Thursday, November 10, 2016

choosing peace? (warning, contains some election politics thoughts)

There is plenty rattling around in my head right now. One category is election results. Four years ago, I supported a democratic president, as I did two days ago (gasp). But eight years? I can't remember for sure, but I think I voted republican. Do you realize how inconvenient this is? If I had stuck with the same party, only this election or the one eight years ago would disappoint me. But since I switched parties, I'm doubly disappointed (although I was happy with the results four years ago). So just being pragmatic, be careful about switching sides, because the presidency typically switches back and fourth between the democrats and the republicans, with grave voter concern about the potentially devastating results.

Of course, this election is supposed to be "worse." But I'm thinking part of that is because this election is now, while the others are passed. That doesn't explain all of it, but it may explain some of it.

And then, there is the fact that 6 or 7 or 8 years ago, I was terrified of "Obamacare." Now, I'm one of the people who benefits significantly from it. And now, I'm afraid of it being repealed. Will I have to give up my preferred psychiatrist? Stop seeing my beloved counselor? Change medications, risking a decent into suicidal ideation day in, day out until we find the next passable solution?

And that ties into my health insurance worries, independent of the elections. The plans changed this year. I was afraid I would have to change counselors and psychiatrists, since I cross state lines to visit them. After talking to an adviser yesterday, I know that two companies would let me keep seeing them, probably. But the Seroquel XR dose that I'm on? One company has a Step Therapy requirement, and the other doesn't even have Seroquel on its formulary. So now I get to call the two companies and see if I have to change this medication that has been helping me for 6 years (presumably, but we never really know for 100% sure that any improvement or lack of deterioration is from a specific medicine, especially when we take multiple medications for the same illness). I have to compare whether each company requires prior authorization for counseling, and what those requirements might be. And somehow, at the end, I have to choose one, knowing that one option will cost me twice as much monthly as the other (although I might save more in another area). And I have to choose it before too long, because there are deadlines.

And that ties into my struggle over "still" seeing my counselor. See, the insurance company I am with this year had this brilliant (NOT!) idea of averaging out how many counseling appointments people with various mental health diagnoses generally used. Then, after I had used up most of the lesser quantity (they had two quantities and I should have qualified for the greater quantity, but whatever), they sent me a note saying that "most people" with my diagnosis wouldn't need to keep going to counseling.

That, and the fact that I had a couple good weeks during the summer where I started to get close to being ready to space my appointments out two weeks, brought the whole issue up. I think my counselor hasn't quite understood me, but I felt understood by her last night. She wants to support me if I want to decrease frequency of appointments, so she kept stating that we could try it, and if it didn't work, we could go back to full time. But I finally communicated that I don't want to decrease appointments right now and said that was fine with her. I've been fretting over making myself decrease appointments. I've been angry with myself when I've been too hesitant to actually do it. I've been angry that I'm not as strong as I wish I was. I've wondered if I am just lazy. But last night, my counselor and I agreed to table the concern. I said for a little bit, she said I could table it forever. Not as in, I had to see her every week forever, but that I can stop dealing with this self-imposed guilt trip over weekly appointments. I cannot express how relieved I am to stop worrying about it. I'm just not ready to stop seeing her weekly, and that is okay. Of course, I still have OCD and excellent anxiety skills, so I expect to fight through this some more.

But sometimes I can rest and take care of myself and trust myself that I'm not just being lazy. And it is such a relief.

So lots of anxiety-provoking stuff in my world, but I'm trusting that I'm going to be all right. Now for watching TV... :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

limits

I don't want my mental illness to slow me down. Ever. To impose limits on what I can "handle" without too many adverse side effects.

But that is not my reality. I'm struggling through the semester, doing great on paper, but not so great in person. I usually work seven hour days, but today, I took off work to do 5 hours of observation instead (I got to sleep in!). By the time I got home, my digestive system rebelled. So then I spent several hours deleting e-mails from one of my e-mail accounts. I deleted thousands of e-mails. And I did a little tiny bit of homework. And I watched TV. I love my TV time. And random internet searches. Meanwhile, my stomach slowly settled mostly down. And while it tried to settle, I wondered if I was sick, if I will be contagious tomorrow. I'm thinking it isn't contagious, but I really can't know for sure.

