Different month, same tune

Still in that possibly-hypo-manic-but-not-so-much-“up”-other-than-can’t-sleep-so-that’s-a-thing state. Ugg.

Also the anxiety is still back. Its effect has wavered a bit over the month of January, but it hasn’t fully subsided at any point. And the OCD is there along with it. I’m beginning to see the obsessive behaviors as related to my anxiety. While I have some obsessive tendencies at all times, when my anxiety is worse, my OCD is worse. And I think that I use my OCD is a mechanism to try to assuage my anxiety.

A simple example is being anxious or stressed about travel, I’ll fuss with my shoes and socks more[1].

I also heard something recently that equated someone else’s anxiety with an increase in their obsessive tendencies – which probably helped me make this connection.

The last few days have definitely had full bore “rush mental” state, so definitely a hypo-manic state – compared to previous, when I wasn’t quite ready to call it that.

 


 

Information Diet: Mostly good – that is “low” information. However had some external events that encroached and … ahh screw the abstractness. Craziness in the world[2] broke through my wall and I got sucked into watching more than was helpful or necessary. I’ve begun to see how social media[3] can exacerbate this for me and I now have a hard rule that I have to get off all social media when I’m not doing well – because I don’t want to stop, so I have a rule and have to follow it. I invoked that rule earlier this month.

Caffeine: Same old, same old. I think I had two days where I used a bit more later in the day to help grease the social wheels, but then also had several days where I just didn’t have any just as it happened (no particular plan). So, while I still miss having coffee, this new order of very small controlled amounts, works fairly well.

I still think taking longer breaks off caffeine is a good idea and I am due for that. But I don’t expect it will change anything. Always worth checking since caffeine can sneak up on me.

 

Diet: Doing really well in 2017 so far. I’ve allowed myself a few scheduled breaks, but I’ve executed according to food plan.[4]

I’ve previously worried that eating well could be problematic for me, maybe pushing me down. Well, that hasn’t been the case this month, so it seems clear that isn’t an issue.

 

Interaction: My interactions have mostly been limited. Mostly as an effect of being busy with work, but I just haven’t had time to add in other interactions. The few long draining interactions that I have had, I’ve planned well for self-care after them. And I have canceled other interactions – or said “no” – when I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle them.

More recently, I’ve been expanding interaction more. Thought I feel that is an effect of the hypo-mania pushing me to do more things and “expand my sphere to take over the world.” I’ll have to be guarded on this – expecting a potential future down -, but so far it has been a controlled and acceptable amount.

Exercise: This has been good or great. That is, regular, near daily light to moderate exercise[5]. Part of me worries that the mood boosting effects of exercise exacerbate hypo-mania. While I do think that could be a problem, I don’t know but – and haven’t even bothered to check research since – it is way too early, that seems unlikely, and I’m not about to stop unless I get desperate. And I’d read up on whether that is a potential problem. Again, I doubt it, since almost everything I’ve read is that exercise helps with nearly every aspect of mental health.

Regardless, this is a big change from probably the entire history of this blog to this point.

 

Stress: Mixed: medium-high. Only a two or three acute, high stress points this month. And the month ended with a medium-high level of stress that will contain for the short-term. So stress is going to be a bit higher for the next while.

I’ve been doing so great with various elements of life, I worry that this stress and the hypo-mania, and the crash that will follow it, may derail the great, solid, steady progress I’ve been making.[6]

I hate feeling that fragile.

I feel like a mechanical engineer working on some large steampunk Rube Goldberg machine – my health is this precarious contraption. I’m building an elaborate complex of gears and pulleys – it fills a large greenhouse up to the seventy foot ceilings… and all it will take is for some small rock thrown by the wind to shatter a window and destroy the machine I’m working on.

 

Induction: Yup. More recently. I’m in a season of life right now where there are concrete talks that involve positive futures, so it isn’t some daydreaming or general discussion. These are plans and schedules. So they are extra “inductive”[7] compared to other general discussions that are inductive.

Also lots of new learning recently. Which always has an inductive effect on my mental state.

All this isn’t bad or good – but definitely contributes to my hypo-manic, up, state.

 


[1] Socks and shoes and getting them on “right” is one of my compulsions – but just an example to illustrate: it could be any obsession compulsion.

[2] Reader from the future go read up on events in January 2017 – particularly geo-political and particularly in what was known at the time as “the United States of America.”

[3] I’ll say “social media” here but for me, it’s Twitter. And it would be Reddit, but I don’t reddit, just that I see the homepage and recognize it as: “Wow, that would suck me in and spit me out so fast” so I avoid it. Like, I imagine, a recovering prescription opioid addict might look at heroine and react: “Yup, that clearly would hook me – better not even taste that.”

[4] I’ve also been taking a multi-vitamin for a a few months straight. I’m not sure if this has any effect, I’ve tried the multi-vitamin on and off. But since I haven’t recorded my use very well against my mental health, I don’t have any reason to suspect that it helps or hinders. Hence this footnote. Currently, just finished a course of multi-vitamins and also a period of doing very well mental-health-wise followed by trending into a long hypo-manic period.

[5] Hello, New Year’s resolution.

[6] Not just the New Year’s resolutions, but I ended 2016 with a long, sustained period of slow progress at being better. Healthier mentally, physically, and that naturally also flowed into being healthier emotionally.

