Drowning

I sat down to start this post and it was going to be about what I missed posting yesterday about my day. In a very short space of time my mood has taken a drastic swing from the hopeful things are going well to what’s the point in trying. The reason? Chemicals and hormones… I have been exhausted all night which  put pay to my original ideas of getting on top of the house or getting back on the treadmill.

Its been a bit of an average day, work is the usual amount of stressful and frustrating. But I’ve been feeling physically tired for a good few days and I guess I just hit the mental side of the exhaustion coin.

I haven’t made my lunch for tomorrow, tea was just fish rather than something well rounded and tbh I’ve barely drunk enough except tea at my desk through the day to keep myself awake (yeah I know I was cutting down on caffeine, I was also not going to go to KFC but I’m just a hypocrite aren’t I).

I could go on… right now I hate myself… I’ve procrastinated, I’ve been lazy and self indulgent and let go of my self care and I’m not even on the two week mark. I am exhausted and I’m not sure if I would rather scream and punch the wall or curl up in a ball and cry. I’m a walking ball of negative energy and let me tell you it sucks.

BUT “Never let a stumble in the road be the end of your journey”

I saw this awhile ago on facebook, I don’t remember who posted it. Right now I am stumbling… I have stumbled before and I will again…right now I’ve lost the energy to fight and I’ve grown exhausted from trying.

I’ll probably still be tired tomorrow, it takes a little time to claw the energy back but the important thing isn’t when we fall down, it is that we get back up at all. 

I’m not going to stay down. I’ll get my fight back, just not tonight… so I don’t need to beat myself up about it. I’m just low right now, nothing to be ashamed of or worry about and it doesn’t make me weak… I am just not as strong right now.

I’d love to hear back from people about what you do to get your fight back when you’ve feel like your lying on the ground.

Most times in life, I keep putting one foot in front of the other and at some point realise its not as bad anymore and I’m not feeling as dark without ever understanding the mechanism behind it.

Looking Back, Forward and Now

Another mixed bag day, its not all that surprising really, life is like that. No day is perfect and no road to recovery is a straight line. When the changes are small and subtle they take awhile to build up and we can get frustrated with it. With any luck it will be two steps forward, one step back not the other way around. And some periods in our lives are just easier than others, for example I know that once this big project at work gets past development things will settle down a bit.

Random Acts of Kindness

You should see something in the featured image that really gave me a reason to smile today. A present was left on my desk by a work friend and now gets to sit smiling at me while I am at my desk. I was goofy happy and ended up hugging my colleague in the middle of the office :P.

For those that don’t know, this is Totoro from the Studio Ghibli film ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ and it is one of the things we most share in common, along with a love of cats. My all time favourite is ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’ and this was my gateway into Japanese anime as a child. I picked up the hobby of watching anime in a move that I suppose could be called self care, nurturing a hobby that makes me feel good and bringing friends together. I have a group of a dozen or so other anime fans and we meet up once a month or so and share a couple of episodes of different series.

I’ll call it half on half off topic, but either way it is a fun thing to think about and lightens my mind when I think about it, and now I have a poster at work to remind me when I need moment to look away. Never underestimate the value or effect of a random act of kindness, support from colleagues or friends can go a long way and be such a life saver. If you don’t have that at the moment maybe you can find a random act of kindness of your own to guide the way.

Things to look forward to

So since September I have been taking a part time Japanese course, we are planning on our second trip out there next year. Having something like that holiday to look forward to can really help give me a light even if its far away I can see it there in the distance. I know Japan isn’t something everyone can afford, for me it’s my reward for the high pressure, high stress job that I do. But there must be little victories that you can look forward to, even if its just a long weekend in the lakes for some fresh air and walking or just a calm weekend of doing nothing at all.

It has however added a lot of stress keeping up to it with everything else going on in life so sadly we are not taking the next class until the next academic year in 2019 to get other things done in the meantime. My partner wants to do online courses to switch from control systems to software and I want time to write my novel and make a real consistent go of it. I have a lifelong dream to accomplish, I made the first going to Japan and being dressed as a Geisha (who is an artist NOT a prostitute). We can’t do everything and rather than try we are being smart and prioritising. We don’t have to do everything at once, in fact its probably better that way.

