How to start exercise and other daily routines when severely fatigued and depressed?
March 28, 2012 3:04 PM   Subscribe

How to start exercise and other daily routines when super fatigued, sleepy, spacey, sad, but otherwise "healthy"?

I've combed through a lot of prior threads, but didn't seem to find ones that addressed people who knew they were otherwise "normal", but if I missed one, my apologies!

I'm trying to deal with crushing fatigue, spaciness and brain fog, and a very full physical revealed that I'm very normal and otherwise healthy: diabetes, lupus, Lyme, thyroid, vitamins... all bloodwork, blood pressure, pulse, lymph nodes = ok. So, yes Virginia, it's probably the depression.

Big sigh.

I've been dealing with depression pretty consistently since post-high school/college, to varying extents. I've tried tons of meds, most fizzle out (I started lithium about half a year ago, also on WellB XL and Ritalin now) and have been in lots of therapy. I've made it through somehow, and was able to do things like finish my Ph.D. and obtain/work a few competitive jobs and fellowships, but never was particularly proficient or productive, and my job output (quantity and quality) is questionable. And now, recently, it's all that and thensome and has been even more severe at times. Over the last few months I've also developed crushingly bad fatigue (I'm always baseline sleepy, but now I get so tired it actually hurts/it can make me cry) and a binge eating habit, along with rapid weight gain (18 lbs in ~2 or 2.5 months). I'm also super spacey at work, scattered attention, can't put thoughts together, feel like it's hard to articulate my thoughts sometimes... even putting together and typing out this question is hard and taking me a VERY long time. The severity comes and goes, but I'm not getting any work done (and the type of work i'm doing now isn't very demanding although the work environment is tense/difficult in a interpersonal interaction sense. intimidating boss very hard to talk to, for instance. it may be a toxic environment too. but I needed/need work for insurance to address the depression) and it's scaring me because I'm a new employee (6 months), almost out of sick leave (slowly accruing more though), and have all sorts of other random "normal" appointments to worry about (dentist! eye exam!), on top of two talk therapy/week and one med management visit/month and I am SO overwhelmed.

Sigh, again.

So, I am trying very hard to address the basics:

1) eating healthy and cooking for myself (following the Weight Watchers programme, for instance), which not only requires self-control to rein in the bingeing, but also planning and cleaning the kitchen, and I don't do these well. My home is a disaster, though I can keep it tolerable for short amounts of time, like when someone is over. Other than that -- chaos.

2) I am also trying to exercise, but it's hard because I'm so tired. A few strategies I've been working in though include a walking break at work, or walking part way home after work. I'm also bad at routines and planning, so this makes going to a gym or yoga class really hard for me. And, because I used to be athletic in the past, the fact that I'm heavier and everything hurts/exhausts me makes me really sad, and I'm actually getting depressed while I exercise sometimes.


Sorry this is so disjointed. In case I haven't made my question clear, I'm looking for strategies/tips to overcome crushing fatigue and depression and DO the things that should help make me feel better, such as exercise, finishing tasks at work, keeping my place clean, etc. I welcome advice suited for a person who has NO routine whatsoever (i.e., I don't brush my teeth and wash my face in a consistent order every day, and never had. [and sometimes it's hard to do either!]).

Other possibly related information: early 30s female, BMI of 31, former smoker, no current smoking (one or two slips this year), some drinking (6-8/ week max). I may have a problem with immersing myself in crappy tv, internet and games (even at work), and vegging on the couch to get away from my problems. Lots of suicidal ideation, some planning, no attempts or hospitalization. Had a sleep study done ~4 years ago, hypersomniac but not narcoleptic, no apnea. Have tried or am already currently taking meds (see above) that should be helping with that anyway. Located in the USA, large city.

I should also add that I am appreciative of my good health, and trying to view it as an exciting positive. I just hoped it was going to come back with an "easy" fix (ta-da! you just needed more Vitamin D!) for the fatigue and memory problems. (oh, and yes, I take a multivitamin, and fish oil, and B and D supplements). I also have awesome friends and a supportive boyfriend, and cool (sometimes) extended family I sometimes see too, so I am thankful for that and try to stay positive about that (helps make me feel worthwhile), but I also don't like leaning on people for help so much. I really feel like I am exhausting everybody, so now I'm trying to address this with therapy mostly.

