Archive for July, 2008

Monthly woes

And the menstrual cycle strikes again! 🙂 I guess I shouldn’t blame it; if I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t have 3 wonderful children either.

But for my emotions, it’s a big pain in the…. well, wherever you personally think the worst pain would be! Yesterday evening I had a relatively brief rage attack. I was irritable and I could have torn the head off anyone within range. I’ve been tracking my moods 3 times a day and while this one was not quite in the cellar, it was heading that direction!

Fortunately I was able to calm myself relatively quickly. I used one of my new entrainment CD’s several times in the past weekend. What, you may ask, is an entrainment CD? It’s a concept from a book, The Tao of Music:Sound Psychology by John M. Ortiz. To combat feelings of depression, he does not advise simply listening to happy music. I can attest to the fact that I often feel repelled by such “crap” when I’m depressed. It only makes me feel worse! Instead, he describes the concept of entrainment, which begins where the brain is — depression — then gradually leads it to the desired mood — something more positive, maybe contentment. Here is one of my entrainment playlists:

Kryptonite — 3 Doors Down
Ashes to Ashes — David Bowie
Why — Annie Lennox
Total Eclipse of the Heart — Bonnie Tyler
You Learn — Alanis Morissette
Under Pressure — David Bowie and Queen
The Sign — Ace of Base
Wedding Bell Blues — The 5th Dimension
Slow Motion — Blondie
Life in a Northern Town — Dream Academy
Killer Queen — Queen
Move Along — The All-American Rejects
Tubthumping — Chumbawamba
Come on Eileen — Dexy’s Midnight Runners

It may not be evident from the titles, but, for me at least, these songs evoke emotions that begin in the depression region, transition to a neutral area, then rise to hopefulness and happiness. This really does help! Ortiz gives some suggestions for songs & albums to use, including classical if that’s your preference, but I think eventually you might want a more personalized list.

I’ve also been reminded of the value of completed projects. They bring about a sense of immense satisfaction. I just completed a photo slideshow for a friend and sent her the DVD’s. I feel as though I accomplished something worthwhile by doing this for her. What a boost for self-esteem!


July 21, 2008 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

Therapist Difficulty

My therapist has, herself, experienced episodes of severe depression that required hospitalization.

This is both positive and negative with regard to having her as my therapist. On the positive side, she seriously understands what it’s like to have a mental illness — at least depression. She can easily spot when I need to be inpatient. She has an empathy that a non-mentally-ill therapist cannot have, by definition.

However, the negative of this is that her depression recurs and when it does, she is unable to fully meet my needs as her client. I don’t blame her for it; I know she doesn’t do it on purpose. Yet there it is.

Earlier this year she did spend some inpatient time in a nearby city (not where I went). Since then she has been doing much better, but lately she’s seemed much more stressed and she’s been less dependable about our appointments. I left Timberlawn a week ago yesterday, and I was meant to see her within 7 days. She canceled our original Thursday appointment, then this morning she didn’t show. She called me later and said she “had a sore throat and took some medicine for it and didn’t wake up until late” (it was after 11:00 when she called). Since I am expert at making excuses when I’m depressed, I take what she said with a grain of salt. What kind of sore throat medicine would make a person sleep so long?

I’m really concerned. I care about her personally, for one thing, but also there is the effect on my own mental health. I must have regular therapy, and I’m not sure she’s able to provide it. Because of this, I need to find a new therapist.

July 15, 2008 at 1:59 pm 1 comment

Not a Good Day

Today is not a good day for me — or should I say, I’ve had better. I’ve felt very tired all day. Not sure why. I went to Wal-Mart 3 times, but thank God (and sister Shelley & daughter Erin) I did not have to walk in this heat! I finally got my refills on all my meds. The most important one was the Zoloft, because yesterday I took the last 1 (I am meant to take 2) and didn’t have it today until about 4:15. This may be related to my tired feelings, I don’t know.

Being around so many people and especially interacting with them can be so exhausting for me.

On the plus side, I did some more cleaning up around the house. It’s gradually improving.

July 12, 2008 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

Stress: Did you know?

Here’s something interesting I learned while at Timberlawn Hospital: Did you know that when you feel stressed, your digestive, reproductive, and immune systems shut down? The pre-frontal cortex in your brain — the part designed for rational thinking — shuts down too!

Here’s why: Most of us have heard of the “Fight or Flight” (sometimes “fight, flight, or freeze”) response. This is what happens to us when we feel that our survival is threatened — if we experience an attack by human or animal, a fire, a tornado, or a similar potentially fatal situation. Stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are released and trigger reactions throughout the organs and tissues. The body prepares to fight or run away by shutting down systems it considers to be not essential to the current crisis, and boosting systems that are essential.

This is terrific when there is actual threat to survival of ourselves or others. A mother may have ‘superhuman’ strength to lift a car pinning her child. A middle-aged man runs a long distance quickly although he is normally winded by a flight of stairs. A nurse or doctor works 40 hours straight to save earthquake victims.

But what if, due to some malfunction in the danger alert system, the hormones are being released too often, when there is no actual threat? The digestive, reproductive, and immune systems, along with the pre-frontal cortex, switch on and off frequently and chaotically. The malfunction that causes this is usually a distorted perspective on danger, possibly resulting from past trauma or disruptions of brain chemicals such as bipolar disorder or depression.

…to be continued

July 12, 2008 at 11:48 am 1 comment

Good to be home

I was released from Timberlawn Trauma Unit on Monday July 7 and traveled back home on Tuesday. Riding on the Amtrak this time was tortuously slow, although I tried not to get impatient. Instead, I reminded myself that the delay would make my eventual arrival that much more pleasurable! To a certain extent it worked. But when I finally reached my apartment at 11 pm Tuesday night, I was terribly weary yet hyped up on the adrenaline of anticipation.

I made phone calls to those who care about me, to assure them I was safe, then spent some time alternately petting the cats and running around trying to clean up. I could not believe the mess I’d left! It was a bit scary, because it showed just how bad off I had been. I’m not the best housekeeper even when “normal” but this time it was pathetic.

After awhile I realized it was time to go to bed and that I was just avoiding it by cleaning. Why? I asked myself. It turned out I was scared! No, not scared — terrified! I was afraid to be alone. I sat down and let myself feel it, and I cried some, then I hugged my stuffed cat and reassured myself that it would be ok. I prayed. I still felt scared. So I decided to journal about my feelings. I related my current feelings to times in childhood when I felt terror at going to bed. I slept with a small flashlight and a transistor radio playing all night. I felt bad for that little girl because no one, including herself, understood what was wrong with her. Expressing my feelings (along with the miracles of modern pharmacology!) allowed me to finally fall asleep in the recliner.

Since that first night it’s been easier to go to bed and I’ve actually slept in my bedroom when it was cool enough. I’m having to ease into the changes I planned to make; unfortunately, there is no way I can just jump right into doing all the things I plan to. But that will come, with time. I am sure of it.

July 11, 2008 at 12:41 pm Leave a comment

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