Hello, hello! Welcome to The Bipolar Parent’s (Belated) Saturday Morning Mental Health Check in: Keto Edition! Thanks for stopping by.
First, I apologize for this post being late. I completely forgot to write it on Friday, and on Saturday, I was ridiculously busy, which I’ll go into below. Sorry about that!
Secondly, how are you? How’s life treating you? Do you attend religious services? Are you on a diet, like me? How are the kids? What are you struggling with? What are your parenting challenges this week? Let me know in the comments; I genuinely want to get to know you.
I started the keto (extremely low-carb, moderate protein, high fat) diet with my husband to help us both shed some extra weight we’ve been carrying around.
I am currently 190.4 pounds, and have lost 2 pounds since Tuesday. But, since my weight tends to fluctuate over the day, I am not counting the loss until I lose at least 6-8 pounds.
The last time I tried the keto diet, I ended up with massive headaches and brain fog for the first week. A while back, my sister recommended magnesium supplements for headaches. As I don’t absorb magnesium through supplementation very well, I was elated to find out that pumpkin seeds, which have 0g net carbs due to their high fiber content, give me 50% of the recommended daily value of magnesium for a 1/4 cup serving.
Now, eating the pumpkin seeds, I have had very few headaches, and am snapping out of the brain fog much more quickly. It’s such a relief.
As for being busy on Saturday, I cleaned the house because my husband and I planned to go on a date that afternoon, and I wanted the house to be nice for the babysitters, a trusted couple from our church.
The whole family pitched in to clean the house, and we got it done in time for our date at 1pm. I should have spread the cleaning out over the week, but I’ve been dealing with depression/exhaustion/brain fog from the change in my diet.
But it hasn’t been a bad week, not at all. I’ve been able to maintain a positive attitude, which helps immensely. Hopefully next week will be even better.
Hello! Welcome to The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check in: Sunshine Edition! Thanks so much for dropping by.
How are you? How’s the weather been? How are the kids? What have you been struggling with? Are you managing to perform self-care? Let me know in the comments!
First, I apologize that this post is so late. It’s more like a Saturday Afternoon Mental Health Check in, haha. I forgot to write the post yesterday (Friday), which is what I usually do.
When I signed on to my website this morning, I found it wasn’t working, so I needed to troubleshoot it. I was frantically working on that, and then my kids woke up and wanted to cuddle with me upstairs. I figured my kids are more important than a website (sorry!), and cuddled with them.
Then, at 10am, we had a toddler group (like a co-op preschool, but one day a week) class, as a make-up class for a snow day we’d had in December. I also forgot about that. So that’s why this post is so late.
My week has been a blend of ups and downs.
The sun finally came out this week, so I spent a lot of time just sitting in sun puddles and soaking it up, like my cat did. The therapy boxes and the higher dose of Wellbutrin, my antidepressant (plus an new anti-anxiety med) seem to be working. So I’ve had more good days than bad this week, a welcome change.
On Tuesday, I felt great, but stayed up until 2am working on my new fantasy story. I thought I would be tired the next day. But on Wednesday, I jumped out of bed at 7:30am, feeling great. I rode the high all day.
Thursday was objectively terrible. I woke up groggy and depressed and stayed that way until 4:30pm, when I finally mustered up the energy to get out of the house. I took Toddler in her stroller to a nearby coffee shop, and we had a mother-daughter date. That was nice.
On Friday, which was Valentine’s day, I felt great again, so I cleaned the house and made lasagna (my husband’s favorite meal, which was one of my presents to him).
Today, I feel great again. So this week has been excellent, and I think it’s because of all the sunshine we’ve been getting. There was no sun for all of January. It rained continuously every day. That was a dark time for me, both literally and metaphorically.
if you are bipolar (or even if you aren’t), I hope that you, too, have been conquering depression lately, or just haven’t had to deal with that part of the disease in a while. Thanks for listening.
Hello, hello! Welcome to the Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check in: Appointments Edition!
How are you? How’s life treating you lately? What have you been up to this week? Have you been maintaining your self-care routine? How are the kids? What parenting challenges have you been dealing with lately? Please let me know; I genuinely want to hear from you!
