Posted in anxiety, family, kids, Life, Mental Health, motherhood, Musings, women

Challenged

Warning: This post will mention periods- and I don’t mean the kind at the end of this sentence. You’ve been warned.

Yesterday was kind of a disaster. I tried, I really did- I wrangled most of the dishes into the dishwasher and remembered to turn it on. I also remembered to put the chicken I’d thawed out into the crockpot, AND I remembered to turn it on, too, so that’s a win. I managed to get a good chunk of work done, as well, although…I did notice that by 10:30 yesterday morning, I was extremely stressed out, trying to navigate my way through our new system while seeming to have forgotten everything I’d learned over the past two weeks. Everything looked different. I was sure they’d done updates or something over the weekend and forgotten to tell us. I switched from one work queue to another, hoping it would sort itself out. Eventually, I just took a break, if for no other reason than to unclench my jaw and try to turn the volume down on my anxiety. I was just about to take the garbage out when my boss called me- she asked me some questions that I didn’t know the answer to, mostly because I didn’t understand what she was saying- yes, she was speaking English, but my already frazzled brain couldn’t quite wrap itself around this new lingo that came with the new system. Sigh. I muddled through. I must have given her some semblance of a proper answer because she let me off the phone- either that or I confused her so much that she gave up. Either way, the garbage went out. Another small win.

By the time I clocked out, I was feeling incredibly drained and ready for a nap. I had planned on going to the gym, but I couldn’t figure out how to fit in a nap, AND my daughter’s first day of second grade homework, AND the gym, and somehow not die. So the gym was out. This is where things shoot straight the hell downhill. Homework. It’s always homework that pushes me over the edge.

I had such high hopes this year. I imagined Cam and I sitting together, peacefully working through her spelling words, me a bastion of patience and support, her a shining little genius, impressing me with her brilliance. HA! I forgot about the whining, the tears, the outrageous behavior. And that’s just me- you should see how she acts! Hahaha. Seriously though, WTF? How hard is it to trace over some letters and copy a few sentences? Why is this such a struggle? And why oh why oh why have I not learned by now that me yelling does nothing at ALL to help the situation? I am so utterly sick of my yelling…I’ve just had it. I’m the adult, and sometimes I am as prone to fits as a two year old. It’s embarrassing.

There was one moment of grace in all of that, at least. After I completely lost my shit, and after she had lost her video privileges for the rest of the night, we moved on to our 20 minutes of reading. I decided that she would read to me for five minutes, and I would read to her for 15, at least for now. We started “The Boxcar Children”, and to my surprise, she really liked it. For at least those 20 minutes we matched the vision in my head- a mother and daughter, totally sane, curled up together on the couch reading, in a house that smelled like delicious dinner. When the timer went off, she asked me to keep reading! That was a first!

Unfortunately, I was dead on my feet by 7:30 and insisted that we go to bed early. Everything would have been fine if I hadn’t suddenly realized I’d forgotten to take my vitamins and gotten back out of bed. That’s when all hell broke loose. Somehow, on my way back to bed, my cat got a little frisky with me and bit my hand- this is fine, we play like this all the time. Except this time, the cat somehow got his claw STUCK in my little finger. STUCK. I had to pull it out of my own finger while it was still attached to the cat. To say that I was furious would be about correct. It HURT! It was bleeding, and my finger was throbbing like a heart beat. I banished the cat from the room, and Camryn was crying because I was so mean, and I was mad at everyone, and…then I started my period.

And everything suddenly made sense.

Why I was so angry. Why the Kids Baking Competition on TV made me cry. Why homework was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. Why I could not stop eating all day. And why I was so exhausted.

Listen, this is no excuse, I know it. Lots of times I still act up and it has nothing to do with my hormones at all. But hormones are REAL. When they are out of whack, you really do have less room for error, less space to negotiate with before spouting off. At least I do. And I know that is not true for everyone, and congratulations to you if you are one of those rare birds, but I am not. I have to track my cycle like a pro, and even then it can catch me off guard sometimes. Like yesterday.

