Current Mental Health – July 2019

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Hi, all! Here’s the past month’s rundown on my mental health/life.

Mood has improved over the past month, and is certainly much better than it was in June. My husband asked me if I’m at 100%, but I’m not sure. I don’t, however, feel that I’m falling into a depression, so that’s good.

Sleep has improved, thanks to the higher dose of trazodone that my psychiatrist put me on. It’s only a 25mg increase, but it’s doing the trick. I still wake up once or twice in the middle of the night, but I’m able to fall back asleep immediately instead of being wide awake. The only problem is that I’m still really tired when I wake up, and end up falling asleep for 2 more hours. Hopefully, as I get used to this increase, that tiredness will go away.

I got a new, smaller, more compact pill organizer. Each day’s organizer has 4 compartments, and so did my old one, but this one can be confusing. Instead of taking the Dinner medication at dinner, I took the Bedtime medication, which includes my trazodone! I didn’t even figure it out until bed time! No wonder I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open around dinner time lol!! 😂🤣😂

I turned 50! We spent a long weekend in Madison, Wisconsin for my birthday. I thought I would dread turning 50, but I actually looked forward to it. It’s like now, the second half of my life is beginning. I can, hopefully, forget/let go of the past.

Briefly tempted to jump off the balcony in Madison. Wasn’t at all having suicidal thoughts prior to stepping out on the balcony, nor when the thought of jumping struck me. Can anyone relate?

Showering is getting easier. I may actually start showering every other day, with the goal of showering every day. Hey, we all need goals, right?


How was your July? Please share!

Current Mental Health – June 2019

Depressed Symptoms on Name Tags
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Hi, everyone! It’s been about a year (14 months!) since I was discharged from my second hospitalization last year. I worked hard to strengthen my mental health in that time — went to a partial hospitalization program (even though I quit); kept taking my meds; trying to get out as much as I can (with my husband; I still haven’t overcome my fear of leaving the house by myself). Also, my psychiatrist added lithium to my cocktail, which helped tremendously. I’ve been “fine” for about a year.

However, sleep is still a problem, although now I only wake up once in the middle of the night rather than 3 or 4 times. Usually, I can fall back asleep right away instead of tossing and turning like I used to. At least I’m waking up in bed instead of the couch, where I sometimes move to at some point in the night. However, I was only averaging 3 – 4 hours of sleep, and that’s not enough. (Now I sleep for 5-1/2 – 6 hours.) My doctor and I decided to try Ambien, which I’m not sure worked. I only took it twice so I couldn’t tell, but afterwards, I started having depressive symptoms again.

I imagine that many of you know what depression is like, and that it’s different for everybody. For me, I stopped showering, which is the first clue that I’m depressed. Then I stopped changing out of my pajamas and brushing my teeth. I didn’t go out, even with my husband; I isolated. My mood was really down, and sometimes I felt like crying for no reason. I was tired all the time.

Then we went to Vegas for my niece’s 1st birthday earlier this month, and stayed for a few days. We did a lot of touristy stuff — it was fun! But when I returned, my mood took a dive again. It’s not as bad as before the trip, but I’m on alert. This is what I’m going through right now, fighting the demons that convince me not to shower, brush my teeth, etc.

Fortunately, I still have some energy, which has helped me go out with my husband and do stuff, even if it’s just a trip to the store. I hope this goes away.


How do you know that you’re starting to become depressed? Or does it hit you all at once?

 

Morning Person or Night Owl?

close up photo of coffee cup
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

These days, I’m more of a morning person, but it’s kind of due to the insomnia I’m experiencing. I wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning, and often, that’s it — I’m up. So I just go about my day and try not to take a nap.

Sometimes, not often, I stay up until 1 or 2am. I figure that the later I go to bed, the later I’ll wake up. Normally I would go to bed at 10pm. But if I do that, I wake up at 11pm or 12am. And then I’d worry whether I could fall back asleep or not. Usually I do, but with a lot of tossing and turning and pulling the covers back to my side.

Thirty years ago I might have called myself a night owl. I worked in bars, so I was up all night and didn’t go to bed until the morning. I tried to fall asleep before the birds started chirping, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all. I’d just be lying there, staring at the ceiling, with the sunshine peeking through the blinds and the birds singing their songs.


How about you? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Insomnia

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I have had what the professionals call “sleep disturbances” for a little over a year now. I can fall asleep just fine, probably thanks to trazodone, but I can’t stay asleep and when I do wake up (the first, second, or third time) I have a tough time falling back asleep, though I do eventually. For maybe an hour.

