Introspective

A Motivation Update

I sometimes find it interesting to look back at what I have posted here and see how things have changed. In September 2016, I posted Unmotivated = Overwhelmed and shared about how life was basically kicking my butt.

Things are much different now, partly because of the progress I have made with my medication and therapy, as I posted in My Journey with Psych Meds a few days ago.  Here are the things that were overwhelming me back then with an update on where I am now:

  • Adjusting to being married again – Joe & I have been married for 2 1/2 years now and have bought a house.  I have really settled in to the relationship and feel much more comfortable being myself around him.
  • Continuing existing friendships while being married – Of my three close friends, I still have two of them and those relationships are going very well.  I seem to have lost the other one, who stopped responding to my attempts to connect a few months ago.  I was really upset about it for a long time, but now I am moving on.
  • Getting used to a new church and trying to make connections there – We are now going to a life group connected with our church that meets every other Wednesday night.  There are two other couples in the group, and we have really bonded.  We are all friends on Facebook, and we have good conversations when we are together.  Currently we are reading the book The Purpose Driven Life together and discussing it.
  • Trying to participate in group conversations at lunchtime (can handle 1 person or maybe 2, but more than that gets tricky) – I work from home now so almost all my communication is through email or Skype IM.  I rarely have to talk to anyone at work, and then it is always one-on-one.  I still find group conversations difficult and mostly stay quiet during them, although I am comfortable speaking at the life group I mentioned.
  • Parenting an autistic 14-year old boy – Michael is 16 now and just about to finish 9th grade. We spent 8 months in Family Based Mental Health Services, and it was very helpful in dealing with his depression and anxiety (along with medication that took a while to figure out).  Now he is back in the regular services and sees a mobile therapist once a week.  I feel our relationship is a lot stronger – we talk more and play games together.  He is also more sociable – going to Smash Bros tournaments and having a friend over to play video games occasionally.

All in all, life is good. We are talking about getting a dog sometime in the next few months. Joe & I are going to Boston for a few days this summer, and next year we are planning a trip for the three of us to Illinois to see both my parents and possibly some other family. We have a few unexpected home repairs to deal with, but Joe is very handy and will probably be able to take care of them himself, which is a huge blessing.

So, how are you feeling these days – motivated or overwhelmed?

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My Journey with Psych Meds

I have a love/hate relationship with psych meds. I have been on and off anti-depressants for about 16 years, since Michael was 5 months old. I had struggled with mental health issues for years without getting any help, but after Michael was born I experienced severe postpartum depression and was barely functioning. I finally told my doctor what was going on and she prescribed my first anti-depressant.

After a few years on the medication, I found it wasn’t really working the way it had been. I was on Celexa and my emotions were so muted that I don’t think I would have reacted even if the house were on fire. At that point the doctor switched me to Wellbutrin. It worked great for a couple of years, giving me some energy and making me more connected with things again. But after a while, I found it was making me too agitated and had to stop it.

I tried other things but didn’t find one that worked and I ended up not taking anything for a while. I was in therapy by this point and even though I switched therapists a couple of times, it was helpful.

I eventually went back on an anti- depressant. When I went through the separation from my ex-husband, I was really struggling so the doctor increased my dosage a couple of times. Over the next few months, things got really weird. I was exhibiting strange behaviors and out of control moods. I finally told my psychiatrist everything that was going on and she realized that I had been experiencing hypomania, brought on by the increase in the anti-depressant.

She then diagnosed me with bipolar 2 and put me on a mood stabilizer. We tried several different ones, but I kept having lots of side effects such as being groggy. Finally we tried Risperdal and it worked great. I was still dealing with depression and anxiety so I also took Prozac for that. As long as I take the Risperdal, the Prozac doesn’t trigger any hypomania.

Things were stable for quite a while, but then I gradually stopped taking the Prozac. I was feeling disconnected and having trouble engaging with life and I thought things would be better without it. But instead I was miserable. I had to increase my counseling frequency and even that wasn’t really helping. Finally I started taking the Prozac again and now I feel great. I have decided to accept the feeling of being somewhat muted in order to avoid the depression and anxiety.

Things feel pretty stable right now and I’m hopeful that they will continue to be that way. I am down to one a month counseling and see the psychiatrist every three months, which is great for my budget as well. It’s easier to focus and be productive and I’m not sidetracked by constant worrying or preoccupation with my moods. All in all, taking the meds is the best way to go for me.

Have you ever tried psych meds? What has your experience been?

On Autism Acceptance

Even though I have been “aware” of autism since 2004, when my son was diagnosed, and even though I myself was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2012, the idea of autism acceptance is still fairly new to me.

I have spent my whole life feeling like there was something wrong with me and wishing I could be fixed somehow so that I could fit in with other people without so much difficulty.  I have desperately wanted to understand all the little (and big) things that most people seem to just know without thinking about it.  And once I had learned some of those things – through extensive reading and close observation – I still struggled with applying them to my own life.

After I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, I spent time educating my boss on what it meant and advocating for things that would allow me to be more successful in doing my job while maintaining my sanity at the same time.  (Thankfully, she has been extremely understanding and accommodating.)

But underneath it all, even with all the awareness and advocacy, there is still a part of me that is always self-conscious and sometimes even ashamed of who I am.

So now I am learning what it means to accept myself for who I am and how to teach my son to do the same.  It’s a slow process but I am thankful for the many people I am meeting on Twitter and through blogs and websites to learn from.

