Friday, November 25, 2016

The Million Dollar Inquest

A big question on my mind is whether the adderall is truly treating me or just helping me live life. By treating me, I mean directly addressing any aspect of my mental illness or treating the symptoms of it. I do feel that it helps me concentrate better, but I also feel that it increases my energy. I benefit from both, but I am concerned I may be getting addicted to it, even if very minutely. My mental condition is directly related to how much work I can get done and how well of a job I do. Obviously if I am focused and energized, then my mental condition improves. Energized may be a bit of an overstatement. It mostly prevents fatigue and exhaustion from overwork and stress. It does improve my efficiency and decreases my mental stress.

Back to the million dollar question... is that actually treating my underlying cause or simply helping me for the moment. I know my disease is a lifetime struggle. It isn't going anywhere and I cannot expect a permanent cure. However, I don't necessarily want a treatment that is a crutch, that will set me up for larger failure in the future.

The actually reason behind my inquiry at all is that I have felt less "stable" lately. I would prefer being less happy but on more of an even keel when it comes to my daily emotions. Having a wonderful day, just to wake up with strong feelings of hopelessness for no reason is not something I want to deal with. So, the question being, can adderall address an aspect of my depression while actually destabilizing the bipolar aspect? I have also been experiencing more anxiety, to the degree that I have to medicate it. Xanax and I get along, but only while I am taking it. If I ever get addicted to that again, I will be set up to go through hell. Therefore I take it sparingly and it almost gives me an anxiety attack even taking it. I will be discussing all of this with my doctor next week.

Which makes me think more about ECT. I don't think I've written in detail about my experience with the treatment, but my depression had more recently gotten down to the point at which I was considering the treatment again. It did not have drastic side effects on me, like some people have had, but they were considerably more than I would like to go through. If my current doctor cannot work me through to better stability by spring I will most likely find a doctor that is willing to prescribe me ECT.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Sun and Its Devices

I wish I could write consistently on one aspect of mental health, instead of my experience as a whole, but I am at the whim of my chemistry. I would love to tackle a single strain to completion. There are days I feel like continuing a thought or feeling from a previous entry, just to be blindsided by the tiresome rat race that is my brain. It would seem that the main theme perhaps is the unpredictability and fragility of my circumstance. The chemical ups and downs, ins and outs, twists and turns at a moment's notice. I cannot tell you to what degree that is the bipolar aspect of my affliction, but it definitely tires me out. The sun, moon, and stars seem to have more control over the state of my mind than I do.

My last entry was quite some time ago. I struggle with longer entries, because I rarely have the desire or staying power to delve deeper into something, when I could just spurt out an entry and release quickly. About every other day I have sat down and not felt that I had the ability to write, mostly because I wouldn't know what to say. Spewing worthless bloggage to no real purpose would probably make me feel worse.

It is difficult at times to decide whether writing these entries provide a beneficial cathartic release, or if they simply cause my mind to mull and ruminate on things I feel cannot change. There are those days where writing sends me off on a detrimental mental tangent. Perhaps I should try making these entries a bit longer and working through to a resolution.

Here is the trouble with these longer entries:

  1. I kind of feel like I am writing an essay for school. The fact that it feels like an obligation takes away the joy.
  2. There is truly no end or resolution. My hope is to bring up a subject, tackle it, conquer it, and walk away with a smile on my face. This is fairly unrealistic, but it resides over my thoughts.
  3. Even if I "conquer" a subject, I feel that there is no real correlation to my life. If, theoretically, I figured out the root of every aspect of my mental disease and talked it through to conclusion, there is a snowball's chance in hell that it equates to or affects that actual resolution.

I understand that there are several flaws in those feelings, but they are still there. My university provides therapy to a certain extent for students, and I have been seeing a wonderful therapist there for a few months now. The number of sessions per year is limiting, so we mostly focus on keeping me on the proper mental track from killing myself, but I do wish we had time for more. She recommended I find a therapist outside of school, so that I could be seen as often as needed. However, between my packed schedule and limited budget, I would rather stay with a therapist that sees eye to eye with me. Finding another therapist that I jive with is too much trouble.