Things to look back on

It occurs to me at this point in my post that while it is important to have things to look forward to it can also be important to look back on certain events. They don’t all have to be positive, just moments in life were you learned a valuable lesson you need to keep with you as you go forward in life, that will help you achieve your goals.

Living in the now

At the same time, we don’t want to keep living in the past or always looking to the future, this is where a practice called Mindfullness can come in handy. It is all about living in the moment, accepting who you are, where you are and how you feel, what you think. Accepting it and moving with it without judgement, guilt or ridicule. I’ve chucked in some links below to give you an idea. There is also a great app called Headspace that can help with this.

https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/mindfulness/#.Wt-bXMgvyHs

If you just aren’t the meditation type the very simplest way to bring yourself into the moment is so focus exclusively on your breathing. I have used this many times to ward of an anxiety attack or come back from hyperventilating. You find a quiet spot and you count your breaths, focus on the length of your breath, slow it down, extend it. Set a pace and make sure you spend more time breathing out than in. I can’t give you a guarantee but it works for me.

Should, Need, Want

So I’m drifting a bit on the food portion of self care and I know I am not really bulking up the sleep side as well as I should. There is that word… should… it can be an evil burrowing little word that whittles away at our sense of self worth. I should be pretty, I should be intelligent, I should be skinny, I should be feminine, I should be better than this… it puts pressure and stress on your every thought and action.

Other words that can have a large impact are need and want, they also often get mis-used. We need to eat, to sleep, to have time to relax… we want to have a career, to make that film at the cinema. Just basic examples but it can be very important, it puts focus and importance on something. Sure for good self care we should do things we want as well but we need to do the basic items of making our bodies run.

On that note… I get up for work at 6am and want to try and get 8 hours of potential sleep time which means being in bed and winding down to sleep by 10pm… It’s quarter past now so goodnight 🙂

Dark & Light

So… what a Monday… bit of a disclaimer on this one as I after some to and fro-ing about whether I should am going to include references to my sex life and how my mental health/medication have been affecting this. I’ll mark up that section so you can not read it if you don’t want that kind of detail (I mean I won’t describe positions or anything 😛

As the title leans towards… today started very dark and looks to be ending on a much brighter, happier, prouder manner.

Waking up empty

This was a hard morning, one of my worst. Me and the partner had an upset late Sunday when my stupid brain starting feeling all inferior and pathetic and I apologised for being the lame me that I am. This acted like a trigger and after many tears neither of us really knowing what to say we finally got to sleep. (More will be explained later in this blog, the part with the disclaimer)

So you can imagine I woke up feeling pretty miserable… the best thing in my life was on the rocks and I just didn’t see the point of starting my day, it didn’t matter. I lay moving just enough to keep killing my repeating alarm until my husband forced me to get up and go shower for work. It worked, and turned me away from calling in sick and just lying there stopped, stuck. I was still sure I would be useless today but I’d get my ass there anyway.

Muddling through the day

So I was exhausted and I muddled trying to get through a task I knew nothing about. It wasn’t one of my best days. I’d missed my chance to make lunch so I had to go out for something… I narrowly avoided comfort eating at KFC then picked up a tub of cocktail sausages in Tesco (not much better but cheaper certainly).

Things picked up after lunch because I got angry, it is amazing what a bit of anger can do for your energy levels. Anger feels better than the despondence and frustration, but that’s a dangerous road and I’ve seen a friend go down it and not come back. Either way it got me through the rest of the day till home time.

Feeling good about my look

So I had a haircut today, to reshape my new short look. I’d left it a little long to mess about with it while I decided my preferred style. Turns out I am a sweep to the left kind of girl. So now the foibles are fixed and its cut for the way I want it and I can re-adjust and feel good about myself. I also did some nail care so that they aren’t bitten, ratty and messy. It is very hard for me to leave my nails alone but it does make me feel better about myself when they don’t look mangled.

