Changing It Up…Yet Again

A few weeks ago I started to feel…not myself. I noticed I was feeling depressed and simple things, like taking a shower or focusing on work seemed extremely difficult. Getting out of bed became harder and harder and I was having a hard time doing the things I normally do to feel better like exercise. I realized my old nemesis, depression, was beginning to rear its ugly head so I did what I often put off doing for too long; I called my doctor.

I was hesitant to call my doctor because I’ve been on the same meds for several years. I can’t even remember exactly how many years because it feels like it’s been forever. I didn’t need to change my meds once during pregnancy for 9 months after, so the thought of changing them now made me uneasy.

Changing meds sucks. Not only do the changes not always work, but you’re often stuck with awful and sometimes strange side effects. I think the weirdest one I’ve experienced was it always felt like something was vibrating (thanks, Wellbutrin). This time is was horrible headaches and nausea. It was like being pregnant all over again but this time I didn’t know if there was an end in sight. Sometimes side effects don’t go away and you have to determine if they’re worth the benefits of the drug. It’s not fair when you have to choose between mental and physical health.

But I knew I needed something to change or I was headed for a depression and I just can’t let that happen right now. Not with work, household responsibilities, and especially (and most importantly) mom duty. I found being around my son so difficult because all I wanted to do was cry and cry. He definitely knew something was up too. He may only be 9 months but he is very observant and I knew I needed to make a change for him, for us. Thankfully my amazing husband stepped up and took on a lot of the baby responsibilities so I could take the time I needed to try and pull myself together. I will say that working from home has been helpful for me because after pretending to be ok in a meeting, I needed the privacy and comfort of home to decompress and sometimes fall apart and then could pick up the pieces and keep going.

Luckily for me, it appears that the side effects of my most recent med change were temporary as I haven’t experienced them over the last couple of days. I’m starting to feel like me again. I definitely still have some anxiety looming over my head, but with the state of the world today who doesn’t? And thanks to medication, I can take the edge off if even just for a moment.

Changing meds is scary because you don’t always know if it’s going to work. Even if it’s just adjusting your meds and not going to a new one, like I did, there’s still a chance it won’t work and you’ll be back to square one. Which is truly one of the most defeating and lonely feelings I’ve ever experienced. But thankfully the increase in dose of one of my meds (I take three, one for anxiety and two for bipolar) seems to have done the trick and I’m back on the Peloton and enjoying my little man.

If you’re taking meds, or you’re thinking about taking meds, and they’re not working, reaching out to your doctor. They’re there to help you and if they’re not doing their job, it’s time to figure out why. There is never a need to suffer in silence.

Motherhood Ramblings

I haven’t written in a while because it’s an odd time. It feels like there is everything and nothing to say at the same time.  We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the second coming of the Civil Rights movement, which makes me feel like my quippy mom posts are irrelevant and even inappropriate at a time like this.  But maybe that’s what some of us need – a welcome distraction from the doom that’s shoved in our faces every time we look at our phones.

Balancing mom life and work life is hard, especially when they take place in the same room.  Being a mom is hard, being a mom during a pandemic is harder.  I applaud the moms with older children who have to explain what is happening and why they can’t have playdates, go to the playground, or go to school.  I’m fortunate that my little one is still more or less a blob.  A playful blob, but a blob nonetheless.  

It’s funny, as I write this I keep thinking about how much this blog has changed.  It was intended to be a place of sarcasm and farce about the random escapades of my 20s.  Then it morphed into a place to talk about the harder things, like mental health, and now I see myself attempting to turn towards “mommy blogger”. True, the internet is flooded with these blogs about making playdough and how to talk to your toddler about not being an asshole, but maybe mine will be different because I’m slightly different from these moms.  I’m a mom with bipolar disorder.  And while there are many of us (we have a Facebook group!) our stories are not always the ones that pop up on your feed.

