Thursday, April 20, 2017

Trusting that Happy Feeling: Stop Over Analyzing Your Emotions

So the past few days have been interesting.

I went to a theme park on the weekend and rode a few major roller coasters. Ever sense I've felt incredibly happy. And being the paranoid person that I am when it comes to my feelings, I started second guessing myself: was I just feeling happy? Or was it the start of an up swing that could lead to mania?

I don't know about any of you, but I second guess my emotions A LOT. I suppose it's a good thing, to be in tune to how you are feeling, keeping track of whether or not you might be sliding into mania or depression.

However there is one very important thing to remember: It is okay to feel good and happy. This does not mean you are going to become manic simply because you have more energy, or feel good.

What I ended up doing to calm my fears, was checking in with my mom and my boyfriend, asking them if I seemed to be acting any different than usual. They both reassured me that while I did seem more energetic and talkative, I simply seemed happy.

My boyfriend had a very good point. My sleep schedule was still normal, even if I was getting up earlier, I was still getting 7-8 hours of sleep (as opposed to my usual 9-10). I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep without any trouble. The first sign of mania for me is usually that I can't fall asleep due to racing thoughts and excessive energy.

Also, I realized I was still able to focus on things that needed to get done, and I wasn't doing anything impulsive or making rash decisions.

The conclusion? I was simply happy, maybe even relaxed, because the stress of the previous weekend was over, and I had just come back from a really fun mini-vacation!
That's me and the very tall roller coaster Diamondback

How do you all deal with the times you second guess your feelings and emotions?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Panic Attacks and Anxiety: Ways to Cope while Working

I've written a lot about anxiety on this blog. Even though I have Bipolar Disorder, it's usually the anxiety that most affects my day-to-day life.

The past few weeks have been especially hard, so I thought I'd write about some tips that I've been trying to help myself push through this anxiety while still managing to go to work.

Here's what I wrote in my journal:

I didn't end up going to work today. While I was driving on my way to work, I started having a panic attack so I pulled over into a neighborhood, and tried to calm down. I didn't feel safe driving though. So I ended up driving back home and then took a GABA and watched Age of Adaline and just tried to relax.

That was just the beginning of what would go on for 3 weeks. After about a week and a half I called my psychiatrist and saw her that Monday. She had to increase my medication gradually, and within about a week and a half I started feeling like myself again.

I was able to only miss three days of work in those 3 weeks though, so I consider it very successful.

How did I manage, you might ask?

It wasn't easy, it took a lot of support from those around me, and a lot of pushing myself to go to work when every part of my body and mind was telling me to stay home.

I forced myself to go outside, and get some sun (strangely enough Michigan was having 60 degree weather in February when all of this was happening. This helped a lot. Not just the exercise, but to get rid of some of that nervous energy. My therapist recommended that I try doing some sort of stretching or exercise before work. This way, I'd sort of tire myself out before driving to work, again, getting rid of the nervous energy so I wouldn't panic while driving to work.

I would also either take some GABA or some other meds that my doctor prescribed me for anxiety a few hours before going to work, to prevent myself from panicking before or even during work.

I also had myself do "practice runs." For example one day when I was especially nervous about driving to work, I got up early and practiced driving places. I went to CVS in the morning and sort of walked around, and then practiced interacting with people by making small talk with the cashier.

Perhaps the hardest part about this period of anxiety was near the end of it I was waking up at around 3 in the morning and having panic attacks. This is extremely unpleasant. I hadn't felt that bad in a long time. My boyfriend was very supportive and helpful, comforting me and listening to my fears until I felt calm enough to fall back asleep. My mother was also helpful by letting me call her whenever I needed to talk. My sister and I would text sometimes during the day and it helped to talk about random things with her to distract myself from the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety.

It helped that I was able to be pretty honest about what was going on with work. They were very understanding and did not make me feel like I was somehow failing or disappointing them on days that I was unable to go into work. This took off the pressure and actually made it easier to go into work more than I normally would have been able to.

I have since had a follow up with my psychiatrist and she is very happy with my improved mental health.

What are some of the ways you cope with anxiety while working?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Morning Panic

She woke up with that same sense of fear in the pit of her stomach.

For the past three days she’d woken up earlier than usual, always afraid. The next thing she knew her body would be in a panic, crying and shaking, hardly able to breathe until she took something, anything, to make herself fall back asleep.

She wasn’t a stranger to panic.

This time though, she felt like she was thirteen years old again as another wave of panic washed over her refusing to release her. The rational part of her mind told her she’d be fine, to just ride the wave, but an overwhelming part of her could only think one thing: Why won’t it stop?

It would stop eventually, it always did, but that lingering fear remained with her throughout the day no matter how many pills she swallowed.

She got through each day, functioning, able to do day to day tasks, and even laugh. But it was those mornings she feared when she laid her head on her pillow each night. The mornings where she’d have to calm herself and start the process all over again.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. This wasn’t how it used to be.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Tips for Travelling with Bipolar Disorder

I recently went on another cruise for a week and I thought I’d share some travelling tips for people with Bipolar Disorder.

Bring your medications in your carry-on

If you’re flying, make sure to bring your medications with you in your carry-on. If you have any liquid medications, as long as they are 3 ounces or less, you can take them with you on the airplane in your carry-on.

I always keep them with me in a clear plastic bag that way they are all in one place, and if security should need to look at them, I can easily take them all out without having to dig around in my bag. The bag I use is actually a cosmetic bag I got from target. You can find it here.

If you get nauseous easily from flying (or being on a ship on a cruise) I found that Bonine worked much better for me than Dramamine. I hardly felt any drowsiness from Bonine, whereas Dramamine made me feel loopy and groggy. You can find the generic brand of Bonine called “Rugby Travel Sickness” which gives you 100 pills for only $7.50. These worked just as well as Bonine, and tasted pretty much the same. Also, it seemed to last 24 hours, so I only had to take it once a day. You can find it on amazon here.