Thanks, and again, sorry for the rambling. I don't want to threadsit but happy to field questions here or via MeMail.
posted by ArgyleMarionette to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
The only thing that gets me to the gym: my wife or my friend. Find someone you enjoy who you know will be relentless in getting you there. Plus, once you're there, you keep each other company instead of focused on the timer on your treadmill.
posted by spamguy at 3:08 PM on March 28, 2012

Dude, I don't have depression but I cannot muster any sort of routine habit for exercise either.

Except unless it's part of a game. Like racquetball, or tennis, or foursquare, or even ping pong. It has to be something that I find fun. And, pardon me, but the movement has to have a damn *point* to it. An objective. A goal. Something besides movement for its own sake.

I find treadmills and endless staircases to nowhere to be soul-sucking.

So I'd suggest finding some activity you find to be actually fun and forget about "exercise." Just go have fun *playing* games that make you move. The upside is that many of these also involve other people and some (like my fave, racquetball) involve hitting things real hard and making loud banging noises as a result.

Maybe that would help. I'd be willing to play a friendly game of tetherball or badminton with you any day. :)
posted by cross_impact at 3:18 PM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Were you allergy tested? Because your symptoms sound exactly like what my allergies do to me. I don't sneeze, or have the symptoms of a cold; I get extreme fatigue and all over aching/discomfort, fuzzy thinking, depression, and memory problems.
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:19 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Things that help me:

~Regarding being physical: Finding something I enjoy and doing it my way. Lately I've been jogging 2 - 3 nights a week. By myself. Because I don't like doing stuff with other people and having them rely or count on me to be there. I also don't like feeling like I have to keep pace with someone else or feeling like I'm holding someone back. Having songs that pump me up during the day make me excited to get out and be physical (my current favorite is We Are Young)

Also - taking it slow. I started out walking. Every once and again I'd get the urge to do a little jog in there. So, I would! I wouldn't talk myself out of it, which I'm so good at doing. I really did what came naturally and didn't push myself too much. Pretty soon I was jogging more, walking less. Now, I'm doing a solid jog with a burst of energy thrown in once in a while. Perhaps you could start with just sitting outside. And once in a while get up and take a short walk.

Another point - do something fun that you enjoy. My favorite form of exercise is horseback riding. I like having a skill to master and then moving on to another skill to master.

~Regarding keeping things neat and tidy: I'm 36 years old and just figured out this past year what works for me in keeping my house clean. And it's this - knowing how long a chore takes. I timed myself cleaning the bathroom from it's disgusting messiest to it's shiniest. Took me about 1/2 an hour. Cleaning the kitchen and family room (including floors) takes me an hour. So, now I know that with a spare 1/2 an hour I can clean the bathroom. With an hour I can clean the kitchen/family room. It's no longer a mystery! I don't have to wonder if I have enough time to clean up. I know now that if I have company coming over it'll take me a little over an hour to get the public spaces in my house clean - and really less time than that because I don't need it sparkly, I just need it on the sanitary side.

I wish you the best.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:27 PM on March 28, 2012 [8 favorites]

Ask to see your actual test results. sometimes "low normal" can cause problems like you describe. I was exhausted a couple of years ago, until I found a new doctor willing to listen to my symptoms instead of just looking at test results. Iron and thyroid were low normal, D was quite low. But it was the thyroid meds that changed my life, low normal or no. Just ask for the actual test results, and ask for your doctor to work with your symptoms if you are at all low on any tests.
posted by instamatic at 3:32 PM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Try Health Month and a very small number of rules to start, like going to the gym once a week and going for a walk twice a week. And getting enough sleep. Please soak up our free sponsorship and support.

I have been in the depressed place myself . . . depression runs in my family . . . many years back. The most powerful internal messages to use that I got from my extremely helpful therapy were 1) telling critical internal voice to shut up; 2) reminding myself that I too deserve the right to do activities/be healthy and 3) letting myself have the privilege of organizing some reasonable and do-able routines for myself.

