A pinch of apps, a spoonful of mood tracking

The waters of life have set storms in my direction I haven’t until now experienced the past couple months and I ought to sing how grateful I am that I’ve stayed afloat and haven’t drowned by now, my initial ship is now a bit of a flat raft with a worn bed sheet as a sail, and so if you were to ask how I’m doing I’d say that I’m managing the heat stroke and paddling in the right direction. Managing my functionality is the name of the game.

From the ashes of some of my wrecked ship pieces has come the idea for a website which is currently under construction. I’m tremendously proud that I brought the idea to life and have finished one full page about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Aside from mental health it will also address Lyme Disease which I have over a decade of experience with. I will be having a blog for both topics on the site. Right now, it’s still a baby, but it’s what I’ve been up to (aside from working all the time and an increased rage associated with the companies professionalism).

Breathing and meditation are just not for me. It’s like coffee. Coffee ‘doesn’t work for me’. I can drink an iced coffee with 4 espresso shots and feel only a bit more energized for a short period of time. Breathing is good for grounding but not very soothing to me. Same with meditation. I’d rather talk aloud or hum to hear my voice and inner monologue what it feels like to be driving. I’ve been using an app called “VitalTones” and using their app for decreasing anxiety, I’ve done it daily for a couple weeks and haven’t seen a difference. I’m logging my moods on an app called “Mood Log” and making a note with every entry about what’s happening at the time I’m logging my number mood 1-10 (1 being worst mood 10 the best) and then transferring all the daily data to my journal, averaging mood and anxiety and then graphing it, and will bring to my doctor. Here’s a page from my journal:

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As you can see, I haven’t been feeling too great. As far as anxiety goes, 1 is lowest anxiety, 10 is highest. At the moment I’m writing this I’m about a 6.5. In an ideal world I’d log my mood every 10 minutes, but I don’t have the drive for that on a day off nor do I have the luxury on a work day. That would give the most accurate depiction. I feel like a lot of the time my 7-9 anxiety doesn’t get logged because I’m busy and then my averages look more like a 4 or 5 rather than what is more likely a 6 or 7. Logging my mood has made me feel as if I have more control in managing my functionality. I recommend it. I also recommend the whole breathing and meditation thing, but I also have to say do what works for you. What gets you through the day? The hour? The minute?

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100 Minute Panic Attacks & Other Fine Feelings

For an hour my mind had been processing at over 100 wpm. I say words per minute (wpm) because I know I type on average 100 wpm and I was thinking way faster than I could type everything I wanted to say. In fact it had been one of those wormhole experiences where the electrical signals in my brain were playing tag so fast that only my body was responding at that point. My heart also surpassed the 100 wpm mark which made mindful deep breathing a chore and light-headedness a constant. I was having a full-blown panic attack and screaming quite loudly, internally, of course. The whole house was asleep for the night and I’m far too medicated to freak out like a feral child over my first toaster surprise experience.

So what the hell set me off? I won the lottery! Not the fun never-have-to-work-another-day-in-my-life lottery, but the knowledge lottery. Check this THE HELL OUT! http://psychology.tools/download-therapy-worksheets.html

During my in and out-of-body experience I downloaded/saved/printed 100 or so worksheets and handouts (100 is a popular number tonight). I made extra copies of some of them, so I’d have a few to go off of before I’d need to make more copies for a thought log CBT diary, etc. I want to have one master hard copy of them all in addition to the saved .pdf’s I made. I wanted to cry at how glad I was that people had come together and made these resources and shared them FOR FREE. You know, when I go digging around online for grade school and special ed teaching tool worksheets there are websites that limit the amount of downloads you can have per month and other websites that want you to pay money for worksheets on identifying basic coins or color by numbers. It’s the reality of the internet, which makes finds like this site even more golden. The thing that makes this a “Mega Millions” kind of win is that people put these resources up to aid other counselors, educators, and seekers of self-help, “just because”. That’s what I’m here to do, that’s why I got into the field, and I’m so damn lucky for someone who struggles with bipolar and OCD on a daily basis as well as someone who is studying to help people who need these resources implemented in a therapeutic environment to get better to have access to these materials.

(I may laugh and/or groan tomorrow if I find this all way less exciting than I do now after admitting it to my WordPress community in writing, but let me not get ahead of myself.)