Basically, mental illness gets in my way from working as many hours as I would like, from studying as much as I would like, from coping with life as well as I'd like. And sometimes I push the hours and studying anyway, but guess what; I pay for it in my mental health. The depression and/or the anxiety is like, "Yippee! An excuse to get worse!"

And I get more and more tired,

So do I just plow through and get the degree while not being healthy for the next year and a half? Might the degree be worth it? It should help the financial and job opportunities if I can finish the degree.

I was afraid of not finishing. That was one reason I put off starting a master's degree. In deleting thousands of e-mails, I went back a couple years, and I've been toying with the master's degree plan for three or four years, but didn't commit until May. And now? Making progress, while placing too great of demands on my medications, therapy, and myself.

:(

Well, now for searching for the most edible food, least likely to cause another stomach rebellion...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Perfectionism entering the fair

I had a hobby whereby I entered something in the fair every year, usually trying a new category, too. Last year, I missed. I might have missed the year before, too.

But this year, fair entering time perfectly coincided with my summer class ending and my fall classes not yet starting. So while I was still used to putting concentrated work in after my regular job, I made some crafts.

I enjoy being creative and making things that look nice. But I also don't like messing things up. The duct tape purse had some sticky moments, but turned out mostly a success, with one particularly annoying error, but I literally ran out of that print of duct tape and was not going to buy more (assuming I could even find it again). So the error persists. But maybe the judges wont notice.

Card making was a little more difficult. I would put off starting working on it because I didn't want to mess things up. And when you are sticking things together, sometimes you get a re-positioning option, but other times the paper is too thin or the glue/tape is too sticky. And then, some of those times, it doesn't go down like I want it to. But I managed three cards and might finish one more tonight or tomorrow before I enter them in the fair. I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to risk mistakes if I wanted to make something nice.

Then, being particularly ambitious this year, I wanted to enter photography, too. Now, this category is especially tricky, because cost enters the picture. I printed out a landscape picture. I really liked it on Saturday. Today, only two days later, well, it is nice, but I am more doubtful that it could win anything. I also printed a photo of stuffed animals, which I carefully set up and repeatedly took pictures of, finally choosing one. It is fine. Might even be good. I think the competition was a little less in the still life category than some of the others (aka landscape, flowers, and such), so I might have a shot. I printed each of these two photos only once, and purchased mats for not too much. Totaling around $9. Not great, not horrid.

And then there were photos of my guinea pigs. First, I cropped two pictures too small so that they were enlarged too big, so that they were not crisp on the details. Cute, but not very good. Then, I was like, no, I'll just stop now. I don't need to enter guinea pig photos. I'll be content not entering them. Then I changed my mind. I really wanted to enter them. I didn't want to regret not entering them, like I regret not entering a photo of baby goats last year (or the year before; I forget). So I reprinted one, not blowing it up any more than necessary for the size specifications for the fair. Still not clear and sharp, and it wasn't centered right. So I took half a million more photos of my two guinea pigs. But unlike the stuffed animals, they moved around and got irritated and one even got snippy with the other. And they produced animal red-eye often, when I used the flash, but were usually fuzzy when I didn't use flash. They don't exactly stay very still unless they are sleeping, and they tend to sleep far from each other, while I wanted them together. I kept trying to choose between detail and good composition, but I was unsettled, so I kept taking more pictures. Finally, I printed another one. It is sharp/clear enough. Very nice that way. Composition is so-so. But then, when taping it onto the mat, I was very slightly off center, which worsened the composition balance. Frustration mounting, I tried to pull it up, knowing it almost certainly wouldn't work. I stopped when it started to tear the photo. So now, not only is it off balance (slightly), it also has a tiny tear (most people probably wont notice). And when I tried to press it down with my fingernail, I added a line... (again, most people probably wont notice). And one of the guinea pigs is sporting purple eyes - basically her version of human red-eye, although the angle produced purple. So this photo of my piglets, which is sentimentally the most important to me, isn't quite right. I guess I could spend two and a half more dollars trying to get it right, but when do I stop?

