Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Okay, so maybe vacation isn’t the right word. If anything, I didn’t need to take a break from my blog…actually, it was one of the worst possible things I could do, because instead of getting it down and off my chest, all of the bullshit stayed inside my head and just repeated itself OVER AND OVER.
I’m not going to go into the details of the last four days. Let’s just say that it consisted of severe depression and anxiety, no sleep, suicidal ideation (no worries…that’s why I’m staying with the folks), and very very brief moments of relief. Nothing especially exciting happened. I tried to stay busy and just spent time with family, went to IOP, etc.
I had therapy with Goddess of Mindfulness yesterday. And I was feeling bad…I mean really bad. Such black and white thinking, self-judgemental thoughts, and just emotional…really emotional. I hadn’t cried that hard in a long time. It wasn’t anything in particular that was bothering me, just the general bullshit.
We came up with some ideas to help get me back on track sleep-wise and hopefully somewhat improve the constant cloud of depression and anxiety so that I can at least tolerate it. Bottom-line…I need to get back to doing the things I was doing when I felt better…like the way I felt eight months ago, or even a year ago. Granted, it wasn’t perfect then, but it was so much better than what it is now.
The first thing is to work on sleep. I have been staying up late and having too much stimulus in the evenings, along with not eating until around 9:00 p.m. and not taking my meds until 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. and then staying up to talk to Malcom when he gets off work at 11:00 p.m. my time, and generally not going to bed until around midnight. The combination of all of that has me all out of whack and my sleep has been super-shitty.
When I was doing well, I really worked hard on what is called “sleep hygiene.” I had a routine. I stuck with it. I did the same things every night, and I slept a lot better. I’m going to be getting back into that, and did my routine last night with a few things GoM threw in to help and slept for seven straight hours, other than waking up to pee a few times, which I have always done anyway.
The keys to my evening routine are to:
1) Eat dinner by 7:00 p.m.
2) Take meds by 7:30 p.m.
3) Start relaxing by 8:30 p.m. (watching TV, coloring, or just doing what seems relaxing at the moment)
4) Take a shower before bed to calm me down.
5) Be in bed (not necessarily asleep) by 10:00 p.m.
6) Sleep in a cool room.
And GoM threw in that I needed to listen to music when I was winding down, lying in bed. So, I went out and bought a portable CD player and, although I was skeptical, fell asleep listening to the Curious George soundtrack (very soothing, if you are in need of such a CD). I actually fell asleep while listening to it and ended up taking off my headphones when I woke up for the first time to pee. And it was such a sound sleep. Absolutely wonderful.
As most people with bipolar disorder know, things go better when you stick to a strict routine. Get up at the same time every day, have the same “waking up” routine, have your awake time structured to a “T”, and follow the same evening routine every night. Granted, there may be nights when it is harder to do this, and I imagine if you have children or a spouse it would be ten times harder. And that’s not to say that every once in awhile you can’t deviate and stay up a little late to watch a show or hang out with some friends. But when I was doing well, I very VERY rarely did that, and when I did, I still made sure that I was home by 10:00 p.m. or so.
So call me an old fogey, or unexciting, but I would rather feel better than live a life of adventure. Routine works for me (or it has in the past), and I don’t really get bored with it. I like being at home, I like knowing what I’ll be doing for the day. I just like it. I can’t really express how much. In the past when I’ve had a day that I followed my routine, I went to bed with an less-demanding mind, and just a better feeling, kind of hard to describe, but like an “everything is okay right at this very moment” feeling. A feeling of satisfaction, if you will, that I took care of myself that day.
As I said, I started getting back into my normal routine yesterday and plan to keep it up. Some other things that I need to add are:
1) Blogging daily — it really helps me to stay centered
2) Being mindful of (or aware or just noticing) black and white and judgemental thinking
3) Working on calming myself when I wake up in the middle of the night instead of staying up and chain-smoking in a well-lit room, which just makes me more keyed up
4) Allowing myself to feel feelings and let them go
These are my goals, the things I am working on (along with IOP and therapy) to make myself feel better. To make life tolerable again.
Jack Johnson, Broken — from the “Curious George” soundtrack (There is no real video to this, only music…couldn’t find a video I liked, but thought this song was worth listening to)