Maybe people don’t want to read about avoiding mania while managing sleep deprivation or letting your child safely play with your pill bottles (they make great rattles!), but I have yet to stumble upon a mommy blogger or vlogger that talks about her little ones as much as her mental health.  And while I’m not about to start a YouTube channel or commit to a daily blog, perhaps I could share more of my insight into being a mom with a mental illness.  It certainly isn’t easy but it is definitely doable.

I used to think that I could never have a child because of my mental health issues.  I thought it would be too much and I wouldn’t be able to handle it, but life has a way of giving you just enough that you can handle it.  Being a mom is definitely hard.  When people ask me what it’s like I usually give them the bullshit answer we all do.  We smile and say, “It’s amazing”.  And it is.  But it’s also stressful, tiring, and thankless.  And that’s for any mom, throw in a mental illness and you will reach new levels of exhausted.  Then there are all the moms who suffer from postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  Where are their stories?  I’m getting a little tired of listening to moms go through their Walmart grocery delivery while avoiding the hard parts.

My son shit on me.  He had a blowout while he was sitting on my lap.  Twice.  Where was that part in the YouTube video?  No one warns you about that.  They tell you about the blowouts but not that they’ll occur while your child is on you.  I know i’m all over the place right now and you’re probably thinking, “Kate, pick a lane”, but that’s how my brain works right now.  It’s all over the place because there are a million things I need to be thinking about at all times.  It’s made my anxiety return after the nice vacation I got from it during pregnancy.  I’ve had two panic attacks since my son was born, which is honestly pretty good.  But if you’ve ever had one you know they’re scary and they’re hard and they’re always incredibly inconvenient.  Especially when your child is in the next room.  You don’t want them to see you so you put them in a safe place and then fall apart in the bathroom.  

That’s another part about motherhood no one told me about.  The breakdowns.  Now that my son is 6 months old we’ve gotten into a better groove, but in the beginning the breakdowns were plentiful.  The “I can’t do this” and the “this is too hard” moments.  I know more are to come.  I know toddler life is going to bring about a whole new world of stress and “why would you do that”, “put that down”, and “how in the world did you get up there” moments.  I know more panic attacks are on their way and more bouts of depression.  Because they never go away.

Being a mom is hard, but it really is amazing at the same time.  It is the single craziest thing I’ve ever done yet I would choose it over and over again.  My son can make me feel happiness in a way I didn’t know I could.  So maybe I’ll keep blogging about it and about mental health because the two go hand in hand in my life.  My life consists of medication check ins, nap time struggles (though we’re getting better), exercising for sanity, avoiding getting peed on, and endless snuggles and giggles. Being a mom with bipolar disorder is hard, but not impossible and I think more people need to know that.

 

Mom Life: Taking the Time

Today was a bit of a hard day. Little man was having some tummy trouble which led to him not napping anywhere near schedule and A LOT of crying. Then as I picked up my container of soup for lunch I dropped it and it exploded on the floor.  We went for a walk with my mom, which was lovely until little man had had enough and wanted to escape his stroller and fussed the rest of the walk. So overall not a terrible day, but after the soup exploded my mind started racing about how frustrated I was with our day being thrown off, the fact that husband and I started a new diet and all I wanted was to shove scones in my face, and then the impending doom of coronavirus snuck in there and I had a panic attack, the first in several years.  Needless to say, it put me in a funk.

Later on in the day I needed to start prepping dinner so I brought little man with me into the kitchen and explained to him how I prepare asparagus. That’s when husband came in and said how proud he was that despite having a rough day I was still “momming” the best I can.

That’s because being a mom never turns off.

Being a mom is hard.  Like, exponentially harder than you think it will be.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its moments.  Being a mom with bipolar disorder adds a new flare to that.  Although I’m very stable (thank you meds), I still have days where my anxiety is high or my moods are off.  Even if you don’t have bipolar disorder, I’m pretty sure every mom reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about.  But the thing is, you can’t not tend to your child just because you’re feeling down.  That’s the hard part.  It takes an immense strength to pull yourself out of your funk and be there for your child.  God bless you if you have multiple little ones.

