Depressive episode warning signs.

For the past few days I have been worried I am sinking into a depressive episode; I have been irritable, tired and teary. I thought I would post about some of the signs I notice when I am sinking into a depressive episode because I believe it is really important to recognize them early in order to prepare and avoid a bad crash.

Fatigue
One of the biggest signs for me, and I think for most people, is fatigue. It doesn’t matter if I sleep 2 hours or 12 hours, I wake up and the only thing I want to do is go back to bed. It gets so bad my whole body aches, and even getting up to get a drink feels like climbing Mt Everest.

Irritability
I am usually a very mellow and laid back person, but sometimes I get very irritable and sensitive and anything can set me off. Facing a small problem might set me off into hysterics and I will cry for hours, even when I would normally have handled it fine.

Indecisiveness and self doubt
A couple of days ago I wrote about feeling clouded. Before I get depressed I often get a lot of mental confusion, I can’t make decisions at all and even deciding what to wear or what to eat feels like a life or death decision. I start to doubt every choice I make and I become very self critical and cynical.

Watching more television
How much I watch TV is a strong indicator if I am manic or depressive. When I am manic I can’t concentrate on the TV at all, I got obsessed with the last season of Masterchef, but they showed the finale when I was in a manic episode, and even though I had spent months watching the whole season I still couldn’t sit down long enough to watch the finale. When I am depressed however it is like the TV is my life, I often spend all day on the couch watching the idiot box because I just can’t summon myself to do anything else.

Socialising less
I am usually a very social person, I love going out doing things and seeing my friends. When the depression starts however I start to look at get togethers as a chore, and I begin to make excuses not to go as I would rather stay at home.

Change in appetite and weight gain
When I am manic I barely eat at all and I lose a lot of weight, so when I start to pack on the pounds it is a good indicator I am going from a manic episode to a depressive episode as I often start becoming more sedentary and eat a lot more. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

Some of these signs are obvious symptoms of depression, but they used to go unnoticed for me until the depression really hit. Depression comes on gradually, so it is important to be mindful of the signs as they are often quite subtle to begin with.
I was diagnosed with depression ten years ago, but after being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder earlier this year my depressive cycles are a bit easier to predict as they often follow a manic episode and now I am a lot more aware of my mania symptoms (I will write more about my mania symptoms in another post).

I would love to hear any one else’s signs and experiences too so feel free to share! Thank you for reading, I hope you are having a fantastic day!

DD

Feeling Clouded.

For the past month I’ve been a bit manic and I thought I was coping pretty well, but the last few days have been pretty rough.
For the first part of a manic episode I feel awesome! I have so much energy, I am filled with ideas and creativity, life is filled with happiness and I want to share it with everyone! After a few weeks barely sleeping, exercising and cleaning profusely and trying to complete every project under the sun, my mind starts to lose it a bit.

I just feel so confused and hazy, there is so much that I want to do but as soon as I start doing it I get overwhelmed and can’t concentrate. Even choosing what to eat for lunch is becoming too difficult of a decision. It’s incredibly frustrating and it makes me really irritable and sensitive.
I freaked out the other day because I left the nappy bag at the dance studio, I knew it wasn’t a big deal, I just had to go back in the evening and get it, but I still cried for two hours about it regardless because I felt so stupid.

There are a hundred things I should be doing right now, but as soon as I start something I think ‘I shouldn’t waste my time doing this when there is so much to do!’ so then I stand around trying to figure out what I should do instead… So I thought I’d try to just sit down, relax and write for a bit, but writing is hard because my brain just isn’t functioning. I really hope the cloudiness goes away soon…

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My journey with Bipolar.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 1 earlier this year, so I guess my journey has just begun, however my symptoms have been noticeable since I was young and I have been trying to get help for the past 10 years.

When I was fourteen I started seeing a mental health team after telling a GP I had bad nightmares and heard voices. I had just suffered from a sexual assault, my dad was diagnosed with MS and my grandmother who I was very close to died. I was subsequently diagnosed with depression and PTSD and was put onto antidepressants. I was put on Lovan for a year but it didn’t prove too effective and I suffered from bouts of depression and self harming throughout high school and college.

