Sunday, February 27, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (96)

My daughter Beth, her family and dog visited this weekend. It was good to see them after the 1 and 1/2 or two months since the last time. I enjoyed the grandkids complete with my newest (4 months old) grandaughter Loreli (sp).

Anxiety has been almost a constant companion. We have been working on several things that bear upon the future for our family and it mainly results in increased dependence on God. Nevertheless I tend to take the preparations on my shoulders and I think that's where my anxiety comes from. I am exhausted each night by 9:00 or
9:30. I go to bed listening to a favorite CD and calm myself enough to sleep. I am trying to use my bag of tricks and not take my anti-anxiety medication. I only took one over the weekend.

I am grateful that the anxiety is of lesser intensity than the early months. It is good to have made this progress. Depression has also been present from time to time. I continue to take time to breathe and follow each breath to relax. I also use the other interventions with which I have become familiar.

I am in hopes that my troublesome emotions will diminish more and more as the weeks roll on. As good as I've felt over the past several weeks, I need to keep in mind that I am not out of the woods yet. It is humbling... in the extreme. Here's hoping I continue to heal by the grace of God and by the use of effective self-interventions. I certainly need them. I find writing this blog is very helpful also. So until the next time ...

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (95)

I had a pretty good couple of weeks until Monday. It was then I received a gigantic kick in the gut. I spent about 5 minutes on the phone and I am still reeling from the news I received. I am feeling invalidited, very sad, and little angry. This, of course, has resulted in depression of a moderate degree. I was very much caught off guard by the phone call and it affected me very negatively.

This morning the anxiety returned with full force. I dont think it was all due to the news I received, but is a large part of it. I'm using my tools and getting some relief. It seems that my cruising along in a good space for a couple of weeks ended in a rather sudden stop. I've not been keeping up very well with my tools and I certainly paid for it.

I am still rather upset by this incident. I will recover from it, but it will be a few days of concentrating on my tools and a talk with my psychologist. They tell me "this too shall pass". I know it will, but today that is little consolation, but provides some hope...

Typos and all . . .God Bless You.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (94)

Its been a good couple of days. I'm tolerating Janet's trip quite well. We text back and forth morning and evening and is she ever having a good time. I'm so glad. She has done so much for me I am so glad she can have this time to refresh. I'll be happy when she returns Sunday night.

If there has been any negative emotion that has been with me, it is anxiety. It has been mild to moderate. It seems that anxiety comes when my routine is changed in any way. Its not so good to be so married to my routine.

The anxiety responds well to following my breath and relaxing my body. I have really come to appreciate this intervention. It is very helpful. I have also been using the spiritual discipline of contemplation (centering prayer). This is extremely edifying and brings me in closer contact with God.

Well, all is pretty well with me. Erin and her family are here for the weekend and life is good. I am so blessed to have her as a daughter and friend.

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (93)

Today through Sunday night is a new thing for me; a test of sorts. Janet left this morning for a four day personal vacation. She had tickets for a flight for which she already paid. She stayed home with me in the early days of my illness missing her vacation with her sister and a friend.

It may sound rediculous, but these are my first nights "alone" for over a year. I have been apprehensive the last week before her departure, but saw her off at the airport and did just fine. I am experiencing some mild anxiety and it is managable.
Its amazing how used we get to things/people and end up taking them for granted. I am guilty...

Erin is coming over from her home at the beach this Friday. I guess this will end my
"alone" time. Jeffrey and Andy are also home but are usually doing their own things. I am often alone with my thoughts when they are here. Erin and family will provide a good diversion and good company for me.

Well the more I "write" the more foolish I feel but this is the truth. I know it will go ok but I'm surprised by the feelings that have been occuring this week prior to Janets leaving. I can hear people thinking, "geez put your big boy pants on". I have an easy time slipping into "shame mode" since at my age staying alone should not be a problem. I guess it isn't a problem its just unfamiliar.

Its amazing how ones mind wonders about things. This will be no problem and my thoughts and feelings are just that; neither good nor bad... they just are. In the meantime I have my plan to access my support people if needed and using my bag of tricks. All is well and I have faith that it will continue.

Well thanks for "listening" it has been good to write today.

