I haven’t posted for awhile because I haven’t been inspired to write anything on this topic. I’ve been reading other people’s blogs and commenting a little but that’s about it.
I’m actually pretty proud of how I’m doing lately. I was feeling depressed on the weekend – crying easily and not finding pleasure or interest in anything. I researched what I could do about it, and settled on some science based self-help: vigorous exercise, pharmaceutical grade Omega 3 fatty acidsand changing the sheets on my bed to improve my sleep (I’m allergic to dust mites). As an additional health thing, not directly brain related, I’ve been trying to drink more water.
Here’s the skinny on Omega 3’s – 2 grams a day – 2000mg – is the consensus on the recommended dosage – one high dose capsule with every meal – according to some researchers who spoke at a conference I attended recently if you are recovering from a mental illness, 1 gram (1000mg) for everyone else, but Omega 3’s don’t have any downside for taking too much. They are good for your brain and your heart. Since I’m vegetarian now, I’ve been dosing myself with flax oil in a fruit smoothy each morning, but I bought a bottle of the fish oil based capsules to try anyhow. I’m still looking for other good vegetarian sources. Wheat germ (which is usually removed from wheat products because Omega3’s go rancid quickly) is apparently a good source.
I’m already feeling better. I have a treadmill and I’m doing ten minutes on it first thing in the morning. I figure I can do almost anything, no matter how unpleasant, for ten minutes, and first thing in the morning I seem to have less resistance, although I’m definitely not a morning person. Vigorous exercise is apparently about as effective as antidepressants for mild depression, and since I’d rather not mess with my brain chemistry if I don’t have to, I chose that as a first try. It also has the side effect hopefully of helping me lose some belly fat. I can’t find the exact links I found again, but you have to believe me, it was credible evidence.
I also researched sleep apnea (which my wife has) and found some evidence-based self-help for that too. I know you’re supposed to go to a doctor for sleep apnea, and we live in Canada so we don’t have to worry about affording it, but my wife isn’t keen on going to the doctor so we tried the stuff I could find out, which was: 1) sleep on your side, not your back and 2) make sure you do what you can to not be stuffed up (which to mean means avoiding allergens – dust mite dander isn’t good for anyone, even if you’re not allergic.) Wonder of wonders, just by trying to sleep on her side and changing the linens, she slept well and woke up without pain. She seemed to me to breathe quieter too.
We have special covers for the pillows, mattress and duvet that seals off dust mites, but you still have to change the linens that go over them regularly, and I get lazy about that.
The first day on the treadmill my asthma kept me from breathing as deeply as I needed to so I was dizzy from lack of oxygen by the time I finished my ten minutes. Not good. However this morning after sleeping in the dander-free zone, I didn’t have that problem. I emailed my doctor about making an appointment to look at asthma controller medication too, just in case. I think it will help with my singing too, to have full lung capacity again.
My therapist today came up with a reasonable explanation for the ‘monsters’ – kind of ‘hallucination lite’ experiences I had as a young adult, unfortunately quite drug unaided. She said they were probably like body memories, but emotion-memories dissociated from most of the other information – just fear, all by itself, or rage, that my mind put images to to make them make sense. That fits for me, because unlike true hallucinations (which I’ve read about but not experienced) they went away when I recognized and expressed the feelings stored in them (usually anger).
So anyhow, things aren’t perfect, but I’m actually coping pretty well. I feel resilient. Which is a good thing because my rolfing session this week will for the first time be working on areas of my body that are likely to trigger me a lot. Fortunately I like my rolfer, he’s young and unthreatening to me, and he says helpful things like “you’re in control” so I think it will be okay. If not, they’re just flashbacks… I mean really, if it didn’t kill me then, it won’t now.