Back Up The Roller Coaster

The last time I wrote a post, an actual post, was three weeks ago. I mentioned I was starting to feel down and that remained true until this week. Like magic, I woke up Monday morning feeling fresh and new and energized for no reason at all. I’m watching for symptoms of hypomania but so far other than having energy I feel fine. Is this that elusive baseline everyone talks about? Time will tell. 

In recovery news, I have all but given up on my rigorous daily schedule. The only thing that has stayed throughout my down time is I still try and journal every day and go to support group. Getting out of the house really helps me and passes the time. I’ve also been consistently tracking my moods in my planner, which I think will be really important in the coming months. More on that in a minute. 

In treatment news, I finally saw my psychiatrist. Yay! The meeting was short, but she encouraged me to get back on my daily routine, which I’m going to tweak and try. She also took me off Abilify. She saw no real reason for me to be on it and I was worried it was the source of my extensive weight gain. She increased my antidepressant, since I’m predominantly in a depressive state. My depression is about 50-75% of the time. Not good. 

Being at the psychiatrist was intimidating. I knew what I wanted to ask her about and talk about, but it was harder than I expected. I’m very proud of myself though for telling her what I wanted and in a way taking charge of my treatment. I have a lot of you guys to thank for that. Reading blogs about dealing with these situations made me realize how important it was for me to communicate clearly and effectively with my doctor. 

In regards to the medication change and mood tracking, I know that keeping track of how the dosage increase is affecting me will be important to be able to tell my doctor, so I’m going to be really diligent in keeping that mood section of my planner along with markings down any unusual symptoms. Going to support group every day helps a lot with my mood tracking because we check in with how we’re feeling on a scale of one to ten. Every day I have to take a minute and take stock of my feeling, put a number on it and say it out loud, so it’s very easy to remember and track. 

Today, I feel super happy and energized. Nicole got the house in tip top shape this weekend and I’ve been doing a good job of keeping it up so far this week. I worked yesterday at the sewing shop and I work the next three days and am actually really looking forward to having something to do and making a little extra money. Visioncon, the scifi, fantasy and gaming convention in my area, is coming up in two weeks and I’m on staff this year as a photographer. I’m really looking forward to that. Hopefully that won’t be the weekend my mood drops back down. All in all, things are well. I will be getting back into the blog this week and also starting my videoblogs back up so hopefully you’ll hear more from me soon!

Have a great day everyone! ūüĎć

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Meditation

Meditation is something that’s always been a little scary for me. I don’t know why. But I know there are countless studies that talk about the numerous health benefits of meditation so I thought now that I have a set schedule for my days, it was the perfect time to add in some meditation.

I feel like Goldilocks in regards to my meditation, the first one I did was too long, the second couple I did were too short, but the ones I’m doing now are just right. I’m embedding the playlist for the 30 Day Meditation Challenge I’m doing below. I’m not necessarily doing it as a challenge, but more to have an easy way to find my meditation every day and as a way to do a lot of different things to find what works best for me.

In the short week that I’ve been doing meditation, I’m already seeing the benefits. I look at the world a little differently and feel more present. I’ve also been able to just breathe and clear my mind when I’m feeling anxious, something that was really helpful during Christmas.

If you’ve never done meditation but you’d like to try, I recommend the videos below. The woman’s name is Faith Hunter and her voice is very pleasant and calm. I had a little trouble with some of the others I found because the voice of the person talking is important to me. But Faith is great. Also, these videos are a good length, like I said before, each is around 8-10 minutes long, which is an easy amount of time to take from your day just to relax and do something good for yourself.

Namaste.

Recovery & Treatment Goals

In my December goals post, where I outlined my new year’s resolutions, I decided I should make a post dedicated just to my recovery and treatment goals. I think this is especially important now that I’ve been in the hospital. I know I need to take better care of myself. And in the week since I’ve been out, I really have been being much more mindful of my mental and overall health. I know I need to make some big adjustments and I have been.

These may sound like the type of goals that would just be regular lifestyle change goals, but I prefer to think of them as part of my recovery and treatment, because that’s the biggest reason I’m doing them. Also, things like cutting back on caffeine and sugar are much easier to wrap my head around around when presented as something that’s going to potentially help my mental health.

So here’s my list:

  • No caffeine after 12pm. (Decaf coffee, you’re my friend.)
  • No soda.
  • Sugary snacks and drinks very sparingly. (Those milkshakes though!)
  • No salt in foods that’s added by me. (I used to be so bad about this.)
  • Support group daily. (The doctor said to stop isolating.)
  • Reach out to family and friends once a week.
  • Counseling every other week or as needed.
  • Take medications daily and on time.
  • Get moving daily. (Walking, yoga, dancing… just move!)
  • Daily meditation.
  • Utilize coping skills more often, as needed.

