Category Archives: self-care

A Sunday Ramble

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I’ve been feeling a little better.

Do you ever see that New York Times column, “My Sunday Routine”? I’ve only read it once or twice, but it made me feel like I should really have a better Sunday routine. Like, I make a quiche and have brunch with my friends, and hang out with my extended family all afternoon.

(Never mind that I don’t have extended family that ever hangs out together.)

Things that are going well

I’ve started a bullet journal! When in doubt, get hyper organized, right? It does feel good to make lists and mark them off, which is why I’ve been so enamored with Habitica the last few years. I like that I can put everything in my bujo, though. So far, calendar, daily to-do lists with events highlighted, blog ideas and topics (which makes it sound like I’m organized about blogging, here or elsewhere, and I’m not; I’d just like to be!), podcasts to follow/prioritize, stuff my mother asks for, food combinations I’m enjoying, the cable stitch pattern I’m using to make a scarf, and dog training progress.

I feel like I’ve only just begun. Now that I’ve started, I’m wondering why everyone doesn’t do this? Of course, now everyone IS doing it. But why aren’t we taught this in school? It’s so nice to have everything indexed and within reach.

I don’t know. Maybe this is the honeymoon phase. Maybe I’ll only love it for a few weeks. But I am still using Habitica, so I think it can all come together.

Food combinations that have been pleasant surprises

*Mango salsa and cottage cheese on sprouted grain
*Sliced banana dipped in ground flaxseed
*Greek yogurt with berries and 2 tbsp walnuts

I know, these aren’t earth-shattering. But I sometimes overlook the simple combinations that make food interesting in favor of complicated recipes. Mental note: it doesn’t have to be so hard.

Podcasts

Poor Ira Glass. I’ve seriously had him on my mind so much since last week’s episode of This American Life.

In Act 4, he talked about losing his friend, Mary, who had been the last person he talked to every day, since he and his wife separated. A few things he said really hit me, and now that I think of it, probably contributed a lot to my circles of thoughts about mortality and loneliness.

Today, I listened to Wait Wait, and now I’m catching up on Radiolab, which is pretty heavy. CRISPR was about the heady speed of gene editing. Now I’m listening to a two-parter on police shootings, and wondering if I should take a break to listen to that Nerdette episode on sex, or the Freakonomics episode literally titled, “Why is my life so hard?”

There are too many podcasts to keep up with! This is why it has a whole page in my bullet journal. 🙂

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Is there ever really a cure for depression?

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I read an article the other day about how a girl cured her depression, after not having much luck with therapy and medication. It was a lot of good advice, along the lines of make yourself do things, let go of unhelpful friends and make new ones, and learn to replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. (That latter is cognitive behavioral therapy, in essence, so apparently therapy did help her?)

It’s the “pick yourself up” cure for depression, and she’s not completely wrong. Those actions can go a long way toward fighting depression, or to simply make it through until it passes on its own.

I could have written much of that piece myself in my 20s and early 30s. Mine would have, of course, included a lot of yoga, exercise and meditation, because those were activities I found very healing and helped me move through some difficult times. I had bouts of moderate to severe depression that I was convinced I had pulled myself out of through sheer effort.

And, naively, I thought everyone should be able to do the same. I thought I would always be able to do the same.

But at some point, no matter what I did, the depression wasn’t lifting. It wasn’t getting better, no matter how much I exercised or took vitamin D or meditated. There were no affirmations that made me feel like I could improve. Meditation usually made me just more aware of how miserable I was.

Long story short, I got treated for depression, for the first time in my life, with medication, and I felt like I’d nevdepression-sitting-silhouette-cliparter felt before. I was really interested in life, in trying new things. Even if there had been times I hadn’t been moderately depressed or worse, I realized I had probably been mildly depressed for the majority of my adult life. I was a diligent worker and resilient. I knew how to work toward goals. I even fell in love during that time, but before I had meds, I had never experienced this sense of openness and willingness to be completely alive and engaged – even with activities I really enjoyed.

That lasted for a short while, and then I thought I was cured for good.

Now I think depression, for me, is something I will have to deal with more as a chronic disease that can go into remission, but is always there, waiting to return. I’ve been having more symptoms of depression recently, and while it hasn’t gotten as bad as it was before, it’s been a struggle to keep up with my daily activities. I haven’t played the guitar in weeks, and that had been something I only recently wrote about as a fun daily activity.

And yes, I am doing all those things that help: talking to my friends, taking positive action, exercising. And it really  is helping, but I have to stay vigilant. And if it continues to get worse, I’ll be having a chat with my psychologist sooner than planned.

For those of you who have dealt with depression, was it a one-time cure for you, or did it go into “remission,” and you have to continually work to maintain your equilibrium?

Letting go

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via I Suppose I Should Fight — A Glimpse Inside of a Troubled Mind

 

This really struck me just now, going through my blog reader. The way the best sayings do when they speak to your heart… I am holding on to regrets, expectations, and judgment- mostly of myself.

 

Medication helps so, so much. You know, it’s easier to let go when I’m feeling balanced and present. Which is a really hard state to maintain when you’re depressed or anxious. The mind will latch on to anything to validate the negative in that state, as if it’s searching for a logical explanation: why do I feel this pain? Why am I so sad?

 

It’s been interesting, since I started the afternoon dose a month ago, I’ve started to notice when the morning dose is wearing off. At first I noticed the physical symptoms, the heaviness and deep fatigue, the sense I cannot pull myself through this life with any sort of grace.

 

As I’ve become more aware of this shift in the day, I’ve noticed the earlier symptoms. A vague restlessness, the itch to get away from whatever I’m doing, usually work. I work in a fitness center, and everything starts to seem louder and more grating. I will take more frequent bathroom breaks, thinking, “I just need to get out of here.”