So that's me tonight. Anxious about tiny details. But what if that tiny tear costs me a ribbon? (Who cares that much, really?) And it being off balance, what if that bothers me for the rest of my life - I mean however long I decide to hang it up for? That is a bit silly, because I actually don't care that much if my pictures are hung straight. So it is really an artist issue, not strictly a positioning issue. Not that my anxiety issues care too much about the difference. They seem to jump on any opportunity to build anxiety.

On a positive note, I was super anxious about two hours ago. And it finally receded! And now it is building again. Stupid anxiety! Do I take my as-needed medication or not? Because you are supposed to teach yourself that you can get through anxiety, like I did earlier this evening. But on the other hand, if I take the medication, I'll probably be more relaxed well into tomorrow. Like probably into the afternoon. My theory is that it cuts the anxiety build up, restarting me more thoroughly than just sleep, so that I have several hours before the anxiety rebuilds to the more irritating level. My other theory is that it is like taking over the counter pain medication for a headache. Yes, I could usually live without it just fine. And sometimes I do. But other times, I let myself take the medication in the hope of temporary relief. And I don't grill myself and debate the matter (well, not always) like I do with the anti-anxiety medication.

Ayeyey. I'm a little surprised if you are still reading. Thank you. I was hoping that writing this out would help me feel better, but no. I'm still wondering, pay more money at another shot at centering the picture, even though the picture itself will never be exactly centered? Or let it go? Maybe I should take that medication and see how I feel about the photo after it is working. The irritating anxiety would have to get in the way of my fair entries. Grrr!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Let's just spend a few minutes blaming OCD

I was trying to do schoolwork. But I don't know how to cite my source - it is some confusing web page where you aren't really sure who wrote what. Therefore, my OCD has been officially invited - or at least it acts that way. And I'm frustrated. And angry. And tired. And this stupid piece I have to write is worth hardly anything. OCD likes worthless things - they are more fun for OCD, because it adds an element of ridiculousness. Because if I'm all worked up about something inconsequential, OCD probably gets extra points.

I was going to write about how I am finally starting to like my new psychiatrist - the first time I saw him, I got pretty upset. But now, I feel like he is starting to understand me better. Like when I explained how I feel morally guilty for not finding a better paying job. I know that isn't quite logical, but OCD likes that, too. Extra points, you know. And then the Psychiatrist starts saying something about how he hopes eventually that I'm able to work any job, regardless of how much or little I make, without feeling morally guilty. And I think I might have interrupted (OCD likes to tell me I interrupted inappropriately - actually, some kinds of "interruptions" are not inappropriate or rude). And then OCD was like, "You were getting awesome reassurance from your psychiatrist that you can stop feeling guilty about not making more money, but then you interrupted him, so you don't get reassurance, even though you could have, if you hadn't blown it by interrupting him..." OCD also likes to repeat things, like the word "interrupt." Oh, and yes, I might be blaming OCD for every single thing right now.

Anyway, the Dr. is putting me back on an earlier SSRI, and for the first time, I'm okay with the concept of repeating SSRIs. I think it was the combination of realizing that even if something new and untried would work for me, it still has a good shot at quitting working in several months or a few years. A very good shot a stopping working. The other thing I've been learning from this psychiatrist and maybe others is that you can just rotate between a few different SSRIs that each work for a brief amount of time. So if this SSRI I'm restarting will work for 10 months or so, then I can switch to the SSRI that worked for over a year, and then I can switch back to this one, or we could try something else. So basically, instead of trying for one single miraculous med combination, I'm now trying for a few temporarily miraculous med combinations that I can switch back and forth between. Which means dips in mood between them, I suppose, but maybe we can keep them from going too low.

