I recently found myself tumbling through a rapid-cycling period. More than a period, actually, since it lasted more than three months.
Have you ever found yourself bogged down with mental illness and wondered, “How the hell did I get here again?” Or, better yet, “how do I get out of here?” I think I’ve got some ways to beat that shit back and feel like yourself again.
This particular episode had me going from depression to hypomania all in the same day. I felt restless and agitated and did a lot of pacing. The depression left me feeling afraid, feeling weak and with little motivation. While the hypomania left me agitated and experiencing rapid thoughts.
I stayed busy and distracted, as much as I could.
My thoughts were a riot of worries, allegations and outright lies. Fighting the negative thoughts was a full-time business.
I have worked diligently to learn how to notice my thoughts, pinpoint the errors and correct the fallacies. This is a useful skill in fighting mental illness because one of the first things to change when I’m hypomanic or depressed is my thoughts.
I’ve got some tips for getting back on your horse again. Sometimes its a long slog and it’s really tough to hang in there. Stay hopeful.
If you’re depressed:
*try to challenge your negative thoughts
*look for the positive in your life and hold on to those things
*find little things to look forward to
*call on your support system
*take gentle care of yourself, rest when you need to
*exercise to increase the “happy” chemicals in your brain
If you’re hypomanic:
*try to slow down; stop running around
*try an activity that you find soothing
*be aware of spending trends
*exercise to burn some of that energy off
Every day during this last episode, I needed to renew my promise to deal with my rapid-cycling in a positive way. I also had to remind myself daily to take care of myself; eat small meals, stay hydrated, and sleep when I need to.
And stay hopeful. I had faith that the cycling would end. My faith comes from the fact that I have always returned to my “normal” state.
I went through several medication changes during this time. I ended up increasing Lithium by 450 mg, increasing Seroquel by 100 mg and increasing Klonopin by 1.5 mg. I saw my psychiatrist at least seven times during this rapid-cycling episode and communicated by email and text with her between visits.
Something I don’t often address is the cost of mental health. My latest episode ended up costing well over $2000 in medications and doctor’s fees. This isn’t easy money to come up with. My insurance won’t pay for my psychiatrist because she is out of network. I have seen the psychiatrists in the network and they are what led me to seek out my current doctor. She is the best. My area has a shortage of decent psychiatrists. It’s been that way since I can remember.
So now the storm seems to be passing. It was intense… but they always fade away. That is an important lesson I’ve learned over the years. No matter how bad the episode, it will end. My job is to keep hopeful and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
How do you get through episodes of illness? Do you have a plan? Are there people that help you get through? Tell me about it in the comment section below.