Sticky Note Drawings
Photo credit: tophrrrr on / CC BY-NC-ND

Thank you so much to my new followers and old followers for sticking by me and my blog during the time that I took off. I don’t know when I’ll post next; hopefully it will be more regularly.

So. Since January I’ve…

  • quit, yes quit my drawing class. I went the first 2 times (it was a 5-week course); made the conscious decision not to go the 3rd time (can’t remember why–maybe because I figured out that I couldn’t learn to draw!); there was a polar vortex in the 4th week; and the last class I didn’t feel would be worth it. I know I was just posting about how good I’ve been keeping my commitments, and I’ve been good about it. I had a setback but I started over the next day, which is an outlook I’ve been trying to maintain. No such thing as failures–just mistakes, which I can learn from. I’m finally starting to see things that way.
  • just finished (all 4 weeks) of another online writing course. It was with the same instructor I had last time. The focus of this class was to simply follow where a story leads, just let your creativity flow to someplace you’ve never been, in terms of your story/writing. As a result of taking this class, along with doing Shut Up & Write’s 30-day Writing Challenge, I’ve been writing every day for at least 2 hours, for about a month. I just can’t think of anything to blog about.
  • signed up for an intermediate (though that’s relative) crochet class that starts in May! I’m very excited about this. I have been crocheting, though I stalled a week or 2 ago because the shawl I’m working on is somewhat repetitive and I was getting bored. I’m determined to finish it, even though the shape is very obviously wonky.
  • been to Savannah, Georgia, though I’ll write about that trip in another post!

Again, thanks for sticking around!


Wha — ?

Photo credit: AnnaAniston on / CC BY-NC-SA

Just now, I was looking for a wreathe my sister-in-law made me, but that I wanted to decorate. I had no problem with that, and have even been known as crafty (sort of). Anyway, a friend offered to help me decorate it so it’ll be ready to hang on our door around the Holidays. Okay, okay, we’re barely out of the winter season here, it seems. Anyway, I, uh, forgot to look for it until today, when I was texting with my friend.

So I went into the dining room, and didn’t see it in the bags of books that had collected there. The first thing I noticed was the cover/carrying case for my light box. It seemed a little heavy when I grabbed it, and I mean, all that was in there as far as I knew, were the metal legs for the light box, but it seemed too heavy for that. I unzipped it, and was astonished to see the colorful disposable razors that my husband had hidden from me. He’s the one who does the cooking, so I figured that whatever else was in there were knives.

As soon as I saw the razors, I was gone — all the way back to the living room. I tried calling him, but couldn’t get through. I was in a panic! I felt like cutting — the means to do so were right there. But I didn’t.

I tried calling him several times, but his ringer is on low. I’m still a little shaken up, as this just happened about an hour ago.

Have you ever received a surprise that you didn’t want? That affected your mental health, somehow?

Daily Prompt: Astonish

Self-Care: Massage

Photo by Visual Hunt

Did you know that massages can improve depression and anxiety? According to my massage therapist, a massage lowers a person’s level of cortisol, which is a brain chemical that accumulates from stress. Massage also increases dopamine and serotonin, both of which are hormones that increase relaxation and reduce anxiety. Most of you probably know that serotonin is a brain chemical that is deficient in people with depression.

The 2 massages that people mostly hear about, in my opinion, are Swedish massage and deep-tissue massage. For Swedish, the therapist uses a lighter touch, and mainly gets your circulation going. It’s relaxing, but with regard to Swedish massage, my nail tech once told me, “I feel that I need a massage after the massage!” Deep-tissue, on the other hand, consists of more pressure and targets specific areas in your body that are particularly tense. It can be a little painful — in a good way —  especially once the massage therapist works out the knots. Then it feels incredibly relaxing and kind of exhilarating! Both are full-body massages, but I always get a deep-tissue.

In case you’re wondering what the procedure is, this is my experience: a massage table is in a small, candle-lit room. Aromatherapy may be involved by way of essential oil(s) dispersed through a diffuser. My massage therapist plays soft, relaxing — ok, New Age-y sounding — music to increase relaxation. While the therapist is out of the room, I undress down to my underwear. So for women, although you aren’t wearing a bra, you aren’t completely naked. Neither are men. I then slip beneath the blanket onto my belly, and rest my face on a ring-shaped pillow that’s attached to one end of the table. Then the magic begins!

Because I’m in a vulnerable state, being only in my underwear, it’s important to me that I feel comfortable with the massage therapist. When possible, I try to meet the therapist before scheduling a massage.

I get massages regularly — every 4 weeks — and although they don’t make my depression go away completely, I do feel relaxed and joyful through the next day. If we could afford it, I’d get weekly massages. I know this sounds indulgent to some, but why not treat yourself to one massage, and see how you it makes you feel? I insist!

