anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Better than Before

51RivppusfLOften, I get these grand ideas.  Ideas about all the wonderful things that I can and should do.  To be honest, I am not sure what exactly it is.  Excessive motivation?  Obsessed with improving my overall well-being?

I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before, twice. (https://gretchenrubin.com/books/better-than-before/about-the-book/ ) It was an informative read the first time, but the second read was even better.  I was insanely motivated to work on my habits, as many of my habits are destructive.  So, coming off reading the book, I was super charged and, in a place, where I was ready to make some changes.  The changes that I have aimed to make are below:

  1. Limit alcohol intake
  2. Implement exercise regime
  3. Improve body image
  4. Increase overall productivity
  5. Migrate from a “B” Student to an “A” student
  6. More involved parent
  7. Reduce sugar intake
  8. Decrease weight
  9. Eliminate multiple weigh ins per day
  10. Start meditation
  11. Cut back on shopping
  12. Change my attitude towards prescribed medication

 

Yeah, twelve things to change, that’s not too much, nor excessive, totally doable.  Or is it?  Have I set myself up to fail because I have made a list of modifications that I want to make that will require too much from me?  Is this the same as having twelve new year resolutions? What will my therapist think?  Am I manic?  Is this delusional behavior?

Let’s take a peak:

Limit alcohol intake

The first thing I started with was limiting the alcohol intake.  With the support of my family, this one has been successful.  I am now in a place where I promised my doctors that I would get to and now to stay there.  In the book, Gretchen spoke about how one’s will power is the weakest as the day progresses.  So, at the end of the day, we have the least amount of will power.  Ok, so knowledge is power, it will be the hardest at night.

Implement Exercise Regime

The grand idea was to take a walk around the neighborhood when I arrived home from work.  At this point, this has not happened.  Not sure why, but it hasn’t.  I have been successful in hitting my daily goal of 2,500 steps (low I know, but achievable with the fact that I have an office job).  Per my activity tracker, I participate in “exercise activity” twice a week, whether that is a hike, or pacing the parking lot while on the phone.  Improvement is needed, but there is progress in motion.

Improve Body Image

Every morning, as I get ready to get into the shower I tell myself that I am beautiful.  That my body is exactly what it is supposed to be.  I also remind myself that my body does not define me.  I have a note on my computer monitor at the office that says, “You are beautiful” and per a comment left on one of my blogs by my boyfriend, “beauty is in the eye of the behold, and I behold you as beautiful” (God, I love him so!)

Increase Overall Productivity

Yeah, this one needs some work.  I make a list every day of what I need to complete, and I strive to check off every item.  I have worked to be more engaged at work, as well as at home regarding housework, parenting, spousing, and my college education.

Migrate from a “B” Student to an “A” student

Nope.  This is not happening.  I might as well just mark it off the list.  Being a “B” student for me is just fine and dandy.  I have quite a bit on my plate, and if I were to work harder to achieve all A’s that means I would lose out on:

  1. Sleep
  2. Time with my family
  3. What little exercise that I complete
  4. Self-care

I have made the decision, that continuing to be a “B: student with a 3.0 GPA is good enough for me.  If I do happen to get an “A” that is fantabulous, but I will not lose sleep over a “B.

More Involved Parent

When I arrive home from school, I touch base with both the kids.  I ask after their day with some kind of a peculiar question that I come up with out of the very deep part of my brain, like “What was the second best part of your day?”, “What made you wrinkle up your nose today” “Did you ever think about your socks while at school today”  You know just to keep things interesting.

Reduce Sugar Intake

See item one.  Work on number one and you have success on number seven.  Nothing better than killing two pterodactyl with one boulder.

Decrease Weight

See item one and item seven.  Although I have not seen any success, and I have gained weight due to not successfully completing number two, I must set some realistic expectations.  A very wise man reminded me this weekend that yes, I have gained ten pounds, but I have also gained ten pounds of mental stability too (have I mentioned how much I love this guy?)

Eliminate multiple weigh ins per day

Have not started on this one yet.  But set a small goal to reduce weigh ins to three a day.  And decrease one weigh in per week that goes by.

Start meditation

I signed up for a Mindfulness class that will begin the first week of May.  I count this as a win because the money has been paid, therefore the line is drawn in the fast-drying cement.  I will attend and hopefully I will learn how to quiet this brain of mine.

Cut back on shopping

Define “cut back”.  Weight gain has caused a delay in implementing this initiative.  I will never again get rid of clothes that I outgrow as I always end up either gaining or losing weight and needing to buy more clothes.  When will I learn?