Good for you for reaching out to find some ways to help you help yourself. Hurray for you!
posted by bearwife at 3:34 PM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Pay attention to how you feel AFTER working out. Sometimes it is very difficult for me to drag myself to the gym or yoga class, but then I feel pretty good after and that helps me drag my ass there the next time.

You might benefit from something like bikram yoga. I used to do that because it is such a drastic change from being in a normal environment to going into the hot/humid yoga room and going through the poses. For some reason the drastic change in atmosphere helped me.

When I am feeling particularly fatigued and depressed or upset about something, sometimes I just force myself to go to the gym. I listen to whatever obnoxious, lively music I want to, and when I get home usually my glum mood has lifted at least a little bit.

I have dealt with depression and anxiety for years, I've been on different meds and none have really done much for me, but I do feel markedly better after working out so I focus on how I will feel after when I don't want to go in the first place.

I've also noticed that when I drink an extra cup of coffee in the afternoon my overall mood is better. I'm sure that goes against a lot of what The Literature would tell you, but it works for me. So my point there is to try different things and you might be surprised at what helps you feel better, even if it goes against common knowledge (ie. drinking caffeine in the afternoon is bad)
posted by fromageball at 3:38 PM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Try an intense strength training workout just 15 mins a couple times a week. If you do it right, you will get hooked on it the first week, because the endorphin kick is amazing. Instant payoff, and continuing payoff. Twice a week isn't a demanding schedule, so just pick a time when your energy is relatively up. I find it got rid of the depression and improved mental focus dramatically. And I have never been athletic or liked exercise otherwise. I agree it's great if you can find some activity that's fun, but those can be hard to arrange (snowshoeing, canoeing, safe and pleasant bike trips).
posted by Listener at 3:42 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Greg Nog has nailed it: just do one tiny, tiny manageable thing like walk to the corner and back. Floss one tooth. (For the first time in my life I regularly floss and I started with one tooth per day.)

Tell yourself you have permission to relax for the rest of the evening if you just do this *one thing*. I promise, you'll feel like you've accomplished something, and before long you will have tricked yourself into taking a nice, brisk walk every day and cleaning your teeth regularly.

Hang in there. You mention not wanting to lean on people too much, but you know what? They love you and want to support you. Make sure you're not being too much of a stoic. When I was depressed my therapist told me I was a stoic. I totally didn't believe her, and it took me about two years to figure out she'd been right. I wish I'd leaned on people more.
posted by Specklet at 3:48 PM on March 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

I would cut carbs to 10 grams or under a day and up my protein intake. Then get your thyroid levels checked again. And you might do better on Adderall than Ritalin. And even walking up stairs will help a little bit, in terms of more exercise.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:50 PM on March 28, 2012

I find myself with no time for exercise so I've built it into my commute by biking or walking (at least part way) to work. The nice thing to is when you are work you have to get home, so it enforces another bit of exercise even if you don't want to!
posted by bottlebrushtree at 3:55 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

One way I found to incorporate more exercise into my life is to tie exercise to something that comes naturally: being distracted and tired.

In graduate school, whenever I felt particularly foggy-headed and distracted from my work, I would do some jumping jacks.

If that was too loud/active in the particular context, I would find a single-user bathroom, put a paper towel under each hand, and do a few push-ups. (I get that this will gross people out but I've made it work.) Stretching also helps - some arm circles, bending over to (almost) touch my toes, just a bit of simple movement.

If a single-user bathroom wasn't available, I would take a quick walk around the block.

Also nthing Ideefixe's general point: I cut down on carbohydrates, upped my protein, and do feel better than I had before. For a simple example, I replaced a morning bagel with a morning greek yogurt and eggs.

There were plenty of days when I was just far too tired and depressed to get up from the chair and do jumping jacks, even though they do wake me up and make me feel better. I just remind myself that it works, and throw that knowledge against the weight of staying put and feeling bad.
posted by brackish.line at 4:06 PM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Try getting tested for gluten intolerance. I had very similar issues and gluten turned out to be the culprit. Don't bother going on a gluten free diet before you get tested, though, bc that just complicates the testing.

