My Bipolar Self Care

spirit me purple

self portrait

After Saturday’s bout with bipolar rage and my continued mood fluctuations I’m reminding myself about self care. Eating right, getting enough sleep, getting some form of exercise, keeping a routine, abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, watching or reading anything that is upsetting, or anything that may alter my mood, ……these are a must when dealing with my bipolar disorder.
I’m paying very close attention to my moods and trying to step back and refocus before things get out of control. (yes, I’ve had a few moments of quick anger, but I took a step back, cleared my mind and took a deep breath. I’m happy to say it’s been working well, it’s just hard to stay on top of)
I’m trying hard to stay in the moment. Worrying about what has happened, or what may happen will only make things worse. That worry could be a trigger.
 
I’m attempting to meditate more. Meditation helps to calm my racing thoughts, but I have to realize it’s okay to have those racing thoughts while I’m meditating, I just note them and come back to my breath without judgement. That’s the big thing. No judgement. Beating myself up doesn’t help matters, it will only cause me more anxiety. Being gentle with myself.
 
I have Stuart watching me too. I know sometimes my moods will shift and I don’t realize I’m overreacting. We realized that if he said I was overreacting I might get really angry, instead, when he sees that I’m not acting like myself, he hugs me.  So far, it’s worked.  I was started to get worked up and angry, and Stuart came over and just held me and I melted.  I know there are times that I would not respond well to this, but after talking about everything this was the best option we could come up with, and it’s working…so far.  Another huge thing I’m making sure I’m doing: talking with my husband.  We are working hard to make sure the lines of communication are open.
I saw my psych doc yesterday.  We are adding another mood stabilizer to the mix that helps more with the anger aspects of bipolar.  After I’m on it for a while, we will probably reduce the other one I’m on and hopefully get rid of it, and let the new one take over.  Funny to say “new one”, I think it’s the oldest bipolar med.  I’m going back on lithium.  Wish me luck!

Mindfulness Monday 24

butterfly-woman

“A moment of self compassion can change your entire day.
A string of such moments can change the course of your life”
~ Christopher Germer

 

“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent.
Caring for myself is an act of survival.”
~Audre Lorde

 

*all artwork on Picnic with Ants created and owned by Wendy Holcombe unless otherwise noted.

Time for “Us”

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This past Saturday was our 12th anniversary.  With my husband being my caregiver it is hard to find days where we can find time for just us without my illnesses playing a major part.  Saturday was one of those rare days.

Recently I’ve been feeling pretty darn good.  I have my days of not feeling well, my balance will be way off, and I’ll topple a lot, but for the most part I haven’t had any major vertigo attacks.  That’s huge for me.  I had a few days last week where I just didn’t feel good.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to spend our anniversary out of my recliner.  But I was surprised.  I woke up feeling good, so we headed out for a day of adventure.

We had a few plans for the day.  Stuart asked me what I wanted to eat on our special day and I wanted crab legs.  So we found this little restaurant that is on a small lake.  I love being close to water.  I was such a happy girl when we were sitting there on the water I teared up.  After our wonderful lunch we walked around the lake and watched the ducks.  We took pictures and just enjoyed ourselves.  We then went out of frozen yogurt.  The whole day we flirted like teenagers.  It was such a good day, but it wasn’t over.

We stayed in a hotel for the night.  It had a big whirlpool tub, and was in the ritzy part of town.  We decided not to go out for dinner we instead went to Whole Foods and loaded up on the Salad bar and went back to our room.  That may not sound romantic but it was so nice to just curl up in bed with my hubby eating salad.  🙂

It was a very romantic day.  We had planned to do more on Sunday but we were both exhausted from our anniversary celebration.  We came home and just vegged.  I slept sooo much.  On Monday I was still paying for our little adventure and felt like I was catching a cold, but by Tuesday I was feeling well again.  Which was great timing as Stuart had Tuesday off and we decided to go back to the boardwalk and just walk around and watch the ducks.  We had ice cream outside enjoying the beautiful weather.  It was a very relaxing afternoon.  Sometimes even though I know I’ll pay the price later the price is worth it.

It is so very important to take the time to spend as much “us” time with your significant other as you can.  My husband is my caregiver.  Even when I’m too sick for days like Saturday (and Tuesday), we try to take some time for us.  We may curl up and watch a movie together, or have a special dinner, just sit and talk…anything that makes things special.  One big thing we do a lot is flirt with each other a lot.  I am not able to follow through on a lot of my overtures but it doesn’t matter, he knows I want to.  That is what is important.  It’s important that even though we can’t be as intimate as we’d like as often as we’d like that we let each other know we’d like to, but it’s okay that we don’t.  It’s okay that we just cuddle, that we are with each other, that we are so in love that not being able to have sex as much as we’d like isn’t going to come between us.  And it makes those special nights in a hotel all the more special. 😉

 

Stress should be a 4 letter word

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Stress is widely known to cause the chronically ill to get sicker, to have flares, to generally feel worse…  Stress is an ugly word that I hate to hear my doctors say. “This is being made worse because of stress.”, “You need to get your stress under control.”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this.

