Dealing with Agitation

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I’ve been having a lot of agitation lately, so I’ve been trying out different things to help with it.

The problem with agitation is the last thing you want to do is sit still and focus on something, you want to keep pacing or doing something negative to relieve it.  I can’t do that though, as much as I’ve wanted to lately.  I force myself to sit still, breath, and do something non destructive.  It’s very uncomfortable in the beginning, going against how you’re feeling but it gets better after awhile.

Walking

  And really any exercise that gets energy out is helpful.  It gives me an outlet for the negative energy.  I’ve been taking lots of long walks, doing sit ups, and reps with weights. I generally use this method when I feel like the agitation is too much and I might do something negative if the energy isn’t released.  Running would probably be helpful too but I’m not really in good shape so that’s not something I’ve been doing right now.  Eventually I likely will though.  

Reading

This is kind of tricky because sometimes when starting to read and being agitated I get pissed off and have a hard time sitting still and just want to throw the book down.  As silly as it seems, taking deep breaths really helps.  I try to just let the anxiety out and focus on what I’m reading.  It generally takes about 10 solid minutes of reading but once I hit that mark I really get into it and can keep going.  So it may start out as something that seems to make things worse but in the end it’s worth sticking it out if possible.  That is, if you actually enjoy reading.  Forcing yourself to read when you’re not into it to begin with probably wouldn’t just be extremely aggravating.

Gaming

I can always count on Animal Crossing: New Leaf to help me relax.  No matter what’s going on, it helps me chill.  It’s such a laid back game but it’s very task oriented which is good to take my mind off things and I find getting things “accomplished” in the game helpful for my anxiety.

Cleaning

Putting on music and cleaning and organizing is great for when I’m feeling agitated because it’s both physical and task oriented.  So I don’t have to sit still, I can move around as much as I want but it’s not that aimless pacing which generally just works me up even more. Plus, it always feels great when your place is nice and tidy.  Having a messy house/apartment really messes with you subconsciously.  It may not seem like a big deal but having a clean place creates peace of mind.

 

This was somewhat of a rambling and non planned post, actually, writing this is something I decided to do to help relieve some of the agitation I was feeling tonight.  So, if anyone has any ideas feel free to add in the comments!  I love learning different ways to cope, there are tons, this barely scratches the surface.

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What’s Been Helping My Anxiety Lately

So, I’ve been actively working on combating my anxiety/panic.  So far I haven’t needed my prn anti-anxiety med in about a week.  I was having really bad panic attacks for awhile.

I’ve been drinking less beverages with caffeine (coffee, tea) and more water, that’s certainly helped I’m sure.  Praying the Rosary is very helpful as well, I had been meaning to get a new rosary for awhile and finally got one recently.  I think that the prayers being repetitive and having something to physically hold and move makes it very relaxing. I used to pray it every night and it was always a nice peaceful time.

Music is another thing that’s helped.  My friend recommended some really good headphones for me to buy since I was interested in finally getting something with good sound quality.  When I put my headphones on and turn my on my music it completely cancels out any outside noise which is great.

Something else I’ve been doing (now that my concentration has improved) is reading.  I’m a huge book lover and used to read upwards of 70 books or more a year.  Now that I can focus I’ve been getting into some good books that have been on my to-read list for awhile.  Nothing is more relaxing than a cup of tea and a good book (and my cats purring next to me!) Right now I’m reading “My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing.  I won an ARC of it from a Goodreads  giveaway awhile back.  It was described as “Dexter (one of my favorite shows!) meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith), so I was definitely interested and happy to win it.  It’s out now by the way, if anyone wants to read it, it was released at the end of last month.

I’ve been drawing again and doing other arts and crafts, coloring, etc.

And, lastly, walking.  Just walking anywhere around town, it helps clear my mind and the weather has been pretty nice.  🙂

