Time to Break Through The Wall of Silence

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Time to Break The Wall of Silence

Okey dokey,

I am feeling verrryyyyyy vulnerable but I know that I am amongst friends so it is time to talk because I am processing a lottttttttt of information but I am committed to authentically facing the challenges and joys in my life.  Here goes:  We have finally arrived at an official mental health diagnosis and it is a bit much to take in.  Here it is:  PTSD/anxiety disorder/adult ADD/bipolar disorder.  I hit every single hallmark for all of the above.  Damn dirty over-achiever lol.  While there is some relief in having terms to place on the manifestations -racing thoughts, the panic, the inability to concentrate, the need to escape, the triggering of fight/flight responses, the anger, the highs, lows, in-betweens and bone-crushing exhaustion – there is also a good amount of apprehension.  That age-old question of what now and how will this affect my ability to achieve the big things I want to do with my life rises up from the deep.  Panic begets panic and looking inward for too long causes implosion on my part.

Soooooooo. . .I choose to look outward; to help where I can, to know that I am worth doing the me-work that will establish better balance and well-being.  I know that the gift of mental illness is that if I am self-aware, it teaches me to actively practice self-care.  I have lots of thoughts and a few fears tonight since each diagnoses manifests worry or angst in me in a different fashion.

PTSD:  manifests itself in alarm, easy startling, a fight response when others enter my personal space uninvited

Anxiety disorder: manifests itself when least expected and is lower if I know that I only have to get through ____ amount of time in a given situation and then I either won’t have to face it again at all or won’t have to face it anytime soon.  Ramps up if there is a stressor that I have to endure regularly.  Still, I believe that exposure therapy is sometimes helpful.

ADD:  Manifests itself by scattering my thoughts, affecting my short term memory and making long periods of intense concentration impossible because I just want to escape.  Necessary tasks are more difficult due to the inability to concentrate.

BIPOLAR DISORDER:  Manifests itself with high and low energy.  During the highs, my energy and mood are boundless.  I am able to multitask well during those periods.  During the lows, the muscle pain is very palpable, exhaustion reigns and it takes everything I have to be any modicum of productive.

Welcome to my world.  Yet I’m here.  Learning. Working. Making a difference and hoping that sharing honestly not only helps me to understand myself but for others to understand that facing life with a mental illness does not mean we are weak but rather that we are courageous as hell.

 

In The Bright Darkness

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In the bright darkness, lightfall blinds

Touch sears

Silence roars

Just breathe, they say

Calm down, just let it go

If I let go, I’ll lose me

If I lose me, I’ll lose you

If I lose you, what comes next?

Fear pours from pores

Don’t stand so close to me

Don’t stand so far away

Stop talking!

Why don’t you ever talk to me?

Touch me. . .no, not like that

Cock the trigger and disengage

The universe of the mind

A universe not of my choosing

Chemical depression they call it

A lab rat, laid open for dissection and analysis

Talk me down

Take a breath

In the bright darkness, the lightfall blinds

© 2013 Paulissa Kipp, April 3, 2013

The Cycle of Depression – Through My Lens

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ AND SHARE – YOUR LOVE MAY SAVE A LIFE

What’s Right With Me Moment inspired by +Jason Kowing ‘s message of self-love found here:  http://bit.ly/NisXD4

Today had many blessings and challenges, but I only wish to deal with 2 in this post.  Today is World Mental Health Day and this week is Mental Health Awareness Week.  Perhaps in a twist of fate or to raise my own awareness higher than usual, today was a very poignant and heartbreaking day as I watched many friends struggle.  *Challenge*

Yet the *blessing* came in the form of a friend who experienced watching another friend’s depression and wanted to understand the cycle of depression better.  I will share with all of you here what my response was.  DISCLAIMER  I am NOT a licensed therapist.  I AM a PTSD, panic attack and bipolar disorder survivor.  All answers are my personal opinion and my experience as it relates to my diagnoses.

The Cycle of Depression

My friend wrote:  (paraphrased for brevity here) This can be a learning time for me. How does exhaustion or being overly stressed fit into the time of depression? How do you tell the difference between depression and being overly tired? Inform me!

My response: I will do my best to thoughtfully answer your question.  Please keep in mind that my specific answers pertain only to me, though I do have 1st hand observations as they relate to the students I teach.  It would be unfair of me to answer this question on their behalf.  Let me preface this by stating that the experiences of depression are very individual, as is the treatment thereof. PTSD, bipolarity, multiple personality disorder, chemical depression, clinical depression, panic disorder and generalized depression manifest differently in each sufferer.

The short answer is that depression, overwhelm, exhaustion and being overly tired is much like the chicken and the egg question because one can beget the other.  High stress, external forces beyond our control and lack of quality sleep can lead to generalized depression and for those who also deal with panic attacks, can ramp up those triggers.

Depression, once it is triggered -or for the person with bipolar disorder – once that person enters the low cycle – can create a bone crushing exhaustion and sense of overwhelm that makes it very difficult to function and practice self-care.  For example, when I am in a severe depressive state (defined in my case as overwhelm or anxieties that last for longer than a week and do not respond to any meds, any coping strategies, etc) the thought of cooking for myself becomes too much to deal with and I will eat cereal for days.  I become lethargic because the overwhelm tires me out, the joints hurt and I don’t sleep well at night (not entering rapid eye movement sleep has been shown to manifest depression and anxiety attacks).  The exhaustion is very real.  The difference between being overly tired and the exhaustion/depressive cycle is in my opinion, the length of time that the symptoms are present.  If someone is “overly tired” but recovers to a normal state within a couple of days, that is more “situational depression” than clinical or chemical depression.  While allowing that state of overwhelm is not a healthy pattern on an on-going basis, it would not necessarily meet a diagnosis of depression.  That your friend calls it depression means she is aware that the cycle is not healthy.  Hopefully, she is working to either change her lifestyle in recognition of that fact or seeking professional help to learn to make the necessary changes.

Not handling stress well can trigger depressive states but for those with clinical depression and the various types of mental illness, sometimes we become prisoners of our mind.  By that I mean that if I am having panic attacks, sometimes I can recognize a trigger and head it off before it becomes a screaming, crying, hyperventilating, chest-crushing thing.  Other times I don’t know that something will be a panic inducing situation.  The cycle of depression and panic is such that once one has gone “over the cliff” so to speak, there is a fear and hyper vigilance that can be self-defeating.  The panic creates fear of “when and where will this happen again? How much will I be able to handle?  At what point will this interfere with my goals, my relationships, and my ability to hold, find or perform my job?  How much will I have to change my life to cope? “

The sufferer can take positive steps to reduce stress by exercising, working to get at least 7 hours of sleep, avoiding stimulants, recognizing overwhelm and working to delegate tasks, saying no more often, setting healthy boundaries, changing priorities, etc.  Cognitive therapy and medication can help as well.

As you can see, depression is very complex and quite hard to navigate.  Navigating our mind and hearts without blinders is courageous and one of the hardest things that many of us will ever have to do.  Somehow, learning about our strengths and weaknesses can be scarier than the monster under the bed.  Bless you for caring enough to ask the question.  I hope my answers have provided a little useful insight.

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp

I am a Curious Lens Goddess, Writer and Artist documenting the world – the beautiful, curious and often overlooked.  I see the infinitely layered world not only with my eyes, but most importantly, with my heart. Find me on Google+:  https://plus.google.com/116071275946594200077?rel=author