Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sleep Being a Challenge

One of the early signs of me feeling worse (depression and suicidal thoughts going up) is when I'm having more difficulty than normal falling asleep. Sleep has always been a problem for me, at least since Middle or High School, so sometimes it can be difficult for me to figure out if it's just the 'normal' staying up til 3-4am, or tossing and turning until 3-4am or later.

These past three weeks, my sleep has been terrible. I've been staying awake until 7am in a lot of cases, this past Sunday I finally fell asleep at 4pm after being awake the previous 30-some hours. It's a mess, and as a result (or source), I've been miserable.

When I've been awake, I'm doing a lot of busy stuff. I'm on my computer, been reading more books, walking more, been making more stops to the coffee shop nearby that I like being at, but none of these things have had any real meaning - these are things that I'm doing to avoid attempting to sleep.

I'm wanting to avoid attempting to sleep because thoughts have been the issue. I've been thinking about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) a lot, something that I did around this time last year, and possibly doing it again. Not really for the chance of getting better, either. I'd like to do it again for the idea of my short-term memory being wiped out every other day. While it would be an easy out, it sounds like such a good thing to do. If it were possible, I'd love to have my entire memory erased and be given a do-over.

One of the things I remember most clearly when I went for my ECT appointments last year were laying in the bed right before being given the anesthesia. Surrounded by 2-3 doctors and the nurse who I'd talk with in the room before for a few minutes to get prepped. They'd talk with me shortly, make sure I knew my name, DOB, a couple other things, then give me the anesthesia. The cold sensation that I'd feel up my arm right before falling asleep is one I honestly wish I could have more of. Just that instant sleep, on command, is something I'd love to have, especially on days where I'm unable to fall asleep on my own.

This is where the more permanent option of instant sleep on command comes into my mind, and it's difficult to get away from it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Example of why I Hate my Brain

'Here are 5 successes. These are things that have made you feel competent, confident, even happy in the recent past. Simply sit with them, attempt to allow yourself to feel those things again when you're thinking about those successes, and don't do anything else.'

Getting these instructions from my therapist, I instead analyze all of those successes, invalidate them, and shatter them.

I broke them down to a point where these now so-called "successes" were through no doing of my own (either just happenstance, a nice way of saying I really failed, or since they're not current, they don't count).

Not only that, but I made comparisons to what I view a "normal" person my age would be dealing with. That's when I get the feeling I'm behind where every body else is in life, I'm defective & I'm inferior.

All of this was in a matter of 45-60 seconds. I break down crying because of this frustration that my brain and line of thinking always seems to point towards the way where I suffer. I can't allow myself to enjoy successes, and I have no compassion for myself to where it might lighten that suffering. I can barely allow other people's compassion because either I don't believe them or I don't deserve it & them.

I really hate my brain.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Fears & Frustrations of Getting Better

Over the past few weeks, I've been in a better overall mood. There's more positive feelings, more possible outlooks that I'm looking forward to try and make work, and a little bit more comfort of being me in my own body.

That scares the fuck out of me.

Not having a job nor going to school, I really only have two things that I'm responsible for doing, and that's group therapy and individual therapy. I do those two things pretty damn well, too. I've been in group for 20 months now. I enjoy talking with the people there, not only other group members, but the facilitator I can talk sports with, and other facilitators & therapists that I run into in the hallways or during down times, I'm able to have friendly & fun conversations with on a consistent basis. Since I've been there for so long, I've gotten a really good grasp on the material (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), and enjoy talking psychotherapy at length. In individual therapy, I've been seeing the same one for years, and the same sort of thing - we're able to have fun conversations (joke & laugh with each other), also discuss general psychotherapy, not necessarily my own, and it's comfortable to do that.

So when the idea of getting better and moving on comes up, there's a real willingness and willfulness to it. I don't want to be a disappointment, I already feel like I am one to my friends, family, and myself. I don't want to limit myself to just going to a shit-ton of therapy the rest of my life, not advancing anywhere in school or a job or relationships. I want successes.

However, I'm scared of expectations and responsibilities, I'm absolutely terrified of failing at meeting those, and I can self-sabotage myself at any opportunity. So even if there is a chance at moving on the 20 or whatever steps from where I am currently and getting a job or more likely going back to school, even the smallest thing that I think or did wrong, I can go in a "fuck it" mode, and shut down completely.

