Current Mental Health – November 2019

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My mental wellness seems to have ended, when we entered Daylight Savings Time and the dark. I’m still on the same medications so the lethargy; the moodiness; and the general, all-around feeling of heaviness must be caused by the weather. I’ve started using my light box. Only 30 minutes each morning for now; I want to avoid a repeat of my past hypomanic episode. I’m not sure if it’s helping. Yet. But I do feel a little better than I did earlier this month.

Another thing that was/is going on is my lack of attention to personal hygiene. It’s become difficult to shower and get dressed, once again. Sometimes I wear makeup (mascara and lipstick) to ensure that I wash my face that night. It works, mostly. Anyway, getting off my routine isn’t helping with my mood, which is, admittedly, better now.

As for my shoulder, I’m getting an MRI on Tuesday. Hopefully that will give the doctor, my husband, and me some answers. The pain has grown worse, to the point where it’s painful almost all of the time, not just when it’s in motion. The pain wakes me up at night, and I can’t take anything but Tylenol because I’m on lithium. My husband thinks I’ll get a shot (of cortisone or something like it) in my shoulder and not surgery. I don’t want to have surgery, either, but I need this pain to go away. It’s making me miserable.

Now, instead of waking up at 3 or 4am for the day, I wake up at like, 9:30 or 10am. Then I get into the mindset of being “behind,” so why bother taking a shower? It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what goes through my head.

I’m managing to keep up my activities like a crochet class, a knitting class, and volunteering. I’m continuing going to therapy regularly. I’m keeping my plans. So, really things aren’t that bad. Let’s just see what next month brings.

How did your month go? Did you celebrate Thanksgiving?

New York, New York

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In mid-November, my husband and I took a weeklong trip to New York City, and it was fabulous!! We ate at GATO NYC, one of Bobby Flay‘s restaurants. They had a semi-open kitchen and I kept looking for him through the window, but he wasn’t there lol! The food was delicious.

On Bobby Flay’s show, The Flay List, his daughter recommended Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, where we met a high school friend of mine for lunch. The Black Tap is mainly a burger joint, but they have these EPIC milkshakes. My husband ordered one — cookies ‘n cream — and the sides of the glass were covered in frosting topped with broken chocolate sandwich cookies. Okay, let’s be real — they were Oreos. The burgers were yummy, too.

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Afterward, the three of us went to the Museum of Modern Art. We apparently broke some rules by accidentally sticking our noses past the line that delineated how close you could approach a painting. We were also warned not to touch anything, which I feel the need to do with art exhibits, sculptures, and the like because I’m a tactile person. I didn’t touch though, lol!

A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Our tour guide led us from the ferry to the statue, to the island. We learned a lot of historical facts that we didn’t know, and it was very interesting. There’s a wall-type sculpture in the gardens of Ellis Island that lists the names of some of the immigrants who came to the U.S. through there. I was surprised to see my name, because as far as I know, my parents and I were the first immigrants in our family. Maybe time for a genealogy project?

Finally, we went to the Rink at Rockefeller Center, on which I’ve always wanted to skate — a bucket list item. We had VIP tickets, which meant snacks, free skate rentals (though we have our own), a different entrance from the General Admission folks, and we had an earlier start time for entering the rink. I hesitated about being the first people to go on the ice, but I got over it and we went.

Instead of the grand entrance I’d always dreamed of, gliding gloriously on the ice, I froze. I could barely move; my whole body was tense. And you have to be relaxed in order to skate. I couldn’t lift my legs. I couldn’t bend my knees. It was a nightmare. I was also in disbelief. I’m actually a pretty good skater, when I’m actively playing hockey. I held onto the rail with one hand and my husband with the other. I was determined to skate around the rink once, which I did, though it could barely be called skating. I fell several times. Luckily (?) I’m not afraid to fall on ice. Except for on a sidewalk lol!

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The original Carlo’s Bakery (from Cake Boss) in Hoboken, New Jersey, was something of a consolation the next day. The pumpkin spice cheesecake I ate for my second breakfast took my mind off what happened on the ice. Or what didn’t happen.

Last stop was the football stadium on the Rutgers University campus in New Jersey, where we watched my beloved, Ohio State Buckeyes basically…annihilate the home team. Well, a win is still a win.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my New York experience. I can’t wait to go back!

Have you been to New York? Share your experiences in the comments!

Current Mental Health – October 2019

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It’s been a busy, busy month! We did so much: like continuing physical therapy. My shoulder pain is getting worse. I’m going to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon very soon, probably after we return from New York in mid-November.

