It’s been a VERY difficult 3 months. This last depressive episode has been a stubborn one. I’ve had two medications adjusted, changed some sleeping habits, made some attempts at getting more exercise and attended some group sessions. I’m slowly getting back to being me.
Let me just say…I hate dealing with medication adjustments. This reason alone keeps me from telling my doctors about my slides in either direction. I wait WAY,WAY longer then I should to be honest about how I’m feeling. This is always a mistake. It makes recovery from my episodes even more complicated then they need to be. The side effects of medication increases are just as irritating and complicated as episode symptoms. I’m often groggy,foggy, and irritable. Ironically some of the same things I am during a manic or depressive episode.
So how do I know the medication adjustments help? It’s the little things really. Maybe I’m showering 5-7 days a week instead of forgetting to. I’ve cooked dinner a few times during the week instead of forgetting to eat most of the day. I make it to my appointments. I want to talk to, and see friends. Some of the improvements are noticed by others. I’m talking more instead of staying inside my head. Or maybe my patience are improving and I’m not biting peoples heads off as much. That’s the problem with bipolar. Sometimes I don’t see the changes in my behavior or notice a shift in my mood. Which means the people I spend the majority of my time with have to deal with my swings long before I do.
So what can I do?
1. Be honest. Be honest with myself , my doctors, therapist and with my family. They can’t help if they don’t know what’s going on. I’m not always good with this part. I don’t like medication changes and I get sick of talking about what’s going on in my head. It’s exhausting. If I’m tired of talking about things others must be too right? All I can do is be as open and honest as I can. Communication is super important.
2. Find some support. Go to a mental health support group. Talk with my mental health buddy. Increase my counselor visits. I can go to a NAMI support group meeting. They are filled with people struggling with similar issues. Sometimes it helps to be surrounded by folks that get it. Touch base with my counselor/therapist/doctor. These folks are invaluable members of my team.
3. Try and find one thing a day to make me smile. Listen to my favorite song, watch my favorite movie, read a book. Spend some happy time with my animals, my family or my partner. Enjoy my morning coffee in the sunshine. Watch a sunset. Take a moment and look for the good around me. This is hard when I’m in the grips of a depressive episode. But just taking a few minutes to think about something else helps.
4. BE KIND TO MYSELF
I have to be more vigilant when it comes to watching my symptoms. I need to use my coping skills even when I hate using them. I also need to remember to be kind. I’m extremely hard on myself and this makes things worse. I need to remind myself that every small victory matters. Take a breath and be kind.
I haven’t done much baking lately. I have trouble focusing on recipe directions and the finished product is often subpar, in my opinion. (See, kindness is hard) So the baking coping skill has been on pause. I finally made a few loaves of bread this week. They weren’t my best looking, but they tasted alright. I made some Honey Wheat bread loaves and a few mini baguettes. Working with bread dough is usually very therapeutic. However I found myself being impatient and irritated. A clue that the episode is still hanging on. Maybe this weekend I will try again. The fog will lift eventually. Hang in there and be kind to yourselves 🙂