The frustration is that I'm never entirely sure if I want to get better. Frustration is that even when I feel relatively really good right now, I'm stopping myself from enjoying it because of a crippling fear. Frustration is that in this good mood, I'm still at a place where the thoughts of killing myself come up just as frequently as if I were in a bad one, and that those suicidal thoughts have been so consistent now (over 500 days straight), that I'm doubtful those thoughts are ever going to go away.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Untitled

Tonight's the night I really would like to give up.

I'm struggling to find any use for anybody right now, and the best I can come up with is to take care of my cat. Nobody else would want to, or have the patience to deal with her moods, and she does seem to really like it being just two of us. I made sort of an agreement with myself a year or two ago that I would at least wait until my cat died until I'd commit suicide ... that's honestly the only thing that's stopping me tonight, and I'm judging that as me being extremely pathetic.

I would like to find some sort of purpose for myself. It was an assignment from group a couple weeks ago to find purpose (through values, dreams, wants, needs, etc.), and then come up with some future goals that you would truly like to do. They had no restrictions: big/small, realistic/fantasy, anything ... I could've put "to be a major league baseball player", and that would've been it, but I came up with nothing. There's no goals because there's no purpose.

I don't have any dreams or wants or needs or priorities. Not even the imaginative ones anymore.

Then the suggestion was to come up with things that maybe a more optimistic me would consider as being goals, and possibly, through achieving some of those goals, I could find purpose. Problem: I've been working on, and achieved some of, those faux goals for 5 years now. It's not working.

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I don't have anyone currently that I would like to talk to about me or how I'm doing. I have two individual therapists now, and group twice a week, but even now on a Friday night/Saturday morning, where I skipped group therapy on Thursday, these 4 days without therapy or having any sort of deep conversation, is making feel so shitty and alone and isolated.

It's not like I've been isolating myself, either. I've been helping my mom and her fiance move out of their condo multiple times this week, I went down to my grandparent's cabin this morning/afternoon and helped my grandpa put the dock in, along with cleaning up his pontoon and doing random chores around the place that he wanted my help for ... I even had a great time with him, joking with and being "normal" around him.

But that went away pretty quickly. His and I conversations aren't anything deep, on the car rides, we don't even speak a word to each other. Who do I have to talk to, that I have a solid, functional relationship with, where it would feel comfortable? One close friend that I have is continually moving on with their life while I'm in a standstill, and I am avoiding contact with them for no sensible reason other than I think it's just been too long of so little contact that avoiding just seems like the easier way. I could talk to my mom, but she seems particularly miserable because of stresses that she's going through (which some I believe are completely on me), just after a few minutes talking with her, I'm feeling these same stresses as she is, and my problems don't even seem comparable.

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This post has no point to it, I don't have any particular person to talk to, so part of the reason of why I made the blog was so I could just get thoughts down, and it just be read by anyone who would want to.



Update: It was really dumb of me to write a post like this, and then once I finally did fall asleep at about 6-6:30 this morning, put my phone on silent so I could get some sleep. I incidentally scared the fuck out of some people (I'm really sorry, Joe), and that obviously wasn't my intention - I know when to check into the hospital on my own if I'm at that point of needing help.

The biggest problem with my writing above that I didn't make clear at all - that while last night was some elevated levels of depression and suicidal ideation - this is the kind of stuff that runs through my mind every day. And I mean every single day, it's something I wake up to and something I try to fall asleep to each morning & night. So while it was different for others to read that sort of thing, any worry/concern there was specifically for last night ... while it certainly didn't feel good, it also didn't feel too much out of the ordinary for me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook & Bipolar

I watched Silver Linings Playbook last night for the first time, and am somewhat disappointed in myself that I really didn't love it. Honestly, I was constantly worried.

I was worried what others thought about bipolar disorder and what their, whether it be those around me, or the general public, impressions were. I don't have bipolar, but do have friends with it and have met many people through therapy and at the hospital with it that I just wasn't able to make a connection between what I see in them versus the character in the film. After I was done with the film and was researching a bit, I think the main difference that stopped me from connecting was Bradley Cooper's character, Pat, has some psychosis (delusions, in this case) as well.

Those of you who don't have a lot of experience with bipolar disorder, there's five different diagnoses. The most common is Bipolar II, with Bipolar I being second. Bipolar I is a swing between states of depression and mania, Bipolar II, mania is replaced with hypomania (a less intense form). I think most people know what depression symptoms can be like, mania being basically the opposite: excessive happiness, hopefulness, and excitement, restlessness, increased energy, and less need of sleep. Mania can also give you sudden changes from being joyful to being irritable, angry, and hostile.