Now I’m getting to my point, and yes, I actually have one- You know I love nothing more than a good challenge, right? So today, I am going to see if I can go just 24 hours without raising my voice once. Just 24 hours. No excuses. Unless, you know, someone is about to unwittingly walk off a cliff or in front of a car or something. No raising my voice in anger or frustration. Do you think I can do it? Well, I’m about to find out. Wish me luck.

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Posted in Depression, family, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

Good Morning

Outside, the fog has been thick, every single morning for days and days. Just a typical summer here on the peninsula. My garden is in full bloom, wilder than I know how to contain, and the whole world smells like the ocean. It’s not quite daylight yet.

Inside, I sit here at my desk with my little desk light on, writing this. The wash machine is chugging away, and the dryer, too. My house smells like clean laundry. My daughter sleeps soundly in my bed, and the dog is snoring in her own bed. The cats wind around my ankles, demanding attention, and I mostly ignore them. Mostly.

Thursday, Friday, and yesterday I was bogged down in exhaustion. From Cam going back to school to me having to change my whole schedule for work, not to mention getting used to our new computer system and doing all the chores that the new school year entails, it’s no wonder I was tapped out. But I always worry when I start to feel that way, as it’s often the first sign of a new round of feeling low, depression nipping at my heels. I worry. It’s hard to tell the difference between just plain tiredness and something more serious. And I’d only just started feeling better, so…

Luckily, I woke up this morning feeling rested, peaceful, and ready to take on the day. Good thing I did, because I have a LOT to do around here. Being out of the house for the past two weeks during the day, and coming home ready to collapse into bed, things have reached a new level of disarray in this house. The laundry is piled up to the ceiling (almost) and the fridge is full of food that is no longer edible. I have shopping and cleaning and laundry to do, so this would not be a good time to fall into a funk. I’ll do what I can today and not a sliver more.

But for now, for right this minute, I’m going to revel in contentment. Pour myself one more cup of coffee and read another chapter in my book, watch the world wake up. Exactly the way a Sunday morning should be. Hope you are having a good morning, too, wherever you are. 🙂

Posted in anxiety, Depression, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health

Hard Work

Just the quickest of check-ins here, to prove that I am still alive and part of this blogging community. Life has been busy as all get out lately, and when I have had time to sit here to write something, I just have been coming up empty handed. My brain has been so awash with busy thoughts even when I am sitting still…thoughts about what is going on at work (and I NEVER think about work when I’m not working!) and what I need to do next, and next, and next.

My littlest girl starts back to school today, so it’s almost time to go wake her up and get back to the old routine. Part of me is relieved to be back on a normal schedule, part of me remembers it’s a lot of work, mothering a child in school. But the new school year is always one of my favorite fresh starts, and if you follow my blog, you must know by now how much I love clean slates and fresh starts. I am always up for the challenge of doing better than I did before. It’s what keeps me interested in life- challenging myself, and hopefully, teaching my kiddo to love a good challenge.

Work has been insane. We are implementing a new hospital-wide computer system, and we “went live” on August first, which is why we weren’t allowed any paid leave over the summer-training and all that- and now we are just working out the kinks, trying to figure out the best way to do everything. As is my nature, and loving new things the way I do, I have taken right to it. I haven’t had any problems at all, apart from the fact that I’ve had to work in an office every day rather than at home. That has been tough. I don’t do well tied to a desk in a windowless room with ten or so other people for eight hours straight. My boss commented that I worked better at this new thing than I’ve worked at the old stuff, and that she was surprised by how quiet I’ve been. Well, part of that is thanks to my ADHD- I have a new puzzle in front of me to work out, so my brain is fully engaged. But part of it is due to the fact that sitting still, trying to conform and behave is basically poisoning my soul, so…by hour five, I’m pretty miserable. She said I grew more and more pale as the day wore on. I told her it was because my spirit was dying. LOL. Thank God she loves me.

