Category Archives: Moods

Taking a Look Around

I did not go to the hospital for ECT this morning, for all the reasons given in yesterday’s post. I just don’t think the presence of suicidal thoughts that are part of my mind’s landscape on a normal day – given the lack of intent and concrete plans – warrants an ECT treatment. I’m not ruminating on suicide as I do when the pathology is present.

Today I’m taking a look around the landscape of my thoughts and feelings in this new and dazzling place of “somewhere in the middle.” What does it look like to have a sad thought but not be depressed??? I don’t know! But I had one today. What is it like to feel content and happy but not be euphoric and taking risks??? I don’t know! Yet I would use those words to describe my mood today: content, happy.

What else is going on in this mood state? I popped out of bed rather quickly this morning. I’m being more kind and helpful than ordinarily with grocery shopping and cooking and chores around the house. I made extra coffee just because instead of thinking I had no energy for extra anything.

I’m noticing that I have negative self-talk about myself and that I don’t believe the negative things any more. How weird is that? A coping skill since diagnosis over 8 years ago has been positive self-talk and changing negative self-images and thoughts to positive ones. I have found this skill elusive most of the time. I just don’t believe the positive stuff. But today! Today and this week so far, I have only positive things to tell myself. Even when I notice something negative, I’m quick to do a reality check and change what I’m telling myself. What is this new persona, that I tell myself positive things about my image and personality and worth as a human?

Suicidal Perspective

No, I’m not suicidal. At least I don’t think I am. I am scheduled for a 21st ECT tomorrow, but am authorized to call it off and schedule for Thursday instead if I don’t have any symptoms. Which means I’d be down to once a week – and I’d be allowed to drive again. So am I suicidal? Am I paranoid? Am I depressed?

The doctors think the irrational fear manifesting as paranoia is part of the cognitive side effects of ECT. So the presence of some paranoia is not cause for having a treatment tomorrow. I don’t think I’m depressed either; I have been highly motivated to do things and be social this weekend, and my mood is elevated. I don’t believe we’re in hypomania territory either.

Finally there is the ever-present suicidal ideation. They are just thoughts that pop into my head and are easily dismissed, even plans or the occasional desire for death. I’m not ruminating on death or desiring it as I think about it. The desire and intent to follow through just isn’t present. So, yes, I’m having suicidal thoughts – as is usual for me – but I’m not depressed, and the plan(s) are only theoretical, not action plans.

In fact I’m re-reading Night Falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jamison, about understanding suicide. This read through I’m not looking for ideas or plans or reassurance – or even a reason Not to kill myself. I don’t have a suicidal perspective. My mind is approaching the topic as a curiosity: why would someone think such thoughts or consider such actions? What psychopathology do I manifest when I’m thinking of suicide or taking actions toward it? And while I look with curiosity, thoughts of suicide do pop in and out and I wonder if I am thinking too seriously of suicide and need an ECT treatment tomorrow. My mind’s perspective is not suicidal though, even though I have energy and drive to follow through on plans. I don’t desire death. And, in fact, I wish to desire life. So sometimes I do desire life, and sometimes I wish I did in the midst of suicidal thoughts popping in and out.

But I don’t think I need a treatment tomorrow!

Holding Steady Or Hypomania?

It has been 4 days since my last ECT treatment. I’m not scheduled for another treatment for 2 more days. And my mood will probably hold steady as it has been  more or less during the last 4 days. Yesterday I was talking with someone at church about bipolar and moods and my mood was still stable and elevated even, but I had persistent thoughts of suicide, the way I used to get when I was living alone in Chicago-land. Something about church, or about opening up to people more at church, or something, brings suicide to the forefront of my mind. It hasn’t been this obvious in months maybe? So the mood is still elevated but the thoughts are disordered and considering suicide. I know my brain is lying, as it is wont to do, so I can talk myself out of any intent to follow through on the thoughts. But I am thinking about suicide more than I want to be. The thoughts are intrusive and annoying, and I can easily talk myself out of any intent. There’s a plan, but then there’s always a plan.

My mood is elevated enough that I’ve wondered about hypomania. Energy, ideas, motivation, good cheer – it adds up to possible hypomania. The good news is that I’m not depressed. Hooray! Can this be what a stable, middling mood is for me? If so, it’s higher than I would have expected. Huh.

While I’m getting ECT treatments, I’m not supposed to make big decisions. Nevertheless, I’m thinking big thoughts about my life and how I want to spend it.  A side effect of an elevated mood, that I want to spend my life – and do things that bring me joy?

I’ve been considering the options for where to live: staying in the family house, or moving to the next town, or back to Chicago with a roommate, or even to California where my soul lives (again with a roommate). My family has stepped up to be more supportive as I go through this last hospitalization and ECT.  I’m doing well and maybe that is because I have had all this extra support and therefore I need to accept the current living situation and embrace living in community with my family as I would if I had one or more roommates. I have more discretionary spending power that I could use to fulfill my dreams of travel. And since I’m doing well, I should be able to travel which means I can check out areas to live as well.

