Mindfulness to stop the downward spiral.

Today in therapy I had an a-ha moment.  I guess it has been drilled in my head, that mindfulness helps depression and anxiety, but today it finally clicked!

I never really saw a connection as to how mindfulness can aid in symptom management.  But yesterday, I had a very frustrating day.  So frustrating, in fact, that I was crying from frustration. The voices I often hear went haywire, telling me how useless I am because nothing got done in the end. This could have been a terrible thing, because when the voices start going in a negative direction, it is hard to get them to calm down and they wear me and break me down.

That said, the voices were going and I just started by taking a couple of deep breaths and just noticing the voices, not judging, not listening.  They were annoying but they didn’t have any power too command me to do things. They just were… Until the end of the day, when I finally went to sleep.

Started 2017 in the psych ward

After all, it turns out that I needed to end 2016 with a bang.  The kind of bang that I don’t necessarily like but need.  New Year’s Eve wasn’t as terrible as expected.  I cooked a ham, and made beer bread for everyone.  Certain people we were expecting decided last minute to flake out on us, but that was okay.  I had Prosecco and red velvet bundt cake.  The night was going okay.

I had a minor spat with my boyfriend over text.  Unfortunately, the spat triggered me even further.  I couldn’t stop crying so I excused myself early from the New Year’s celebrations.  I realized that the triggering was all on me, even though some of it was triggered by a conversation.  However, I was already in a lot of pain.  The voices were commanding me to kill myself, and this was not the first time during the holidays that they had done this, so I lost control of myself and decided it was best to go to the emergency room.

At the emergency room, I learned that Prosecco triggers migraines for me (to top it all off).  The really ugly kind, with blurry vision, nausea, vomiting, and the worst head ache in the planet.  I had to be stabilized for the migraine first, then I was given a psychiatric evaluation and about 8 hours later, because yes, even with ER doctors and IV drugs at my disposition, it still took 8 or so hours to stabilize the migraine, I was finally admitted to the psych ward.

Rough thing to decide, but that’s what had to be done.  As a result of my 12 days at the psychiatric ward, I am now attending the Psychosocial Rehab and Recovery Center again.  I am pretty sure it will do me a lot of good, as it did me a lot of good the first time around.

 

Regaining yourself.

One of the hardest things about depression is that you tend to forget who you really are.  That smiling person that genuinely cared is probably gone.  Not for good, but gone.  Left is a somewhat empty, tired shell of what used to be you.

The process of regaining yourself is long, because depression has now changed you and is part of you.  Now you have to figure out who you are now, and how to fill the empty shell.  The tiredness may never go away, but the shell… well, the world is your oyster.  You can start from where you are, and keep going.

It’s very hard to explain.  But now that you have been gutted by depression, the remodel and subsequent “decoration” should follow.  Even though you were gutted, you still have your values, your morals, spirituality, passions.  Live by them, and you will be happier, youer, and better.

It’s a process that involves acceptance.  Acceptance that things are not the same as they used to be, but it doesn’t mean it’s acceptance that life will be forever crappy.  Once you have accepted that things will now be different, you can start rebuilding and regaining yourself.

Being in charge of your mental health recovery

First, I would like to make the disclaimer that this does not replace the advise and decisions your doctors make.  And that you should continue to do what they tell you and continue to take your medications as directed, as this is always very important.

In the beginning stages of mental health recovery, you REALLY need to follow what the doctors tell you to do.  Just because you have reached crisis for the first time (or 20th), and have landed in the hospital or the psychiatrist’s office and are not sure why you’re there.  But once you find out why you’re there and are feeling a little bit more like yourself, it’s time to be in charge.

Now, being in charge, does not mean that you make all the final decisions.  It means that you are an important partner in your own recovery decisions, which means that it is time to do some research.  A good first step is doing some research on your specific diagnosis, so you understand what the doctors think is going on with you.  Once you understand what the doctors think is going on with you, you can agree or disagree with the diagnosis, and have an honest conversation about your specific symptoms.  This will ensure that you are being treated for the right thing, as many mental illnesses overlap with each other.

Once you have this conversation, it’s time to figure out your next step.  This can be very daunting, as there are literally a myriad of programs, medications, therapies, etc, that you could go to.  So, having an honest conversation with your therapist, social worker, or doctor, who (probably) knows your case best, will help you decide what is next.

The most important part of being in charge of your mental health recovery is to be committed to your health, yourself, and your options.  Without this commitment, it will be very hard to be in charge of your recovery.

All this said, I wish you the best in your recovery!

Managing some stress

As a sufferer of fibromyalgia, I have learned the importance of exercise to keep well.  However, I have also learned that overdoing it (which can be easy) can also have its negative consequences.  So is with stress.  A little bit of stress is not so bad.  And there is the kind of stress that is positive, too.  But too much stress has its negative consequences, just like too much of a good thing.

I won’t go into the details on how bad too much stress can be for you.  I’m pretty sure we are all familiar with them… high blood pressure, relapse of mental illness, heart disease…  However, there are things you can do to manage some of the stress.

One of the techniques I have used successfully is to plan and divide and conquer.  Sure, you can’t always plan in advance, because you can’t predict the future.  However, there are some things that you know will likely happen (for example, you got engaged, you will likely get married within a year or two. Or wife is pregnant.  You will likely become a father within 9 months.  You can plan around that.).  And for most other situations, though you can’t necessarily plan in advance, you can take some time after identifying the stressful event and plan around it.

The important thing is to break it down into smaller, manageable chunks that you can handle at your own pace, or at least at a reasonable pace.

When you start seeing the world at manageable chunks, the world ceases to be an emergency and a crisis.  It sure does take some getting used to, but another thing you will find when you start dividing and conquering, is that life isn’t the catastrophe that we make it out to be on a daily basis.

Same thing with exercise for fibromyalgia.  Instead of running 5 miles in one day and then suffering for a week because you overdid it, break it down to a mile a day for 5 days with two days rest for the week.  Same goal, different approach.  The latter more effective than the former!

Finishing the Psychosocial Rehab and Recovery Program.

I definitely learned a lot after 2 years of participating in the Psychosocial Rehab and Recovery Program.  I have learned to manage my emotions, cultivate happiness, community reintegration, communication skills, dating skills, manage my psychosis, and many other things.  My commitment to this 2 year journey has paid off in that I am a mentally healthier person who is in charge of her life.  It is bittersweet that I have completed the program.  It became a part of my life for 2 years.  And my therapist wasn’t only sweet and understanding, she was also very focused and specific, and wouldn’t let me get away with bull about what is going on in my life.

My hope is that I will be able to share some of these skills I have learned.  It is part of my recovery plan, and it is also a way for me to pay it forward. 🙂

I want to share some of what I have learned in hopes that you can too learn a bit of how to be in charge of your life.  I may also share some of my personal stories, or day-to-day life.  I am hoping, too, that this new understanding about myself will help me be more focused and regular at blogging, and why not, I would like to touch at least one life in a positive way.