But the best thing I have to report is that I have been actively combating my creeping depression with tons of exercise (even when I really, really don’t want to), vitamins, and healthier eating, and it is WORKING. I’m not sure what is helping the most, and I don’t want to mess with it, so I’m just going to keep going. My anxiety is nearly gone, and the anxiety is what triggers the depression I’m pretty sure, so the depression has lifted, too. I haven’t eaten fast food not even once, nor have I indulged in Starbucks. I have really, really been giving it a solid go, and the results were nearly instant, and so obvious. I guess I just have to continue on this path if I want to feel good. Which, honestly, is a little bit daunting- it’s so much freaking work just for me to feel okay. But feeling okay is such a relief. Not worrying constantly about things that aren’t even logical is such a relief. So if I have to keep at it, I will. It’s so worth it.

So there you have it! I will try to check in again soon, but just know that things are looking up for me, and I hope they are looking up for you, too!

Posted in Depression, faith, Goals, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, People, women

A Good Day

good day
picture credit: Cloudy Thurstag via Google images. What a great illustration!

Yesterday, I had a really good day. I could feel it coming, I knew I was building up to it, but…to be honest with you, I was nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve had an excellent day- I let myself slide a little too far down the path of doom and gloom, and was finding it hard to pull myself out. So I was worried that I was about to suffer another false start, take one step forward and fall ten steps back.

I swear to you, when I get all out of sorts- low spirited and glum- it feels like it takes an act of God or a very specific alignment of planets to set me back on my feet. Of course, this isn’t true, but…what it really takes is me finding the will and determination to do what makes me feel better, and sometimes that is even harder to scrounge up than a miracle. Or at least it seems that way.

But honestly, I’ve had enough. I’ve just had enough of my own moping and whining, saying I want to feel better then doing almost anything I can think of to court my own depression- it’s like I pursue the exact thing I don’t want. How? By continuing to sit. By too much napping. By eating poorly. By refusing to exercise. By isolating myself. By not giving enough effort to my work, or to the things I love, such as writing my novel. In the midst of my little black cloud, these things seem impossibly hard, and yet…it’s still my responsibility to try. It’s my life we are talking about here. It’s kind of important. And lets be real- in the past 11 months, 3 more people that I love have left this planet forever. When I pray in the morning, the list of people I need to send love to in heaven is growing so long that I struggle to remember all the names. We don’t have infinite time here on this gorgeous little planet. We have this moment, and nothing more is guaranteed. So, for me, living unhappily seems so wasteful. And furthermore, when I am feeling shitty, I am thinking mostly about myself. It would be so nice to stop worrying about me, and start shining the light outside of myself a little bit. I think that alone would make me happier.

Well, I’m getting there. I’ve started journaling, in an effort to more accurately track my true mental and emotional state, since it’s really hard to rely on memory for such a thing. I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of keeping a journal, and it’s very encouraging. Yesterday, I woke up, and I just knew that it was the day- today was the day that I was going to check all the boxes. And I did. I did my prayer and meditation, I worked on my novel, I showered and Cam got her hair washed before daycare, and I worked really hard at my job all day. I ate three home-cooked, nutritious meals, and I didn’t snack in between, I walked my dog, I left the TV off. I wrote in my journal in the morning and before bed. I WENT TO THE GYM! This was the first time I walked through those doors in two months, and the dread I felt on my way was nearly palpable. Why? I have no idea why. The minute I jumped on the elliptical, I felt euphoric. It felt so good to be taking care of myself again!

Listen, I know that not every day will be like that one. I know there will be days when I can’t fit all the things in that I would like, or that I will be unable to hit some of my goals- there will be days when some boxes go unchecked. I know that I need to accept that, and not allow a bad day, or a string of bad days, derail me completely. Maybe I need to stop labeling them as “bad days” and “good days”. I’m hoping, through keeping a journal, that I will be able to see that every day has something good in it. I believe this to be true, and that I just have a hard time remembering that sometimes. But for now, I needed that excellent, really good day so bad! Here’s to keeping the ball rolling!

And may you have an EXCELLENT, beautiful, really good, damn near perfect day. You deserve it!

Posted in advice, anxiety, Depression, faith, health, inner peace, Life, magic, manifestation, meditation, Mental Health, mindfulness, People, spirituality, the occult

Just DO it.

just do it
Thanks, Nike.

