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Caution

Caution is my word for today. I am a nervous wreck a lot of the time and would say I am cautious approaching new things. Being careful has it’s upsides but there are times I miss out due to my fears.

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B is for Belonging

I struggle with feeling like I belong anywhere. My favorite times have been when I felt included in a group and not ignored. At work, often I am not included in potlucks or parties. Maybe it is because I work part time and people don’t know me well.  I don’t mind.

I do wish I had just one person to be friends with. Everyone is friendly to me but I have no one to talk with.

 

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Alphabet game

I love this idea by Janet “endless rivers” https://endless-rivers.com/2019/08/26/the-alphabet-game/

I have not written anything lately and this may help me get back to it.

I will be going through the alphabet, starting with A, writing about things I like or experience. Feel free to join in but please credit endless rivers for the idea.

Ambivalence this is a feeling I am constantly getting caught up in. Should I, or shouldn’t I? My most recent was/is with alcohol. Do I want to abstain or try moderation? I have really cut back, but right now am focused on harm reduction and not drinking excessively or when I will be driving.

That is it for now. Stay tuned for more of the game

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alcoholism hams SMART Uncategorized

Ambivalence about alcohol and HAMS

I am in a stage of ambivalence about drinking. I don’t know if I want to be 100% sober, but I don’t want to have the negatives from alcohol.

I did a cost benefit analysis, but still am unsure.

Health-wise, mental stability-wise, employment-wise I should at least only drink in moderation.

The main things I enjoy about alcohol: the way I feel, not as inhibited, something to do when bored and reduces my anxiety.

The things I don’t like are: getting sick, hangovers, health effects (mental and physical)

I went to a SMART Recovery meeting not long ago. If you don’t know what that is, it is on-line and in- person support for problem drinking. It is different from AA in many ways, but it is a sobriety program. At the end of the meeting I picked up brochures. One was on another support organization called HAMS. (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation support.)

There are very few online HAMS meetings, but they have a website with information and a forum. Members call themselves HAMSters. They don’t have steps but they have elements. They are suggestions on how to proceed but you don’t need to do them in order or do all. The first element was to make a cost benefit, pros/cons of using and pros/cons of not using. I have done them before, but did it again. I carry it around with me in case I forget why I want to drink less (or not at all).

The next element is to make a plan. Mine keeps evolving. I don’t drink and drive, which I want to continue. This was not an issue in the past, but I went to some meetup group meetings that included alcohol. So, if I go to those, I need to get a ride or stay sober. I know I want to reduce the amount I drink to a level where I won’t get a hangover. I was drinking a glass that held about 3 shots, which I have reduced to 2 and stick with one glass.

I can find things to do, other than drinking when bored, but I have to find a better way to deal with strong emotions. People around me have a bad day and get irritable. Then I react by becoming an anxious mess and drink to deal with the feeling. Or, I go to one of those meetups and get so nervous. Or, I had a long day and want to unwind.

So, here I am trying to decide what I want to do.

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Mingling with the “Normies”

I have few friends. This is not new.  My side of the wedding party was all relatives, whereas my husband had mostly friends.  I have trouble making and keeping friends.  I am pretty high-strung ( anxious) and don’t talk much. And, then I flake because I get stressed or symptomatic and no one understands that.

So, the few friends I have are from working/volunteering/meetings having to do with mental health issues.

I decided to branch out and meet new people.  I checked out meetup.  I looked at hiking groups, but honestly I am not in shape and dog meetups, but my dog is unpredictable and nervous.  I finally found one that sounded about my speed.  It is mothers with grown children. Mine are 21 and 18 and although my youngest is home, he does not need me as much. They meet for walks, lunches, that sort of thing.

The first one I went to was a happy hour.  I could have drank water or coffee, but I had a margarita.  That was the only way I would get through this. (I have no idea where I am going with sobriety, I did not realize how much alcohol can be a part of social events). I met this huge group of women.  We were sitting around the table and I was just listening and someone asked my hobbies.  I can usually get away with the few things I do.  I spend time with my family, play with my dog, surf the internet.  Apparently, that was not good enough, and they wanted me to come up with a bucket list.  Eventually, it was time to leave. Thank goodness!

I recently went to a second event.  A paint and sip.  It was fine at first.  We were talking as a big group.  Then people broke off into smaller groups.  I noticed I was not part of any group.  I tried to join in and then walked off and did my own thing.  Then it was time to paint.  The people around me said they draw stick figures so I thought I was in good company.  Everyone came away with a good looking painting except me.  My family was kind.  It is hard to get an idea without the sample but this is my finished work.

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I am signed up for another group next month, a walk and lunch. I figure one a month is enough.

It is so much easier talking to people with a mental health condition.  They get it. I don’t have to hide anything.  I don’t feel judged for not having an interesting hobby.

so, I am mingling with “normies” but very appreciative of my friends.

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bipolar life lessons Recovery schizoaffective schizophrenia Uncategorized

A Doodle of How I Feel

I am not good at drawing, but I doodled a picture of how I feel.  It is me with my hands on my ears with thoughts racing a million miles a minute. Yelling Stop in my head.

