I don’t believe in New Years resolutions. I think that if you want to make a change to your life, start right away. What is the point of waiting? It seems like an excuse to put off making a change. At least that’s how it used to be for me. I do it throughout the year as well. For example, I say that I will start eating healthy again beginning next week. I did that a couple of weeks ago and it didn’t work that often. I keep finding excuses to push back the start date. If you want to make a change, do it as soon as possible. Don’t put off any changes you want to make.
My thoughts are racing. Thoughts go through my mind, in and out, so quickly that none of them are full ideas. My racing thoughts are making it extremely difficult for me to focus on any one important idea. For example, I’m trying to figure out what health insurance would fit me best, but my mind can’t focus on anything, especially things that are that important.
It’s difficult when you can’t make up your mind. My husband asks me questions, simple questions, that I don’t know the answer to. My husband can’t understand why I can’t figure out what I want. Most people can’t understand why I can’t make decisions; even I can’t figure it out. Is it just because my thoughts are racing, is it because I’m over-tired, is it due to my anxiety? If I could figure out why I can’t make decisions, then maybe I could start learning to make up my mind.
I don’t know why I keep talking. I’m getting better at controlling it, but I still seem to annoy others when I talk. I even annoy myself when I talk sometimes. I tend to repeat myself over and over. I ask a lot of questions, too many questions. I wish I could blame it all on my memory loss, but I would talk too much even before I started having memory problems. Every time I try to talk less, I end up not talking at all instead. I suppose I’m an all or nothing kind of person; I’ve never really been able to find any middle ground.
I have noticed that I tend to talk when there is silence. I get uncomfortable and for some reason, I decide that talking will make the situation more comfortable. It never works out that way. I usually end up saying the wrong thing. I think it would be okay if I decided to be a little more quite, if it is my decision and not because of someone else. Life would be easier if I started making decisions for myself instead of for everyone else. I don’t know if I can do that, but I can start trying.
I’ve learned a lot of different lessons over the years. I thought I might share what I have learned with you one lesson at a time; hopefully you don’t have to learn these things the hard way like I did. One of the more recent lessons I’ve learned is to be open-minded. I have always wanted to do things when they were my ideas. I would listen to other people and allow them to explain why they believe I should try something their way, but then I wouldn’t act upon it. A few of these examples include writing, meditation, and doing research.
My AA sponsor used to tell me all of the time that writing would help me work through some issues. I always told her that writing wasn’t for me, even though I never spent much time trying. This went on for years. Writing was also suggested to me by others, and I continued to ignore the suggestion. Finally, my aunt told me that she thought I would be good at blogging and that I could get something out of it. She suggested that I simply look over the idea and see if it’s right for me. After a few weeks, I finally took her suggestion. I now blog every day, usually multiple times a day, and I find it to be extremely helpful. I generally can write my way through issues that I’m struggling with; by the end of a post, I have come up with a solution for the problem I started writing about. Imagine how much easier my life would have been if I had simply been more open to the idea about a decade ago.
Multiple people have suggested to me that meditation could help me. My mom, aunt, sponsor, and several others would bring up the idea of meditation. For some time, they tried to talk me into doing it, but I was against the idea. I had an experience with meditation when I first got sober, and it wasn’t a good one. I had a hard time sitting still, and I was forced to work on meditating. Personally, I don’t like to do anything I’m forced to do. I’m extremely stubborn and I would prefer choose to do an activity on my own terms than have someone else strongly suggest I try it. It has been twelve years since my negative experience with meditation and I was unwilling to let go of that until just a week ago. I finally decided, based on my aunt’s suggestion, to try guided imagery meditation to hopefully help improve my painful bladder disorder. Maybe I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I was willing to try meditation years ago.
It has also been suggested that I do research regarding any suggestion from my doctors. Research is something that I like to do, but I generally only do it when it’s about something I’m already interested in. What I should do is research every option so I know the truth about my choices instead of just researching what I think is a good idea. There’s a lot of information available to help make decisions regarding our health. I struggle when it’s time to decide how to move forward with my physical or mental health. The research that I do is a great way to help me make educated decisions.