Get a workout buddy, someone you are not really friends with, so they won't be sympathetic to excuses. That way the person is waiting for you there to take scheduled classes. The shame will get you there.
posted by Neekee at 4:07 PM on March 28, 2012

Keeping things clean: When you get home (or if you live with your boyfriend, whenever the second person gets home), spend 5 minutes cleaning up. Use a timer. 5 minutes is really short, so it's doable, but it helps a lot. Some people say 10 minutes, but I find that 10 minutes seems overwhelming and I don't do it. If 5 seems too long to you, try 3 minutes.

Food: I have a lot of experience with binging (unfortunately), and restricting what I ate never worked for me. It always backfired. If you have the option of working with a nutritionist who specializes in eating disorders, I would definitely do that. The nutritionist could also help you design meals that are super easy to prepare that you love and that fit your goals.

Exercise: Even a little bit is awesome. Can you go for a five minute walk around the block? That's awesome - that counts. If you wanted to walk longer, you could, but 5 minutes is better than nothing. If you have weights / exercise equipment at home, it makes this strategy easier - the "I'll do 5 minutes" strategy. It's not as hard to commit to 5 min at home as it is to go to the gym. Sometimes you'll feel okay after 5 minutes and keep going for 20; sometimes you'll stop after 5 minutes. Both are okay!
posted by insectosaurus at 4:09 PM on March 28, 2012

I battled on and off with similar symptoms to you (spaciness, brain fog, constant drowsiness, no motivation, unable to concentrate at work) and i'm just recommending you get a full check for intestinal parasites which is what I had - regardless of parasites or not your symptoms look very much diet related and could be gluten or other intolerances as well.

My tips:
*Start acting like your best friend, consider your positives, accept you can be amazing.
*Fresh juice every morning to lift your spirits and for detox (invest in a killer juicer)
*Snack on vegies & fruit
*Chew recaldent (sugarless dentist approved gum) after every meal and drink.
*Swim laps instead of treadmill, its far more meditative and will build long-term motivation towards more cardio-intensive exercise.
*Pick 2 afternoon/weekend slots ahead of time for 'exercise' and set your alarm clock 30min notice so theres no backing out.
*Get a daily planner notepad for work where you can write task by task, do one at a time until complete then use a huge marker to scratch it done. This way you measure your performance and if you get half done by the end of day you'll feel proud.
*Keep communicative with your work colleagues on what they're doing.
*Keep peppermint oil at work to wake you up
*Alternate green tea with coffee at work, for better slow-burn energy.
*Invest in a killer bed and pillow, possibly visit an osteopath or chiropractor to check on your posture. Use a hot water bottle every night to relax & send you to sleep easily.
*Keep orange oil or smelling salts near your bed to help you up each morning.
*Go to bed early and wake up early.
*Walk around the block every morning before you shower to open your mind for the day.
*Turf all clutter in your house, everything from old toothbrushes to crummy clothes to old receipts, think of everything as disposable & only keep things that make you happy. If you don't have time now then throw all clutter into boxes to clear the space. you can sort the boxes later.
*Pay some money once off for a cleaner to come. Everyone hates household chores, if you can afford it use the pro cleaner once a month for 1-2 hours for the harder tasks (anything-scrubbing), you just need to do the 'surface' cleaning.

Finally, I read this book last year called Happiness Project - a light, self-motivational read and it focuses on one small positive change per month. (no endorsement here). The author has a blog but the book is better.
posted by Under the Sea at 5:07 PM on March 28, 2012 [7 favorites]

Did you have the second Lyme test done? You sort of have to demand it over the regular one.

Good luck with everything.
posted by zephyr_words at 5:31 PM on March 28, 2012

Also the more extensive thyroid test might be in order. I just ha my enlarged thyroid taken out and started on the synthetic hormone replacement and I feel so much better. A lot of people fall outside of the "normal" range. I just believed them when they said I probably wasn't getting enough sleep but that obviously wasn't it.
posted by dawkins_7 at 5:35 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you / would you cancel your cable? I swear, when I cancelled cable you better believe I was at the gym religiously so I could watch My Stories. You mean I get to watch an hour of Project Runway AND I just banged out an hour of cardio? But seriously, if you find yourself getting sucked in to bad t.v., why not make it work for you?
posted by stellaluna at 5:47 PM on March 28, 2012 [6 favorites]

