Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Depression Daze: Finally Coming Out of a Depression Episode

You know how when you're depressed, days feel like weeks?

That's pretty much been me a few weeks ago, for like a week and a half. It felt like a month, when in reality it was only maybe two weeks tops. Of course after I came out of the depression I dealt with a few days of really bad anxiety. Fun times.

But you know what? Even though that week and a half of depression was worse than I've felt in at least 2 years, I still made it through, and came out of it. I had an extra session of therapy, and we both concluded I should probably do what my psychiatrist had suggested in times of anxiety or depression: Increase my dosage of Depakote a little bit.

I don't like to increase my dosage unless absolutely necessary, but in this case it was the right decision. So after about 3-4 days, and some really hard days of forcing myself to do everything possible to make myself work through the depression, I started feeling better. One of the days, a Tuesday, I had to work at 4 pm, and I hadn't worked in over a week. Finally with my the extra help of my boyfriend (he literally talked me through getting out the door to go to work, step by step) I was able to make it to work, and stay there. That seemed to flip the switch. I felt so much better after that, after having forced myself to work.

For me, the hardest thing about depression is the feeling of just being numb, having no motivation, and simply not caring about anything anymore.

Some methods of coping that worked for me this time were:

1. Making Lists

I have a small notebook I keep next to the bed, and every night or morning, I'd write done what I wanted to accomplish the next day, even if was as simple as writing down: Shower, Eat, Get Dressed. Writing down these small goals, makes things seem more manageable, and also once I cross it off helps me feel more accomplished. I learned this from a former therapist.

One of My Lists


2. Write Letters to Yourself

My boyfriend had the idea that if I wrote a letter to myself the night before (I tended to feel less depressed during the afternoons and evening, the mornings were the hardest for me) that might help me feel more motivated in the morning.

The letters were more like pep talks to myself, and telling myself that I could do it.

I also recommend writing letters to yourself when you feel good. That way you can look back at them during low times, and remember that you won't always feel this bad.

3. Stay Hydrated, Eat Small Meals, Hygiene

When I get depressed I tend to not take very good care of myself. This is usually because I don't feel like I deserve food, or even feel like eating. Food starts seeming gross to me. It doesn't help that I tend to just not care about myself very much anymore. So it helps to force myself to eat small meals throughout the day, the healthier the better. Also staying hydrated is important, so drink up!

Finally, take a shower/bath everyday, even if you don't usually shower everyday. Even if you feel bad, taking a shower can really help improve your mood. Soak in the bath, stand under the shower head, and just enjoy the heat of the water, the smell of the soaps, and simply feeling cleaning afterwards.


4. Sleep

Sleep is tricky.

If you sleep too much, it will make you feel worse. You have to make yourself get up at a decent hour every day. Even if it simply means you get out of bed, and move to the couch. A good sleep schedule is important. Personally anything more than 10 hours is too much in my opinion. I know it's hard, but getting out of bed is the best thing to do when you're depressed.

5. Exercise

Exercise, exercise, exercise.

Even if it's simply doing some stretches for 10-15 minutes on a yoga mat. Or taking a 10 minute walk around the block. If you can do more great! if not, 10 minutes at least, especially in the morning can really really improve your mood.

Here's a  yoga stretching video I like to use (it's about 13 minutes long): Fitness Blender Yoga Infused Workout

6. Finally, Don't Beat Yourself Up, Be Kind to Yourself

I know you've got that harsh inner critic in your mind when you're feeling like this, but don't listen to it. You are not only a survivor, you are a warrior. You'll get better, and the next time will not be as bad, because you know what to do, and you've done it before.

Give yourself some credit. You have to fight this battle with yourself, and in the end you will win. You always do :)


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.
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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.