[7] Many “Henrys”.

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Different month, same tune

Some thoughts from the silence

5:08am

The interleaving months have been filled with various struggles, though none new.

Recent stress has brought a level of anxiety that I haven’t had to deal with in quite some time. Physical tics, itches, and muscle adjustments; stress from travel, extroversion, difficult memories, and reduced time to restore myself. These stresses exacerbated the anxiety but I don’t think they were the cause – the anxiety started before the stresses.


Coming out of the anxiety somewhat was unusual. The anxiety got dramatically better in the span of a day. I had spent time trying to relax and restore. This time I had scheduled, knowing I’d need the time and space following other stressful events.

However, it didn’t seem to help. And, after a weekend, I was at my worst – far and away. I continued with some activities intended to help, but wasn’t optimistic.

But, in that day, things shifted. As usual, it’s more of a realization noted while looking in the rearview mirror not in the moment. But I did realize that evening that I was better.

Despite thinking back on my activities, I couldn’t pinpoint a likely cause for the improvement. Not that I really think it works in an obvious deterministic fashion, but still worth the question for potential learning of how to care for myself.


On the whole time more broadly, being more conscious of my anxiety greatly improves my ability to handle it. Likely via a mechanism of distance and perspective. Simply being aware of mental health issues and thinking of them as such is the single more useful thing I’ve learned in the previous year.


As usual, entries here slant towards times of being up. Time of being down fill the silence. By definition, less energy to accomplish things translates into fewer entries. More nights of disturbed sleep, more entries.

Even keeled time also tend to reflect as quiet periods with fewer entries here.


Some thoughts from the silence

Anxiety, continued normal

5:33am

Not as crazy early, thankfully.

Been doing much better recently. I’d like to think that this is due to taking better care of myself, but I’m not so delusional as to think my conscious actions are the primary driver of my health. I do have some power here, but it’s far from completely within my control.

I have been having more anxiety in general. That has been a bit of a learning experience to feel otherwise well and healthy but yet have this anxiety to contend with. Previously, I hadn’t really thought through how my anxiety interacted with my up-down cycles. It seems completely independent. Looking back, I can identify other periods where my main struggle is just experiencing anxiety.

I haven’t been particularly “up” recently. Definitely not down – mostly middling, slightly up. The anxiety comes, as it often does, in periods of repetition. There will be a trigger or two and anxiety will well up, threatening to overtake me. I’ve experienced a few instances in public where I wasn’t able to handle it very well though I suspect no one but me really knew the inner turmoil – it didn’t spill outside me too far.


It wasn’t my brain that initially woke me up tonight. It was obviously an external environmental factor. But my brain was instantly alert. Not any rushed thoughts, but I suspected that I was now “awake”. As it was, I tried to settle back down only to have one thought after another pop into my brain, insisting on being dealt with, resolved, or investigated. That was my final tip-off that this wasn’t going to be just a brief period of wakefulness, but that my mind was up and running at full.


Trigger check-in:

Information diet: Many cutbacks.

I cut back several weeks ago, and also made a more concerted effort to cut back further a week ago. I’ve been allowing myself more of various types of information input and realized that some of it, while not immediately obviously a problem, was in the longer-term detrimental to my health and happiness.

I think that’s what is so insidious about the information inputs: some things aren’t really a problem immediately. It’s only by allowing them for longer periods that I feel they are detrimental – and it’s really not obvious that they are the culprit.

That non-obviousness makes me wonder if my current anxiety is exacerbated by my current information diet and whether it would be helpful to cut back further. I’ll probably try to cut back further and see how it helps.

 

Caffeine: Strictly controlled.

I had been hoping to have it occasionally at most. But I find it very helpful to get my day started. So I have a very precise, controlled, amount and otherwise avoid all caffeine.

I also use it as an aid when dealing with the outside world. Prior to a situation that I know will be stressful, I may plan to have another small amount of caffeine. This week, prior to going out for a longer period of personal interaction in the evening, I scheduled a smaller morning amount of caffeine so that I could have a second small dose of caffeine prior to going out. (Still not late when I consumed it.) I’ve done this a few times and find it can be very helpful by setting up my internal feelings well for navigating social situations. I attribute it to the general positive outlook that it engenders.

 

Diet: Mostly good.

I’ve been predominantly eating well throughout, with a few occasions of eating in a celebratory manner with friends. This is now a relatively long stretch of holding a pretty good diet.

 

Interaction: More than usual.

Definitely a higher level of interaction than usual. Some work events, and some increased personal social times. Mostly this hasn’t felt as draining as expected. Though I may be just more attuned to expecting this than I have in the past, so it’s just as draining as it has ever been and I’m just monitoring more closely and expecting worse results than normal by being hyper-aware of this.

 

Exercise: None.

This has been sadly lacking. The small amounts that I had been doing previously, I haven’t even achieved to maintain. Some of this driven by scheduling conflict (or lack of prioritizing it), some just lack of effort in this area. I should prioritize it a bit higher. But, other than that, I’m not sure what to do and I don’t think that will be sufficient to get exercise to the point that I think it will be helpful.

 

Stress: Relatively low, some high spots.

Mostly the bits of higher stress have been covered previously: some stress from social interactions, but also a few other stressors from outside forces beyond my control. Two in particular come to mind that triggered a good deal of anxiety for me.


 

Anxiety, continued normal