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But, to the world around me, I seem fine.

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DBT life lessons mental illness psychosis Recovery schizophrenia stigma Uncategorized

How to Talk to a Person: my response to how to talk to people with X disorder

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You have seen the articles. How to talk to a schizophrenic or how to deal with someone with borderline personality disorder as examples.

I am not saying they do not have useful observations. After all, these are published by practitioners with much experience. Having contracts in a therapy relationship and firm boundaries is normal. Controlling your partner is not.

I just read such an article by Nancy Carbone, a couples therapist in Australia. It is a year old and I don’t mean to point a finger at her, it is just an example. I don’t happen to have a BPD diagnosis. I do not like articles on how to deal with other types of people, clumping us all together.

The first thing you should do, if you want to communicate with people is learn active listening and other communication skills. Maybe, if you pay attention to what you may consider nonsense, you will see there is more there.

If the articles on schizophrenia were about actually trying to communicate, like writing the key points down if the person is distracted by voices, I would not dislike these articles so much. That is not what these are about, though. It is “tough love” or I know what is better for you. It is about dealing with someone who is flawed and somehow that makes you superior.

I welcome comments. Sometimes I have knee jerk reactions and if I am off-base I want to know.

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Autoimmune Brain Encephalitis mental illness schizophrenia Uncategorized

Brain on Fire : a review

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I just finished watching a movie on Netflix called Brain on Fire. I am going to post spoilers so if you have not watched it, go, get the book if you can’t get the movie. Don’t forget to come back.

I have trouble watching shows. If they don’t hold my attention, I do something else. This was one I watched all the way through.

It is a true story of a young woman who gets ill and no one knows the cause. All the tests are normal. The Drs suggest that she is working and partying too hard. Later they come up with bipolar and schizophrenia. She has seizures, acts manic, gets catatonic. It is a mystery.

A specialist is brought in. He has her draw a clock and she only daws numbers on one side. Then he knows there is something wrong with one side of her brain. They do a biopsy of her brain, which they made it look like a simple procedure.

The results come back and she is diagnosed finally. It is an autoimmune encephalitis. And, there is treatment. She had to relearn how to walk and talk, like she had a stroke. At the end Susannah ponders how many people have been mis diagnosed with a mental illness.

Then, right after I finished the movie, my friend posted an article from bp magazine about autoimmune encephalitis.

Bphope.com

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Calories Fitbit mental illness Myfitnesspal Uncategorized Weight gain Weight loss Zyprexa

Weight: you gain some, you lose some

 

weight gain and psych meds seem to go hand in hand.  I gained 25 lbs when I started depakote.  I did an Atkins diet and lost the weight but I did not find that sustainable for me.  Zyprexa, I gained 5 lbs typing the  name, works really well at controlling mania for me, but I got fat and I did not care. Until someone asked, seriously, when was I due.

at my highest I was 198 lbs.  i tried calorie counting with my fitness pal.  It is a huge database of foods and their nutritional value. You type in what you ate and it calculates calories and nutrients,  you enter info about yourself and how much you want to lose and it tells you how many calories to eat.  There is a forum community that you can ask questions.  I lost 15 lbs, but stopped.

now, i am back. It adds the calories i burn from my fitbit steps, so i don’t feel too deprived.  I am basically eating the same foods, just smaller portions.  The badge above counts from when i started at 198 lbs.

I am not sure why the meds cause weight gain. I know I get hungry and really tired. I don’t know if they affect metabolism, too.

i have sleep apnea. I wear a specially made mouthguard and a belt that keeps me sleeping on my side. Not terrible fashionable, but I can sleep better. When I did not have it I was always tired. Now, i am able to work a few hours and walk my dog.

Weight loss is not easy, especially on these medications. I went from obese to overweight. My goal is a normal bmi.

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Coping skills DBT mental illness psychosis Recovery relapse schizoaffective schizophrenia support groups Uncategorized

Mental Health Conference

i went to a conference today. There were 32 workshops..

the first i went to was on Borderline Personality Disorder. It was very informative and i learned a lot.  The next was on support groups, that was good. There were a number of organizations represented.

the last one i went to was “ask the doctors” on schizophrenia. It was an open forum for people to comment, and ask questions. There were suggested questions on the screen.

one of the questions was, “what has worked for you?”  I would have loved to hear the answers to that one.

one thing that worked for me, was talking to people with similar experiences, either on-line or in person. I went to dbsa support groups, nami connections and eventually started a group affiliated with the national organization, schizophrenia alliance. I don’t run the group anymore, but i am glad it is still going.

another thing, that is a little different, was when i was very troubled with auditory hallucinations, my psychiatrist found a way to communicate. He wrote words while he spoke, circling and crossing out important words.

no, one had asked what my experience was like when i had a psychotic break. They asked about symptoms, but not what were the voices saying or what the messages were. Not until i saw a therapist who seemed interested. It felt lke a relief to be able to tell my story.

i would love if anyone would share what has helped them