In my late teens my symptoms worsened. I started experiencing bad depersonalization and would enter dissociative states where I would become completely unresponsive to the outside world. I became increasingly depressed which resulted in a suicide attempt. I was taken to hospital overnight for observation but was then released. I started seeing a psychiatrist who treated me for depression and tried various antidepressants including Effexor and Mirtazapine, all of which gave me bad side effects.

I ended up dropping out of university and working as a stripper for a while. I really enjoyed the lifestyle as I could never sleep anyway and I made good money drinking and partying and made some awesome friends. Eventually the lifestyle began to catch up with me.. I started becoming paranoid I was eventually going to end up dead so I decided to quit my job and I used getting pregnant as my motivation.

My partner is 18 years older than me and I thought it would take a while but I ended up getting pregnant straight away. Me and him have a very stable relationship despite my craziness sometimes. He truly is amazing and soon after I met him I had stopped my anti depressants and was fairly stable.

After falling pregnant I started getting bad symptoms again. My muscle twitches came back, I couldn’t sleep, I heard voices and had visual hallucinations and I started getting dissociation again. Despite all of these symptoms I didn’t have the depression I usually got with it that was supposedly the ’cause’.
I went to see a psychiatrist because I knew I was suffering from something other than depression, but the psych assumed I was just a drug addict. I suffered from hyperemesis for my entire pregnancy, which meant I was constantly vomiting morning, noon and night, this coupled with my other symptoms is what made her judge me I believe. My other downfall was I was honest about previous recreational marijuana use. I tried to explain to her I hadn’t had it for ages and all of my symptoms started before I even tried it (not to mention the fact there is absolutely no evidence to suggest you can get withdrawl symptoms at all, particularly with the small amount I had and how severe my symptoms were). But she didn’t listen.

I actually complained to my counselor about her so the next time I saw her my counselors supervisor came with me. The psych still made me cry, told me I was fine and that I probably won’t get postnatal depression because I should be better able to cope as I have been depressed in the past (even though I wasn’t even concerned about depression at the time).
I felt worthless. I just wanted help finding out what was wrong so I could sort it out as I had a baby on the way, but she made me feel like I was just making it all up and it was all my fault.

I gave up trying to get help after seeing her. I have never had someone treat me with such disrespect. I stopped seeing my counselor (who was amazing) and I tried to deal with it on my own.
I spent my whole pregnancy secluded at home sick as a dog and paranoid of seeing anyone.

After the birth I felt fantastic! I was still sick and in a lot of pain but I was on top of the world regardless. On the way home from the hospital I stopped at the mall and did all the shopping, then I completely cleaned the house from top to bottom. I was so energetic yet I was only sleeping one or two hours a night, and not because of the baby, he actually slept awesomely. After a while I started losing it. I got very irritable and sensitive and I was racing at a million miles an hour all the time. After I freaked out after a fight with my partner (we had never fought before I had the baby) I punched a wall and broke my hand. That was the point I knew I needed help. In retrospect I should have gotten help earlier, but my experience during the pregnancy made me paranoid of seeing mental health professionals. And after all, she said I was fine.

I saw my counselor again and she told me I should see a psychiatrist immediately and the best way to do that was to go to the hospital. So I waited for hours in emergency only for a doctor to tell me I’m fine and to go home. The next day I freaked out again and called the emergency mental health team. They told me to go back to the hospital and talk to a psychiatrist so again off I went. They were very apologetic and said I should have been seen the night before by and actual psych but they were short staffed. So there I was.. Waiting.. Waiting.. After hours waiting for the psych to come after being told he was on his way I decided to leave because I wanted to see my son. They had me waiting in the mental health ward and when I went to leave they said ‘You aren’t going anywhere. We have the power to hold you as an involuntary patient’. Obviously I proceeded to freak out. I had gone in there on my own accord, my mother was even accompanying me, and they lured me in and admitted me without even telling us and now they wouldn’t let me go home and see my three week old baby. I was distraught. Eventually the psychiatrist came, talked to me and said I had to stay there for an indeterminate amount of time.

My partner came down to the hospital and lost it at the staff to let me out as he has been caring for me full time and I was doing well at home, I just needed diagnostic help and medication. Luckily a different psychiatrist was walking past and over heard so gave us a second opinion and let me go if I agreed to be sedated. So I begrudgingly took the tablet she gave me, passed out and my partner took me home.

