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career Coping skills hearing hearing aids mental health mental illness Recovery schizoaffective schizophrenia stress Therapy TikTok work

Will it be too stressful?

Image: STRESS spelled out in scrabble

I have been stable for 15 years, but I have really decreased stress in my life. I find that when stress increases my symptoms can increase. I did not work for a few years after diagnosis. Then, I volunteered part time for years. I have been working part time for 6 years and I am doing well.

I found out about an open position at my work. It is higher pay, but more responsibility and full time. I put in a request to transfer and am waiting for an interview. I have no offer yet, but I am starting to worry if I am doing the right thing. (My opinion does not represent my employer). I want to ask my psychiatrist his opinion on taking on more, but he is out of town.. I emailed therapist but I don’t know if she will get back to me.

I have a delay with the hearing aids. The audiologist contacted my insurance and they said I have no coverage. That did not sound right, so I called. I have a $1000 allowance but it needs authorization from my medical group. I asked my primary care and she said she is not the one to ask, I had been referred to an ENT when they sent me to the audiologist so I don’t know if the ENT is supposed to get authorization. I am hoping I get them before the end of the year.

I am still doing TikTok videos on coping with schizoaffective disorder. Username Schizoaffective Dog Mom. I used to do live Periscopes. Few people came, but it was fun. TikTok has a live feature, but you need to have 1000 followers (I have 50). I guess it does not make sense to go live with no audience, but I am a little bummed I can’t use that feature. I have enjoyed viewing live videos.

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Dog Medication mental health mental illness moderation schizoaffective schizophrenia sobriety

In Sickness and In Health

Image dog on bed

I have had sinus congestion and headaches off and on for a couple of weeks.  It is finally starting to clear up.  I swear I have a barometer in my head and get headaches when it is about to rain.  We had a storm with thunder and lightening and then my head started to clear.

 

My husband and I went to San Diego for a couple of days to celebrate 25 years of marriage.  Mental health issues can be hard on relationships and I am glad we have been able to get through all of these years.  My daughter stayed home with the dog.  I don’t think she missed us but the dog did. We mostly relaxed and ate.  Everything was walking distance from where we stayed.

 

The first night we went to a restaurant, Rockin’ Baja Lobster.  We were there at happy hour.  I went way off my keto diet  and even had a few drinks.  The next day we had lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chao.  It was fancy but we just had the salad bar. It was pretty filling.  That night we went to a dueling piano bar, The Shout House.  That was a lot of fun.  They called people up on stage which would have embarrassed me.

 

Now we are home and getting back into our routine.  My mother in law is taking us out tonight and then I go back on keto.  I plan on going alcohol free until April.  I belong to some Facebook groups for moderate alcohol drinking.  I asked about any live groups and was told about one over zoom.  I went, but when I told them I drink twice a year the host was surprised and I felt like I did not belong.  My issue was, I am not sure if I want to expand on that, but I think I figured out what I want to do on my own.  I am keeping alcohol out of the house, but if we go to an event where I am not driving I am giving myself the option to drink.  With Covid there have not been many social occasions.

 

I have health insurance through my husband’s work.  They decided to change insurance companies coming in January.  Our PCPs are in network but behavioral health is different.  As far as psychiatrists, I have been on the same regimen for years so I mainly just need someone to refill my prescriptions.  But, I have so much trouble finding a therapist I click with.  I like the one I have now, but she does not take the new insurance.  I have been searching but I don’t know how to look.  I found one therapist who is great, but is retiring in 2023.  I am not sure if I want to start all over then.

 

 

 

 

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CGM diabetes empathy keto mental health mental illness support Therapy

Empathy Postcards, CGM, and my week

Image Cover of Empathy Postcards

As part of a gift in a gift exchange I was given Empathy Postcards by Emily McDowell. It reminded me of a time I was hospitalized for my mental health . In art class I made a card to myself. No one brings cards when you are you in the behavioral health unit. I think they just don’t know what to say. These empathy Postcards are perfect for times like that. I think I will use them for friends when they are having a rough time.

