Mental Un-Health

I truly enjoy reading the blog of “Depression Time”. I can not only relate to what is being said, but can also take into account that I am not there anymore while part of me is still there.  By “there” I mean at that particular stage in the illness.  You know, grieving and all that it has to offer; denial, anger, numbness and at the same time a feeling of being overly sensitive.  It is hard to keep in mind these things when it is your mind that is being affected.

I especially related to his most recent post, entitled: “The Biggest Lie”.  We all do it.  Everyone with a chronic illness knows about “the lie”. That way you sort of coax and con yourself into believing that you don’t need help ‘anymore’.  That mental broken record of, “I’m better now than I was then,” or “I can wean myself off my medicine/therapy/etc and still be ok, maybe even better!”  My favorite one of all is, “I’ll just think myself healthy.” You don’t actually say this one to yourself, but it’s what you mean. When you tell yourself to use positive thinking in place of medicine or therapy, then you’re basically telling yourself that you will think your way healthy. Think.  Healthy. That might work if it wasn’t your thinking that was the problem to begin with.  Think. Unhealthy.  Hulk Smash. Me Think Unhealthy.

So the premise is that you buy into it. You get worked up in the positive-thinking module. Who wouldn’t? We all want to believe that we are in total control and can change anything about ourselves. But we can’t.  That’s right.  I’m saying the big, bad, four letter word. Can’t. Hulk Smash. Me Can’t.

I remember being in First Grade and having the teacher talk to us after story time. We were all huddled onto the cartoony styled carpet and listening with the fullest attention our minds could offer. I distinctly remember her saying that can’t is a bad word and we should never use it. She told us that we always can, if we try hard enough.  Talk about setting people up for a fall.  Our society is so big on controlling ourselves and our destinies by just thinking we can do it that we fail to see reality. We can’t.  Instead of teaching us to adapt to these difficulties, we are taught to ignore them; to conquer them like the barbaric Conan. We hear testimony after testimony of other people being able to do this and being happy to boot. There must be something wrong with us if we can’t do it, too.  There’s not.

You see, being able to recognize that you can’t do something is far more wise. You can weigh options, you can dredge yourself in self-pity, and you can try to find other people who can’t.  I think that’s a lot more significant than pushing yourself to unreasonable and inappropriate expectations and goals.  You might not be able to do what you wanted but you can learn from this.  That’s more important than trying to kill yourself in order to reach that far-fetched fairy tale.

Why do we set ourselves up? Each.And.Every.Time.  Because of the rush. You know what I mean, that adrenaline rush you get when you’ve convinced yourself you CAN.  “YEA! I can so totally do this!” you tell yourself. Cue rush. Cue denial.  It’s so easy to believe that you can when you have a myriad of hormones and chemicals pumping through your body that make you feel invincible.  That’s what it all comes back to; the way we feel.  That’s where the trouble lies.

We believe that we are supposed to feel a certain way, all the time. Happy is supposed to be 24/7 and if we’re not happy, than there’s something wrong with us. Again, there isn’t. Hulk Smash. Me Not Happy.

We are human beings designed to feel a wide range of emotions. To set ourselves up with the belief that we are supposed to be obliviously happy all the time is a con.  When you throw into the works the wrench of Mental Illness, you get a much more compounded con.  You beat yourself up for not feeling happy.  You worry to the point of anxiety attacks about it. You wonder, “What’s wrong with ME?”  It’s just not worth it.  It has taken me decades of struggle with Mental and Physical Illness before I discovered that the way I feel is valid and it’s confusing at the same time.  The best thing, for me, to do is to just accept it. Stop trying to attain that lofty goal based on how you feel NOW. Set up some realistic goals: I’m going to get out of bed and shower today.  Give yourself the luxury of feeling good about these goals. They might seem little and even laughable to others, but they are important to you.

I wanted to comment on Depression Time’s blog about all of this, but I didn’t quite know how to say it.  It’s hard to separate yourself from your illness.  In fact, it’s outright impossible. You are sharing a body and brain with these things. They are apart of you.  That doesn’t mean they have to be your only sense of identity.  It is healthy to express yourself through your other identifiers: creativity, practicality, values, etc.  They are all important, too.  As much as we fight it, these illnesses are with us for life.  It’s not a good thing, but it’s just like failure. We learn from it. We have to learn to stop beating ourselves up over failure and start going, “Oh, that didn’t work. What else?”  This is sooo hard to do when you’re not thinking or feeling in a healthy way.  The world is over when you fail.. you’re a horrible person who doesn’t deserve to live when you fail.  Worst of all, you feel like that was it.. that was your only shot. How could you do this to yourself? Again?!

