Art vs. Mania

I feel like I am stealing, but really I am not! I had just come up with my topic for the day and thought, “I’ll write as soon as I go through all my notifications. One of the first posts I read was this one about coping with anxiety through travel. I wanted to comment so much because she wrote my thoughts. Anyway, here it is in case you want to read.

My Day

So today didn’t start out so well. I wasn’t feeling well and I had hoped to get a few things done. So settling for just one or two things I started my day. But a little bit turned into a shopping binge that did not help my purse, my stomach, my headache or my eventual anxiety.

So what did I do?

  • Breakfast
  • Trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond for a new coffee maker
  • Which led to a trip to Michael’s, it was right next door
  • Grocery store for creamer
  • Home to use my new coffee maker
  • A lot of reading and video watching to try and make my coffee maker work
  • A call to the manufacturer to find out it was broken
  • Back to BB&B for a new coffee maker
  • Have coffee, finally.
  • Arrange flowers I got at Michael’s in pots on my patio
  • Sweat a lot!!!
  • Trip to almost forgotten acupuncture session

Needless to say I feel no better and maybe even worse.

What I Wish I Had Known 12 Hours Ago

All of the above is a great sign I am manic. Well, not the not feeling well, but all the doing and buying, that is mania for sure. After all that I did I learned a lesson. There is more than one way to skin a cat!

Mania is one of my most miserable places that feels so good you just can’t help it. And I should know if I want to buy anything over 50 bucks I might just be heading to that spot on the map. And it is such an out of control place. BUT!!! I learned something when I got home. I sat down to do my watercolor for the day and lo and behold I felt calmer. And what was really nice was what I did turned out really well because I was more energetic about it. It wasn’t a “I’ll just kick this out and not worry about if it is too good and be done with it.” Instead it was, “how can I make something really beautiful” and stick to it until I succeed. I am new to watercolor so I let myself off the hook when something doesn’t look as good as it could. But today I didn’t.

So my theory, art battles mania! I knew it could work on my anxiety, but I never thought about mania. The next time I feel like spending over 50 dollars I am going to come up with an art project. If after that I still feel like that money is going to be well spent then okay, but first I need to give myself a chance to see if I am manic. If I am then I need to keep on doing the art. If what I want to buy is in fact necessary then spend away. But I do think I need to keep to online buying, having that store right next door was too much of a temptation. If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t have even thought to look at those things.

So here is my leaf. It’s not situated on the page all that well, but I can trim it down later. Right now I am worn out!

My Maple Leaf! I’m Kind of Proud.

Sleep Apnea and Mental Health

What One Has to Do with the Other

Photo by SHAHBAZ AKRAM on Pexels.com

Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing while you are sleeping. There are different things they look at when they test for sleep apnea. The three I know of are how many times you stop breathing, how long do you stop breathing and then what your pulse ox is at different periods of time while you are sleeping. When I was tested I stopped breathing 8 times in the night. That isn’t great, but it isn’t bad. My problem was my pulse ox. That is how much oxygen is saturating your blood. I drop down to 62%, which is bad, really bad.

When your blood doesn’t have oxygen, neither do your organs, including your brain. So everything suffers. And if you have mental health problems the fact that your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen means it can’t function properly to help you cope with your mental health problems.

Some of the really annoying things about sleep apnea are the headaches every morning, the inability to think straight, the fatigue. I mean there are lots more, but those are the ones that keep me completely befuddled everyday.

Treatment

Sadly there is only one treatment for sleep apnea and that is a CPAP machine. What it does is it goes on your mouth and or nose and when it senses you have stopped breathing it gently pushes air into your mouth and or nose and you start to breathe again. There are 3 masks that I know of, the mouth, nose and full face. I have tried them all and have not been able to keep them on.

The masks are great unless the seal between the mask and your face breaks, then you are in a wind tunnel. In my case that happens constantly. So I get no sleep at all. Well, I start out at 3 hours and then each night it gets worse. Eventually I can’t even keep the seal for the amount of time it takes me to fall asleep.

Now I am to be introduced to a new apparatus. I don’t really like to call it a mask, it doesn’t cover your face. It’s called the Bleep. It has two plugs that go in your nose. You are supposedly able to move, supposedly you don’t lose the seal, supposedly it is loads better. We shall see I guess. I know I really hope it works. A drop in blood oxygen affects every organ in your body. So my liver and kidneys that are overloaded with medicines are attacked even more so. My pancreas is affected, so my diabetes is affected. My lungs are affected so heaven forbid I should get Covid-19 at this point. My intestines are affected so my IBS-C is affected, I am also more likely to get a stroke…I think you get the idea.

