I spoke with my psychiatrist on Saturday about my uncertainty with being diagnosed cyclothymic. She explained her read of the symptoms, and told me she has me listed as “mood disorder, unspecified” with a focus on depression. I feel more comfortable with that, because I don’t know that I’ve ever had an actual episode of the hypomania that is part of cyclothymia, and it can be weird to attach a label or a word or whatever to myself that I don’t fully identify with. She said not to be concerned with a label but instead to focus on being aware of how I’m feeling day to day and to cope with/manage the symptoms as they arise.
In any case, she recommended the most important recovery tools (other than medication) are adequate sleep and a good structure. I need to get my sleeping meds refilled because my brain is just not wanting to shut down at night anymore. :\ I was doing okay without them for a while but since starting work I just can’t get a full night’s rest. And I want to try harder to get out of bed when my alarm actually goes off instead of an hour later, now that I work evenings, because I want the morning to actually do stuff! To be honest I probably need to spend less time on tumblr, too.
I’m hoping my daily routine can fit in exercise, meditation, affirmations/journaling, and art/writing. I think for me, being really healthy is going to require really implementing a routine and not allowing myself to slip back into stagnation, or to let important practices fall by the wayside for too long. R&R and fun stuff will be part of that routine and structure, but not pushing myself has led to dangerous territory. I start my standard shift for work today and I can’t say I’m off to a GREAT start with the routine I want but… Moment by moment, day by day. I can do this.
Something I need to ruminate on. I think writing about depression when we’re clearer-headed also comes from a place from really wanting to help, to encourage others to seek help, because depression *isn’t* glorious or healthy. And it doesn’t really matter what we’re depressed about, initially - it almost always spills over into EVERYTHING and it’s all distorted.
But I’ve gotten really comfortable telling people, while I’m okay, that I struggle with a depression-based mood disorder. While I’m okay. During the middle of an episode, reaching out is terrifying, for a lot of the reasons given in this article.
I don’t have any insightful conclusions but this is something I want to think on.
Er I guess this probably belongs on my personal blog.
When I forget to take my medicine at night, I am 1000% more resistant to the idea of leaving my bed in the morning.
In other news, there will be actual art n stuff coming soon, I promise!
Made an olive oil dressing for my keto pasta. There was a spoonful of oil leftover after the pasta and I was like, well, I don’t want these fat grams to go to waste, and I can’t sop it up with bread. What the hell I’ll just drink it.
…It was a terrible mistake.
Next time, I’ll have to use zucchini or broccoli or something? Any other (almost certainly better) suggestions?
And then I realized how far I still have to go. I’m hesitant to post this because I know people who love me read this blog and I’m scared about hurting anyone or scaring anyone and I don’t know if it’s bad form or what. But I’m writing this in lieu of my previous post, to acknowledge that relapses happen, and they’re terrifying.
Yesterday morning I had a very scary episode. It’s troubling that even with all that effort, there’s a level of stress that others might shake off while I bottom out. And the old ways can take over so quickly.
Still, one more day at a time, staying vigilant, maybe trying to be a little more formally structured in my self-help/self-care again. Not quite back to square one, but maybe I overestimated my progress. More sleep will probably help, too.
It had me shaken up all yesterday, feeling broken and unstable and unsuitable for this world. Wondering if I’ll ever really be healthy enough to establish anything resembling a stable, independent life. Or to be able to deal effectively with instability if life has other plans.
I still worry, but I guess the only way to know is to try. And today is already so much better than yesterday. I recovered. So one day at a time.
I realized recently -
Three months ago I got scared even thinking about trying to drive again. Now I drive myself to work every weekday and to meet my friends.
Three months ago I couldn’t bring myself to exercise even when there was a stationary bike in my apartment. Now I hit the gym at least five times a week and have started working with a personal trainer. My stretch marks no longer look like angry red scratches; they’ve started to pale.
Three months ago I was planning my own death. I was in one of the worst depressions of my life and completely unstable. Now I know better how to care for myself*, and when the downturns happen, they aren’t very strong and they don’t stay for very long. And I’m widening the circle of other people I can care for, too.
There’s still a lot I’m trying to work on but I wanted to write this to acknowledge to myself that I’ve come a ways in three months. In three more months, who knows? And hopefully, there will be many more after that.
Where there’s a future, there will be change. And we can change ourselves. There’s nothing innate that says some of us can and some of us can’t - though mental illness often requires more than just willpower to make those changes. If you’re at the bottom, you can climb back up. Maybe you’ll slip. I still do. But it does get easier to get going and keep going. After a while, it isn’t such hard work. So if you’re struggling, I hope you hang in there, and don’t be afraid to look for help. There’s a lot of cruelty in the world, but there’s much more kindness than I once believed, too.
(*I feel like it’s important for me to note that part of caring for myself and getting better is medication, along with my own self-help efforts and some therapy. I may not have been able to make such strides without medication, and there’s no shame in that.)
Sketch of my eldest protag, Wings, or Danei Starmarked. I haven’t done any art of her in a long, long time, and I haven’t worked on her story since spring 2012. But one of my biggest goals right now is beginning to write regularly, and she’s been on my mind.
It helps that a previous creative writing professor recently e-mailed me with encouragement to get this girl’s story out there. :p
But even though her story has been floating around in my brain, in various forms, since I was in jr. high, and even though it has evolved so much and got so much good feedback during college, I don’t currently feel a lot of connection with what I had planned for her. Maybe, though, I need to just push through it so I have at least one whole rough draft for a novel, rather than sitting on it until I feel like it resonates with me again. Sometimes that motivation and resonance follows in the wake of action, right?
Got a few ideas rattling around right now, so… we’ll see!
I decided that I want to split this main blog off from a reblog blog (freehand-thoughtballoons) because a) I’m sort of a hypocrite and tend to only follow art and creative blogs that don’t have many reblogs of other content, and b) it will allow me to feel a lot freer to reblog at will, rather than worrying about cluttering up this space - which may turn people off from wanting to follow my art. I’ll still reblog things that have some personal significance and relate directly to my life. But I’ll be reblogging a lot more over at my other blog.
I deleted a bunch of posts from this blog, but I tried to reblog them all over at freehand-thoughtballoons so they don’t ultimately lose a note.
There are now links on my blog page to my art tag, my (empty) writing tag, and my personal/life tag, along with links to reblogs of resources for writers and artists, and an “About Me” page.
Some of my favorite products for keto. And Lily’s Sweets stevia-sweetened dark chocolate - in original, coconut, and almond. I have the almond one and it is di-vine, with fewer carbs than other dark chocolate bars. And it comes segmented in nice, small pieces if you only want a little at a time.
Dreamfield’s is only 5g of digestible carbs per serving (a half cup for the penne) and has 7g protein. It’s a godsend if you love pasta.
Quest Bars have 20g protein and only 5g net carbs. They only have 6g fat, but it’s nice to have them for vegetarian keto because there’s easy fat fillers (butter, cream, coconut oil) - but it’s not as easy to find protein-rich food that doesn’t also have a significant carb count.