Author Topic: mental health  (Read 2541 times)

Hopalong

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mental health
« on: November 11, 2021, 10:15:28 AM »
I'm struggling with anxiety as winter comes on and the dark and cold start setting in. It makes me miserable because rational thinking or clever tips/rituals don't fix it. When you can't breathe and have chest pain and wake up despairing it's hard to get on a roll with healthier feelings. I clutched and cried on the dog and she's right here.

I have reached out and have a friend visiting later. I'm even thinking of asking the doc for anti-anxiety meds (an SSRI, I figure). I so so so do NOT want to do that. But if winter nights and early mornings are going to feel like this...I will. I can't cope with mental torment too often. I've been working so hard at insight and feel like a failure when the old anxiety syndrome hits. I know that's not fair.

I can tell when it's coming because it's a combo of severe insomnia (3 hours' sleep) plus an overall sense of fear, physical coldness, heart palpitations, plus random jabs of pain in the chest. This has happened so many times over the years I'm less inclined to cardio-catastrophize. But I do know the fear of deep isolation bearing down has a lot to do with it this time. (I know the joys of voluntary solitude; this is past solitude, in my case. It's toxic. Panic attacks make me nearly unable to socialize but isolation feeds the fear -- it's a stubborn cycle once it starts up.)

Anyway, in the daylight with sunshine, I'm okay, at least temporarily. The panic, when it comes, comes at what the French call "The Hour Between Dog & Wolf" -- or twilight, when the light goes and dark comes. First bout with this was a couple days ago right after daylight savings time kicked in. Had a nap, woke up at 530pm and it was black outside. This time of year twilight feels like the slamming down of something hard, not like a gentle summer dusk. It has a lot to do with loneliness.

I know about hygge, all the cozy things. It's not for lack of imagination or info, it's a physical and emotional panic. Not fixed by cocoa and candles, unfortunately.

Weird, because in some ways I'm making improvements and hopeful plans. Got my house beaten into order better than usual before cleaner came and felt proud. Not decluttered or perfected, but I got rid of the chaos. Even showed my T around the improvement over Zoom.

I was also having panic symptoms Tuesday at dusk but forced myself to go to a poetry group anyway, which was a good distraction. The young leader talked incredibly fast and ripped from one participant to the next at a frantic pace. I think his group's just too big and though it's nice to be included I also think I'm adding to the problem. He probably should've said No, or started a waiting list.

And I need a news diet. Very hard to give up the habit of plugging in every day but the sheer volume of frightening or tragic news overloads my ability to stay emotionally well. Then again, I fill up "lonely time" by reading about everything.

I must do better and put new plans in place for coping. What I've been doing isn't adequate. My insomnia's so bad that I know there are health consequences.

Okay, vent vented. Thanks for listening, y'all.

hugs
Hops
« Last Edit: November 11, 2021, 10:29:51 AM by Hopalong »
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

Twoapenny

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Re: mental health
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2021, 11:21:55 AM »
((((((((((((((Hopsie))))))))))))))

I understand your reluctance with the SSRI's, I feel the same.  They've put me on a low dose of Escitalopram now (not sure if that's how you spell it!) because I was struggling with side effects so much and I'm slowly starting to feel like I can function a bit more normally.  With me, I have to say it quelled my anxiety in about fifteen minutes flat, I could really feel it working that fast.  I have slept a lot, I find if I sit down at all I nod off, but c'est la vie and all that.  I only say all that as it might be worth talking to your doc and just seeing if there's a low dose of something that would just take the edge off without knocking all sense and feeling out of you.

I am also the same with all the pep talks, self care advice, try this, try something else and so on.  I think when you're in a minor, blast the blues away kind of funk that sort of stuff works, but when you have health problems (physical ones), much enforced solitude and worry due to Covid, longer term worries about being alone (however stoically and practically you're dealing with it, the worry is there in the background, I think) and getting over M, the Scot, the revelation about missing your dad - I know it all made sense but I do think it still shocks your system when you realise something like that - well, it all adds up and sometimes I think it creates a dip in the brain that does need a medical push to get you in a position where the self care actually does do some good again.