 

Or if I’m somewhere else, like driving, I suddenly can’t stand the radio anymore, or that a car is following too closely. The thought pattern here is, “I just can’t deal. I can’t.”

 

These thoughts and symptoms all but stop when I take my meds straight away. Which is a little scary. In that I’m soooo not in control of my brain. I have always stubbornly thought enough exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation would “fix” me. The last year had taught me that wasn’t entirely true. The last few weeks have driven it home.

 

I can help myself with all those activities and practices, and I DO, but nothing has helped as much as meds, and they help radically.

 

They help me to let go of what isn’t helpful.

 

But now I need to let go of expectations, and trust this process. I have set the bar pretty low, I guess. I just wanted to regain some interest in life, and some happy moments. And I did, but I was far from well… and I don’t know how well I am now, to be honest, though I am definitely better.

 

Maybe I could still feel better than this, and maybe I could be not just interested in life, but excited about it? I don’t know.

 

Maybe.

Just this

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Sometimes I don’t want my life. I just want to trade it in, and hope for a better deal the next time around.

I know I have it so much better than so many people in the world. Logically, I know this. But I don’t like it. I am just feeling sorry for myself, I guess.

It’s been nice being off work, mostly. I’m not really sure it’s good for me, though. Maybe I SHOULD travel next time, instead of having so much time alone with my thoughts. I’ve had too much time to wallow in regrets and missed opportunities.

Like the other day I started thinking about how, when I was finishing up my English degree, I was encouraged to go to grad school by two of the people in the department who could have guaranteed my admission. I started berating myself about all the ways my life could be different.

But I also remember I didn’t want to keep going to school, and I didn’t want to get too caught up in academia. That I wanted to write popular fiction, and never mind if I haven’t yet, I still do, and grad school doesn’t lead that way.

I still wonder if I’ll ever be happy, whatever happens to me. I know I’m still relatively young and could do anything I put my mind to, but everything seems so disappointing in reality. I thought my current job would be so much fun and I’d be happy.

Magical thinking – that a person, job or thing will come along and create your happy ending.

So the path is ever thus: Seek contentment with what you have. Gratitude for the good things, acceptance of what isn’t ideal. To live this life, this moment, as best you can.

This morning I am working on a novel. A cat is on my lap. Dog sleeping nearby. I had a really good breakfast… it’s foggy and drizzly, and a great day to stay home and write. Can I be grateful for this? I think so. Forget about yesterday and tomorrow, and just live.

Just breathe.

Vacation day 2

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Oh, vacation is nice, isn’t it? Even at home, I’m all, what to do next? Read a book? Take a nap? Go for a walk?

I am proud of myself for relaxing. Last time it took me a good four days before I gave up trying to plan and do things. I am probably less worried then I’d be if I traveled, because all I’d think about on the way home is how much there would be to do before going back to work.

So I’m still doing dishes, and vacuuming, and cleaning the bathroom. I’m just not very worried about it, because there is plenty of time. I haven’t done laundry, but I think I have enough clothing for the weekend. Laundry on Monday!

Yes, life is too, too exciting. I know you’re so jealous!

I’m still writing, too. What an interesting novel this is turning out to be, now that I’ve let go of the outline. I will probably return to some kind of outline eventually, but right now I’m just taking it scene by scene, as the story reveals itself to me. Yes, I’ve become that kind of writer. It took about 50k words to let go of control, though.

Okay, back to doing nothing!

Chillaxing

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Vacation! Not going anywhere, but the older I get, the less I want to travel at all. Flying is a pain, and gas is expensive. Then to figure out what to do with the pets, and then I worry about them while I’m gone…. I am pretty happy about the chance to stay home, really.

Spring is here, I think! It’s so warm and pretty right now. It will be cold again this weekend, but I deeply believe this is a passing phase, so March-like.

I can tell the added afternoon dose of antidepressant is working, just by the fact that it’s after six and I’m posting this chipper blog. I have typically been pretty brain dead by this time. I’m really, really grateful for an attentive psychologist.

In other news, I have to get a new car, the sooner the better. It pretty much got the terminal diagnosis from the mechanic this week.

I am planning to buy a used car. This is am imaginary car bought with imaginary savings. But I’m hopeful; maybe something will come along!

(Yep, meds are definitely working.)

To feeling better, and then better again.

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I have been on medication for depression for almost a year now. I felt so much better than I felt before that I’d show up to psych appointments super positive: All the projects I was working on that I’d previously lost interest in, how well my job was going, how great my dog is.

Yesterday he asked me some casual questions about my socializing. Which is, um, non-existent … I don’t socialize, unless it’s a mid-day event. And even that is difficult. Evenings just feel too hard, you know, early bedtime. And he asked me about dating, which I basically said is too much work. And I may have gotten a little teary when I said it.

Then he asked me to take him through my week, which led to my admitting that mornings are hard, and after 3 or 4 is hard… not just tired, but pretty blue as well. So we’re adding a second low dose of meds in the afternoon, that should help. I was already on a pretty low dose.

I had suspected for a while that I needed a bit more. Why is it so hard for me to ask for what I need?

Things have been getting to me lately; what should be mild worries can be devastating. Like money, which is difficult and stressful, but shouldn’t leave me a useless wreck, either. But at least one time in the last week, it did. These are signs….

But I still wasn’t as bad off as I was, and I guess some part of me still thinks I don’t deserve to be happy, that I should just be satisfied with okay. Or that I should push through, grin and bear it and not complain too much. Those could be my farmer genes talking….

Anyway, I am looking forward to feeling better than I have been.