Weighted Blankets and Sleeping Masks

7.30.19 blog entry

Question & looking for advice/feedback – have any of you guys tried weighted blankets and/or weighted eye masks to help alleviate headaches, sinus issues, anxiety and/or stress?

blog stress mask

(Image Credit: thegrommet.com)

Did you experience good and positive results?

I’m adding a couple of links – one an article and one an item for sale. I’m considering the mask especially.

 

https://smartsleeptech.com/tools/weightedblanket-lt.php?affId=B30A00E5&c1=edjuh7_ayem&c2=blanket

https://www.amazon.com/Weighted-Gravity-Creator-Blanket-Science/dp/B07C62RHLF

 

 

Margot Kidder – What Is Known

MARGOT KIDDER, WHAT IS KNOWN ~ 5.14.18

I took a hit today, and the mental health community took a blow.

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As I write down these few thoughts late on Monday night, May 14, 2018, doctors and family officially say Margot Kidder’s cause of death is unknown.

 

Here are things we do know.

We know she was THE Lois Lane. Huge thanks to her for that alone.

When later in life she had a manic breakdown and her Bipolar Disorder became known to any and everyone, she learned what she could about her “disorder” (that’s bulls**t, it’s a disease, but I digress) and how to go about feeling better.

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What is known is that she became an advocate for those around her with mental health issues, particularly Bipolar, and it paved the way to help those of us also unfortunately suffering with Bipolar, like myself and my son.

What is known is that her work will live on, and that I owe her thanks, just as I did with Carrie Fisher.

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What is known is the medication that most of us have to take to survive this cruel disorder is a difficult journey, to say the very least. From the decision to trying meds and surviving side effects, adverse reactions, or hospitalizations, all the way to finding the right combo. (I would not even dare tell you how many meds I have to take to survive. It’s in the double digits. That includes supplements, as well. So many people say it doesn’t have to be that way, and if you believe that, or better yet you live it, I’m glad you’re not faced with the whole ugly mess.) It is incredible to note that Margot had two extremely public breakdowns, one of which included her disappearance for four days and an attempted rape. In 2007, she said she hadn’t had a manic episode in 11 years thanks to orthomolecular treatment (nutritional supplementation), which most quality specialists who care for their patients will discuss with him/her and try if it seems one is a good candidate. (I’m on Depakote, by the way. #TeamJen 😣)

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What is known is that Ms. Kidder was active in the women’s movement, as well as the peace movement. Whether you’re a #metoo believer or not, support the #Dreamers or any other work she did, the attention she drew, the things she said, the slander thrown at her, all of that helped you. Helped us.

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Never forget who came before us and the work they did so that we can voice our opinions.

Look, Bipolar didn’t kill her, but this I can say with zero doubt; this I know. It certainly did not help. There is evidence that each time we experience Bipolar episodes, gray matter is destroyed. Meds, well we talked about that. ECT treatments. 😧

What I want to say is, thank you, Margot Kidder, for all you did to help me as a woman with Bipolar Disorder in 2018.

I once read that you said the scene in the first Superman movie when you and The Man of Steel flew high above the gorgeous, lit city, it was a close depiction to what it feels like flying high in a manic episode.

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I know that you’re flying and free now, and I’m so happy there won’t be a crash at the end of this one.

Gotta Breathe

Gotta Breathe ~ 5.7.18

Hey, guys. Just a quick shout-out to all of the new followers in this last week or so. I’m sorry I hadn’t posted many blog entries in this last month and a half, but our family has experienced three losses, and we’ve been traveling and attending funerals, as well as one seminar. Just quite busy.

Anyway, what I wanted to mention is today I had my second epidural injection of Lidocaine in my back in order to help with chronic pain in my lower left back since three surgeries, and in order to help with fibromyalgia.

