Struggling with the Elephant in the Room

A Manic Depressive Blog

It’s a New Day, I’m feeling Slightly Better- Today’s Post is on Ways to Deal with Depression/Mania

A New Day, A new Beginning

A New Day, A new Beginning

So far today has been a lot better then yesterday, I guess writing out my frustrations helped to ease my mind, I still feel the same way, but at least the pain isn’t as bad. The odd thing, is how popular the post is. Maybe everyone wants to read my rants and see how bad my self-hatred is, or maybe it’s the title, or the keywords, or just luck. I’m not really certain, but I’m happy people read it. I’m definitely not perfect, and maybe someone out there read the post and realized they aren’t alone in this crazy world. That some days we just feel so horrible, it’s as if our minds are trying to destroy us. Or other days we feel like we’re drowning in the darkness of depression. But one thing is for certain, we can’t give up, no matter how hard it gets. We all have the strength to survive, we just have to latch onto something. For me, it’s my cat Domino. I love him dearly and he’s helped me over the years. In fact, if it wasn’t for him I don’t know how far I would have gotten. Yes I know a lot of it was me, but it helps to have something to grab onto (it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you can hold on tight and know that it will pull you out of your hell). It also helps to have a hobby; mine’s watching TV and playing video games (I love being able to escape from reality and drift off into a new word that doesn’t demand anything from me or judge me, a place where my depression seems to evaporate and I feel invincible).

I guess that’s what today’s post is going to be about, ways to deal with manic/depressive episodes. For the longest time I suffered from severe mixed episodes and/or rapid cycling (it really depends on which doctor you talk to, as both episode types are very similar). I could have multiple episodes in a day, swinging from severe depression to extreme mania and back again- sometimes this happened in the same hour and it got really stressful, even frightening. There were days I just wanted it all to end and unfortunately I self medicated to compensate. It started with alcohol.

Alcohol is not a good way to deal with depression/mania

Alcohol is not a good way to deal with depression/mania

(www.recoveryoptions.us)

Some quick background: In high school I never drank or used drugs. In fact I never went to parties, or hung out with people after school. When I got to college I was desperate to fit in, so I hung out with the football team and started to drink with them. My first night drinking I blacked out after having over 15 beers. I thought it was great, I was “fitting” and I loved the buzz. I started drinking regularly and would party with the football team. My drinking increased as I tried to keep up with offensive linemen and feel to peer pressure. A few months into my drinking, I went to a party at the baseball house and went crazy, I ended up blacking out for almost 16 hours, waking up in a pool of vomit-well there was vomit everywhere. I convinced myself I would never drink again and it was on that day my anxiety and paranoia was born. The football players messed with my head when I asked them what happened and it escalated to the point where I was afraid to leave my dorm room. I was convinced they were stalking me and trying to destroy my life. I was also convinced everyone else was after me, so I locked myself in my room and only left for class. Because of this, I developed agoraphobia and social anxiety.

As this increased I started to drink again, this time while I was alone. I started spending the weekends at my parent’s house and my dad found out I had been drinking. I thought he was going to be pissed, but it was the opposite, he was ecstatic because he had finally found a drinking buddy.  It was around this time my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and to cope with the stress I started drinking excessively. It was the first time I used alcohol to deal with depression…my mom is ok now, she has been in remission for over 8 years…Fast forward a few years. I was working the night shift at a hotel and I was a full blown alcoholic. My doctor was worried that I was killing my liver so she demanded that I stopped drinking. She also prescribed an anti-depressant, which actually led me to quit drinking. But at the same time it caused my mania to grow, I just didn’t know it at the time. I was sober for about a week until I started smoking weed to fill the void. Overtime I developed a heavy habit, I also started to abused pain killers and benzos. Because of the drug abuse my mental stability was shattered. I caused my episodes to increase in intensity and frequency. Eventually I was diagnosed Bipolar type I, with OCD, severe social anxiety, PTSD and addiction. It took me a few years to quit using and by the time I did, I ended up in a mental hospital after dropping out of graduate school (sorry for skipping  a lot of my story, I’m late for work and it there is to much for just one post. I’ll come back to it in the future) and spent the next two years isolated in my apartment while I recovered. During these two years, anxiety increased exponentially and depression became severe. There were times I didn’t think I would make it, but a few things helped me through this period (well that was a lot longer of a background then I had anticipated, but now we are back to the discussion on ways to cope).