My 10 Favorite Coping Skills

  1. Journaling: great way to get emotions out!
  2. Art:  drawing, coloring, arts and crafts can be very relaxing.  Many people enjoy adult coloring for stress relief.
  3. Watching a Comedy:  there’s nothing better than to laugh when you’re feeling anxious or down.  Look up funny videos online or watch your favorite comedy! (I enjoy watching clips from Ellen (DeGeneres) on YouTube, they always make me smile.
  4. Talk to a friend or family member:  It’s good to have someone you can talk with who will listen without judging.
  5. Getting Out of The House:  This is a big one.  The worse you feel the more you isolate and it becomes an endless cycle because you start feeling even more depressed or anxious as a result not getting out.  Staying inside all day by yourself feeds into obsessive/repetitive negative thoughts. So get out, go somewhere.  Anywhere.  Sit outside in the fresh air, take a walk, visit a museum, sit in a park, go to the zoo.  All these things can make you feel more connected with the outside world.  I know for myself the longer I stay indoors and don’t leave (sometimes it border on agoraphobia) the more distorted my thoughts become.
  6. Play With a Pet: Pets are amazing, they can decrease anxiety and even reduce blood pressure.  If you don’t have a pet maybe volunteer at a local shelter and help care for the animals, or play with a friend’s pet.  I know the most relaxing thing for me is when my two cats take nap with me or lay on me and purr.
  7. Socialize: Join some sort of group.  It doesn’t have to be a long term commitment.  There are many free activities at public libraries such as yoga, arts and crafts, book discussions.  Or hang out with a good friend.  When I hang out with a really good friend of mine it pretty much completely takes my mind off my problems because we have so much fun together.
  8. Exercise: one of the most effective ways to deal with anxiety is to get out all that extra energy.  Physical activity can greatly improve sleep quality.  It’s good for the body and the mind.
  9. Play a game/do a puzzle: perfect for taking your mind off problems and focusing it on the present moment.  It can provide a brief escape.
  10. Read or engage in some other hobby: I have many hobbies and I find that I almost never get bored now.  I always have something to keep my mind occupied when I have down time.  Learning new languages, music/instruments, find something you enjoy and stick to it!

This is a very basic list of some of the coping skills that have helped me, there are many others you can try.  I’ve seen lists with hundreds of coping ideas, so look around, your bound to come across something that may be beneficial to you, good luck! 🙂

  1. Sunflowers

(Picture taken by me Summer 2018 at a local rose garden)

I’ve Come to the Conclusion…

That it’s important to take my meds. It’s also important that I keep up with my day treatment program and appointments.

I have been trying to deny this for a long time but the fact is I have a mental illness. It doesn’t matter what it is called. It impacts my life in various negative ways.

I have a long way to go to reach a good stable period but that’s what I’m aiming for.

Time for positive thoughts, time to make a drastic change in my lifestyle.

 

These changes start tomorrow.

  • No giving into or dwelling on urges to cut, or drink cough syrup.
  • Better hygiene
  • Positive thinking
  • Taking my meds
  • Being honest with my treatment team
  • Use coping skills to get through difficult feelings (color, journal, pray, play with cats etc)

    In a months time I will be living in my own apartment for the very first time, time to get my **** together

Recent Hospital Stay {trigger warning}

I was recently in the hospital following a suicide attempt.

Long story short, I was inpatient for about a week and my meds were increased now I’m home.

If you don’t know, I have Schizoaffective Disorder.  The paranoia and depression was really wearing me down.  Sometimes you don’t even realize anything’s wrong until you get to that point.

I started working through a CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) book I got awhile back and it seems to be helping me  a lot.  My anxiety levels are much better now and my mood feels a lot more stable.

Also starting therapy at a local clinic, I just moved here and it took awhile to get set up somewhere.

If you’re feeling suicidal please talk to someone or ask for help, life is to precious to be doing the stupid things I’ve done like overdosing for example.  There is help out there, you may have to push to get it and it may take a lot of work on your part as well but you can do it.

Inpatient Tips

I have been having trouble coming up with posts to make which is why I haven’t written anything new in quite some time.  I guess I’m just not that creative, so if anyone has any ideas feel free to post them in the comments.

This topic came to mind today and I felt it is important to go over.

I have been in psych hospitals several times starting when I was a teenager.  Both voluntarily and involuntarily.  If you have the choice, choose to go voluntarily.  You get treated pretty much the same regardless at the hospital but the police will likely treat you like a criminal if they have to bring you there.

Here are my tips:

  • Bring clothes (stuff that doesn’t have strings attached) bring something warm because most hospitals are cold.
  • Don’t bring any sharp stuff
  • Participate in group.  You generally have several groups a day, at least that’s how the hospitals around here are.  Make sure you are active in them.  If you’re there involuntarily they will be looking to see your progress in the groups.
  • Advocate for yourself.  If you feel like something is wrong don’t hesitate to talk to the director of the program about your concerns.  I once had an incompetent psychiatrist who tried to get me sent to a residential facility even though I was doing 100 times better and it was only my first time being hospitalized and all the staff members agreed that I was doing much better.  Thankfully he discharged me once I was there for the max time.
  • Bring something to read.  There are several hours in the day where you aren’t doing anything, a book can help you escape mentally and make the time go by faster.
  • If your doctor says they’ll put a hold on you if you decide to sign yourself out (if you’re there voluntarily) listen to them and just wait until they decide to discharge you.  The last thing you want is to be there on an involuntary status, it will just keep you there longer.
  • Take the meds they give you, complying with the treatment is a big part of recovering.  If you have issues with any of your medications be sure to voice your concerns to the doctor.
  • Do NOT start dating another patient you meet there.  It is not the place nor time and you each have your own problems you’re trying to resolve.

