When I was in the early stages of bipolar disorder, a gap of 2 nights sleep was a trigger that I might need to be hospitalized for bipolar disorder or go to my sister’s house for in-home care.
Some 25 years later, I find that sleep is also an indicator of how I am doing with the bipolar. If I have interrupted sleep or sleep less than 7 to 8 hours, the next day is a struggle and a warning sign for the next few days to come that things are fragile.
In semi-retirement and as an empty nester, I allow myself more sleep than I normally would. I go to bed around 9:30 or 10:00pm and wake up between 8:00 and 10:00am the next day after several interruptions in the night. I know some people might see this as a sign of depression. I actually don’t. I have come to rely on the good nights sleep with clozapine since 2008. And this sleep generally helps keep me feeling relaxed and less anxious through the day. It is not a cure-all for anxiety, but being well-rested does mean I am less likely to expect the worst in whatever situations cross my path that following day.
I am not tied to the schedule of ten to twelve hours per say. I do get up and go to early doctor’s appointments and the like. I just like being completely exhausted of the need to sleep. If I can put it that way.
This afternoon I have had a strange thought. What if I were to visualize all the times I have been anxious about something (like in a bar graph) and compare that with the number of occasions that something that I was anxious about really occurred.
I have not done this exercise before, but I would guess every day I have an anxiety bar graph of at least a 5 or 6 or 7 or an 8 on a scale of one to ten (ten being the worst). I would also bet that there is a one in fifty chance that something I was/am concerned about will present itself as a reality. And that reality if it presents would probably be a one or a two on that same scale from one to ten.
By choosing to create a numeric or visual graph of my anxiety, I am not trying to minimize the anxiety I experience at all, because it can be quite debilitating. What I am trying to do is give myself a visual of how severe the anxiety is as contrasted with whether that anxiety I experience is ever tied with an actual anxiety-premeditated outcome.
I guess you could say I am trying to rationalize my anxiety and put it into perspective in terms of how often the incident I am worried about actually occurs. I hope the result will be that I am able to talk down myself from a high anxiety event by recalling how many times my anxiety is NOT tied with an actual stress induced event. Ie. I would like to keep myself honest as to what percent of the time that I am worried actually results in a prior perceived stress event.
Just out of curiosity, what techniques do you use to talk yourself out of anxiety? Is that working for you? What else is important to consider in trying to mitigate your anxious feelings?
I have decided this cancellation from my therapist (see below) was all for the best. Rather than panic about not having a therapy visit for 8 weeks, I was able to talk myself through a period of not having a regular session with my therapist. When we did get in touch I learned s/he had a very painful illness but was not at a serious risk level. I feel proud of myself, if I can say so, about managing through this period. It has made me realize that in the 12 years of working with my therapist I have grown into a person who can handle a temporary lapse in therapy time if that occurs and/or as it occurs.
Here is the original post from a week or two ago:
After 12 years of work with my therapist with no interruptions and no cancellations, I got a call today cancelling/postponing our session for this month. In all the 12 years of work, my therapist has never missed or changed an appointment.
Funny how you rely on someone being there and expect there to be no gaps. Rationally, I know at some point people do get sick and have to call in sick, but it worries me when my therapist does/did this.
I guess you could say I am confronting my dependency on her. Should I have a back-up plan for when she is ill? She is into her 70’s as is my psyche doctor. Should I be thinking about someone younger just because?
When I got the news today about the cancellation I got somewhat anxious, so I called my psyche doctor and shared the news. We agreed I would go up on my meds if things felt too stressful.
Just out of curiosity, what do you do if your therapist is sick and cannot make a session? Does it stress you out? Do you move to Plan B? What is your Plan B?
Sometimes I don’t have the energy to tackle the things on my to-do list. Either the to-do list is too long, or I am feeling anxious about things or some combination of the two.
What I have found when I am feeling this way is if I can just do one small thing on the list like pickup eggs at the supermarket, the rest of the list does not feel so daunting. As soon as I can jumpstart myself into doing one thing that’s productive, the barriers to finishing other items on the to-do list are less so. Often I can go ahead and complete several other items.
Does anybody else have a way of jumpstarting their to-do list? What is your secret?
I no doubt struggle with being a helicopter mom — someone who is always hovering about her child and getting overly involved in schoolwork and other developments in my 16-year-old’s life.
In these days of covid-19 I am trying my best to be more hands-off. The last thing my daughter needs during the pandemic is for me to be breathing down her neck about school work. She is 16 so she is largely capable of doing her schoolwork on her own.
She is also an A or A plus student during non-covid times, so it seems more than likely she should be fine in this age of remote learning.
I feel that my anxiety is what prompts me most into being a helicopter mom. Moving forward, I need to talk myself out of anxious feelings before involving my daughter in my own anxiety experience. She has enough on her plate connecting to school and peers remotely and does not need me to micro-manage her. It only adds to her stress.
I believe at the root of the problem is the fact that I was not safe when I was young due to abuse from a neighbor. My hyper-vigilance is a by-product of not feeling safe when I was young and projecting that onto my daughter’s situation. While it is good to be vigilant, there is a definite downside to too much worry and too much involvement nonetheless.
So the goal for now is to not involve my daughter in the consequences of my anxiety: too many questions, worries about deadlines, concerns about testing. She is almost 17 years old and can manage those things on her own.
Going forward, I just need to check-in with her once a day and see if there is anything I can help with. That’s my plan for now. Anybody else have the experience of being a helicopter mom? If so, how do you manage it?
I believe in my personal journey through bipolar illness that I hit rock bottom about in 2008. This does not mean I have not had issues with my health during this time – to the contrary. But in large part I have been therapeutic on my meds during this time with adjustments here and there. I believe that mental illness recovery requires a hitting of rock bottom much as addictions do. I don’t know if others with mental illness agree with that premise. If you do, please keep reading.
While my regular mental health rock bottom may have been in 2008, during these days of covid-19 a new rock bottom may be needed for myself. I am not talking about those folks who have loved ones taken by this terrible disease. I cannot even begin to speak to that loss. The grieving of others hit hard so hard by this pandemic with deaths is not what I am getting at. What I am trying to express is that the every day person (not with loved ones lost) with every day concerns may need to hit a rock bottom with covid-19 before coming out of it less anxious, less isolated, less depressed, less alone.
What does that rock bottom look like for me? I am not completely sure. Much of it requires me to be honest how I am feeling from day to day. I have been feeling more depressed that usual and I am tying to be honest with myself about that. This honesty is slowly allowing me to come back on the other side of my depression to a more balanced position. I have not yet gotten a great schedule together to orient my days. This is under development but not 100% there. I am trying to reach out to my elderly Mom once a day to chat since social distancing keeps us apart. I am trying to be honest with my psyche doctor and my therapist where I am with my health. I have raised my meds by a slight degree in order to combat the depression. I am trying to have as much meaningful dialogue and contact with my daughter who is 16 and my husband. This includes watching our favorite TV show after dinner and maybe playing a board game. On the non-mental health side of things, I am keeping a temperature log for myself and my family every day and insisting everyone drink lots of water and get a little exercise.
Also, I am trying to be forgiving of myself if there are times that I just can’t get it together to get something done off my todo list. Or if I am a little late in getting something done. I try to count my accomplishments for the day (baby steps mostly) with forgiveness of self in mind.
I am not certain if I am about to hit rock bottom with covid-19 era depression and anxiety, but I believe I am close. Does any body else think rock bottom for mental illness/mental health is relevant in the time of covid-19? If so, how are you doing with that? Well I hope.