Depression

Depression

(jeffreymasson.wordpress.com)

When my depression got really bad, I found that doing something mindless really helped: watching TV, cleaning, playing with Domino, playing video games etc. That Is one of the things I’ve told people to do when dealing with depression (or anxiety, or mania), it doesn’t have to be what I suggested. Rather, the idea is to do something you love, while spending as little effort as possible. The reason is that it allows your mind to relax and escape, you aren’t adding to the stress and you are giving yourself a chance to breath. That’s why I love TV. Not only do I get to relax, but I can lose myself in TV show without spending much effort, further, I can stop anytime I want  or go as long as I want. The idea is to just escape. Another thing I loved to do is listen to a book on tape, the idea is the same as I don’t have to spend much energy and I can let my mind wander and for that bit of time I can forget about my struggles. The goal is to find something you love and to have it available so that if you feel depressed or anxious, or unstable you can help yourself heal. Another thing that helps is talking with someone, just having some human contact can help alleviate the stress and again can help you escape from your worries (you don’t have to do this in person, in fact you could just text). Taking a shower is another great way to relax and the concept once again is similar, allowing your mind to wander and for you to have some quite and some peaceful time where you can forget about your worries.

For me, finding something that allows me to escape into another reality helps almost as much as therapy (furthermore, it allows me to deal with my depression without having resort to illicit drugs. Although there are days where I struggle to keep those thoughts in check, but I’m human and not infallible). Also therapy, for me, helps tremendously but it’s not for everyone. The idea is to find someone you can talk to, who is both willing to listen and provide feedback (it can be a friend, a trusted relative, a teacher, a pastor/rabbi, someone you meet on the street, or even a journal. The reason I put a journal, is that it allows you to get your thoughts and feelings onto paper and in doing so, you can step back and examine what you have been going through. It gives a new perspective that you might not have seen before).

Hope for a better future

Hope for a better future

(wolfhirschhorn.org)

I’m going to end this post with question: how do you deal with depression/mania and do you have any tips or tricks that you do to help keep yourself sane (or at least provide yourself with some comfort)? I’m always looking for ways to help myself when I’m struggling and I know there are things I’ve yet to do.

Wow this has been the longest post I’ve written in quite some time.

I hope you are all well and look forward to hearing from you,

Dave.

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6 thoughts on “It’s a New Day, I’m feeling Slightly Better- Today’s Post is on Ways to Deal with Depression/Mania

  1. Hello Dave,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with others; you truly do help others, like myself, to not feel so alone and isolated……to know there are other people who feel the same way. I suffer from depression and anxiety also and many of your comments made me analyze things. I forgot how having a cat (or a dog for some people) can help. After my cat died years ago, I’ve been too afraid to adopt another cat…….afraid of the pain of losing another cat eventually. But you made me remember the absolute joy that my cat brought to me and how I would wake up happy knowing I had a wonderful companion in the house with me.

    Distracting our minds with hobbies is a very good suggestion. Watching tv is a great distraction, as well as the computer. I think reading a good book is also a great distraction. Playing with animals, as you mentioned. Walking outside can be beneficial (but I know this can be difficult for people, myself included, who have social anxiety or agoraphobia).

    You are brave to share your innermost thoughts and feelings with others; I really respect you for that. And by sharing, you are helping countless numbers of other people to know they are not alone in those thoughts and feelings.

    Thanks for your blogs!

  2. Hey.. I missed out on reading your blog whilst being on a week trip away from home. So.. here’s my two cents.

    Well, you already know the summarised version of me having to deal with my mental health a few years back. Let me recall.. actually, I don’t like remembering this part of my life, but, if it’ll help someone else, I wouldn’t mind. Alright.. this will be quite a long post as well.

    Unfortunately for me, there were no one around to listen to me. My parents and grandparents were against me and what they think I’ve done to make them pay so much for my university fees. My bf left me. My friends were living their lives as though I never existed. My trust in doctors, nurses and psychiatrist were already down in the drain from the day I was admitted to the hospital and months later. Months later because I’ve had a couple of attacks, panicked and went to a clinic, just to be stared at and questioned by NURSES as though I was crazy, when all I requested for was wanting to book a date with a psychiatrist (yes, I did try), but, they did not bother to even help and the date they gave me was 3 weeks after. I needed help on the spot, not 3 weeks later. If I was still having suicidal thoughts like before that moment, even 1 day isn’t sufficient. Thus, I gave up on others entirely.

    I knew that I needed a reason to go on.. to live and breathe. I tried to give a lot of reasons, but, from my dire situation, love from family, friends and partner was totally out of the question. Thus, I turned to God. It was tough. If you aren’t that religious, I’d understand. I won’t dwell so much on this. It was just a lost faith that came back.

    I wrote blogs. Ones about my own life and one of a self-help. I wanted to help others who went through something like I did, or at least, someone who needed help of some sort. The more I helped others, the more I forget that I ever had a problem. I was reminded that there were those worse off than me. I read others’ blogs as well and would advise or just talk whenever I could. I learned as much from others as they from me. In order to help someone, you have to help yourself in the first place. It’s hard to help a person up when you’re one who barely have the strength to even pull yourself up.

