Gratitude List (October 2, 2020) #TToT

I already published a post today, but I want to write more. I originally tried to write this post using the dreaded block editor, because I’ve heard it’s being forced onto WordPress bloggers more and more. I however for the life of me couldn’t properly link back to the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) page I’m joining in with. Here is my gratitude list, starting with…

1. The WordPress block editor not being fully forced onto me yet. On both PC and iOS, WP is trying to coerce me into using the block editor in all kinds of ways, but so far, I’ve found a workaround on both. I can only guess how long this is going to last, but I’ll keep using the classic editor at least for posts like this one for as long as possible.

After all, one issue I’ve found is that the block editor won’t let me write lists without converting them to HTML numbered lists, which seems to mean I can’t write multiple-paragraph list items like this one. I also greatly struggle with adding links, like I said. So, anyway, I’m grateful I can still use the classic editor.

2. A fries and snack vendor came by the facility on Sunday. It was a staff’s last shift before retirement, so she wanted to do something special. Another home had asked the snack vendor to visit us, so we decided to tag along. I had tons of fries and two snacks.

3. My mood being pretty good. Except when I was muddling with the block editor, that is. Overall, I feel pretty relaxed lately.

I am also so grateful that depression hasn’t sunk in as of yet. I often start feeling depressed by late September or early October. November is usually the worst. Let’s hope I can skip it this year.

4. Lots of engagement on my blog. I attribute this partly to #Blogtober20, but I’m also more able to interact with other bloggers and they engage with me in return.

5. Interesting journaling prompts. I got a subscription to Journey, a multi-platform diary app. I cannot really use the app, but I love to benefit from the prompts.

6. Relatively good weather. Yesterday was a pretty rainy day, but the rest of the week has been pretty much okay for fall.

7. My creative juices flowing. And my ability to handle failure if what I had in mind doesn’t turn out the way I imagined it. I mean, I’ve been trying to make my own air-dry modeling clay using baking soda, corn starch and water, but I probably used way too much water. I ordered new baking soda and will try again next week. This did give me an excuse to order new essential oils too, as those are sold at the same store.

That’s it for now. What have you been grateful for?

Dancing Through Darkness #WotW

Okay, I’m supposed to be in bed already, but I can’t sleep. What better thing there is to do than write a blog post, right? I’m joining in with Anne’s Word of the Week for the first time in forever. The idea is to sum up your week in a word or phrase.

This week wasn’t the best mental health-wise. Yesterday, I landed in a full-on crisis. I didn’t express my dark thoughts right then, but I did to my staff this evening. It isn’t the first time I’ve experienced acute suicidality, but the intrusive thoughts and images I get then shock me everytime. Thankfully, I was able to calm down after taking a PRN lorazepam. I will be calling my nurse practitioner at mental health tomorrow, since my community psychiatric nurse is on vacation. I know I’m not clinically depressed (yet), but I do want my treatment team to know about my crisis.

The rest of the week I pretty much saw it coming. On Monday and Tuesday, I was still pretty much in my normal mood. Not euphoric, but not depressed either. In fact, I signed up for the Bout of Books readathon on Tuesday fully intending to spend the better part of the week reading or talking about books. I didn’t. The first day, I got through 23% of Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. I abandoned the book for the rest of the week though.

Particularly Friday, Saturday and today were hard. I did try to remain active. Like I mentioned several times already this past week, I tried to dance. Today I actually sort of succeeded. I also managed slightly more steps and active minutes as recorded by my Fitbit this week than the week before.

I have been trying to be more mindful of myself this week too. By this I mean I’ve started up meditating again. I use Insight Timer, which has like thousands of free meditations. If meditating becomes a regular habit, and I sure hope it does, I may pay for the premium plan. Honestly, though I was still close to crisis today, the affirmation in one of the meditations I’ve been listening to, helped me.

I also started exploring some ways of getting my eating and ultimately my weight under control. This is where dancing comes in handy again.

To sum it all up, I’m choosing “Dancing Through Darkness” as my phrase for the week. I feel depressed, but I’m also trying to actively do something about it.

How was your week?

Word of the Week linky

I Want to Feel Better #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

I want to feel better. Or maybe I need to feel better. No, that’s not correct. Feeling normal mentally may be a want, but I cannot need to feel it everyday.