You blame yourself and demand all sorts of unreasonable explanations when it’s not even your fault. You have an illness and you (like everybody else with one) are still learning about it and how to live with it.  Keep it up! You really are doing a good job.  It just doesn’t seem that way, sometimes.

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Purpose from the Hardwire

So I got desperate and I actually Googled “purpose of life”.  I wasn’t sure what would show up, I was just bored.. and a little desperate.  I was still kind of dismayed by the results, however.  One site claims they can help you find your purpose in 20 minutes!  That’s less time than it takes to cook supper.  This is what irks me about the American/Generational/Insert other overly-simplified category HERE society as of now. They must have it right now! No waiting. Nevermind that it takes a lot of time and experiences to determine who you are and where your life as a whole is headed.  Nah, forget all that. This site can feed you a bunch of bologna that people (cough – like me – cough) will eat right up and actually depend upon for making life decisions.  Well, not entirely like me. I guess I knew better than to click on that particular link.

I got the expected “our religion/spiritual thinking can help” kind of sites.  I know that religion, philosophy, etc. can help people to gain a different viewpoint in order to start making decisions, but it’s not really fair to promise someone or expect them to use your specific rules as their own for making life decisions. It’s too group consciousness for me. I’d like to be able to have my own opinions and experience without first checking to make sure it’s ok.  Blah.

Then there were sites that promised “profound and life changing information” if you paid a price, or gave up your personal details, or etc etc etc.  There is always someone out there looking to make a buck on other people’s misfortunes.  I guess I learned that very well yesterday when someone ran off with my money.  I find these sites are similar to that creepy neighbor that is always willing to help you out if he can get into contact with you and make suggestive comments.  Uh, no thank you. I don’t feel like pimping my Depression out at this moment.

Of course, a lot of sites (and book, magazines, television shows, etc) offer tips and tricks on finding your purpose in this world.  This is kind of a multi-faceted issue.  First, you again have people whose goal it is to make money (or they’d be helping you find your purpose for free).  Then, you have people who, again, are using specific rules as defined by religions, philosophies, or just plain groups of people.  Finally, you have the whole “ten easy steps” thing.  If finding your purpose was that easy, we’d all know it by now and no one would feel depressed, lonely, suicidal, etc.  I guess that one’s a no-go too.

Come to think of it, this actually did me some good.  I guess I know that I don’t like to follow the crowd, understand that obtaining the important things in life takes time, and that it does not take money.  All you need is an open mind, a caring heart, and the willingness to make time for the things that actually matter.  Well blow me down, I had no idea this whole Google thing would actually work.  I wonder what happens when I Google “how to make a million dollars” ?

A Change of Mind

What I should be doing the most and want to do the least right now is to write.  Let me be clear, I love to write.  When I sit down with a plan of writing, I don’t have to come up with much of anything.  It seems as though the ideas just bleed out of my mind through my fingertips.  What could possibly be the problem, then?  I am unemployed.  As one does when they lose their job, I am looking at all possible ways to bring in extra income.  Why not with my writing?

Now that I know I have to write, I don’t want to do it.  This happened when I tried to sell my knitting and crochet, I didn’t want to do it anymore.  It begins to feel as if my very soul (if I ever had one in the first place) is being bled dry.  Whatever Depression I may have felt before I began this adventure in making money through my writing has done nothing but increase because of wanting to make money from writing.  Ah Paradox, you do make life interesting.

 

My idea for overcoming this is to strike down this Depression with the mighty hammer of routine.  Take that!  POW!

My plan, and so far it is just a plan, is to simply take my laptop and get off the couch.  I am going to walk across the block with laptop in tow and spend a few hours each day at the Library, writing.  I have a few online writing classes that I am planning on signing up for as well, to keep things more structured.

Planning is the key word here.  It truly does not matter how much planning I do if I never go through with any of it.  It’s the living and doing that matters and I find that my ideals of both are being challenged on a daily basis.  I am actually glad that I lost my job.  Say what?  Yes, glad that I lost my job.