My week has been following the theme of the previous couple of weeks: utterly depressing. I just haven’t been myself lately. I’ve been struggling to do housework and the most basic of tasks, like brushing my teeth (ew).
I missed an appointment with my therapist on Monday. I completely forgot about it. Luckily, I was able to reschedule for Wednesday.
My therapist believes my depression may be seasonal. I have been unusually exhausted lately as well, so she asked me if I would a) get a physical and some bloodwork done with my primary care physician, and b) set up an appointment with my psychiatrist.
I have the appointment with the PCP on Tuesday of next week and the psychiatrist on Thursday. I am blessed to have a treatment team, and decent insurance.
On Thursday, I started potty training the toddler. She’s amazing at it. She only had a few accidents on Thursday; on Friday, she had one. I am so proud of her.
Unfortunately, I was so excited to potty train her, and so focused on asking “do you need to go potty?” every fifteen minutes, that I missed my morning meds (Welbutrin and vitamin D) on Thursday. That threw me for a loop for the whole rest of the week.
Wellbutrin shares a caffeine pathway, which means I can’t simply take it in the afternoon, or the medication will keep me awake at night. No sleep means mania for me, usually. I want to avoid that at all costs, as mania is much more destructive than depression in my experience.
On Friday, I did very little, except to fold 5 loads of laundry that had piled up on my bed. I also, to my chagrin, yelled at my son for making his sister scream. There’s something about a high-pitched, extended, hysterical screaming that goes right to my primal brain.
So that’s been my week. A week of big, stressful changes, that I’ve been experiencing through a thick fog of apathy. Hopefully my PCP and psychiatrist figure out what’s wrong and treat me accordingly. Thanks for listening, and wish me luck!
When you have depression, your natural inclination when faced with a to-do list is to crawl back into bed, right? Trust me, I’ve been there. When I’m depressed, I’d rather stick my hand into a box of tarantulas than load the dishwasher.
It’s rare that you do get the motivation to tackle something on your list. But, when you do, have you noticed that staying focused on that getting that task done is impossible?
Have you tried to complete a task like “pick up the living room,” only to end up staring at the mountain of toys, not knowing what to do next? I’ve been there, too.
Turns out there’s a scientific reason behind the inability to get things done (GTD) with depression. It’s called a “lack of cognitive control,” or, more colloquially, “executive dysfunction.” There’s even a disorder for it: executive dysfunction disorder.
Getting things done, or GTD, is a productivity system developed by David Allen. GTD encourages people to “brain dump” everything in their heads out onto paper, and then file that away into a trusted system. A trusted system involves calendars, your phone, and anywhere you’d like to schedule tasks.
But executive dysfunction interferes with GTD because a brain dump can be overwhelming for people with depression. I’ve written about executive dysfunction and how it relates to bipolar disorder before. But it’s been a while since that post, so I figured a refresher is in order.
What is Executive Function?
Executive function, when things are going well, is the ability to set goals and self-monitor. This means that you can recognize that picking up the living room requires you to pick up one toy at a time, rather than staring down a mountain of them.
Executive function is, in so many words, the ability to break tasks down into compartmentalized parts.
Most of the time, executive function, for people who have learned it (which is a whole ‘nother post), is automatic. But studies have shown the depression (and bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) interferes with executive functioning. Breaking down tasks into parts is extremely difficult when you’re suffering from depression.
Which is why you end up being overwhelmed when looking at that mountain of toys. you literally cannot comprehend the steps it would take to clean the living room.
How to Cope with Executive Dysfunction
The good news is that executive dysfunction can be managed with ideas like these:
Consciously break projects up into steps. I’ve written recently about how to break tasks and projects into steps, so I’ll just summarize here. Next time you’re facing a task, try writing down every step you can think of. Then put them in the order that you need to accomplish. Then tackle the task, one step at a time.
Use time management tools such as colorful calendars and stopwatches. Once you write down the steps of a task, try timing yourself to get each step done. Make a game of it, and you’ll be able to complete the steps more quickly.
Schedule repeating reminders on your computer or phone, using sites like Remember the Milk. Reminders can be extremely helpful. Use a calendar app on your phone to make appointments, and set notifications for thirty minutes ahead (or however long you need to get to the appointment). “Set it and forget it” gets the task out of your head and into a trusted system.
