Tag Archives: anxiety

My Water Bottle Won’t Email Me


 

“I wish my water bottle would email me when the battery is low like my watch does,” is the exact phrase that I said today while getting out of my car to go running.  I wasn’t thinking about the oddness of these words as they came out of my mouth.  I was disappointed and very serious about the problem, which my friend pointed out was really ridiculous.

“Five years ago, that would have sounded very strange,” she told me as we walked to the track to stretch.  I agreed and stated that even two years ago it would have sounded odd.  To which she replied that she wanted to “travel back in time and tell my slightly younger self that these words would come out of my mouth at some point.”  I laughed.  She is not a fan of my water bottle, and despite her heavy use of technology she is not a huge fan of all of the tracking which all of our devices are doing these days.

We both use the GPS on our phones to track our miles while we run, but I also use my awesome new Fitbit Blaze to track my running, walking, sleep, and heart rate.  She wants one for all of those things, but she doesn’t take the next step I have with my daily tracking of my life.  I track my food, my fluid intake, my mood, and anything I can find a free app to use with my phone track my daily everything.  I don’t do this because I think it is fun to input my calorie intake or because I am in desperate need to lose weight.  I do this because of gastro paresis.

I decided last month, after taking control of almost every part of my life again that my health was the last step I needed to get under control.  For my anxiety and short bouts of depression I found an app that actually got me interested in running.  (“Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.  And happy people just don’t kill their husbands.”) It is the Zombies Run app and I have been recommending it to everyone I know who is both game oriented and wants to start getting active.  I also tell my gym rat friends if they are into Zombies—which means all of my friends have been told to get this app.  If it gets my friend to run, then it can get anybody to start running.  It is super fun, especially if you are a gamer and in any way into Zombies.

I started with the other tracking apps because I wanted to see what foods might be triggering my stomach flare ups, as well as noting whether it was food or anxiety that might be contributing more to them.  So far I have only had one really sick morning since I started tracking, and that was today.  I also forgot to put in what I ate yesterday, so I am not sure of the exact causes of this morning, but I recovered by third period and just kept going.  If there was an app that would remind me to record what I ate as well as the app to put it in I would probably use that too.  I just don’t think they can create an app to know when I am eating in order for my phone to yell at me to scan the barcode.

With all of the crazy in my life right now, the tracking of my everything seems pretty mundane, but I have health reasons I use to justify it.  If I didn’t have my stomach problems I would have to monitor my food.  If I wasn’t prone to kidney stones, I wouldn’t need a water bottle to tell me to remember to hydrate and keep drinking.  You would think that after 16 years of having to monitor my fluid intake I would be better at it now, and I was until I started teaching.

While I love my job most of the time, I am drinking less during the day than I used to before I started teaching, and this is something I can’t have.  Kidney stones suck and if I have to buy a fifty dollar Thermos to remind me to drink more while teaching Greek mythology this makes sense to me.  Fifty dollars to save me pain and the expense of doctor’s visits as well as potential hospitalization, this is a reasonable expense for my life.  It isn’t like I need more than one.  I just need it to email me when it’s battery is low, just like my watch does.

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The Heart of Depression


 

Depression is not a state of being sad. It is not caused by loss or difficult times. Some of the people who seem to be the happiest people you know are in fact depressed. There is no quick fix for the disease and there is absolutely no cure. It is an ebb and flow which follows the depressed person throughout their life.

Often outsiders assume that they can fix the problem. They have already taken the first step in the wrong direction when assuming this approach as valid. There have been studies done which show that positivity given to a depressed person only serves to make them angry and hostile towards the person presenting to the un-thought-out cure. There isn’t a magic rainbow sprinkling of positivity that helps the depressed person. Also, the problem with understanding them lies in the way the outsider sees them.

The outsider sees depression as being sad. They then think that if the person in question is just sad that they can cheer them up. You cannot cheer up a depressed person. It is often assumed that if a depressed person smiles or laughs that a great breakthrough has been reached in their mental state. The reality is just that, depressed people can find things funny too. Also, sometimes we laugh because it is the socially acceptable thing to do. When those around you laugh, something is funny, you are supposed to laugh as well. This is how young children learn what is and isn’t funny, from the social clues of those around them. Surprise, depressed people use those same social cues to fit in.

Not all depressed people want to fit in. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t want to waste the energy on making everyone around us feel okay, because guess what… We don’t feel okay. No we are not sad, we are depressed it is different. Depression is so much more complicated than sadness. To simplify the disease to something so base as one emotion alone is to rob the depressed person of their right to feel as they do. It then makes depression a choice, which it is largely not. I have never met a depressed person who when asked if they would prefer to not be depressed said “no.”

