I don't know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been pretty low-key this month. I didn’t write any blog post. I missed my usual #FridayFreebies and #TarotTuesday last week. I also didn't post that many updates for COVEN. I'm so so so sorry! That's because August is my healing month. It's a time for me to recuperate, or at least to stabilize myself from the bipolar disorder.
In July, I spent the entire month traveling to two different places; Jakarta and Singapore. Trying to adjust with the vibe of each city while continuing my spiritual work took a toll on me, particularly on my mental health. I was starting to lose the grasp of stability. And sometimes, I admit that I pushed myself too hard to meet the demands of having a consistent online presence when I’m supposed to enjoy my holiday. I’m a workaholic and a perfectionist with bipolar disorder. I can’t be satisfied with mediocre work. But at the same time, keeping up with perfection is what exactly brings me down.
But August is an entirely different month than July. As usual, before I start each month, I will look at the ephemeris, and do a reading to know what to look out. What is the lesson that I need to learn by the end of the month? Has there been any sign that leads me to the lesson? This month, it came in the form of mildew that filled my entire bedroom, including the surface of every single item I own, such as clothes and cosmetics. Imagine coming home after a night flight and seeing the horror when all you want is to lie down and rest. I had a breakdown right then and there. I started taking antidepressant medication to cope with the stress of house cleaning; which I continue to take until now. Even as I’m writing this blog post, my mood is still unstable enough to get back to work as usual (or clean up the house thoroughly, for that matter).
Astrologically, August is meant to be a healing month for me. This month we are blessed with two eclipses, Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius on August 7th and Solar Eclipse in Leo on August 22nd. Unluckily for me, the first eclipse affects my sixth house (House of Health), while the second eclipse makes its mark on my twelfth house (House of Unconscious). Generally, when there’s an eclipse in the axis of your sixth or twelfth house, you will become more sensitive mentally and physically. There may be a major change relating to physical illness or spiritual healing that you need to focus on – which is exactly what’s happening to me.
The Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius sheds light on the darkest feature of my life and the breakthrough required to accept it, and eventually strip myself from the suffering. In the morning of the eclipse day, I went for a monthly psychiatric check up. The doctor told me that my mood swing had worsened, meaning that I had both hypomania and depression at the same time. The depression manifested in suicidal thoughts, while the hypomania messed with my sleeping pattern. She prescribed a new medication called Seroquel to reduce the hypomania. The medicine thankfully worked wonder. I was actually worried that I might have to adjust with new side effects because god knows what will happen to my brain next.
But so far it’s been pretty manageable. I did have a few breakdowns a week ago to the point where I felt like a total failure for being unable to leave the bed/house or for not being able to post #TarotTuesday, which I’m really sorry about. The thing with keeping up with online presence while struggling with depression is that every single interaction drains your energy so much. I would rather disappear and then come back with an explanation rather than having to force myself to reply to every single comment on my Instagram photo. I couldn't. It would be another recipe for disaster to me. So I decided to spend the day in bed, not thinking much about my illness while receiving the healing Reiki energy from the Divine White Light Youtube channel. Up until now, I've been going through different reactions to the new medication, such as breakdown/depressive episode, irritability, feeling anti-social, but at least my mood has slowly gone better.
I have also started to notice the triggers that will lead to an episode. The first one is the thought of losing stability. It doesn’t matter if I'm losing it or not. If my brain thinks so, it will feel so. It’s easier to crash when the thought is looming over my head, even though logically I know it’s not true. Some friends even asked me if that means I can’t deal with changes. I can. It’s just harder to deal with changes if you think you don’t have a safety net to catch you when you fall.
The second one is alcohol. Since the first day, I took mental health medication, I have never been fully drunk. I’ve been trying to limit my consumption because I don’t want it to interfere with my medication. However, a few weeks ago I was meeting some friends. And, since I was hypomanic I decided to let loose for once only to find myself suffering from a heavy hangover and major depressive episode for the next two days. I couldn’t function at all. All I wanted was to stay in bed, feel sorry for myself, and refuse to take care of myself. That’s when I decided that I will no longer do heavy drinking. Social drinking is fine, but I shouldn’t do it for more than one day in a week. Also because my doctor agrees with me.
If you’re also struggling with a lifelong mental illness like me, here are a few tips that I’ve learned during my two weeks depression phase. Please understand that stability is temporary. Depression, much like cancer, is a silent killer. They can strike anytime, often without any trigger. It is critical for you to continue to track your mood, so you know when it’s going to strike. Sometimes it follows a monthly cycle. Like for example, I’m more prone to depression during Pre-Menstrual Syndrome period. Or sometimes, there’s no cycle at all. Either way, always try to log your mood and certain triggers in the past that may prompt the episode.
You also need to know certain habits or symptoms that are likely to show up when you’re about to experience depression. For instance, I know when I’m about to have one if I can’t focus on the road when I’m driving. My mind seems to be blank. I’m not thinking about anything, but I’m not focused on what’s in front of me as well. These small, minor symptoms are often lead to more debilitating symptoms in the end. Do not underestimate it.
Another thing that I’d like to emphasize is for you to take things slow. It’s okay to take some time off from the real world to recuperate from your mental illness. Don’t force yourself too hard when you’re not ready. This is why I've only taken two in-person sessions within three weeks. I also haven't posted a lot of updates on my social media. I want to make sure I’m not self-sabotaging myself from my healing period. But it doesn’t mean that you should give up. Take your meds, do your therapy, do anything you need to do to get well. But take a proper rest when it’s time to rest. That said, do not binge watch Game of Thrones at 3 AM in the morning (personal experience lol).
Check out the photos below to see my recovery progress! They are not edited (well maybe for the one that has me in it hahahah) because I want to be honest with you about the real effect of depression in my life. And to celebrate little victories too! (because it's really important)
The most important takeaway from all of this is that please please please try to get to know yourself better. Despite my experience of battling depression for years, I am still not familiar enough with my cycle and triggers. There’s always something new coming up every month. I’m not sure how my brain continues to find ways to go haywire. But I always try to note down any new symptoms or triggers whenever I can to prevent the same one from happening in the future. And I think you should too. It'll be so much easier to stay stable if you know what's been triggering you. 😇
If you need someone to talk to about mental health issue, I'm here for you. You can either book a reading if you need my help to perform a reading on your problems, or you can share your story with me in the comments below. You can also ask me any questions about mental illness and different ways to get better through my Twitter. Or if you're not feeling comfortable sharing it publicly, you can always contact me here. Stay healthy and stay stable, everyone! ❤️