Hopefully I will look back on this post someday and say that was the old me and that the new me is proud of who she is.

Unmotivated = Overwhelmed?

Note about the title: I am not saying that being unmotivated always equals being overwhelmed, just that it seems to be a large factor in my recent experience of my own life.

I posted the other day about how my motivation seems lacking lately.  The more I think about the situation, the more I think I have been shutting down because there are things in my life that seem overwhelming and it’s easier to retreat into myself than to face them.  When I get stressed, my default mode seems to be finding ways to escape and isolating myself from others.  While alone time can be a good thing for the right reasons, it’s generally not helpful for me when I’m using it to avoid the unpleasant or difficult aspects of life.

So, what am I overwhelmed by?  Several things come to mind:

  1. Adjusting to being married again (it will be a year on October 2nd)
  2. Continuing existing friendships while being married
  3. Getting used to a new church and trying to make connections there
  4. Trying to participate in group conversations at lunchtime (can handle 1 person or maybe 2, but more than that gets tricky)
  5. Parenting an autistic 14-year old boy

While all of these situations worry me at different times, the biggest one at the moment is parenting.  I remember feeling very overwhelmed when my son was little, and especially following his autism diagnosis at age 2, but somewhere along the way, I started to feel more confident about how to be a good parent to him.  I handled meltdowns and introducing new situations and kissed and cuddled him a lot and advocated for him everywhere he needed it.

Then he became a teenager and everything changed.  He started talking about wanting to make friends and not being able to and about feeling useless and hopeless sometimes.

Here’s where it all breaks down.  I feel terrible for him and worry about him, but I don’t know what to say or do to make it all better.  I know that my life is better now in a lot of ways than it was when I was 14, but I also still deal with a lot of insecurities and miscommunication problems.  I want to project confidence and give strategies that he can actually use, but all I can think is that I also want to make friends and feel useless and hopeless sometimes too.  Then I start to question my own life, as well as my ability to be a good parent, and I just shut down without really responding to him.

I talked with my therapist about this and she had a couple of thoughts.  One was that perhaps it would be helpful to him just to have me listen and validate what he is feeling instead of only focusing on trying to fix things.  She also commented on the fact that I seem quite isolated, and that reaching out to other people, perhaps in a support group with other parents, would help me be in a better place when it comes to relating with him.

I think both of these suggestions could have some merit, but I’m curious what other people think as well.  I would appreciate any comments on the situation and how you think I should look at it as well as how best to deal with it.

It’s a Question of Motivation

I used to get excited by things – a new book or movie coming out, a hobby like stamping or blogging, being around friends, a challenge at work.  But lately it has been much harder for me to have much interest in anything.  Most of the time, I don’t want to do anything outside of my basic, normal routine, and even those things are a stretch for me sometimes.

Not all is lost.  I have gotten back into reading after a several-month period where books weren’t holding my attention very well, and I did perk up a bit when the recent Star Trek movie Beyond hit the theaters.  But given the choice most times, I would rather spend my time bingeing on Netflix or sleeping in as late as possible.

When I reflect on this, several questions come to mind:

  1. Is this a sign of worsening depression or just a side effect of the medications I am already on?
  2. Am I getting old before my time?
  3. Does it really matter?  Isn’t part of being an adult that you are allowed to do what you want with your free time, even if that is nothing?
  4. What kind of example am I setting for my son?

As you can tell from the last question, there is a fair amount of guilt mixed in with the other emotions that come up with I think about this aspect of my life.  I want to teach my son how to have a good life and become a responsible adult, but I feel overwhelmed when it comes to actually doing so.  I just don’t feel I have these skills down pat in my own life, so it is hard to figure out how to pass them on to him.

Not being able to pin down the problem makes it even harder to solve.  I keep hoping something will come along that engages me in the way that I used to enjoy.  In the meantime, I have gotten back into regular therapy to help me sort out what exactly is going on with me and what to do about it.  It’s nice to have someone who is both on your side and has the knowledge to help, especially since it has taken me a while to find her (my last good therapist moved away over a year ago and I have been to three different people since then).

I often wonder if other people go through similar times where they feel unmotivated and how they think about it, as well as what they do about it.  If you have any insights to share or can relate in any way, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

 

Taking the Plunge (Again)

So this is my first blog post in a long time.  I can’t even tell you exactly how long because I impulsively deleted both my blogs last year sometime – this was a few months after deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts as well.

I have been back on Facebook for a while now and finally decided it was time to re-engage with Twitter and blogging again.  In person, I tend to be pretty introverted, especially in large groups, but I have always gotten a lot of positive energy from connecting with people online, and I miss that sense of community.

I don’t have one set direction planned for this blog; I envision a mix of personal and introspective posts along with things like book reviews and autism-related entries.  I have been on a major reading kick lately, so I have lots of books to share, and learning to parent a teenager with autism has proven to be a challenging and rewarding endeavor.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the photo attached to this post, it was taken at the Museum of Ice Cream that popped up in New York City earlier this month.  Among other things, they had a “ball pit” filled with plastic sprinkles!  It was a fun place to visit, and we had some great ice cream to boot. 🙂

So, leave me a comment to let me know you visited and what you are most interested in hearing about.  You can also follow my blog to get notified of new posts (see the sidebar to the right if you’re on a computer or scroll down if you’re on a mobile device).

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk to you soon!