There is not a one size fits all cure for depression, just as there is not one way to be happy, only one job in the world, or even one religion. We might believe that there are only one of these things which work for each of us individually, and this is true of depression as well. Just because it worked for your cousins-sisters-friend Sally however doesn’t mean that it will work for me, or the next person down the list of depressives which you will encounter in your life.

While depression is not about being sad, at times it can feel like sadness. Depression for me, and many others, is more about the lack of emotion. Where I was once a passionate person eager to change all the wrongs and injustices in the world, since depression came to live with me, I just try to remember to shower and eat some days.

Also, depression isn’t all the time every day. We don’t walk around with the intent of being or acting depressed. We occasionally feel emotions just like we did before the depression and instead of catching us off guard we just go with it, those are things we are supposed to feel and so there is no reason to stop and analyze or rejoice in the fact that we are smiling or laughing or not worried about something. I don’t believe that non-depressed people put any extra emphasis on these feelings, and neither do we. Every once in a while we will stop later and think about the fact that we felt something akin to happiness. It isn’t false happiness, just something slightly different, our brains process these feelings and emotions differently because our brains process everything differently.

Depression is like the ocean. It flows like water and with the tides it changes its effect on the depressed person. When we are in a low tide place in our depression we feel mostly normal. The chemicals in our brain are receiving almost normal signals, we are like we were before, and this causes those around us to feel like there is hope to this disease coming to an end. Then the tides change and again we are under water with our brains unable to process the chemical signals sent to us in a proper way. It feels like we are swimming just under the surface, watching the world around us but unable to completely hear or translate what we are seeing and hearing. We are separated. We have a sense of what is happening but it cannot reach us.

While depression can make it difficult for us to feel happiness at times it can cause an equal difficulty in feeling anger and sadness. A depressive may not respond as others think they should to the death of a loved one. They may not get angry at the loss of a job. We may in fact just stay inside out emotionless bubble floating along the ocean where emotions live. We are kept outside this ocean at times, but always subject to the way its tides change. Only later after the fact might we be able to process the emotions of loss and sadness or even anger. At other times those emotions overwhelm us. They become the anxieties which often accompany the depressed person. It is rare to have one without some aspect of the other. So the disease becomes two fold, depressed and anxious.

Because of this two fold aspect of the disorders which a depressed person can live with it can make diagnoses of depression and anxiety difficult. Due to the ebb and flow nature of most mental health disorders a depressive with bad anxiety can often be misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. This leads to the person being put on the wrong medication, a break-down of communication with their families and a total lack of understanding as to why the meds aren’t working if the doctor prescribed them. Not all medications work for all people and all symptoms. There is a lot of science as to why, but I will just start out with the basics.

Bipolar disorder is considered a type of psychosis, as it treated with anti-psychotics this is generally how the medical profession treats the disorder. While bipolar disorders may not actually be a type of psychoses it certainly acts enough like one for the medication to work. Depression and anxiety are not the same type of disorder and so the chemical reactions in the brain do not respond to the medication the way they are expected to with someone suffering from bipolar disorder. Once the doctor sees no change in the depressives’ problems often they will change to a different medication and approach, which can lead to a separate diagnosis.

Even if you have a great doctor it can take months or even years to find the right balance of medication for you. Once that is determined then it is ideal if the person taking the medication is not on them forever. While this may be the goal, it is not always what happens in practice. While doctors ideally want their patients to get better if they do not include an aspect of therapy into their practice then their patients end up staying on medication past the point where it continues to have the desired effect. That is where you get the new depression medications which come out as supplements to the medications which a depressed person is probably already on.

Beyond this the medications are created using out of date understanding of the nature of depression and how it works in the brain. So why the medications work at all remains a mystery to the scientists who invent them and the doctors who prescribe them seem to have missed this new scientific information. Then past this you get the outliers like me. Those are the people who cannot take depression medication at all because it has extreme effects on the personality which do not help the person on the medication at all.

When I take depression medication one of three things happens: First it has no effect on me what so ever. While this is not a big deal it does cut out a large amount of medications which I could take and have anything useful happen. Second it causes me to be insanely happy with no regard to anyone else. In essence it throws me into a complete manic phase where I cannot eat, sleep, or remember much of anything that is happening in my life. Third it causes massive suicidal tendencies, thoughts, and actions. This is the most common result when I take depression medication. Being that these are the three options I have when taking a medication for depression, I am sure that most people would not be surprised as to my aversion to the medications for myself. They work well for many people, for me not at all.