My bedtime has changed from 10 pm to around 11. I’m afraid that if I go to bed earlier, I’ll wake up that much earlier (at say 11pm or midnight). When I go to bed later, I don’t wake up until 2 or 3 am.

If I get up at 2, I might take a Benadryl to help me fall back asleep (my psychiatrist suggested this). Unfortunately, I always forget to do it. And 3 am is too late to take it because then I might oversleep.

So at 3, I just get up and go to the living room, where I check social media, crochet, or read. As I said, I fall asleep for an hour, wake up around 5 am, maybe fall back asleep, and then awaken at 7.

I take melatonin at night along with my trazodone, and it helps some. However, I hesitate to take Ambien, which my doctor has mentioned. For one thing, I was on it a long time ago and it didn’t work. Second, he and I want to delay being prescribed yet another prescription medication as opposed to over-the-counter.

My sleep hygiene is not in perfect shape, but I try. I’m thinking of taking Ambien because I’m getting desperate. Our bodies change over time, and maybe mine has changed enough for Ambien to work. I don’t want to be on another medication, but the sleep disruptions are taking its toll.


Do you experience insomnia? What remedies do you use to combat it?

Fingers Crossed That I Won’t Need ECT

fingers crossedI had an appointment with my psychiatrist today, which couldn’t come soon enough, even though it’s only been 4 weeks since my last appointment. I’ve been going through a severe depression for the past 3 weeks, right after the short hypomanic episode triggered by my misuse of my light box (I was supposed to start using it for 30 minutes, but I skipped right to an hour). Because of the hypomanic symptoms, and under doctor’s orders, I went a week or so without using it.

My mood slid smoothly from one pole to the other (hypomania to depression), so with my doctor’s permission, I began using the light box again for 30 minutes max per day. It hasn’t helped, but today we agreed that I’d start using it for up to 90 minutes a day. Still, I think I’ll work my way up from 30 minutes to 90.

The depression has been so severe that if I want to change out of my pajamas and into sweats and a t-shirt, my husband has to help me. I haven’t showered in a week (and for 2 weeks before that), and I can barely brush my teeth. Once, when I couldn’t stand the way my hair felt, my husband had to wash it for me in the sink because I couldn’t do it myself.

I’ve also had terrible insomnia, so not only do I have my depression lethargy, I’m even more tired from lack of sleep. At least I’ve kept up my meditation practice and blogging daily.

I have no desire to go anywhere, but I did go to a hockey game, saw a friend’s acoustic show, and went to a coffee shop with my husband maybe twice, in the past month. A hat is good camouflage!

I’ve also made it to my weekly therapy and salon appointments (self-care, you know? 😉 ). I don’t particularly care about my appearance right now, but it’s nice to be pampered. Other than that, I haven’t left my house, not even to walk Rudy.

And that’s another thing. I’m experiencing hip pain, so it hurts to fu@king walk! I’ve been on 2 different anti-inflammatories that haven’t helped, and had an x-ray that looked normal except for a touch of tendinitis. I see my primary care physician for a follow-up in 2 days. It’s very painful to walk, even in my own home, so that hasn’t helped my depression.

So I described all of this to my psychiatrist, and after thinking for a few short moments, he was the conveyer of news I didn’t want to hear: he thinks the best course of treatment for my current episode is ECT. I was hoping not to have to go through that this winter, like I have for the past 4 years.

I’m taking high doses of 6 different medications for bipolar and anxiety, and he was hesitant to increase any. The good news is, there was one medication that he felt he could adjust, and that’s the Prozac. So starting tomorrow, I’ll be taking 40 mg instead of 20 mg. I’m hoping this will help.

He said we’d see how I feel in a week, and if my depression doesn’t improve, then it’s ECT for me. It’s my choice, of course, but if even my meds aren’t helping, and ECT is the only thing that helps (based on my history of ECT treatments), then I guess I’ll do it. (If you’d like to read what the procedure is like for me, check out this post.)

I don’t really want to do it, mainly because I hate going to the hospital so early in the morning; getting a nurse who may not be good with inserting needles — I’m a “hard stick” — very few discernible veins; the anesthesia. But I can’t stand living the way I have this past month. Fingers crossed that the Prozac helps.

Have you ever had ECT? Would you be willing to share your experience? You can always use the Contact form if you want to discuss it confidentially.


Post inspired by Daily Prompt: Conveyor


Photo credit: Pamela Machado on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND