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Happy [Early] Turkey Day, Everyone!

Thanksgiving is still a few days away (since today is only Monday, November 23rd) but I wasn’t sure if I would have the opportunity to blog on Thanksgiving Day since I will be spending the day with my loved ones.

So, I hope that everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving has an amazing day Thursday filled with lots of thanks, gratitude, love, and the chance to be surrounded by those you cherish the most.

Because of the pandemic I am sure many people will be missing some of their loved ones this holiday season. Not everyone will have the opportunity to be surrounded by those they care about the most. If you find that this Turkey Day will be a lonely one, for whatever reason, try to reach out to close friends and family. Let them know that you are thinking of them. Reaching out to those we care about can be a great way to brush off some of the loneliness and reassure yourself that people in your life care about you and miss you just as much as you care about and miss them.

I know how hard the holidays can get for many people. I’ve spent my share of holidays feeling empty, lost, and alone when my family and I weren’t on speaking terms. So I would like to say that to anyone reading this if you need someone to talk to, vent to, or even if you just need a listening ear, I am here for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and shoot me an email at ContactMyBipolarMind@gmail.com.

My last personal blog post was from Election Day (where I kinda went off on a rant toward the end about how much I dislike President Trump and it was titled Still Searching & Hoping For Stability With My Own Mental Health) and TBH, I don’t really think too much has changed for me the past 20 days since that post was written.

I was very happy to learn that Biden won this election and I seriously can’t wait for Trump to be out of the White House. Glad to know and feel like my vote actually counted especially with this being the first time I voted… ever.

I, along with other I know, am just hoping and praying that Trump doesn’t do anything to wreck the nation or make it worse than he already has before he’s officially booted. I don’t think I’ll fully feel a breath a fresh air until Trump is no longer considered to be the current President of the United States and he’s officially and fully moved out of the White House and no longer a threat to U.S. citizens.

Mentally and emotionally, I am still all over the place. One day I could be low and feeling really depressed and then the next I could feel like I’m nearing or already in a full-blown manic episode. But I am finally sleeping through the night most of the time. And when I do wake up in the middle of the night it’s easier to fall back to sleep.

In addition to taking 100-200 mg of Trazodone at night I am also taking 50-100 mg of Quetiapine (better known as Seroquel) at bedtime as well. The combination usually knocks me out within 30-60 minutes. I’ve been going to bed as early as 8 pm some nights and typically no later than 11pm other times.

I find that the earlier I take my night time meds, the less groggy I am the following morning. So, if for whatever reason, I am unable to take the Quetiapine before 10:30 pm I usually have to skip it otherwise I am completely groggy the next day to the point where I get cranky af because I don’t know how I’m gonna make it through my work day without falling asleep at my desk (which I have done before).

I’d rather be dealing with the morning grogginess than go back to hardly sleeping and trying to survive on minimal sleep for months on end. I was miserable all the time from being so sleep-deprived. I was only averaging 4 hours of sleep a night on the nights where sleep was even possible.

Sleep has always been an issue for me. I was diagnosed with insomnia when I was just 14 – the same year I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety. I’ve had several sleep studies done and even learned in my late teens why I would wake up gasping for air some nights – I also have sleep apnea (which in simple terms means I stop breathing in my sleep).

I am supposed to be using a CPAP machine every night but gave up on it within the first few weeks because I would wake up in the middle of the night and rip the mask off my face and wouldn’t even realize I’ve done that until I woke up the next morning. The reason doing that was such an issue was because my insurance would only cover the machine if it logged so many hours of use every night. I think it was something like it had to be worn a minimum of 4 or 5 hours a night in order to be covered and I wasn’t meeting the requirements.

My current PCP (Primary Care Physician) is supposed to be inquiring about me getting a new machine so I could give it another try. I guess trying it one more time couldn’t hurt.

Making little changes, like getting enough sleep and making sure I am eating actual meals, have helped me out with my mental health more than I thought it could. While I am still swinging from highs to lows – something I doubt will ever go away – I feel like my moods have been a little more manageable lately.

I was even able to write my first journal entry since about August maybe two weeks ago. If you follow this blog regularly, you know that I am firm believer in journaling to help manage your mental health and emotions. There are just so many ways journaling can be beneficial for your mental health so it was secretly eating at me because I just couldn’t get myself to be able journal no matter how bad I felt like I needed to.

Once I finally sat down with a pen in one hand and my journal in the other, I ended up not sleeping that night because I got so engrossed with getting everything off my chest that the time just flew by. Before I realized it, it was starting to get light outside.

Since I started my new job in September, I gave up on writing for various websites. I love writing and I believe that I always will but without an actual degree in Journalism, English, or Literature the income I once had with writing just was no longer there.

With Valnet (the main company I wrote for), I was making $60 an article plus views when I first started writing for them. By the time I left, It was hardly over $10 an article and getting paid views became pointless because articles were no longer getting the views they used to. The money was just not there anymore. I could hardly even pay my cell phone bill with what I was making. And even if I wrote a few articles everyday, I would still have to wait for them to be published before I could collect on it.

Sometimes Valnet’s sites were overloaded with articles waiting to be published from all their writers that you were lucky to have one of your own published every few days. There was a point where I’d wait weeks before something of mine was published.

I feel, in some ways, that I failed as a writer because I had to give it up and get a real grown up job that could actually pay the bills. I am sure there are plenty of people who can make a living with freelance writing work but, unfortunately, I was not one of them.

