December 10, 2020

These are some things I’ve made in the past. Being creative has always been a calling for me. I thrive on being creative. It helps me process things. It helps me stay sane as possible. I can physically feel it in my body when I need to be creative. I’ve had lots of creative outlets over the years. This has been one of those outlets. The first 10 photos are from 2011~2016. The last one, the Notre Dame leprechaun, is from last week. I’m continuing to advance this style of drawing. I have a current work in progress on canvas that I can’t wait to share when it’s finished.

This has been my regulating thing. My calming. I’ve been inspired by street art and graffiti. I’ve been inspired by other artists. I’m jumping in with both feet to trying to actually do several paintings with my Montana Acrylic Paint Markers on canvas. I started out with Sharpie on a 3×5 and on printer paper. I’ve used Canson Bristol paper. Finally using canvas.

I love creating just for the sake of creating. I like making people smile. I hope you enjoy.

October 10, 2020

It’s world mental health day today. My biggest struggle with mental health is PMDD. I knew about PMS for a long time. PMDD stands for PreMenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I started to track my menstrual cycle in my calendar on my phone a long time ago, because I knew my mood would shift before it. So then I’d be having a rough time of things, and look at my calendar, and realize why I was super moody and life sucked and believed everyone hated me. Then when I got a FitBit and they added the female tracking thing to the app, I began to realize that I had another moody time, around ovulation. Doing some research I found that the hormone levels are shifting a lot at that time, too. And my brain is just hypersensitive to those hormone level changes, both with estrogen and progesterone. I’ve been working with my therapist for a long time on handling the symptoms. I’ve been on anxiety medication since right after I had started therapy in 2018. I’ve switched a couple of times to try to find the right meds. Most seem to help the anxiety a lot, but not those severe mood changes that come during the really turbulent hormone changes. I think this latest medication might be closer to making things a lot more manageable than some of the previous ones. Not totally sure yet, but still trying it for a bit.

The underlined words in the photo are the symptoms of PMDD that I struggle with. I put this together to explain it to a friend a couple years ago.

#worldmentalhealthday #worldmentalhealthday2020 #ownyourstigma #pmdd #anxiety #takeyourmeds #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #endthestigma #therapy

July 7, 2020

Thankful His mercies are new every morning.m

Today was a struggle.

A struggle to get out of bed; exhausted.

A struggle to focus.

A struggle to think beyond the all over itching from PMDD.

A struggle with sensory overload.

A struggle to think.

A struggle to comprehend.

A struggle to communicate.

It took until after lunch time to finally feel like my brain was back online; until I finally felt like I could function again.

It would be nice if I could predict when these kinds of days are coming. Even with tracking things related to PMDD, I can’t always know when these overloaded days are going to hit out of nowhere.

Especially when it’s more related to the social functioning with being autistic. I’m high functioning; until I’m not. It sucks when I’m not. Especially for no reason. It’s as confusing to me sometimes as I’m sure it is to anyone else. Because I got an hour less sleep last night than the prior couple of nights? Because my dreams felt heavy in my head when I got up this morning because they were so disturbing to me on an emotional level? Who knows? I don’t. Maybe it’s just part of being autistic, or the PMDD, or the general blah that creeps up during this wretched pandemic. I don’t know.

It’s like when you wake up and your arm is asleep, and you try to move it, and it might move in the general direction, but it just kind of flops around like a fish out of water, and doesn’t really do what you tell it to do until it finally “wakes up” a little while later. That’s how my brain felt today.

May 18, 2020

So… I got my hair cut!! My sister (who has been social distancing!) cut it last Wednesday! I had been waiting to share pictures until I’d had some of the several Zoom meetings over this last weekend all the way up through tonight. That’s been the only way to see people’s reactions “in person” to this somewhat drastic change and somewhat throwback style (it’s been 8 years since I’ve had such short hair! See the last picture!).

I went for the short style because, although I have really enjoyed my long hair, I was getting overwhelmed from a sensory standpoint with it. It was too hot. It was getting caught under purse straps again, and getting in my mouth with the breeze.

I felt like I needed a change I could tolerate and that I was an active participant in making the decision for, in the middle of all of this uncontrollable change.

Someone asked if I regretted cutting off all my long hair. Not yet. Maybe ask me again once I decide to grow it back out 😉

May 14, 2020

For the sake of my parents and other at-risk people that I know:

I am continuing to stay at home and practice social distancing.

I am continuing to wear a mask in public and limit my outings.

I am continuing to use grocery pick up orders instead of entering stores, as much as possible.

I am continuing to wash my hands and wipe items down with sanitizer when I bring them inside my house.

Do I believe everything the media or government says? No.

Do I think some people have hijacked a bad situation for their own personal goals and gain? Yes.

