I’ve been quiet lately. Out of commission. Taking it easy.
This holiday season brings tough firsts. First Thanksgiving since my father died in April. First Christmas coming up. My sister and I plan to remember him and observe our family Christmas traditions. We need each other. We miss our dad.
Seasonal affective disorder hit hard, too. As the days got shorter, I cocooned, became seasonally and situationally depressed. Seasonal depression, bipolar disorder and now my grief overwhelm me at times.
Taking care of myself….mostly. Seeing my psychiatrist and psychologist. Going to a grief support group at Jewish Federation & Family Services. Reaching out and asking for help, for support, when I need it.
SO IMPORTANT that you ask for and accept help. My insight into my need for help, reaching out for it and accepting it, has KEPT ME ALIVE.
When I was 18 years old and suicidal, realizing I needed help, asking for it and accepting it made all the difference.
Spring triggers hypomania and agitation in me. As many of my readers already know, one spring over twenty years ago, tricyclic antidepressant misuse, seasonal affective disorder, and underlying undiagnosed bipolar disorder resulted in a week-long manic psychotic break.
Today, I am inspired by bpnurse‘s post about her SSDI physical to update you on my recent SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) eligibility review. When I went in for my recent SSDI review interview, it benefited me that I was hypomanic and agitated since spring was approaching and I had not yet seen my psychiatrist to adjust my medications.
Just one look at the form they had me fill out was enough to know that my mind was all over the place. I had multiple arrows leading to notes in the margins of the form to give more detailed answers to the form’s supposedly simple questions. I was unable to contain myself to the form. Similarly, when answering the psychiatrist’s questions, I was all over the place with my answers. She had to stop me several times to get me to focus, to contain me. Succinct, I was NOT. Anyway… at the end of the interview, the very nice psychiatrist told me I gave her WAY MORE than she needed, but within all that I said, she got what she needed. She asked me how I would describe myself at the time, and I answered “agitated.” She nodded her head. Yep, I was agitated.
The review determined that I am still eligible for benefits. Yay! Don’t have to go out and start cycling (as in mood cycling, not bicycling) as I look for work.
The week following the SSDI interview, I saw my psychiatrist to reduce my dose of SSRI antidepressant (of which I already took a very low dose). We planned on weaning me from it completely, but in doing so, I started to become depressed, so we kept it at half my previous dose.
As spring has approached and the days have lengthened, I have had mild symptoms of hypomania, including insomnia, which I addressed with my psychiatrist by reducing my SSRI dose. We left my dosage of divalproex (Depakote) the same. Initially, we tried halving my dose of the SSRIescitalopram (Lexapro) to 2.5 mg for six days, with the intent of removing the SSRI altogether. But I found myself unable to stay awake during the daytime, so I remain on 2.5 mg.
To me, spring is a cacophony of noises accompanying the frenzy of renewed life. The days are longer. The birds build nests and make it known loudly and clearly with their calls that they are mating and starting anew. All that springtime bursting and bustling of new life, is stimulating, and for me, overstimulating.
This time of year can be difficult for those of us with mood disorders. The recent time change made what the clock says is the late afternoon now the dark of night. My dogs know it is the night-time. They are not fooled by our clocks. Seasonal affective disorder now kicks in. Our bodies are affected by fewer hours of sun, overcast skies, and colder temperatures. As the outside temperatures cool, we just want to cocoon and crawl back under the covers. Granted, it is not so cool here in southern California, but even going from the 90’s to the 60’s has a significant effect on mood. Dyane Harwood describes how the time change and Fall season affects her in her latest blog post. Read on.
This past week I’ve gotten off to such a slooooow start in the mornings. If it wasn’t for the roaring LifeFlight rescue helicopter I heard at 5:00 a.m. (we live across the street from its landing field) I wouldn’t be up right now.
The time change threw me off, which I expected, but I still hoped it wouldn’t affect me to the extent that it did. Despite using my cheery Sunbox light as soon as I get up, I resemble a cast member from the film “Dawn of the Dead”. I kind of look like this fellow, but with long brown hair.
It ain’t a pretty sight!
I suspect another culprit for my sluggification is the change of seasons. I’m simply not a cold-weather gal; I was born and bred in balmy, 70 degree Los Angeles for heaven’s sake. Although I still live in California, it gets…