In daily life it is difficult to navigate depression on its own. Most people do not understand that it is a disease and the scientists and doctors working to cure it do not understand enough about how the brain works to have consistent results that carry the long term effect of a cure. If one has to take medication for the rest of their life then they are in fact not cured, but are just managing a disease. While depression doesn’t kill you it does make you feel often like it would be better if you weren’t around.

Since people do not understand you and you cannot understand or navigate the complex world of emotions with consistent accuracy it is easy to get into a state where you just want it to stop. This does not mean you are suicidal. Although the expression of this thought often is misinterpreted as a suicidal thought it is just the honest reaction of a person who cannot feel the things which they are told they should. There we add guilt to the depressed person, who is already carrying enough guilt of their own for being in the state to begin with. Why wouldn’t we want to get away? The idea is to disappear because it is easier to be surrounded by people who you do not know when you feel like you are alone.

That is often the state which the depressed person spends their life. They are alone and there is nobody outside other depressives who they can speak to with a relative level of understanding. It is not that we want to be alone, in fact it is quite the opposite. We want to be around people, but we want them to understand us, and we want to again join in real life outside our bubble. Trying to force the depressive to be happy so that you can spend time with them is counterproductive and will often lead to the ending of that relationship. We understand that people who are not depressed cannot understand our depression. We know that you don’t want to be around someone who you perceive as being sad, or negative. We don’t want to be around someone who is shoving rainbows down our throats. So we all get angry and defensive and it leads to the total breakdown in communication between the two parties.

Understand enough about yourself to know if you can handle being around a depressive. If you can’t don’t try to form a new friendship with someone who has depression. On the other hand if you leave a friendship which is already established because the friend becomes depressed that is negative as well, and probably more so. We understand new people don’t have time to navigate our tidal patterns, but our old friends should already have a general idea of them. The reality is that depression, outside of post-partum, does not just happen overnight. You or your friend will have symptoms possibly for years before the understanding of actual depression is known. Therefore it is unfair both to you and your friend if you just cut and run because “negativity brings me down, man.”

If you don’t like negative actions and words, then don’t use them by abandoning the depressed person. You don’t have to check in with them every day, or even see them often. Just maintain a state with them where they will understand that you are there, and you do care. Because it is all too common for the depressed person to become abandoned by their loved ones, feel as if they are not wanted, and become suicidal. The feeling that “nobody will miss me when I’m gone,” comes from the fact that the friends and family who used to be present and active in a depressed person’s life are no longer there. You can’t miss a person who you don’t interact with. So how could you miss me if I’m not here at all? This for me has been the mindset I have had when I want to run away and leave it all behind. Alone in a room of a hundred people I know. I prefer to be alone in a room of a thousand people who don’t know me, because I don’t expect them to care.

 

Saturday Blues


Today, I feel lost and alone. I really want to be held, which is odd for me. I want to feel special, and like things are really going to work out. My heart is heavy and I feel trapped by my surroundings. Trapped in my own skin. My soul it trying to reach out to someone or for something and I don’t know who, or what.

Today is a day of unrest. Outrage over any injustice, I want to feel safe, loved, and alive. I instead feel unsure, alone, and not quite real.

Nothing makes sense right now. I’m not anxious or afraid, just trapped and alone with my own thoughts. Everyone’s anger and frustration like a hot needle piercing my brain and making me want to hide, but I don’t want to be alone. I need hope. But it’s not something you can buy at the store. I need no more judgements. I need honest love and companionship. Someone who I don’t mind holding me, who sees through the bullshit into the person that I am and doesn’t need me to talk an won’t think there is something wrong with me if I don’t. I’m tired of just talking. I need results and a way to get them. And now I need a cigarette. I guess it will be an evening run to Walgreens, that’s what I get. I wonder if they sell answers or solutions. I think they just sell band-aids.

Vacuum


I feel like my living room is closing in around me. My chest feels like someone is sitting on top of me and I can feel the weight of the walls and the room above me closing in, yet I can see that the walls are stable.

I can rationally tell myself that these are just the bad brain thoughts, or feelings, but that is as far as I have ever been able to figure out how to control these moments. I don’t know what exactly causes them, but I do know that before they start I often feel as if my life is in a vacuum, with no air and no motion. Just stuck in nothingness. There is not an option for getting out because there is no way to move. I feel more than trapped. I feel immobile in both my life and in my actions. No right choice to make, because in these moments there are no choices, except the one I am making right now, and that is to write about how it feels.

I’m not sure how this feeling would be diagnosed, but it is probably treated with either anti-psychotic medication or anti-depressants, either way those meds don’t work for me. They make my heart race, increase my anxiety, make me manic, or completely suicidal. I don’t know how to properly explain this feeling to anyone. I have tried before, and people always give me a look that is supposed to be comforting, but shows in its depths that they don’t understand and that I am probably deeply disturbed.