The amount of stress I’ve been under the last few months would make the healthiest person feel bad, for someone who is chronically ill, with both physical and mental illnesses this has been a very trying time.  I’m sure you are wondering, “What has been going on in Wendy’s life?”  Well let me tell ya!

This may not be in order, I’m just going to get it all out.  We moved, we had a friend move in with us, I was having vertigo a lot for a while, I’m constantly afraid I will have a vertigo attack, I’ve been having migraines daily for months, my father passed away, I went through all the stress building up to my father’s death, the stress of the funeral….I feel like it has been non-stop.

I’m wondering if my migraines are worse because of the stress?  My chronic daily headache now has a base line of a 4-5 where it used to be 2-3, on a 0 – 10 scale. The pain in my neck and upper back due to degenerative discs has greatly increased, I’m in physical therapy for that now.  (going to PT is another stress, as Stuart has to take time away from work to take me to my appointments, this time has to be made up, that’s hard on both of us; and some PT sessions seem to make things worse, that’s a stressor too.)  I can’t take pain relievers which causes a certain amount of stress too because I never have any relief. My tinnitus has been very loud.  Some days my balance is worse than usual.  My emotional state is not well.  I’ve been depressed. (yes I know I have reasons to be sad, but this is more than that).  My anxiety is very high.  I am extremely irritable (I’m shocked at how much Stuart and I have been arguing, and bickering, normally we rarely argue)  I’m restless, yet tired, excessively worried, feeling like I’m trembling inside, very sad, my appetite is out of control, I am extremely self-conscious, I have very little self-esteem and I keep beating myself up for things I have no control over.  I can’t relax; I can’t give myself a break; I’m not being kind to myself.  I’m just a mess.

I’ve been having a very rough time.  This is upsetting because I’m at the best place I’ve been with my vertigo than I’ve been in a couple of years.  I haven’t had a bad attack in almost 2 months.  This is surprising because it normally gets worse when I’m under a lot of stress.  However, It is often much better during the summer.  I know I would be feeling even worse if I was having vertigo as often as I normally do.  But I can’t stop having profound fear that it will get worse any moment.  I’m having a hard time enjoying this break because I’m so terrified I’ll have an attack at any moment.

I was trying to take better care of myself, but I have to admit in the last few weeks most of that has gone out of the window.

When we are under stress it is imperative that we practice self-care.

Things I plan to do to increase my self-care:

  • Be sure to see my therapist and be open and honest during appointments.
  • Give myself a break.  This is more easily said than done, but I need to really make a conscious effort to do so.  When I have negative thoughts or feelings I want to start being more gentle with myself.
  • Meditate more.
  • Take more baths.
  • Watch funnier TV shows and/or movies.
  • Read funny or inspirational books.
  • Cuddle with my hubby.
  • Cuddle with Max (the cat) and Kiki (the little dog).
  • Eat healthier.
  • Do as much as my health will allow that makes me happy.
  • Be creative.
  • Stay in touch with those who love and nurture me.
  • Try to get outside more.
  • Keep up a gratitude list every day.
  • Laugh
  • Sing Silly Songs
  • Dance
  • Give my body 10 minutes of mindful attention.
  • Take a nap.
  • Take Deep Breaths
  • Get Positive Feedback (ask 3 friends what they love about me)
  • Write out my thoughts (for 15 minutes free write what ever I’m feeling, I can tear it up after, just get it out.)
  • Drink water (I’ve been drinking soda recently, something I haven’t done in years)

 

How do you take care of yourself?  Any self-care suggestions?  I’d love to hear them!

 

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Finally I understand….they really aren’t bad people.

I wrote this a few days ago, but did hit enter.  I wanted to read over it and make adjustments….but I had a vertigo attack..and another, and another.  I’ve been having many vertigo attacks since November 1st.  They come on fast and the spinning is very fast.  They last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours.  Yesterday I had 6 of them.  I can’t be on the computer very often the rare occasions when I can.  I can’t read much.  I don’t know if this is Meniere’s or Migraine Associated Vertigo, or a combination.  My guess is a combination.  We have calls in to both my doctor at Duke and the doctor here….yes the doctor here….I’m desperate…and read below you will understand why I’m giving him another chance.

So I don’t know when I’ll be back.  and I didn’t read this over.  thank you all for supporting and hanging in there with me.  You are the best!

