Stress, Anxiety and Cognition.

I had been working as a nurse for about 4 years before I changed jobs and landed in an office nursing job. I was working odd shifts and the regular schedule of an office was something I was looking for.  I was looking for something less fast paced because of my anxiety. I worked for an MD who was really great. Some of my duties included rooming patients, vital signs, some medical history info, med info and the like.  I’m sure you’ve ran into one of me at one of your doctor appointments. I called in prescriptions and worked on insurance things.

Since this was a totally different type of nursing job I was learning new things. I had difficulty remembering what I was supposed to ask my patients.  In between their answer and inputting their responses I’d forget and have to ask again. I might forget how tall they were so I’d have to remeasure. I might forget to have them change into a gown. Sometimes I’d forget which room they were in. Medication calculations….and I was never sure of myself, ever. I couldn’t memorize anything.  If I were being given new instructions or shown a new job to do I would blank out and find myself starring out at the person thinking of something else. I’d ask to have it repeated and pretend to understand or know what I was supposed to do.

Because I was a good employee, kind, caring, willing to work I was given passes. But it never went away. I passed this all off to A.D.D and even got treatment for it which possibly made my anxiety worse.  Who knows. I was finally diagnosed with Lyme and it has made me wonder if the Lymes got into my brain…:sigh:

I ended up quitting my job after 5+ years in a manic, paranoid period. I was sure that everyone was against me. As my depression worsened I was sure that something was seriously wrong with me and decided between the plethora of health issues like migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibro, lyme and anxiety that I was going to try and get myself better.  I knew working was causing my body so much stress it was taking a tole. Stress was the single biggest factor in my migraines which was as bad as they could get. I’d be getting migraines 6 days a week.

I filed for SS disaility about 6 months after I left my job.  Social security did not accept my new pyche APRN since she wasn’t a MD so they sent me to a psychologist.  At this point I knew that I had bipolar. I learned about the cognition problems that can occur with extreme anxiety or depression. I know I have both of those.

She informed that she wouldn’t be able to tell me if I was approved or not for SS disability.  That was her first statement. I was surprised she was so reserved and seemed very judgmental as she went over my meds with me.

Her first question was “why do you feel like you cannot work any longer”.  For some reason I never expected that question so I hadn’t prepared an answer at all. I tried to explain in my stupid dumb way that I wasn’t able to function at work and I was overwhelmed and incredibly depressed. I tried to explain how I’d forget which rooms the patients were in or tell the doctor the wrong room AGAIN. I told her how I’d forget words or situations.  She observed the same when I would tell her I couldn’t remember.

The exam continued on and she learned of my manic episodes. I tried to make sure she understood the extremes of it and I was embarrassed.  Finally, she was the first person I explained ALL of my mania to. She asked about therapy and why didn’t I do it. Why didn’t my psyche nurse or GP recommend therapy.  I explained how embarrassing this was and I didn’t have it in me to do.  Then….I remembered I went to therapy.  She noddded. I said (again!) I forgot but I did go to therapy (briefly) years ago when the manic symptoms began but I didn’t continue and didn’t realize at the time that I had bipolar disorder.

When we got to the memory/cognition part of the exam at the end I was nervous.  She asked me to count backwards by 7’s from 100.  I know so many people who say they couldn’t do it either.  I had tears streaming down my face and I wouldn’t look at her, closing my eyes and counting on my fingers.  When I knew I was wrong I looked at her and said, please….and she said no….two more numbers and I’d have to try and go back counting and it was a mess.

At the end of the exam I apologized to her for my tears and she assured me that she gets that all the time. I mentioned something else and told her I couldn’t remember the word I was looking for…..and she point blank asked me if I have trouble like that often. DUH.

I never had to go to my scheduled MD visit for my migraines because I was approved with a mood disorder alone. I found out fairly quickly and since I had been out of work I was awarded back pay to the time I quit my job unexpectedly. I think it was all due to my lack of or decrease in my cognition.

