I can't seem to get enough sleep, and it's been causing various problems. It makes me cranky, for one thing, when I feel like I'm running a constant low-level sleep deficit, and I snap at Shannon when I shouldn't. But then when I try to figure out ways to get more sleep, those affect Shannon, too (making it complicated to watch some of his favorite tv shows when he likes to watch them, for example, since he likes to watch them with me). So I've been doing a lot of sleep maneuvering over the past couple weeks. The night before last, Shannon recommended to me that I stop trying to abide by all these "sleep hygiene" rules (they advise against napping, for example), and just sleep when I'm tired and see what happens. So I've been doing that the past couple days, and it's a great relief to just let myself sleep during the day after PHP when it's all I want to do. Med sedation is still an issue, so I still feel tired all the time, but it isn't as bad as when I was trying to avoid all napping.
When it comes to meds, we're currently holding steady, waiting to see if the Depakote side effects (sedation + increased appetite, especially for protein and salt) decrease with time & if the drug becomes more effective against my racing thoughts. In the meantime, it's a very odd dance I'm doing, sort of wavering between hypomania and sedation. My brain and body want to go really fast, and in some ways they do, but I also constantly want to just lie down on the floor for a quick snooze.
The hypomania seems to be reduced much of the time now. I'm able to attend to PHP classes, for example, without always needing to be coloring to keep myself present. I only need to color sometimes now. Sometimes I'm still very "wiggly," though, with my leg jiggling and my body wanting to move and my whole self just wanting to be doing something. It's hard to just sit in groups all day long when I feel like that! But I think I'm doing a great job.
I spend a lot of energy questioning whether I even need to be at La Cheim, because I'm functioning quite well and the hypomania is less troublesome now. (I visited Jay on Tuesday for an hour and a half, and I actually let him do almost all the talking! I hardly interrupted him at all! I was very proud of myself. More about Jay in a minute.) But I'm getting a tremendous amount of useful stuff out of the groups there, so I'm trying to stop worrying so much about whether I "need" to be there, and just get everything I can out of the experience. I must admit, though, that it sounds amazingly seductive to not have to get up early every day when I'm having this sedation. If I wasn't going to La Cheim, I could sleep as late as I wanted! Okay, crappy reason to not go to partial hospitalization, but if I can't be honest with myself in my own journal, where can I be honest?
For the first couple weeks of PHP, I also was putting a lot of energy into criticizing myself for not getting as much out of the program as I could. Every day I put on my To Do list to go home in the evening and look over the day's notes, reevaluate what I'd learned and thought that day, etc., and I was never doing it ... and so all my energy was getting diverted into feeling bad about not doing it. This week I decided to start a different approach: just take really good notes each day on what I'm thinking, feeling, learning, etc.—notes clear enough that I'll be able to make some sense out of them in a few weeks—and then put all those notes into a binder I can revisit when I'm not so exhausted all the time (i.e., when I'm done at La Cheim). And I'm just not going to worry about doing anything more than that for the time being. Just take good notes for my future perusal.
Right now, the estimate is that I'll be at La Cheim 3 days/week for another month, but that's just an estimate. It sounds like a marathon stretching before me. But maybe it'll stop feeling quite so much like that, now that I'm letting myself nap.
One of my goals I'd like to accomplish before leaving La Cheim is establishing a sort of "tool box" for dealing with hypomania, because I have something like that for depression (just a collection of coping skills, preventative routines, etc.), but I usually just rely on drugs to control/prevent the hypomania. It would be extremely useful to develop some non-medication skills for dealing (stuff like breathing exercises, grounding exercises, regular meditation, regular sleep hygiene, etc.). I'm also learning a lot about dealing with PTSD stuff, though I don't want to write about that right now.
Some other goals I'd like to accomplish are being put on hold until after I've finished at La Cheim, because I simply can't do everything all at once, even if my hypomania tells me that I really could if I tried. A few of these goals are closely related:
- I'm not getting enough exercise. I simply don't have the time or the energy. I'm planning to join the gym when I'm done at La Cheim, and it will be a good additional bit of structure to fit into my life to replace some of what I'll be losing. For now, I monitor my activity on my Fitbit, and I try to make sure I'm being at least somewhat active—at least walk a couple miles a day—but it's nowhere near what I'd like to be doing.
- I've gained an amount of weight that isn't acceptable to me, and my dislike of it has absolutely nothing to do with looks, appearance, or anyone else's judgment. I just don't feel good in my body right now. When I walk, my knees (and sometimes my hips) frequently hurt, and my body just feels foreign. I'm about 40 lbs over the weight I think of as most healthy for me, though most of that weight accumulated slowly over the past couple years of sedentary lifestyle caused by various health problems. The most recent sudden gain of 10 lbs (caused by medication side effects, thanks to Seroquel) just pushed me over some sort of line into really not feeling right. I'm looking forward to having the time and energy to get more exercise (and getting rid of this increased appetite side effect).
- My most recent lab results showed that my cholesterol has gotten a little high, which is a first for me. My plan? Exercise and weight loss. Like I said, these three things are all closely related to each other.
As I mentioned earlier, I visited Jay for an hour and a half on Tuesday, and he seemed very glad of the company. He talked and talked and talked, and it was great to see him so animated, especially given how physically immobile he still is. When I stopped in more briefly yesterday, he was having a bad day due to a bad reaction to pain medication. I plan to go visit him again next Wednesday, since his rehab clinic is located just a few blocks from La Cheim.