Do I want to take precautions to protect people from a very real virus, regardless of its origin? Yes.

Do I want to do all of this out of love? Yes.

I’m not going to tell people that wearing a mask or not wearing a mask is wrong or right. Or that gathering or staying home is wrong or right. Others have their convictions, and I have mine. I don’t see any biblical grounds to say that either of these is sin or not sin. I believe that the way some people are handling the discussion of these things could count as sin; some of my own discussion in the past few weeks included.

The online atmosphere is very volatile. I have had to reevaluate my response to things. Does what I say prove that I’m living a set-apart life? Is it reflective of Kingdom living? I’ve not gone out and done a bunch of things for others during all of this. I’ve been dealing with a myriad of emotions and reactions to all of this, just as many of you have. I’ve tried to keep in touch with people via text message and Zoom chats, to still try to be an encouragement where I can be.

That’s all I’ve got to say on this for now. I want to leave you with some Scriptures.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

https://www.bible.com/116/1co.13.4-7.nlt

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

https://www.bible.com/116/1co.10.23-24.nlt

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

https://www.bible.com/116/eph.4.29.nlt

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

https://www.bible.com/116/1co.16.13-14.nlt

May 3, 2020

I feel like I have finally gotten used to the rhythm of quarantine.

Now the state is opening up slowly. But is it slow enough? Will people really continue to use masks and social distancing? Will people still wash their hands regularly?

I was already a germaphobe before all this went down. I am even more anxious when I leave the house now.

I already had a change of clothes for when I come home at night. I still have to shower before I can put on pajamas and go to bed. I don’t wear my pj’s I wear to bed around the house. They are only for wearing in bed.

I didn’t like to work from home before all this happened. When I started working from home in March, I contacted my internet service provider and they came out and replaced some of the equipment which made my internet connection more stable, so I am able to do everything from home that I could in the office. The sad thing is that all of this happened right after I finally got two monitors to use at work instead of just the one, so now I’ve been back to a single monitor at home!!

I struggle with loneliness and isolation a lot already. But it’s lately felt safer and more comfortable than going out, only because the degree of anxiety for going out is so much higher than the feelings and emotions I experience with loneliness and isolation.

I am anxious about this “return to normal”. There’s too many unknown variables that I can’t plan for. My anxiety is usually pretty if/then oriented. It follows a flow chart. There is no flow chart for this. I don’t want to allow myself to become agoraphobic, but it feels like that’s where I am right now.

I feel like the next coming weeks are going to be just as difficult as this last month and a half have been. Especially since there are so many things changing again.

I don’t know how to handle all of this. I haven’t been handling it well.

I am thankful for those people who have reached out to me when I haven’t been able to reach out to them during this time. I’m thankful for those who have made the effort to communicate, and those I haven’t talked to very much before this making time to reach out during this strange situation. I’m thankful for what time I’ve been able to spend with family that has also been socially distancing.

I have been in a place of surviving instead of thriving. I haven’t been able to show how much I care for others during this time because I’ve been paralyzed by anxiety and trying to make it through the days that have just been busy to the point of exhaustion. My executive functioning has been even worse than usual, and it isn’t great to begin with.

I’m still bogged down with anxiety. Almost more so now, because of all the unknowns with “reopening” the state, so different businesses are going to have different levels of being open, and it’s just too much to try to figure out. I don’t quite feel comfortable “out there” yet.

April 29, 2020

Content – Discussion of female cycle, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), mental health.

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PMDD.

I’ve talked about this a handful of times, mostly in passing. But since this is a page I set up to talk about autism *AND* mental health. PMDD is a huge part of what affects my mental health, aside from general anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. I mentioned at the beginning of the month that I wanted to make a post about PMDD, and I had yet to be able to do that.

For years, I’ve known that I experienced “PMS” to a pretty strong degree. In my early teens it was once stated that I was “PMS’ing all the time”. When I got my first iPhone, I finally had a calendar in my pocket all the time – I started tracking when my period started, and when I expected the next one to start. I knew that my mood was affected by my cycle, and I finally had an easier way to track it. If I noticed I was getting irrationally moody or something, I would check my calendar and see how close I was to starting my cycle. Bam! There was the explanation right there!

Before I continue, I’m sharing the diagnostic criteria copied from (1) The National Center for Biotechnology Information. Scroll down below the ~ marks to continue reading my notes.

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Table 1, Diagnostic Criteria for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Timing of symptoms

A) In the majority of menstrual cycles, at least 5 symptoms must be present in the final week before the onset of menses, start to improve within a few days after the onset of menses, and become minimal or absent in the week post-menses.