The Dr. also finally caught on to my fears of the PRN (as needed) anxiety med he prescribed. Last visit (2 months ago), he just told me that the less I used it, the better it would work. So I've used it a grand total of 4 times in three months, despite many sleepless starts to nights (I fall asleep eventually, just not as soon as I would like). This visit, when I asked how often I could take it without it wearing out or screwing with my cognitive abilities, he said I could take it a few times a week. (OCD is slowly wearing away on that memory - "How many times? Are you sure? Are you sure? You will need it more often than that. You are going to have trouble. TROUBLE. And I will make sure you stay mostly miserable. Because this is MY SUMMER. Not yours. This is the summer of OCD! And P.S., please don't start that SSRI. It might impede my progress.")

So basically, this was a sort of nice break, except that my OCD thought it should help me out with blog writing, too. But now I'm going to make my "best attempt" at citing that stupid page (actually it is a quite nice page; I'm just frustrated). And publish the stupid post (I can call my own post stupid, right?). And enjoy the unwanted, not-asked-for exposure. And try to figure out what else I'm doing tonight.

P.S. I'm supposed to call my doctor for another of those tests for when things aren't necessarily right but they aren't necessarily wrong, either, but the Dr thinks the test is worth it. I think OCD will enjoy accompanying me to another medical test. Oooh, maybe I could take the PRN medication so that the test doesn't scare me as much... (Oooh, but that was one of my frustrations with the PRN medication; I wanted to be able to handle life myself, without the aid of medication. Although I do take ibuprofen easily enough, so maybe I should be more fair. I should call my PRN med the ibuprofen of mental illness.)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

How to write an essay in response to a simple question

Well, friends, I have good news. I'm taking online classes again. And do you know what that means? It means I'll be online more often, and looking for ways to procrastinate that aren't fully counter productive.

For example, this post. I really have to write a brief essay in response to a question that I think can be thoroughly answered in one sentence. It is due in just under four hours, but since I can usually write a page an hour and this essay does not have a specified length (the usual length for papers in this class is between one and two pages), then I should be able to write it easily in two hours or less.

Which would be easy enough once I get inspired. So how do you flesh out a single sentence answer? I seem to be quite capable of wordiness on my blog. I guess I like the sound of my own writing voice. But when I'm writing a paper to be graded, my perfectionism kicks in. Perfectionism applies a little bit to this blog; I'm still capable of obsessing over saying the wrong thing. But if something really bothers me, I either decide to call it an exposure and continue on with my life (my counselor reminds me to go back and see how my anxiety is coming down, but for one thing, I forget, and for another, I really don't want to know that any anxiety is left), or I delete my post. Unfortunately, deleting submissions after hitting that "submit" button in my class website is, well, I don't think it is possible. Because once after submitting, I had an OCD rush of concern that I didn't cite or reference something well enough and I came up with a safer idea, but it was too late. I couldn't figure out any way to take back my first attempt. So I went the exposure-and-forget route.

In case you didn't catch it, my great OCD fear in college classes is that I'll be accused of plagiarism. And, in not-atypical OCD form, I'm afraid of accidentally plagiarizing. I blame Helen Keller's biography for giving OCD that idea - she wrote or dictated a story and then it turned out to be verbatim a story she didn't remember hearing before, a published story. But even though the author was flattered, some educator or somebody important to Helen didn't believe that it was an accident, and knowing this person judged her was very painful for Helen. Now I should probably cite the book, right? I think it was The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (1903). So my fear isn't even so much on fear of academic repercussions (although they play into it); my fear is of disgrace. And somehow, even though you would think the exposures would be easier than certain other exposures where I fear for other people's welfare, OCD still makes a very strong case for the utter wrongness of any intentional or negligent mistake in the realm of "Academic Honesty." OCD should really join a debate team instead of hanging out in my brain.

But anyhow, I'll circumvent most of my plagiarism and academic honesty fears by putting the reference section onto my paper before I even write the body of it. And I'll check to make sure I haven't inadvertently copied the question I'm answering, since I have never fully decided if that is wrong, therefore I generally avoid it, to be safe. And then... somehow I must expand my one sentence answer (the kind you want to follow with, "duh!"). I wanted to write about that, but writing about writing when you don't know what to write is... well, it would be a good handwriting exercise for practicing the letter "w." But I'm still not inspiring myself.