Disclaimer: Sex Life – if you skip this bit just read the last bit in bold 🙂

So the usual thing after a haircut is a shower, I decided pre-shower that I’d do a bit more visual self care and shave. It is tidy and clean and I feel better about it, but I did two areas I don’t usually do and for different reasons. I used the trimmer on my upper lip… now I don’t know if you notice, if it bothers you or if you are lucky enough to avoid it but… women can have a moustache too… it is usually pale and wispy but occasionally part of mine goes darker and it drives me insane… so I randomly decided to tidy it up. I also did my legs, just with the trimmer not a wet shave, just because I thought I’d see how I felt about it.

Queue shower… and as I do I think in the shower. I had thought a bit about it in the morning too but it came around again. Now… I don’t love sharing this part of my life but it is linked into the way I feel and my mental state along with today’s recovery. It isn’t something I am going to bring up a lot and I am most definitely not here to write erotica.

So, most people are aware what depression and medication can do to your libido. Couple that with a largely self esteem based anxiety and a partner with a high sex drive. I can’t say it has been easy these last 5 years and my husband is a saint he really is. I’ve often worried he will get sick of my long off periods and go find someone who wants it all the time and without the potential for upset. This is in fact one of the things that had me with racking tears while he held me until they subsided while I babbled apologies and told him this fear. “That will never happen” words I needed to hear.

So, its been awhile… I’ve been anxious about how I look and depressed so sex became outside my comfort zone. I’m sure many people can relate to this, and you know how comfort zones can be. Moments of intimacy cuddling and kissing were longed for and restorative but if it ramped up my brain froze, I was going to be clumsy and ridiculous and what if I had trouble and this and that… worry, endless worry that led me every time to wind down the situation again.

This is the dyke that broke Sunday night, I was apologising for being me and being rubbish with sex etc. It brought a painful and often skirted set of feeling to the front in both of us and then add into that the guilt of us both feeling guilty for upsetting the other. So I stood in the shower and I thought all this through and I formulated a plan. What facts did I know:

  • he wants to have sex with me
  • he finds me beautiful even if I don’t
  • he knows it may be clumsy, it doesn’t bother him
  • he knows I might struggle, he just wants me to try

What I didn’t know really is why with the man I have loved for nearly 8 years and been married to for nearly a year did I feel the need to save face and be smooth and sexy all the time. Why did I let the prospect that it might be a bit clumsy and messy destroy an intimacy he needed and I often desired. There is probably more to it than this, I’ve never fully understood where the anxiety came from.

So, I put on some nice underwear and a silk house gown and when he got back home I told him that I’d promised him I’d try before, but there were things better than promises… and the rest was really fun if a little awkward… but nothing bad happened when it was clumsy… fancy that.

We both feel better, it may not have been smooth but it was a connection we haven’t had in some time and a ray of hope for that side of my life to come back.

I can probably go to bed tonight and sleep with a smile on my face despite everything else going to pot around me, I know we are going to be okay and I can be proud that I got around an anxiety that has been holding me for some time.

Chores & Hellos

The Chore

Today has been a bit of a doing day… and it has reminded me how much self-care can feel like a chore, an unwanted daily task we should complete. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes you start off fine and then you get half way through and wonder why you started. Sometimes you just can’t get started at all… that can be fine… for a time… but you always need to pick back up and then its even harder because you let it go for awhile.

Today we got the kitchen straight, went shopping for food, did a wash load of clothes each and cooked a nice Sunday lunch. We spaced this out with some TV and gaming at intervals for downtime. So all in all a positive self care day but at the same time I’ve resented it in parts. I still need to put tomorrows lunch together so I don’t end up doing it last minute in the morning (again).

Balancing life can be frustrating, the world moves at 100miles an hour and if we don’t move with it we can be left behind… but is it a bad thing to move at your own pace? I’ve been making a lot of general sweeping statements about how I feel and what I know of depression but it is always important to find your own balance and your own pace. When I write these entries I always want to write everything in my brain at once and have to slim down to just one process.

We need to sleep, shower, shave, brush our teeth, comb/dry our hair, put our makeup on, make sure we have breakfast, make sure we drink, make sure we have lunch, make sure we have tea. We have to go to work, focus on our job and then we socialise and spread ourselves out even further. Each thing by itself is probably fine, but it sounds like a lot… doesn’t it? Fitting it all in can feel like playing tetris until the most tedious activity is dropped… self care.