Typos and all . . . God Bless You!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (92)

Yesterday was my grandson's birthday. It seems like he was just born yesterday but he's walking, talking and singing. Erin and her family are coming back this coming weekend and I am excited to see Cannon and Flannery.

As for me, I have my ups and downs. The difference is that the downs aren't
as low. I would rate my depression at this point as "mild". My anxiety is rated a little above that as "moderate". I am using my bag of tricks and finding peace when the emotions come up for me.

I know this seems sudden. Depression and anxiety kind of have a mind of their own and come and go when they please. That is simmplifiing the problem, but it feels like that. I am feeling better little by little as the weeks go on.

I am using a lot of deep breathing as an intervention as my first "trick" nearly every time. Usually this greatly lessens the effect of the depression or the anxiety. If they persist, I do the next thing that needs to be done whether I feel like it or not. After this, I look to my affirmations and readings from the Scriptures I have recorded by hand on several pages of my journal.

"So far so O.K." as one man said. I am hopeful and optimistic.

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (91)

There have been the inevtible ups and downs since the last post. Anxiety in the morning. However not as intense as the past experiences of anxiety. As for depression, it has been very mild. It seems like I've turned a corner. This is pretty sudden to make that kind of pronouncenent but that is the way I feel.

I am using my bag of tricks as feelings come and go and they seem to be very effective. I am somewhat skeptical of this new found positive recovery. Therefore I am taking this very slowly... wishing and hoping this is real and not some "blip" on the screen that will eventually plumet me to more intense negative feelings. You can see I don't completly trust me feelings now. Although, I am trying to with all my might.

My psychologist told me yesterday that this is sometimes the way these disorders "act". It seems unreal to me. She also advised me to be on my guard BUT to move forward as doors open to me. Since I've had depression to one intensity or to another my entire life, this seems to be good advice.

So, I continue to pray that I will be able not to "let go and let God", but to "take hold with God" in my recovery. Yes, God is my driving force, AND I need to take steps to do what I am led to do. This morning I am absent my serious anxiety and hopeful. I know God is working my life and I would welcome relief from the "dark night of the soul" that has been with me for over a year.

I have also applied for two jobs. I am testing the doors to see if they have unlocked now. My hopes are not too high but I am optimistic. I hope this bold step will bring about more positive feelings. Just applying is a huge step for me, and it feels good right now.

Well that is how I am at this point ... having ups and downs (although not as intense) and being optimistic in terms of my recovery.

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (90)

It has sure turned into a long journey. When I sat down to do my taxes I was struck by the length of time I have been out of commission. It seems like years, but I know its not. I am feeling a lot better lately as I have learned to manage my symptoms to a greater degree. I have been a lot more optimistic about my life in general and my future specifically.

I have been through a lot of medications and a lot of weekly therapy (I'm still in weekly counseling). I have been exposed to DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and have found its principles very helpful. My support "team" is strong and I am seeing more time between conversations. They (my support team), too, have seen the changes I am experiencing. They say I sound and look so much better than I did a year ago. I hope to successfully be able to take the steps to find work. I'm pretty bored acting the house husband. Although there is plenty to do around here, I'd rather be out in the community more.

I am doing some volunteer work tomorrow night through my Rotary Club. We will be working at a dinner given for the needy in Camas ... cleaning up afterwards. It takes about an hour, and it is so satisfying. So much of my adult life has been involved with volunteer work, I am happy to be "back in the saddle" at least to an extent... giving back to the community.

Depression and anxiety are still troublesome, but no longer immobilizing. I am using the whole store of my bag of tricks and it seems to be working more often. I will continue to involve myself in my Rotary Club attending meetings and doing volunteer projects. I know I am not completely out of the woods, but I am beginning to see the trees in spite of the forest on my good days.

I know this is a real departure for me... talking about victory rather than defeat, but I am sincerely beginning to feel it more of the time. The last several weeks have seen several positive changes in my emotions. Its like someone found the light switch and turned it on so I could see. I know this sounds tremendously optimistic but I decided to go ahead and feel the good feelings to the extent I have felt the bad ones.

I hope that my life will begin to take shape along more "normal" lines, but more so along more healthy lines. This is now a spiritual battle and I have faith that I will, with Gods help, prevail over depression-anxiety.

