I say I am in recovery, but what does that look like? Recovery takes work. I still have good days and bad days. I still struggle with sleep and sometimes don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning. I still have some anxiety and mild depression. I still have slight mood swings. On those days when I’ve gotten very little sleep, I try to sleep in and go into work a little later or work from home. I am lucky that my boss is cool with that. I’ve been open with him about my illness and he knows that I will get my work done. I will put in extra hours if needed to make up my time, but I put my health first. I don’t push myself because I know that can trigger an episode. I know my triggers and I’ve learned what I need to do to stay on track.
I take my medications religiously. I’ve been on the same antidepressant and antipsychotic for the past 4 years. My psychiatrist had me take a DNA test to see what meds work best for me and it has been a lifesaver. I have very few side effects from my meds and they help control the majority of my symptoms. I don’t rely solely on my meds though. I take a lot of supplements. Currently I am taking a multivitamin, vitamins D and C, a B complex, fish oil, magnesium citrate, 5htp, and l-methylfolate. I feel like an old lady when I break out all of my pills after with dinner. L-methylfolate has been a game changer for me. It helped relieve the lingering depression and fatigue. If any of you are taking an antidepressant, but still struggling with these symptoms, I encourage you to try it. The brand name is Deplin.
I also watch what I put into my body. I drink very little caffeine. Cutting out coffee has helped my fatigue tremendously. I’ve found that keeping my blood sugar balanced helps balance my moods and energy. Coffee made my blood sugar drop which made me hungry and cranky. Too much caffeine also increased my anxiety and insomnia. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or insomnia I encourage you to ditch your cup of joe. The benefits are totally worth it and if you find the right decaf, it is not so bad. I’ve recently given up alcohol as well. I haven’t had wine in seven months and I stopped drinking beer six weeks ago. Alcohol makes me bitchy and drowsy. I’ve learned that it is not a good idea to mix booze with meds. It affects my mood significantly. It might be fun for a few hours, but the effect it has on my emotional well being is just not worth it to me. I’ve found that I can still have fun without it and I’d rather be sober and completely alert than drunk, tired, and moody.
As far as nutrition goes, I try to watch my sugar intake which is tricky for me since I have a sweet tooth. Instead of reaching for a cookie or candy bar, I’ve been eating fruit. My favorites are strawberries, cantaloupe, and grapes. I do still have the occasional dessert, but I don’t do it on a daily basis anymore. Most of our dinners are paleo, basically meat and vegetables. I find that eating this way helps keep my blood sugar in check which balances my moods and energy. I am getting ready to start a strict paleo diet for three months called Whole30. No gluten, grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, or processed foods. My husband and I have done it before, but for only 30 days. We are doing it longer this time with hope that it will help my fertility issues. It is not an easy diet to follow, but we are motivated to stick to it.
I also see my therapist every 2-3 weeks just to check in to see how I am doing. I’ve found that it is difficult for me to assess how I am doing sometimes, especially when I am in the middle of an episode. My therapist can help me see things that I may not notice day to day and uncover areas that need some work. When I find myself feeling anxious, I do breathing exercises, a guided meditation, or use my HearthMath monitor to calm myself down. This usually helps me sleep. I’ve recently started taking yoga which is also great for relaxation. I am also in the process of writing a book about my illness and recovery. This is exciting for me and has given me something positive to focus on. Working on the book and writing in this blog is a passion of mine and is definitely therapeutic. My goal is to help others recover and feel less alone as well as fight stigma.
I am by no means perfect. Recovery is a process and I will be working at it for the rest of my life. I still stumble and sometimes fall, but I get up, dust myself off, and keep going.