Early, early this morning, because it was a full moon and I am not a night person in ANY way, I did a little candle ritual to get rid of this negative energy that’s been clinging to me like a second skin lately. I also saged myself and my house, and left all my crystals outside to charge in whatever glimpse they might have gotten of the moon through the thick fog that blankets the coast in the summer months. Yeah, I do all of that stuff. I’ve been listening to podcasts about magic and manifestation (they aren’t all that different, to be honest), I’ve been reading books about mindfulness and journaling. I also started taking magnesium, because I’ve heard it is effective at easing depression. I’ve seen my therapist, I’ve gone to meetings, I’ve reached out to friends. In short, I have used almost every weapon in my arsenal to yank myself out of this funk I have been in. There are two things that I haven’t done- well, one, as of yesterday- and they are these: Take TRUE action and take medication. I don’t happen to have any medication laying around to take, obviously, but I am not averse to doing such a thing- going to my doctor and saying “Hey, nothing I am doing is working. I need some help.”, but I will tell you this, it is the very last thing I ever want to do. I’ve been lucky so far and it hasn’t come to that, but rest assured, if it did, I would do what I needed to do. I would never shame someone for needing that kind of help. Depression is an endless-seeming nightmare, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Everyone I’ve spoken to about the way I’m feeling inevitably asks the same question- “Why are you depressed? What’s wrong?” And it is almost funny, but not really, because…seriously? That isn’t how depression works. And I don’t know. There’s nothing wrong, nothing has changed, I just feel awful and I can’t shake it. Trust me, I’m TRYING.

Taking TRUE action though, the other thing I hadn’t done until yesterday, I know isn’t an option for everyone who is clinically depressed. I don’t think that’s what I am, although I certainly have potential (the one instance where not living up to my potential is a good thing!). I am more like…lightly depressed. A salad with a side of depression. Still showering, still getting dressed when necessary, just really upset about having to do those things. So, for ME, I know that if I can just get myself moving, I will probably feel better. Only I don’t want to do that. I want to sit here, in my robe, with my hair in a fraying braid, eating ice cream out of the container and watching “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” with the blinds closed.

My daughter called me the day before yesterday, and I huffily paused my show to take her call. She asked how I was, and I told her the truth. This kid, she has struggled with depression off and on for years, and she had some advice for me. I told her “I just keep thinking ‘tomorrow will be better, tomorrow will be better’  but it’s the same thing!” and she goes “mom, you can’t do that- you have to just get up and make yourself do something- I even wrote it on my dry erase board-‘JUST DO IT’, and I look at it all the time. It really helps!”

Of course, I rolled my eyes (she couldn’t see me) and said “I know you’re right, I will.” with absolutely no intention of doing any such thing. Later that night I messaged a friend of mine- “I really need to get my shit together. I can’t go on like this.” I went to bed, and in the morning, I read his response: “Just do it, then.”

Hmm.

As woo-woo as I am, you won’t find it hard to imagine that I strongly believe in synchronicity, and messages from the Universe coming through in any way that they can. Just Do It. From two people who care about me, two people who couldn’t be more unlikely to have conspired behind my back to get this through to me.

Fine, then.

Yesterday, after work, instead of slipping into my couch-coma as I am wont to do, I grudgingly put my shoes on and ordered my small child and my dog into the car. I drove to the beach, and I grudgingly got out of the car, ordered my whining child and super excited dog out of the car, and trudged morosely up the hill and over the dunes. It was freezing cold and super windy, and for some reason, by the time we made it down to the water, both of us humans were smiling. The dog was smiling the entire time, of course. We didn’t go far or stay long, but that wasn’t the point. The point was just to do it. By the time we got back to the car, my ears hurt like hell from the cold wind, but I felt…alive. As if I were actually existing inside my body and life, rather than from somewhere outside of it.

We went to Petsmart, bought some dog shampoo and a big bone for Lucy, and when we got home I gave her a bath. She hasn’t had a bath in several months- the only one who hates her bath more than I do is her- but I was bound and determined to do it, and I did. She was such a good girl- she got right into her little tub and lay down, and I used a pitcher to rinse the filth off of her. When she was done, I dried her with a towel, and she pranced around, feeling pretty, the way dogs do after a bath. Five seconds before she went and rolled in the dirt out back. Goddammit.