My job was making me very sick.  Not just the poor air quality, but the poor management and sub par group of people (how dare I judge others based on their lack of education, good manners, and consideration for others!).  At any rate, it was awful.  I am glad to be rid of it but not so happy to struggle to pay bills.  However I do find that I now have different ideas about consumerism, reusing and recycling, and time management.  Living is different now, when one takes out the Almighty Dollar.  It’s kind of liberating.

I digress.  I need to start writing more so I may start posting more short stories or just plain gibberish about my day.  You have been forewarned.

Depression

This post is about mental illness and my own welfare.  If either of these things does not interest you, do not read on.  You have been warned.

peanuts_Psych

I have struggled with many forms of Depression and Anxiety in my life.  This current episode of Depression is something I have experienced before. It is not Major nor is it Chronic Depression.  I do not want to sit around and cry all the time, asking why people are so mean to me or why life is unfair.  Rather, I find myself wanting to yell at all the morons and I am having to keep my temperament in check.

When I hear other people who are talking about Depression, they describe it as a black, all encompassing abyss.. I have to stop myself from saying anything. Just like any other disease, there are different types of Depression (Chronic Depression aka Dysthymia, Major Depression, Atypical Depression, etc.).  I have experienced Major Depression in my lifetime and it did feel like a black, all encompassing abyss.  This time, however, it’s different.

This time, the Depression is not what one would refer to as clinical – it is “circumstantial”.  This is good and bad.  Good News: It will go away.  Bad News: Not soon enough.

The circumstances leading up to this episode of Depression include health problems, losing my job, and still not meeting those long ago set goals that have been looming over my head.  Add good old Seasonal Affective Disorder to the mix and you have a Depression just waiting to burst forth. However, I do not feel as though I am in some dark abyss.  Rather, I feel as though I am in a vat of quicksand.  Everything is much harder to do and seems to take much more energy.  My whole body aches and I simply “don’t want to”.  I must push myself in order to accomplish simple tasks such as taking a shower, getting dressed.. hell, even getting out of bed.  I find it far too easy to make excuses in order to not accomplish these things.

How do I overcome this?  I pretty much have to ride it out.  My saving grace is to work my hardest so that it does not get worse.  I do this by putting my energy and effort into pushing myself to stick to as much of a routine as possible.  Take that shower, get out of bed at a quasi-reasonable time, eat for heaven’s sake.  I try to not add anything new to my plate because this would surely be suicidal.  I would get a very temporary euphoric feeling from taking on something new, but when I do not continue with my new found goal, I will have more fodder to stay in bed.  “I can’t even do such and such a thing now, so why bother with anything at all?”

And that’s another thing.  Self talk.  When I am in a Depression I find that being more aware of my self talk is vital.  Not criticizing it, that is something altogether different.  Rather, I am simply aware of what I am saying to myself and the impact it is having.  “I don’t want to get out of bed, my whole body hurts, a few more minutes won’t be such a big deal.”  This type of thinking can become a vicious cycle.  Although that may seem like sound reasoning upon passing glance, it can start to devour other things.  “I don’t want to get out of bed to eat.. I am fat enough as it is, I don’t need to eat really.”  That is when I have a problem.  I try to prevent my self talk from getting to this point by addressing it in it’s beginning stages.  I get out of bed even though my mind and body are screaming at me to stay under the warm covers, snuggled next to my husband.

The odd thing I find is that when I get out of bed it continues.  There is not some magical awakening as if I have suddenly been pushed into a state of enthusiasm.  It’s strange because I almost expect this each and every time.  No, the Depression continues.  I must listen to my self talk to ensure that I eat breakfast, shower, don’t crawl back into bed, and watch my temper.  This constant mental regulation is exhausting in and of itself, so for another rule of Depression’s thumb, I try to do things to keep my energy up.  Rest but don’t go back to bed, drink a lot of water, eat healthy foods (don’t pig out on chocolate), and get some sunshine each day.  I find that when I am able to do these things, I can ride out the Depression and prevent it from getting worse.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because I haven’t been posting.  I haven’t really been doing much of anything.  Scratch that.  I’ve been keeping the house clean which is like climbing Mt.Everest when you are in an episode of Depression.  I’ve been keeping myself on a dietary and hygienic routine.  I’ve also been shuttling family around town.  In all honesty, having people to take care of has helped out a little bit.  I have a reason that I have to get out of the house.  If I don’t do it, these people can’t get to work or get to the store to get food.  It also makes me feel good, as if I am doing them some good.  And finally, they give me gas money.  Although I’m not making money because I usually get just enough to cover trip expenses, it feels like I am.  This does help that whole “lost job” thing a little bit.