I have come to realize that my life could have been easier if I had been more open-minded. What I have learned from all of this is to work hard at being open-minded. The willingness to consider new options and ideas is a wonderful quality that a person can have to help make their life easier to manage. I don’t have to keep looking back at my past when I wasn’t open-minded; all I need to do now is look to the future with an open mind.
I have so many different struggles that it makes me wonder which difficulties have been there all along, and which ones are side effects of medication or ECT. Something has to change. Whatever it is, I really need to see some improvement. Hopefully I don’t have to wait too long. The three biggest struggles that come to my mind are memory loss, trouble finding the right words when talking (aphasia), and trouble making decisions. I mentioned these issues to my psychiatrist the other day. He told me that the aphasia is most likely caused by the Lithium. High levels of Lithium can cause aphasia in some individuals. Even though my Lithium level is low, it can still cause aphasia. I chose not to make any changes to my Lithium because we are already making a couple big changes such as increasing my Clozapine dose and stopping ECT treatments. It’s not a good idea to make too many changes at once. If something does happen (positive or negative), I wouldn’t know which medication change caused the new effect.
The memory loss is definitely from ECT. Since I have decided to stop doing ECT treatments, I’m wondering if my memory will get better and how long it will take for it to improve. Part of me is curious if my memory will get back to what it used to be; I’ve done 33 treatments and I’m not sure if there are any long-term side effects. Some of my medications, such as Lithium and Tegretol, can also cause memory loss. There is a possibility that some of my memory issues are from the medications, which means it’s possible that my memory won’t return to what it used to be. I guess I just have to wait and see about this issue. I hate waiting.
Problems making decisions is another issue I’m dealing with at this time. This is known to be a difficulty with depression. The only problem is that I still have the same issue when I’m manic or even hypomanic. The problem isn’t going away. I have difficulty making small and large decisions. Sometimes I can’t even figure out what to eat when I’m in my own house. My husband will ask if I want to go do something, like go bowling. I don’t know what I want to do, so I just tell him that I’ll do whatever he wants to do. I think that’s frustrating for him, at least I imagine it would be frustrating. Sometimes, he will ask me if I want something. For example, he will ask if I want ice cream. I respond to him by saying that I don’t need any. Then he tells me that he didn’t ask if I needed any, he asked if I want any. I don’t know how to answer that because I don’t know what I want. I wish this was less difficult to deal with, maybe one day it will get easier.
I was very nervous about my psych appointment yesterday; I was so nervous that I even had an anxiety attack. I’m not used to telling anyone what I want, especially when it’s different from others want. Standing up for my own desires is nerve-wracking for me. I prepared for my psych appointment yesterday by writing down exactly what I wanted to say. I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to stop ECT because it has become too hard on my body and my mind. I’ve been doing ECT for close to a year and a half, and I just can’t take it anymore. I explained my reasons and to my surprise, he was okay with my choice. He explained that he respects my choice; I couldn’t ask for more than that. I’m very happy with the outcome of that appointment.
He gave me several options about what we could do moving forward. He told me I probably wouldn’t like a couple of the options, but he was going to mention them anyway. I’m glad he did mention them (without any pressure). It was nice to see all of my options at once, even though I didn’t like most of them. Together, we decided to slowly increase my Clozapine up to 400mg a night. We will increase the dose by 25mg each week until we reach our target goal of 400mg. We are increasing slowly to hopefully avoid some negative side effects such as dizziness, fevers, and drowsiness. It will take two months to reach our goal. I will see him in three months. This gives me time to get to the target dose and then allow my body to adjust to the dose for a while. I’m really hoping that this change will help. The Clozapine has helped quite a bit so far, I have a feeling that it will continue to help.