I might be deeply disturbed, I mean, how could I not when I am sitting here, typing on my laptop, and I feel as if I’m in a pile of rubble, and I’m trapped and unable to move away to get a breath of fresh air. Yet I can see that the walls are still standing, and I can hear that regular life goes on regardless of how I feel right now.

This makes me then feel as if what happens to me is in a bubble and doesn’t affect anyone else. I feel as if what I do affect is negative and then I wonder why I bother to force the air in and out of my lungs. This is not a feeling that I interpret as a desire for death, but as a desire for change. The problem is that every time I try to make changes in my life, old pieces come in to drag me back to the place that I don’t want to be.

I don’t want to feel useless or unwanted, but I often do. I feel like an unimportant piece in a machine. The part that you can take out and it still works. A program on a computer that when removed, causes the machine to run faster, and with great accuracy.

I’m sure this is all part of some depression, but it is how I feel right this moment. It may pass, and it may not. I will continue though because I haven’t got a choice in that. I just keep breathing, and hoping eventually it becomes easier. But if it doesn’t then, I will pretend because nobody ever wants to know when you feel like this. It’s too much to handle, because they don’t have the answers either. Then my mental health become a burden for others, and I never want that. I just want to feel better.

This is the crazy I don’t want to embrace, because it scares me.

Mental Health Awareness


May is mental health awareness month, and it has taken me this long in the month to do a post about it for several reasons.

  1. Every year when I hear that it is mental health awareness month, I suddenly become overly aware of my own mental health.  I begin to take stalk of if I am in fact still crazy.  I wonder if I still have anxiety, over and over to the point that I give myself anxiety.  So towards the end of the month I realize that my diagnoses is still true.   I am still the wonderful bearer of and Axis 1 Anxiety Disorder, with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Traits. (that is mainly my circular thoughts that drive me and everyone around me nuts)
  2. This year I have started a new relationship with a boy.  While we have only known each other for one week, officially today.  We have been spending a lot of time together, which I actually enjoy.  He makes me laugh and I am able to relax around him.  Although, when I come home, like tonight, I am suddenly filled with free roaming anxiety, which in turn causes me to question everything about myself and why I like this person.  I am sure there is something deeply wrong with him, because he just seems too good for me.  Don’t misunderstand, this is part of my crazy.  I am hopeful I am wrong, but I never expect to be, which might be a major contributing factor to my eternally single state.
  3. I have been really sick.  I have gastro paresis and this month I have been having a flare up.  Which basically means my stomach refuses to digest food as it should, and I have to go to the doctor for never ending tests, which I can’t finish because I keep throwing up.  I have missed a lot of work, which really sucks, and I am scared to eat at all most days.  This causes a never ending cycle of me being starving, and me getting even more sick because I feel better and then over eat.  However, I think that this flare is coming to an end, just in time to coincide with my monthly round of female hormones which make me angry and anxious for a whole different set of reasons.

However, it is May still, and that means that it is the time of year when we are all supposed to be aware of mental health. I think that should be every day and not just an allotment of 30 some odd days at the end of the school year. We should always care about our friends, family, and strangers who suffer from mental health disorders.

So because it’s May, we should embrace the crazy in public. Have an outburst at work, you’re crazy right, then explain that you are protesting the fact that craziness is not accepted in our society. Well, maybe that’s not the best way to go about things. However, I do encourage you to start conversations with people about the importance of mental health acceptance, and what we can do to change the stigma about those of us who live we these problems every day of our lives, for the rest of our lives.

Also, embrace, and I do mean hug, the crazy. It’s mental health awareness in its kindest and most in your personal space kind of way. Hugs for crazy people, especially the ones who need drugs so they don’t punch you for the hug.

Insomnia and Anxiety create a Mix of Regret


I can’t sleep, though I am tired. I can’t focus on anything, because I’ve got free floating anxiety. I don’t know why I’m writing right now, except that I’m hoping that it will make me feel better when nothing else has today.

It is after midnight so it is mother’s day. I’m not feeling excited about celebrating motherhood. I don’t know why. I think maybe it’s because I don’t get to spend as much time with my son as I feel that I should. I try to do the best I can for him, and right now that means that he goes to school where someone can be home for him when he gets off the bus. I can’t. I have to work, and I don’t make enough for after school child care, and that’s not what I want for him anyway. This however, isn’t what I want either.