Image if this is God’s plan, God is a terrible planner (No offense if you’re reading this God. You did a really good job with other stuff, like waterfalls and pandas.)

I also was given some keto friendly snacks, a little stuffed poodle that looks like my dog, dog treats and a nice note.


As far as keto, things are going well. My labs were good last month, so.my Dr took me off of one med, Januvia. Everything went wacky for a few weeks. My weight was going up, glucose went higher than when I started keto and I was out of ketosis. My Dr gave me the option to give it a couple of weeks more or to go back on Januvia. I decided to see how it goes in a week. It started improving. My weight started dropping and fasting glucose lowered. I am back in ketosis


I asked my coach from the program I am in, for type 2 diabetes, Virta, about a CGM, continuous glucose monitor. The Virta Dr called in a prescription for Freestyle Libre 14 day sensor. I got a voucher from the freestyle libre US website to bring to the pharmacy. It is a free trial. My insurance won’t cover more sensors but I am getting a lot of data. My glucose drops in the early morning and then rises. The sensor does not always agree with the fingerstick. It reads interstitial fluid. The range is set at 70-140 mg/dl and I am in range. I am going to lower it to 126 to see if I can tell the difference. It has a graph but it is hard to read. It is small. So far the biggest rise in glucose is just from waking up and not from my food. The app lets you write notes to go with the readings.

I have sleep apnea and wear a dental appliance. After my dentist adjusts it, he orders a home sleep study. I have done about 4 so far. I did one this week and have seen the results. I wore a t-shirt with tennis balls that is supposed to keep me in my side but the device read as if I was on my back most of the night. I still have mild apnea with the appliance so he will most likely adjust it more. It is not painful but it gets uncomfortable the more he moves my jaw forward and it takes time to get it back in position in the morning.

I talked with my therapist this week. She asked how much time I spend online. I don’t know so I told her that, but it is a lot. She said she spends an hour. She wants me to keep track. I don’t have to change but she says I should know. I like her but don’t like her assignments



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bipolar Dual diagnosis Forgiveness hams harm reduction Inner demons mental health mental illness moderation NAMI pandemic psychosis Recovery relapse schizoaffective schizophrenia sobriety suicide

What I Have Been Up To Lately

I had therapy last week. I started seeing this therapist after the pandemic, so all my sessions have been virtual. I forget what she asked but I mentioned I remember mistakes from the past, 20, 30 years ago or more and they torment me. She wanted me to share but I am not comfortable with that. I feel such shame and they were mistakes that I feel are unforgivable. If I did not feel shame there would be something wrong. But, I don’t want to delve into them.

My father did not believe in mental health treatment even though schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar run in our family. When I started therapy he discouraged it saying talking about the past just makes everyone sad. I did not understand what he meant until now.

My therapist wants me to work on forgiving myself.  I have to explain to her that some of these things are best kept hidden.

 

 

I have been able to stay alcohol free after my planned intoxication in April.  My plan is sobriety until our wedding anniversary in October.  It was pretty easy to get back to it.

 

 

I posted a link to an In Our Own Voice presentation I did for NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, in a different post. I have not been speaking much lately. I saw a different program by NAMI called VOICES. It is geared towards first responders. I signed up to be a speaker, but am having trouble figuring out where to start. My initial interaction with mental healthcare and police was not until I was 39, but since mental illness runs in my family that was not foreign.

My brother had a psychotic break in college at 20 (I was 15). He refused treatment and would get picked up by the police for 72 hour observational holds in the late 70s. His is a sad story. He was severely symptomatic for 6 years when he finally was placed on a different medication that he responded well to. But, he started becoming symptomatic again, paranoid, edgy, and probably needed his medication adjusted. He went to Yosemite while symptomatic and fell at a waterfall. I don’t know if it was accidental or not, but he died from the fall.