I’ve only been a mom for 4 months but in those 4 months I’ve learned a ton.  Mainly that the needs of my child come before my own to an extent.  Unhappy mommy can’t be the mommy little man needs, so I still need to take care of myself.  Recently I purchased a Peloton and I spin in the mornings before he wakes up. IT IS THE BEST. I love spinning more than I have time to explain so having my very own bike in my house is extraordinary.  I was on the fence about buying one for a long time because of the steep price tag, but the relief I get from spinning makes it worth every penny. Plus it ends up being cheaper and much more convenient than SoulCycle. But the point is not to talk about how awesome Pelotons are, the point is to say that I did something for myself because I had to.  I wake up when little man wakes up (alongside awesome husband), I feed little man when I’m starving, and I entertain little man when I’m exhausted because that’s my job.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t squeeze in some time for me.  Even just taking a shower that’s longer than 5 minutes is a delight and can be a much needed treat.  Walking 5 minutes to the coffee shop (and buying scones) down the block BY MYSELF is a refreshing pleasure.

Being a mom is hard. It’s amazing, scary, wonderful, stressful, incredible, and everything in between.  But moms are human, we still have needs and limits.  So if you’re a mom, take some time for yourself, even if it’s just a long shower. You deserve it because momming ain’t easy.  And if you see a mom that looks like she’s at her wits end, offer to help.  Hold the baby or entertain the kids while she takes that luxurious shower.  Or at least tell her she looks great.  Every mom deserves to hear that because even if you have spit up in your hair you are still a beautiful, magnificent creature. You created life, or you’re raising one, either way you’re a mom and you rock.

 

8 Down, 2 to Go

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything so I thought I would post an update. On Monday I will be 8 months pregnant with my first baby. It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 months already and there’s only 2 months left to go before we meet our little one.

One of the reasons I haven’t written anything is because I’m one of those annoying pregnant women who absolutely loves being pregnant. Sometimes it can be a challenge (oh the heartburn…) but most of the time it’s really great.  One of the greatest things that has come from my pregnancy is how much it has lowered my anxiety. I had to stop taking my anxiety medication when I got pregnant but stayed on the other two I take for bipolar disorder. I was worried that my anxiety would come back full swing without the anxiety meds, but much to my delight it pretty much disappeared.  The only thing I can attribute it to is being pregnant and the chill little guy inside me, as unhelpful as that is.

I haven’t experienced the mood swings you see in the movies which has been surprising to me since I have a mood disorder, so I thought they would be much worse for me.  Maybe it’s my meds, maybe it’s this little guy, or maybe life just decided to give me a break, but whatever it is I’m hoping it lasts into postpartum.

I, along with my doctors, decided I would stay on my bipolar medication throughout my pregnancy and I will continue to stay on them through postpartum, which (hopefully) includes breastfeeding. Any research available (which is scarce) doesn’t point to any complications with the medications I take, which is why I decided to stay on them.  At first I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of taking medication while pregnant because of all the ‘what ifs’, but my mental health needed to be a priority because happy mommy = happy baby.  

I know I’m very lucky to be enjoying pregnancy so much.  Last weekend I went to a prenatal yoga class and some of the women shared how much they’re struggling with pregnancy.  It made me incredibly grateful that the worst things I deal with are heartburn and occasional hip pain. Every pregnancy is different and I know that the next time I may not be so lucky so I’m doing my best to enjoy this special time in my life. 

The only thing that frustrates me is how little information is available for pregnant women who take psych medications. I understand that it’s hard to gather data, but I feel like there’s more that can be done.  I watched a documentary on Amazon about mothers who take psych meds with the hopes that it would shed some light on the subject for me and I could feel better about the medications I take. But pretty much all the women stopped taking their medications so I don’t understand the point of documentary.  Needless to say, it was not helpful. 

I did find an online community of moms with bipolar disorder who were able to share their experiences with pregnancy and breastfeeding on psych meds, so that’s been reassuring. But deciding to stay on my meds was and continues to be a difficult decision due to lack of information. However, based on how smoothly my pregnancy has been going I feel safe thinking I made the right decision.  My only hope is that in the future we have more information about pregnancy and psych meds so women feel comfortable being on medication(s) that keeps them healthy.  As my doctors always remind me, happy mommy = happy baby.

