Tuesday, April 10, 2007

So far, so good

So far, my "no more bad days" campaign is working well. I've caught myself thinking negatively about things or letting the past creep up on me a couple of times. If I catch it in time, so far, I've been able to nip it.

I am becoming more certain, with time, that I need more to do. Something steady and consistent that I can be proud of. A place to go where I have to wear real clothes and act like a professional. I really feel like I need to go back to work (in a real job.) I think a real job would help my self-esteem a lot and make me feel better about myself altogether. It would also give me less time to dwell on the past, feel sorry for myself, and otherwise let things get to me. Some might say that I should take my current situation and be happy with it. There was a time when I would have thought that having no job to go to and having an abundance of free time, and being able financially to get away with it, would be a great thing. Being in that situation, its not so great. Its boring and lonely and neither is good for my mood in a general sense. There is the hurdle of what to do with the kids if I go back to work (Mic is taken care of for now, but he'll be back home sooner or later). But there are plenty of households in America in which both parents work and they seem to manage.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Micro-managed Mood

I decided to publish Grandma's latest comment, despite it being rudely made, ridiculing of me and my last post, and even less friendly than her usual approach (I can't IMAGINE why your neighbors hate you (if in fact they do...) Her point, when you get past the ridicule and meanness, is well taken. I have fallen into the habit (recently or over a long time, I don't know) of micro-managing my mood, of being too aware of how I'm feeling right now and focusing on the minute swings, of losing the scope of the bigger picture, of taking my "emotional temperature" too often. Once I got finished being pissed off about Grandma's comment, I realized all of this.

So, yesterday, I got out of bed and declared that I'm no longer having "bad days". Yeah, some will be worse than others, and parts of some of them will be worse than other parts. But I'm done taking my temperature too often. I am going to put forth extra effort in what my therapist (I've seen him once, but I like him) refers to as the "spin" I put on things. He suggested that I really focus on living today, not worrying about what I dread about tomorrow until tomorrow gets here, and focus on doing whatever it is I'm doing at the moment and doing so in a positive light. "What good comes from what I'm doing right now?" "What do I have to look forward to today?"

I need more to do. I've tried to come up with an organization for which to volunteer, one about which I really care. But so far nothing has come to me. I suggested a couple and Melissa shot them down, pointing out that they would require a bit of training and that that training might not work for me right now. I'm still considering contacting the District Attorney's Office or the Public Defender's Office and seeing if I can do some office work for one of them. I can handle the training, if any and the justice system, which in my opinion is in need of some serious help, is something I could throw myself into. Short of something like that, I'm considering planting a garden in my bigger than necessary backyard of weeds. We don't really have a "lawn" in the backyard. The front is a nice Bermuda grass lawn (which is, with some professional help, becoming weed free.) In the back, we have an "Arkansas lawn." Its green and, from a distance, looks nice. But up close you can see that its really just mowed weeds. Some of that weed area could easily be converted to a raised garden or flower bed, which would give me plenty of hours of work to do and some outside time (good for the mood.) I'll come up with something.

Monday, April 2, 2007


For many of the days in this last week, my mood has seemed pretty unstable (relative to the week before.) Usually my mood varies from day to day. Days that start good seem to be good, and days that are going to be bad usually don't start out very good to begin with. But that rule doesn't seem to be holding lately. Mood shifts seem to come more quickly and good and bad moods seem to be getting shorter and occurring intra-day instead of on a day-by-day basis. Lately, also, I don't eat when I'm depressed. Nothing sounds good and I don't seem to get hungry. This is a new aspect of my depressed moods. I'm not sure when it started or what caused the change.

Sunday, we had the whole local family over for lunch for my mother-in-law's birthday. The whole gang is comprised of 14 people ranging in age from about 6 months to about 65. I don't know why, but Sundays and these big family get-togethers don't seem to be good for me. Yesterday, I found my mood getting worse as the day went on. I like all of my in-laws, and I'm sure its not the people that push my mood down. Melissa hypothesized that the phenomenon was due to the fact that it isn't with my family that we get together. I don't really have much family that I stay in touch with (there's my dad, and that's about it.) I don't know what the connection between the big family gatherings and my mood is, but its pretty consistent. Sundays are usually hard days for me in general. I think that's because Sunday has always been a hard day for Mic. He's usually bored by Sunday, needing to go back to school or day-treatment, and needing constant attention. But with Mic out of the house, I should be able to relax and enjoy the day. That just doesn't seem to happen. After everyone was gone yesterday, after sitting around and realizing how bad my mood had become, I took Maggie out to the driving range to hit a bucket of golf balls. Getting out and doing something usually helps, and it did yesterday.

Today started out bad, from the minute I got out of bed, was bad for most of the day, and then got better. The swings in my mood seem to be getting shorter, with an "ok" mood at one end of the scope and "really shitty" at the other end. Today, I worked at the liquor store. The whole morning seemed like it lasted forever, and none of it was good. At one point, I hid in the store room and just sat there, staring at the floor. I felt like just sitting there and crying. All of the thoughts that go along with my depression were running through my head (thoughts of everything that I've lost as a result of depression and ECT, worthlessness, having nothing to look forward to, not wanting to fight my way through another day, suicide). I worked very hard at not breaking down and crying, but a couple of tears fell from my eyes anyway. Had I not been at work, I'm sure I would have been much worse. My mind wouldn't leave the idea of dying and who I would be hurting and how I could better prepare things before I go. Depressed mood and suicidal ideation always go hand-in-hand for me now. In the past, I could be depressed and just feel shitty, but not think about ending my life. Not any more. Depression and suicide have a solid link, and one doesn't come without the other. Since about 1:00, however, my mood has improved. I came home and mowed the lawn and worked on a gate to the backyard and started dinner. No explanation for the shift in mood, but I'm glad for it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Take me out to the ballgame...

