Change in Seasons and Change in Routines

Spring started a few days ago.  We’re starting to get more rain and the weather is warming up.  Saw my first lightning of the season yesterday.  My fantasy baseball league had it’s draft last night.  Since we’re spread out all over the country now we have to have our league hosted by yahoo.  It’s been an annual tradition for me for the last ten years.  I’ve never won my league as I’m pretty average compared to the eleven other guys in our league.  It’s a diversion for me and an excuse to pay attention to games I wouldn’t normally watch.  The first baseball games start the first Monday in April.  Winter is over.

I saw my psych doctor earlier this week.  According to his scale I gained a pound since my last appointment six weeks earlier.  Hopefully I have stopped the losing streak in terms of gaining weight.  Unfortunately I have gained a lot of weight since my car accident a year and a half ago.  For a long time I was afraid to drive and didn’t go anywhere except to buy groceries and run errands.  I can tell the lack of socializing has hurt me.  I know I’m less patient with people then I used to be.  I am not as spontaneous as I used to be either.

I complained to my psych doctor about my lethargy and lack of motivation.  We increased the doses of some of my medications.  He also suggested I buy some probiotic pills.  He had read a lot of literature stating that people with mental illness problems often have gut health issues too.  He said that gut health and mental health can affect each other.  After a few days on the probiotic pills, I’m noticing I am having some more energy.  I am also not sleeping as much even after only a few days.  I am also having fewer unexplained aches and pains.  I hope this only continues to improve.  My only true complaint about the probiotic pills is they are pricey.  But I am starting to feel better and more energetic overall.

As stable as I usually am during the winter, I am glad that winter is over.  The weather is starting to warm up and I’m not just wanting to stay home and hide out all the time.  I am feeling a sense of hopefulness for the first time in months.  I really think things are starting to settle down.  I haven’t had much settled for me for a long time.  This sense of normalcy is a welcome relief.

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Medications and Mental Illness

Saw my psych doctor last week.  We haven’t changed any medications or dosages this winter.  Winter has usually been a pretty stable time for me, at least after all the nonsense of Christmas blows over.  We added a third anti psych med in October after I have a vicious but short lived psychotic breakdown.  It seems to be doing alright.  It definitely makes me fall asleep and stay asleep.  I have to take it right before bed.  Any other time I will be asleep for at least five hours straight.  I take all my meds at once right before bed.  It’s easy to remember things that way.

With these current medications I’m taking, I have to real careful about not missing doses.  I have found I don’t sleep well and have vivid dreams when I accidentally skipped doses with these meds.  Some anti depressants I was on years ago, like Prozac, could be forgiving and not affect me too bad if I missed a dose.  I suppose Prozac is one of those drugs that can build up in your body over time.  When I decided I was going off my meds back in early 2007, I was on Prozac.  At first it felt good to be not taking medications every day.  Notice I said at first.  I was able to work 60 hours a week again and was getting interested in dating again.  But the good times didn’t last.  I was off the meds entirely for almost two months before reality came back to hit me.  I probably should have committed myself for that breakdown.  I went off the meds again in early 2013.  Felt alright for two months once more before the reality came back with a vengeance.  I was lucky and smart for realizing I needed to go back on the medications.  Both times I was on medications that probably stayed in the body longer than most.  That’s got to be the only reason I did alright for weeks before I had problems.

My current medications are not as forgiving if I miss a dose.  But they have fewer side effects.  When I was on most of my previous medications I did well mentally but not physically.  I gained weight on almost all my previous psychotic medications.  I gained a lot of weight.  I gained almost two hundred pounds from when I started on psychotic medications in late 2000 until I started my current medications in spring 2013.  I didn’t get it that I had to force myself to be active and that I was using the psych medication promoting weight gain as an excuse to overeat and not be active.  But since I got serious about exercise and eating healthy I have lost forty pounds in two years.  I still have a long way to go but I am on the right path.

If I had to give advice on whether one should go off medications because of fears of weight gain and resulting problems, talk with your psych doctor and general practice doctor both before you do anything.  Do not do anything like that on your own.  You will have a breakdown and probably have to be hospitalized.  I got off easy in that I didn’t have to go to the hospital because I recognized that my mental health was falling apart early on.  Also, it should be noted, that medical advances being what they are, newer treatments with fewer side effects are being developed regularly.  I didn’t think the genetic ‘black box’ for schizophrenia would be found as soon as it was.  It was found only twelve years after the Human Genome project was finished in 2003.  I don’t know if I’ll ever live to see an outright cure for mental illnesses, but I am remaining optimistic.  It is certainly exciting times we are living in.

Psych Appointment and Mid Winter Thaw

Had a psychiatric appointment this morning.  I’ve been having my ups and my downs this winter like I always do. The voices aren’t as bad most times now but they do come creeping back in at times.  It’s irritating to think that after fifteen years of working with this mental illness I still have problems with being agitated by the voices.  But even they aren’t as overwhelming as they once were.

The highs are better and the lows are not as bad as they once were.  Even my really bad times don’t last as long.  Used to be I’d have entire days that were awful.  Now it usually lasts only a couple hours at most.  Haven’t lost weight this winter but I haven’t gained any since winter really started.  My blood pressure is better.  I guess if I have to struggle losing weight then I have to relax and drop the blood pressure.