 

World Bipolar Day

This post was originally posted on my company’s Facebook page. Company name has been removed for privacy (even though most of you already know where I work).

Did you know that March 30th is World Bipolar Day?  Bipolar disorder is also known as “manic depression” and is a mental illness that affects about 5.7 million adults in America.  Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that affect a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. These shifts in mood and energy levels are more severe than the normal ups and downs that are experienced by everyone.

I am one of the 5.7 million people with bipolar disorder. “Bipolar” is a term that gets thrown around a lot. I often hear people describe someone with ups and downs as bipolar, or that the weather is bipolar when we shift temperatures dramatically.  It’s hurtful when I hear people say things like this because they’re saying “bipolar” with a negative connotation; that being bipolar is a bad thing. And while life would certainly be easier without it, it doesn’t mean that having bipolar disorder ruins your life.  I was diagnosed at age 19 after being diagnosed with depression at 14 and anxiety at 16. Most people would never know I have bipolar disorder because I manage it with medication and therapy. Although it’s always in the back of my mind, it doesn’t prohibit me from living a full life.  I have a wonderful circle of friends, a very happy marriage, and I work here full time at the Company. But things weren’t always so great.

There was a time in my life, around my diagnosis, where I felt very out of control of my life.  I was unable to work or go to school and felt lost and hopeless. But with the support of family and friends as well as determination and strength, I found an amazing psychologist and psychiatrist who helped me get back on track. I was able to go back to college (part time, then full time), and I’ve been consistently employed for the past 7 years.  Even though I have more good days than bad days, I still have my down times. During those times I try to remind myself that it’s ok to feel bad and that this feeling won’t last forever. I practice self-care by spending time alone and reading, taking a long hot shower while belting my favorite showtunes, going to spin class, or sitting on my couch and rewatching my favorite feel-good shows.

Having bipolar disorder changed my life but it by no means ruined it.  It used to be something I hid from the world but now it’s something I’m comfortable sharing, which is why I wrote this post and shared it with all of you.  If you have bipolar disorder, or any mental illness, know that you’re not alone. There are literally millions of people who understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness and many more who offer their love and support.  There’s even a community here at The Company, the mental health employee resource group, with people who provide an understanding and supportive space when you might need it the most. Our motto is “Less stigma, more support” and we stand by that. We’d love to have you join our #mental-health channel or join us at our biweekly get togethers every other Thursday at 4pm.

Keep fighting the good fight.
Kate is a technical writer. She has bipolar type II and isn’t ashamed to say it. When she’s not writing documentation, she writes about mental health on thebrochick.com and Psychology Today.

Mini Challenges

If you read my last post, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of large groups, whether they be social gatherings or work related meetings.  It’s a challenge for me to enter a group setting because of my social anxiety that comes from a place of needing to feel accepted.  I know this now because I talked to my psychologist about it (I can’t take credit for coming up with that on my own).

I guess this anxiety comes from always feeling like an outsider when I was growing up.  I was called “weird” a lot and it made me feel anything but normal, like every middle school kid ever.  But that feeling of being seen as different stuck with me. I know part of it came from being very quiet as a kid.  People think you’re weird if you’d rather keep to yourself than join in a conversation. There’s some stigma around people who prefer solitude over socializing.  Although with things like JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out – I hear it’s a thing now), that’s starting to change. Either way, the feeling of being perceived as weird is what often keeps me from talking to people.  However, my psychologist encouraged me to “embrace the weird”. He said I shouldn’t care so much about what people think about me and it’s ok to be weird. I know he’s right, but easier said than done.