Set goals in advance to coincide with ingrained habits, such as flossing your teeth right after brushing. Setting goals to follow ingrained habits is a great way to build new ones. They’re called “triggers,” and they’re a positive way to build upon a foundation that you already have. When you do one habit, you immediately follow it with another. If you’re a tea drinker, try taking the trash out every time you boil water, and you’ll never have to remember to take the trash out again.
Structure is extremely important for people who suffer from depression. Executive dysfunction is a real problem.
Consciously breaking projects down into steps, using time management tools such as calendars and repeating reminders, and setting goals to coincide with ingrained habits are all ways to improve executive functioning.
You can do this. You can improve your executive functioning.
How are you? What have you been struggling with? Let me know!
Show me some love!
Hello! Welcome to the Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check in: Apathy Edition!
How are you? Have you been keeping up with your self-care? How’s parenting going? What have you been struggling with lately? What’s been good in your life? Let me know!
I’ve just been going through the motions this week. There’s been a serious disconnect between me and everything going on around me.
Except for the basics like pre-scheduled playdates and making dinner, I’ve done literally nothing but sit on the couch and play on my phone, and I’m not even enjoying that. No housework. Not enough engagement with my kids. I’ve had the doldrums lately.
I’ve also engaged in a lot of negative self-talk about my body. I’ve been on my menstrual cycle this week, which didn’t help my mood, and made me feel fat and gross. I’ve put myself down for being about 50 pounds overweight all week, and now I’m putting a stop to that. Negative self-talk has no benefit, and doesn’t help me want to lose weight at all. It just makes me feel bad.
I’ve scheduled an appointment to talk to my therapist on Monday. I called a warmline Friday evening, and the operator I talked to has bipolar disorder, which was very helpful. I could tell she understood bipolar depression, because she’s lived it. I’ll be meeting with my psychiatrist in March, though I might want to call his office and ask for an earlier appointment. We shall see.
So I’m taking steps to address this soul-sucking pit of depression that I’ve found myself in. Please keep me in your prayers.
Decluttering the house when you have depression sounds like a nightmare. After all, decluttering is a huge project, isn’t it? Everyone has junk they need to get rid of in their homes, and some people (like me) have entire rooms filled with useless stuff.
And clutter can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and depression. Let me explain. If there’s a toy on the living room floor, every time you pass that toy, your brain makes a split-second decision as to whether to deal with that toy.
If you decide against dealing with that toy, the toy will remain on the floor, and every time you see it, you have to make a decision: pick up the toy and put it somewhere else, or leave it. Every time.
Say there’s 5 toys on the floor. That’s 5 decisions you have to make. You quickly begin to suffer from decision fatigue.
This is why a cluttered room is so overwhelming and difficult to start cleaning, especially when you have depression. You’re looking at the big picture.
What about Decluttering with Depression?
The trick to decluttering with depression is to break the rooms of your house down into compartmentalized parts. For example, if you were decluttering your kitchen, you’d break the room down like so:
Coffee bar counter
And so on. Rather than thinking you have to declutter the entire kitchen in a day, you can tackle one cabinet at a time. Break every room down into smaller parts, and you can work at your own pace.
If a cabinet is too much for you at once, then break the room down even further, separating out the top and bottom halves of the cabinet, or right and left halves.
3 Easy Steps to Declutter
But don’t think of decluttering as a big picture project, but a series of simple tasks. There are many ways to purge your stuff, but they all boil down to 3 easy steps:
That’s it. Those 3 easy steps will help you declutter your entire house.
The first step in decluttering with depression is to sort your stuff.
Take a picture of the space you plan to declutter. This is important for the third step.
Pull everything out of the space. Spread the junk out on a table or bed so that everything is visible.
Next, sort the stuff into piles by category, asking yourself two questions, which you’ll answer honestly:
Have I used this in the past 6 months?
Does it fit my life today?
Then, sort the stuff into yes piles, where you answered yes to both of those questions, or no piles, where you answered no to both of those questions. The maybe pile is for 1 yes, and 1 no.
