Depression and Perception

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The effects of depression on perception are profound. Cognition and all of the senses are dulled, deadened, and darkened. While I have spiraled down the depression pit in the past, everything seems to turn numb, dark, and/or painful. I’ll give a short thought illustration of how the senses, perception, and cognition are affected.

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A Moment of Depression

The clear, blue sky on a beautiful summer day fades to a light shade of bluish grey. I’m holding my favorite food in my hand, but I cannot smell it. I force myself to take a bite and it tastes like cardboard. My silky shirt feels faint, not even soft to my touch. I hear some of my favorite music from the past play, but it does not sound like it used to. It is not a matter that I’ve outgrown it. Instead, the song is darker, duller, void of emotion, and the notes muffled.

I trip over a pothole and tweak my ankle. I probably deserved that. I’m not worthy of any career I wish to pursue because I’m worthless and lazy, and can’t do anything right. A woman looks at me and smiles, telling me Hi. That’s just happenstance, and I didn’t deserve such a gesture. I deserve to die. Everything is my fault.

The world will be better without me. I’m a burden to everyone around me. How can I kill myself appropriately to escape this anguish? I can’t bring myself to do anything good, and going outside took all the effort in the world. I can’t touch, hear, see, taste, smell, love, feel, think like I used to. I can’t come up with any good ideas anymore. Nothing can cheer me up and all I get are glimpses of things that make me happy, if even that. All I know now is pain and loneliness. How about slitting my wrists so my family will be able to see my body when I’m dead and hurt them less?

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If you or anyone you know is going through depression, keep in mind the world of someone struggling with depression is very different from a healthy mindset. Unless you have dealt with depression yourself, it is very difficult to understand it. One can’t always simply get out of bed and do what he or she needs to do to get ready in the morning.

The contents in the thought illustration (or a similar context) are lingering in the mind of the depressed person. Perception spirals down easily, faster and deeper the more the depression progresses. The thoughts/lack of senses stick in the forefront of the mind and take turns tormenting the poor victim. You can think of it as a giant trauma loop that will not go away.

The best thing anyone can do for a loved one with depression is to be there for him or her. Hear the victim of depression out, and have an open ear, mind, and heart for him or her. Most of all, affirm loved ones with depression and tell them how much you appreciate them and why. Write it down and hand it to them, so they can reaffirm your words and/or pictures later.

I hope the illustration may help shine light on what’s going on in a depressed mind, and that it may help.

-theothersid3

Mild Mixed State?

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I’m encountering something new lately in my bipolar world. For about a couple months or so, I’ve felt a little bit off… and it’s been getting worse the past few weeks.

My thinking is sharper but still slows down so I don’t feel elated. I get frustrated at nothing and ponder why I’m frustrated, hence getting more frustrated for no reason. I find I need to spend more patience than I need to. I don’t feel sad, blue, particularly happy, or even normal. I just feel the way I do, and I’m confused, and I didn’t like it. However, it’s very subtle and doesn’t always feel like the funk is there.

I took the Goldberg Depression test and scored a 14, and took the Goldberg Mania test and scored an 8. I fell in the “minor depression possible” category on the depression quiz and on the upper end of “no mania likely” category on the mania quiz.

These aren’t a replacement for therapy but they can be useful tools for dealing with moods and gauging how depressed or manic I am. Seeing this shows me yes, it’s very minor… but there’s possibly a slight depression going on and I’m also a little bit more up than usual on my test scores.

I’m not positive it’s a mild mixed state, but that’s my best guess at this point. I’ll be seeing my psychiatrist soon and this is a very minor thing at this point, so I’ll ask his opinion then.

-theothersid3

photo credit: Kiwis in the blender via photopin (license)

“Lost” -Sunlounger ft. Zara

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When I am truly hurt, everything is hopeless, and nothing seems to work, I will lie down and put on some music. When I’ve completely lost myself and I’m utterly afraid, I do my best to let everything go and I find that there is love and hope, always. This is one song I cherish:

 

“Lost” -Sunlounger ft. Zara (lyrics)

Forget the peace inside
You’ve given way to the gods of destruction
Full of desire
You feel afraid that there’s nothing left

Oh oh, oh no
Oh oh, oh no

The ocean is dry
Do you feel hollow?
Nowhere to hide
And nothing to swallow

And when you can’t recognize
Anything solid
Where do you turn?
When you can’t buy it?