Have you ever had a massage? How did you feel afterwards?

via Daily Prompt: Insist

Poor Hygiene & Going to the Salon: A Paradox

Photo credit: The Library of Congress on Visual Hunt / No known copyright restrictions

It’s been  just over a week since my psychiatrist raised my Prozac dose, and that I’ve been using my light box for 45 minutes to start, and then 1 hour the last 2 days. I feel a little better, but not much. My insomnia still troubles me. If it didn’t, I’d probably have trouble getting out of bed.

It’s been 2 weeks since I showered, and on Tuesday, my husband washed my hair because I couldn’t do it myself. I did manage to wash my privates (I’d like to repeat that I won’t sugarcoat my experience with bipolar), although it was much more difficult to do than the last time (which was before my most recent shower). That difficulty in doing what was previously a simpler task makes me tend towards going through ECT again, after all. Especially because on most days, my husband still has to help me get dressed.

However, we have a short trip planned for the weekend after Valentine’s Day. We’ll be staying at a bed-and-breakfast for a few days just to get away and relax. I’ll make my decision when we return. I’m hoping that between now and then, my depression will improve and that I won’t need ECT.

The procedure itself isn’t bad. The entire process of going to the hospital and all the prep they do — which is a good thing — is a huge pain, though. (If you’re interested in what I go through on ECT days, please click here.)

I haven’t been completely idle this past week, probably because I’ve had extra hours in my day, due to the insomnia. Anyway, I’ve blogged daily — writing is therapeutic for me; finished a crochet project — also therapeutic; saw my therapist on Friday; and went to my salon appointment yesterday for a brow wax, mani/pedi, and hair color to hide the gray lol!

This seems counter to not taking care of my hygiene, but going to the salon is part of my self-care. For the hour or so that I’m there, I’m pampered, and until my next appointment, I feel somewhat good about myself. I know it’s weird because I don’t particularly care how I look otherwise: that my hair’s a mess, that I wear sweats and a t-shirt every day — on the days I change out of my pajamas.

I’ve been going to this salon since they opened in 2004, and am friends with the staff, who knows I’m bipolar. So the visits are also a way for me to socialize. They always ask about my well-being and actually care. The owner has repeatedly invited me to visit, even if I don’t have an appointment, just to hang out. I would take her up on this, particularly on the days my husband works from the office, but he’s the one who drives me to the salon. I’m not yet comfortable taking the train by myself.

Do you care about your appearance and/or have trouble maintaining basic hygiene when going through a depressive episode?

via Daily Prompt: Tend

Bipolar & Sobriety

Photo on Visualhunt

Before I was diagnosed with bipolar II and anxiety, I did a lot of partying. I may have been hypomanic — I don’t know for sure. I felt more confident as soon as I had my first shot and a beer, and I bellied up to the bar as soon as I walked in. Jägermeister and Miller Lite were my go-to’s. When Mind Erasers became popular, I’d down several in one night. For maximum effect, you drink these particular shots quickly through a straw. I also smoked pot and did coke. This was in my early 20s. Once I was diagnosed at age 25, I quit hitting the bars. I quit partying altogether.

Presently, I seldom drink, but I do drink. On the few occasions we go out to dinner, I may have a glass of wine — 2 at the most, which is rare. Sometimes, I’ll have a mixture of Malibu Rum and orange juice. Malibu contains half the alcohol as other spirits, such as vodka. I’ve also realized that I don’t even like beer, and yet I drank it for years!

The psychiatrists I’ve seen regularly (#s 3 and 6)  have never told me not to drink, nor have they suggested it. But I’ve often considered quitting drinking because of my meds.

According to an article on the Mayo Clinic website, you may become drowsy if you mix antidepressants with alcohol, or feel “more depressed and anxious,” among other things. Mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines, according to this article on the American Addiction Centers website includes “a reduction in cognition,” which in turn, “can result in . . . a loss of inhibitions [and] impaired judgment,” as well as other other undesirable effects. And yet, a PDF factsheet from states that taking mood stabilizers doesn’t mean that you “have to stop drinking alcohol completely. But you should try not to have more than one or two drinks a day.” Finally, according to this article on the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health website, if you’re on an atypical antipsychotic, “Having one or two drinks on occasion should be okay — but remember that one drink may have the effect of two or even three drinks.”

I take all of these types of medications. Yet the articles leave me bewildered because some strongly suggest not to drink, while others say that it’s okay, as long as you only have a couple. I’ve never experienced drowsiness or loss of inhibition when I drink these days, but the articles concern me. There’s no reason I need to drink at all, so I’m thinking I should stop. On the other hand, a part of me thinks it’s okay, as long as I only have a drink or two while socializing. So confusing.

Do you think it’s okay for someone taking these types of meds to have a drink once in a while? Why or why not?

via Daily Prompt: Bewildered