Change my attitude towards prescribed medication

Every time I have a smile on my face, I remind myself that my smile is brought to me by Lithium, Vraylar, Lexapro and Hormone Pellets.  That if it were not for my prescribed medication, I would either be stuck in bed, or up on the roof dancing a jig.

 

My number four goal of being more productive is apparently in full swing, I’ve made more progress than I thought.  Thanks for reading this as it helped me see that I am kind of kicking ass, which makes me smile, and that makes me be more thankful for my medication, which causes weight gain, thus providing motivation for exercising during the time that is permitted due to being ok with being a “B: student, but not sacrificing time away from my family.  You are the best!!

anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, endometriosis, Uncategorized

The Perfect Figure: 36″-24″-36″

d53a6c9f34bfd6c200a31ff94e6d8100For many, many years, I have had it in my head of what I think I should look like.  And much of this can be summed up in a Victoria Secret model.  Flat stomach, edged with muscles, thin thighs, perky butt and very present, a voluptuous bosom.  And in addition to have the “perfect” measurements of 36-24-36…Totally practical right?  I mean there are a ton of everyday people walking around sporting this type of body, right?

With the help of Victoria Secret bras, I was able to pull this look off for several years, yet never fully satisfied.  Never having kids helped me maintain a trim figure and the whole slipping back into the whoas of Anorexia and Bulimia every few years also did the trick.  I maintained a lower weight for my frame and I was quite pleased about it.  I did not really have to exercise and when the scale started to inch up, I just cut down on my intake, exercised a wee bit and alas I’d drop the unwanted pounds that had crept on board.

Much changed when I had a hysterectomy in 2014.  That flat stomach now was a little round.  The weight I maintained for 10-15 years, was now 10 pounds heavier.  My hips were wider, bum was thicker and holy Jesus and Moses I surpassed a B cup and graduated into a C cup.  However, I was maintaining my weight, although a little bit heavier than I once was, so I was dealing with it.  No need to get all crazy and start becoming a gym rat or anything.  Just kept an eye on what I ate, do the occasional starvation and laxative abuse and the number would stay right where it should be.  Easy peasy!

In 2016 I ended up gaining a little bit more than 20 pounds as result of the mood stabilizer Saphris.  I was so incredibly depressed that I did not care about the weight gain.  I just wanted the emotional pain to stop and for the misery to leave me.  When the clouds parted, I was disgusted with my weight gain and miserable.  I had never been this weight in my life and much to my surprise I was now in the “overweight” category and I thought my world was ending.  Months later I came off that medication and I lost the weight that I had gained.  However, that bump in my abdomen was still present and this was just not acceptable.  I’ve never worked out so much in my life, only to see a reduction in inches, but that damn bubble was still there.

Presently, due to medication and hormones, I am nearly 10 pounds up and yet again, miserable.  Although thinner than I was in 2016, I am heavier than I was at the start of the year and the number on the scale just keeps increasing.  For a person who thinks Christina Hendricks is gorgeous, and I envy her, in my mind it is just not acceptable to look like her.  Why do I deem the perfect shape being that of a Victoria Secret model, a shape that a very small population possesses?  Why do I have to choose between mental stability and weight stability?  Why is how my clothes fit more important than how my brain functions?  Why is the number on the scale the thing that determines my worth?

It was suggested that I take every Victoria Secret model picture that I have in my home, or that of a person that fits that shape, and put it in a box and burn it.  It was also suggested that I take a Barbie doll and add her to the mix, as she is also an example of unrealistic expectations when it comes to shape and size.  I have yet to do this, as I think it is a bit funky, but I did look in the mirror today and I told myself that my shape was gorgeous.  That I was perfect just that way that I am.  I was recently told that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I behold you to be beautiful” and this is from a man whom has never lied to me, therefore I should believe every word that he tells me.

This is a start on a very long and treacherous path of self and body acceptance, but it’s about time that I conquer this thing, before I self-destruct.

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Spring Break: Girls Gone Wild

spring break photoOver the last week my college was on recess for Spring Break.  The timing could not be more perfect, as my co-worker took a week of vacation and I was tasked for filling in and completing their job responsibilities during their absence.  It was a much busier week than I am used to, but obviously I survived.

Throughout the last week, my work load doubled, or maybe even tripled, and I still had doctor appointments, off site meetings and family obligations.  There was a bit of back and forth, an immense amount of driving, and numerous deadlines (some of which I totally forgot about).  To say it was a stressful week, would be an understatement.  I made mistakes and had to confront my fear of failure head on, each and every day.