i agree to double-check the lab values. optimal levels of vitamin D are much higher than the lab cut-off for abnormally low (i take 1,000IU a day and still can't quite get up to optimal levels, so your supplementation doesn't mean you're A-OK). last year i was dealing with similar fatigue issues and found a doctor who put me on thyroid meds even though my labs were normal -- just enough to keep them within the normal range but to boost them. helped me a ton, but it can be hard to find a doctor who works this way. did you get tested for mono? i had to argue to get the test since it's rare in grown-ups, and it turned out to be positive.

also do you drink coffee? i stubbornly refused for a year of dealing with fatigue on the grounds that i wanted to honor my body's lack of energy, but i now accept that i'm just someone who needs caffeine to function.

regarding exercise, the only thing that consistently works for me is to sign up for a fun class that i actually look forward to going to, one where there's a sense of community and people will miss me if i'm not there. similarly, of course, find a workout buddy who will be really sad if you bail.

in my experience binge-eating totally fuels depression, fatigue, and lack of routine (for me binge-eating goes hand-in-hand with grazing and overlooking normal meals, while eating three sensible meals a day helps me keep other kinds of structure in my life). overeaters anonymous was my way out (of both binging and depression, actually), even though i'm an atheist. it's not for everybody but i'm happy to talk to you about it more if you're curious.
posted by nevers at 5:48 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

For the exercise thing: have that super supportive boyfriend help you get out and do things. I do much, much better on the exercise thing when someone's with me, saying "yes, we're planning to do this thing now."

For routine stuff - I have ADHD and so rely VERY heavily on automation and timers and putting things physically in my way so I have no choice but to interact with them in my pre-planned manner. Like, my pills sit out where I'm going to eat, my toothbrush is where I would be grabbing for soap, etc.

For getting myself to do things at work, this is inadvertent, but after that whole "two months off work due to a depressive meltdown" thing, I've now got scheduled meetings with my supervisor weekly, where we talk about every single thing I've been up to, where I am on all the projects I'm overseeing, etc. I also have a status board in my office, that says things like when the last time I took care of any filing, etc. I'm thinking of expanding this to my home environment, with a list of the last time I did laundry, took out the trash, etc.

BUT I MUST CAUTION YOU. Your expectations may be out of sync with what you can realistically accomplish given your current limitations. Do not get sucked into the "I'm a bad person because you can't see the kitchen table under all the mail I haven't opened" trap. Remember that your home's cleanliness is as much the responsibility of whoever you're living with as it is yours. And, you may not be able to contribute as much as others could given your schedule and such. The limitations are not fun, but that doesn't mean you can ignore them, or that you should feel bad for acquiescing to them.

Also do not mistake "excellent bloodwork" for "healthy." Your brain chemistry is sick right now, and that's real, and it matters just as much as a broken leg would.

(I have a similar sort of situation to you - lots of struggles finding the right meds, total mess of an apartment, BMI of 41. Bipolar II, mostly depressed, always the atypical variety where you gain tons of weight and can't figure out why other than that you're eating nothing but carbs all the time. Feel free to MeMail if you want to talk, or join me at one of the mental-health oriented message boards out there. I'm partial to Mental Earth at the moment.)
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 5:50 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

oh also the doctor i saw for fatigue treated me for candida yeast overgrowth, which i'm still skeptical about but i went along with it (it cleared up my dandruff, huh), and also tested my sex hormone levels and prescribed progesterone cream, and tested my cortisol levels and prescribed adrenal support supplements. i'm not suggesting you run out and do all this, just pointing out that "all your labs are normal" is not the same as "there is no medical treatment that may help you."
posted by nevers at 5:53 PM on March 28, 2012

Sigh. This is the second time I am saying this tonight, but going on anti-anxiety/depression meds completely sapped me of all energy and basically made me narcoleptic. Going off all the meds sucked at first but ultimately put me back to normal. I never would have believed meds could be so damaging but they nearly destroyed me and truly made everything worse. As for going to the gym, here's what I did to keep up motivation at first: I announced to everyone on Facebook that I had joined a gym. Everyone "liked" it. Then I checked into the gym on Foursquare (which posts to my FB) every time I went. I am motivated to go frequently because I'll feel ashamed if people notice I'm no longer checking in to the gym. Totally weird and silly, I know, but it's working for me!
posted by infinityjinx at 6:38 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

IANAD, but following up on what dawkins_7 said above, you may want to double check with your doctor that not only the thyroid levels themselves but also the TSH pituitary levels were OK, since the pituitary is the thermostat for the thyroid.