Following the travel bug, today I signed up for RewardStock.com that keeps track of all your airline, hotel, and travel miles/points/rewards and helps you put together trips using miles and points and paying next to nothing. So I also signed up for a ton of airline and hotel reward programs, and I applied for my first credit card that earns miles. Hope I get it!

It would be nice to think that maybe I could actually live in community as I have always wanted to, and do it with family and not have ruffled feathers with my family any more (long, long story). And I could travel each year, at least one big trip, or two little trips, and even do it with my mom, too, as a good travel partner.

Other Life Decisions I’ve Been Thinking About But Not Making Final Decisions On: 1. I have a half-full storage unit I pay on each month on the off chance I move out of this family house. Maybe I can have a storage-unit/garage sale or donate the stuff if I’m staying here? 2. I’ve put $3000 into car repairs this year. It’s a 17-year-old Honda Accord and it might be time to trade it in for a car that doesn’t need repairs?

Hypomania anyone?

 

Brighter Affect

Not only am I feeling better – much less depressed – but I am also _looking_ better too. Doctors and nurses are noticing that I look like I’m feeling better. My appearance matches my reported mood. People at church are also noticing my increased mood in how I present myself and speak. In general people are saying I have a brighter affect and more positive aura.

It’s wonderful that I’m looking as good as I’m feeling. In the last week I’ve had to put a number, a percentage, to how I’m feeling. I think I’m about 90%! I still feel a little depressed, lethargic, tired, difficulty concentrating, not enjoying activities. Yet overall my mood is uplifted, nearly happy, and I’m finding some enjoyment and motivation.

I’m dumbfounded at how well ECT is working, and I’m wondering if I chickened out the three times I tried it at Linden Oaks and didn’t get beyond three treatments. I stopped after 8 treatments while at Good Sam because of side effects and memory problems. Now I’m not getting side effects or memory problems, thank goodness. I do have some aphasia, not being able to think of or come up with words for thoughts I get. I’m told it will go away after ECT treatments are over.

Lucky Number 13-ECT

Today I had my 13th ECT treatment. My depression continues to improve! I’ve had 3 ECT’s each week of the last several weeks. My brain is rewiring itself with the seizures, and symptoms are going away. Appetite and sleep are good now when they weren’t a couple weeks ago. Concentration is getting better, and psychomotor agitation and suicidal thoughts have dissipated. I still feel depressed or down every day, and have low energy. I think I’m about 90% better. And the gains are solid through non-ECT days too. Starting next week I’ll be having only 2 treatments each week and decreasing from there too.

Cognitively, the only side effect I’m having from ECT is some aphasia and some slowness putting thoughts together into sentences. My memory is not affected at all this time with ECT. The doctor has been careful to only do right unilateral ECT and not bilateral or bifrontal ECT which led to memory problems last time.

My family is surrounding me with help during this treatment. My brother drives my mom and I to and from the hospital downtown. My mom accompanies me through the several waiting rooms, and I’m discharged to her care. She prepares a sack-breakfast for me for after ECT. She cooks dinners too. My dad cleans up the dinner dishes and the kitchen counters for me.

My therapist asked me what I thought life would be like once these treatments are over. I don’t know if I’ll want to move, and if so, to where – back to CA for geography and culture, back to Chicago area for support system, to somewhere local to the family’s house to remain with their support. I do expect more independence: cooking, laundry, cleaning. But I am considering the benefits of staying with family, living in community.

ECT Update

I have now had 8 ECT treatments. My short-term memory is just starting to be affected, but with prompts I can remember things ok. My mood is slowly getting better, though. I’m not thinking about suicide and I don’t seem to be wallowing in depression. But I’m not enjoying activities yet. So I’ll continue with ECT three times a week for at least another week or two before we taper the treatments down to once a week or so.

I wake up at 5:15am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for ECT and get a ride with my brother to the hospital which is in downtown Dallas near his workplace. My mom goes with me as you need to be released into an adult’s care after ECT. We wait in the hospital’s lobby for a couple hours before ECT and then an hour or so afterwards too until my brother comes to pick us up. Then I relax for the rest of the day to let my body come down from the seizure. I’m grateful my family is supporting me through this treatment and I don’t have to go through this alone.

Today I was stuck 4 times to get an I.V. started. It’s the first time it took more than one stick. Ouch!! The only other problem I’m having with ECT is lightheadedness upon standing. Could be the ECT or the anesthesia. It started after the 4th ECT and isn’t getting better.

 

Things Are Looking Up

17 days in the hospital, 3 ECT, 1 new med, 3 meds stopped, and 1 med in a different form. Its been a busy time in here!  So far my responsiveness is better and brighter, as is my affect. My mood is a little higher than when I got here, and suicidal thoughts are more academic with less intent. Although, death is still appealing to me. It’s all progress, and I’ll take it! Best guess is that I’ll go home on Monday after ECT #5. Friday was a possibility but we’ll have a better sense of whether the treatments are working if there is sustained remission with the extra day over the weekend. And I’d like to be thinking about suicide less before going home since going home will increase anxiety which will increase suicidal thinking (how it works for me at least).

I’ve read 4 books so far and am a third of the way through a 5th. Watching tv a lot, since there are only 2 groups a day plus meals to occupy our time. Played some games, talked to people too. Such is life in a psych unit.