The point here is, I did some things. And after I’d done them, I felt better. I took myself out to dinner, alone, and had a smashing time. I was in bed by nine, and that’s okay, too. So now, my job is not to lose my momentum. I’m not out of the woods yet. As soon as I hit publish on this bad boy, I’m throwing on some yoga pants and heading out for a little while- back to the beach, and then to a meeting.

Do I believe in my candle rituals and manifestation boards and crystal energy? Do I believe that my prayers are heard and that meditation helps, and that talking about what is wrong matters? YES. I believe all of that. But I also believe that we need to meet the Universe, meet God, meet whoever or whatever is out there halfway. Whether that means asking our doctor for help with our brain chemistry, or getting up and out of the house, putting away the ice cream and opening the blinds- that’s a personal decision. We can’t just wait for miracles to fall out of the sky.

So…just do it. Whatever it is. Sorry, Nike, I’m borrowing your catchphrase,

Posted in Depression, escape, family, inner peace, Life, meditation, Mental Health, mindfulness, People

This Crazy Brain

anxiety

Sometime last week, I was driving home from somewhere with Camryn in the back, and she goes-“Mom, do you ever think about about the things you think? Like, isn’t it weird that you can think about your thoughts?”

And I was like, whoa- pretty advanced stuff for a seven year old to come up with, but I just said-“Yeah, actually, I do. Isn’t it cool that we can have thoughts and also somehow observe those thoughts?”

“I don’t know…I think it’s kind of weird.” She said worriedly.

“Well…you know, that’s why mommy meditates so much- so that I can learn how to not get too caught up in all that thinking. My brain makes me crazy sometimes- it goes and goes and goes, and sometimes I just wish it would settle down.” I told her.

“Maybe I should do that.” She said thoughtfully, “Because sometimes I wish I could just open up my head, pull out my thoughts, and throw them out.”

Uh-oh, I thought. She’s exactly like me.

Although I know I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have the brain that I have, sometimes it really would be nice to slow it down a little bit. I don’t mean physically- hell, I could sit still in a chair without moving once if the right channel was playing back to back episodes of a good enough show. As a matter of fact, I think the reason I CAN do this is because it cuts off the incessant thinking for a little while. Because my brain is exhausting. It literally never shuts the fuck up. I know that is what brains do, but I feel like (and I have zero proof of this, obviously) mine is just a little extra. It has the ability to run off in several directions at once while playing horrible songs from the 70’s on repeat. It likes to ambush me with terrible memories at the most random moments, and if one doesn’t upset me enough, it comes prepared with an entire montage of unrelated but equally horrifying past transgressions.

Sometimes I think my own brain is out to get me.

Yesterday I had an anxiety attack triggered by one of my weird bouts of catastrophic thinking. The pretty mild, innocent incident that triggered the attack was a missed phone call. I took a missed phone call, and my brain made some enormous, poorly judged leaps to conclusions that had me shaking, sick, and nearly out of my mind with panic. I just knew that something horrible had happened, I just knew it. But…I also knew that I was probably wrong, and that I was acting crazy, and that I needed to stop. Except I can’t stop when I get like that, I don’t know how. I know lots of things that should help, that, in theory, sound helpful- but in practice they simply do not.

One minute passed, and the phone call was returned, and I acted bright and happy and chipper, and everything was fine…except it wasn’t fine. I wasn’t fine. My anxiety did not retreat, even after everything was okay, not for the rest of my work day. And when it finally did calm down, I was so tired that I couldn’t function.

For dinner last night we had popcorn, ice cream and tortilla chips. We ate on the living room floor with the blinds closed because it was 4:30 and I was sick of the sunlight. We watched Sherlock Gnomes from a pile of blankets stolen off of both our beds, and every pillow we could rustle up, and Camryn thought it was fun, but I knew I was just hiding. Recovering. Trying to figure out what the fuck my problem is.

I tried talking to my mom about it, but she has her own shit going on, and she has a way of sort of dismissing what I’m telling her that makes me feel like I am just blowing it out of proportion. I know she is probably trying to make me feel better, but it just makes me feel like…like I’m being dramatic. Which I AM. Which is kind of the whole problem in a nutshell- my brain is super dramatic, and I can’t control it. That’s kind of what my anxiety looks like.