These days I’m not working and it’s really no better.  I talk without thinking sometimes (I think that’s what I do!).  The other day I was at my friends house admiring her new puppy.  Her chickens were out and they started to follow the puppy…….I said look! The kittens are following him!  I mean CHICKENS.  I switch words like cold for hot.  I don’t know if this is dyslexia or what it is. But I’ve done it since I started that job.

Of course this all makes me nervous thinking about dementia and Alzheimer disease. Or Parkinson’s.  Or anything I read about with memory issues. I do believe that Alzheimer’s is more of forgetting HOW to do stuff.  How to drive or what a fork is for.

At least that’s what I tell myself.  I’m just tryin not to add to the stress. 🙂

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Official Diagnosis

I’ve never asked my pdoc what my diagnosis is.  Or make that diagnosis’s.  I know I have anxiety, depression, bipolar something.  But I didn’t want to ask him and he never came out with it. I didn’t want to seem like one of those people who gets wrapped up in a diagnosis.

After I went to my disability assessment and was granted disability I was brave enough to ask the nice woman who sat behind the counter.  “Would you possibly be able to tell me my diagnosis?”  She said simply affected mood disorder…and there might be a few other things.

I’ve tried to diagnosis myself. Obviously! Don’t we all. I’ve read lots of medical jargon about mental health. Nevermind I can’t read a passage in a book without having to reread it several times and then I forget.  Nevermind I can’t concentrate on anything. But I’m reading scholarly articles.

psyche7Then I started to watch lectures on youtube.  So much better for me as I can concentrate better on a speaker. Have you guys listened to Dr. Robert Sapolsky?  Standford I believe.  Lovely hippie, reminds me of Jerry Garcia. He can give a good lecture and keep me entertained. His depression lecture was really good. It’s amazing there is access to stuff like this! I think I have a little crush on him. 🙂 According to Wikipedia he’s an author and professor of neurology and neurological sciences and neurosurgery, at Stanford University.  He also studies baboons in Kenya. There are a bunch of his lectures on youtube.

I wasn’t sure if I was bipolar 1 or 2.  Before I went to my pdoc, my GP agreed that it seemed like I was probably bipolar.  She knew the back story of my manic behavior, abruptly quitting my job then combined with my depression it was pretty obvious.  I was impulsive, destructive, angry. I was acting out in ways that I’m not proud of.  I hurt my marriage. I was desperate to fix things and figure out why I was so messed up but I couldn’t do it myself.

We went on vacation before I left my job for good. I was SO paranoid. I was texting my 2 friends from work, desperate to know if my bosses were talking about me.  I was sure I was going to lose my job (highly intuitive!) I took my dog on long walks in the woods where i bawled and prayed out loud asking God to please help me. Also note Dr. Saplosky has a lecture on spiritually and mental health which I need to rewatch. They can be intertwined.

Originally I thought Bipolar 1 because I really think my mania was over the top.  After reading about hypomania it seemed much more severe and all encompassing.  I felt out of control and I didn’t know how to stop myself from being so destructive. But the destructive stuff felt good.

After I first met with my doc, he told me I did have bipolar…probably 2 with more depression. I can see where he was going with it. I was the most depressed I had ever been when I first met him. I cried through our first visits.  I was so tearful, sad. I was not in my right mind.

psyche4I was afraid of sleeping. I was afraid of ghosts.  My dog was retching one night and I was afraid a spirit got into him (SMH) and was so panicked.  I woke my husband. I was sure several weird happenings were due to ghosts. I’d have to have lights on to sleep. Looking back now it seemed as though I was crazy.  I asked him if this was psychosis and he said yes.  Definitely unusual thoughts.

Since I’ve been on my mood stabilizers and whatnots and seeing my pdoc I’ve not experienced manic episodes like before.  But now I’m stuck in the depressive side of things. I think I may have had a few hypomanic times since.  I wonder if I’m rapid cycling (Dr. Migraine reporting for duty.)

