Mental health issues

I’ve come up with a few ideas to try to combat what’s happening in my head.

Hello dear reader.

Before I begin, I need to make clear that I am NOT a mental health professional. The things I say are from my personal experience.

Good. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk.

I’ve spoken a lot on this blog about my physical issues. Today, however, I want to speak about my mental issues.

I’ve been diagnosed with chronic depression, PTSD, GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), and ADD. I’m being treated for all of these, and have been for some time now. Another thing you need to know about me is that I’ve spent most of my life fighting for children. So the horrific actions being taken against immigrant children is really eating at me (see Father’s day Nightmare). I feel helpless to do anything. I find myself reading and watching everything I can find about it.

I’ve been noticing the symptoms of my mental illness getting worse as this situation continues. I’m feeling high levels of stress and anxiety. I feel a weight pressing me down. Everything feels dark and hopeless.

I’m certain I’m not the only one being affected like this. I’ve come up with a few ideas to try to combat what’s happening in my head.

  1. Turn off the news. TV, internet, social media, etc.
  2. Find a distraction. Listen to music, read a book, watch a movie.
  3. Replace the negativity with something uplifting. Make the distractions pleasant. Read a book that’s heartwarming or funny. Choose a comedy for a movie. Listen to a comedian or watch a sitcom.
  4. Ask for help. Talk to your spouse, therapist, friend, blog. Don’t try to handle it alone.

Those are what I’ve come up with so far. I’m doing #4 right now, asking for your help. Is this affecting you too? How are you handling it? What’s worked (or failed) for you?

If you’re reading this on Facebook, Twitter or another site, please click on the title of the post. That will bring you to my site. At the end of the post is a comment box. Please put your responses there so they become part of this post. That way everyone can see them. I want this to help as many people as possible.

Until next time…

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Hope

I’ve gotten a chance to remember what I’m fighting for, why I keep hanging on when I it seems so pointless.

Hello dear reader.

I have really good news and I have bad news. Which should I talk about first? Let’s start with the good news.

In the last two weeks I’ve only had one day I was stuck in bed. It’s incredible! The pain is there, of course, but my doctor and I have finally found a combination of meds that keep it at a level I can push through. I feel younger, more energetic, and extremely happy.

Now the bad news. Medicaid and Medicare are taking me off these meds. I have just over two more weeks on them. They’ve even decided what I have to take instead. It’s something I’ve taken before and it didn’t work for me.

This isn’t necessarily all bad. There’s a possibility (a tiny one) that the stuff they want me to take could be effective. There’s also a chance that if I take the new stuff and it doesn’t help me, they may let me go back to what I’m taking now.

So that’s the situation. I’ve felt better in the last couple of weeks than I have in an extremely long time, and I have two more weeks to go before it’s taken away. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for this time. I’ve spent many hours praying for just a break from the agony I’m usually in. My prayers were answered. I’ve gotten a chance to remember what I’m fighting for, why I keep hanging on when I it seems so pointless. I discovered that Lynnette is still in there. That may sound strange to some of you, but when I’ve been stuck in bed unable to move my head for weeks, and even months at a time, the pain and depression seem to be all that I am. The part that’s me gets buried so deeply that I can’t find it any more.

This brings me to something else I feel it’s important for me to address. During the periods I’ve existed in hell I’ve wanted badly to end it. I couldn’t see any way for the agony to stop besides death. I’ve spent a lot of time wishing for death and thinking about suicide. I’ve felt like I was already dead and just waiting for my body to catch up. I know a lot of people who deal with horrific pain constantly feel the same way. But the break I’ve had these last couple weeks has given me hope and that’s something I haven’t had in… I can’t remember how long. I’m telling you this because I want to give you hope as well. It’s possible! Things can change! If I had ended things then, I would never have had this experience. Even knowing it’s probably temporary, it’s totally worth it.

The biggest surprise of the last couple weeks has been discovering that I’m still here. The pain, isolation, depression and darkness didn’t destroy me after all.

Until next time…

The Party

Because I think people who deal with this need to know they aren’t alone…

Because tomorrow may be different and give someone hope…

Hello dear reader,

Today’s one of those days that I really struggle through. It’s been a rough few weeks, to be totally honest. When things go on for an extended period, my physical pain calls the mental pain and they throw a big party.

I’ve had this same headache for three weeks now. A little over a week ago, my oxygen levels and blood pressure decided they wanted to join in. Oxygen levels can be handled. I have a machine in my house, and I just drag tubing around behind me. The blood pressure? That’s a different deal. I have hypotension, which means my BP goes low. That’s something I just have to ride out unless it gets to the point that I have to go to the hospital.

The continuous headache makes my neck and shoulders spasm. That’s easy enough… take a muscle relaxer, right? But muscle relaxers lower your blood pressure and respiration, so which is worse?

When all this has gone on for a while, the final guest arrives… depression. It brings its own friends like “What’s the point?”, “This is never going away.” and “You’re useless.” They sap away any little bit of energy I have hidden away.

Tim left for work around 6 this morning and will get home around 5 this evening. He works hard all day. My big accomplishment today? I got dressed and crawled back into bed. I’ll have to text him soon and ask him to stop at the store and get a “quick fix” for dinner because I can’t stand up long enough to cook. He’ll say, “No problem honey.” and after working all day he’ll stand in line at the grocery store to get something he can just pop into the oven. He deserves so much better.