I am thinking of you.  I've not been on the board much as I am struggling and I'm trying to just concentrate on meals, exercise and a bit of activity with son before conking out on the sofa.  I think going in to this second Covid winter is harder for everyone, we're all more tired and a bit battle weary, in my opinion.

Hugs.  I hope the doc can recommend something useful.  It's good that you're doing all those practical things and getting out when you can.  I imagine that will feel even more fulfilling if you can get that little lift over all the difficult things at the moment xx

lighter

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Re: mental health
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2021, 02:55:30 PM »
Hey, Hops.

I just watched Fantastic Fungi on Netflix.  It's an option you might find available to you.  A friend micro doses regularly ( he can't even feel it) but with 1 monthly macro dose.  His supplier is a lady in Texas who helps wounded vets with PTSD/Operator's Syndrome/depression.  He said it's changed his life. 

I'm thinking of you and pooch, Hops.  I hate that you're in distress. 

Lighter

 

sKePTiKal

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Re: mental health
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2021, 04:24:24 PM »
It's the endless gray days that get me Hops. Only I don't have panic attacks - just curl up and hibernate.

I don't have any specific advice, but sometimes the only thing that works for me is to insist - using every devious method I can think of - that I go do ___________ whether I want to, feel like it or not. It works on my imaginationary fears & worry, it works on my "woe is me", and it works on my general cranky old lady stubbornness.

;)
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.

Hopalong

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Re: mental health
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2021, 08:32:43 PM »
I hear you, Tupp. I completely understand why you're doing the SSRI and I hope the low dose kicks in for you, so you can avoid the worst side effects. It's ironic to me that in the side effects lists for many SSRIs they'll list "sleep problems" or "insomnia" and ALSO "drowsiness," for the same drug. It's an individual crapshoot, but if I were feeling anxiety severely enough for a lot longer I would give an SSRI (or maybe an SSNI) another round anyway. Although they're called antidepressants they're often prescribed for anxiety, and can help either. I was just so pleased to be off everything some years back. Hoping I can keep it that way but I'll be realistic.

I did make an appt for a video talk with my doc in a week, so I'll talk it all over with him. I will likely be feeling a lot better by then, having adjusted to the light changes that affect me so strongly. Sometimes just having a unfilled prescription in my pocket if I need it eases the anxiety state, or gives me confidence to weather it.

Lighter, ironically, in this study of magic mushrooms (they're for treatment-resistant depression, not so much for anxiety, but it's pretty individual how one reacts, if my few college LSD adventures were any indication!) they compared it --favorably--head to head with Lexapro (Tupp's Rx). It's a pretty small study of 59 males, though etc. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/219413/magic-mushroom-compound-performs-well-antidepressant/
I don't think that route is right for me. Years ago when I still smoked weed now and then I had a huge anxiety reaction once and quit permanently on the spot. Though I've been going through some sadness and delayed grief, I'm not depressed. I feel the difference between true sorrow and that heavy gray blanket of depression.

My issue is anxiety, almost purely. Chronic insomnia is key to it also, so maybe if I find a safe (non-valerian) treatment that helps with that, I can avoid Rx. I was reading recently something that makes perfect sense that I'd never thought of before, dunno why....ADD can be a major contributor to serious insomnia. Brain just won't stop hopping.

Long story shorter, I'm hopeful. Tonight at dusk I intentionally put on a lovely and very distracting film (on Amazon Prime, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, which I could tell from the trailer would take me to a really great place about love and beauty). Indeed it did. And I should confess I'm a major Cumberbitch. Sighhhh.

Amber, if my breathing is working I do think pushing through my resistance is a good idea. To that end I've had a thing posted in my kitchen pass through lately -- three words that struck me as a very helpful message to keep taking in: Do It Anyway. That's what I did the morning the cleaner came and it felt awesome. House is still looking quite nice. It's the habit of pausing and reminding my ADD-self to COMPLETE whatever small task or mess, so things get put away. It's that simple.

I've got an ocean of laundry to do tomorrow, both hampers are full, so we'll see.

