Before there is a breakthrough, in my case, there is usually a break down of some sort. Usually an accumulation of bad things happening, whether it be self inflicted or wrong place, wrong time. Not allowing yourself the time to self care and do the things you know you should can lead to various types of break downs. It can be trauma related, it can be life events, it could be one thing that happened or a plethora of things. Either way, this is the story of what led to my mental health break down and how I (and maybe you in your own situation) can either prevent or reduce the mental break down.
The things that led up to the break down are these:
Saturday, January 23rd, 2021
I didn’t get accepted into the school I wanted. Planning to go back to school and getting into University of Washington Tacoma was the part of the plan to get sober off gambling and win Diego back. (He broke up with me and kicked me out of the house due to my gambling problem). Since going back to school was part of “the plan”, and I proved that to him by going back to community college and applying to university, not getting in was devastating.
Although I know it’s not the end of the world and I can reapply when I finish my associate’s degree, I’m not sure I want to. I think once I finish my associate’s in applied science in human and social services, I will get my BA in psychology at Washington State University. They have an online program where I do not have to go to campus for anything. I still haven’t finished my research so that could change, but they do have higher admittance than UW does, so the likelihood that I will get in will be better.
Anyways, the plan was ruined by not getting in so I felt though as all my dreams and goals came to a screeching halt. I felt that I was now going backwards when in reality, if I quit my job or started gambling again, *that* would be going backwards…. exponentially.
So what did I do? Cry for the rest of the day and avoided my responsibilities. Then I tried to catch up the next day, but was still pretty bummed out.
Puppy Poncho got sick
After we got Poncho vaccinated, he started walking with a limp, his eyes were swollen shut with goop coming out of his eyes, and he got this odd cluster of pustules all over his nose and mouth that would pus and bleed. Diego ended up taking the day off work to take him back to the vet, who then recommended we go to the ER due to them not knowing what the rash could be.
The dog ER said that it could be an adverse reaction to his vaccines or that he has an autoimmune malfunction called puppy strangles. Not knowing the correct course of action, they prescribed Poncho with a steroid and an antihistamine to bring down inflammation and reduce an allergic reaction.
That was Monday the 25th. A couple days later, his eyes weren’t glued shut with gunk in his eyes, so the eye ointment was helping and the steroid was helping the limp in his leg. However, the rash was the same, if not worse. So we just increased his dose of the steroid (vet’s orders) and he was diagnosed with puppy strangles. I don’t know much about the illness other than the fact it is an autoimmune malfunction and it involves a rash on the face and neck of young puppies until it looks like they are being strangled. It is not deadly but is very serious. My thought is that he will have lower immunity to illnesses due to this illness and being on a steroid for an extended period of time.
Today, he is about 85% better, he just upped his dose of prednisone and we make sure to keep his hydrated and insert his pill inside the middle of a small slice of banana, which he loves, and that way he swallows the medicine whole. His face still looks awful but his other symptoms are improving, thank God.
I had to reduce a medication
I could not get a refill on my own medication for lithium. I take 450mg twice a day. I noticed I was getting low so I called my primary care physician who has better than banker hours, I mean the chick works 9am-3pm 3 days a week so to get ahold of someone is nearly impossible. It also doesn’t help that she performs a lot of plastic surgery such as botox so that is her preferred clientele. I talked to the pharmacy and they kept faxing requests for the lithium, but my doctor never answered them.
This process started over a month ago and finally I got ahold of them on Tuesday, the 26th. They have a new policy that I need to be seen every three months in order to get more refills on my medication, that I can’t just renew everything through the pharmacy. So I made an appointment for the 4th of February which meant I would be without lithium for a week, and on a reduced by half dose of lithium for a total of 3 weeks.
I should preface all of this with the fact that if I go over three days without a certain medication, if affects my whole mood, personality, my whole life. Lithium is a mood stabilizer, and while I am on an antipsychotic, that is to reduce the extremes of the highs and lows whereas the mood stabilizer evens out the mood swings and the increases more rational thinking.
They faxed over an emergency fill of lithium so I wouldn’t have to go without, but I still have been on two weeks of a reduced dose. I am now contemplating going to see a different doctor so that I don’t have to go through this again.
For me, it was a combination of things that led to a minor detail setting me over the edge, on the verge of quitting my amazing, and well paying job. The story is in my last post so I won’t go back into it. But the lesson I learned is that a lot of this could have been prevented had I done some more planning and was more thoughtful.
- Don’t overload. During my manic spells, I have a tendency to take on more responsibilities than I could possibly handle. For example, I took on 45 hours a week at work, and I took not one, but two classes (10 credits) for my first quarter going back to school in almost four years. I got a puppy, not just any old dog, but a hound puppy. I moved back in with Diego, which has been a lot on me financially as I try to erase some of the debt I face from my gambling problem. It’s a lot and if I said it wasn’t a lot to handle for most people, but especially me, a bipolar woman, I would be lying. I need to know my limits for when I have my manic highs and my more often than not depression lows.
- Make a flexible schedule. I set myself up for failure in a way when I put myself on such a rigid school and work schedule. It didn’t allow me time to cook, clean, or have any fun. I think I posted my schedule in an earlier post and that is f*cking insane! I mean, I am crazy, but that is just unrealistic for a depressed person to get 4 hours of sleep a night. I need to allow myself more wiggle room so that I don’t have more of these mental break downs.
- USE COPING SKILLS. I cannot stress this enough. In the little free time that I did have, I turned to technology to let loose. When in reality, I should have been painting, drawing, writing, reading, going to God more so, not to online shopping and Facebook. It’s kinda funny because I teach coping skills to autistic skills, but I haven’t been practicing what I preach.
- Use all of your assets. I have been relying on family and friends, using medication correctly (besides the lithium issue), but I have not seen a therapist since my therapist left the business. I know I can use online services and pay next to nothing for them, but I am so scared; silly, I know. After I had my break down at work, my boss suggested that I get a mental health counselor to deal with the line of work that I am in. So if you have access to therapists, I suggest use one. I’ll have to find one this weekend.
Everyone is different but all I ask is that you reach out to someone, reach out to anyone if you ever need help. I would much rather hear your story than about your death. You are loved. You are cherished. You are worthy.