On my journey to build a bigger better therapy binder (for personal use, I need to get back on the structured recovery and maintenance track) I’ll find other sites, other resources and feel really really bad that I blew through so much ink…but I’m trying on a daily basis to fight the good fight, and this is a great achievement even just to collect materials I know I need and will help me, and then to use them. My obsessions are getting a little out of control lately and my catastrophic thinking is becoming more problematic than usual. Believe me, there’ll be lots of highlighting, section dividers and spazzing about how to organize it all in the days ahead. Of course I’ll sneak in the replying to posts and catching up on blogs too, because that is at the top of the priority list after every entry I make!

Day Hospital: Part 1

I finally got into Adult Day Hospital. It’s about 20 adults in the basement of a hospital doing 4 hours of different group therapies and one hour for lunch (unless you’re on half days – which happens when you’ve been there for a while.) The program is about 4 weeks give or take a week or two depending on what your insurance will pop for but if you really need to be there the staff will try to work with the insurance companies to keep you there. It’s my one week one day anniversary today and I’m feeling really positive. All the grieving over Chris I’ve done has NOT come to a halt or been in vein, but rather now I have a place to process my feelings and to help me mourn the loss. My case worker thinks it’s a good idea if I stay away from talking to him until he comes home in which case if I want to reconcile that sounds like an alright idea, but for now, keeping ‘clean’ of a toxic relationship is important. If it’s going to hurt me to talk to him then don’t talk to him.

It hurts, it really does, but it’s good to be in a supportive environment of people who may have different issues than you (some way worse). Brian, for instance, is an older gentleman probably my dads age (late 50’s) who just joined group last week. People trickle in and others trickle out. When they leave we have rock ceremonies for them. I’ll go through one the next time we get to one. Anyway, Brian.

He’s a dad of 1, step-dad of 1 (of whom he’s been in the kids life since he was 8 and he’s 23 now) and husband of (well, 1). He’s been an alcoholic 27 years, married 16, never tried to quit until now. He got thrown into the hospital when his wife wasn’t responding to his calls at work so he texted her pictures of him slitting his wrists in a drunken stooper. He’s never tried to quit alcohol before and now that he’s two and a half weeks sober, two weeks out of the hospital and into Day Hospital for depression, he’s doing really well. Unfortunately, his 23 year old stepson gave his mother an ultimatum that it was Brian coming home or the stepson moving out. Brian is currently living at a halfway house now while he works out his treatment and goes to AA meetings after Day Hospital. He’s starting to look at some of his anger right now in small group psychotherapy (He’s in my group), and today I had a gift for him.

Two years ago when I was there one of the alcoholics was giving up coins that he was going to give in an AA meeting which had a sailboat on one side and the words “We cannot control the wind but we can adjust our sails”. Just some crappy little brass or nickel coin, but a coin that was supposed to symbolize that you’re doing well, and remind yourself of what’s in your control. I took that coin out last night from my keepsake box and brought it this morning for Brian who fiddled with it in his fingers all day, twirling it and occasionally dropping it, you could hear him go “shit!” or “goddamnit!” He called me sweetheart and gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek though so overall I think it was a good investment giving it to him. I’m really sentimental and I lost my rock from my last rock ceremony there, so that was my replacement for it. However, I have a new rock coming up in a few weeks and I’ll just have to accept and mourn the loss of my rock, which is a common theme quite obviously here in my treatment.

Fangs, I mean, Daniel, has also got it worse off than me. I’m not 100% sure why he’s there other than “I’m really fucked up.” But the 37 year old with surgically implanted fangs, hot topic pants as well as black hoodies and tattoos of his bones over his skin (so it looks like the skin is inside out) always has a lot to say. His stories are all over the place. I don’t believe half of them unfortunately but even if they aren’t true, he’s got to have gone through some heavy shit to make him the way he is today even if it really was an abundance of alcohol or drugs. He’s claimed to have had three heart attacks, died twice on the operating table, had a girl die of heroin in his arms, been in jail 15 times, been shot, shot a gun, been in a gang, and move a guy who was dead of an OD out onto the patio from inside the kitchen because he thought he was just “really fucked up”.

Not everyone there was a user. There are NA and AA meetings for that. This is a swimming pool for the emotionally unfit. The people who tried committing suicide from clinical depression or had manic episodes for the first time in their lives at age 61, or whose anxiety is so bad they can’t work anymore and need help learning how to function again.