What works for me with exercise might not work for you (money, space, personal preference). I ride my elliptical in my basement for 35 minutes a night, while watching movies on Netflix on my laptop sitting on a stack of heavy boxes in front of the machine, and hooked up to the audio input to the machine's speakers. The 35 minutes is picked intentionally to be about one third of a standard movie (so every 3 days I start a new movie). I only watch action movies since the fast paced scenes help distract me from the boredom of the workout. Since the machine is in my basement there's never a commute, I never have to wait until someone else finishes with the machine, I don't avoid going to the gym due to weather or because their hours aren't long enough to suit my schedule. But the up front cost was about $1100. After I do my aerobics I am often (not always) revved up enough to then follow up with some dumbbell or body weight exercise. YMMV.
posted by forthright at 6:45 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only way I can make myself get regular exercise is to do it first thing in the morning before I've had time to distract myself. I walk, I leave my house within a few minutes of waking and walk for 40 to 60 minutes. One foot in front of the other, down the street, several blocks to the park, around the park and back, I think I might be half asleep when I do it, it's like a dream sometimes. When I don't do it I get cranky and lethargic.
posted by mareli at 7:03 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just a brief thing: don't expect to want to. Do it for a certain period of time only because you promised yourself you would and only because you really want to see whether there's any truth in the idea that things will improve through this. Make yourself do it. Allow yourself to hate it. Don't expect yourself to be raring to go. Just go through the steps of preparation, and whatever you do, don't give yourself an out. It's not "Do I feel like exercising tonight?" it's "i'm exercising tonight." If you hear yourself say "I don't feel like it," bargain. Just say to yourself, "OK, put on your exercise clothes, and then we can have this conversation again." Put on the clothes. If you still hear yourself saying "i don't want to exercise," say "Well, let's just go out the door and walk. We can talk again after we've walked for a few minutes." Bargaining and stalling work really well, because they let you complain at the same time you're actually not backing down on yourself.

When you're starting a new habit you don't love it already. That comes later. Starting a new habit takes nothing but promising yourself you're doing it and then, hook or by crook, just doing it.
posted by Miko at 7:06 PM on March 28, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've been on Habit Judo for over a month now. Even on days when I'm exhausted or feeling down, the built-in point system (and the weekend beer/ play money rewards I've built in for myself) keep me going. I'm already doing two major things I've never been able to do my entire life: keep a budget and exercise daily.
posted by Kevtaro at 7:56 PM on March 28, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for your answers so far. Im not sure which one to start with first but Perhaps I can just print these out at the end and add in one small thing per week, be it flossing a tooth or a push up or two. In reply to questions: I have never done allergy testing but since I get headaches and have had a crippling migraine on and off this week, my pcp did suggest trying an OTC allergy med to help with the headaches. I had a endoscopy (severe nausea problems about a year ago) and I remember the doc saying it didn't look indicative of celiac (another mystery case, but at least
Prilosec and/or acupuncture helped). I guess I could ask whatever doc I see next about allergists, if I should see one. I'm not sure what "low normal" means. I have all my lab work in hand though. I'm not sure what the other Lyme and thyroid tests are that are suggested but I can google around before I bug you for detailed explanations! Ok, not sure if I got everything since this hard to do from my mobile and I'm tired (surprise). But again thank you for the advice so far. I really appreciate it.
posted by ArgyleMarionette at 8:34 PM on March 28, 2012

For your thyroid, the test you most want to look at is called TSH.

This number gets higher as a thyroid gets worse. Most people seem to feel most comfortable with a TSH of around 1. Old lab values go up to 5.0 before they call it abnormal; newer lab values flag abnormal at 3.0. If your TSH number is near 3 or over, I think you deserve a trial on thyroid meds.

