Saturday, October 24, 2015

My brain can be a big mean butthole.

Phew. I was doing so well there for a bit. I've just been going through a less than chatty period. That sounds funny, and any of you who speak to me regularly know that doesn't pertain to face-to-face encounters. Just here. Not feeling like much of what is going on is worth talking about. Not feeling so proud of my lack of healthy habits. You are probably capturing my basic mood as of late - a bit down and out, if you will. I want to check in, though, maybe dump a little of my brain in your laps and let you sort it out for me?

First off, if this is your first time visiting my particular rodeo, you should know that my rodeo has scary, crazy clowns. The sad ones, who are afraid of ruining everything. Okay, this analogy really isn't working for me - I have depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I have been taking some kind of medication or another for 12 years, and for the most part, did fine. Three years ago, even with the medication, things started becoming difficult - I simply was not responding well to the medication, my insurance dropped the therapist I had been seeing, and things kind of sucked. One of my friends dragged me to a local boot camp a little over a year ago, and I started exercising a few times a week, eating better, drinking more water, losing some weight...(oh yeah, also have been obese for 20 years.) The regular exercise really helped me straighten out my brain, and I haven't had a panic attack or a major depressive episode in over a year. It was awesome, and, while I know better than to say, "hey, I feel great, I'm dropping the meds!" (that never works, people!), I did decide it was time to lessen the dosage a bit. I am on a rather high dosage of a strong medication, and, while I am not ashamed of it, well, I don't love being on it. I told my doctor, and he told me that was great, but he was not going to cut my prescription back, as he knew I would need to increase again. Give it a few months, he said. If I was still feeling great, he would cut it back.

I have too many people in my life who are right. Last weekend, some family stuff happened (nothing traumatic, just stressful to me,) and my response was less than healthy. Loud sobbing, lots of shaking anxiety, wanting to crawl under the table and hide. You know, the way everyone should respond to stress. Could you imagine how much Congress would accomplish if they handled stress the way I do? Oh, wait...

Yeah. No kidding. Unfortunately, I can't separate my head from my self.
Anyway, I started thinking about how little I have been exercising lately. Boot camp once a week, if I'm doing well, a few walks here and there, but very little.

Healthy habits are difficult to maintain for the best of us, but when you have depression, you're heaping a big, sad, pile of crap on top of it. It feels like it, anyway...getting out of bed early sucks, but getting out of bed, talking to people, not huddling under a blanket in the corner, rocking, with your head in your really hard. Is, like, the hardest thing in the world. Which leads me to think that maybe reducing my meds lately was not the best idea, at least reducing my meds when my routines were thrown off. Looking back over the past few months, I realize I have been feeling a kind of low grade depression - nothing I couldn't handle, but just a general sadness, that was making it harder and harder to get myself moving, make healthy food, getting off my butt to refill my water...

Here's the big, glinty, double-edged sword, friends. When you're depressed, you don't want to get up and move. Like, something is heaped on top of you, and every move you make is like swimming through molasses in sub-zero weather. But moving is what helps fight the depression. Kind of a fun little irony there, amiright?

So, what works? How do you deal?

Honestly, I find there are only two things that really work. A friend of mine was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago. Her tendency was to withdraw, so her doctor told her to do the exact opposite of what her brain told her to do (in that case,) and I find that to be a great help when I am dealing with a depressive episode. Because, once you have pushed yourself beyond that comfort zone, it is easier to keep moving. The other thing that helps is routines. Honestly, nothing is more important when you have issues with mental illness than routines. I don't know if the disordered brain just needs the structure, or if being able to just "go through the motions" makes it easier to function with depression, but when I have routines in place, and I have been sticking to them, I feel calm and put together in a way I never can otherwise.

I realize this may sound like common sense to many of you, but some will understand where I am coming from, and those who don't have the same problems, may be able to understand the struggle a little more.

My sister showed this to me and it is my new favorite.
Ok, so my point to all of this is that I have been struggling. I've let my routines fall apart, stopped moving, started eating more garbage, and it is feeling a lot more like my old depression is interfering with my life again. So, it's time to force myself to do the opposite of what I am compelled to do (crawl back in bed, hide my head under my covers, curl up and cry.) Work hard to reestablish that exercise habit. I've felt so good this past year - I need to get back to that point.