I was given Zyprexa to try and within a couple of weeks my manic symptoms were much better as I was getting a lot more sleep. Then I hit a wall. The depression came on and I felt terrible. I felt like the life had been sucked out of me, I was tired all the time and I felt so ashamed for what had happened the months prior. I stopped taking my Zyprexa because it made me even drowsier and I couldn’t stand it any longer.

I started seeing a psych that I saw a couple years prior, but I didn’t click with him at all. He still couldn’t explain what happened to me and just seemed to brush it off. My counselor then suggested someone and she was amazing! I can’t stress how important it is to keep looking for a doctor until you find one you really like. She looked at my entire history, asked about my family, didn’t judge me for my past mistakes and reassured me that everything wasn’t my fault. She diagnosed me with Bipolar 1 and suggested I start taking Lithium to help balance my moods but I am still deciding whether I want to yet or not, I’m still nervous about side effects.

I’m currently feeling pretty good. I’ve been hypomanic for the last couple weeks but I can control myself alright as long as I make sure to get enough sleep and nothing sets me off (which is actually a bit difficult at the moment with a teething baby).

And that’s essentially where I’m up to! I feel like I could have written ten blog posts about this but I didn’t want to blather on too long. I’m sure I will expand on some of my experiences in future blog posts.

Thank you all for reading! I hope you are having a fantastic day!

DD

Meditation.

If you have ever suffered from a mental problem at some point in your life I’m sure you have heard..

Have you tried meditating?

And I always used to think ‘What good will sitting perfectly still listening to rain drops and wind chimes do.’ As whenever I tried to meditate I could never turn my brain off anyway. It’s taken me a long time to realize that meditation is different for everyone and you don’t need a CD of a whispery woman telling you to ‘channel your inner peace’ to relax.

I like to think of meditation like massage in that there are two main types; Relaxation and Remedial.

Relaxation meditation is where you try to clear your thoughts and become more mindful of your body. Most meditation practices are this type of meditation. I find it particularly helpful when I am feeling stressed out over everyday life events, however I often find the benefits to be temporary or ineffective if I am suffering from a more serious problem as shortly after the meditation the racing thoughts just come back. I try to make time at least once a week to do some relaxation meditation where I try to clear my head from toxic thoughts and focus on my body. I find yoga and swimming very good for this.

Remedial meditation is more intense. This is where you allow your mind to flow freely without distractions. It has the exact opposite intent of traditional meditation which aims at clearing the mind, but instead focus is entirely within the mind. Like remedial massage it is good at healing injury and hurt. I find it essential during my manic phases in order to purge everything and think clearer afterwards. My favorite way to do this is to listen to my ipod while briskly walking my son in the stroller. I just walk until I feel clearer, Jett needs a feed or my legs can’t take me any further. I also find showers particularly good for thinking time. In this day and age every one is so busy they rarely spend spare time just thinking without having a screen in front of them. I believe practicing in remedial meditation is very important at maintaining mental health as it helps the mind work through problems and issues, the trick is knowing when to stop and get back to reality. A good starting point is automatic writing. I was skeptical at first but I was forced to do it in a group setting and I got so emotional I cried the whole time (very embarrassing). But I had been holding on to so much for so long that to finally release it onto paper, whilst difficult, really helped me and I felt fantastic afterwards.

Traditional meditation isn’t for everyone, but I believe that taking time each day to stop and think about your mind and your body is very beneficial to everyday health and wellbeing. You just have to find the right meditation that works for you.

Coincidence.

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Today on my morning walk Butterfly by Crazytown came on my ipod. For some reason I stopped to look at some flowers and then an amazing butterfly landed on them. I have walked around here my entire life and I have never seen a butterfly like this one.

Later this afternoon I was thinking about my medications. My doctor has recommended I take Lithium, which got me thinking about Nirvana and then Come As You Are came on the radio.

I’m not a spiritual person, in fact I am atheist and consider myself very logical.. but I constantly have coincidences happen that send shivers up my whole body and it’s hard to not feel some sort of magic and wonder.