As I was talking to him about all this, he encouraged me to challenge myself to do more social things, like talk to people or at least stand in a room with them.  I thought of them as ‘mini challenges’. So I started to think about other mini challenges I could do and here’s what I came up with, including how realistic my attempt will be:

  • Make small talk with my bike neighbor at SoulCycle (highly unlikely)
  • Talk to one new person at a party in two weeks (likely)
  • Don’t hide behind my husband at the next family gathering (very likely – he usually disappears within 5 minutes of arriving)
  • Make small talk with a coworker whilst getting coffee (somewhat likely)
  • Say good morning and smile at coworkers I don’t know (likely)
  • Make small talk with someone in a random scenario, like the subway, a coffee shop, etc. (highly unlikely – I live in New York and we pride ourselves on avoiding this sort of interaction)
  • Not feel super awkward making eye contact with someone in the bathroom (unlikely)
  • Strike up a conversation during a pause at a family dinner next weekend (somewhat likely)
  • Remember that it’s ok to be weird (very likely)

Well next week I have another big meeting on Monday, and this time I’m going to go.  Well, I’m going to try to go. I’ll do my best, so stay tuned!

What kinds of mini challenges can you put yourself up to? Leave your responses in the comments, I’d love to read them!

 

All by myself

I’ve noticed that when I feel “good” I really struggle to write, which is one of the reasons I don’t post weekly on here.  I believe in ‘quality over quantity’ and I’ve never wanted this to be a place where I dump content just for the sake of posting.  That’s not what this blog is about. This blog is a safe place for me to share my thoughts with others who may experience things similar to the way that I do.  It’s also for people who are curious about mental illness and my wonderfully supportive loved ones to get a glimpse into my mind.

I’m writing today because I’m supposed to be in meeting.  I guess, technically I am in a meeting – I dialed in, but I should be there in person.  Why did I dial in? Because it’s a department-wide meeting and seeing a large group of people I don’t know very well made me turn on my heels and head back to the safety of my desk and my big headphones.  Groups of people I don’t know well make me very anxious. Sometimes even groups of people I know make me anxious. Basically, I don’t like big groups. Crowds are fine. I live in New York City so I’m fine being shoved around by people I don’t know.  But put them in a room where I could potentially have to speak to one of them? No way. Abort.

I don’t know why people make me so nervous.  Maybe it’s because I grew up as an only child and spent a lot of my childhood, and adulthood, alone.  I love being by myself and it’s crucial for my mental health. As I sit here, half listening to this meeting, I keep thinking about why groups of people make me so anxious.  Where did this social anxiety come from? Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert and that’s just who I am. I don’t like being around people I don’t know. I don’t like making small talk.  Maybe that makes me anti-social, but whatever it makes me it’s who I am. I used to wish I could be extroverted. I look at people who walk in a room full of people and can talk to anyone and think, ‘how the hell do they do that?’.  But that’s just not who I am. I get really quiet when I’m a group of people I don’t know well. Being around people also makes me really tired – it drains me. Even being in a group of people I love makes me tired. It takes a lot of energy for me to be around people, especially when I don’t know them well and I’m so focused on trying not to be awkward.  Even though I don’t want to admit, I do care what people think of me. I think most of us do.

So here I sit, away from the people at the safety of my desk.  I’m lucky that if my manager asked why I never come to meetings and call in instead, she’d understand.  But I’d be lying if I said I felt completely comfortable with my decision to sit alone. Part of me wants to be ‘part of the team’, but a bigger part of me is fine with being on the outside looking in.  I wish the thought of being in a big room full of people didn’t make my heart race, but I have social anxiety and that’s just part of my deal. I know I’m not the only one, I see the other people who call into the meeting who I know are here.  Maybe they’re too busy to attend, or maybe the feel the same way I do. Maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way. And maybe that’s ok.

 

Some Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve written something and I can’t tell if that’s a good or a bad thing.  I tend to write more when things are difficult, and recently things have been going pretty smoothly.  My meds seem to be in order and my mood has been pretty stable. It’s amazing how something that seems so small, like adding an anxiety med, can make such a huge difference.