So back to OCD and depression and all that fun stuff. Going back to school has been a bit detrimental, but I'm hoping to swing that the other way so at least I stop getting worse mental health-wise. An obvious problem area has been going to sleep. Lack of sleep is a faster way for me to worsen my depression. But I'm having trouble sleeping about a third to half the nights, so it could be much worse. I tried melatonin last night. I don't know if it left me feeling more tired today or not, because I regularly feel extra tired on Saturdays. I have felt almost dizzy after my last two meals, and that probably isn't good, but breakfast didn't make me dizzy, so it probably wasn't the melatonin. Who knows what it is. If it continues or gets worse and I can't figure out any way to help it, then maybe I'll consult a nurse or doctor. But hopefully it is just random. And maybe I had too much sugar both times since my food included more sugar than usual at my last two meals.

Anyway, I don't want to quit school, because succeeding would open up more job opportunities, hopefully that would be easier to support myself on. But school is scheduled to take at least two years since I'm not going full time. So not too many changes too soon, I hope. But I struggle with even small changes, so ... my life shouldn't be boring any time soon.

Well, it is now time for another attempt at the paper due in 3 hours and 22 minutes. I could truly just write one paragraph and loose all the points on it and still be fine in the class, but what would my teacher think! I wouldn't want to disappoint her. Especially since she is also my adviser, and I will almost certainly take at least one more class from her - my program is not very large.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Things that are making me anxious

My newest psychiatrist gave me an "as needed" medication for anxiety. But i have to be home (or not needing to drive for a while) for at least the first time i take this medication. So I'm not sure when I'll actually take it.

I could use it right now, though. I'm getting work done on my car - I think it will be around $500. And it's not a safety issue yet. It's easier to decide safety issues than issues that just make your car have strange sounds. And then trying to decide how much to have done - front struts or all four? I'm settling for front struts, but in an ideal world, I'd get them all done. Of course in that ideal world, i would buy a younger car, so i guess i shouldn't worry so much.

I'm not sure if writing out decisions could become a compulsion, because it makes me feel better to write it out. I don't think it's a compulsion (with the exception of reassurance- seeking), because I rarely write this stuff out. Therefore, we shall call it a coping skill, at least for now.

The other thing i feel bad about is for changing psychiatrists. Well, technically, from a psych. Nurse practitioner to a psychiatrist. Which change i made over a month ago, but my counselor said i should inform the psych NP that i had moved to another psychiatrist. So finally, today, i called to leave a message that i had a new Dr. It seems polite. But then the receptionist asked for my phone number in case the NP has questions. So now, I'm hoping she doesn't have questions, because i don't want to feel like i have to defend my leaving to her. If it were a friendship we were discussing, i should have tried to resolve my issues before ending the relationship. But it is a psych med prescriber. But I'm still worried. What if she says, "You should have talked to me about that before going to another doctor; we could have worked it out"? And maybe we could have. Maybe she would have lowered her prices and allowed me to be the only person she saw for med management only (according to her nurse and spokesman, she doesn't see people for only med management, but requires them to see her for counseling, too). Maybe she would take back her comments that bothered me.

And maybe the real reason I left her was because i didn't have a good feeling about her being my doctor right now. And maybe that feeling is too vague and subjective for me to easily defend. But i shouldn't have to defend that choice. I'm allowed to choose my psychiatrist. It's my right.

And if she says my leaving is because of unresolved issues that i have - that might even factor into my illness - well, i guess it's her right to think that. It may or may not be true. Maybe it doesn't even matter if it's true. Maybe I'm allowed to choose the psychiatrist situation that I'm most comfortable with.

And maybe i could worry about this forever. It seems to bother me more than the car repair job i have authorized. I suppose that is an indicator of how much this psychiatrist switch is bothering me.

And i can stick with one psychiatrist for years; I've done it before. It's the choosing a Dr and choosing to stay with a Dr that is hard for me.