Then comes the psychosis part. Taken from Julie Fast at Healthyplace.com, some percentages.
  • Bipolar psychosis is always attached to either mania or depression. It doesn't exist on its own.
  • Up to 70% of people in a full blown manic episode experience psychosis. (People with Bipolar II rarely experience psychosis.)
  • Though studies vary, it's estimated that 50% of people with bipolar depression experience psychosis. Though it's more common in severe depression, it can be present in moderate depression as well.

I think every person with bipolar that I've known has Bipolar II, and psychosis wasn't something that came or comes up. My worry is taking a very popular film like Silver Linings Playbook, not doing the research on a diagnosis the main character had, and making an assumption that because someone has bipolar, no matter which form, they are going to be psychotic as well. I have a real fear of psychosis - not those who have it, but more a fear of if I ever were to lose touch with reality myself.

There's a specific scene where Cooper's and Lawrence's characters are discussing which medications they take or took (Lithium, Seroquel, Abilify, Xanax, Effexor, Klonopin, & Trazodone), all of which I've taken at one time or am currently taking as well. Again, I almost constantly worry about what others think, and even though I tweeted and made a status about that connection last night, thinking it was kind of funny at the time... I now worry someone's going to make a connection of me with a character who doesn't have much of anything in common with me.

However, I do have to commend David O. Russell (screenplay writer/director) on how bipolar was treated throughout. Again, my worries are much more pointed at how it's perceived by others, not what Russell did himself. The family of Pat is supporting without being preachy, and shows their struggle as well as Pat's. Russell was also able to be comedic about it. I think being able to laugh at mental illnesses, without invalidating what they are and how people have to deal with them, is extremely helpful to those who are going through it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Cat, Coco

As a kid, I didn't have many pets. I can only really recall two dogs. One I have a single memory of, a black scottie, who bit my cheek and had to be put down as it was the second instance of biting a child (the other with the previous owner). My other dog was a yellow lab, and I had it when I lived out on a farm in Morristown, so when my mom, sister, and I moved away, he stayed out there. I remember only little things about him, all are good.

When I was in 9th or 10th grade, my mom got me a cat to go with the new townhome she recently had gotten. Going through early high school, I was already dealing with some loneliness and being distant/avoidant to hanging out with friends outside of school, so I was getting hopes up for a cat that would be really close with me, sleep in my bed every night, just be a very chill, lovable cat, and I would be great to it.

It doesn't take too long into a therapist session to realize that I have tons of fear of being unwanted. This was worse in my teen years, and it's most apparent to me, when I look at my relationship I had with my cat, Coco, back then.

At the start, the big thing was wanting her to want to be around me. It was only me and my mom living there, my sister had gone off to college, so I figured I had a great chance of being that, especially when I was the one home first every day, typically around the house more often, and feeding her. When it would be just the two of us, I thought we got along fine. She was a kitten, so plenty of energy and a lot of time spent running around after toys and playing with her. When my mom came home later from work, however, I don't have much memory of Coco wanting to be around me more than her. I would get really jealous of this.

It's hard to say how old Coco was by this time, but one of the things I mentioned as my hopes, was her sleeping in my bed with me. This would never happen on its own. After frustration and anger of it not happening, I tried to force it. Without thinking about the obvious things like water, food, litter for her at night, I would simply shut the door and try to keep her calm and fall asleep in my bed so I could fall asleep as well. It might've worked on occasion, until 3am or whenever she did need to go out to eat/drink/poop, and would meow at the door to open all night, but I was okay with her sleeping with me until then, because it was something, so I would repeatedly do it.

Over the course of 3 years of having her at the house, there were a lot of times, similar to the sleep thing, where I would become frustrated with how I wanted her to be, remove any rational thinking, and abuse her. I would chase her all around the house, way past the point of it being 'playing', seeing her face full of fear, and still chasing after her, hitting her, flipping her, pulling on her tail, or throwing her in the air, and doing so on many, many occasions.

If you've met her, you have plainly seen the cause of my behavior. She's a very angry and protective cat, where the smallest thing can cause her to take a swipe or bite at you. She'll run away and hide if there's much of any threat at all. When I had her at my old apartment with my ex-roommate, he and our friends would always refer to her as the crazy/bad/angry cat. Same with my mom and grandparents, when they all had to take care of her at different times when I was either in Atlanta or just wasn't able to have her living with me. It's true that she is/can be very angry, but that's my fault.

