May Is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US

May is Mental Health Awareness month at least in the US. What would you most like to see addressed with respect to mental illness in the next 5 years? Here’s my list:

  1. Find a way to describe people who are dangerous with an underlying mental condition as different from the bulk of people with mental illness who are generally not dangerous or are dangerous to ourselves. In other words, find a way to differentiate mass shooters from people in mental anguish who often suffer at their own expense rather than at others’. Find new and working vocabulary words to mark this distinction.
  2. Address mental illness stigma to where viable support may be readily given in the workplace, the place of worship, the neighborhood or within other community settings.
  3. Develop meds that don’t cause weight gain or other side effects like Type II Diabetes.
  4. Oh I am adding one – be sure first responders are trained to deal with mental illness particularly campus police as college is a time when many mental illnesses present. What’s your list?

OOOHHHH Final Exams!

My daughter is finishing up high school this month. You may have heard of the program — the International Baccalaureate or IB Diploma Program.

The program is insane – at least in my mind right now. It is testing kids on two sometimes three years of content. Most of these kids were out all of Sophomore and a good part of Junior Year due to COVID and still exams are marching on.

I find myself in a particularly strange spot. I should be providing undying support to my 18-year-old rather than getting her enmeshed in my anxiety. This is really hard for me as college years were the years I first experienced early signs of bipolar. So I worry about the same for her.

All in all, we have less than two weeks to go. So that is great! But it sure would be nice if the IB Diploma Program made some real concessions for studying and mastering content during a world-wide pandemic. I have reached out to the college counselor and he agrees it is an issue globally. So maybe they will give the kids a break?

Happy Mother’s Day to You!

This is a wish that you will have a wonderful Mother’s Day whether you are a mother or have a mother, either way.

Being a Mom is the the most difficult thing I have ever done and the most rewarding! I am soon to be an empty nester so will be experiencing all sorts of “letting go’s” from now until the fall and beyond.

If you are a Mom, I hope you can stop and give yourself credit for all the good you do in the world for your kids even when you’ve been dealt a rough hand and don’t always negotiate everything to a T. So self forgiveness is key.

And if you have a Mom, I hope you are in a position to express gratitude knowing that your Mom (like mine and like me) is far, far from perfect. Again, forgiveness is key.

Let’s just be grateful for motherhood in all its best possible selves. Without it, the world would be an even crazier place to be.

When is anxiety at its worst?

This is just a quick discussion of any patterns that may exist in my experience of anxiety.

For some strange reason, my anxiety is at its worst when I first wake up and before I have had several cups of coffee – half caffeine and half decaf. It is not a great way to greet the day with full-on anxiety yet that is more often my pattern.

Since developing a walking routine with our new puppy, this morning anxiety has become more of a todo list upon waking which is a welcome change.

It also helps to read the 23rd Psalm outloud upon waking but I do not always do this and haven’t in a while. Perhaps I need to restart this practice.

Usually after my morning coffee my anxiety is still there but tolerable with PRNs.

If you experience anxiety is it ever at the beginning of your day? What are the patterns you see in your anxiety if any?

After several days of CBD oil

Again, this is not a post proposing use of CBD for anxiety or any other mental health condition. It is just my personal experience with using a small amount of CBD oil daily for the last several days. Please don’t consider this a product endorsement or a cure for any sort for mental illness. Please don’t make a change in your medical regimen without consulting a doctor first. Also please be sure if you do take CBD oil you are aware of dosing information. Consult packaging or a health professional for dosing.

I have to say there is some progress with my anxiety after taking CBD oil for a little less than a week. The anxiety does not disappear but it is more easily placed from the front burner to the back burner. This is significant for me as anxiety generally presents itself at the foremost of my thoughts and does not typically minimize itself through self-talk. The anxiety usually may become more manageable with a daily walk or yoga but it generally is difficult to move to the back burner even still. With a walk, the anxiety generally becomes somewhat more responsive to self-talk.

Being able to push the anxiety pot (no pun intended) to the back burner is relatively new to me. This means I am more able to entertain thoughts that are on the front burner. Typically those front-burner thoughts are more observations associated with positive thinking. In front-burnered thoughts, I am more likely to see my blessings and count my blessings. I am more able to see all the things I am grateful for but that I may overlook from time to time. Front-burnered thoughts are more intentional thoughts or thoughts over which I may have some control. Back-burnered thoughts are more automatic and I am less likely to have control over these – such as the anxiety.

Just a thought, it might be nice to talk to some folks who do not suffer from anxiety and ask them about whether front-burnered and back-burnered thoughts work this way for them. I have often thought that having a mental illness such as bipolar means my conscious thoughts are closer to my subconscious thoughts – that’s what makes these thoughts so difficult to manage. For most people it seems that intense fears or intense anxieties exist more at the subconscious level than on the conscious one and are therefore more easy to “silence” or to “manage” if they are not present at the forefront of consciousness.

To repeat in my experience with the CBD oil, the anxiety does not go away but it can be put in greater perspective once the worries move from a front burner spot to a back burner spot.

I will update this blog in another week or so to see if the back-burnering of anxiety-ridden thoughts is able to hold. Thanks for listening. Please share any stories of managing anxiety on CBD oil you may have.