This is supposed to be a story of hope, but it is part of my story.  If I had not seen him so ill for so long I may not have accepted treatment, but I did not want to be stuck in psychosis like he was.  I think it is okay for first responders, but not sure if it will scare the general public who may be worrying about their own children.

My story is much different.  I did go in and out of psychosis for 3 years, but I have been stable since 2006.  I have not been hospitalized for 16 years.  I am married, have healthy grown children, work part time.  I still have some doubts about what was real from the past, but I can function.

 

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keto mental health mental illness moderation schizoaffective schizophrenia sobriety Therapy Weight loss

Medical ketosis for psychiatric illness

Image of highlighted brain

I have been on a ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes, through a company called Virta for about 3 months. I have lost about 1 lb/week, my fasting glucose has dropped 20 pts, and I feel good.

My friend was pushing me to try the diet and now he has been pressuring me to find out information on medical ketosis for psychiatry. He says it has greatly helped his depression. My provider from Virta agreed to talk with my psychiatrist about how a keto diet can affect mental health. But, I started wondering what am I doing. I have schizoaffective disorder controlled with medication and also take medication and use coping skills for anxiety. I don’t know that I want to change anything.

My therapist coached me on how to tell my friend thanks, but I feel pressured. I am not great at setting boundaries. I took her advice and he was cool. He said it is not his business what I decide to do and he is just making suggestions.

Then, I read a post on Reddit where someone is working with a dietician from the Charlie Foundation on a keto diet for schizophrenia. They work on keto for epilepsy in children and have expanded. I emailed and they gave me info on a dietician and I made an appointment for a zoom call on Wed.

The diet I am on now is 30 g total carbs, 13 oz protein containing food and fat to satiate. I am sure the dietician will have something more precise with macro g or percentages. Right now I weigh some but estimate amounts, where I will be measuring more.

My therapist gives me homework. The last thing she gave me was to give examples on where I could be more assertive, like with my friend. And to think of things I am grateful for and proud of. I am grateful for many things. The people in my life, especially my husband and even my pushy friend. My car, dog, food, home… i could go on, but proud of had me stumped.

I work and take care of my family but there is nothing I can identify as I am really proud about. I thought some more. I am proud I have been alcohol free for 6 months and have a plan for moderation. I am proud I have been able to stick with keto 3 months and with the results.

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12 step AA hams harm reduction moderation peer support sobriety Uncategorized

Slippery Slope

Photo of hamster

I have stopped going to AA meetings.  I felt pressured to attend meetings and pray daily.  I am not religious and I did not find that part helpful.  There are things I gained.  I don’t think I would have stayed sober this long without starting with AA.  The accountability was helpful.

I belong to a couple of Facebook pages. Secular AA, Moderation Management and HAMs. (Harm Reduction, Abstinence and Moderation). We are called HAMsters. I am leaning towards trying to moderate drinking to about two times a year. We are going out of town over my birthday. Someone gave us a bottle of champagne and I plan to have some. Then I plan to go alcohol free until our wedding anniversary in October.

My therapist warned me it is a “slippery slope” and how do I not know I won’t go back to drinking more often. And, that I plan to drink because we have champagne makes no sense to her.  I feel like if I have a plan, I can stick with it.  And, that AA is not the program for me because I want to be able to drink occasionally, like twice a year.  I won’t be alone.  I won’t be driving.

Am I just asking for trouble?

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12 step AA depression mental health mental illness psychosis relationships schizophrenia Therapy

Discombobulated Thoughts

I had therapy, virtual, on Wednesday.  I went over what was going on in the present.  Then my therapist started asking questions about when I was school age.  Jr high and high school were not the best years of my life.  I had a friend drop me in 8th grade to hang out with more popular friends.  I had a boyfriend in high school who was very critical and was sometimes mean.

Creative Commons girlshealth.gov

My home life was horrific. My father had an undiagnosed, but quite obvious in hindsight, mental illness and my brother had a severe psychotic disorder. He was nice, just a bit scary to me. Everything was unpredictable. My dad would be fine one day and raging the next. I could not deal with being there so I spent most of my time out, with friends, drinking alcohol or smoking weed. I was very sad, and quiet.