Thyroid meds are a replacement for what the body isn't making, like insulin.

Good luck!
posted by swerve at 10:36 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ok, I would suggest for the exercise part, forget gyms, they require motivation and that’s something you don’t have (neither do I). Best advice is to find someone to do sport with (and here I’ll suggest mountain biking because it’s a sport where you have fun/adventure first and the exercise part is just a side effect, oh and you’re sitting down while doing it which takes weight off the knees). When you find the person to do that sport with, commit yourself to picking them up (I find it’s way harder to back out that way) and when you finish the ride, set a date and time for the next one (oh and join a mtb club to meet some new people as well – even though one-on-one is a way better motivator). Btw, if you have water nearby, I’ve heard that rowing is the best motivator, as if you’re part of a four person boat, you can’t not turn up, cause they can’t row with 3, and also once the 4 of you start rowing, you can’t stop in the middle of it.

For the home life, go extreme minimalist, get rid of all the clutter of life, paint everything bright white and let the light in. Get lots of bins (or recycling bags) in the kitchen so you can instantly sort paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and organic stuff. If you have recycling bags then they’re easy to take to the car/recycling centre. Get a landing strip bin for the hall, so all the “crap” you bring in goes straight into it. Same with clothes washing – get various laundry bags and sort clothes when you take them off. Put away everthing except one 2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 glasses and 2 knives and forks, then washing up sorts itself out.

Go minimalist on the shopping too by bingeing before you shop, so you don’t by rubbish. Cook up industrial quantities of stews, and separate this healthy stuff into freezable then microwaveable meal quantities - just add boil in the bag rice. In the evening, I’m often scavenging, but find that an apple satisfies my cravings more than biscuits/potato chips. Top tip is putting your fruit at the top of the fridge where you see it first – less good stuff goes in the fridge draws.

Extreme self help? Cut through the cable TV cable (the coaxial, not the power cable) and disconnect the internet. You really don’t need it. If you can’t handle total disconnection from the net, find a program that limits computer time and automatically shuts the computer off between certain times, set up a non administrator account on your computer (so you don’t have administrative rights to uninstall the program) create very complicated passwords for the administrator account and the time limiter program, email them to your mom and delete your sent mail (PM me if interested, because I can’t remember the name of the program at the moment). Tell her you want to stop over-surfing and if you ask her for the passwords, she shouldn’t give them to you. Get a library card and go read outside in a park. Great summer evenings coming up….

For the morning routine, get an alarm clock that can wake you up with your favorite music, leave the curtains open at night so morning light streams in. Reading instead of internet games will mean you fall asleep faster and sleep better. Would you be interested in getting a happy dog to motivate you to get up and take him for a walk? Only use the bedroom for sleeping, and as I once read, if you only do one thing, make your bed.

There’s nothing I can think of to get you to brush you teeth, but I hope that if you get the other stuff sorted, the teeth brushing might come along naturally. In the meantime, chew gum and eat raw fruit/veg. Flossing is also a pain, so think about getting a water jet machine and just add a drop of mouthwash to the water reservoir.

This is how I'd try and deal with it.

Good luck
posted by guy72277 at 1:45 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Most advice has been given, but i wanted to chime in on the binging.

The best thing you can do for binging is keep the foods you would binge on OUT OF YOUR HOUSE.

If you love eating a sleeve of Oreos like I do, when you're at the supermarket you might consider getting Oreos because you think you'll have two after dinner sometime. You wont. Keep the triggers out of your house.

This makes your life easier in that you dont have to spend energy resisting the temptation of stuff thats available, because its just not there at all.
posted by softlord at 4:47 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hi, have you checked your lithium levels?

You've been on lithium 6 months, and in a fog the last 2 months?

You need to exclude lithium toxicity.
posted by de at 3:17 PM on March 30, 2012

If you like any kind of adrenaline-producing music (like thrash metal or the black eyed peas), put it on while you work out, but not otherwise. It's a total cliche but exercise really is a lot more bearable with music that gets you "pumped up".
posted by subdee at 8:04 AM on April 4, 2012

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