I wanted to sit and game today, but I had to keep stopping, getting up and looking after things. Gaming has its own aspect of self care but only when rationed and not just used as a method for procrastination from something that needs doing. I do wonder when an entertainment activity is nurturing to our minds, when it is just filling a vacuum of time or when we are using it as an excuse to ‘relax’ and get nothing sustaining done.

Social Thoughts

Something that has popped up on facebook today has had me thinking a lot. It should be visible as the feature image. People can be terrified to say hello to their friends, many of us are trapped in the sensation that we aren’t good enough to be contacted or its not our place to force ourselves on friends. We think if friends haven’t contacted us then they mustn’t want to be our friends or talk to us, maybe we did something wrong or they just feel sorry for us.

If you relate so this, you are probably like me, the kind of person who finds it hard to understand why people like them. I am detachedly aware that I am a nice person, I look after my friends and pay attention to their needs as and when I can and support them whenever possible. I can be smart and witty but I can also be the most dense person that ever exists… but am I really interesting? Why would people want to spend their precious time with me anyway? Sound familiar?

Even if it doesn’t there’s probably been the paranoia moment trying to decide why someone hasn’t answered a message or if you should even send one out. You haven’t seen a friend in awhile so you want to say hi, but maybe its been too long? Would you have anything to talk about anymore? Or the reverse of you only saw them yesterday so would saying something now be seen as smothering? Then you want to be clear your not trying to smother them an end up on some verbal diarrhoea loop about how not smothering you are being and guess what… self fulfilling prophecy.

I’m not sure myself where the right balance is, we all have busy lives, it may take awhile to get a message back. We don’t need to suddenly run off in our heads and think the worst. I always appreciate a friend saying hello, it means they are thinking of me. I’ve seen a message and meant to reply to it then noticed it unanswered days later. It doesn’t mean I care any less for that friend just that I was busy when the message came in. At one point I would be freaked if my partner didn’t text me back and I’d think they’d crashed the car etc etc… but I’ve (mostly) gotten over that. The chances of the big bad are very low and if we expect it all the time we are only going to wear ourselves thin.

I could go no forever on this one so I’ll probably stop there. Hopefully it will at least do for you what it did for me today, seeing just how widespread this belief is and how fallible it is. My parting statement is to just say Hi, worst can happen is they are busy and don’t see it but you might just reconnect.

Work

Here we go again… it is Sunday night, the dreaded Monday looms like an evil Goliath before us… bad self care award. That is what springs straight to mind for a lot of us right? There has to be a way to turn this way of thinking around. I’m not sure what it is yet but it is out there… the backup is always apathy. If you don’t care about work it can;t stress you out, you just go and earn your money. It works for some people, but I always think too much and care too much. especially about the wrong things.

Anger and Talking

So I’ve had a weird one today.

My day started out in a way my days very rarely start out, I was comfortable in bed and didn’t want to wake up or get up so I spent a good couple of hours drifting in and out while my other half buzzed about the house. The poor self care downside of this was I didn’t have breakfast but I got the nearest I get to a relax so win, right?

Anger

But there’s been this thing bubbling under the surface the last few days, an anger that just wanted a reason to let loose. It is normally a one day hormonal response just before my period (sorry guys I said a bad word :P), but this had been hanging around since Thursday. I think its some kind of reaction to the medication increase as it has been a progression from detachment, to apathy, to frustration and then anger through the week but the anger wasn’t abating if anything it was ramping up.

Nothing needed to be wrong I’d just find anything at all to be angry about and if there was no stimulus I’d pick a memory. I could sit there and see how ridiculous it was and I’ve been trying to control my responses a lot the last few days as I’ve been aware of this impulse.

The strange thing was the way I managed to release from this feeling and I don’t entirely understand it. I sat down with my partner and said we need to talk about something (nearly scared the life out of him 😦 ). So I told him how I was feeling and that I wasn’t sure what to do about the fact that it was just ramping up, he’d noticed as he isn’t an idiot and confided that he’s been having similar troubles with getting unreasonably angry. We spent awhile talking it through and when we finished and moved on with our day I came to realise that that build up and feeling that had been with me was just… gone?

