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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Progress report

A month after my nuclear meltdown, here I am, unsure if I am emotionally and mentally stable or not. If I'm making progress or not.

My mood has been swinging again, from being okay to being in a deep downswing. I'm trying to ward off negative and destructive thoughts, as well as my usual triggers. Sometimes, I'm successful, but most of the time, I'm not. I feel a heavy weight deep inside, and at times, it just becomes too heavy for me to carry.

I wish letting go is easy. Like if you will those negative thoughts to go away, they would. But that's not the case. Most of the time, these thoughts decide to linger for long periods of time, leaving me down and depressed.

But the past few weeks have also been marked by happy days. We celebrated my mom and her twin sister's birthday. We had this burger-and-fries party at my uncle's house, and I got to introduce my boyfriend PM to my mom's side of the family. We had a blast. Last week, I just stayed at home and went on a Gossip Girl season 2 marathon while drinking glass after glass of ice cold, chocolate drink. There were also mall trips and attending mass with my close friend and colleague Maika. Looking at all these right now, I must say that there are times that I am indeed happy. My downswings just leave me feel so drained that sometimes, I no longer have the energy to do something fun.

Last Tuesday, I visited my psychiatrist again. He already took my antidepressant out of the list of medicines I have to take, but he did increase my dosage of Lamotrigine from 100mg to 150 mg. My dosage of Quetiapine remains at 300mg. Then next week, I'll be seeing a new psychiatrist (referred by my current psychiatrist) who specializes in child, adolescent, and adult psychitatrist, and who conducts cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

I'm actually looking forward to doing CBT. I'm positive that it will indeed help me change my negative thinking patterns and start with the process of letting go of bad thoughts. I have high hopes for this. Meds alone didn't work, and with CBT to be added to the equation, maybe I will have the right formula to actually get better. We'll see.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Down and desperate

These days, I'm in a desperate attempt to cheer myself up. I'm so tired of my extreme mood swings, wherein I feel okay for maybe a week, only to plunge back into depression in the next few weeks. Of course, I take my medications as prescribed and think of happy thoughts, but there's only so much distracting I can do. I've accepted the fact that some things don't go away by sheer willpower.

I've been spending a lot of time with my friend, also a colleague at work, who's trying to move on from a breakup. We don't wallow in each other's sad stories. We do endorphin-inducing things together, like go jogging every week. We've heard mass together once, and have gone to two mall strolls together as well.

In my desperate attempt to feel happy and boost my self-esteem, I've bought myself some nice things (thanks to our annual leave conversion, I got a little extra). After depositing the amount I needed for my payables, I went to my favorite stores and got something for myself. It wasn't a spending spree (I hope it wasn't). Most of the items I got were on sale. I even bought some items using gift certificates that I have. As I've said, I'm desperate, and I wanted to feel good about myself.

When I wore what I bought to work, and people gave me compliments like "nice dress", "wow!", "I like your top", and "you look nice", I felt good. Sorry to sound shallow, but hearing those positive comments gave me the boost I need. Yes, buying myself nice things and thanking people for their comments do not address the root cause of my problem (which are my mental illness and negative self-image), but  they made me feel good. Even for just a while.

I don't know how long will I be in this downswing (again). Yesterday, when I attended mass, the responsorial psalm was, "My God, My God, why have You abandoned me?" At times, I do feel abandoned, even if I know very well that God won't do that to me. Maybe He's not abandoning me. He's just giving me a heavy cross to bear. And if Jesus was able to bear his cross, then so can I. I don't know how, so I have no other choice by lifting all my intentions to Him.

And while I'm desperately cheering myself up, maybe I should also learn to block destructive thoughts and avoid negative triggers. Again, I don't know how I will do this, except to trust that eventually, things will be okay.

P.S. I should probably avoid malls for the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Life lessons from Becky Bloomwood

I've been reading Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series to entertain myself. I've been in a depressive swing for around three weeks already, and I badly need something to cheer me up. Thanks to Sophie Kinsella, I get a dose of hilarity every once in a while.

I'm now reading the fourth book in the series: Shopaholic & Sister. The main character, Becky Bloomwood, is so hilarious. Whether she's dealing with her shopping- and spending-related concerns or difficult people like Luke's mother, she manages to inject a funny bit here and there.

Some people (and they might be my colleagues in the writing world) might scoff at the idea of reading chick lit. They might even think Becky is so shallow. To some extent, yes she might be. But her humorous take on the difficulties thrown her way is a reminder that, once in a while, it's good to loosen up. Here are some of the things I learned from Becky:

1. Some people are complete cows that they don't deserve an ounce of our attention. 
To be kind is a good thing, and we need to give and receive kindness. But some people simply don't like the kindness we are extending to them. I only realized this recently. Sometimes, we try our best to be really nice to a person for his or her peace of mind and ours as well. But sometimes, the result is far from our expectations. I'm not saying that people who refuse our kindness are complete cows (some are not). But if those people have other "motives," maybe they are they might not welcome our kindness. Or worse, our kindness makes them feel awkward. In this case, it is in our best interest to move on and let go (although this is easier said than done. Believe me).

