Archives for Depression
As I mentioned in my last article, May is Mental Health Month, and I will be commemorating the event by writing related blog posts all month long. This year’s theme is “Mind Your Health”. We all know how interconnected mind and body are. As a society, we are increasingly pressured, stressed, and tied to technology. Many of us are also spending more time in drive thru lanes and less time engaging in relaxation and hobbies. We spend less time exercising and minding our everyday health just to keep up with the grind. It would serve many of us well to examine our current health and how we can make positive changes in order to keep us in top shape. If our body is healthy, our mind will be healthier as well.
“You’ve got to get yourself together, you’ve got stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it.” –U2, Stuck in a Moment One of the most annoying parts of bipolar disorder, for me anyway, is feeling like I’m stuck in a mood that I can’t get out of. Example: I had a long day this past Sunday, traveling four hours round trip. While not in the car, I was surrounded by crowds of people. It was exhausting, and both my husband and I were, let’s say, a bit sensitive by end of day. There was some confusion of how to get back on the highway, and I felt he was a little too snippy with me. I was offended and annoyed.
Please excuse my silence for the past 10 days. I am back and ready to keep going, no matter what. Depression is a disgusting thing. Right now I'm in the throes of it. I don't know if I've ever wrote a blog post like this on Her Bipolar Life. In the midst of confusion and sadness. I told a loved one, "I am near rock bottom, emotionally". It's that feeling I've had more than once, where my exhaustion mixes with horror.
Spring will be here in four days. Here in Florida, the weather is nearly perfect. The flowers, insects, and snakes (!) have already sprung. Others are not so lucky. This week, my family members in western New York had a severe snow storm, and more snow is expected throughout the United States. Although we didn't feel it as much here, Winter 2013-2014 was bitter for most. We were the only state in the lower 48 that didn't get snow this year. However, we still noticed the colder temperatures and the inclement weather that created cloudy skies for days. In Florida, we definitely notice when it is dark for more than 24 hours.
Mental illness causes me to question myself. Am I being irrational? Do I have the right to think this way? Am I crazy, or just human? I have doubted myself so much, dissected the illness so much, that I don’t know up from down. I often can’t discern whether I am mentally sick or just going through a tough life change like anyone else.
I guess I'd call myself spiritual, not exactly religious. My parents were raised in Roman Catholic families; my mother left the Church in her 30's. I was baptized Catholic, and even though I didn't go through the full "process" of Catholicism, I still attended mass with my grandparents on hundreds of Sundays. I observed Lent and was often guilt-ed using The 10 Commandments. During my battle with mental illness, my personal relationship with God has been tumultuous. There are some years when I can't live without talking to God daily; other years I have completely abandoned Him.
I live in the Sunshine State. It is mid-January, and the high temperature will peak at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit today. This is cold for Floridians. We take advantage of the sun and warmth we experience most days of the year. Even though Winter in Florida is a stark contrast to the snow, darkness, and bitter cold that is experienced in many parts of the United States, mood patterns would suggest that I am still affected by this season. I have been admitted to a psychiatric hospital three times, and all three of those times, it was Winter--December, January, February. My online mood trackers show that my depression, exhaustion, and irritability causes me more trouble in the Winter than the warmer months of the year.
Yesterday, I was worrying about other people. I was enjoying Christmas with family and friends, getting way too many gifts, being spoiled with food and hugs and love. What about everyone else? Were they getting the love they deserved? I was happy, secure, at one with the Holy Spirit. It was a joyous day. Unfortunately, inevitably, the brightness started to fade. The realization of the Christmas holiday coming to a close started to set in.
The cyclical nature of bipolar disorder often leaves me wondering, "Which comes first, the depression or the negative thoughts?" Negative thinking can have a devastating impact on one's life. For me, it's a personal hell. My co-workers and friends rarely notice anything is wrong; I keep it to myself, but with because I keep it to myself, it is hard to cope. The more I rehash negative thoughts and feelings about myself in my head, the more likely I am to feel sad and anxious.
One of the most difficult parts of having bipolar disorder is knowing how to prevent and manage mood swings. Although mood cycles vary from person to person, most people with bipolar are profoundly aware of how hard it is to manage and control mania and depression. The best way to deal with bipolar mood swings is to get treatment. However, hypomania, mania, and depression are not completely preventable. Even with medication and good health habits, mood swings still occur. Before the tech age, people with bipolar disorder relied on print notebooks and drawn charts only to record their moods for themselves and their clinicians. This is still a viable way to track both mood swings and how environment and health affect the outcome of one's course of illness. For those that are computer and mobile device-savvy, however, there are a multitude of tools available at your fingertips.