All in all, I think I have this Depression thing down but I don’t want to count all those eggs just yet.  Cockiness can oftentimes land me in big trouble when it comes to these things.  I guess I am going to be riding this storm out for a little while so if you don’t hear much from me, I haven’t disappeared off the face of the Earth.  I’m just busy trying to get my ass in the shower.

You Might Have SAD If..

Oh my gosh, another SAD post?!  I just posted one the other day.  How dare I post two entirely different posts, with the exact same subject, and in such close proximity to one another.  I am going straight to Hell!  Actually, a nice place to visit in the Winter.

At any rate, yes this is another post about SAD so if you don’t like hearing about it, don’t read it.  Warning cited.

The weather in Ye Olde Timey Towne of the MidWest has gotten to be a little too Wintery for my tastes.  The sky is not full of clouds.  It is full of one, massive, all encompassing cloud that blocks out the sun and somehow still manages to give you a headache.  (Actually, what little rays of sunshine do poke through end up bouncing off the Earth, off the clouds, and back to the Earth again.  This can lead to cloudy days being somehow more difficult on the eyes than sunny ones.)  This giant mass o’ cloud has also decided to let the snow fly.  It’s not a lot of snow. In fact, if you blink you might miss it.  The only way I know it’s snowing is when I have to begrudgingly go out to my car to run another errand and there’s a teeny snow pile on my windshield wipers.  But it still counts so I’m going to exaggerate and complain about the snow.

This type of cloud formation makes my SAD act up something awful.  In nicer weather, it wouldn’t be quite as bad because I would be lulled outdoors by aromatic scents, gorgeous scenery, and warm breezes.  In the Winter, however, I am pushed even further into my cave by freezing temperatures, cold gusts, and barren landscapes.  A week or so of all this and it’s going to take a forklift to get me out of bed.  Not because of any weight I will gain, but just because I will refuse to budge.

With all this in mind, I have been noticing a lot of patterns developing about what is making my SAD so bad this time of year.  Listen up because this is definitely NOT groundbreaking in any way.  Just having a bit of fun.  Ahem.

You Might Have SAD If You..

  1. Sleep 10 hours and still complain about having to get out of bed in the morning.  The perfect comfy bed is a trap, I tell you!
  2. Don’t care if you eat or shower, you just want to stay in bed or on the couch.  I should add that you try to connive others into getting you food so you can keep your fat, SAD-ridden ass on the couch.
  3. Have a blanket that can now hold a crescent roll shape on its own from you being wrapped up in it so long.  I should sell them as sculptures.
  4. Have become a permanent fixture for you cats to climb and sit on.  They think I’m some new kind of neo-modern cat deco.
  5. Must rest after taking a shower, getting dressed, and putting your coat on in order to go outside.  Dude, it takes soooo much energy to just put my pants on.  Seriously.
  6. Walk out the door and promptly turn around.  Another dollar on that video won’t matter.
  7. Go through cycles of not eating and binging on junk food.  Especially ice cream.  Give me the ice cream or I’ll.. do nothing cuz I’m not kidding anyone, I’m too damned depressed to get off this couch right now.  Just give me the ice cream.
  8. Forget people’s names while talking to them, mid sentence.  I have seriously been doing this A LOT lately, at work to boot.  Who are you again?
  9. Finally get the oomph to do housework only to go into a lunatic rage about how filthy the house has gotten.  This uses all your oomph so you sit your fat ass back down.  I did this earlier. The dishes are still soaking in the sink.  Yeah.. they’re soaking.
  10. Have to do things specifically designed to keep you awake.  I find that video games helps a lot with this one.
  11. Last of all, you can’t crochet or knit because your brain is so fried from SAD that you can’t keep track of the stitches.  I have torn out my star pillow twice now.  I’m not sure when/if it will get finished.

It has been a while since I’ve had such a severe episode of SAD . I believe that a lot of it has to do with circumstantial stressors that I am going through right now.  You know, the usual: budget (or lack thereof), a crappy job, no social life, etc.  Last year, I was in school and that was a tremendous distraction.  I guess I need some deadline oriented tasks.  I was doing crochet on a deadline, but my carpal tunnel has begun to act up as of late.  I need to go back to school, but what for?