My doctor has managed to scare me half to death now, and I was scared before she went on her rant that I had to make this work. So here is hoping. And if you have sleep apnea, please take it seriously. Truly, there is nothing it doesn’t affect.

Fatigue: The Gravity Wells

What Is a Gravity Well

A gravity well is when you simply cannot stay upright. It feels like somebody found the gravity switch and just started turning it up and up and up. This causes you to feel down and down and down. The only answer to a gravity well that I have found is to give in and go to bed and sleep.

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

Many people think we are being lazy, it isn’t that at all. We just have physically hit a wall and can do no more until the well goes away. I am actually fighting one right now. I did too much and now keeping my eyes open and staying upright feels like running a marathon in the matter of minutes.

How I Believe It Is Viewed By Others

From another person’s point of view I haven’t done that much today. A visit to a friends and two telephone appointments. One was about 10 minutes, the other 40 minutes. Not much at all. Oh yes, and I picked up lunch.

Photo by Marcelo Moreira on Pexels.com

So what business do I have needing two naps? But I do. Of course I do have to be careful though. Sleeping too much can lead to my depression worsening, but not getting enough can lead to my fibromyalgia worsening. It is a tightrope, and I hate it.

I remember once, before fibromyalgia but not before depression, I lived with my aunt. She couldn’t understand a few things. One was gravity wells, “get up! be active! it’ll pass!” but on the other hand she didn’t get how I could be tired but not sleepy. “If you’re tired, sleep.” But that doesn’t work. Tired isn’t the same thing as sleepy. So you can’t win sometimes.

What To Do…

I honestly don’t know. Do what your body needs, but do it in moderation, and don’t listen to others. That’s what I do. I am fighting that second nap right now and trying to do what I know needs to be done today. I mean I haven’t even gotten to the what needs to be done stuff and it is after 8. Well, I am doing this.

Maybe that is the trick. I am sure balance is a good thing. And I am sure that not listening to others who don’t understand the struggle, be it emotional, mental or physical is a good thing. Just keep on trucking. And lean on Jehovah, that’s my go to.

Take care my friends…

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How Self-Care Has Made a Difference to Me

My Initial Introduction to Self-Care

Many years ago I went to my first therapist at the insistence of my then boyfriend. I went in and promptly had a panic attack. I just walked in and started to sob. I didn’t know what it was at the time, I just knew all of the sudden I was horrified and a little more than embarrassed.

Within a few sessions she told me that she wanted me to do something I enjoyed once a week. She didn’t call this self-care, it was just an instruction and it wasn’t the easiest one. I had no idea what I would enjoy. I didn’t even know if I could enjoy anything anymore. Ultimately I went to a piano store in the mall and I would choose some sheet music and a piano and pluck out some melodies. I don’t actually know how to play a piano, but I knew enough to make the tune. No one ever said anything about me being in there, probably driving away customers, they just let me pluck, pluck, pluck.

I came to really enjoy those days, but eventually they disappeared from my life and as it usually does, life took many turns, good and bad.

Many Years Later…

For the last 2 or 3 years I have found myself in and out of therapy, both group and individual. And about a year ago a therapist brought up “self-care.” Like I said, my previous therapist had never used the term so I was baffled. What is self-care? I imagined it meant much like it sounded, to care about self. Again, am I even capable? I can care about Jehovah, I can care about my family, I can care about my friends, but can I care about or for me?

Somehow, I never managed to connect it with those days in the piano store and so week after week I still just didn’t understand.

Then One Morning…

I was laying in bed and I thought “DAY TRIP!” West Virginia is only two states away and I have not been there before. So I jumped up and prepared myself, the car, and the dog, and we were off. In the end I only spent about 5 minutes in West Virginia, but we saw so many beautiful things along the way. At one point we were completely surrounded by mountains, it was wonderful. Even getting lost on the way back (we lost GPS somewhere in Virginia) was fun. I’d see a sign, try to judge where I was or if anything sounded familiar, and pick a turn. (I don’t really recommended this as a way to travel.)

By the time I did finally get home I understood. Self-care. It’s different for everyone. You have to look for what will make you happy even if it is just for a little bit. I couldn’t wait to get back to my therapist. “I get it, I get it! It’s fun!” Now I have a few things I do for self-care: manicures, pedicures, day trips, visits to friends, music (I’m learning the ocarina), art (I am learning to draw and to do watercolors, and I paint and do soft pastels).

I think the best way to say it is: Self-care is fun. So include some fun in your life. It keeps the stress down, and keeps a good balance in life.