Thanks much to all three of you for hearing my distress and writing. You've no idea how important this safe space is to me, and each of you. I'm better just from this!

grateful hugs,
Hops
« Last Edit: November 12, 2021, 08:05:59 AM by Hopalong »
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

Phyll

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Re: mental health
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2021, 04:46:44 PM »
Hops,

So sorry to hear of your struggle.  Sounds like you know the pattern well.

I was 12 years clean and sober before I agreed to take an antidepressant.  My first sponsor took massive doses, went off the deep end and got 53 ECT  treatments, bucket loads of meds, gained 300 extra pounds and died at the age of 43.  Anyway, I was convinced that was not me.  I must say the Lexapro (Escitalopram) has very few side effects (compared to other SSRIs) and helped my anxiety too. 

Keep writing us, stay open, ask for help and hang in there. 

Hopalong

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Re: mental health
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2021, 09:55:11 AM »
Thanks, Phyll. I appreciate this wisdom.

That is terribly tragic and also strange, what happened to your first sponsor.
Did he just misunderstand instructions or was it a suicide attempt? I can't imagine taking a fistful of an SSRI. Either way, what an awful cascade of disaster he went through. Horrible.

I can't imagine either the impact on a newbie, recovering, when her sponsor derailed that way. It's remarkable what you've been through and the strength you found to become sober and stay that way. Bravo.

I'm a little better though my lungs aren't back to normal yet. Got another wakeup call the other day when I took a two-block slow-old-lady walk with a neighbor and when I got back I was so exhausted my legs nearly gave out and I immediately collapsed into a nap.

Friends keep thinking I'm exaggerating when I talk about how deeply, severely deconditioned I am. Because I don't look overweight and emit happy energy whenever I see somebody, maybe they just don't realize how a healthy-LOOKING person could be in bad shape.

Anyway, I needed that to happen. Back to the Do It Anyway philosophy Amber was talking about. When anxiety's running, I have to remember to celebrate every small accomplishment. If I walk just ONE block today, that'll be better than not.

I can't go on another year letting my neuroses keep me sedentary.

hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

sKePTiKal

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Re: mental health
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2021, 02:11:49 PM »
Hops - look around pls for a tai chi class with a certified instructor. Don't let the long form discourage you! A good school teaches only 2-3 moves per week - and the movement is v e r y SLOW. There is accomodation for strength, balance, and physical limitations -- and you can STILL gain the stamina improvements by sticking with it long enough to learn the whole 103 position long form.

Seriously useful help - even if it doesn't seem like it - specifically for you to get your energy, stength & stamina back.

Most schools have a little social interaction too, and especially during the winter that can be helpful with those isolation issues.
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.

Hopalong

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Re: mental health
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2021, 06:36:58 PM »
Thanks, Amber. When I took tai ji the instructor was great. His bio: He was "a student of the Three Emperors style of martial arts taught by Wang Zhenhua, a former coach at Beijing University. The local program was initiated by Mr. Wang’s student, a resident recognized by the Chinese government as an expert in Chinese health practices. Lei Xilai, an instructor who came to the states from the Beijing area, taught advanced classes [here] and introduced new forms to the class. The current instructor has taught for 12 years and is a student of Lei and Alton."

Dunno if that means certified, but he knows his stuff. And he's very likeable. His day job is as a journalist.

That said, with my double slipped disks and general lack of coordination, it wasn't for me. Frustratingly, because I wanted to learn it and do well. The classes were also early in the morning, when I'm subhuman. So alas, that's a no go. Good idea though. My social focus will be more on writers and church stuff, I think. Maybe a date or two when the website coughs up somebody.

If I ever told this story, I once nearly knocked over a whole line of line dancers like dominos because I always went the wrong way. Familiar feeling. I'm not upset about it, though I do know that formal structured exercise always backfires for me. I just need to WALK and ride my RECUMBENT -- both of which I can solo if I fire myself up to get to it. Neither triggers the sciatica that yoga and Tai Ji did.

But THANK YOU for thinking about this, Amber. For something to reduce stress and confer better control of the body...that was a really really GOOD idea. I'm just mad at myself for not being a good candidate for it.

hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

Phyll

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Re: mental health
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2021, 12:25:20 AM »
Hops - I hope you aren't beating yourself up for having slipped disks?  I am not equipped for Yoga either, but I admire those who do.  I took a Chi Kong class once years ago.  I chuckle of the image you describe on knocking over other dancers like dominos!