I am happy I am feeling like going back to the gym, generally eating better, and taking care of my physical body which greatly helps my mental health. Its great to once again feel the "iron" in my hands as I lift weights and start feeling more healthy. Lifting is one of favorite things. After a year off I am now feeling more and more like getting into the gym most mornings.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I work my way through and hopefully out of the "muck" as the days go by. I am realistic. I am no stranger to the ugly feelngs that come. I will need not to "drop my guard" so to speak. I am more confident than ever that I am slowly... slowly turning a corner in my life. I am praying to this end. This is how I am feeling today and as I love to say ... "I have my ups and downs."

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (89)

Had a pretty good weekend. Ups and downs were not so up and down. I think I was more depressed than anxious most of the time. I woke up with quite a bit of anxiety, but it left me for the most part when I got to our little church.

About three hours ago my son Jeffrey,(a "Type 1 diabetic) was sick and his glucose level rose into the 300s. I got him to give himself extra insulin as I was afraid of the development of keytones in his urine. We'll need to test about every 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours.

I had him test his blood about 30 minutes ago and it was still in the three hundreds. The good news is that he only had a "trace" of keytones. I need to test him about 2:30 AM and run another keytone test. I am hoping by then that his glucose level will drop dramatically.

This is the way life is. "Some days are diamonds some days are stone." Most of the day was "diamond". We watched the Superbowl with Erin and her family and the best team won (the pack is back!). As for the "stone" part, I always worry about Jeffrey when his blood level rises over 300. I will help him throughout the early morning hours test his blood glucose and manage his symptoms. I love this kid so much and worry about him and his management of his diabetes. I know I can't control this, but I sure wish I could. Some things are best left in God's hands. I need to keep trying I can leave them there and save a whole bundle of worry. I know managing diabetes isn't in the "let go and let God category," so I'm shooting for "Take hold with God" method. I pray and take action, especially at these times.

Im going to get some sleep. 2:30 comes early.

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (88)

How are you? How ya doin'? How are you today? These type of questions are the most feared and/or hated among those who suffer from some kind of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.

What do you say? How do you answer? Can you answer honestly? "Well, I awaken each and every morning with high anxiety. Later in the day depression sets in. I need to use specific personal interventions to even feel normal, much less healthy. A few times a week I feel as if I can't go on and contemplate suicide. I have to take about 3-4 medications (daily) to keep my head straight; as if that does it! I just want to be alone much of the time and dread conversations with people who ask me how I am."

I guarantee if you answer that way you will probably not get the question again, at least from the same person!

I absolutely hate it whan people ask me how I am, I never use the descriptive, truthful answer (above). "I tend to say "pretty well today", or "I'm getting better", or more truthfully "I have my ups and downs" (my favorite, and true!)

We all need to be careful with our boundaries. Who can be trusted with your personal business?

The boudaries we use are illustrated by "I have my ups and downs", to the paragraph with all the ugly information in it, to slugging the person in the mouth and telling them to mind their own business.

The details ARE NOT any of anyone's business. Blab if you wish, but I can pretty much assure you it will not go well for you in the long run....

Ever heard of gossip (everyone gets to know)?
Ever hear of Job's comforters (the emotions are your fault)?
Ever hear of being told to "get back on the horse" (a person who does not believe in the seriousness and reality of mental illness)?.
Ever hear of "pull yourself up by your own boot straps?" (a person who has never suffered from depression or anxiety).

If I feel this way, why do I write such a revealing blog? I do it because I wish to connect with others who have depression and/or anxiety, to offer some relief from time to time when I share some tidbits from my bag of tricks, AND I'm now 58 years old and could give a rip what people think!

So figure out how strict your boundaries need to be for your OWN mental health and handle conversations appropriately. Remember its no one's business how you are and how you feel until you decide to make it so.

As for me "I have my ups and downs..."

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (87)

A few blogs ago I mentioned that I was going to share with you some techniques (skills)taught by therapists to assist us in dealing with difficult emotions. Tonight is the nite... I'm going to share a few of them with you.