Anyway, I have a new day to start fresh with. Hopefully nothing horrible happens, like, I don’t know…someone doesn’t pick up the phone the first time I call. Or Camryn coughs once and I assume she’s choking to death. Sometimes I wish I could open up my head and pluck the thoughts out, too. I know exactly how she feels.

Posted in anxiety, Depression, Life, Mental Health, Musings, random

Thoughts From a Difficult Brain

I have been having some trouble with my head lately. The last time I wrote, I told you I was feeling restless, and it’s still true- restlessness paired with discontent can quickly boil over into a gummy mess of self loathing. I am trying to avoid that. I’ve sat here and written parts of several posts that I decided were entirely too whiny, and I was too embarrassed to publish them. I have nothing to complain about, really. Or at least, that is what I tell myself- that because I have a particular set of circumstances that might be a little less troubling than the circumstances of “some people” (whoever they might be), I am not allowed to dislike anything about my life.

Although I realize on a certain level that is bullshit- my feelings about my life are absolutely valid, no matter how good I might have it- I also understand that complaining is pretty useless. So I am not going to do that. What I am going to do is tell the truth, and the truth for me is- I struggle with my moods. I am not moody enough to warrant medication, nor is that something I want for myself, but it is a struggle nonetheless. I have a mind that will seize upon an unpleasant thought and spin it into an astounding and terrible scenario, and it can propel me into anxiety the likes of which I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy- if I had a worst enemy, which I don’t think I do. Anyway, I believe this is called “catastrophic thinking”, and it is part of having anxiety, which I thought was something I suffered from occasionally, not something I “had” until I said this to my therapist, and she actually started laughing. I don’t think your therapist is supposed to laugh at you, but I forgive her. Apparently, I’m an anxious person. You know, I masked every single thing about my actual personality with drugs for so long, that I am still figuring out who I really am. Or who I am now, I guess.  So yes, I am anxious. I am moody. I am very hard on myself, most of the time.

But lately, this has all morphed into this weird blah-ness, this kind of “meh” feeling, and it just sucks. Half of me wants to run off and have this big, juicy, adventurous life, and the other half of me is like “Just watch TV, Courtney. There’s no point in having to put on shoes.” And of course, I am making it sound funny so that it doesn’t sound that bad, but in truth…in truth, I am grappling with some dangerous thoughts. Things like quitting my job, which would not be in my best interest right now, and quitting recovery, which might not be in my best interest ever. Sigh. I don’t know what is going on. Perhaps I’m having a mid-life crisis? Is that applicable for women? I don’t want to run out and buy a street bike and date a blonde half my age, so…it’s hard to say.

So, rather than do anything drastic that might shake up my life a little more than I am bargaining for, I am going to go back to the things that have worked for me before. I am going to do the things that make me feel good by default, such as- going to the beach. Going to the gym (it really does feel good after you actually get there). Eating less bacon- I know this sounds counter intuitive, but trust me, too much bacon does not a happy girl make- it’s one of those pleasures in life that needs to be spaced out a little bit. Also, clearing my space- I swear to God, I accumulate possessions at the speed of light. Oh! And that’s another thing- stop compulsively ordering shit I don’t need off of Amazon. It’s just another attempt to self-soothe, I know this, and yet…no, I don’t need anymore books right now!

I am capable of great happiness- I think we all are. But the trick, I think, is realizing that no one feels perfectly happy all the time. And maybe some of us feel the bumps in the road a little more than others, and that’s okay, too. But the big truth is, we are all responsible for creating lives that feel good enough for ourselves, and when life doesn’t feel good, we have a responsibility to ourselves to fix it, or to figure out what isn’t working and make adjustments. I am impatient, so I want everything to be better RIGHT NOW- I want to throw it all away and start over. Oh, I’m having a bad week? Well, obviously, I should quit my job, move across the country, and become a homesteader who makes her own soap, right?

No…no, I don’t think that’s how this is going to go down. I think, today, I will just start with taking a walk, washing the dishes, and being a little more gentle with myself. And maybe tomorrow, we’ll see where I’m at. Maybe tomorrow, it will feel a little better.