What can you believe in now
With no love to follow?
Now that you have lost yourself
Oh, can anything help you now?

Just let your fears go
You might find your way back home
Let your fears go
You might find that you’re not lost

Just let your fears go
You might find your way back home
Let your fears go
You might find that you’re not lost

What did you learn?
What was it worth?
What did you yearn for?
Everything’s lost now

And not alone and not alone
And not alone and not alone
And not alone and not alone
And not alone and not alone

Just let your fears go
You might find your way back home
Let your fears go
You might find that you’re not lost

Just let your fears go
You might find your way back home
Let your fears go
You might find that you’re not lost

Songwriters: DE VORZON, BARRY/BOTKIN, PERRY L
Lost lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Ultra Tunes

photo credit: Dragon Tree via photopin (license)

Psychiatrist Visit 2-29-2016

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I saw my doctor today and I’m quite excited about the visit! We decided it’s best for me to cut my antidepressant Wellbutrin 150mg from my medications to take, which leaves me with only two that I now take for bipolar. Only a few years ago, I was taking five different medications for bipolar every day!

I’m now only on Lithobid 1500mg (Lithium carbonate extended release) and Abilify 20mg per day. It feels good to reduce the medications I need as I progress in my recovery and treatment process. It isn’t that I didn’t need all the medications before, but that I no longer need them at this point. I’m not afraid to add medications as long as I need them in the future, but I admit it’s wonderful that I don’t need as many atm.

I imagine if I start becoming depressed in the future, I’ll add the Wellbutrin back on temporarily.

I used to take a steady dose of Zyprexa as well, which I find to be a debilitating but effective medication for mania. If I start becoming manic, I add a small dose of Zyprexa temporarily.

The lithium acts as a mood stabilizer and is the foundation of my medicinal treatment.

The abilify prevents depression as well as mania and psychotic symptoms associated with both. Overall, I find it to be another miracle drug with no perceivable side effects at this point.

Well, that’s a snap shot of my medications as of now. Anyone else dealing with medication changes these days?

photo credit: Handful of Drugs via photopin (license)

Depression, Employment, Recovery

I went through some bouts of bad depression late last summer and into the fall. There were times I had to convince myself to stay alive. I never felt like I was losing control over my will to do so but it was incredibly painful nonetheless. What ultimately brought me out of the depression was work.

I first started helping my grandparents with things that needed to get done before their move into a retirement home. In October,  I started working for two companies part time. These two jobs have helped pull me out of the depression completely.

Work gives me a schedule, a sense of accomplishment, new friends, accountability, and money to sustain myself. It took me almost a year to find work. My heart goes out to those who are looking for employment. It’s very rough not having a job, in many more ways than just money.

Now, I am doing very well. Yesterday, my therapist said she had no concerns. I hope to start writing more here as I do in my journals as well. Thank you for coming back and visiting!! 🙂

Depression, Mania, and The Voice

Mind's EyeApparently, when I’m abysmally depressed, I’m susceptible to obsessing about suicide for one reason or another. In some cases, the feelings I have contain little or no warrant is there for me to feel that way. I would be open to the notion that demons channel their will into my head in those cases, gathered from what I’ve seen and experienced before.

When I have been truly manic on the other hand, which has happened twice so far in my lifetime, I walk the line between the physical and nonphysical. I walk with other people and other beings who seem to be part of what many would call God, yet there’s a strong connection between all parts of the universe itself. I kiss wisdom on the lips and slide back into reality at an utter loss of words at what just happened. I spent part of a decade trying to unwind these 2 experiences, and have hardly gotten anywhere, it seems.

One thing that shines through it all is a certain voice, whether mine or someone/something else’s that always walks the path of love in the level I do not fully understand. Love as a parent’s unconditional love for his or her child. This voice comes from the center of my confusing existence. I can choose to shut it out, like I have been lately.

But now, I’m opening it up again.

photo credit: atomicshark via photopin cc

Bouncing Back

My special pen and journal.
My special pen and leather journal.

I won’t lie. The past few days have been rough. However, I am bouncing back already. Years ago, this may have triggered a major depressive episode for me lasting who knows how long. I’m reminded of how far I’ve come when I can feel normal after a few days of grieving the loss of my job on top of other triggers that came my way. I’ll be much better after I find a position, but I’m not too worried about it.