1. Follow your breath. This a favorite of mine, as you know. This is an exercise in "Mindfulness." Sometimes you can clear your mind, close your eyes and just breathe; feeling the inhalation through your nose and the exhaling through the mouth. You can use a mantra if you wish. On the "in" breath think to your self, "I am breathing in." When you exhale think to yourself, "I am breathing out." This helps to combat the thoughts that inevitibly come when you try to silence your mind.

2. Observe and Describe. When depression or anxiety "strike". Take a moment and think to yourself "I am depressed (anxious) all of a sudden. What is the trigger." Think carefully and then describe what took place recently, either personally or situationally. This exercise helps to make sense of the emotion which is helpful to me.

3. Accept Reality. When depression and/or anxiety strike simple tell yourself "I am depressed (anxious) and this will pass. Emotions are just feelings we have that come and go, sometimes without our knowing why. Accepting reality may help.

4. Pros and Cons. When you are depressed or anxious say to yourself: "What are the pros and cons of this feeling. What am I getting out of this?" This seems like a weird exercise, but it is advanced and may not make sense to you until you are further along in your recovery. Some of our emotions may be goal driven.

5. Opposite-to-emotion action. This means when you are feeling depression or anxiety do the thing that needs to be done next. You don't want to do this, but do it anyway. Dishes, a phone call you need to make, paperwork, work that needs to be done outside, take a walk ... In other words when you are experiencing troubling emotions DO something you DON'T want to do. This is very effective for me.

Well there are five things to add to your "bag of tricks" to overcome difficult emotions like depression and anxiety.

My week has been "up and down" and "down and up. I have had many occasions to to use these interventions. I hope they are helpful for you as they have been for me. I am feeling pretty well tonight as Erin and her family are visiting. That is always a good and peaceful time for me.

Typos and all ... God bless you!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (86)

Our new little dog Max got loose about 4:00 AM. Janet was putting him out on his outdoor cord to go to the "bathroom". He slipped her grasp and ran away. She came to bed having given up locating him. It was my turn and after an hour I found Max and put him in his indoor kennel for the "night".

Why would this dog (a smart breed border collie) run out into 26 degree weather? It is bitter cold with the breeze and yet "there he went!" More importantly, why do I leave the safety of my personal interventions only to once again succomb to deepening levels of depression and anxiety? Sometimes I just get tired of being "inside in the kennel." I want to be free: healthy like others I know.

I know I am in denial. This is a long haul AND I've grown very tired of this illness. Sometimes I think if I could just get loose; "off the cord" I could be normal again. Thats all I want, to he normal ... healthy. I fantasise stopping my medication and by some miracle by "prayer and contemplation" I could just be better. I could "keep it together."

I know I need to "stay on the cord." I know that if I am ever to be "heathy" again I need to take my medication as prescribed and continue to do the things that are supposed to help me overcome this illnesss, or least facilitate some semblance of mental health. I know I need to meditate, stay in contact with my support team, and "intervene" by using the contents of my bag of tricks if I am EVER going to move toward health.

Sometimes I grow weary of being "good". I just want to feel "right" and I am dang tired of the routine I have established and the bag of tricks I need to continue to use. I am one who believes that one can be normal and yet far from healthy. So I will continue to scratch and claw my way to health by using the techniques that have gotten me this far. I want to be "off the cord"; but now I must remain joined to the tether which keeps me closer to God and thus closer to mental health and the life I have enjoyed in the past... a life that seems like forever and has grown very small in my personal "rear view mirror."

That is my life goal at this time: keep on keeping on; attatched to God ... and not give up.

Typos and all ... God Bless You!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (85)

The depression has decreased some over the past few days. I have had increased anxiety during this period, but things seem to be evening out for the most part. This depresion was deep and "hostile". I experieinced the darkest thoughts I have for quite a long time.

What did I do? I followed my breath in medidation using a mantra. I solicited support from my support team. I did things I did not want to do. I thought through the emotion for triggers.

My triggers were the death of a friend and the funeral last week. I really liked and admired this person and felt tremendouss loss when he died. Another trigger was an anniversary of the beginning of my deep depression last January. This onslaught was exacerbated by my being riffed at work that happened two months later. I began to feel like a loser at this point and this too, for many months, persisted.

I had overloooked this aniversary concept of my intense depression until my good friend Georga reminded me. What are friends for? To whom can I be a friend to today?

Typos and all ... God Bless You!