Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 17: MCBT, Mood, Lamictal, and sleep

I hung out with a friend for awhile today, had lunch, talked of this and that.  She's been on lamictal/lamotrigine for years for bipolar disorder.  It's worked for her, no problems.  It helps to hear that from someone who's actually lived it.

I felt present and engaged, but a little low.  Not depressed, not even sad, just the low side of neutral.  I'm OK with that, I'm just noting it so I know it.  I suspect it's because it was gray and a bit chilly outside.

I accomplished what I feel is my first really "successful" meditation today.  The first meditation we did was  "body scan" version in which the recorded instructions were to take deep breaths ... focus on your breath ... now focus on your right foot ... etc.  That one was done lying down.  The one I did today was a sitting meditation, and seemed to incorporate more general sensory awareness.  The instructions told us to tune in to any sounds I heard, what the cushion under me felt like, whether whether my body was tense, and, of course, my breath.  For some reason, I felt like I had more "permission" than I usually do to watch my thoughts wander away, and then bring them back.

At the beginning of the meditation, paying attention to my breath brought up the usual anxiety, but by then end it was actually calming.  The anxiety stems from all of my previous experience with breath work, which has always been about "being attentive" and "controlling" the breath in some way:  Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth.  Breathe in for a count of five, hold it for one count, let it out for a count of five.  Breathe into your diaphragm.  Breathe into this yoga pose, breathe out as you move into this other one.

The MCBT recordings we were given say explicitly not to try to control your breathing.  I wonder if this has anything to do with the anxiety -- giving up control?  Feeling un-contained without instructions?  Why would it bother me to watch my breathing, something I do all the time without thinking about it, without controlling it?

As I write that last sentence, I think that maybe I'm onto something.  Have I been thinking of mindfulness as rigid control where it should just be awareness?  Hmmm.

After the meditation, I'm much more aware of how extremely tired I am.  I've had trouble getting to sleep at a decent hour since the shuttle landing, and it's been even worse since kicking up to 50 mgs on the lamictal.  I just haven't fallen asleep before 3:30 or 4 am.  Hopefully, tonight, my awareness of my fatigue will stay with me enough that I can sleep at a decent hour.

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