I have other things to share - yesterday I got to meet the Bloggess, which was very cool, and spend some time with my prima, but I wanted to finish this first. Please, if you suffer depression and/or anxiety, or any other mental illness, you are not alone. There are many of us, and we are here for you. Maybe we can encourage and support each other.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Aversion therapy and my cursed mouth

(Read the word "cursed" with two syllables, please, as that is how I am thinking it. It is so much more ominous that way.)

I just took a walk with a friend this morning, which got the ol' brain juices flowing. If I don't post it now, I'll lose it, and that would just be so very sad.

Last night I went out to dinner with some of my favorite people. Admittedly, I have a lot of favorite people, most of whom are females. Isn't that funny? When I was younger, I always considered myself a "one of the guys" girls, and proud of it, but now, most of my favorite friends are female. I said most, Michael, shoosh, you are one of my favorites, and you are invited to my Golden Girls house, too. Anyway, so I went to dinner with these favorite women, and they really are probably 3 of my Golden Girls (this house had better be big, I have a list, and 9 of them really must live there. What a lucky ducky I am, to have so many wonderful people to love!)

Seriously, now, it's time to get to the point. Two of the women are pregnant right now. This is very exciting, for several reasons, but mainly because they have had to overcome some pretty difficult obstacles to becoming pregnant, and I am so very happy for them. Obviously, the pregnant girls should get the floor when we are chatting. So why, oh sweet readers, do I still feel the need to dominate the conversations? Adding my own little stories to everything? I love these people, and truly, I want to hear what they have to say. Why can't I be a better listener?

I am reading Night Shift by Stephen King right now. It is a book of short stories, written when he was much younger and a lot more disgusting, to tell the truth. The Grey Matter story - just, ew. Anyway, one of the stories I read yesterday described a gentleman who was trying to quit smoking. The program he went to used a rather extreme form of aversion therapy to help people quit. I won't say anything more about the story, but since this habit I have of trying to contribute my own anecdotes to every topic has bothered me for a long time. Perhaps a shock collar, delivering shocks of increasing intensity the more I babble, would help? I will give the remote to S, who is very level-headed, and will keep me honest.

So, why do I do this? Again, I swear it's not because I believe I am so interesting. I think the answer is two-fold (says the queen of self-analysis.) First, I was not exactly in the popular crowd in school. I have some self-esteem issues. Perhaps, my need to share something of myself for every topic discussed stems back to a need to belong: "See? I understand! I'm like you! Please let me join your club!" As many wonderful people as I have in my life right now, I still have dreams at night where people I love are conspiring to leave me behind. These dreams occur at least once a week. Seriously, why did I quit therapy? Anyway, so this is a likely reason. I just got used to trying to belong (never really worked), and it became deeply ingrained habit.

Second reason? I really just like to talk. This is not news. I have a blog so I can talk whenever I want. Every time someone indicates that they read this blog, I get a fresh jolt of excitement, "people are reading what I have to say! No matter how inane!"

So people I love? I am fairly certain you all know this, or you would not continue to hang out with me, but I really don't think my stories are more interesting than your's. And you can tell me to shut up while you finish your freaking story. I really just want to remind you that I get you. And I really just love to talk. Also, S, be careful with my shock collar.

So, health-wise, I don't really have much to add - last week, I gained a horrible amount of weight because I ate everything. Also, I went out to dinner with another group from my Golden Girls house on Friday night, the night before I weighed in, and I ate pretty much everything the restaurant served, plus beer. This week, I've done some better (last night aside), and I have worked out twice thus far, including a lovely, very brisk walk this morning. I feel fairly certain I'll have a loss this week, but I'll check in this weekend to tell you.

Now I have to go to work. I have 13 freshman girls coming in to my office this morning, for whom I am responsible. I ran out of half and half for my coffee, and I had to use milk, which is just not satisfying. But the weather is fall-like, and I have a very good audio book going, and an exciting volleyball game to look forward to, so Happy Thursday!