Recently I asked him what my official diagnosis was….Bipolar 2 or 1.  Biplolar 1 for sure, classic mania he said.  I said Bipolar 1 and added with psychosis?  The nurse in me was pretty sure I was experiencing psychosis when I was in the midst of this past depressive episode.  He explained that yes, that was my diagnosis.

psyche2It’s good for me to know.  I need to educate myself on my disorder.  I need to know that it’s very serious. I can try and educate my family who all know I do have bipolar disorder though it’s not like we speak of it all the time.  I want my husband to be able to read about it and TRY to explain to my mom why I am the way I am. She doesn’t get it, doesn’t get the extent or seriousness of it.  She doesn’t get how sometimes I am not able to function. She believes it but just thinks I’m moody, depressed at times. A pill can fix it. Or counseling!  That will do it!!!!!

bipolar medication nervine vintage ads

Today I’m doing ok.  We’re tweaking my meds and I’m finding some relief. I know that I might go up and I might go down some but I’ll make it through. My pdoc is amazing.  He’s willing to go out of the box.  He trusts me and listens and he doesn’t brush things off.  I really am blessed to find him. I don’t have a therapist and while I know he isn’t the same, he does offer counsel to me.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Little Bit Crunchy…

It’s no big mystery that I’m a lil bit on the crunchy side.  I’ll be upfront with that. Natural is best.  Breast feeder, co-sleeper, gardener, thrifter, birks wearing lady. So know you know now 🙂

I LOVE essential oils.  I just love them.  I’ve used them on and off for 20 years, long before they were readily available and quite mainstream.  I really love them in my diffuser scenting my home with natural oils known for their mood enhancing properties. I love to make blends for perfume, bug spray, car air freshners! Best idea…take a close pin and saturate the wood area where you will then clip onto one of your air vents.  Pure heaven for me anyway. I frequently use a calming blend when driving and I love to get back into my car with that scent there.

rescue

 

I use lavender or a calming blend on my pooch when he’s anxious, barking crazy at our neighbor and when I put his thunder shirt on. It does calm him.  Also, there is an amazing product out there for people and pets called Rescue remedy.  I highly recommend it. It comes in a small spray bottle or drops but I like the spray since you can easily spray it in their mouth.  It has a slight taste which doesn’t bother my dogs and seem eager to get some 🙂

My oldest is a dear child.  He comes home from work and often sits with me to chat.  Early 20’s, he has a new girlfriend whom he is nuts over.  Apparently she had some essential oils laying around and said son had some anxiety and worked nicely.  He wondered if it was just the placebo effect but maybe it actually did work!!

I said, SON, how long have I been using essential oils and praising them? He laughed and reminded me he does use tea-tree oil on my recommendation.  It was just so funny that now he might be a believer in the virtues of the oils after his girl friend made him try it. I asked him if he wanted me to pick some more up for him tomorrow. To my chagrin he said yes, definitely.

I hopped over to my local health food store and just picked up three.  I love the single oils but the blends have such a nice scent and are so well rounded.  They are also blended for things like anxiety, focus, sensual, relaxation, purification, pain.

c700x420The 2 brands I use most and have easy access to are Aura Casia and NOW brand. My blends were 12.00 but I know you can get them cheaper online. In the store you can smell the samples to ensure you actually like what you’re buying. GNC carries lots of the NOW brand oils as well but I love our little, local store.  Smells so good in there!

You also want to be sure you’re using pure essential oils by reputable brands. I don’t take the oils internally because there is controversy over the harming properties is you’re not using 100% pure oils.  I’d rather be safe than sorry. You can find lots of info online researching the best and safest brands.

There are some oils that I don’t care for like roman chamomille and rose otto. I got both of these oils for specific conditions. The rose otta is supposed to be the best oil for migraines but it made my stomach sick. Patchouli is hit or miss with many people. Everyone likes citrus and lavender!

My faves are lavender, peppermint, frankensense, orange, ylang ylang, cederwood and sandlewood.  I love patouli when I feel like a hippie, lavender and peppermint ALWAYS for a migraine.