I’ve been really in a depressed funk over the past week. Maybe, like I said on Thursday, it’s just that I was feeling so well over the past six weeks or so. Now that it’s passed, at least for now, I feel frustrated and depressed. I feel tired too. I’ve been lying in bed most of the morning and part of the afternoon today.

So what am I going to do about it? I’m writing now at least. That’s better than lying in bed. I still at least have some writing mojo left. In this sense, it helps that this writing exercise is stream of consciousness so that I don’t need to worry about structure.

What else can I do? I could be forcing myself to stay out of bed, but this is hard especially on weekends. So I’m not doing that.

I will be going for daily walks unless the staff have no time to take me on a walk all day (which is rare). Then, I will dance in my room for at least 15 minutes and/or go on the elliptical.

I will continue to write everyday. If it isn’t “blog-worthy”, so be it, but I’ll at least try.

I will meditate. It doesn’t need to be a long guided meditation or anything. A few minutes is enough. But I’ll make sure to incorporate mindfulness into my day.

Hopefully, committing to these will help me keep depression at bay. And if it doesn’t, then at least I’ll know that I’ve tried.

This post was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, for which the prompt today is “want”.

Thankful Thursday (May 14, 2020): Dancing!

I’ve been feeling kind of depressed lately. Or rather, less non-depressed than I was over the past month. I’m not sure how “normal” feels, being that I’ve struggled with depression off and on (and mostly on) since childhood. I was finally thinking I could be inspired and motivated for a while, but that while has stopped now I think. I hope my creativity and motivation return soon.

When I shared about my mood on an E-mail support list yesterday, some people responded by saying I could focus my attention on what I can do rather than what I can’t. Like, even a day without blogging mojo was frustrating me, even though in other areas, I’m pretty much my normal self. I’m still honestly pretty active. I’m not sleeping 15 hours a day. Okay, I slept nearly 12 hours last night, but I barely got eight the nights before. So as sort of a pick-me-up, I’m joining in with Thankful Thursday and the reason I’m thankful today is my level of physical activity.

You see, I reached my goal of 10K steps today! If this doesn’t prove that I’m fine, I don’t know what does. I went for two longer walks during the day and a short walk in the evening. I’ve also been “dancing” some. By this I mean walking in place and swinging my arms while music is playing. I have absolutely no sense of rhythm, but so what? I put the Cardio playlist on Spotify on and just moved. I honestly really loved it.

Besides getting me active, this helped me discover new music. You know, I normally only listen to classic country and some other oldie stuff. I can’t stand most of the workout playlists on Spotify, but Cardio was an exception. I loved it! Here’s one of the songs I listened to several times.

Do you like to dance?

ZZZ: The Role of Sleep in Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the last post in the #AtoZChallenge. For my letter Z post, I have, each year that I got to it, used ZZZ at least among other things. And yes, it’s totally fitting with the self-care theme too. Sleep is so important! Today I’m going to explain a bit about how you can take better care of your sleep hygiene and how sleeping issues can signal other problems.

Most people have some sleeping issues at times. I have had quite a few nights in which I fell asleep late recently.

When I was a child or teen, anxiety would often keep me awake. Since I didn’t get any help for my anxiety then, the issue grew until I had to use sleeping pills for a while at age 20. When I moved into independent living, my insomnia grew worse and it was one contributing factor to my suicidal crisis three months in. The first medication I got, was again a sleeping pill.

Now let me be very clear: sleeping pills are not to be used long-term. When I got my first script in 2006, my GP said to take it no more than two to three times a week. I was taking sleeping pills for a few months early in my psychiatric hospital stay, but I eventually decided less sleep without pills was better than less sleep with pills. I did take sleeping pills on an as-needed basis for a while after that. However, except in extreme cases of severe mental illness keeping you awake a lot, you ultimately need to find other solutions. So learn to practise proper sleep hygiene. I honestly don’t do too well on this now that I write about it.

For example, one tip is to use your bed for sleeping only. Though I do that, I tend to nap a lot too. I am learning to get up after at most an hour, so that I won’t disrupt my night-time sleep.