I still continued to wake up between 3-4am, which was a bummer. But for the past week or 2, I’ve mostly been able to sleep through the night, so that’s good. I haven’t paid enough attention though to see if this makes a difference.

The shakes are as bad as ever, but not too bad compared to before. Still hard for me to insert contact lenses, and sometimes (still) insert a crochet hook into a stitch. Also, my hands shake whenever I try to do something like eat. If I pick something up with my fork, you can bet it’ll roll off and not make it to my mouth.

We went to an apple festival! I was so looking forward to this festival that has only been held for 3ish years. I knew they were selling seasonal caramel apples (the kind on a stick), and I get some every year, but at the owner’s store.

I don’t know what I was thinking, but Apple Fest was the most horrible idea ever because anxiety. It was way more crowded than in previous years, and the crowd was going in all directions, some standing in the middle of the street — just stopped where they were, to take pictures! Couldn’t they stand to one side?

In addition, Rudy was with us because we wanted to give him an outing. So not only did we have to navigate through these bodies, we had to make sure Rudy was able to come along instead of stopping at places to smell the smells. Next year I think I’ll stick with my original plan and buy the caramel apples at the store, even if Rudy loves all the smells!

I’m still volunteering, 2 hours once a week. I’ve settled in to volunteering as a helper with the dogs, or to writing thank-you cards to donors. That keeps my volunteering time balanced, in terms of what I’m doing.

We’ve done so much this month, and despite the Apple Fest, had fun. Happy Halloween! 🎃👻💀

Do you have a dog?

Current Mental Health – September 2019

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This post is a week late. Oops.

My mental health has actually been good this past month! I’ve been really active, doing more stuff like volunteering once a week, and physical therapy (for my right shoulder) twice a week.

Sometimes I didn’t follow through on my weekend plans, usually dinner and/or a movie. Part of that is because it’s been gray and rainy. But also because a part of me just wants to stay indoors and not leave my house. I don’t think I’m depressed, and I resolve to keep all of my plans this month.

In fact, we went to a nearby apple festival this past Saturday. I’d been looking forward to it because a candy shop I frequent was selling their caramel apples there, which they only make this time of year. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the reality was bad. It was so crowded, with people shuffling in different directions all at once. I was afraid we’d get separated (we also brought our dog), or that Rudy would get into a scrap with another dog (he didn’t). We stayed maybe 15 minutes, just enough time to find the candy booth and buy some caramel apples. Thankfully, the candy booth was near an entrance so we were able to leave the crowd quickly. We may have left early, but at least we showed up — and survived — so that’s pretty good.

My sleep has improved, I’m now only waking up once a night, like around 4ish. I then move to the sofa and I’m out again til about 7 or 8am.

The shakes haven’t been resolved, but I emailed my psychiatrist today. He said he will put me on a very low dose of Klonopin to — if not make them stop, then at least continue to minimize them. I’ll still be taking propranolol for that, too. I’ll let you know if it works next month.

Do you avoid crowded events/areas? Let me know in the comments!

Current Mental Health – August 2019

Photo credit: ashokboghani on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

So I’ve been showering regularly (every other day)!! Some of you know how much trouble I have with that. It was tough at the beginning of the month, but as the month progressed I was better about it. Sometimes I still have to push myself, but not too much or too often. I will attempt to shower every day when I’m ready.

As for sleep, it’s unbelievably worse! I used to wake up around 5am every day, and now it’s more like 1:30 or 2am!

For some reason, the shakes, which are a side effect of lithium, grew worse. It’s hard to crochet because I have trouble inserting the hook into the loops. My hand shakes too much. I definitely can’t put on mascara because the wand shakes really badly. It did before, but not as bad and I was still able to put mascara on, but this time it’s just so bad. I contacted my psychiatrist and he increased the dose of propranolol, which is a beta blocker that helps reduce the shaking. After a week the increase made no difference, so he now has me taking a lithium twice a day instead of all at once. So far, it’s only improved slightly.

Speaking of crochet, I signed up to crochet various items for sick people. I get the pattern and yarn sent to me, and I do the projects. After, I can do whatever I want with them or I could send them to an organization that works with patients, particularly chemo patients.

I will also begin volunteering at a local dog rescue starting tomorrow!! I’m excited and nervous at the same time. At least the shelter will be closed that day so I won’t have to deal with the public. I am scared, but I am looking forward to it. Some readers know that I’ve been wanting to volunteer for a long time. Now it’s a reality. That just blows my mind.