If you haven’t given essential oils a try, please do.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised like my husband when I made a frankensence blend and use it totally helped the unrelenting back pain he was suffering from.

Ever since then he’s a believer!

essential-oils-003

 

 

Less Crazy But Fat

fatpills

When your pdoc suggests starting one of the newer anti-psychotic meds used to treat your mental health disorder, you are leery but go along with her because you feel like utter shit. You don’t ask about weight gain because you already know.

The first psyche med caused me major weight gain. I must have gained 20+ pounds in a week or two.  Now I’m up in my weight after years of thinking I had it under control.  What I think might have been happening before was that my anxiety and mania kept my weight in check.  I lost weight very easily.  I could eat what I wanted but a lot of the time I wasn’t hungry but I was running around at work too.  I took it as a happy benefit though didn’t realize it was probably mania at the time. We were looking through pictures of years past and I came upon a picture of a time where I know for sure I was manic and I was really thin. I read that some people can tell if someone is manic from their eyes.  In that picture I looked manic. My eyes look larger and a lil bit crazy maybe. Or maybe it’s just that I remember back to that time and know I was acting out impulsively and I was definitely not acting like myself.

This new med she has me on is supposed to be weight neutral but it makes me really hungry all day long.  Plus…munchies, you know. I need to stop snacking.  I need to just suck it up and learn to eat wisely again.  This is my public declaration 😉  Maybe it’ll help me stay true.

 

 

On Medications, Gardening and Life Lately

Aaah, I’m really starting to feel my depression lift.  I’m so thankful.  Recently we increased two of my medications and I can tell it’s working.  He’s being cautious slowly increasing and monitoring my mood as to not go manic. My anxiety is slowly creeping down as it never has before. I’ve also never been on this high of a dose of my antidepressant ever.  NO WONDER IT DIDN’T WORK.   I didn’t give him enough credit in the beginning. I wasn’t so sure the route he was taking was going to work.  And it didn’t really. But now with the change things seem better.  I didn’t think he’d go slightly alternative with my meds but I’m truly blessed I found him.

I still have little interest in my past hobbies.  I’ve been forcing myself out of the house.  I go weekly to my mum’s for the paper crafting senior group she has in her ginormous craft room. It makes me smile that I’m crafting with some retired ladies but are so nice and have been so welcoming! I know my mum enjoys it when I go and so that is a doubly good thing. My attention span is not like it used to be so I spend several hours and return home. Sometimes I go to my local thrift store. I do enjoy that and I used to love going. Nowadays I’ve just strolled around not looking for anything specific but just seeing what’s there and trying to enjoy myself out of my house.

I really think the weather has helped me too.  Being out in the sunny weather, if only for short periods of time seems to make me feel better. I will have to stay alert for signs of reoccurring depression once the cold weather starts up again.  I didn’t realize it affected me.

I’ve been spending time in my garden, sometimes weeding a little.  Often deadheading the spent blooms. I’ve planted a few new lavender plants and a few others I’ve got on sale at Lowes. Love lavender. I have some lilies to plant (also sale!) which will wait til the husb works outside with me. I feel like I should be doing more.

Self care…not great.  Weekly showers-check, sleeping in my clothes-check, wearing said clothing more than a day-check. I know I’ve got a way to go but I’m feeling like me and better than I have in so long.

 

Are You Comfortable With Your Doctors?

My two main docs are my pdoc and my GP who treats my myriad of other afflictions I have. I stopped seeing my neurologist because nothing was helping. He was helpful for ruling out MS as a diagnosis, got my MRI’s all authroized quickly.  My GP says the specialists always are that way.  (I don’t think that’s always the case).

I like my GP because she asks for my opinion and input. I’ve felt comfortable asking her about personal questions, anxiety meds, increasing a dose, can we tests for _______.  I’ve convinced her to try a couple of non-conventional treatments for my migraines after I had read about them. She’s not a total pushover though.  She wasn’t totally for applying for disability. She told me I wouldn’t have anything to do after, like a place to go to every day and I might end up feeling worse.