Since winter has started I’ve read at least three regular books and several audiobooks via youtube.  I’ve also gotten back into poetry writing.  It had been a couple years since I was serious about that.  I know I’ll never make money from poetry but it is a good writing exercise for days I don’t blog.  Haven’t been out and about as much this winter as previous winters because of the increased snow and ice.  Times like this winter sometimes make me miss having a job to get me out of the apartment a few hours a day.

We’ve had a few decent weather days lately.  It’s our first real mid winter thaw and we’re only four weeks from the start of spring.  It seems we traditionally had several days in a row above freezing, usually in late January.  Where I live we didn’t have that until this week, the third week of February.  I actually don’t get depressed by being inside all the time in the winter.  I use the time indoors to read and catch up on writing.  I may be lazy about exercise in the winter (more so than I would like), but days like today are a reminder that spring is only a few weeks away.  That alone is often enough to make me hopeful.

 

Why I Blog The Way I Do and Reflections on Blogging, Part One

I recently published my 50th blog entry on this site, alifeofmentalillness.wordpress.com.  It has been a series of interesting, and eye-opening experiences over the last eighteen months.  When I started this, I had no clue it would turn into anything semi-regular.  I guess I didn’t know I’d still be posting after one and a half years.  With that said, the fifty entries I have posted seem to have had a decent reception from the readers.  I hope that the next eighteen months will allow for more posts and more insights into the lives of mentally ill people trying to make a life in ‘a chronically sane world.’

I suppose now would be as good a time as any as to why I post the blog entries I do and use the style of writing I do.  I suppose just as important is why I don’t post the things I don’t. I’ll attempt to go into some details on both.

Why do I blog the way I do?  Many of my blog entries are essentially telling about the aspects, hangups, draw backs, victories, defeats, joys, and pains that I have personally experienced in my life as a mentally ill individual.  This blog doesn’t go too deep into the psychiatric and physiological research and terms simply because I didn’t study psychiatric medicine or physiology in college.  I had a hard enough time with organic chemistry and calculus while I was working through this illness when I was a pre-med major in my second year of college that I dropped calculus and failed organic chemistry.

This alone, at least in an academic sense, would lead some to imply I have no real background in psychiatric medicine or the physiology of the human brain or know about the effects and side effects of psychiatric medications.  For one, I have been an out patient of psychiatric medicine for over fourteen years.  Though I have never been a doctor giving the treatment to psych patients, do not believe for one minute that I don’t know more about psychiatric treatments than those who, in their misguidance, believe that mental illness is not real and thus the pain and anguish associated with the afflicted is not real.  I wish to God I was making up everything I perceived during the course of my mental illness.  To think that those of us with these problems are acting out because we want attention and sympathy is not only sadly naive, it is completely cruel and absolutely inhumane.  If I wanted attention, there are far easier and more effective ways to receive it than fake a malady that most neurotypicals can’t even relate to.

I suppose some would argue because I don’t present scientific facts, figures or use many complex sounding terms that most people can’t relate to, I am making invalid statements about mental illness and my experiences.  To suggest that because someone doesn’t present statistics, that person is not accurate is not in itself true.  First, if numbers are what a person wants, there are plenty of internet sites that provide the cold, hard, faceless facts. This site doesn’t provide just faceless and coldly sterile facts and information.  Anyone with access to any internet search engine can find far more facts, figures, statistics, and descriptions about mental health issues than they could easily sift through.  I am not a scientist by nature or training.  Science wasn’t even my favorite subject in school.  I am not condemning science at all by not providing ‘just the facts.’

If anything, this blog attempts to put at least faces, names, places, and circumstances on the facts and figures that scientists have already discovered.  I suppose I am one who adds the personal element to the mental illness discussion.  Once a face and name is placed on the particular ailments and numbers of an illness, that is when things really start resonating with people.  We hear every day in the news about natural disasters hitting far away places or people losing their jobs when factories close.  Those stories tell the facts, yes, but they often fail at rousing the compassion and actions of others because rarely are names of the afflicted or their life stories shared.  Sadly, we tend to become numb to hearing about these disasters and tragedies of the human existence and come to believe that the hardships and sufferings of other humans do not matter.

Yes, it is true, I as an individual may not have power to do much about floods in Bangladesh, typhoons in Japan, chronic poverty in Haiti, war in Syria and Ukraine, ebola in Liberia, the effects of human made climate change, or the closing of factories and chronic droughts in my own nation.  But I can at very least care about others enough in my small hometown to aide those I come across on a daily basis.  And I certainly can write about the hardships of having a mental illness in such a manner to offer compassion and support to those with mental illness, their loved ones, as well as articulate what is like to have a mental illness to others for those who are unable to articulate for themselves.

Being a voice for mental ill individuals who are unable to articulate for themselves, even if I am unable to speak exactly for every one of us, is the primary purpose of this blog.  I do this to offer support, compassion, and explain to others that the anguishes and pains are extremely real.  I don’t use this blog to be spiteful to others who don’t agree with my ideas. I don’t use this blog to badger and bully others into my line of thinking.  I have no moral grounds to force anyone to believe and think as I do.  All I can do is tell my story, tell the stories of others, and offer aide and support to the hurting and overwhelmed.  Hopefully through the telling of these stories and offering support to other mentally ill persons and their loved ones, compassion for the mentally ill can be achieved.  Even if it is convincing people one at a time.

This ends Part One of this posting.