There’s plenty of stories left to tell, but for now you can chew on Brian and Daniel. I’m just happy that I was able to bring myself to blog again. It felt uncomfortable not having the concentration to be able to string words together for a week, but to be kind to myself, it was a really heavy week.

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ADH-ULCH

I have ADHD. I just need the diagnosis so that I can start functioning properly. I saw a documentary about an adult with ADD and every symptom was spot on with things that have to do with me. For the sake of taking something to my doctor I just filled this out and printed the results:

You Answered:

Part A:

How often do you make careless mistakes when you have to work on a boring or difficult project?
Often

How often do you have difficulty keeping your attention when you are doing boring or repetitive work?
Often

How often do you have difficulty concentrating on what people say to you, even when they are speaking to you directly?
Very Often

How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?
Sometimes

How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?
Sometimes

When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?
Often

How often do you misplace things or have difficulty finding things at home or at work?
Very Often

How often are you distracted by activity or noise around you?
Very Often

How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?
Very Often

Part B:

How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit down for a long time?
Often

How often do you leave your seat in meetings or other situations in which you are expected to remain seated?
Rarely

How often do you feel restless or fidgety?
Often

How often do you have difficulty unwinding and relaxing when you have time to yourself
Very Often

How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?
Often

How often do you find yourself talking too much when you are in social situations.
:Very Often

When you’re in a conversation, how often do you find yourself finishing the sentences of the people you are talking to, before they can finish them themselves?
Often

How often do you have difficulty waiting your turn in situations when turn taking is required?
Often

How often do you interrupt others when they are busy?
Often

PART A SCORE: 7

PART B SCORE: 8

If you have a score of 6 or more in one or both Parts (A and B), then your symptoms are highly suggestive for the diagnosis of ADHD and further evaluation is warranted. This score does not confirm a diagnosis of ADHD, which requires an evaluation to see if there is an alternative explanation or cause.

Additional Information

This is a screening examination for adult ADD. It is not a diagnostic test.

This is an 18-question symptom checklist adapted from the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-v1.1), developed in conjunction with the World Health Organization and the Workgroup on Adult ADHD.

Half in the Bag

My emotions are half in the bag. I’ve been doing things WAY out of the ordinary which is both good (I think) and concerning (maybe mania). For instance, I visited Lisa at work and had dinner by myself. I managed to appreciate the fact that everyone at the bar was there by themselves having dinner or something like it BY THEMSELVES. That freaks me out in theory. And there I went and did it. She asked me if I could do her a favor and again as much as I would have done it regardless of my horrific anxiety, I went out confidently and looked at 2 stores to find a little girls Bears jersey for her daughter. Completely out of my element, and not myself tonight. Brittnay is coming up with all of these opportunities to hang out too and though I’m super glad she finds me a cool enough person to do all this stuff with her I’m utterly terrified, but going with the flow. Then there is the utter bone rattling fear that my friends I haven’t heard from for a little or don’t talk to on the daily aren’t interested in me anymore, or are upset with me about something or other. Then there’s the other side of that which is family, where I fear I’ll never reach out to them the way I want to. There’s the depressed end of my mixed episode.

I didn’t work at all this week. Either I was sick or boss asked me not to come in, but I didn’t come in at all and therefore made no money. Sunny owes me money for tutoring his kids, but that’ll barely help pay the bills for the month. As much as it’s in the back of my mind, it’s not eating away like acid through my stomach where my anxiety pitches its tent, and that’s another reason I’m worried. Manic symptoms include an irritable mood which I’ve been in for over a week (which has also been an elevated mood I’ve been in, it switches, I have mixed episodes to boot making it more complicated), Grandiose thinking (check), rapid talking (well I’m more talkative than usual), racing thoughts (number one concerning manic symptom I have right now) easily distracted (CHECK MATE, I couldn’t even focus in one of my classes so badly that I felt like the #1 worst student ever last friday), and risky behavior (which would do with my mismanaging of funds). So actually, I’m pretty sure I’m having a mild manic episode right now. Nothing dangerous has happened and nothing harmful, just a batch of highly toxic mental muffins being prepared. I might as well print this out and read it to my doctor tomorrow. Maybe we need to up my dose of Lamictal.

I’m REALLY looking forward to the doctor tomorrow. I wish my racing thoughts weren’t so problematic right now so I could work on Christmas cards and studying.