Thanks to Rising Star for his article that inspired me to write about my experience with self-care.

Bipolar: Mania: When My World Spins

I am bipolar. That means I can be very sad for no reason, or out of control happy for no reason. I am on medication for this and as a general rule it works well. Unfortunately, because I also have an anxiety disorder and PTSD my medication is a real balancing act. If you change one little thing everything can go haywire.

I started to realize yesterday that I was sliding into mania, the really happy and out of control part of myself. What each person experiences as mania can differ. For me it is super happy and see how much I can spend and still eat. Yesterday I spent a lot of money on arts and crafts. Which today I realized was more of a problem that I had thought.

Here’s why: over the last few weeks I have found myself trying to do everything! I had already been taking a class on drawing. Then I added learning the ocarina. In the last 2 weeks I have bought things for creative journaling and collage. Then in the last few days I added watercolor and watercolor sketching. And lets not forget my new blog. How many hours are in a day again? And how much space does my little apartment have? Oh and creative cooking, mustn’t forget that either.

Thankfully I am now aware of what I am doing, and I have an appointment with my doctor next week. So hopefully I can get a handle on it all. I mean I really want to do all this stuff, but I need to be realistic too.

For all of you out there that are struggling, just know you are not alone. And there is no shame in getting help.

My Job!

Hi! This is Nahum. I am Kendall’s doggy and I don’t think she has done a very good job of introducing me. While yes it is true I can get into trouble sometimes, it isn’t the only thing I do! Mommy loves dogs but she loves me best. And that is the main reason I started out being here, but it turned out she needed me too! When my big brother Obadiah died the doctor said that she had to get another dog. She was just so sad and stayed in bed and didn’t want to do anything. She felt awful, or so she tells me. So I was also bought to do a job, keeping mommy happy and comforting her when she isn’t.

What does that entail? Well right off the bat I knew what it meant. If even one tear drop forms I am at her side jumping up and down to get in her lap. I just stand in her lap then and let her pet and hug me. I did this from the very beginning. Mommy says I don’t know the difference between happy tears and sad tears, which I guess is true, but I know that whatever the case I will be there for her.

It also turned out that I performed another function mommy didn’t even realize she needed. Or maybe she knew it would be nice, but never thought that I would do it. Mommy has nightmares sometimes. Sometimes they’re just bad dreams, but when it is a nightmare I wake her up! Who wants to be stuck in all that pain and fear for any longer than necessary? Not me, so I don’t let her do it either.

Another thing I try to do is get mom out and moving around. Because of something she calls fibromyalgia she can’t go for far or for long, but since she has me she has to go at least some. She’s been excited lately that she is losing weight. I always thought she was perfect, but a little more lap is nice. Don’t tell her I said that though.

Well, that about sums it up, my job, and I am very good at it. The other stuff she wrote was true too, but she left out the good stuff so I thought I would take care of it. Oh, and the dog attack thing, that was so scary, but mommy returned all I did back to me so I would be okay…that is her job. Well, that and feeding me!

Music!

Among other things I am bipolar and I tend to shuffle around different hobbies and crafts. I will pick them up for awhile then put them down. I always go back if it doesn’t cause pain (fibromyalgia). Right now I have shuffled my way back to music!

I love music. I have very eclectic tastes and like just about anything that I don’t find offensive. My tastes go as far as classical, folk, country, pop, rock, some hard rock, and even some metal. Old jazz is good, Etta and Billie. Some R&B, particularly popular Motown. I have also played music. I studied the cornet (a small trumpet) in school. It didn’t go as far as it should have, I stopped when we moved to an area where I was bullied a lot and with that I lost interest in almost everything. I have since picked up and fiddled (ha) with the clarinet (didn’t go anywhere) and I have picked around on pianos in piano stores to help cope with what was then diagnosed as straight depression.

Music has a wonderful affect on me. It’s like I get to be a bird. I love birdsong too. So just in the last week I bought an ocarina. That can be pronounced with a long or short o, I use the long because then it sounds like okra. As a good little southern girl I love okra! Moving on. So as it turns out it is an easy little instrument to play. I bought a 10 dollar plastic one and a much more expensive book to teach me. I can now play Twinkle, Twinkle, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Ode to Joy, London Bridge, Long Long Ago, Kumbaya! Of course only while looking at the song book. Basically at this point I have one octave learned not counting flats or sharps.

The One I Have Now!