Also, it is recommended to turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. I’ve heard this is because the blue light of your smartphone or computer screen can stimulate the brain to stay awake. As I always keep my screen curtain on, this isn’t an issue for me and it may not be with dark mode either. However, I do experience that keeping very busy shortly before bedtime keeps my brain awake.

Some people find that hearing some white noise or soft music can help them sleep. I usually turn on calming music when I’m struggling to fall asleep, but eventually turn it back off as it seems to lead to a more restless sleep.

Having a soft toy in bed does help me too. Occasionally, I diffuse some lavender essential oil. There’s no scientific proof that it works, but it may help.

In addition to insomnia, sleeping too much is also an issue. I find that I sleep way too much when I’m depressed. This, of course, in turn worsens my depression.

Lastly, waking up unrefreshed can happen even when you get the right amount of sleep for you. This can be caused by a number of factors, including medications you may be taking or sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. If this happens a lot, it may be time to see your doctor. Then again, doctors can be incredibly dismissive where it comes to fatigue.

Guilt Won’t Help Suicidal People

Yesterday Ashley shared a piece about a blogger friend of hers who had died by suicide and the guilt trips she received on Twitter. The person had scheduled her post for after the fact, so she most likely didn’t see the guilt-tripping. However, this got both Ashley and me thinking about guilt tripping not being a suicide prvention strategy.

This person had written that her intent was to be hit by a train. This led people to blame her for traumatizing the train driver. While it is true that train drivers are often traumatized by people running in front of their trains, it is equally true that guilt won’t help suicidal people.

I was in a suicidal crisis in 2007. I also intended to be hit by a train. I disclosed this to my support worker in a voicemail message, which people overheard, as I was on a bus. They called the police, who called someone called a community physician. This doctor was supposed to liaise with the mental health crisis service. For some stupid reason, the police in that city can’t directly call the crisis service. Anyway, this doctor told me I was making people feel responsible for me.

Well, let me tell you, in a depressive state or any state that can lead to suicidality – mine was diagnosed as adjustment disorder -, this won’t help. This will, if anything, just tell the sufferer that their suffering isn’t as important as someone else’s suffering. It will also most likely reinforce the prevalent idea among depressed people that they aren’t worth much, which may further reinforce their suicidal ideation.

I also want to say there is no way of dying by suicide that won’t affect others. Then again, there is no way of dying that won’t affect those lefte behind.

Some people think that running in front of a train is extra selfish. Well, once I was in the hospital, I spoke to my mother. She told me that I was selfish, because if I died by suicide, my parents would have to pay for my funeral. Let me tell you, this only made my depressive mood worse.

Sometimes, it can help suicidal people if you gently ask who they will leave behind, so that they might realize they still have loved ones. It didn’t help me. I didn’t have friends at the time and my family were, like I said, very unsupportive. In any case, don’t appeal to someone’s sense of responsibility or selflessness. That’s only going to make them feel worse and it won’t actually help those who would be affected by someone’s suicide. People who are suicidal benefit from support, not judgment or guilt tripping.

#FOWC: Euphoric

I haven’t felt really happy for longer than a few minutes at a time in a long while. I mean, yes, sometimes I laugh out loud and feel pretty good for a few moments. Overall though, I feel irritable.

I have never experienced an euphoric mood as far as I know. Then again, in mental health, euphoria isn’t seen as something positive. It is one of the manifestations of the (hypo)manic phase of bipolar disorder. The other, dysphoria, is not as commonly recognized as a bipolar or mood disorder phase.

I’m not bipolar. I never experienced mania or even hypomania. I do however experience dysphoric symptoms. In fact, I’m almost always irritable.

Back in the day when the DSM-5 was being drafted, the term for what is now called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, was temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria. Neither term feels right to me, as someone who may’ve been diagnosed with DMDD as a child had it existed in the mid-1990s. I feel mood dysregulation disorder with dysphoria would be a better name. I mean, yes, of course these kids are disruptive, but the focus should be on their unstable mood. DMDD is characterized by the occurrence of frequent mood outbursts combined with a generally irritable mood even when the child isn’t experiencing dysregulation.

Thankfully, irritability was added to depression’s mood criterion in DSM-5 too. Before then, it was only a criterion in children and adolescents. I, however, have always experienced dysphoric depression. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m diagnosable with persistent depressive disorder.