On top of the chaos that was in place, I made the decision to monkey with my medication.  I had been consistently gaining weight over the last few months, and this week of all weeks I decided I had had enough and was going to do something about it.  I did not stop my medication, but decreased the dosage to what I was on back in January.  I was determined to lose the weight I had gained as my clothes were starting to fit snuggly and I was having no part of that.  I knew that messing with my medication was not smart.  I even told my spouse that I knew that I should not make any changes until I spoke with my Psychiatrist, but none the less, my repulsion related to the weight gain was so strong, that it overpowered my thinking.

Almost a week into my cutting my doses in half, I woke this morning and was determined to complete the household chores.  Now let me tell you that I am in no way a Cinderella, waking to the sounds of blue birds singing and immediately starting in on chores.  I am the person that takes an hour to become human, only after consuming two cups of coffee.  But that was not the case this morning.  Within two hours of being awake, the laundry was started, kitchen was cleaned, a month’s worth of clean clothes were put away and the bathroom was tidied.  I stood in the center of my kitchen wondering what else that I could get into.  I wanted to bake a cake, but I was out of eggs.    My spouse asked me what I wanted to do, and I just stared at him.  There was so much running through my head and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say.

I chose to confess my sins knowing that I was going to get “that” look and I was going to be asked why I made the choices that I had and I would have to give my lame reason.  I would admit that I was jittery and was in the mood to hike and run in circles, anything but sit still.

One should not alter their medication without the direction of their physician.  It’s not smart and there are consequences for such actions.  I pay good money to work with my doctor and my making changes willy nilly thwarts the progress that I have made.  When will I be able to succumb to this monster demon called body image acceptance?  Why can’t I have my proverbial cake and eat it too, a weight I deem acceptable and mental stability?

I see my doctor on Tuesday and I will be honest about what choices I have made and I will deal with the consequences.  Managing mental health is a journey and there will be ups and there will be downs.  I am on board for the ride, just struggling to keep my hands and feet inside the car at all times.

Bipolar Disorder

Boiling Pots

1

Psychologist. Psychiatrist. Primary Care Physician. Gynecologist. Dentist. Orthodontist…

I was updating the calendar that I share with my boss (I am an executive assistant and it’s pertinent that I keep the calendars up to date), and I was adding in all the appointments that I have scheduled so far for the month of February.

First Week of February

  • 5th – Child Doctor Appointment in the morning
  • 7th – Therapy Session with Psychologist in the afternoon
  • 9th – Nerve Blocks at PCP office in the morning

Second Week of February

  • 14th – Sleep Institute Follow Up Check In in the morning
  • 14th – Psychiatrist follow up appointment in the afternoon
  • 15th – Ultrasound with Gynecologist in the morning
  • 16th – Orthodontist appointment for child in the morning

Third Week of February

  • 21st – Therapy Session with Psychologist in the afternoon
  • 22nd – Dentist Appointment for child in the afternoon

Today I am feeling quite overwhelmed with what is scheduled as every week, at least once a week, I will be at a doctor appointment at one point during the week.  This means I will be taking time off work to accommodate the doctor appointments and will increase the amount of time I am driving as the locations for my doctor appointments and the office where I am currently working at on the opposite side of town.

Not only is it a grand investment in time and energy to have so many appointments, but it is financially draining.  I recently filed my taxes for this year and my medical costs for 2017 were 45% of my total income.  This is heart wrenching for me.  Nearly half of my salary goes to my health, whether it is co pays, office visit costs or prescriptions.  I have major debt because of medical expenses and past years spent overspending due to mania fueled shopping sprees.  I feel like I am drowning in debt with no light at the end of the tunnel.  I work part time because of my schedule and what I can handle mentally and physically, which means I make less than I have in previous years, only compounding the financial stress.

After our appointment this morning, both my son and I were discussing how we just wanted to go home, even though it was just nearing the lunch hour.  We were spent.  Attending appointments is not only time consuming and are financially a burden, but they wear you out mentally and physically.  Sitting, waiting, answering questions, receiving feedback all leads to processing what is transpiring and that can take a lot out of a person.  It also forces you to come to terms with the reality of situations and that can be hard to do.  We live each day knowing that we have obstacles to overcome, but somehow it is different when you are facing them head on and really being in the moment discussing your ailment.

I am taxed in many ways each and everyday dealing with my illnesses.  The Bipolar disorder takes center stage, but I also suffer from chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, Sleep Apnea, Hormone Imbalance as result of a Hysterectomy and a few other mental illnesses.  Much like a person who has multiple pots boiling on the stove, once you get one pot simmered, another pot starts to boil uncontrollably.  This is my life.  Jumping from one boiling pot to another.  Making small progress, but still being overwhelmed by the whole picture as to what is going on.