After answering her questions she asked for my thoughts and I said they are discombobulated.  I don’t know what to think.  So, she told me to write down my discombobulated thoughts when they come to me.  She used my own words but I don’t  what she wants.  I am going to email mon.

She gave me other homework. To write what you can gain from AA, without spirituality. That is easier for me. I belong to a secular AA Facebook group. I tried one meeting but I felt out of place and have not looked at others. I did think the accountability and recognition for time sober helped me. I have not gone to meetings lately but I am staying sober,

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Therapy, one part of my recovery puzzle

I know not everyone can get or even wants therapy, but for me it is an important piece for my recovery.

My therapist retired last Dec. I had plenty of notice and found someone new. She is very qualified, but I could not connect. I would run out of things to say and leave early. Then COVID came. We did telephone and I tried texting, but nothing helped. I am convinced she is a good therapist, just not right for me.

Psychology Today has a section on the website called therapist finder. You can search by insurance, gender, location, specialty etc. I scoured it and found someone who’s website intrigued me. So, I contacted her. We spoke on the phone and I had my first telehealth visit Friday. It was not actually over ZOOM but similar

We went over my history. I took the whole time. She says she works in the present but we can address how the past affects the present. She is really upbeat, which reminds me of my sister. It is a good thing. I made another appointment.

I used to feel, maybe I still do, that I am broken and I need someone to fix me. Maybe, if I could change that view of being broken I would feel more empowered?

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bipolar Dysfunctional mental illness parenting Recovery schizoaffective Therapy trauma

Dysfunction Junction

My father had an undiagnosed mental illness, probably bipolar, but I did not know that at the time. He was just a moody, raging, jerk. People knew but no one wants to interfere. I remember we had an uncle who was physically abusive to his kids, maybe his wife, I don’t know. Everyone knew about it but nothing was done. We are all grown with families of our own now and the perps have died.

My mother is passive and anxious. She did not want to disturb anything. She would tell us our father was just joking and he is wonderful when he would say or do hurtful things.

My dad has passed and can’t hurt me anymore. My mom and I have a strained relationship. I don’t want to put any hope into it growing into more. But, we can be amicable and she does not upset me so much.

And, I had an older brother who had a psychotic disorder, maybe schizoaffective like me, but my dad did not believe in psychiatry so the only help he got was when he got picked up by the police for observation. He would stop any meds as soon as he got home. Nothing changed. He died young at 26. I don’t know if it was an accident or suicide. He fell at a waterfall. But, I felt I had lost my brother years before, when he first got sick.

Everyone else in my family is over it all. I don’t know if I should let it go or if I could heal.

I was watching a YouTube on dysfunctional “tricky” families and childhood ptsd. https://youtu.be/EBpF8sWycQQ

I could answer yes to almost everything and a few maybe’s. He suggests working with a therapist.

I have a new therapist. I don’t know what to work on. Day to day, things are okay. I kind of went through my family history with her last time.

Or should I be done with therapy? I am pretty stable and see a psychiatrist. Things in my day to day life are fine. My past is a mess, but maybe I should just leave it there. My father discouraged me from going to therapy. “You talk about the past and it just makes people sad.” I thought he was being ignorant. Of course, it is more than that. But, did he have a point?

I plan to ask my therapist next time I see her if she thinks I even need it.

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Inner demons mental illness Responsibility schizoaffective schizophrenia Therapy Uncategorized

Inner Demons

I have shame about past behavior. I am not ready to disclose to anyone. I have a therapist but am not able to tell. I won’t repeat or get in that situation again.

I don’t know if any or all is related to mental illness. Probably some

I lied, sometimes for no reason. I did not ask for help when I was in over my head, for fear. I am not sure why I was afraid.

I regret things that happened 20 years or more ago. But I re-live it like it is today.