Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Unexpected and way out of proportion

I haven't written much during the fall. Summer and early fall I felt like I wasn't doing all that bad. And as it's been picking up, I haven't gotten around to writing about it.

I had to turn down a conference session chairmanship last minute because I was being too depressed, asocial and anxiety-prone to handle it.

And this entire winter trip back home to Stockholm has been littered with anxiety attacks, mood breaks and blue swings.

Today, I've been feeling somewhat off most of the day, but kept it mostly together and had a great time when we were hosting people for christmas day lunch. Evening I still felt slightly off but had a good time watching The Hobbit with my wife.

I went to brush my teeth before going to bed, looked at myself in the mirror.

And was overwhelmed by a feeling that I was ugly. It came so suddenly and so strongly I didn't get around to reminding myself that Depression Lies To You. By the time I got to bed I was spiraling out of control, mood wise, and by the time I got in bed, I was crying in huge, sniffling, shaking, hulking sobs.

Because I thought I was ugly.
In spite of the observational evidence against it gathered from friends and family.

I never can understand just what will set me off. It never seems proportionate after I recover. Never seems sane.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

I am so borderline!: On symptoms, diagnoses and feeling all sorts of crazy

Not this week. But the two weeks before, I was struggling with excess sleep and lethargy to the point it was becoming problematic. I wasn't accomplishing anything because I was pretty much glued to my bed. When I did wake up, it was to eat or use the bathroom. On particularly hard days, I would cry. My neediness doubled last week and made a friend frustrated with me again. At the time, I didn't understand why he was frustrated because I was in "so much pain". So it didn't make sense that he was upset over me constantly calling and texting.

I usually focus on symptoms when talking about myself, but I am pretty sure the thought in my head last week was constantly: "I am so borderline!" Though borderline personality disorder has only been applied to me by my long-time therapist (psych docs usually stick with bipolar), I couldn't help imagine a picture of my face slapped right next to the description in the DSM. I could probably have ticked off each and every symptom listed for the disorder, however, I'll just briefly recap the most troubling for me.

  • First, I was having very abrupt mood swings. Though my general mood was down, I was also cycling rather quickly. I would have very intense bursts of depression and anger for the most part. Only once did I feel an elevated mood: great clarity, concentration and focus. My anger got me into verbal fights at least twice with my family (who I live with now).
  • I felt an extreme sense of loneliness. At night, I would almost work myself into a panic attack at the thought of being alone. When my friend I mentioned earlier became frustrated with me and sought to end the telephone conversation with me, I would employ tactics for him to remain on the line. I alternated between idealizing and devaluing him. 
  • Thoughts of self-injury and suicidal ideation present. Enough said. (No actual acting on these thoughts, however)
I feel like I expended my friends and family's patience for me. I was (and truthfully still am) disgusted by myself. I kind of/sort of hate myself. And mind you, I am feeling a lot better this week! 

Isn't there some expression about sunshine after rain? Well, I feel like it rained all sorts of emotions in my head the last two weeks. And my body took a beating too. Now, the sunshine is only a ray really. But I guess what I am saying is that I have some hope. And I am seeing things in a new light, to keep playing on expressions. 

So yes, I loathe myself but I also commend myself for still being here and trying. I look at all the possible scenarios that could have happened last week. I could have checked in the hospital. I could have hurt myself. Returning to idioms yet again, I could have hit rock bottom. Because it was a bad week. But what's interesting about all this is that this was by no means my worst state or "episode". It does seem like my resilience is in full force. 

I think it took those two rough weeks for me to relearn some things about myself. First, I am a stronger than I thought. Despite the funkiness of my moods, I was able to go out on my first substitute teaching assignment yesterday. It was chaotic and overwhelming, but I lasted the day. Second, neither my symptoms nor my diagnoses define me. I still have my values, my education being one of the forerunners. When depressed, I sometimes just don't care. About anything, including my values. In times like these, I have to remind myself to be patient. Feelings are temporary after all; values are consistent (for the most part).

So it's another time of transitions. The last time I wrote it was about my physical and lifestyle transitions. Now, it's more of an emotional realignment.

Patience. Patience. Patience.

Friday, 13 December 2013

I've been slow lately

I had an interesting experience last night.

The last few weeks I have found it very hard to be effective at work.  I have for example a bit of marking that might take an hour.  I think I should do it at the start of the day.  At about 11pm I do it for an hour until midnight.  Which is ok, except that I have done nothing else all day, or just maybe meetings, because the next thing to do is the marking and instead I facebook or find any other displacement activity.  So I've not relaxed all day, and worried, and not done anything.

The last couple of days I've taken a workaround, of not worrying and not trying to do the small thing until late. Not ideal in many ways but better than before.

But the really interesting thing was last night.  I went to order some things online for Christmas presents.  It just seemed ridiculously hard.  There was something which I could no longer get, so there was a minor difficulty.  But it just all seemed so hard.

So it seems like I have been having a tougher time all round than I expected.

At least it's a good time for a holiday to be rolling round.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Vignette: No Joy

I would not say I have been doing too well the last few weeks.  Had a bad week a couple of weeks ago.

A lot of the time I tell myself "I want to kill myself" and "I am the worst person in the world."  It's a mental tic, not reality. I don't want to kill myself and I don't think I am the worst person in the world.

Yesterday I realised towards the end of the day that I'd had no joy in the day.  Which was odd.  I realised that very often even when I'm miserable - unless I am really bad - I have moments of joy even if it's just sharing a good joke.  Yesterday I seemed to be just at a level where I wasn't deeply miserable all day, but nothing was good.

In the end I did think of some joy I'd had, so that was nice.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Making changes & feeling optimistic

Some lifestyle changes:
  • Since November 14, I cut out gluten, excess caffeine and sugar from my diet. I have had only a couple slips. 
  • I joined a gym and have been exercising on average three to four times a week.
  • I started taking supplements (fish oil, a B complex, probiotics, etc).
Some observations on my moods:
  • I have a lot of physical energy even if I feel emotionally low.
  • I have been relatively stable despite a feeling of apathy or dullness. 
  • I have been able to concentrate on tasks such as reading.
Overall, I have been doing pretty alright. The new doctor I am seeing has lowered my Abilify by 10 mg since I started seeing her a little over two weeks ago. I haven't experienced any dramatic withdrawal effects. The doctor seems receptive to working with me to lower my medications, however, she did say if I experience symptoms, I will go back on a higher dose. 

So I guess my spirits are somewhat higher than usual. I plan to keep up my lifestyle modifications. I'll keep you updated.