Over the summer I wrote a post about how I had some psychological testing done to really find out what’s going on in my brain. I’m the kind of person where I always need really, really clear answers i can understand.
This is when I found out that I actually have a mood disorder called cyclothymia, which is basically a slightly lesser version of bipolar. I have mood swings but my highs may not be as manic and my lows may not be quite as depressed as bipolar. However, I definitely notice when I am at a high (today, actually) and when I am at a low (I will be extra lethargic and feel almost empty and/or not grounded, that’s the best way I know how to quickly describe it).
My therapist recommended I find a new psychiatrist to discuss going on a mood stabilizer (I stopped seeing the other one since we didn’t really “click”).
I found a nurse practitioner at a psychiatrist’s office. I had no idea nurse practitioners could prescribe medicine as well, so a fun fact if you didn’t already know. I like her so much better than the last person I was seeing. Even though you don’t talk to them as much as a therapist, it is still important you have a good connection with them since they need to know what is going on so you can discuss the right plan for you.
So for the past month or so I have been taking a mood stabilizer but also another medicine to help with both focus and anxiety – I’m taking the generic versions of trileptal and wellbutrin.
Per usual, I didn’t really notice anything right away. However, I need to remember some medicines take 4 weeks to be at their highest effectiveness, some take 6-8 weeks. The wellbutrin takes 6-8 weeks, and I believe I am around 7 weeks.
But, I asked my boyfriend what he thought, as I know he will be honest with me and I need an objective opinion, as he is truly the only person that sees everything with me since I am most the comfortable with him in that sense. He did say he thinks the mood stabilizer is helping, even if I can’t notice it. I have been shutting down much less and not as irritable and may patience has increased overall.
I had another situation where I didn’t have the best reaction to something and shut down, cried, was really anxious, etc. I was really upset and thinking “I guess I’m not doing better like you said I am” He reassured me it was okay and and one situation doesn’t cancel out all the progress I have made.
That is so important for all of us to remember and I’m so glad he said that, as usually that is something I don’t think of because I an so fixated on how “bad” I am doing.
So I am still figuring out how these new medications are working for me and it is still slightly early or just about when I would “notice” the highest level of effectiveness. Also, my therapist as well as my nurse practitioner told me to keep in mind it is supposed to be more gradual and not something I would notice all of a sudden.
Another suggestion my nurse practitioner gave me (and my therapist has before) was to try and find a mood tracking app so I can look back and give myself more of an objective view of my moods.
One that I found and that I am using is called eMoods. It is available for both iPhone and Android. This app is for people with bipolar to track their moods, and you can even send a weekly report to your doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist.
Although I don’t have bipolar and don’t send a weekly report I still think this has been super useful thus far. I think you can use this for most mental health issues whether it be cyclothymia, bipolar, anxiety, etc.
Categories you log each day are the day’s most depressed mood, elevated mood, irritability, and anxiety all marking either none, mild, moderate, or severe. You can also log whether or not you had psychotic symptoms or had talk therapy that day. Also, you can log your sleep and there is a section if you want to add any other notes for the day. Finally, if you take medication there is a spot to add the medication, dosage, and time and whether you took it or not.
Basically, I just want to stress the importance to keep trying to find what works for you. It may not be instant and you may need to try more than one thing over a period of time, but keep trying. Trial and error is still important, and it’s okay.