If you’re on the fence about sorting things into piles, or you think you’re keeping too much, simply ask yourself: Would I take this with me if I had to move today? That question cuts to the heart of the matter.
Once you have all the items sorted into one of three piles, you’re ready for step two.
Are you ready for step two? Take a hard look at your piles:
Yes piles: Keep the items gladly, and find places for them in your home.
No piles: Toss or donate the stuff!
Maybe piles: Place these items into a box. Write the date on the box, and set the box aside in your garage or closet. If you haven’t touched the items in the box in 3-6 months, toss the entire box. If you find yourself pulling stuff out, then keep those items and find homes for them.
Take another picture, and bask in the glow of a freshly-decluttered space. You did it! Congratulations!
Now think on how you can keep the space clear. Will you adopt a 1-item-in, 1-item-out policy? Don’t let anything into your life that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
Decluttering with depression isn’t as difficult as you might think. Break rooms down into smaller parts. Sort your items into yes, no, and maybe piles. Make decisions to keep or toss or set aside the stuff. And take before and after pictures for posterity.
How do you declutter your house? Let me know in the comments!
Depression can make even the smallest of projects feel overwhelming and not worth doing. When you’re depressed, your natural inclination is to crawl into bed and stay there. You want to neglect what you need to do, from cleaning your home, feeding yourself, and taking care of pets or children.
But what if you could break those overwhelming tasks into smaller, bite-sized pieces? Then you could tackle them one at a time and truly make some progress, incremental as it might be.
1. Examine the Task. Is it a Task or a Project?
The first thing you need to do to break tasks into bite-sized pieces is to examine the task. Is it really a task, or is it a project? A task is something you can do in one sitting, in less than an hour. Whereas a project is a series of smaller tasks leading to one accomplishment. It’s important to make a clear distinction between the two.
Projects aren’t just for work or school. Anything we want to do can be classified as a project.
If you have a task that you want to break down into tasks, continue reading the next section. But if your task is actually a project, then skip to the third.
2. Break Tasks Down into Steps
You might think of something as simple as “load the dishwasher” as a task, and you’d be right. It’s easy to get done in one sitting. When we’re stable, doing the dishes is automatic, and we don’t generally balk at the amount of work the task takes. But there are a series of steps to loading the dishwasher. If you’re suffering from depression, breaking down any task into smaller action steps can be helpful.
To load the dishwasher, you need to:
Gather dishes from around the house.
Set dishes down on the counter, not the sink.
Clear the sink.
Fill the sink with hot, soapy water to aid in soaking stubborn grime off of dirty dishes.
Place dishes that need soaked in the sink.
Open the dishwasher.
Pull out the bottom rack.
Load the large items, like pots.
Load the plates.
Load the bowls.
Load the silverware.
Take the dishes that were soaking out of the sink, which fit on the bottom rack, out.
Put the bottom rack back.
Pull out the top rack.
Load the cups.
Load the serving utensils.
Load Tupperware lids.
Take the dishes that were soaking in the sink, which fit on the top rack, out.
Put away the top rack.
Fill the soap holder with soap.
Close the dishwasher.
Set the cycle.
Turn on the dishwasher.
Drain the sink.
Wipe out the sink.
Wow, 27 steps for one task! Seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? And if you have depression, your inclination is to stop at any one of those steps. So often we don’t even start on a task because it just seems like we’ll never get it done.
But don’t think of the task as “27 steps” or a big picture, “load the dishwasher.” Rather, think of the task as the next step on the list.
So if you’re just starting out, gather the dishes. Then set them on the counter. Then…. Surprisingly, if you’re moving quickly (which is hard to do with depression, I know), loading the dishwasher takes 5-6 minutes, tops.
Try breaking down another task, like clearing the nightstand or making your bed. Making your bed is a simple task to break down:
Pull up sheets.
Pull up blankets.
That’s it. There’s only three steps to making a bed, which is why the task takes roughly thirty seconds.
Next time you’re facing a task, try writing down every step you can think of. Then put them in the order that you need to accomplish. Then tackle the task, one step at a time.
But what about projects?
3. Break Projects Down into a Series of Tasks
Rather than looking at a project as the entire enchilada, like “plan John’s birthday party,” look at the project as a series of tasks, which you can then break down into single action steps.