This is one reason I might want to experience a bit of an euphoric mood at times. Maybe I do get it, but usually it happens at an inconvenient time. I mean, I occasionally experience an extreme flow of ideas combined with an urge to act on them. Usually this happens during a night I cannot sleep though, so I cannot act out my impulses immediately. Then often the next day I’m back to my usual, irritable and slightly depressed self. Even though I know that it’s not an entirely positive thing, I wish I experienced euphoria for a longer while at times.

What a Year! #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

What a year it’s been! It had a lot of ups and some really deep downs too. I will post a year in review sometime in the next few days, as I can’t do them in stream of consciousness form. However, today I already want to say that this year was huge. Really, I’m still struggling to grasp that my twelve-year-old wish to find a suitable care facility finally came true.

I’m not sure what else I can say about this year. I mean, the whole year has been filled with first applying for long-term care funding. Then it was denied and I had to keep quiet on my blog and social media about it, in case someone from the funding agency would find out and use my writing against me. I still wonder whether the funding people might’ve read that one blog post I wrote on June 3. It was essentially a suicide letter in disguise. I mean, yes, it was positively worded, as a letter from myself in 2021, when everything would be okay and I would be in supported housing. However, it was clear to anyone reading between the lines that I was in a very dark place. The next day, my appeal was granted and funding approved.

Then I had to wait for another two months to find out I was accepted into the place I wanted to go into. It was the second care facility we’d been checking out. The other one was closer to my old home (and is also closer to our current home), but the vacant bed had been filled up by the time my funding was approved. I had my doubts about that place already, as I heard at my day center that staffing was cut at the day center people from there went to. It would’ve been nice if I could live in that facility, at least in that it’s closer to our home, but it works out now too.

I had lost hope again by the day the care consultant for my current care facility called my support coordinator to inform her that I’d been accepted. No depressing blog posts this time though. This was August 20. On September 23, I moved in. Wow, that’s already been three months!

I feel calm now. Calmer than I’ve felt in a long time. Not just today, but in general. Of course, I still get frustrated when my computer doesn’t do what I want, when I don’t understand a social situation or when I need to clean up a mess I created and don’t know where to start. I still have very poor distress tolerance and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. I still find that everyday life takes a lot of energy. However, emotionally speaking, I feel better. I don’t experience nearly the level of irritability I used to. More importantly though, my post-traumatic symptoms seem to have lessened. Yes, I’m still dissociative, but I don’t experience nearly the amount of flashbacks I’d experienced before.

For 2020, I really hope to be able to be more alert. That probably requires me decreasing my antipsychotic dose, which is a goal I have anyway. I want to experience the full range of emotions more. After all, now that I’m not overcome with emotional flashbacks that often anymore, I want to open up my mind to what life has to offer.

I’m linking up with #SoCS.

Friday Flashback: Diagnonsense, Oh Diagnonsense!

Today I’m joining in with Fandango’s Friday Flashback and sharing a post I wrote exactly three years ago on my old blog. I let my domain registration for the blog expire this week, but it’s still available on a WordPress subdomain. With this post, I have edited out typeos and am not going to keep all the internal links. I’ll provide a link to the original at the bottom of this post.

A few months ago, I wrote about my changing diagnosis. My autism diagnosis that’s been confirmed three times since 2007, was removed. That left me with just borderline personality disorder (BPD) as a diagnosis. If you thought I gracefully accepted this, you do not know me. I consulted with the patient liaison person at my institution, who recommended I seek a second opinion at another hospital. Now, three months on and we’re back at square one, and it’s not because an independent provider agreed with my psychologist.

On August 15, I talked to the patient liaison person, who on that same day E-mailed my psychologist asking her to make the necessary arrangements for me to get a second opinion. Instead, my psychologist told me she wanted to contact a psychiatrist at the brain injury unit first to inquire about the diagnosis of autism in people with brain injury. This doctor told her that indeed autism shouldn’t be diagnosed in people with brain injury, but the same is true of BPD. My psychologist would need to diagnose personality change due to a general medical condition instead. I stupidly agreed with her changing my diagnosis herself rather than sending me to an independent psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.