I’m sorry I haven’t written too much specifically about bipolar lately. I sense there will be much more on that soon. I decided to put ink into a special journal I’ve wanted to start for a while, now. It is the journal I intend to keep that will be the inspiration for my book about my psychotic breaks, as well as a book telling about my journey to recovery.

Before I can really delve into that, though, I must finish doing my reflections on all my journals to help understand myself and the course of my bipolar much better. Not to mention, I would like to understand my breaks better. Meditation and reflection will help on this. My breaks are part of my experience, and I see great opportunities for growth in understanding them. I want to write these books the right way. No short cuts. I’m in it for the long haul, and it may well take a decade to write the books to my satisfaction, but I’m okay with that.

I’m starving for inspiration, too. It’s so easily to get discouraged in the midst of all this, but I press on…

“I Am Mental Illness” Vs. “I Have Mental Illness”

To be bipolar is to be controlled by my illness. To have bipolar is to have control over my illness. The subtleties of language have great differences in meaning. I imagine to be diagnosed with any mental illness, the initial tendency is to slap the label on myself, saying I am ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar, BPD, schizophrenic, <insert mental illness diagnosis here>. Likewise, the initial tendency for a person not educated about mental illness is to label those people who have it according to their illnesses.

I suspect this is the case because mental illness has an effect on the mind, which is very near to our core being. When it spins out of control, it is magnified and shows up prevalently in the forefront of that person. In order to become diagnosed, this must often happen. In my case, I couldn’t help but look out through a looking glass shaped by bipolar, interpreting a lot of the turmoils I was experiencing along with my past according to what bipolar is and does. My family did the same thing.

However, just like someone who has diabetes doesn’t say he is diabetes, or AIDS, GERD, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, COPD, whatever illness you can conjure up, he HAS that illness. It’s something he becomes educated about, receives treatment for, and he learns how to manage and cope with it.

Mental illnesses are no different. I imagine them to be more challenging than many physical illnesses as they are much more abstract and hard to understand. For John, his recent diagnosis of bipolar may feel like bipolar is him at first, right at the core of his being, but it isn’t. It’s simply got a grip on him.

So please, keep that in mind. To label mental illness as not an illness is incredibly destructive, and so is labeling the afflicted as the illness. In time he or she will take ownership of it, manage it, and cope with it just like someone who has type 1 diabetes, say. Help him or her along by referring to the illness as something he or she has, instead. If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, tell yourself you have it, not that you are it!

Bi-polarized Perceptions Part 3: Rapid Cycling

A follow up to part 2 of “Bi-polarized Perceptions.” I remember especially right before my first break, after a manic episode had been revving up for 5 months and I was running on 2 hours a sleep per night for months, I experienced rapid changes in my perceptions of things. For 15 seconds, I felt like I was on top of the world, ready to change it, and then for 15 seconds all I could think about was cutting myself or worse, just to get rid of this unbearable pain.

My moods flipped back and forth rapidly: 2, 3, 4 times per minute: really manic, really depressed, really manic, really depressed. I forced myself to keep going. Often, talking to people such as the chaplain in my school helped me out and set my mood back up for a little while, before it crashed again. Still, it was some relief.

Along with my moods about things in general, specific things were stolen away with my mood shifts wherever they went. I’d love my mom, hate my mom, really love my mom, really hate my mom. I’d sense demons were there to overpower me, angels come and relieve me of my battle, then the demons would come back after the angels left, and so on.

I could make it through this calculus class, there’s no way I can do this class right now, I’ll finish my homework in about 5 minutes for calculus, I don’t understand anything that’s going on right now. Colors would become incredibly vibrant, then fade into almost gray tones; food became an amazing, delectable treat, then a cupcake tasted like cardboard after I chewed on it for a bit, and my mood plummeted again.

This phenomenon is called “rapid cycling” bipolar, and it’s a nightmare. I lost my reference points pretty quickly when I experienced it. Soon afterwards, around Christmas 2003, a family Christmas vacation made me snap when I couldn’t sleep for about 4 days straight. Mind you, I was not on medication nor was I diagnosed at the time.

Future parts may follow to “Bi-polarized Perceptions.”