Life update: improvements!

Hey there! I know it’s been awhile, but a lot has changed (for the better) in my life, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been busy.

  1. Meds: I’ve come down on my lithium, finally! I was taking four little pills worth 1050mg per day, but now I am down to 900mg. I asked my doctor about this because of my hand tremors, and out of the three things I was taking, lithium seemed to be the one that was probably causing it- and plus, I have been feeling a lot better lately, so this was a good time to lower my dosage. I’ve asked about possibly coming off of lithium completely, and it sounds like it’s a possibility, but something we would reconsider more down the road.
  2. Career Choice/School: I signed up for a boot camp preparation class for software engineering, which is very INTENSE. There is pre-readings, the classes themselves (4 days a week), then the homework which follows that. It’s made me very busy and I am so happy that I am at the level where I can occupy myself with something other than just my recovery. I’m also really glad that I’m on this set path with a clear career goal. I’m really excited to be embarking on this challenge.
  3. Yoga: I went back to my yoga practice, which I abandoned almost a year ago. I’m doing vinyasa style yoga, which means that there are almost no pauses between poses, and moves very fast. I am hoping to get more toned and a little stronger because I’ve atrophied a lot from my depressed days when I stayed cooped up at home for days. Yoga just makes me feel good.
  4. Therapy: I’ve faced some of my demons, and I am becoming more self aware about my relationship with them. Some of the main ones were workaholism, having bipolar itself/self-stigmatization, things from the past that have been fueling my PTSD, anxieties, my situation (where my life suddenly just fell apart) , losing friends etc. I’ve really made peace with these, and I feel good about it. There is still a lot more that I need to tackle, but some progress is better than no progress.

Those are the main ones I feel improved in the past month or so. Since school is taking most of my time out of my schedule, I think I will continue giving short updates like these every few weeks, so stay tuned!

Having Mania/Hypomania- What We Don’t Talk About: Excessive Spending

Maybe it’s because it’s considered embarrassing if you can’t keep your finances straight as an adult, but like many of the manic/hypomanic behaviors e.g. hypersexuality, excessive or reckless spending is not talked about.

Due to hypomania, I became a shopaholic overnight. My mother was intrigued but concerned about my new nightly shopping behavior. It started out with new hiking boots that we’ve been talking about for our next springtime hikes, then more shoes, then minimalist earrings- I didn’t make the purchases yet, but every single day I would talk about buying something different. I’m usually not a big shopper. I’m considered to be a very frugal spender who saves a big chunk of her income. And it’s not like I like shopping in general. I like fashion as an art form but I prefer minimalist styles for myself, which usually helps with not liking going shopping. My mother didn’t think it was all bad news, because for once in so many months, I started to actually care about what I looked like, excessive shopping and spending aside. See, when I became depressed, I disliked shopping even more because I always got dissociated in stores and malls, and since I had no desire to look desirable, it meant that I saw no point in rummaging through the racks.

To be exact, I became a shopaholic not quite overnight, but after I started taking the pill that I have a love/hate relationship with- Abilify. Abilify makes me so happy and enthusiastic- it gets me going and it gets me motivated. But, it is not without a cost: It pushed me towards hypomania, almost mania, even at my adjusted levels of a mere 1mg. I wanted to try everything (read: rock climbing, bouldering especially), do everything (read: get a crazy haircut), and work on my art (read: two paintings a day). But most of all, I wanted to shop. I wanted to find the best deals and buy them before someone else did. Thanks to the prevalence of online shopping these days, (which I never got into until now) shopping got so much easier and faster, as well as the returns. When I woke up in the middle of the night, around 3 am, my body’s preferred time, much like a victim of a remote controlled human with the tin hat (see Wallace and Grommet), I opened my computer and I scrolled through the sales section of all the retailers I’ve heard of that are online, like it was Black Friday. At the time, what I was doing felt safe and legit. It’s only the clearance section! What could go wrong?

I talked to my mother about this- she knows me best (even better than I know myself, sometimes) and she felt like something was up. She was happy that I was jovial and excited about life again, but she wasn’t too keen on my new found addiction, late night online shopping. We talked about some solutions, laughed about my strange behavior (in an endearing kind of way), and came up with some rules. Some limits. It wasn’t just the shopaholism, but about other things, like signing up for more art classes than I can physically handle, decluttering my closet for hours, trying new sports, working out more than my body can handle without collapsing afterwards, like going to the extremes with the ones I used to enjoy, like running. Hypomania was making me feel so happy and it was clouding my judgement with too much positivity. Well, anyway, here is the list:

Some rules

  • Finances
    • Leaving my wallet with someone I trust before going to bed. (To not have access to credit cards)
    • Always discussing potential purchases with someone I trust, and buying after a 24 hour period
  • Activities
    • Always discussing long term commitments (like classes that are >1 month) before registering/accepting them
    • Creating a schedule and only doing the things on the schedule to not over scheduling myself
  • Sports
    • Setting a time and sticking to the allotted time in order not to overwork myself

Some of these are no brainers, but not overworking will always be something that I struggle with, so I have to have it front and centered here.