I often wish I didn’t need medication and I could use natural remedies to treat my bipolar disorder, but I just don’t think that’s in the cards for me.  I completely agree that Americans are overmedicated, but for some of us we need it to survive. When I feel down, I feel completely alone. By down I mean depressed, anxious, and just generally shitty.  It’s a horribly isolating feeling. It feels paralyzing because the world keeps moving around me, yet I feel like I’m stuck in one spot. One sad, lonely spot. And it feels like no one understands. But what I’ve learned from reaching out to the mental health community is that people do understand.  Everyone experiences depression or anxiety differently, but we often face similar battles. Like depression feels like a weight you can’t push off you, or a cloud that follows your relentlessly. Anxiety feels like being trapped in box with water rising around you. It can also feel like a heart attack.

Even though my anxiety has been under control thanks to medication, I still feel it creep in from time to time.  This usually happens when I’m extra tired or haven’t been doing a good job at taking care of myself (eating well, sleeping enough, drinking plenty of water, exercising, etc.).  I notice it when my mind starts to race and I feel my heart start beating faster. If I’m without my medication, I put my hand on my chest and try to slow down my breathing. I do breathing exercises like counting my breaths (inhale for 3, hold for 3, exhale for 3).  But it frustrates me that even though I take medication, I still experience anxiety. I guess nothing is perfect.

My mood, in general, has been unusually stable, which for me (someone with a mood disorder) is extraordinary.  As someone with a rapid cycling mood disorder, I’m used to not being able to trust my feelings because I know my mood will just change again.  It’s a weird and awful feeling to feel like you can’t trust yourself because your brain is turning against you. It’s scary and it makes making decisions feel almost impossible, even small meaningless ones.  But I haven’t felt that way in a while, and for that I feel incredibly grateful. And it’s not just medication that does the trick, it takes a lot of work on my end as well. There is no magic pill that makes you feel better all the time.  And even with the work I put in, like exercising and sleeping enough, I still have my lows. They’re just less frequent and less severe.

So generally speaking, things are pretty good.  Will they stay that way forever? No. I’ve been dealing with this long enough to know that the good times don’t last forever, which is why it’s so important to enjoy them.  These are the times when I’ll try to exercise more and be more social, because I know that when I’m not feeling great those are two things I avoid. As my dad always says, some days are rock and others are diamonds.  Enjoy the diamonds while you have them and persevere through the rocks since neither lasts forever.

 

Breaking the Stigma: Meds

In the past I’ve been pretty adamant about finding alternatives for medication, and I still am to some extent.  Medication is really tricky and it’s difficult to know if it’s right for you, which is why it’s so important to have a good psychiatrist or other medical professional who can prescribe you medication.

I’ve been taking medication for 16 years and yet I still sometimes have a problem with it. There was a five year period where I was off medication completely but that ended three years ago, and I’ve been back on ever since.  I felt some sense of pride that I didn’t need medication, which is really stupid because there’s nothing wrong with taking medication.  But this was 8 years ago and the mental health movement was still far from taking off.  I was so embarrassed of my medication that I used to hide it in vitamin bottles so my roommates wouldn’t know.

Not everyone with a mental illness needs medication, but for those of us who do it can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow (no pun intended) to know that you may very well be on medication for the rest of your life.  For me, it makes me feel like I’m sick and I hate that feeling.  Most of the time I’m ok with the fact that I have a mental illness and I need to take medication to manage it, but sometimes it can be really hard to deal with.  I get this idea that I need pills to be normal and that somehow makes me wrong or broken.  But really that’s not the case.  So many people take medication for so many reasons and I would never judge someone for taking their medication so why should I judge myself?

I currently take two medications, one as a mood stabilizer and one to help with depression.  Recently I added a third to help with anxiety, which for some reason I had been very hesitant to take.  I’ve struggled with anxiety since high school but over the past several months it had become unmanageable.  I found myself having a hard time having conversations with people or reading because I could’t stop my mind from racing.  I had so many irrational fears and found myself performing rituals, similar to OCD, like checking the door lock more and more.  Sometimes the anxiety about locking the door got to bad that I would get to work (which is a 40 minute commute) and turn around and go home to check the door.  I’m sorry to say I did that more than a few times.

