Saturday, May 3, 2014

First Check-in


You have only just begun to discover your magnificence. This period of your life marks a New Beginning. You can feel it. And you have only just begun to know the treasure and the glory of You.

                                                                    - Neale Donald Walsch, Facebook post, 5/3/14


So I lied. I'm not going to update you once a week; I'm taking you along for the ride with me.

Crikey, this is going to be a loooong journey; but I'm ready to do it. I monitored my calorie intake today. (I know it's not on my mental wellness list of things to do, but it works for me. I'm very data-oriented at times.) I also drank eight glasses of water, ate protein- / carb-balanced meals, and got in my fruits and veggies. And I walked - about one mile. 

What was hardest today is something I hadn't taken into account. My doctor had been transitioning me off Effexor and onto Wellbutrin; and as of two days ago, I stopped the Effexor entirely. Since then, I have been feeling very...dizzy? Dizzy isn't quite the word...very zingy, like there are electric impulses that occasionally shudder through my head and body. It made walking tonight a challenge. I hope this passes quickly!

At any rate, I intend to repeat the process tomorrow. One day at a time!

P.S.

Hi all - I don't know why published comments don't appear as whole comments. It just says 2 comments (e.g.). I also don't know why it is so dang difficult to follow my blog with email updates. 

I'll be working on these glitches in the coming week to see if I can improve things. :)

Physical Wellness - Getting Back on Track

Me and my beautiful daughter Rachael - September '13
Okay folks. Along time ago, I posted about the things one should do to be well - physically. (See Wellness Part I - Physical.) Isn't it funny how good we are at giving out advice, but fail to do ourselves the very things we are advising!

I have been very good about taking my medication, pretty good about getting the sleep I need, and terrible about everything else. 

I recently saw a picture of myself, and I was heavier than I have ever been. Well, that is about to change. I intend to follow my own advice, and I want to take you along with me. Once a week, I'll share with you my struggles and my progress. 

Here are the things I will commit to (taken from the original post): 
  1. Obviously, take medication (if any) as prescribed by your doctor; and don't deviate from it without your doctor's permission.
  2. Take any supplements your doctor has recommended. For example, my GP has me taking Calcium w/vitamin D and a multi-vitamin; and my psychiatrist has added 2 - 3 fish oil capsules per day. I also temporarily take iron supplements, as I'm slightly anemic.
  3. Get 7.5 - 8 hours sleep each night; and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  4. Drink about 2 liters of water per day - more if you are exercising hard, are on medication, and / or you are spending a lot of time in hot weather or dry climates.
  5. Exercise 4 - 5 times per week employing the fitness triad: aerobic (e.g., walking, running, swimming, biking), strength training (e.g., free weights), and flexibility training (e.g., yoga, stretching). (Obviously again, check with your physician before starting any exercise program.) Aerobic exercise in particular releases feel-good endorphins in your brain, strength training builds body confidence and strength, and flexibility helps prevent injury and reduces stress.
  6. Eat properly. It has been my personal experience that the following serve me best mentally {and physically}:
  • Eat (5) portioned mini-meals per day, approximately every 2 - 3 hours. 
  • Each meal should contain (1) lean protein portion, (1) complex carbohydrate portion, and at least one vegetable portionSome example of portions: protein is the size of a deck of cards; a carb, the size of a light bulb or tennis ball; and a slice of cheese is the size of a domino. 
  • Eat at least (5) vegetables and eat (4) fruits per day.
  • Limit simple sugar (white bread, white rice,white pasta, bottled juice from store, table sugar, etc.)
  • Limit butter and saturated fats. This is old news, I know; but it is true. Olive oil, olive oil, olive oil is good for the brain. Use it, damn it!
  • Do not drink diet sodas and avoid sugar substitute. {The latter is my idea - I just don't trust 'em.}
  • Limit caffeine and don't have caffeine after 2 or 3 PM. {As a chemical addict, this is the hardest of all for me!} Note that I didn't say eliminate, just limit. This is especially important for those suffering from anxiety.
  • Do not drink alcohol - obvious for an alcoholic / drug addict, but critical too for someone with depression and anxiety - especially when on medication. 
  • See http://www.choosemyplate.gov/http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/coping-with-anxiety/AN01589, and http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-mood/my00716 for some more examples of proper eating.
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Today is the baseline day.  I weighed in at 180. Well, off I go to get started - see you next Saturday!






Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Medication Stigma

This post is dedicated to Dr. Lorente - best.psychology.professor.EVER!

You know, it took me about five years after my therapist first recommended it before I finally agreed to take medication*.

Why did it take so long? Stigma. I had heard so many negative things about medication online and in the media that I assumed taking medication was dangerous and / or a cop out. 

After taking medication for a year and a half now, I have a better understanding of what it does and doesn't do. 

Medication, effectively and correctly administered to the appropriate patient, can turn a life around and in some cases, save a life.

Medication does not give you perma-grin nor does it make you happy-go-lucky all the time. Medication just levels the playing field. It enables you to experience the full range of emotions that a normal person feels. It breaks one out of the negative grip of mental illness - depression and fear - and opens you up to possibility. 

I still get angry, I still feel down and cry sometimes, and I still curse in traffic; but I am also able to move on from these feelings now. Negative feelings no longer cycle around in my head over and over like a broken record.

{I also find it interesting that some of the people I've met who are psycho-active medication opponents also happen to drink alcohol. Nothing psycho-active there...}

I do agree with some of the naysayers, however, in that I personally think that some cases are misdiagnosed. I am not a big fan of a patient walking into a primary care physician's office, telling them they are "depressed", and the PC doctor prescribing something on the spot. I think these cases can lead to over-diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and feed the misunderstanding about treatment. A PC doctor is not the right doctor to diagnose and prescribe. They have about 5 - 10 minutes with a patient and in no way is that enough time to accurately diagnose a mental illness! The PC should instead refer the patient to an expert - a therapist and / or psychiatrist.

That said, I do think there are also many cases of underdiagnosis because patients fear a stigma. I know I did. 

*Note: 'Medication' in this post refers to medication used in the treatment of depression and anxiety.