2. Spoil yourself once in a while, but make sure you only do so ONCE IN A WHILE. 
I can't emphasize this enough. Becky's problems almost always arises from her uncontrolled spending. Of course, she likes shopping (if she doesn't, the books would have the word 'shopaholic' in their titles), but she goes overboard a lot of times. I love shopping, too, but I do so with a budget in mind. For example, my budget for dresses is P500 to P1,000 (if a dress costs below P500, then, great!!!). The same goes for shoes, although sometimes, I extend my ceiling price to P1,500, depending on how comfy the shoes are. For sneakers and running shoes (I only have one pair of running shoes, by the way), P2,500 is my limit. Shirts and other tops should not exceed P500. As my friend and I would always say, #NoToOverdrafts!

3. True friends and family won't leave you alone. 
This is cliche, but it's true. Becky was able to snake her way out of her problems with a lot of help from her family and friends. I'm not saying that we should abuse their kindness. Every experience is a learning experience. A difficult one teaches us a lot of lessons, and our friends and family are the ones who make sure that those lessons stick with us.

4. Shoes and bags can make or break an outfit. 
This might sound shallow, but it's true. Haha! So before leaving the house, we should at least have a top-to-toe glance of our whole outfit. If something feels or looks off, it probably is. And being comfortable doesn't mean we should look drab. We can mix both comfort and style, and it doesn't hurt to read fashion magazines once in a while.

5. A well-put together outfit can dramatically boost confidence. 
And this is what I'm trying to do. I'm always down because of my depressive swings, and a lot of times, I feel terrible. That's why I want to improve myself in all aspects: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I believe that before we like the other aspects of ourselves, we should learn how to love the person we see in the mirror. Then, everything will follow.

There you have it. I didn't expect that I could pick up a life lesson or two from a piece of chick lit. Haha! I'm having so much fun reading these Shopaholic books that I don't care if I get judged by fellow writers. A lot of things may burden us, and sometimes, all we need is a dose of laughter to make us feel better. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Downward spiral

Just when I thought I was getting better, it turned out, I wasn't. After a couple of weeks of feeling great, I'm now back in my more-than-depressed state. I'm a trainwreck. My anxiety attacks have been uncontrollable that I downed seven pills of tranquilizers to fall into a deep sleep. That combination of seven tranquilizers isn't high enough for someone to overdose. But it is an attempt, with the goal of falling into a deep sleep. I was expecting to wake up after 24 or maybe 48 hours, but after two hours, I woke up (surprised at my tolerance for the said medicine). I ate a sandwich as my late dinner. I needed to wash my face and brush my teeth but I couldn't walk straight, so someone had to accompany me to the bathroom. I then went back to sleep, and the following day, I woke up as if I had a hangover.

And it took only one trigger to send me into this dark place. One trigger. One person. One negligible person. One irrelevant person.

And now, I find myself going deeper and deeper into this rabbit hole. But it's not Wonderland I'm led to. It's Disasterland. And I'm still in Disasterland.

I've skipped two work days because of terrible depressive and anxiety attacks. I feel the weight of guilt. I feel the weight of sadness. I feel the weight of pain tearing my insides, so one night, I reached for my eyebrow razor and cut myself on my arm. Releasing pain through pain may sound ridiculous, but it actually works, until your skin cries blood.

My cuts aren't deep, and they're almost healed by now. But I am not yet back to my feeling-great state. I took two steps forward last month, but last week, I took five steps back. I'm now stuck in Disasterland. Friends and family have offered me support. Two of my friends even gave me "love offerings" in the form of teabags and a brand-new lipstick. I appreciate all their efforts. Everyone is pulling me up, but I can't bear to lift myself because of the weight on my shoulders.

This, too, shall pass. I know that. But when? I don't know. My psychiatrist has referred me to someone who can also offer me Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I need help to control my negative and destructive thinking patterns. I need help for me to realize that everything is not my fault. I need help to stop myself from thinking that I cause catastrophe on other people's lives. I need help with my self-esteem, too.

I need a lot of help, and I need all the help I can get. I pray to God especially when I'm in church that he extends me His healing hand. I believe the people around me--my doctor, my family, my boyfriend, and my friends--are His instruments in extending me His healing hand. I've lost sight of the light, but I don't need to bother myself with that as of the moment. I just need to be stable first before I can even think of feeling great again.