things in your head seem true.