But what if! What if one of the doctors i leave would have been the doctor to solve my medication riddle, to find the magic mixture that would let me feel healthy?!

I really dislike making decisions that could have very important consequences. Which, with my OCD imagination, is just about any decision. A car repair gone right or wrong could save me money or cost me hundreds of dollars, or be a factor in an accident. Eating the wrong food could make me sick, make me need to take time off work, even be a factor in whether i keep or lose my job. Psychiatrists? Which medications? That could be the difference between me at the crisis center or me enjoying my life.

Let's see... What is the name of this brand of cognitive distortion? That's easy; catastrophizing (which word my keyboard word suggester doesn't recognize).

Now we shall practice the art of un-catastrophizing. (Feel free to stop reading - I'm totally using this post as a journaling exercise.) My car repair decision could be wrong, but it could be right, as in wise or prudent. My psychiatrist decision: maybe it would be okay, or even healthy, to trust myself. My gut feelings are worth something. Maybe trusting myself is worth as much as who i end up seeing. And maybe if the nurse practitioner gives me grief (which she probably won't), that would actually be confirmation that she isn't the right match for me at this point. And maybe i have the right to end any such conversation, if it occurs, when I've had enough.

Well friends, i think that's enough journaling for now. I hope things are going okay for you.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Trying to figure things out

I don't like days when you are supposed to feel a certain way. Well, i somewhat like Christmas, because i made my own celebration, which i happen to like.

But Easter, i mean, how could you not be happy remembering that Jesus rose from the dead.

Well, that's easy; there are other things going on. Sorting out all sorts of thoughts, some happy some sad. And the weather; sometimes it's cloudy and dark here, then other times the sun shines.

Tomorrow, i see a new psychiatrist. The last nurse practitioner, the latest med change is helping a lot. But the way she runs her practice, i can't just see her for med management; i have to see her for counseling, too. But i already have a counselor. So I'm trying this new (to me) psychiatrist. But then i try to figure out ahead of time how to condense all my mental illness experience and previous treatment into one hour; less than an hour once you take into account what he might say.

Actually, i should relax a bit; psychiatrists seem to have their own set of questions to get the part of the story they need.

I was thinking yesterday, what if i have to see psychiatrists and counselors for the rest of my life? Am i okay with that? Somehow, it's easier to accept being on medicating the rest of my life than needing to see specialists. My medication is pretty invisible. People i work with don't have to know about it. But scheduling around doctors visits and counseling appointments gets more difficult. Right now, i work early, so i have lots of time in the afternoon to schedule appointments. But what if i was teaching elementary school full time? Or worked a nine to five job? I would have to inconvenience my boss and/or co-workers. We could probably still make it work, but i hate asking for time off. And if the appointments are too frequent, i might need to explain (or risk them thinking I'm lying about so many appointments).

It's tough trying to figure out how to keep everything going; work, rent, possibly back to college, family, friends, doctor and counseling appointments, food, cleaning... Always wondering if i just changed my life in this way or that, would both the depression and anxiety finally leave? Emphasis on the "both."

I have a dream job. I usually just consider it a non-option and try to forget it. But every now and then, i remember it. And i wonder, if i really tried for my dream job, if i actually got it, would i feel better? Is part of my depression from squashing my dream? But the dream job is not exactly within reach. To get to it, I'd probably have to open multiple cans of worms. There would for certain be lots of stress getting to it, and probably even more stress keeping with it. It would involve relocating, many months of planning and preparation... And there might be pretty much no accommodations available for my mental illness. But my mental illness has yet to leave me for even two years at a time since i was a kid. What makes me think it would leave me now? That incorrigible hope that humans often have that isn't bound by reason? Hope is great and all, but even thinking of going for my dream stresses me out enough to make me lose ground in my recovery. That seems to me to be a dangerous dream.

So back to the present, i guess I'd better get a few things done before tomorrow, like finding my long list of attempted antidepressants. And I'd better stop trying to resolve all my questions in one night. It never works, although it has caused me to lose some quality sleep time.