During this injection, apparently when the pain was quite intense, I was forgetting to breathe. So the doctor very wisely reminded me to do so, and I began taking in deep breaths and exhaling out. Within a few minutes, I was feeling much better and I was able to control the pain that I was feeling and my reactions to it for the rest of the time until the procedure was finished. Afterward, it reminded me of how we (those with mental health issues) are supposed to take care of ourselves with self-care daily, just as we do stretching, walking, biking, water aerobics, and just like we hit the gym – we are also supposed to do some deep breathing exercises, some progressive muscle relaxation, some guided meditation, listening to calm music & calm sounds – that kind of thing to help us keep a baseline of calm and to help us have the tools and equipment to later in the day handle any anxiety that comes up and any unforeseen difficult circumstances. The idea behind all of this is that because we practice self-care in those ways everyday, it will be an immediate reaction to help us get through the acute times of emotional angst and pain.

So, hopefully today I received an epidural injection that will help with my back pain in just a few days, and I know I definitely received a great reminder because I had forgotten to be doing the daily deep breathing and other exercises that can help.

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Tell me, is there anything in particular that helps you with mental & emotional health self-care each day? I’d love to hear about it.

 

(image: Pinterest, saved by Nevine Sultan, PhD, NCC, LPC)

Feeling the Hit

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A friend who also “suffers” with Bipolar Disorder is tanking. Trouble with school, personal care, family, and so many opportunities for which she has worked. I know she will pull herself back up. She’s had to do it before. Most of us with this “disorder” do. But I’m infuriated and outraged. I hate Bipolar Disorder.

The hell of it is that tomorrow night, at this same time of 11:40 p.m., I could sit here and write that having had the disorder makes me a fighter, able to achieve, and offers blessings of unparalleled creativity and intelligence. Just give me time, and I’ll believe that again. I’ll “feel” it. It’s a lie. It’s all a big lie.

Bipolar is a liar. I could never articulate it better. Bipolar. Is. A Liar.

Speaking of my friend again, she’s quite successful and brilliant, but she doesn’t know that right now. I know that. I like to toss a saying around that I once found funny and have hung onto, and it’s a smart idea as well. “Surround yourself with people smarter than you.” That’s definitely the case with this friend, though she is leaps and bounds more than that. She’s warm, nurturing, caring and loving. But she falls down. We fall down. Sometimes it takes her a while to get back up, and sometimes sooner rather than later. But more often than not, the depression strike and anxiety spike, and we spiral down, we feel a tremendous hit.

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A hit on self-confidence. A hit on beliefs. A hit on our physical selves and immune system. A hit on the love and energy we can give your friends and family. A hit on how you can care for your basic needs.

There are days, when we have to count – the brushing of teeth, the journey of walking from the bedroom to the living room, the task of grabbing some small something to eat, and possibly, though often not, the basic grooming and taking of a shower – count all of that, as a win for the day. There is no way to express what it takes in our minds to achieve even that some days. I wish I could describe it, but every minute seems like an entire day. Time. Moves. So. Slowly.

So. Slow.

A brain screaming at you to move, to not move, to cry, to try, to smile, to die.

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And next week, possibly a month, the frenzied energy and lack of control of mania visits. But if you don’t like it, hold on. It will change.

A happy medium, doctors and therapists call it stability, but honestly, that’s bullshit. In my experience, we aim for that, and if we get it for a week or two, it’s amazing.

My friend will get back up. I get back up. Then it’s wash, rinse, repeat. It goes on and on. Spin cycle. Roller coasters. Whatever.

I understand why people give up and actively commit suicide or passively allow it. The fact that I know this will be my existence until the day I die is exhausting and horrifying. But I’m expected to be a good mother, wife, daughter, friend, animal lover, wanna-be volunteer, blah, blah. I understand the overwhelming point people get to when they say, I cannot take this fight another day. I cannot. It just has to stop. This ingenious, lying disease has beaten me, and I’m fine with that, just want it gone.

I want to be gone. Knowing it will never stop. I will never be free.

But, there are things that still stop me, thank goodness. The roles I mentioned above, because I do love being those things when I can do so. And friends who know this torturing bastard disorder with hands outreached to hold mine, and me hold theirs, when we are feeling overburdened and unable to move.