My husband pointed out to me that this is the first time that I made my own decision regarding my mental health, and stuck by it. He was proud of me. To be honest, I’m proud of myself. I know it sounds a little ridiculous to be so happy about this decision, but it’s a huge step for me.
Late tomorrow afternoon, I have an appointment with my psychiatrist. I’m really nervous about this appointment. He is going to go over my Clozapine blood level with me and change my dose. I’ not really worried about that, but I have just decided that I don’t want to do ECT anymore. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, but I finally made my decision (I think). Right now I’m going every four weeks. So at the very least, I could just start by taking an extra month off and seeing how that goes. If it’s a disaster, then I can think about going back on it.
I wrote down on paper what I want to say to him because I don’t normally stand up for my opinions.I don’t like any type of disagreements. Since I wrote it down, then I know I will be able to say exactly what I want to say. I’m going to tell him, ‘I am no longer willing to do ETC treatments. The stress on my body, the memory loss, and the loss of words in conversations is too much for me. It has been this way for a while. I tried putting it off, but I can’t wait any longer. I’m not willing to do the Ketamine treatments at this time.’ Hopefully I can stick by what I say. There’s a better chance of that happening since I wrote down what to say.’ I’ll let you all know how it goes.
It is important for every individual to set boundaries; it is how people take care of themselves. Setting boundaries is a healthy way to build and maintain relationships with ourselves and with others. Just because it’s healthy, doesn’t make it easy. In fact, setting boundaries is one of my most difficult tasks. In fact, it’s something that I usually fail at doing. I don’t really ever say “no” to others. My automatic answer is always “yes”, even when I practice saying “no” and other similar responses. I don’t know if this is because I’m a people pleaser or because I’m scared to turn someone down, although those reasons seem to be related. I’ve been practicing saying “no” to people when they ask me something. This doesn’t mean I should turn people down all the time; I just need to find balance between saying “yes” and “no”. The following are techniques I use to work toward setting healthy boundaries in my life:
- Know your comfort level. The first step to setting boundaries is to know what you are and are not willing to do. You have to know your own limits, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Knowing yourself and what stresses you out will allow you to know what boundaries to set.
- Practice, practice, practice. I practice saying “no” and giving other responses to questions I know someone is about to ask me. I practice having multiple answers to a question or situation.
- Ask for help. I usually ask my mom or my husband to help me determine how to respond to certain situations. My mom helps me practice my responses. It’s not often that I am able to set a boundary, but when I did a couple of weeks ago, I was so proud of myself and couldn’t wait to share it with my mom; she was excited and proud of me. Asking for help is not a weakness; it helps us become stronger.
- Begin small. When you start small, it can either be with a simple boundary or by setting a boundary with someone you’re comfortable with. Some boundaries can be as simple as stating what you want; I’m not good at doing that either, but I’m working on it.
- Long explanations are not necessary. For example, if someone asks you out to lunch, it’s okay to just say, “I can’t make it, I’m busy then, but thank you for the offer.” The more intricate your reasoning is, the more questionable it appears. There is no need to justify yourself to everyone. You should be comfortable with your response, but you don’t have to make sure everyone else is okay with it.
- Stand by your boundaries. Once we finally set boundaries, we need to stand by our decisions. It’s important, but not easy, to stand up for ourselves. I’m still working on it, but eventually I’ll get there.
- Stay positive. This is something that is extremely difficult; it’s easier said than done. The first step is to stay away from negative people. When someone you’re with is negative, it’s okay to ask them to change the subject. Walking away is also okay. Our minds go negative so easily, so every time I’m negative, I try to find at least one positive thing.
- Put yourself first. Remember, you are important. Your wants and needs are significant. I often don’t stick to my boundaries because I feel guilty or shameful. However, I’ve found out that there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first. It’s part of taking care of you.
These techniques have been very helpful to me. Setting boundaries is probably one of the things I struggle with the most. I’ve gotten better at it, somewhat, but I still need a lot of practice. I’ll get better with time. In this past two month, I’ve said “no” twice, that’s huge for me.