Since last June, when it's just been the two of us at my new apartment, I think it's been a lot more positive. I hardly have any people over to visit, so she isn't looking threatened or scared if it's just me coming home. Most nights she will sleep in my bed, without being forced, and whenever I am getting comfortable laying on my couch, she's already jumping up to sprawl out on my chest to nap.

On occasion - once every 6 weeks or so - she will go back to that very angry mood. Most of the time, I won't know why, it could be simply one of those times she's sleeping on my chest, I'm petting her, and she'll get a look in her eye staring at my hand like I'm going to hit her, and she'll attack me instead. When those happen, it will always be a lot of (justified) blame towards myself, and a lot more regret.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Life Vision

I realize I haven't posted anything here since the first of the year, and was kind of avoiding doing anything on this blog because I wasn't sure what to write anymore. Everything (my thoughts, feelings, mood, actions/non-actions) seem to run in cycles, and once I get out on here how or why I'm not doing well at that time, the same thing can come up, and I don't feel like writing the same stuff over again. Not enough new things really happen in my current life to add new experiences or feelings that make me feel are really worthy to write about.

Having said that, I was reminded two weeks ago that I haven't written anything in a long time from a dear friend, and again tonight by another, I felt if at least two people did want to hear something from me, then maybe I should try to write something out. I'm not doing anything tonight, anyway, other than possibly a movie later.

First, a catch up since January 1: Same routine of DBT group 3x a week, individual therapist once every other week, and a psychiatrist about once a month. Current anti-depressant is Emsam, where I started at 6mg, was upped to 9, and was recently upped to the max dosage of 12mg starting tomorrow. Also trying a thyroid hormone drug called Cytomel that's supposed to increase energy, and it's working somewhat. Sleep has improved, as far as the falling asleep part goes. Still will have cycles, especially on the weekends when I don't have plans, of staying up til 5-6am and sleep for 12 or so hours, but I wouldn't say my mood is really worse from it alone - more so the 'not having plans' part.

Which brings me to the point of this post, which is something I've been talking about in my group since last Thursday, and that's what my life vision is. We're supposed to come up with some singular statement that encompasses what it is that I want to do in my life that will hopefully make me feel at least a bit better and what I am doing now that is helping with that.

My statement that I came up with after only a couple minutes of thought was: "A working schedule throughout the typical week that can keep me from being alone to my negative thoughts & behaviors." I think it's a good statement to have, but a problem that I brought up today, that unfortunately didn't have any answer is: how.

I saw my therapist last Tuesday, and we were having a very complex discussion on the risks and rewards of relying on other people for plans and enjoyable experiences and then what becomes too dependent on others in order to be happy. I'm currently in a place where I don't enjoy my own company. I only found out about myself a few weeks ago that besides the insecurities and annoyances I always knew I had about myself, that there is a true hate and self-loathing that I have, something I never actually said out loud to anybody before. I am in a place where I am in need of somebody else with me (or simply talking on facebook or texting with) to have any type of enjoyment.

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I have to stop what I was going to get to now because that last sentence just brings on a number of different emotions reading it back to myself.

1) Insignificance. I don't think I articulated this well when I saw my therapist, but there's not a lot of self-worth or importance in anything I am doing now on my own to help myself because it feels that the only real big difference I see is whether or not I'm with another person, having a good time with them. Nothing I'm doing on my own can or is coming near that.

2) Selfishness. I think I'm way too dependent on others, and while the self-worth is down, I feel like I'm being selfish anytime I'm asking anyone to do something with me. I said above that I need, not want, but need someone to have enjoyment.

3) Loneliness. This is linked to the selfishness; I'm not #1 in anybody's life. It's not their job to make me happy when they have their own lives and people closer to them to worry about and be with.

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So back to the how. How do I accomplish my life vision? There's a number of things that I can think of right off the bat on how to fill up time. First is school. I looked up some info on the schools near me a couple weeks ago, and was pushed to at least apply by a friend last week, but even just looking at the "How to apply" page brings up so much anxiety that while I'll still give it some consideration from time to time, it's not something I can really do yet. Another idea would be work, but same with the school, anxiety takes control of that, along with pretty much zero work experience, not excellent high school grades, and one year of culinary school, I'm thinking there's not a lot of options.

Volunteer work is something that always comes up, but not something I find conceivable doing on my own, and after those three options, I'm stuck. Breaking it down into smaller steps is always the main suggestion to avoid feeling overwhelmed, but break what down, when it's "filling up my days" that don't include the three things I mentioned above? I don't know.