That’s how I know my friend will be okay, even though she is beyond any type of description of hurting that I can relay, because we’ll help each other get up, and move, and survive

…even if sometimes that’s not at all what we want.

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Yo! Read the Letter!

It’s hard for anyone to sit and wait for the opportune outcome during times of crisis.

For me, suffering with Bipolar Disorder, I have heightened and amplified feelings of anxiety, fear, paranoia, depression, hyomania and mania. When there is uncertainty, these feelings kick into overdrive.

Major overdrive.

My personal BP experience is largely affected by anxiety. Recently, something happened concerning someone in my immediate family. We were, and still are, awaiting news about a serious, possibly life-altering, decision that could change the course of our lives. We have a fair idea at this point that things are going to be okay. Difficult, but okay. Not as earth-shattering as it could have been. My sincere hope is an important lesson was learned.

So, how do I wade through the oppressive tide of worry and fear while awaiting happy endings?

First, I have to rely on God. He really is the bottom line. However, with my mind firing an array of bad ideas, possibilities and potential unwanted outcomes, my feelings tell me that I have to fix this. I must fix it!!

It is exceptionally hard, I’d argue impossible at times, to quiet the random and racing thoughts, or break away from the obsessive thinking.

So, next thing, I must try to follow logical steps that I set for myself when I am feeling well and at peace. Basically, the sane and rational Jen has left a letter for the chaotic, frightened, fracture-minded Jen. It’s a letter I must follow when things aren’t making sense, when I’m hyperventilating and when all I see is absolute worst case scenarios unfolding.

The letter mentions grounding techniques. Move to a different environment, such as a new room, or the back porch. Then, the idea is to engage all senses. Smell the air – fragrant like a candle, or freshly cut grass? See the ceiling fan whirl or various shades of green in the trees. You get the idea. Feel. Hear. Taste, but only if it’s okay to taste it. Let’s not test out the freshly painted walls or bite into a shrub recently fertilized. You get the point, though. Be present in the moment. Focus on something other than the big problem.

Distraction can be a good thing, as long as you are not flying a plane, or something important like that. I shake up my routine and instead of catching a tv show I usually watch Tuesday night at 8:00, I listen to a book and color.

Art therapy. Possibly sounds like it might require too much effort or talent? I’m not saying I paint a piece ready to instantly grace the walls of a museum. You can journal with finger paints. There are Bibles now that have images to color with favorite scripture and columns of free space so that you might draw or doodle what you feel reading a particular scripture. Paint by number with watercolors, like we did in Kindergarten. Working out feelings with sidewalk chalk.

Music. Definitely art. Music is art. Definitely distraction. Definitely release. Definitely a huge help. Listening to music. Singing. Dancing. Music can light you up, or help calm.

Light exercise and stretches. It serves as a healthy distraction, and endorphins are released, which cause a feeling of well-being, and you can begin to concentrate more on your breathing.

Guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation help as well.

These are only a few things I use, a few suggestions. Another thing you might wonder, yep, sometimes PRN (as needed) anti-anxiety meds do help.

What I mentioned earlier that might be most key is this. Will frazzled, frightened Jen listen to the wisdom of non-present, rational Jen?

I’d like to say that because I’ve fought this for…well forever, that I’ve found a good medication combo (with my doctor’s help) and have been in therapy, again, forever, and therefore I have it licked. Or at least well under control. Or hey, at least half the time, no doubt. Surely?

Nope.

Turmoil and bedlam are, more often than not, nearly impossible to overcome. There is such an energy-zapping effort to work my way through a frenzied mind with numerous demanding voices because I’m not doing something fast enough to hasten the desired outcome.

I’m going to be generous and say 15% of the time, I nail it. I beat it. I remember the letter from the experienced and wise Jen. Cue the song of angels and light of Heaven.

That said, 85% of the time, I can almost smell skin burning, scorched from the flames of what can only be described as hell.

Heaven or hell…

Bipolar Disorder battle.