My ocarina is a soprano C and I really prefer lower notes, so I am eyeing an alto C that is a little more, but still really inexpensive. My one problem is my hands get really sore quickly. But I have found a great nerve cream that seems to help and I work in small bursts. The other problem is I do not have the wind of my younger self. I quit smoking 15 years ago, but it still affects me. I’ll build back up though. Anyway, I am very excited to have music back in my life. It is a mood booster for me and I like learning new stuff.

The Alto C I Want!

The Lesson of Pharoah’s Dream; Fat and Skinny Cows

So I was looking at my memories on facebook and 4 years ago I was reading about Pharoah’s dream of the fat cows and the skinny cows. This can be found at Genesis 41. I appreciated it as much today as I did then. Here is what I got out of it.

First the interpretation of the dreams (there was a dream about grain too but it had the same interpretation). The dream meant that for seven years there would be an abundance of food, thus the fat cows. Then for the seven years after that there would be famine, the skinny cows. In the dream the skinny cows ate up the fat cows.

Next, how I took this personally and want to apply it. I have three emotional disorders, PTSD, bipolar, and an anxiety disorder. So to me the fat cows are the good times. The times everything is running smoothly. The skinny cows represent the bad times. Times when I can’t get my act together.

Now, upon interpreting the dream for Pharoah, Joseph advised him to get someone wise and discerning to save up food from the good years to prepare for the bad. (the skinny cows eating the fat cows) I find that with my mental health, as well as my physical health I can do the same thing. When you have a good day, make a note of it. Do it in a journal, facebook, just find a way to make note of it so that you can go back and see it again during the not so great (or flat out horrible) days. This will lead you to reminiscing times that were good and changing your attitude to a more pleasant one.

Some people say the Bible is outdated and not useful for today. I disagree. Right here I took a Bible story, one that would seem to not have much relevance, and applied it to my life. I found quite a bit of value in it. So secondary point of this post is don’t disregard the Bible. It is useful for today’s world and today’s society.

Visit jw.org for more information on applying the Bible in your life.

Anxiety: My Nightmare

I have several, we’ll call them ailments, one of which is an anxiety disorder. Of everything that is wrong with me this one is the worse. I cope so well with everything else. I keep a smile on my face and I mean it. But this is the one that just stops me dead in my tracks.

Anxiety is like a baby elephant sitting on your chest and stomach. The pressure is awful. Add to that a swimming head and negative “I can’t do it” or “I’m not worth it” or “no one cares” thoughts. Your heart races like you have actually been in a race, and you can’t catch your breath. And all of this for no logical reason.

My current trigger is the Zoom! meetings for my spiritual gatherings. I hear all those voices at once and my heart begins to race. Even if it is one voice at a time, the fact that I can tell it is many people just makes me sick.

There are things I can do to help this, but somehow I just don’t manage it. Mostly because you can’t think straight to manage it. I went through a wonderful course called WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and it had you make a whole notebook of stuff for when things go wrong. The problem is it is too overwhelming for me to look at so I ended up stashing it and don’t use it. So maybe letting it out here will help me get my act together some. So here is what I have come up with:

  1. Don’t get on until the last minute.
  2. Turn the volume down as far as it will go.
  3. Take my medicine just before meetings, they’re actually due at night. But once a week in the morning won’t kill me.
  4. Pray BEFORE I get on.
  5. Set an alarm so I am not on early.
  6. Put these reminders on my bulletin board to keep them fresh in my head.

These seem reasonable. Maybe Thursday evening will be better. Today is shot. But I will do things to make me feel better. I wish we weren’t on lock-down, I would be at my best friends house trying to make the day better. But much better to be safe than sorry, so I will keep on trucking. Maybe I should pull that action plan out and see what my thoughts were on all of this a couple of years ago. Maybe it will help.

I want to add one last thing. If there is someone in your life who suffers from an anxiety disorder, be patient. I know it makes no sense to you, and it might never make sense to you. But it is real and sometimes horrifying to the person who has it. I am not overstating this, I promise. So be patient, listen, hold their hand, or if they need space, then give it to them, but not too much. We need to know someone cares and is there for us even when we are a flat mess.

Okay, one more last thing. For those suffering I want to give out the crisis line. A lot of people think of the crisis line as for suicides only, it is NOT! Anytime you feel out of control or even if you just need to talk out a problem they are there for you. It took me a while to realize that was really true, but I have found that it is. They are happy to help you get through whatever it is that is pulling you down.

Veterans Crisis Line: www.veteranscrisisline.net Phone number: 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1

For those who are not veterans you use the same number, just don’t press the one. The website is www.suicidepreventionhotline.org

Please, don’t be afraid to use these, you DESERVE the help.