My options thus far are Human Resources (because the HR at my current place of employment is so abominable and because I have a partial HR-oriented degree), Medical Assistant (because my partial degree in Healthcare Admin with a focus in HR was medically oriented as well so maybe I could finish that part of it), or Certified Surgical Tech (because seeing the insides of people really intrigues me).  I was a Housekeeper at the local hospital for five plus years so seeing that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me.  I’ve seen far worse.  My brother just started dating this chicka who’s a CST and the stories are fascinating.  I would love to get paid to be able to do that. Then again, I’m not sure I want to go back into the healthcare field.  It is stressful in many, many ways and I’m not sure I’m up for it right now.  I am plagued by indecision!

I guess being plagued by indecision is one of the lesser plagues out there.  It definitely pales in comparison to the Ebola Virus.

 

Holidays, Hubby, and SAD

I didn’t do Thanksgiving this year.  I worked so that I could be sure to have a 40 hour work week, and the double time pay was an added perk.  It seems that my focus lately is more on making money than anything else.  It has caused a constant level of anxiety that is utterly exhausting.  It’s like one of those low level, throbbing headaches that is always in the background.  Only this is my nerves and I’m about to crack.

Speaking of money, we have decided to not do Christmas either.  We have each other and that’s more than enough for us.  There is absolutely no room what so ever for a tree in our tiny apartment.  We’re also afraid the cats would destroy it. I had planned on making a Mario themed Christmas tree, but physical and emotional exhaustion has taken over.  Maybe next year.

In it’s place, I plan on making a nice garland to hang on the walls and put some ornaments and photos of good times.  Reminding myself of all the blessings I have right now will help tremendously.  One of those blessings is my hubby.  I know, I know.  Start the gag fest, she’s getting mushy.  People can spend $20 a pop on a book about all kinds of sexual fetishes known the the free (and not so free) world, but don’t start talking about true, romantic intimacy or we’ll all gag!

Well get your rusty spoons out because here it comes.

My husband is awesome.  He is actually cooking dinner right now.  I told him I was going make a late Thanksgiving dinner of ham steak, mashed potatoes, and greens.  I haven’t been feeling well and he has this really sweet nurturing side so he has commandeered the kitchen.  Not that I mind one bit.

He also has a habit of getting the most awesome Birthday presents.  My birthday was in June and, at that time, I was working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I was tired all of the time and the only chance I got to see my husband was when I rolled over in the middle of the night and noticed him next to me.  I didn’t really expect anything for my birthday because I just didn’t have the time or energy to think about it.  He put together a wonderful surprise for me that I will never forget nor be able to top :).

I remember coming home and he was waiting in the living room with a kind of “I’ve been up to something” grin.  I asked him what was up, he said nothing.  He took my hand and led me into the bedroom where he had set up a tabletop easel, a few different types of sketch pads, a pencil kit, and various paints, paintbrushes, and other painting supplies.  I was flabbergasted.  I talked to him for a few months about wanting to get back into drawing and painting, but didn’t quite know where to start.  I now had my where.  It was awesome.

On a side note, I have used my paints a few times since then.  The exhaustion of work and money has literally drained the life right out of me, so I haven’t been able to use them as often as I would like.  I don’t even want to crochet or knit anymore.  Who cares if I can make just about anything under the sun?  I don’t feel like it right now!  I’m in one of my crawl under the blankets and sleep all day kinda moods.  The best thing to do when this happens, of course, is to get out from under the blanket and do something.  Like knitting, painting, walking, etc.  Just anything.  It really does not help having grey, cold clouds hovering over the town all day long.  Cue the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  I swear that they pay people to come up with these acronyms.

I can see it now.  Some overly-perky psychologists are talking about what to name this syndrome that they have discovered.  They’re all coming up with scientific names that just don’t “feel right”.  How about light deficiency disorder?  Naw, that would make too much sense and it just doesn’t roll off the tongue.  We need something more perky!  Never mind that we’re talking about Depression here or that the sufferers are the ones that truly discovered this damned thing.  If only the letters of every first word in the description could spell out something ironic.. like SAD.  What could we use to make those letters work?  Oh I’ve got it!  Seasonal Affective Disorder!  You’re so brilliant.  *pat on the back*

That’s some gag-fest worthiness right there.

What’s the lesson of this post?  Holiday spending is overrated.  Spend time with loved ones instead.  (This lesson is in there somewhere, I swear it is.  I did NOT just pull it out of my ass.)