My psychiatrist, who is the head clinician responsible for my care, however, disagreed with my psychologist’s diagnosis. My named nurse said they were throwing around all sorts of diagnoses at my treatment plan meeting last month. Eventually, my psychologist informed me they’d settled on dependent personality disorder, borderline personality disorder traits and a developmental disorder NOS. I hate the DPD label, but can see how I might have some of its features. I needed to see my treatment plan to see what they’d meant with developmental disorder NOS, which isn’t a diagnostic code in DSM-IV unless prefixed by “pervasive”. That would essentially mean autism. As it turned out, they hadn’t settled on this diagnosis, as the developmental disorder was gone.

Instead, I now have DPD, BPD traits and depressive disorder NOS. I asked my psychologist whether this was a coding typeo, but it wasn’t. Her explanation was that I may formally meet the criteria for this, but the main reason for the diagnosis is for insurance purposes. You see, I can’t be in the mental hospital without a diagnosis on axis I (anything that isn’t a personality disorder). A nurse even twisted my psychologist’s actions like she’d done me a favor.

Last week, when I found out my final diagnosis, I lost it pretty much and was considering checking myself out of the institution. My psychologist was called, because the nurses thought I said I was definitely leaving, which I can’t remember having said. My psychologist encouraged me to leave right then, which I refused. My husband instead came to pick me up the next day for a night at home to have some distance.

Today, I spoke to the patient liaison person again. She was not happy at the fact that my psychologist had failed to cooperate with me in getting me a second opinion. This essentially means we’re back at where we started and I’m probably going to ask my psychologist to get me a second opinion again soon.

https://bloggingastrid.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/diagnonsense-oh-diagnonsense/

My Medication Musings: Celexa

Like I said last week when participating in Working On Us, I wanted to write a series of posts on the medications I’ve been on. I won’t promise this will be anything like a regular feature. However, today I saw that Medication Monday over at The Dark Tales Project is about a medication I currently take: Celexa. I already wrote several posts on this medication in the past, so may be repeating myself. Let me share though.

I was first prescribed Celexa in September of 2010. At the time, I had just finished a book whose title translates to Prozac Monologues, which was about the positives and mostly negatives of antidepressants. I didn’t really care. One comment I remember, by one of the pro-Prozac people, was that she’d become nicer on antidepressants. That comment was on my mind when my psychiatrist suggested Celexa and boy did I hope it’d do this for me. I was a definite bitch! The saying that depression makes you feel as though you’re not okay and neither is anyone else, definitely related to me.

The thing is though, I wasn’t sure I was depressed. No proper assessment of my mental state preceded my being prescribed Celexa. Yes, I was irritable and no amount of tranquilizers or antipsychotics could help that. But is that depression? Would Celexa help?

As it turned out, it helped a little with that. I felt a little calmer, a little nicer on the medication. I never asked my husband to comment on the level of my irritability and can’t remember for sure whether he ever made any positive comment on it. If at all, that must’ve been in 2018, when my dosage got increased.

I actually wasn’t diagnosed with depression till 2017. At the time, my irritability was one symptom that prompted the psychologist to diagnose me with major depression. I’m pretty sure I have persistent depressive disorder (formerly known as dysthymia) too though, but I don’t think I’m currently even diagnosed with any mood disorder at all.

It took another year before my Celexa dosage finally got increased to first 30mg and then my current dosage of 40mg.

I was very irritable at the time of seeking my psychiatrist’s help with my depression. I was also most definitely depressed, in that I didn’t have much energy or motivation for anything. As is known for Celexa and other SSRIs, the medication caused my energy to go up first before actually helping with my mood. My mood however did eventually lift. I am pretty sure that, had it not been for Celexa, I would’ve sank deep into depression during the long process of applying for long-term care.

But the story isn’t all positive. Aside from the side effects, Celexa (and Abilify) took only the edge off of my irritability. I’m in fact noticing it getting worse again. I’m not exactly sad, but I’m most definitely pretty negativistic lately. I’m not sure why. I mean, maybe it’s something to do with the lack of an over-the-moon sense of relief at going into long-term care. Or maybe it’s the other way around and my negativistic state prevented that. I’m not sure.