This has turned into a rant, which wasn’t my intention at all. So why post it?

Because I think people who deal with this need to know they aren’t alone…

Because tomorrow may be different and give someone hope…

Because it’s my truth…

Until next time…

State of mind

I have much to be thankful for. Sometimes I just have to look harder to see past the hard stuff.

Hello dear reader

People say that happiness is a choice. I agree with that only to a point. You can choose whether to focus on the positive things in your life rather than on the negative. That I agree with.

However, there are several reasons why someone can’t be “happy” no matter how hard they try to focus on the positive. Depression can be situational, but is often a chemical problem. When someone is suffering from depression, telling them that happiness is a choice can actually make things worse…much worse.

Depression is a deep dark hole that gets smaller and more confining every day. It robs you of energy and smothers any ray of hope and/or happiness. Guilt weighs on you because you’re depressed, which makes you feelmoredepressed.

Can you imagine feeling that way and then being told that it’s your choice? Or being told to “just cheer up?” Do you think that would help your state of mind? I can promise you that it would have the opposite effect.

So I wrote about depression yesterday. Why am I still going on about it? I don’t really know, it feels important.

Moving on…. tomorrow is my oldest daughter’s birthday. She’s almost to the end of her 20’s. I am constantly amazed at how quickly life goes by. I’m also amazed at how fortunate I feel to be her mother. I loved being “Mommy” when she was little, and I love being “Mom” now that she’s grown. Our relationship is very different now, of course. I’m no longer the person who knows everything, can see through walls AND the back of my head, and always knows when she’s having a bad day. I can no longer solve any problem from a skinned knee to a broken heart with a kiss and/or a cheesecake tart. But I can listen when she needs someone to. I can laugh and/or cry with her. I can give her tips on anything from a roast to a relationship. I can (and do) know that she may or may not follow my advice. She’s a grown woman who can think for herself and make her own decisions. I am so proud of that. I’m thrilled that she asks my advice, whether she takes it or not. In some ways it’s harder to be “Mom” than it was to be “Mommy” because I still want to protect her from the world. I still want to fix anything that hurts. But being “Mom” is wonderful too. I can be her friend now, and she’s a great friend to have. You can’t be a child’s friend and protect them. There are too many times the word “No” has to be said.

I know. I’m ranting again. But these are the things that keep depression from winning. These are the positive things that I try to focus on. I have a great life….a truly amazing husband, great friends, and some great kids (even the ones that aren’t really mine). I live in the most beautiful place there is. I have much to be thankful for. Sometimes I just have to look harder to see past the hard stuff. Sometimes the hard stuff is just too big to see past.

Until next time….

Stigma

There should be no more stigma attached to mental illness than there is to physical illness. 

Hello dear reader

Note:  There were some issues with publishing this post. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

I try very hard to keep a positive outlook on my life, and most of the time I’m fairly successful. But I have to admit that I’ve been in a really bad place recently.  It’s hard to explain, but I just gave up. I didn’t follow up on getting my teeth fixed, or doing the mammogram or colonoscopy my doctor ordered a month ago. I stopped wearing any jewelry or make-up. I didn’t care what I wore, just pulled on clothes because it’s what I had to do. I didn’t keep up with housework or laundry, just did what absolutely had to be done. Nothing mattered. I didn’t want to do anything but sleep. I felt done.

The thing is that I didn’t realize what was going on, or didn’t care. I’m not certain which. Maybe both.  But I woke up this morning and felt different. I got up, took a bath, thought about what I was going to wear and got dressed, and started cleaning the house.  Yes, I know. It was classic depression.  But what I don’t know is where it came from and where it went. 

I’ve dealt with depression for the majority of my life and have been on some kind of antidepressant or another for years. I know the signs and symptoms. I know things that help and things that make it worse.  But I cannot see it when I’m in it.
About three weeks ago I woke up at 3:30 in the morning with a high fever and having convulsions.  My husband rushed me to the hospital, where they diagnosed me with pneumonia. They gave me a prescriptions for antibiotics and home oxygen and told me to follow up with my primary care doctor, which I did. I spent the next week and a half in a LOT of pain and completely exhausted. The one good thing that came out of it was that I quit smoking. I’ve tried so many times and ways. All of a sudden I simply had no more urge to smoke!  Almost worth the pneumonia… maybe.  The point to this long story (yes, there is a point) is that there’s a possibility all of that happening had something to do with the depression coming on.  I say possibility because I believe the depression started before the pneumonia and all that went with it.

So I still don’t know where (why?) it came from or where (why?) it went. I only know that I’m very glad it’s gone and that I have a TON of catching up to do.

I think the reason it’s important to me to put all of this out there is that there is still a stigma about mental illness, which depression is a form of.  But I don’t choose to be mentally ill any more than I choose to have Chiari Malformation or chose to have pneumonia.  There should be no more stigma attached to mental illness than there is to physical illness. 

There needs to be conversation about these things. Only by talking about them can people understand what mental illness is and is not.  Communication is what will bring us out of the dark ages and the fear that goes along with ignorance.

Until next time….