I’m just putting down things that come to mind right away when I think about my inpatient stays.

It can be a wonderful experience.  Take advantage of the therapy and groups.  Get the help you need and most importantly be honest with your doctor.  If you’re not feeling better, don’t tell them you are, tell them the truth so they can help you.

Coping Skills

Coping skills are what the name implies, things that can help you cope with tough situations in life.

Different things work for different people.

What do you enjoy doing?

Think about that for awhile and try to come up with a list of things you can do easily when times are rough and you need a distraction.

Here are some of my top coping skills that have helped me many times.

Journaling

This is definitely at the top of the list for me.  It’s a great feeling to be able to just write and get all your feelings out, especially when you have nobody to talk to.  It’s also interesting to look back at patterns in the future and see how you dealt with things before.  I personally use a physical journal, I just happen to like that better.  You can do it however you want, blog, draw, write in a journal.

Coloring

Another big one, this is insanely helpful.  You may think it sounds silly for adults to color but it’s not at all.  It’s extremely relaxing, it gets your mind off what’s going on around you and on deciding which color to use next.  A very good distraction tool.  There are thousands of coloring books you can find online and order, even ones specifically for adults meaning that they’re much more intricate and time consuming than a child’s coloring book, but then again simple is fun to.  Whatever makes you happy!

Music

This is a tricky one, because naturally you will tend to be drawn to more depressing/angry songs when your depressed or anxious.  That’s okay too but it’s not good to dwell on bad feelings.  Try making a playlist with a mix of different types of songs so it doesn’t get to depressing.

Those are my top 3 coping skills, here is a simplified list of things that help me relax or take my mind off things.  Feel free to reply with what helps you or tweet me @ChaoticMindBlog

  • Relaxing shower or bath
  • Going for a swim
  • Taking a walk
  • Reading a good book
  • Watching a funny or positive movie/videos
  • Meditating
  • Arts and crafts
  • Playing with your pet(s)
  • Taking an afternoon nap (refreshing)
  • Practicing muscle relaxation techniques
  • Listening to relaxing sounds/music
  • Organizing/cleaning (helps some people feel better)
  • Having a cup of tea or cocoa

Your Illness Doesn’t Define You

It’s common for people to say things like “I’m Bipolar” or “I’m Schizophrenic” but I think a better wording would be something like “I have Bipolar disorder or “I have Schizophrenia” Now, you can say it however you want but what’s important is what you believe behind it. Are you just Schizophrenic or whatever your diagnosis is, or are you a person, beyond a diagnosis.  Sometimes we get caught up in our labels, A lot of times people try to label and diagnose every behavior as some sort of episode that is caused by their illness.  It’s completely normal to have sad days, to have a bad week, to get angry, to get a little hyper or over enthusiastic.  That is within the normal range of emotions.  It’s concerning that people want to medicate away any emotions they have, they are part of life, remember that life is full of ups and downs, it’s learning to cope with them that will get you through.  It feels good to experience a full range of emotions and not be totally numbed out, that’s the point of life, to experience it.  Of course your illness is serious and may need medication, but that doesn’t mean it defines you and is all there is to you.

Accepting That You Have a Mental Illness/Being Med Compliant

I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that I have a mental illness, specifically the Schizoaffective/Bipolar part,  The anxiety/and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are a given, but the things that happened when I was manic or psychotic seem so unreal now that I’ve been stable for some time..  I look back at it and it just seems so obscene. Sometimes I wonder if what happened was a singly crazy episode that will never happen again.

I also have a hard time with the idea of being on meds, I always think I should stop them because I feel great and am doing very well in life, but like my doctor and family always say, it’s because of the meds I’m doing so well.  Nobody wants to be reminded that they have a disorder every day and that’s what happens every time I get my meds out,  I am trying to learn to not think about it, just accept it as part of my life and move on.

Have you accepted that you have a mental illness?  Do you have any issues taking meds?  Feel free to share if you would like to in the comments/

You Can Succeed

Well, the title is pretty cheesy but it’s reality,  You can succeed in life no matter what mental illness ails you.   There is help out there, reach out to a school counselor, a therapist, a psychiatrist if necessary.  You can get to a point where you are stable, it may take time and several med adjustments but you can accomplish your goals.  Whether it be going to college, learning to draw, learning to play an instrument or getting a job, you can succeed just like any other person, it will just take more time and patience.  I started college right out of High School but wasn’t currently diagnosed with this illness yet and didn’t even make it past the first week due to distracting symptoms.   Now, a few years later, I am stable enough to try again.  I am taking 2 classes and am doing very well in both of them.  What are some of your goals?