I want to see the things he does every day. I want to hear him laugh, watch him grow, and help him with his homework. I want to be the person the school calls when he needs to go home sick, and I want to be the one who tucks him in at night, and teaches him his nightly prayers. I want to read his bedtime story and sing him his song. I want to hold him and cuddle him and show him how much I love him every day.

For the first part of his life I wasn’t capable of feeling these things. It got easier for me to let him be with family that could give him the love he deserved. That’s the problem with post partum depression. You can’t feel what you want to toward your child, and you hate yourself for it. I tried medication, and therapy, but nothing helped. Now I lost the chance to create the bond with him that I should have had.

There is no way to change the past. And while I can try to forgive myself for things which were out of my control, I don’t think I have the right. Not yet. Not until I again have the chance to be a family, be his mother.

I don’t deserve a happy mother’s day, because I haven’t been a happy mother. I’ve hardly been a mother. Others stepped in to fill that role, and I feel that now it is too late. I will never have my baby back, and I will never get to know what it’s like to hold my new born child with awe and wonder at the beauty that he is. I might not deserve it, but I wish I had it.

So now I’m exhausted, sad, anxious, and lost. I feel alone all the time, and I don’t see things getting better in that department. I have let down the one person I should never have let down. I’m not a terrible person, and I hope that I’m not a terrible mother. I’m just not mother of the year.

I want to grow, and watch my son grow. I want to love, and be loved. I don’t want to be alone, but I want my time with myself. I want more time with my son, because he is the world. The most special and spectacular thing I will ever create. No piece of art, music, or writing will ever compare to what my son is.

I’m not sure this is the type of crazy to embrace. So instead I say embrace the love. If you are angry with your mothers, or you children for not being able to be the best versions of themselves, especially if it is due to mental illness, please take today to forgive. Maybe if we all forgive each other, it will become easier to forgive ourselves.

Moments of Sanity are Followed by Days of Anxiety


Earlier this week I went to an event called Paint Nite with my co-workers. We went for team building, which worked fairly well. Personalities in the work place are often different when you take the person away from work. People who do not get along while at their jobs, can learn to become friendly when they are able to show their true personalities outside of the office.

While I was rediscovering my love of painting, I also got to learn more about the women I work with. It was a good experience for this week. I have managed to rediscover old passions, and begin to create new positive relationships. This is often a difficult thing for me to do.

While I tend to be a very outgoing person, I do live with anxiety that causes constant fear. People often think that I fake my disease in order to get out of doing things. Today for example, I overslept, which caused and anxiety attack. While I had just had my medication refilled, it did not help in the way which I needed it to, so that I could go to work. This of course upset my boss. So I have spent the day feeling horrible because I couldn’t drive to work. Which in turn has just managed to increase my anxiety. With few ways available to decrease my anxiety, I am now writing and hoping that I will be able to explain how this disorder affects me.

I have difficulty at times, because of my anxieties, performing tasks which most people rarely have difficulty performing. I can’t drive sometimes because of this, and that often leads to me staying in my house all day without even opening the front door to check the mail.

This makes working a regular job extremely difficult sometimes. Uncomfortable conversations, and difficult personalities also increase my anxieties at work. While I can generally push through these problems, I occasionally have an anxiety attack while at work. However, in situations like today, where I woke up having an anxiety attack, it can affect my ability to even make it to work.

I love my job, and my biggest fear at this point is that my mental health will lead to me losing the job. I can’t afford for that to happen, nor do I want to stress about the possibility. However, it is a very real possible outcome. Trying to work outside your home, when you live with a disorder that makes it impossible to simple tasks, is very difficult. Trying to explain to your managers that you are crazy and that sometimes you need people to understand that, is a difficult conversation to have.

I don’t like feeling ashamed of any part of what makes me who I am. In the conversations where you must confess to your boss that you have to take medication so you can function like normal people, and that sometimes it doesn’t work, well the other party tends to have a lack of understanding. I think this is because it feels shameful to tell people these things. Also, when you feel ashamed of something, it makes it much more difficult to express with any accuracy what you need to be able to say.

I don’t like having to use my disorder as an excuse. I hate when it causes me to lose trust, or friends. It’s the worst when it affects my ability to go to work, or preform to my personal standards at work. I don’t ever want my crazy to be the reason I don’t succeed. However sometimes, there is nothing I can do to fix myself and I have to take that day and put it in the lost cause category. I hope that I can find some common ground with my female coworkers, and as I try to take each day at a time; I will be able to gain more control over my anxieties. And that those anxieties can give a greater understanding of mental health to those that I work with.

So today I embrace the crazy, because it got me first. I’m not backing down. I won’t let it win. In my new life this is unacceptable.