There are some days where I will just be sitting behind my desk at work during downtime and I will just get this massive longing that will make me really miss being a writer who could create and set their own schedule. I miss doing the research and writing about things that can actually help people. I miss that feeling of accomplishment when I would turn articles in early and would receive positive feedback about something that I wrote.

Trying to meet deadlines would be frustrating sometimes, for sure, but there was also this kinda crunch time adrenaline rush that would sometimes hit me and push me to finish what I started and that relief and sense of instant gratification when I would hit submit after my article was ready for my editors approval.

I have considered, on several occasions, asking my old editor if I could take on a few articles a week but then the realization of how tired I usually am after work hits me and I feel like trying to balance work and freelance writing at the same time would just become too overwhelming for me. I would probably start to lose sleep again while trying to meet writing deadlines. In the long run, I just don’t think it would be wise for me to attempt both career paths right now.

When I first started this new job, after having gone over three years without real employment while I was trying to get disability, I knew transitioning back into the workforce would be challenging, but I honestly thought it would be easier than it has been.

Yesterday marked my second month with this company and getting up in the morning has finally gotten a tad bit easier. I found the perfect time to get up in the morning (7:45 am) that allows me to get the maximum amount of sleep I could possibly get while still having enough time to wake up and get ready to leave by 8:30 in the morning for my 9 am shift.

There is so much that I still have to learn for this job but unfortunately sometimes I have to wait for specific situations to occur before I can get trained on it. It’s like the situation has to come into play for me to really be able to learn it. And the waiting for things to happen can suck when it’s such a small company. Some days I have tons of work to get done and other days there’s nothing but mindless, tedious tasks to perform.

I find that when it is busier the day goes by so much faster but when there is a lot of downtime the shift feels like it’s gone on for as long as 2020 has. I never know what kind of day I am going to have until I get to work which does cause me some anxiety in the morning.

If I haven’t mentioned it in this post, I am the administrative assistant for a small home health care agency. With the pandemic going on, from what I gathered, business has been much slower than usual. At least on a good note for me, if we go into a COVID-19 lockdown again I am considered an essential worker and don’t have to worry about not getting a paycheck. I was worried about it because with COVID positive cases on the rise in my area I fear another lockdown could happen.

I have worked in the home health care/medical/residential group home field off and on for over 15 years (more on than off, however) and I am only 34-years-old. I have always had the role of the DSP (Direct Support Professional), Medical Assistant, or care taker. This is my first role on the administration end. I don’t think I will ever be done learning this side of the fence. Especially with how rules and regulations are always changing. I like it though.

I have learned to ask questions when I don’t know or understand something even if I have asked the same question on multiple occasions or even if I feel it’s a stupid or silly question. Asking questions is part of the learning and growing process. Plus, it is always better to ask then to act like you know what your doing and get it wrong or screw something up.

I just wish my moods would even out more so that I am not on the ball and on top of the world one day just be low energy and lacking motivation the next. My boss knows I have some psych issue going on but unless my behavior makes it that obvious I don’t think he knows I am bipolar.

To help with my energy levels at work, I have started using the supplement Kratom again. I usually just take a dose in the morning before work. I got tired of falling asleep and nodding off at work because the more tired I am, the longer my shift feels like it lasts.

The first month at my job, I would be utterly exhausted by the time my shift was over. I would come home, get into pajamas, feed my cat, and then nap until it was time to take my night time meds and then I’d just wait for my pills to kick in and go to sleep for the night.

The past two weeks or so I have decided to try not to fall asleep until it was bedtime and I have done really well and I have also noticed that my depressive episodes aren’t as severe or long. When I would sleep after work everyday I felt like that was all my life consisted of was sleep and work and it made my depression much worse. I was convinced that having a life and having fun was forever out of the question. I mean how could I expect to do anything with how exhausted I felt all the time? I felt boxed in and like the walls were closing in on me.

I would be so miserable every morning just worrying about how I was going to have enough energy to make it through the day that I would work myself into panic mode. I had even thought about throwing myself down a flight of steps one morning when I was at my worst just so that I could get injured and not have to go into work just so I could sleep the rest of the day. These thoughts were not healthy for me. I am so glad that my outlook has been different these past two weeks.

For me, one thing that sucks about having Bipolar Disorder is that it can be so hard for me to tell if I am feeling and doing better or if I am actually just heading into an upswing – a manic episode.

I will start to feel better, kind of like I am now, and my energy levels will increase and I will start to think that maybe my latest med adjustment is working. I will start to think things are looking up. But then BAM! I will realize that how I have been feeling isn’t actually progress at all and that I am just in a manic episode or heading that way. Other times, I won’t even realize that I was manic until the depression faithfully creeps back in like it always does and then my moods will all of a sudden make sense.

So, how does one distinguish real progress versus a manic episode in that moment in time? Seriously, if anyone out there has any tips or feedback about how to tell the difference please feel free to leave a comment or even shoot me an email. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one whose mania gets confused for feeling better. By the time the mania is ending is usually when I can tell that it was all part of my bipolar cycles.

As I am writing this, I have seriously made myself question whether the changes that have been made have been leading toward becoming more stable or if I am heading toward mania. Whenever I start to feel better I feel like I always have to question this even if I know that I might not know the answer until it’s too late.

I didn’t even realize how long I have been writing for until I looked at the clock (10:30 pm) and realized that I still have to take my night time meds. I go so long between blog posts these days that when I start finally blogging I find that I have so much on my mind that my posts become uber long.

Thanks for stopping by and seeing what’s been going on in my world! Once again, if any one can help me tell the difference between making progress vs. mania please help me out and comment below (or email me)! It’s greatly appreciated!

Much Love, Samantha


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Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.

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