In the party planning example, the tasks can be sorted into different categories, such as food, invitations, or beverages. A task under the invitations category would be to get stamps; another would be to gather all addresses in the same place.
When cleaning your house, you can break projects down into different parts. Your bedroom is one part. The kitchen is another. And so on.
When starting a blog, you can break that project down into different phases. For example, you’ll write posts, edit them, and finally publish them.
These three ways to break projects down can help you see in what order you need to carry out the tasks in the project.
You don’t have anything to lose by taking a hard look at your project list. If you can put off some projects until you’re feeling better, then do so. Managing depression is a project all in its own.
But for those you can’t put off, try brainstorming which tasks need done for that project, and then break them down further into single action steps after sorting those tasks into categories, phases, or parts.
This is no small feat when you’re depressed, I know. But just try it.
I wish you well in your journey.
What projects are on your to-do list? Let me know in the comments!
The new year brings new beginnings and a sense of starting fresh. Everything is fresh and full of potential. What better time than the new year to start looking after your mental health?
January is Mental Wellness Month in the U.S. It’s part of a public health and awareness campaign set up by the International Association of Insurance Professionals (IAIP), an educational organization created for insurance professionals. Mental wellness focuses on prevention of further mental health issues rather than the treatment of what’s already there.
What You Can Do to Celebrate Mental Wellness Month
Taking a proactive approach to your mental health can help you nip problems in the bud. There are many things you can do to celebrate Mental Wellness Month, the foremost of which is looking after yourself. But you can also raise awareness of mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Here are some other things you can do during Mental Wellness Month:
Get a mental check up from your psychiatrist and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Set up an appointment with your psychiatrist today for a mental-health check in. If you don’t have a psychiatrist, ask for a referral from your primary care physician.
Plan out goals for the new year. Setting goals is a great way to challenge yourself. If you set a mental health goal like, “I will do self-care three times a week for eight weeks,” then you can look forward to taking better care of yourself.
Start a gratitude journal. Listing what you’re thankful for on a daily basis elevates serotonin, a feel good chemical. Start a gratitude journal to try to remind yourself of what you actually have, and don’t focus on what you don’t.
If you have bipolar disorder, you can start tracking your moods. Charting your moods when you have bipolar disorder is a helpful bellwether. If you track what you feel for a few weeks, your doctor will be able to read the data and make a better plan to treat you. You can also figure out your triggers for mood episodes. For a post on how to get started tracking your moods and why, click here.
Destress from the holidays. Prioritizing self-care during the holidays is difficult, which can make your mental health go down the toilet quickly. Getting back on track and making sure that you destress from the holidays is so important. Try meditation, a bubble bath, or eating a one-ounce square of dark chocolate.
Attend a therapy session to discuss your hopes and dreams and current struggles. Therapy is crucial for most people’s mental health. If you have a therapist, try to attend at least one session in the month of January to celebrate Mental Wellness Month.
Post about mental health issues on social media to raise awareness of mental wellness issues. Most of the time, I advocate for leaving social media behind, and not engaging more than you really need to. But, if you are going to browse social media and don’t want to give it up, then you can post about Mental Wellness Month and other mental health issues to raise awareness.
Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed. Communicating with our friends and loved ones gives them a chance to help us, or manage their expectations of us. You don’t want to ask them to manage your emotions, but help cleaning the kitchen or taking the kids for an afternoon so you can get a nap in is a perfectly fine idea.
Make a commitment to eat better. Our diets affect our moods. I’ve written before about how plant-based, whole foods diets and Mediterranean diets can help alleviate symptoms of depression. Make a commitment to eat better for a month, and see how you feel at the end of it.
Celebrating Mental Wellness Month doesn’t have to be difficult. You can celebrate as little or as much as you want, publicly or privately. If you prioritize taking care of yourself during the month of January, that’s all the celebration you need.
Happy Mental Wellness Month!
What will you do to celebrate Mental Wellness Month? Leave me a note in the comments!
What do you want to accomplish in the next week? The next month? The next year?