My 1st sponsor was okay for the first 6 years of recovery, although I had outgrown her before then. It took her 5 years to kill her self with psychiatry. I was 12 years sober when she died.  I knew there was trouble when her counselor called me and asked that I meet her at her house so she could pack a bag for an inpatient stay at the psychiatric hospital.  She admitted to drinking Nyquil.  She tried to blow me off so she could buy alcohol but I stuck to the agreement and accompanied her to the hospital.  She was one of those natural beauties - looked like Ali McGraw.  It was so sad.

The first SSRI I was on was called Serzone.  I think they since took it off the market. It gave me horrible cotton mouth.  While on chemotherapy I would get so dehydrated that the levels of serotonin got too concentrated in my system and I had some hallucinations.  I saw trails and the bathroom light behind the louvered door in my hospital room appeared to pulsate.  I also saw people's auras.  Kind of freaked me out at the time and I wondered if the cancer spread to my brain. 

All in all it was good I had the medication a couple months before getting diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was better able to cope with that than I would have been otherwise.

Your description of the "two-block slow-old-lady walk" reminded me of those chemo days when all I could manage was a one block walk with my dog, Miss Jessie.  She was okay with it though.  I started calling her "Miss" Jessie when I started dating this man whose name was Jesse. :D

sKePTiKal

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Re: mental health
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2021, 08:58:45 AM »
I understand Hops. That would be a bit challenging & counterproductive for someone like you.

So, a smaller class - and truly, my experience with it included a lot of people who zigged when they should've zagged, wobbled, and had diffficulty assuming various of the positions. Yes, that included me too. The point of a beginner at anything isn't that you'll master it in so many weeks - it's that you try because it feels good or is helping in ways that aren't even noticeable at the beginning.

It sounds like your instructor was an excellent source of the "art" - but didn't work with individuals with limitations or seeking specific outcomes. I trained alongside a woman with back injuries/surgeries similar to B's -- who is now teaching the main long form classes. Yeah, it took her years. Our teacher treated each student as different people with different goals and challenges and helped them find the path to gaining their goals - so that while we were learning the positions and refinements to our physical expression of them - we were also engaged in a lot of individual training on the aspect(s) we were seeking.

After the first year, I noticed my stamina had increased and I didn't struggle to get through a two-hour class anymore. I had learned how to manage my breathing through the physical movements. Muscles got a tad stronger so that I could hold a position long enough for the teacher to check/correct 20-30 students individually. It is the slow gradual improvement that is the value in this - NOT the ability to become a chorus girl and remember which way to turn every single time that is the goal here. It's the personal benefits from the learning; not how well you perform.

After 4 years, I decided to study for the ranking test. More classes per week, Sat classes for knowledge based instruction & discussion. My competitive streak woke up and I wasn't even repeating the order of the positions in my head anymore - my body knew what to do. And in the physical performance my brain completely skipped a whole section and I got way ahead of my testing partner. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. End of test. The look of shock & disappointment on my teacher's face was even worse than how I beat myself up in the moment. But we talked about it after, several times. I was having a most unusual mental experience that totally distracted me in the order of the positions that was worth not passing the ranking. I was practically speaking, not in my body, in the moment my body jumped ahead of the order.

Not exactly on my list of goals or expected outcomes from all the extra work - but I couldn't exactly call it a "failure" either.

I've worked with Chinese instructors - they tend to teach the whole class at once and not work with the individual for therapeutic goals. Cultural difference maybe? Dunno.

Anyway, I'm still convinced you would benefit if you could find a different kind of teacher and a smaller class group. It was the easiest, most enjoyable, and beneficial suggestion I could make for stamina and strength for you.
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.

Hopalong

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Re: mental health
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2021, 10:08:28 AM »
Sounds like you had an amazing experience with it, Amber. I'm glad you got to do that!

Instructor wasn't Chinese and is very well respected here. I've known several people who've studied with him for years.