Symptoms

B) One or more of the following symptoms must be present:

1) Marked affective lability (e.g., mood swings, feeling suddenly sad or tearful, or increased sensitivity to rejection)

2) Marked irritability or anger or increased interpersonal conflicts

3) Markedly depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, or self-deprecating thoughts

4) Marked anxiety, tension, and/or feelings of being keyed up or on edge

C) One (or more) of the following symptoms must additionally be present to reach a total of 5 symptoms when combined with symptoms from criterion B above

1) Decreased interest in usual activities

2) Subjective difficulty in concentration

3) Lethargy, easy fatigability, or marked lack of energy

4) Marked change in appetite; overeating or specific food cravings

5) Hypersomnia or insomnia

6) A sense of being overwhelmed or out of control

7) Physical symptoms such as breast tenderness or swelling; joint or muscle pain, a sensation of “bloating” or weight gain

Severity

D) The symptoms are associated with clinically significant distress or interference with work, school, usual social activities, or relationships with others.

E) Consider Other Psychiatric Disorders The disturbance is not merely an exacerbation of the symptoms of another disorder, such as major depressive disorder, panic disorder, persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) or a personality disorder (although it may co-occur with any of these disorders).

Confirmation of the disorder

F) Criterion A should be confirmed by prospective daily ratings during at least 2 symptomatic cycles (although a provisional diagnosis may be made prior to this confirmation) Exclude other Medical Explanations.

G) The symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., drug abuse, medication or other treatment) or another medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).

From: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (Formerly Premenstrual Syndrome)

Copyright © 2000-2020, MDText.com, Inc.

This electronic version has been made freely available under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-ND) license. A copy of the license can be viewed at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/.

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I can mark down all 4 symptoms, not just one of them. I experience the symptoms of suddenly being tearful, and the increased sensitivity to rejection, increased interpersonal conflicts, self-depreciating thoughts, and anxiety to an overwhelming degree. I will literally cry over a song I hear, or something I think about from some distant memory, or a feeling of being forgotten, or rejected, I will be quicker to think I’m doing a horrible job at everything, and I will overthink everything and freak out at the smallest things.

As far as the other symptoms, I will get so tired that I can barely make it through the day without wanting to just go to sleep. It feels like I don’t have the energy to even breathe some days. I just try to stay caffeinated on those days and push through it. The brain fog is horrible, and concentration goes out the window. I tend to eat more carbs, especially the week before my cycle starts. “A sense of being overwhelmed or out of control” – Yes, all of that symptom. Feeling bloated, gaining weight. Muscles being sore and achy for seemingly no reason. My knees not only tell me when the weather is changing, but also when my hormones are shifting during my cycle.

When my FitBit app got updated a few years ago and added the female health tracking, I noticed that the mood changes and everything I experienced happened both when I was going to start my cycle, and during the ovulation window. I’ve looked up a few things on this, and it appears that the change in hormones during both of those times during the monthly cycle are similar, and my body and brain are incredibly sensitive to the ups and downs of those hormones.

I’ve discussed all of this stuff with my therapist, and I meet the criteria for the diagnosis. I have discussed it some with my doctor. PMDD symptoms are the reason I tried Wellbutrin XL a little over a year ago. It made the symptoms 10x worse than they were originally, and I had to quit the medication before it destroyed me. I haven’t chosen to try a different medication for it at this point. I’m not sure if I want to.

I wanted to write this post to raise awareness. Sometimes I know exactly why I’m experiencing things the way I am, or feeling things how I do, but I feel like I can’t do anything about it. Some people probably think I’m crazy. It’s like when I’m experiencing the symptoms and then my period finally starts, a switch is flipped, and I feel normal again.

Similar to my sharing my diagnosis of autism, it isn’t an excuse, it’s an explanation. I’m sharing this information because I hope it helps others to understand the things I go through, to understand some of the why behind things.

For more information on PMDD, you can visit the International Association for Premenstrual Disorders website here: https://iapmd.org/

References:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279045/table/premenstrual-syndrom.table1diag/

April 19, 2020

I literally have not left my house since I took trash to the curb on Wednesday. I hadn’t remembered to take trash out on the night before it’s picked up for three weeks or so, so taking it out on the correct night was an accomplishment. But I haven’t stepped outside since then. My allergies inside tell me I probably should keep up that trend, though.

I’ve been behind on dishes. Every time I actually make something and have to use a lot of dishes, they end up sitting for several days because I don’t have the executive functioning to get them done right away.

My cats were telling me loudly this morning that I’d not refilled their bowls last night.

I haven’t felt like making things, or playing video games, or journaling, or really even watching anything.

I’ve been a space cadet. Distracted. I scrolled through TikTok today, and skipped some videos because they lasted beyond my current attention span.

I find myself easily distracted.