 

The Importance of Having A Daily Routine

I realized in the days leading up to my hospital stay when I was in that depressive state that one of my triggers is feeling like I have nothing to do. I don’t work, and Nicole works a lot of hours, so I spend a lot of time home alone. I am combating this now that I’m back home with having a pretty specific schedule that I’m trying to adhere to without too many changes from day to day so I can get into a regular daily routine.

My doctors at the hospital felt this was a good idea but warned me not to be too hard on myself if things on my list don’t get done. Also, one of the counselors said something really interesting in regards to it when I brought it up in group therapy. I said I thought I should have positive feelings toward my new schedule and he said no. I don’t need to be positive or negative about it, just neutral. It’s just something I’m going to do. I’m not exactly sure of the reason for that but I’m going with it. I’m trying to be neutral about the schedule, not too excited and also not dreading it. Just neutral. It’s just something I’m going to do, plain and simple. And maybe that was the reason, maybe he didn’t want me to over complicate things.

There are a few simple guidelines I’m following alongside my schedule. These include not having caffeine after 12pm (now I understand the point of decaf coffee), including less sugar in my diet (I’m taking this slow, I don’t want to never eat a cookie again) and not adding salt to anything I eat (something I did constantly before about two months ago). Those things are all going well alongside the schedule.

If it seems silly to have to have such a detailed list of activities in my day, just know that it’s necessary for me, otherwise I’ll just sit and ponder what I’m doing with my life.

  • 7:00 | Shower
  • 7:30 | Journal, Coffee, Take medicine, Watch a motivational video
  • 8:30 | Meditation
  • 9:00 | Chores
  • 10:00 | Blog, Videoblog
  • 12:00 | Lunch
  • 1:00 | Workout or Yoga
  • 2:15 | Various*
  • 6:00 | Cook dinner

*Various Activities | Errands, Support Group, Crocheting, Extra blogging/videoblogging, Art Journaling, Reading, DIY stuff, Watching videos, movies or Netflix, Affirmations, Coping skill box, Writing memoir stories.

The order of all of this was very meticulously decided. Monday was the first day of my new schedule and I did tweak it a little. Otherwise it went really well. I think the mix of activities was really good and worked. I’m altering the list daily to work in support groups (the times vary) and other things that may be specific to that day. I’m going to do an overall assessment at the end of the week to see what things I changed the most and if everything is still working well. My group therapy counselor in the hospital said that was really important to do. Nicole is going to help me with it.

 

 

Videoblog | The Ins & Outs of the Psych Unit

If you’ve never been to a psychiatric treatment facility, I promise, it’s not scary. It’s like any other hospital. Watch this video on the details of my experiences in the two inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities I’ve been in. I realize not all places are alike, and the two I went to were different but had a lot of similarities. If you feel like you need help, don’t hesitate to go because you think it’s going to be terrible. I promise it’s not. People there just want to help you.

As always, if you like my videos and want to see more, you can follow me here on the blog, follow me on YouTube or even support me on Patreon.

Effexor Withdrawal

I have now been off of Effexor for 40 days (wow) and my withdrawal symptoms are gone.  The only thing I ever felt was a weird shock-like sensation in my head and a general fogginess.  As in, when I would turn my head to look to the left, it was like my brain was delayed in recognizing that I had turned my head and would adjust afterward.  Very odd sensation, and not pleasant.  Leads to a lot of awkward head shaking.

I love the site Crazy Meds – they take that paperwork from the pharmacist (which trust me, I read multiple times) and put it into pretty comical real-world terms.¬† They had the first article I read saying getting off Effexor is difficult and has to be done slowly, mentioning the possibility you may feel like you’re wearing an electric eel for a hat. ¬† I read a lot of other comments around from real people who had been on Effexor, and needless to say I became terrified after hearing of people who weren’t even able to come all the way off the medication.¬† And then, low and behold, I had nothing to worry about.

I did not wean off of Effexor slowly as is usually suggested, I went from 125 mg to 37.5 mg in seven days but I was in the hospital being monitored and there were extenuating circumstances.¬† When when they sent me home there was no Effexor on my list of meds anymore.¬† I was really concerned then, because I was having the shock-like sensation.¬† It was bad for about a week and then it was gone.¬† I get the same fogginess I mentioned earlier but I think that’s my current meds (Depakote, Abilify and Zoloft.)

Anyone else have the electric eel experience that is Effexor?