Hypomania, Depression, Anxiety, and Self Care

IMG_2706 On our hike yesterday on a trail at camp.

This past week was great in a lot of ways, but discouraging in some ways.  I was hoping that by quitting my job my anxiety and depression would just disappear.  That I would feel as I did before I started working.  I was so “on top” of things.  I followed a schedule and specific routine every day.  I got up at 6:15 with no trouble.  I was showered and ready (make up and dried hair) by the time we started school.  While Karis was doing her independent work, I was cleaning and doing laundry.  The house was always spotless and the laundry was always caught up.  I made dinner every night and even baked bread a few times a week.  I also made more breakfasts from scratch.  I was just on top of everything.

This week was not that way.  I found myself taking naps every morning while Karis was doing her independent work.  I was just so tired.  I could barely keep my eyes open.  I did laundry, but I didn’t stay on top of it like I did before.  I cleaned up the house, but it wasn’t spotless all the time.  And luckily we ate all meals in the dining hall or we would have been having easy meals like mac n cheese or a frozen dinner.

I talked to my counselor about it last week and she thinks maybe I was having some hypomania the few weeks before I started working.  And a week into working I went down hill (which is normal after hypomania).  It’s discouraging, but it’s also encouraging in some ways. I’m beginning to learn what “normal” is.  Normal is doing some laundry and cleaning up the house some, but it’s not perfection.  I was feeling like I was doing everything perfectly the weeks before I started working, and that can only last so long.  It’s not normal to do everything perfectly.  And it’s okay that I’m not perfect.  I was trying to catch up on sleep this past week, and I’m feeling better now.  I didn’t sleep much for over a month, so it just caught up to me.  It’s okay.  It’s normal to not have a spotless house all the time.

I want to get back into routine this week (meaning no nap every morning), but I don’t plan on sticking to my schedule completely.  I can chill out a little and still follow a routine.

On another note.  I thought I would share something that I’ve been holding back for a while because I thought it made me less of a person.  I have decided to start working towards getting disability (knowing I will probably have to get a lawyer to do this).  I’m actually already on the second step.  I have an appointment with their psychiatrist on the 19th.  I have tried and tried and tried to work, and every single time I do, I end up having to quit because of depression, severe anxiety, and panic attacks.  These things affect my ability to do my job and live my life.  I am coming to terms with the fact that I just can’t work.  Through this process, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I have a debilitating illness that affects my life in every way.  It can be frustrating to say the least because I want to work.  I want to contribute.  I want to be successful at something.  But I’m learning that it’s not something I can do.  I think I’m learning to be okay with it.  I’m submitting to the fact that I have done my best, and now I can move forward.

My goal for the new year is to learn to live this life to the fullest, and part of that is coming to terms with my illness and learning how to take better care of myself.

Self care for me is routine but not a rigid schedule.  It’s hiking sometimes but not obsessively.  It’s showering and getting ready but sometimes just getting dressed and going about my day.  It’s allowing my house to be messy sometimes but keeping it mostly clean (because when it’s too messy I feel anxious).  It’s learning balance.  Eating for enjoyment and for nourishment.  It’s homeschooling my daughter.  It’s baking things from scratch sometimes and buying baked foods sometimes.  It’s drinking hot tea at the end of the day.  It’s playing a game with my family.  It’s being with my camp family even when I don’t feel like leaving my house.  It’s reaching out and loving others.  It’s spending time in the word but not feeling guilty when I miss out that day.  It’s worshipping my Savior out of love and adoration for Him.  It’s realizing that He has a plan and a purpose for every thing.

If I stick to self care every single day (in some shape or form), I am at my best.  I believe that self care is one of the most important things when it comes to mental illness.  If I’m not taking care of myself, I struggle and become anxious and depressed.  It takes a LOT of work to take care of myself some days.  My desire is to reach out to others and love them where they are.  But I must first love and take care of myself.  I used to think this sounded so selfish.  We’re always taught to love others more than we love ourselves.  I’m learning that I can’t pour from an empty cup.  If I’m not taking care of myself then I can’t take care of my family or be there for friends.

I am so convinced that self care is of utmost importance that every single day I ask friends in a small group that I started what they are doing for self care.  It makes every one stop and think about actually taking care of themselves versus just going about the day feeling empty.

How will you take care of yourself today?

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