Pdoc seems to know her stuff.  She was more in favor of applying for disability. A couple of times I’ve mentioned a different treatment and she hasn’t been open to it. I don’t push it either because I know she knows a hell of a lot more than my doctor google degree. She doesn’t like to do big changes with meds…one change at a time kind of rule.

Since then I’ve been on disability for two years? I’ve had  a few periods of  “meh” and a couple of “ok’s”.  I had no idea it would take so long to treat bipolar disorder and I know I’m still not fixed yet.

23 Things I Planned On Telling You

  1. I saw this idea on someone else’s blog and stole it.
  2. I’ve had Lyme Disease.  It took a long time to diagnose. Now I’m left with pain and other issues.  But is it fibromyalgia? Or Chronic Lyme.  Who the hell knows.
  3. I thought I had MS for a long time. I felt ignored by my previous doctor. I know it’s nothing new. I was tripping and falling, numbness plus other MS like symptoms.
  4. I used to follow a few bands live.  That was when I was up/happy. I like the hippie genre mostly. Folk, bluegrass, Americana and classic.
  5. Sometimes music makes me sad and I don’t listen.  Often it’s connected to a bad memory of me being manic and overly excitable.  Instead I avoid it and listen to music without the bad feelings.
  6. I have a mail phobia.  I’m afraid to open my mail for fear of hospital bill collectors, random other things that give me anxiety.  So I avoid it.  It has caused problems over the years.  I need to work on that. Taxes…
  7. It doesn’t help that I am not the most organized person with some things.  Like bills and everything else 😉
  8. Steering in the opposite direction of my parents, I have always been a little messy.
  9. I have always thought creative people were messy.  I care more about the art than the clean up. I’d rather create something than cook or clean.
  10. Lately I’ve been really trying to overcome this.  I have several strategies.
  11. I make my bed every morning now.  It’s practically a habit.
  12. Messy bed, messy head.
  13. My husband is a work-a-holic.  He works 7 days a week and loves what he does.
  14. I’m happy he loves what he does but so much could be done at home with him here. So many home improvement projects and quality time together.
  15. He’s an amazing provider though, a husband and father. He has supported me through good and bad times.
  16. I am incredibly overwhelmed all the time. It makes me want to hide.
  17. I have isolated myself in the past and still away from friends and family.
  18. Retreating to my room is my “thing”.  I try much more to not do this.
  19. Most days I pass the day puttering around, looking at the internet on occasion, doing some laundry. I try to interest myself in TV to pass time too.  I don’t find much I like to watch.
  20. I wish I had the stamina and drive my sister has.  She tackles home improvement projects like a pro.  She works full time plus, takes care of everything at home.  She’s basically happy like that even her husband doesn’t contribute. I want energy like she has.
  21. I have only 2 very close friends plus my sister. I’d rather have a few close friends rather than a group.
  22. I get so anxious if it’s a group type thing I usually avoid it.
  23. I always think people are staring at me.  Maybe it’s paranoia?

Am I Really Anonymous?

When I started this blog I knew I wouldn’t be advertising it to friends and family or on social media.  I casually mentioned to my husband and BF I was writing a migraine blog. Husband was “uhhuh, that’s nice dear.” 🙂

As I began writing it became clear that I was not going to be able to not write about my mental illness. It’s one thing for an acquaintance to come across my blog on migraines but I feel completely different about my mental health.  Although I’m keeping it private, nothing is on the internet so I’m closely guarding myself. I don’t want to feel over exposed.

I love and admire the honesty I’ve read on the blogs I’ve been following. I underestimated how it would be to be able to connect with others going through the same things as me.

There are millions of blogs out there, right?  Occasionally I worry that my doctor would come across this. What do you guys think?  Has anyone ever found your blog?  Am I being paranoid?  It’s pretty possible 😉

 

 

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