The last week I have battled sickness. Nothing major, but some sort of flu that generally wiped my energy. In addition, I have felt like a ping pong ball bouncing between mental exhaustion, low grade depression, and serious anxiety. I don't really know why anxiety came back onto the scene, but it seems to be setting up shop. School is probably the largest part. School has provided significant struggles and damaged my self esteem. I am not doing as well as I expected, especially considering the effort level I am putting in. But life is all about adapting, which I am still working on.

Getting through the next three weeks is going to be key. I have some large projects, several tests, and finals looming. This all adds up to serious stress and the crappy part of it is that I really cannot predict how my mind is going to react to the stress. Even when I was not in control, there was some solace in knowing that I knew when my body would respond to a stressor and in what fashion. Even though I was not in control, I felt a level of it through foresight.

Day by day. For now, the sun rises and brings with it what it will. Until I am back in control, I have to take what is given to me.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Death From Above

Well, this is unexpected. I rarely write at home. It is quite convenient to sit in the classroom before a lecture and type out my feelings on a laptop. But the really unexpected experience right now is the cluster of anxiety I have enjoyed the past couple of days. When I was a teenager in high school I dealt with major anxiety and panic attacks for a couple of years. They grew to such a strength that my "best" method of dealing with them was self mutilation. The massive assault of physical pain helped to combat the mental anguish. There were even a couple of times that I hallucinated people who were not there, although I really do not know why. That was a horrible time, and one of the main medications that was used to combat it was Xanax. I had to use it so regularly that I became addicted to it. What a horrible, horrible experience. Weaning off that drug was like pulling my fingernails out with pliers. No thank you. So, when I talked to my doctor about getting something for breakthrough anxiety, I told him the only way I would consider Xanax again is if I did not have to take it regularly.

The past two days I have had to take the benzo in order to keep my skin from crawling and stop the pacing. As a matter of fact, I had gotten the prescription but never filled it, until I realized I really needed it and quickly. These are definitely minor "attacks", if that is even the appropriate word, but the Xanax does help. Of course using it makes me anxious as well.

Where the hell has the come from? Partially is school. It is nearing the end of the semester and there are many projects and tests looming on the horizon. The other issue is diet. I am struggling with a considerable addiction to food and binging. These are crappy, primary coping mechanisms for my stress load. I am currently working to wean myself down to a lower caloric load. Explosion. This might be more stress than the brain can handle right now. Incredibly frustrating.

DFA, death from above, is a term from a video game when I was younger, and I feel like that describes my current circumstance. Something is bearing down on me and the second I stop focusing, or distracting myself with work, everything comes flooding in. Hopefully I can figure this out before it continues to get worse. Then again, I never was that great at figuring out my shit in time to be useful. Here's to hoping.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Has the Bell Tolled

I am still far from impervious to the mood and emotional swings of the days, and yesterday was no exception. I was talking to my wife about how many things there are to do on a daily basis that we just cannot keep up on. It is difficult for me to accept that she endures stress that I am unable to listen too, because it can send me into a spiral. Just listening for a few minutes yesterday, and understanding my impotency to help made my feelings turn darker. Fortunately, as time went on, I distracted myself with schoolwork and things improved.

This, coupled with my thoughts earlier this week, concern me that the time has come for that looming darkness to dig its nails back in for a while. I'm not giving up, by any means, but I want to be prepared for the worst. Of course the last few months have been horrible, mentally, but it has to improve at some point. Right? I suppose it could get worse, but let's ignore that possibility, because it isn't a viable option. A major improvement is the lack of suicidal ideations. Let's pray those stay at bay.

I feel like I need a coping mechanism beyond schoolwork and generally keeping busy. I think that a good hobby might help. At home I have several possibilities, but when I finally get some free time (hahaha), I usually just want to lay down and watch a movie.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

To Whom the Joy Shows

The other day in therapy, I voiced my reserved excitement towards my wife noticing that I was doing well and waiting for her to comment on it. I had a great week and felt that I was not just doing better, but also acting like it. Then the truth came out. My wife and I have somewhat opposite schedules. She works stretches and I am at school a great deal of the time. When we are together I am often venting about stress or show major signs of exhaustion. At first I was shocked when she voiced her concern about me not doing well, or possibly doing worse. I told her I was doing really well, but that I was simply exhausted from my schedule and days of poor sleep. 