I don't know if I'll try tai ji again but nothing's etched in stone. Right now I'm more focused on renewing walking strength. Simple walks are easier to approach for me so I'm making short "walk dates" with friends whenever I can.

hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

lighter

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Re: mental health
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2021, 01:56:29 PM »
My niece calms herself with UPLIFT Delta 8 CANDY she buys from a holistic store run by a woman who recovered from cancer.  They're over the counter- legal, so no legal or Rx worries.

Niece said she cuts the gummies in quarters and experiences all the mellow with none of the paranoia of marijuana.....no brain fog, she can think clearly, but I'm sure it's an individual thing.   Something to consider, perhaps.

Green packaging.  The larger container is better buy.  You might find them in a local smoke shop if interested.

Lighter


Hopalong

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Re: mental health
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2021, 11:16:56 AM »
Thanks, Lighter. I could, but...as ever I research everything, and since I have both arrythmia and anxiety from time to time (both possible side effects of THC), unfortunately I don't think THC is for me.

I'm just one of those boring people who doesn't partake of things made by unregulated manufacturers. It limits my options but I've had some bad drug reactions in the past (remember, a huge panic attack was why I quit weed).

https://www.hempgrower.com/article/fda-cdc-issue-warnings-on-delta8-thc/

Thank you for trying to help and offering this idea anyway! THAT does wonders.

hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

Hopalong

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Re: mental health
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2021, 11:33:45 AM »
I'm doing better today, though night-time is still rough. I've been amazed at how the "old" levels of anxiety surged back this fall. Very unpleasant but I'm hanging in.

I'm seeing people as much as I can manage. Not sure my doctor is as focused as I need, so with sorrow (I like him a lot) I may be searching for a new GP. I think this time I may seek out a female, one who's not retiring soon. There's one doc at the big hospital who's both female, younger, and specializes in the geriatric population. I'm not quite there yet but think it'd be proactive to get into her practice.

This morning I went to look at a possible apartment we (church team) are trying to secure for our Afghan refugee family. It's sooo complicated, since we won't know until nearly the last minute about the breakdown (family numbers, etc.). The landlord was an ass but buttering him up did help. And the place would be PERFECT. I hope we get it. It felt good to focus on them and get my head out of my own arse.

I'm home again, warm morning with pooch, and sunshine coming in. Yesterday I met a lovely immigrant family (Mexico) who are searching for work and he's going to do some yard stuff. His English is minimal but he brings his bright 9 y/o son. It may be foolish but year over year I feel hopeful about the veggie beds. He's going to rebuild my compost bins and prepare the veggie areas: remove all dead plants, layer on the black gold, then cover it with these cool strips of biodegradable layers of brown paper the grocery delivery folks use to keep cold things cold. I think it'll break down like newsprint but better.

It would be wonderful for my health (mental and physical) this spring if I could garden again. Just work on toning all winter so when it comes time to get up and down over and over and weed and such, I'll be able. Right now, I just can't.

My biggest mental and physical health issue is motivation and will. That's therapy stuff and I think I'm making progress there in tiny increments.

I've been flailing but one thing I do notice is that focusing on someone besides myself is key. Had a long Zoom with poet friend yesterday and worked so hard to wake her out of a kind of torpor she's in. She wants to just float along and sniff the breezes and be poetic, and meanwhile her partner is nasty to her, in failing health, and his felon son just appeared and stayed there for two days. It freaks me out to see her be so passive -- wound up giving her an intense pep talk that she said really helped. But I dunno. Maybe I'm so codependent I just can't see that the reciprocal support I need isn't quite there with her.

Anyhow, mental health wise, I'm not giving up. I've been shocked at the level of fear and anxiety symptoms that appeared again. Something's going on with me that I don't have well defined but I do think there are paths I haven't tried. Even Rx if I HAVE to, but I'm pretty stubborn about that. Life without those side effects has been soooo much better for a couple decades.

I think I know what I need (walk walk walk) but don't know how to unhook the cowardice cycle. When I am short of breath it short-circuits everything else, especially when I'm out on a walk alone. That's a lot better today though. So I'm going to do it even if it's one block!

I almost found a walk buddy but she'd doing it indoors in a busy gym and with covid rising again, I'm not going there. Needs to be big-girl pants, walk anyway with pooch, and stop being such a ninny.

Thanks for listening to this unfocused ramble.

hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."