Since my last post, I have again increased the Risperdal I am taking. I used to be at 2mg, then stepped up to 3mg, and now up to 4mg. I made the last change on Friday. My days have been good ones since the last increase. Even on those days when I can feel depression coming on, I've been able (for the most part) to catch myself, get control of how I wanted my day to go, and have a good day. It takes constant diligence and monitoring, but I can see that, on most days, I can control my mood and at least get through the day.

Sunday, Melissa, Maggie and I went to an Arkansas Razorback college baseball game (we beat the hell out of Vanderbilt, the number 1 team in the country...go Hogs!) That evening, we had my mother-in-law over for dinner (burgers on the grill.) It was a great day all around. Staying busy is one of the best avenues to wellness for me. Getting busy and staying that way is one of the hardest things to do when my mood is low.

That's all for now.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Some highs and some lows

Monday and Tuesday of this week were pretty good. The days were productive and the evenings were not unhappy (calling them "happy" might be pushing it.) Wednesday, all day, I had this feeling that my mood was slipping, but it hadn't yet slipped. Maybe the increased Risperdal is working? I could feel all day that a low in my mood was hanging around in the background, but not coming forth. Odd. Sometimes I can see a dip in my mood coming, buts its usually coming and then arrives. This was different.

Wednesday night at the residential home where Mic is is "Family Dinner Night." Melissa and I went, had dinner with Mic and then stood around in the gym for half an hour with Mic. It wasn't a good outing. I could feel, and Mic was exhibiting, the tension that usually comes from trying really hard to hold things together. I'm sure he's bottling things up the best he can for now around the residential people. We'll see how things go.

Today was a less than "ok" day. This morning my mood seemed to drop from the time I got up until I got Maggie to go swimming with me at the health club. It wasn't a suicidal day. I was just in a horrible mood and nothing felt right. I've never noticed it before, but recently, I don't eat when I'm depressed or getting there. Today I didn't eat until about 3:00, after swimming. I didn't really feel like swimming, but I knew that going a mile or so would help me get through the day. It did. Maybe that feeling yesterday of a bad mood looming in the distance came to fruition today. Who knows?

Sally T's comment to my last post is a good one (and Sally is an endless source of web links and information...thanks Sally.) I have had to become very diligent in writing things down and making lists of things I need to do. I usually use the pad of paper I carry in my back pocket (I call it "The Brain") to jot things down and then I copy them to my primary source of things to remember: Microsoft Outlook. All of my weekly housecleaning chores are in my "Task List", as are all of the projects around the house that I want to get completed and anything else that I want to accomplish. I also have a paper calendar on my desk with all of my appointments in it. I've learned that I need to write appointments down right away, or they get forgotten. I've used Outlook for many years...just not like this until recently. I DO, however, need to find other ways to cope with the memory loss and cognitive deficiencies. I'm just not as sharp as I used to be. I can't do math and solve problems in my head like I used to be able to do. I get frustrated, often, that I have to write all of these things down in order to remember them or figure them out. Getting past that frustration and anger doesn't seem to be coming very quickly. I guess nothing good comes easily. Damn, I wish that it did.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


The last several days have been stable and pretty good days. No real ups or downs. I may be running just a little short of "normal" (there's that undefined word again) on the depression scale, but I'll take that for now.

I've noticed that, when thinking of topics about which to write, I can't remember if I've written about them before. I'm quite sure that I have written about some topics or stories more than once (but going back, at this point, to try to figure that out would be very time-consuming and futile.)

I've never been a fast reader. Great and detailed comprehension, very little speed. Melissa can knock off a book in a weekend, and in a day if its not too long. I didn't read at all, in fact, until depression became part of my life. It was then that many things I used to enjoy brought much less happiness and books seemed to be a good way to escape what was going on in my head. So, for several years before ECT I would park myself at a local coffee joint (usually a Starbucks, since they have slowly chocked everyone else out in most places) and read for about an hour on most days. My reading speed increased slowly until I was reading a book every week or ten days. I've noticed since ECT that my speed has dropped off considerably, as has my comprehension. I find myself having to read the same paragraph more than once because my mind would wander off onto something else while I "read." I sometimes, now, will continue scanning words in a book but have my thoughts somewhere else entirely. I think, as time goes by, instead of getting better, this problem is getting worse. On many days, now, I have a lot of trouble reading. I will invert words in a sentence or letter in a word and have to look closely at the writing in order to get it right.

Melissa swears that my memory is getting worse (sometimes I agree with her, and I know its not getting better.) Likewise, my frustration tolerance isn't getting much better, if any. I feel less confident in myself when it comes to doing little household projects and, when I run into little snags in those projects, that lessened frustration tolerance really comes out. And its little projects like hanging curtain rods. Maybe some of the problem is that I don't want to screw things up in our new house and this is really an anxiety issue. Nonetheless, the less confident I feel the more frustrated I get, and the more frustrated I feel, the less confident I become. Its another ugly cycle that I don't remember occurring before ECT.

Friday, March 16, 2007

No Comments Link

Sally T let me know that there have not been hyperlinks in my posts that led to a page into which you could enter comments. I wondered why I was getting no comments! I think I've fixed that problem.