A vision statement is usually reserved for businesses. It’s a purpose-driven overview of what the business owner wants to accomplish with their company. It should leave nothing to interpretation. You want to set this goal and contribute to the end result of the vision statement with little steps you can take during everyday life.
Most vision statements are an overarching goal of the company. For example, Disney’s is “make people happy.” There’s no reason you can’t write a personal, mental-health oriented vision statement. And yours doesn’t have to be nearly as ambitious, and you may want to center it on improving your own station rather than making other people happy, sometimes an impossible feat.
So how do you write a mental-health oriented vision statement to ring in the new year?
Basic Guidelines for Vision Statements
Here are the basic guidelines for vision statements. Keep in mind that you don’t have to follow all of these guidelines, but they’re good starting points.
A vision statement should be short. A vision statement is a brief outline of your goals. It should be one-to-two sentences, max.
A vision statement should be specific. What are you hoping to accomplish with your goal? Try to be as specific as possible. Disney’s vision statement, “make people happy,” is too general and too other-people focused for the vision statement you want to make.
A vision statement should be simple. Everyone who hears or reads your vision statement should be able to understand it. The less complex you make your end goal, the more likely it is that you are to follow it.
A vision statement should be ambitious, but achievable. When setting goals for yourself, you want to challenge yourself to accomplish great things. If you’re suffering from depression, such a challenge seems impossible to complete. That’s okay. You can adjust the level of ambition based on how you’re feeling. Like, “I will take a shower, feed myself, and make my bed everyday for six months.” These lofty goals are challenging for a depressed person, right? But definitely achievable.
Following these guidelines will help you write a compelling vision statement.
Vision Statement Examples
Using the above guidelines, set a goal for yourself which is mental-health oriented. Try to make the vision statement short, simple, specific, and ambitious but achievable.
“I will focus on self-care three days a week for eight weeks, which should improve my mood.”
“I will find a competent therapist and attend therapy as often as I can afford, but preferably once a month, for the next year.”
Try to stay true to yourself, and focus on the types of goals that you can achieve.
If you can, do some thinking about what kinds of overarching, mental-health oriented vision statements you want to set for the next six months to a year. Setting yourself an ambitious but achievable goal may encourage you to meet it, and hopefully take care of yourself in the new year.
Happy New Year!
What vision statement do you think you’ll set for yourself this year? Let me know in the comments!
The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Sleep Edition – How are you? I’d like to get to know you, so please stop by!
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Hello! Welcome to The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Sleep Edition!
How are you? How have you been sleeping? Well, I hope! How’s your holiday planning going? If you have kids, how are they? How has your week been? Please tell me! I really do want to get to know all of you.
My Hellish Week of No Sleep
Well, last week was good, but this one started off on the wrong foot and stayed awful. Last Saturday night, I stayed up late messing around on the internet and inhaling articles about how to grow my blog traffic. Quickly becoming obsessed with making my own website (which I did eventually–it’s coming soon!), I realized I needed to sleep, and shut my laptop at 10:35pm. Then I laid awake in bed until 3am with my mind spinning. I ended up having to take a sleep aid, which I loathe. I wasn’t able to wake up at 7am to hang out with my son, as I’d promised him the night before. He seemed to understand, but I hate disappointing him.
That lack of sleep a set the tone for the rest of the day (and week). I was irritable, still obsessed with my blog, and tired. I couldn’t sleep during the rest of the week, either. By Wednesday, I’d had enough. I took a two-hour nap while my preschooler was making Christmas artwork at school, and felt loads better–during the day, at least. At night, I stayed awake until 2am. Ugh.
On Thursday, I attended both a psychiatry appointment and a therapy session, which always help me re-center myself. My psychiatrist and I decided not to adjust my meds and to meet in three months. My therapist suggested that I take the sleep aid at 10pm for the next few days, so I’ll be asleep by 11pm when it kicks in. On Thursday night, I took the sleep aid at 8pm, fell asleep by 9pm, and slept for 12 hours. Friday morning, I was still tired and groggy, but feeling less manic.
I’m still obsessed with growing my blog, but the frantic, urgent nature of the obsession is blunted. I hope I’ll be able to better manage the work/life/mom balance in the future. Wish me luck, and thanks for reading.