I have started up with CBD oil again

This is not a product endorsement for CBD oil – only a recount of my experience. Please take this into consideration. Thank you.

I have started up with a low dosage of CBD oil again. I am still underwhelmed at the level of dosage information there is on packaging and in general available to consumers but I am trying to take the edge off my anxiety which is presenting with the end of my daughter’s high school career and the beginning of her college years. I have talked this through with my therapist at our last session and with my psychiatrist a year or two ago.

Does anyone have personal stories of CBD oil helping with anxiety? Other stories regarding CBD?

Happy Easter Everyone!

Hello all. I hope you are having a great Easter Sunday or whatever holiday you observe (or don’t observe)! Today I am focusing on being grateful. Even though I have persistent anxiety from my bipolar illness I have lots and lots to be thankful for: my daughter’s health, my daughter’s achievements in school, my husband’s companionship, my Mom’s relatively good health, our new puppy, a psyche doctor and therapist who I trust and consider in my support circle , constant help and support from my sister, and the list goes on….

Can you find it in your heart to be thankful for something today? Even if it as simple as that cup of morning coffee? I hope so.

Have a super day!

I find my anxiety creeping in

In the last week, I have found my anxiety creeping in. My daughter is set to finish high school in about 6 weeks. I think my anxiety is being triggered by all the unknowns that that entails. When is college orientation? How do we pay the college bill without getting a late fee? How many days do we need to drop her off and get her settled in her dorm room? Is my daughter ready to live on her own? What if she experiences some form of mental illness while she is away at college in Boston? How does healthcare work for college students? Does she know how to purchase books? Are there even text books these days? Will she fall in with the right peer group? Is she ready to study on her own?

Looking at all these questions, I think I have the answer for why I am feeling anxious. Any parents of college students care to provide a word of encouragement? Like, this is normal to worry about these things. They do get better and they do get handled! 🙂

Thanks in advance for any words of encouragement and support.

Keeping in the Moment – Puppy Talk…

We adopted an 8 to 10 week old puppy last December before Christmas. A lot of fun but a lot of work. At five months, she has just come back a week or so ago from her spaying surgery which also included a surgery to address a herniated umbilical cord. I had never heard of this but the hernia at her belly button is fairly common and they do the surgery for it at the same time they do the spaying.

I have always vowed that I am a pet person but not to the exclusion of all other things. It always strikes me as funny how attached people get to their animals to the point where the pets are almost treated as human 🙂 But now I find myself in that same boat!

The last twelve days have been exhausting giving the pup pain medicine for 5 days and trazadone for two weeks to date and also an additional week this coming week. This includes taking her out first thing in the morning which occurred at 4:00am this morning. The trazadone is very sedating but in between doses the pup is a wild child with eyeballs all dilated and that seem to roll around in her head like marbles.

Today, after a vet visit we were allowed to take the plastic cone collar off her. Finally! It has been 13 days and she is sick of it. The first thing we did this afternoon was give her a bath. She looks so much smaller without her big furry coat I almost did not recognize her as our pup.

The vet/doctor said her incision looks good so the collar can come off but to keep her sedated for another five days or so. With all this puppy talk, I find myself to be somewhat of a hypocrite. I am completely immersed in puppy care from tracking her pees and poops to being sure she stays sedated 24 hours a day to prevent tearing the incision to hand feeding her canned food when she would not eat after the anesthesia. My husband has been singing the song by the Ramones around the house for days – “24 24 hours to go, I wanna be sedated.” (“I Wanna Be Sedated” by the Ramones).

So I find myself completely preoccupied with caring for the pup. I think it is somewhat a case of transference as my daughter will be graduating high school in a matter of weeks and leaving the nest for college this summer. I tend to put all my extra “caring” into care for the pup.

Also, puppy training has been on hold for the last 12 to 13 days as it does not seem fair to have “school” lessons all jacked up or laid low on trazadone. Jacked up is what it feels like just after giving her a dose before the sedating qualities kick in.

Anybody else found they were “catching themselves in the act” of treating their pets like humans? Thankfully, I do recognize that it is an ultimate luxury to do so in this day and age with so much going on against humanity much less the animals?

How long do you go between sessions?

When I first exited the hospital in 2008 after starting on clozapine, I was seeing my therapist once to twice per week. Eventually this developed into a meeting every two weeks and then every month. Now I am on a frequency of every 6 to 8 weeks for seeing my therapist. During this time post 2008 I saw my psyche doctor every month or every two months. Now I see him every 3 months for meds management.

It is important to note that these elongated timeframes happened for me after years of work with my therapist and with my meds. It feels good to move to longer timeframes between visits, but it is true that pre-2008 I used to “play mind games” with myself regarding my psyche visits. I would deliberately schedule doctor’s visits every three months out to tell myself I was doing “fine” when in retrospect this should have been monthly. I was not doing fine and I was on a drug that wasn’t working. In part, this was because I was not maintaining the proper dosage of the meds.

I feel like today I am honest with my therapist and my psyche doc about how frequently I need appointments. I used to have to have a therapy appointment lined up for the next time when I completed a session so as to be able to “see” what was upcoming on the horizon. Now I basically see how I am progressing and schedule a session every 6 to 8 weeks or so as needed.

Any thoughts on your session frequency with the therapist or the MD?