Bring snacks

Some airplanes give you as many snacks as you want on a 2 hour flight like Jet Blue. But most flights just give you cookies or peanuts, or nothing at all. I can start feeling gross if I don’t have enough to eat. I like to bring granola bars, or snack crackers. I always bring a pack of gum to help my ears pop from flying.


Bring something to do on the plane and during your trip

I like to journal, so I always bring a notebook with me on trips, as well as my ipod so I can listen to some music. Music helps calm me down during plane rides, because I can sometimes get a little anxious during take offs and landings. Also, it’s nice to have something to do during downtime on your vacation. You can get one from Barnes and Noble here.

I recommend that you bring something to help you sleep, just in case you have trouble sleeping. You want to try and keep your sleep schedule consistent. My psychiatrist recently recommended something that she calls “a natural Xanax,” called GABA. It’s very mild, but it helps me relax and makes falling asleep easier. Another plus is I don’t feel groggy or tired the next morning. You can get this on amazon here.


Know your Limits and Triggers

If you don’t like huge crowds and loud music let the people you’re travelling with know this. You can always skip the night that everyone goes out to a loud bar or club if that’s something that is going to make you anxious. It’s okay to take breaks, too. If you need to lie down for 20 minutes after lunch, do it! Better to be taking care of yourself rather than be cranky and exhausted the rest of the day.

And Finally: Have fun!

Enjoy your vacation, you deserve it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five Things Friday: Five Ways to Relax

So, I was doing some yoga stretches today, and I thought I should share with you some things I like to do to help me relax:

1. Herbal or Decaf Teas:

Some of my favorites are Twinings Decaf Chai Tea, Peppermint Tea, Chamomile Tea, or Sleepytime Tea.

via google

2. Curling up with a good book:

I love almost anything by Jane Austen, or a fun young adult novel. The most recent one I've read is These Are the Moments by Jenny Bravo. 

via amazon

3. Crocheting:

Or any type of craft. It keeps my hands and mind busy. I also enjoy coloring, and needlepoint or embroidery. You can find the pattern for this blanket here.

4. Listening to Music:

I have a Spotify playlist called "Soothing Songs." Two bands on there have really calming music: Vancouver Sleep Clinic (here is a link to their Winter album) and Amber Run (I really like their 5AM Deluxe album).

5. Yoga:

There's a YouTube channel called Fitness Blender that has all types of great workout videos. I like the fact the videos are easy to follow and are of varying lengths. That way you can choose a video that fits how long you want to exercise that day. My favorite Yoga video of theirs is only 13 minutes long and is fairly easy (except for the bridge!).  Here is a link: Goodbye Stress Calming Stretching Workout.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Reminding Myself I'm Okay

A lot has gone on over the past two months.

My Depakote level turned out to be very low, which could have been the cause for some anxiety over the past 3 months. It's back up to where it should be, but I feel as though my body had to readjust a little bit, which is why I've been worrying more than usual about my mental health.

For example, last night I didn't get much sleep, so this morning, even though I felt perfectly fine besides feeling tired, I started convincing myself that I might be showing symptoms of mania. I started crying and checked in with my mom and boyfriend to make sure that I was okay. Both of them reassured me that I seemed fine and that they hadn't noticed anything out of the usual.

It helps so much that I have people in my life that I trust to tell me when I'm okay, and when I'm not. I know not everyone is so fortunate as to have such a good support system.

I've started taking something as needed called GABA, which my psychiatrist described to me as a "natural, milder Xanax," and it's been really helping. So far I've only needed to take one tablet at a time rather than the recommended dose of 2 tablets (I'm pretty sensitive to medications) and it works well without making me feel too loopy or tired.

Writing and journaling is helping me keep myself from over thinking and worrying as well. As long as I can get my thoughts out on paper or on the screen and they make sense, then I know I'm okay.

via quickmeme

What are some of the things that help you remind yourself that you are okay?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Clothes and Emotions: How What I Wear Impacts My Mood

I've just finished reading an article called "Therapeutic Dressing"  by Erin Mayer which you can read here.

It made me think about my own attitude toward clothing and dressing up or down makes me feel.

I remember when I was severely depressed a few years ago, getting dressed was a big deal. I usually didn't have anywhere that I needed to be, so I could get away with staying in pajamas all day. By the end of the day I would simply change into new pajamas. If I did end up needing to go out I'd throw a sweat shirt on over my pajama shirt and instead of pajama pants I'd just throw on pair of yoga pants. Comfortable, easy, clothing that didn't feel constricting.

There's one sweatshirt in particular that I liked to wear especially when I wasn't feeling well, that I practically lived in. It was extremely soft, and was almost like a security blanket I could wrap around me, making me feel like things were going to be okay. With depression, sometimes it feels like there aren't very many things you can control. But I could control what I wore. I think I needed that sweatshirt to make myself feel like it was okay to not feel good.

Maybe if I had forced myself to get dressed everyday when I was depressed it would have helped me feel better faster. But sometimes I think slowly easing yourself into feeling better is key, rather than forcing yourself to feel better before you're ready.

I have noticed the change in clothing habits now that I haven't been severely depressed for awhile. Now, I feel like I'm being lazy if it's been more than an hour and I haven't showered and gotten dressed yet. I find myself enjoying picking out a cute outfit to wear, or even just wearing a favorite shirt. I would definitely say that clothing can affect your mood.

Although I still lean towards comfortable clothing, such as leggings, I still try to wear actual tops as opposed to ratty old t-shirts.

How does different clothing impact your mood?