Even though anxiety was clearly affecting my life in a very negative way, I was hesitant to talk to my doctor about it.  I would casually mention it but always downplayed it and said it was probably just because of work.  But finally it got to the point where I couldn’t enjoy being with other people because I was too anxious about literally anything that I finally said something to my doctor.  He gave me a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication and I am not kidding when I say this – it was LIFE CHANGING. It felt like someone finally silenced the constant chatter of my mind that was incessantly and relentlessly pestering me with things to worry about.  I can’t fully explain how helpful this medication is to me because it’s that amazing.  I feel like I got my life back.

My point is not to push drugs on people, but to say that it’s important to be open to treatment.  There’s no need to suffer is silence.  If you’re taking medication and something isn’t working, tell your doctor.  If you think you might need medication, talk to  your primary care about finding a psychiatrist.  It’s amazing how medication can change your life and there’s no reason to feel ashamed that you need to take a pill (or two) to feel like yourself.  I’m trying to erase “feeling normal” from my vocabulary because what does feeling normal even mean?  I like feeling like me, and being riddled with anxiety is anything but that.  I wish I had said something sooner because anxiety got in the way for lot of things for me over the past several months.  But I’m happy I finally said something and found the help that I needed.  For me, natural remedies don’t work and I need medication. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Do Less

I’m feeling a little bullied by social media lately.  I see so many posts telling me to live my best life! Go out and do something!  Follow your dreams! And I know these are all positive things and the people who post them mean well…but all I want to do is take a nap.

I’m in the midst of going through med withdrawal, which is a side effect of going off a medication (in case you were wondering). So basically I am SUPER tired ALL. THE. TIME.  It’s quite annoying and puts a damper on things like working out, being productive at work, and trying to do normal human things like hold a conversation, shower, or put my clothes not on the floor in a pile.  Even simple things, like taking a dress to the tailor, feel like climbing a mountain. It’s a lot similar to feeling depressed. So maybe I do have a touch of depression, sometimes I can’t tell the difference.

Anyways, during these times I feel like I have a million voices yelling at me to do things because they’ll make me feel better. Go to spin! Make a smoothie! Take a walk! But all I want to do is lay under my weighted blanket and watch reruns of Drag Race. I don’t want to go out and reach for the stars.  I don’t want to ‘express myself’. I want some goddamn peace and quiet. Sometimes I just get really tired of the pressure I feel to feel better. Because the truth is willing it doesn’t always work. I wish that was the case. I do believe in the power of positive thinking but I also believe in the power of taking a mental health day, taking time to not speak or communicate with another human for as long as possible, and taking time to do absolutely nothing and not feel sorry about it.

I feel like social media puts this pressure on us to be constantly doing things.  We have our friends and random “influencers” we get basically bullied into following telling us to do things to make ourselves feel and be better.   But maybe the answer isn’t always an expensive protein powder or meditation, maybe the answer is doing nothing and not feeling ashamed. Maybe it’s ok to log off Instagram, turn off your phone, and be alone with your feelings.  That’s how we heal. When your sprain your ankle, you’re told above all to rest. So what about when you sprain your brain? I think the answer should be the same.

Going through a depression, changing meds, or just feeling like crap is like spraining your brain.  You’re temporarily not at your best and it’s ok to take a rest to recover. There should be no shame in taking a few hours, or better yet a whole day, to sit around and do nothing.  When I give myself that kind of time I can feel myself getting better. I allow myself to write down my thoughts, to cry, to not shower (sorry husband), and to not do anything. Sometimes I don’t even watch TV or listen to music.  I sit in silence. I know it sounds weird and like something a serial killer might do, but it’s actually really nice to just be. You get to see where your thoughts take you, which is usually to the refrigerator, and then you take it from there.  But they key is to not feel ashamed for using this time to rest, for using time to take care of yourself without doing ‘self-care’ rituals. Because sometimes the thought of running a bath, meditating, or even lighting a candle can feel like too much.  Instead, allow yourself to literally do nothing and see where your mind takes you. It can be the palate cleanser your mind needs.