So the people at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose and Throat are not so very horrible.  Stuart talked to the head of the Audiology department today.  She said that the doctor I saw has spoken to her twice about making an exception to see me.  Shockers!  Also there seems to be a pretty good reason for them to not see people from different clinics.  They don’t get paid for it.  Yep, it’s in their contract that they don’t get paid for MAPping cochlear implants that they didn’t implant.  Sad.  (for those of you scratching your head right now thinking, what on earth is MAPping? It mainly means when the audiologist adjust the CI’s so you can hear better…but here’s a link to nice explanation with more detail, if you are interested.  It is in easy to understand terms to don’t worry. Mapping a Cochlear Implant).

The audiologist then told Stuart that they made an exception in 2 cases, if it was a hardship for someone to go back to the place they had their CI surgery done, or if they couldn’t travel that far because of a physical problem.  She said, in my case it is both.  Because of the Meniere’s it is a hardship because I can’t drive and I have to depend on getting someone else to drive me.  I am also physically unable to ride that far because of the herniated disc, and because of the vertigo.  So, they are going to see me at this office!

I really wish they had told me this before.  I do understand they they don’t want everyone to know there are exceptions because then people would be trying to bend the rules.  However, if they had just told me they didn’t get paid, I would have understood.  That would have made me very understanding.  I feel horrible that they don’t get paid.  I do not feel right taking advantage of them.  If I only have to see them once a year or so, we will just pay them for the visit.  If I have to go numerous times, I will try to go back to Duke.  Right now, I really need to have this done, and I can’t afford to pay for the visit.  I am so very thankful that they are willing to help me.

My suggestion to them in the future…explain to the patient that they don’t get paid.  I sure wouldn’t have thought they had awful business practices if they had told me that.

On a not so good note.  Well, first a good thing…I woke up on Halloween…No vertigo.  Yay!   By late that night I had a little.  It decided to come back faster than before.  I fell like its toying with me.  Oh my goodness it has not been fun, if I move my head I get sick to my stomach.  I have a headache all the time because I have to concentrate so hard to focus.  Then night before last….major attack!  Dang!  I didn’t handle this well.  Mindfulness…yeah I’m not doing well.  My brain is not staying in this moment.  I keep thinking, what if it doesn’t stop.  After all this slow stuff has been going on for a while now.  I can’t stop my brain from saying building up these stories.  It’s harsh.  And it is making it worse.  Last night I had a little bit more than a mini attack but not a major attack.  I handled it better, and got it to slow down.  I’m just so sad about it.

I’m working on a lot of self care.  Eating well, pampering myself a bit, reading things that make me happy, watching good things on TV, reaching out to people I know give me good advice or just make me feel good, getting good sleep, and enough rest.  Making sure I take my medication on schedule.  Keeping a routine as much as possible.  This is very important.  If I don’t do these things I know I could slip into a deep depression.  I know this because I’m biploar.  But this is important for anyone.  Especially those of us with chronic illnesses.  We can get sick easily when we are under stress, we have to take care of ourselves, and when life hands us some extra challenges we have to be diligent about taking care of ourselves.

I also have to rest more…that may mean taking a nap, or just resting more.  I need to meditate more….now during these times I won’t be able to quiet my mind.  I know that.  and that is ok.  I will just sit quietly, and breathe.  As a thought comes up I will acknowledge it and tell it to move along…I will probably be doing that the whole time…and that is ok.  It will still do me some good, and I’m sure I will feel better.  I need to not give in to my impulse to eat more, especially junk.  Yes, when I get upset, I want junk.  I can’t do that to myself.  Just as I can’t drink or do drugs.  I have to stay as healthy as I can to keep my depression at bay.

So I’m off to do some reading that makes me laugh.

Just wanted to share this great news!

Hubby decided we needed to celebrate.    Dinner tonight…Steak with roasted green beans and new potatoes.  And for desert….a parfait made with bananas, berries, Greek yogurt, walnuts and a touch of maple syrup.  Double yum!   (Ok, so I have that desert often.  It’s really good and good for me!  I feel good knowing I’m taking care of me.)

Self-Care Cheat Sheet – repost from Honor Yourself Now

I found this wonderful post on Honor Yourself Now.  It’s for everyone, not just us chronically ill peeps.  There are some things you may have to adjust depending on your abilities.

For example, I can’t exercise.  But I can couch dance to something silly on the TV, I can sometimes go downstairs, or just walk around the room.  That’s moving it for me, I’ll even sing in my head – “You’ve Got to Move IT!”  (don’t you love that song from Madagascar?

I do try to laugh each day, really I don’t have to try, my husband and I are pretty silly.  That’s a big for me.  I believe in not being too serious about things all the time.  Seeing the levity in a serious situation has gotten me though a lot of hard times.

So take care of yourself!!  I say, take some time and pamper yourself a little too.

Self-Care Cheat Sheet.

Please click on image to be taken to the original post on Honor yourself Now

Please click on image to be taken to the original post on Honor yourself Now