I sat there and thought for a minute and realized she doesn't often get to see the good parts of my day. This is something that I think I actually have enough power to show her now. I am still doing well, and I want her to know that is how I feel. Life is difficult but it is not horrible. From here on out I am going to try and shower her that I am enjoying where we are and what we are doing. The stress is still there, but I don't want her to think that everything is so horrible that I wish things were different.

I feel like the last couple of weeks have been a strong transition from where I started writing. I still have dark feelings, but I am uncomfortable addressing some of them at this point. When will I be ready to address some of my underlying questions about suicide and depression? Maybe never, despite how much better I feel. There have been times I tried to understand or address them, only for the thoughts to drag me down the rabbit hole. Perhaps some things are better left undiscovered.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tempus Fugit

Time, for me, seems to drag slowly or fly at 100 miles a second. The last week has been so busy that it has just flown by.  Sunday was the first time in almost a week, one amazing week, that I have felt the dull pang of depression knocking on my mind's door. However, contrary to the usual decline into the rabbit hole, I made it through with relatively little problem. I believe it is largely because of two things. Primarily, it is that my medications are doing a wonderful job. Thank goodness! Secondly, I derive massive amounts of self worth and joy out of being productive and good at what I am striving for. Work ethic is a large part of my self-identity. I loathe people without a strong, positive work ethic, so when I feel that is where I am at, I hate myself. This last week has been a positive self-feeding cycle of an improved state of mind leading to working longer, harder, and better.

I can't say for one second that I have not been stressed, but these things have kept me going. The preceding months have worn down my belief that things can get better and more importantly STAY better. But right now I have hope. That in and of itself is a huge change from my norm. After a long regimen of ECT from 2014-2015, I was able to get up everyday and live for living's sake. It made very little sense to me. I have often wondered why people live their lives. What makes people want to do? So many people will get up and live, even if they hate it. This makes no sense to me, but even I used to have the will to get up and live and work and find joy.

Only time will tell where this takes me, but I would enjoy getting back to the time where I could live life, without questioning whether I should.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What the Hell is Going on Here?

I cannot fully explain what has happened the past few days, but they have been good. It has become such an oddity to have a good day, and 3 is unheard of. I decided to give one of my recent meds a second go and within a day everything had opened up. Why? Who the hell knows? This may sound cheesy, but it was just short of amazing. It is difficult to believe this will last, but I am in such high spirits that I am actually optimistic about it continuing. Perhaps the best part of this is that I am able to concentrate and distract my mind from thinking and ruminating about things that do it harm.

In a couple of hours I will meet with my psychiatrist and for now I think I will ask to make no changes. I would like to give it a few weeks and see where this takes me. Prior to this, it was an unending battle to try and figure out if I was going to make it through the week or if I should plan on being hospitalized. The past few days I haven't even talked to my wife about this, for fear that saying it out loud will jinx and change it detrimentally.

This semester has been so extremely stressful, and I was worried I could not hack it. Now I feel like I can concentrate and grab ahold of where I am going. This is going to work. It has to.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Roller Coaster FTW

This last week has been a horrible ride of ups and downs. It has been exhausting (current theme of my life) and I really did not expect it to end. For the moment, it seems to have subsided. I cannot tell you if I caught up on sleep, got past some mental block, or my mental chemistry is on the upswing, but I am enjoying it.

It isn't often that I get up and feel that it is going to be a good day. I don't enjoy Tuesday and Wednesday, because the are long days on campus. Tuesday is usually about 14 hours from when I leave home and return; while Wednesday is 15.5. They are exhausting. It seems that labs always wear my brain out, but I chose for both of them to be at the end of the day when I am tired. Bummer. Lesson learned. Tomorrow is my registration day and I will be rectifying that in the next semester.

Surprisingly, I have little negativity to spew onto this entry. Perhaps that will change by this evening, but right now I am standing good.