Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's The Simple Things

This week my husband is out of town. This always makes things much harder for me. If I have not prepared well, then I can't figure out how to get all the food cooked, get our son off to school, go to bed on time, etc... When my parents asked me how I was doing, I let them know we had very little food made in the house so Dad invited us over to dinner tonight. This was such a big help and took away a lot of the anxiety of the evening as my son and I were ensured to have a good dinner and I would not feel like a failure of a mother by giving him a random unhealthy dinner. Then later in the evening my sister called to check in on me and we talked about different random things, which helped me feel like life was normal again.

I know many family members wonder how they can help their loved one with mental illness. The illness seems so big that you need need to do something drastic in order to help them. In reality, it may be the more simple things, like dinner and a phone call, which will help the most.


Rev. Katie

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can You Really Hate Everything?

There are many different aspects to mental illness that we do not realize are part of the illness. A common symptom of mental illness that often goes unrecognized is hating everything. This is when you hate everything that you have on your schedule, regardless of the fact that it is an activity you love. It stresses you out to even think that you have to go and it makes you feel tired and annoyed when you wake up in the morning seeing the tasks you have to do for the day. Yet, when you actually go to the event or perform the task, you like it.

For instance, you might dread your job, but actually love it when you are there. You might be planning to go to a movie with friends but find yourself annoyed that you have to get in the car and drive there.

I used to think this hating everything meant that I was just lazy. Or, in the early days, I thought I really actually hated things that I loved, which was not good because sometimes I would quit something that I actually liked. 

What my therapist has helped me realize is that this hating everything is just part of my illness. It does not really mean that I am unhappy with what I am doing or that I am lazy and just want to sit around all day. It is just a glitch in my brain. For some of us with mental illness, tasks seem overwhelming and it is that anxiety over the tasks that makes you feel like you hate them.

In order to overcome this hating everything issue, I am working on being more mindful. Just recognize that I am anxious about doing something, but don't give into the anxiety and feeling like I hate everything. Instead I just try to remind myself that once I get there I will like it and let that feeling of dread go.

For me, just knowing that this is part of the illness and that I don't really hate everything is really helpful. It helps me go and do what I had planned anyway. It helps me stick with things I love doing instead of letting the anxiety of it get to me.

Rev. Katie

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lessons Learned

Wow, I have not written a blog post in two and a half weeks! It may come as no surprise to those of you who also deal with bipolar disorder to know that you can probably tell how I am doing based on how frequently I write. When there is a long spell with no creativity, that usually means I am facing some serious depression, which is what has been happening. I have been feeling better the past couple of days and noticed that this recent bout of depression has taught me a few things. What I wonder is why does it take me so long to learn these much needed lessons? Lessons other people around me are often telling me. I guess because my brain is sick and it just does not work rationally at times.

First I learned that depression will go away and I am not always depressed. When I am depressed I think I have been like that forever and I will remain so until I die. Jeff always tells me this is not true, but I never believe him. Recently my therapist asked me if I could just see the depression as temporary and when it happens just do what I need to in order to get through the day and make sure I still do a few things I enjoy each day. Well, she and Jeff are both right. This does not last forever, and in fact it is pretty predictable when it will happen. It always happens the same week each month and it always happens during big transitions, like moving, which we did a week ago.
The sun will always rise after a depression.

The second thing I learned is that I really need to track my moods better. Since the depression is so predictable, tracking my moods means I could often know before it is going to happen and put in place some extra precautions so that it does not get as bad. I can even mentally prepare myself for it so I do not get into thinking I will be depressed and miserable forever. I can rearrange my schedule to have less to do that week. I can ask for more help. I can make sure I have no excuses not to eat right and exercise.

The last thing I learned is that I am actually sick. You see, despite my blog and all of my openness about my illness, I still revert to thinking I am just a bad and weak person who cannot control herself.  I think I should just be able to stop being depressed, force myself to exercise, and almost beat myself up mentally into being a better person. When I do this, I am not really understanding that I am sick. The reason I can't just force myself to stop being depressed and manic or be as perfect as my husband is because there is an illness in my brain. I am not a bad or weak person. When I recognize my illness and take it seriously then I can plan better for it and use my treatment plan more effectively.

While this bout with depression was pretty bad, I am grateful for all of the things I learned this time. I am hopeful this will allow me to better manage the next depressive episode that comes my way. I am especially grateful for the people who kept helping me learn these lessons even though it took so long for them to stick.


Rev. Katie