I tell myself that I will persevere, and I will press on.  That I have never given up and don’t plan to ever.  That this sense of being overwhelmed will pass.  That I can look back over the last handful of years and see how far I have indeed progressed and am in a far better place than I have been in the past.  I am not sure if I will ever conquer this, but I will not allow it to make me feel like a failure or ever be too much for me to handle.  I’ve got this!

Bipolar Disorder

Double Whammy

Stock-Boxing-Gloves.jpgAt times, we must deal with several changes all at once.  In my case I was due for a “recharge” of hormones and had a change to my medication within a few days of one another.

The debilitating anxiety that I was experiencing, triggered my Psychiatrist to eliminate the Wellbutrin that I was taking every morning.  In addition, we increased the Lithium dose that I take in the evening.  This change took place the end of last week.  On Monday, I received a renewal of my hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  This “recharge” as I like to call it, we injected two estrogen pellets and one testosterone pellet.  It was a higher dosage than we have done in the past, as it was made very clear that I suffer when my levels are too low.  I suffer from depression and major anxiety if my estrogen is too low, and other less than desirable side effects when the testosterone drops.

So far, I have noticed that an increase in Lithium has seemed to cause an increase in dry skin, especially on my hands.  It’s as if my hands are made of crocodile skin, they are dry and flaky, course enough that they could sand a course surface.

The most notable side effects that I have been experiencing is dull, pounding headaches that last much of the day.  Taking over the counter pain killers are doing nothing to combat the symptoms.  I also have been dealing with nausea that is wrecking my world.  I’ve never been pregnant, but I believe, from the research I have done, that I am experiencing symptoms that are similar to morning sickness.  An increase in my appetite, is driving me to feel like I am eating non-stop and therefore triggering eating disorder thoughts.  The related weight gain, is not helping with the anorexia demons that have come and gone in my life over the last some fifteen years.

I find it to be quite frustrating not knowing what change is causing which side effect.  Is it the Lithium that is causing the headaches and nausea, or is that from the hormones?  Is the weight gain and appetite increase from the Lithium, or the hormones?  I have spent an immense amount time trying to pin point what is going on and I am just lost.

I uttered the words that should never come out of my mouth last night… I said, “I think I will stop taking my meds!”  I know that this is not a rational thought, and it is not something I acted on, but I am so incredibly tired of feeling like crap every day.  Mind you, I don’t feel horrible everyday all day, yesterday I have a few hours of relief and I was able to spend quality time with my son and we had a blast.  But, more time than naught is spent with me feeling like a nail is being drilled into my skull and the fear that I may heave my supper.

I see my Psychiatrist again in a week and plan to report all that I have been experiencing.  I will maintain the mindset that this too shall pass and that I will persevere and overcome this obstacle.  As this is the way I have always approached my mental health issues.

For the others that may be going through a challenging time right now, don’t give up.  Focus on the positives in each moment of your day, every day.  Know that what you are experiencing will pass, in time.  And always remember to keep your doctor advised of all the things that you are encountering so they have all the information and are better able to assist you.

Stock-Boxing-Gloves.jpg

Bipolar Disorder

Salt in my Shaker: Lithium

salt-shaker-on-tableLithium is derived from the Greek word lithos which stands for stone.  We pronounce it as LITH-ee-em.  It is part of the group Alkali Metal on the periodic table of elements and holds the the atomic number three while bearing the symbol of “Li”.  Drugs.com defines Lithium as being a “component that affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body.”   It started to be used in the field of psychiatry in 1949.  Lithium is used to treat the manic episodes of bipolar disorder, by preventing or lessening the intensity of manic episodes.

When I saw my doctor on Friday, we determined that increasing my Lithium would provide benefits to the anxiety that I was experiencing.  I was to start with an additional 150 mg that night, and remove the Wellbutrin that I usually take in the morning.  I was fine with the prescribed change, but worried about how it would affect me.  My body can be quite sensitive to medication and I usually experience numerous effects as my body is getting used to the change.

Per www.drugs.com, the following are common lithium side effects:

  • drowsiness;
  • tremors in your hands;
  • dry mouth, increased thirst or urination;
  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain;
  • changes in your skin or hair;
  • cold feeling or discoloration in your fingers or toes;
  • feeling uneasy; or
  • impotence, loss of interest in sex.