    Gaming. It has always been my escape from reality. I would indulge myself in beautiful places and just wander about. It doesn’t really need to be about having a certain goal in a game. That’s why I love RPGs. They give you the freedom of just doing what you want to. Well, unless I’m craving to headshot some enemies.. heh. I would spend hours dwindling around in a game for no particular reason sometimes. It makes me happy to just do what I couldn’t in reality (or at least, during those years). Go up a mountain, swim the vast seas, jump or fly, lie down and just stare out at the sky from sunrise to sunset to the star-lit skies.

    Oh yes… how can I forget. I went cycling every other day to the beach, which is just less than 10 mins away from home. When I had the mood, I’d just drop my bicycle on the sand and swim for an hour or two before cycling again and then back home. Sometimes, in between, I’d be writing. Ahhh.. I wrote poems. I wrote more poems during that period of time in my life than any other days. When I posted it up, I had a lot of people always talking about it and when I closed those blogs, when I went back online to post somewhere else, somehow, some remembered my writings and would ask if it was me. I was… pretty touched in some ways. If I wasn’t cycling, I’d be jogging by the beach. And yes… all done by myself (haha.. as if there was even anyone around for me during that point in time >_< ).

    If I was at home, I'd be on photoshop for 2-3 hours at a time to do photomanipulations. Basically, they're images from different photographs placed together to form a picture to mean something. It's something like a poem, but, more of a graphic form. I loved doing that. Because sometimes, words aren't enough to describe how I felt and that was a great way for me to create my own masterpieces. I've closed down my own arts section on that online a few months back though.

    Reading. I was reading about anything and everything. I wanted to know more about mental illnesses. Not about how to rectify it, but, more to why it happens. I just believe that I'd find my own way of get through it all eventually. I actually do this all the time when I get curious about something anyway. Or when I needed answers to some problems.

    It was because of my blog and gaming that I found a guy from each, from different times in those years, whom became my bf. Things eventually didn't work out, but, they were angels who did bring a smile to my life, even if it was for a short time.

    Eventually, I found out that the mind is a powerful tool. I can't say that I can totally control and manipulate my own mind into thinking about something should be real or true, but, I did so. To think that I was well and I can do anything I wanted to if I put my all in it. That helped me a lot. But, because I knew it was a trick pulled upon myself, I was constantly afraid it might backfire and thus, you know… I might forget or allow my feelings to overwhelm me, so, I was afraid that it might some day come back to haunt me again.

    Listening to myself. I guess I allowed myself to choose what I want to do, if it'll make me happy.

    If all else fails, laugh it off even if you feel like crying and shouting. Well, you can cry all you want first and then laugh like a maniac afterwards. Crying heals the soul and laughing will make you relax.

    Also, never ever EVER allow anyone talk negative to you. I'll shut them off if someone starts to show negative vibes. I don't care if they're my so-called friend. I have no time and energy to entertain such attitude. Don't bother what others think. If they think I'm crazy, then, I feel sorry for them for not having to yet learn the meaning of being different is actually fine. If I know I need help, it'd a good sign that I'm asking for help and am willing to work things out like any normal being. It takes courage to fight on. They've not gone through a rough life enough to understand the ordeal we're going through, so, let them think what they want.

    You are strong and intelligent, as you've said to me earlier (that even I myself have a little phobia that I might go through this again some day) that I shouldn't even be thinking about it to avoid it.

    As long as you have the will to go on and fight this, you can do it. I can't tell you that it will be easy. Different people take different spans of time to heal fully and different ways to get through the rough roads, but, if you can get out of this, you'll be a really hardy person and you'll be thankful for being one.

    So yeah.. this was how I dealt with it.

    Before I end this, please do take care on running away from reality. It might seem like a great haven, but, it is, after all, temporary and in reality, will not eventually help you through. I hope you'll be able to find a more solid way of getting on the right path. Good luck!! <3

  3. Miriam on said:

    Hi. I would love to speak with you regarding an interview on OCD, if you’re interested please email me at miriamalveberg@gmail.com

    Cheers, Miriam

  4. jana johnson on said:

    my mother is very manic depressive. she moved in a couple months ago and i don’t know how to deal with her. I live with my grandma and mom and my mom is so abusive to my grandma, she pushes her and she is very angry. i talked to my grandma about how i am so worried about my mom is abusive to her i wish she is

  5. I just found your blog. I appreciate how authentic you are. Please keep writing.

  6. Elaine on said:

    Hey Dave
    I suffer from depression just like you and I also find tv very relaxing for my mind.

    It was very interesting to read your article. It does help knowing that threre are other people out there with same feelings.

    Elaine

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