Less Common Side effects include:

  • Confusion, poor memory, or lack of awareness
  • fainting
  • fast or slow heartbeat
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
  • irregular pulse
  • stiffness of the arms or legs
  • troubled breathing (especially during hard work or exercise)
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weight gain

 

It is day three/four (third night, fourth day) and the nausea that I have had since Saturday is still lingering and getting worse after each time that I eat.  I am exhausted, regardless of the amount of sleep that I had the night prior.  Sunday afternoon after lunch I slept for three hours and still managed to sleep all night that evening.  The shaking in my right arm has increased, but thankfully it is only present when I am tired.  My head is pounding and I can’t think.  It took me 30 minutes this morning to remember a password for a site that I log into every few days.

I already have a problem with excessive hair loss from the last time we increased my Lithium, so I am hoping that does not get worse, or I may need to go all Britney Spears circa 2007 and shave my head.  It’s too early to tell if I will suffer from weight gain, but that seems to be something that I am more prone too as my past has shown me.

Driving this morning was not as bad, I left a little bit later so there would be less traffic on the road.  My heart did not speed up each time I saw a red brake light and I did not freak out when a car pulled up beside me.  I was listening to the newest Taylor Swift album, Revolution, so perhaps that was the key to my success, but most likely it was the effects of the Lithium increase.

Time will tell how this change in medication, the increase in Lithium and decrease in Wellbutrin, will affect me.  I am optimistically hoping that good changes will come.  That I will not sink into a depression from the lack of the Wellbutrin like I did the last time that we removed it, and that I will not gain weight as I did when we first started the treatment two years ago.

I trust that my doctor is making the best decisions for my health and overall well-being.  I will be patient and will persevere through the less than appealing side effects as my body becomes used to the changes in my body.  I will produce nurture and love to myself through words of affirmation and focusing on the positives in each and everyday while allowing myself to be slow to any emotion when it comes to dealing with others, as who knows what battle they are fighting at this time (as they do not know the battles that I am enduring myself).  I will succumb to my stubbornness and make some much needed changes to my diet and focus on the long term benefits and not the struggle that I am enduring to eliminate certain foods from my diet.

This too shall pass…

Bipolar Disorder

Girls Night Out

IMG_0979

Due to the busyness of the everyday lives that we live, we don’t often take the time to socialize with our friends.  When you have children, most of your focus is spent on your offspring and we tend to neglect our own personal needs.  I believe it is incredibly healthy to set time aside to spend quality time with those that are within our support system.

Girls Night Out often holds a negative stereotype of women dressed up in seductive outfits, letting their hair down physically and metaphorically, and engaging in risky behavior due to being “kept” for an extended period.  However, this is not always the case, at least in my own personal experience.

I planned a Girls Night Out for Saturday night as my partner would be out of town and I wanted to spend time with my friends.  Yes, we did put extra effort into what we wore, and there was elaborate planning that went into the event.  However, it was not a drunken, flirting, over the top event.

The night started out with bowling and I was in heaven.  The alley blasted great tunage from the 90’s and was a clean facility with amazing and attentive staff.  Following bowling was hopping between a couple of dance clubish bars.

I am not writing to tell you about my night out, there is a catch.  I was sick most of the night which put a major damper on things.  I was nauseous and sick to my stomach.  This was not the flu that has been going around or because I had too much to drink.  This was the result of an increase in medication following my psychiatry appointment on Friday.  To combat the nearly debilitating anxiety that I have been suffering while driving, we chose to increase my Lithium.  The new dose started Friday night and I began feeling the effects of the increase on Saturday.

Being on medication effects my everyday life.  Last night it was glaringly obvious that my life is affected due to my medication and the mental illness of Bipolar Disorder.  I have had to make changes to my life as result of the diagnosis and the medication that I am on.  I have been stubborn with making some suggested changes due to my refusal to give up all the things that I love.  However, there are times when my body makes it incredibly clear that it does and doesn’t want certain things.

I must remind myself that I need to listen to my body and when necessary make changes based on what my body says.  Being a hard-headed person in general, I have lived with the mentality of I will do what I want when I want and how I want, with no regard to whether this is good for my overall wellbeing.  It is a new year and I am in a different place than I was this time last year, or even a month ago.  I can not change the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder and that I need to be on medication to maintain stability.  I do have the control over the choices that I make.  I was disappointed that I was not feeling well last night and did not have the over the top time that I was expecting to have.  But, I still had a good time, enjoyed getting dressed up and socializing with my friends.

There is room for a socially fulfilling life with Bipolar Disorder, but it may have to be adjusted and slightly massaged to meet the new “normal” of my life.  Today, I start the process of accepting this and to relent in my fighting against it.