Communication Pt2

Now the above would indicate that I am completely right in my earlier post about how important communication is to mental health and relationships; However I have talked with a good friend of mine who always managed to show me the other side of the coin. If we pressure people into communicating and nag them about it there will be a detrimental effect on that persons mental health. Also recognising in a friend when they don’t have the ‘spoons’ or mental energy to deal with other people right now, forcing communication on them at this point can leave them feeling pressured and hounded.

I still believe that you should be open and honest and communicate well about how you feel, BUT I do need to take into account that not everyone is as able to communicate. Also using there words you can set up a feeling of “‘Talk to me or you’ll make my anxiety worse” scenario without ever meaning to.

I’m sure we’ve had those moments where we try and contact someone and they don’t answer and our brains go off imagining all the worst things that could happen. They are usually just busy, or have their own shit going on but our brains can tell us they must be upset with them and then we want to touch base even more and keep messaging… STOP. I struggle with this balance myself, I’m learning to leave alone and give someone room to get their spoons back. With this same friend, if I know they aren’t doing well rather than ask how they are doing and pressure them for an answer I just send them a picture I think they’ll like, and they know I am thinking of them.

Dependence on Medication

There is always more in our heads than we can ever talk about. Today I got through one of the things I have been needing to process for awhile now. I was sat talking with my partner and a sentiment that has been shared before came up “It will be nice when you can start coming off the drugs again.” and it made me stop and pause. It collided in my head with something the HR lady said at work about that no one was pressuring me to come off anti-depressants.

I’ve always had a plan in my mind for getting better and coming off the drugs, its been my constant companion. I’ve never wanted to be dependant on something mind altering that I have to keep remembering to pick up and take. But, and you may disagree, I don’t think this is a thing I need in my mind right now. So you know what my response was? “But I’m not planning on coming off them anymore, I need them. At some point I may feel I don’t and we’ll deal with it, but for now I’ve no plan to come off them.” Paraphrasing as my memory sucks but still you get the point.

Medication, self care, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness or transactional analysis are all just tools that we use to combat the way the modern world makes us feel. We shouldn’t discard any tools that can help us because of a stigma in our heads that we can’t even explain. You wouldn’t tell a diabetic to stop taking insulin so why ask a depressed person to come off anti-depressants?

Lessons and Ideas

Blogging

I seem to have picked up a few followers so my blog can’t be all that bad thus far, thank you anyone that reads and especially those that hit like. On that note I love getting likes, meaning people are reading but part of the idea was to get people talking together and feeling less alone. Just reading can do that but don’t be afraid to comment 🙂 and I am @Bexini on twitter if anyone wants to message outside of word press.

So this is mostly covering a couple of days as I didn’t get a reasoned post out yesterday evening but Powerless and Rocking were some very adhoc stream of consciousness posts I did to help clear my head yesterday. They didn’t seem to take off compared to my other posts and that left me feeling a little disheartened but its bound to happen, hell I could have been writing all week without anyone noticing.

So an important part of this blog is reviewing my self care, why I fail or win and how to improve:

Bad Self Care Points

  • I’ve not been organising my lunches very well so I’ve ended up rushing them in the morning and being stressed about making it to work on time, not the best start to the day.
  • I have also been letting my bedtime slip later even though I know a good solid sleep  will set me up in better stead for the next day.
  • I’ve also not gotten past chapter 4 of the self care project despite the impact the first 4 had on me.
  • Not sure if this is bad self care or just a bad week but it counts as a negative – I have been having  a lot of trouble with getting frustrated and angry very quickly and it is taking  a lot of effort not to let this hurt those around me.

Good Self Care Points

  • kept up making my healthy lunches
  • kept up with the blog
  • got back on the treadmill today despite the heat and exhaustion
  • spent time getting the house tidy and organised
  • made it to the kitty cafe and my writing group

What has been stopping me?

  • I’ve been exhausted since Monday, it seems to come and go with my mood to a degree. This coupled with very sore legs meant I couldn’t exercise more earlier in the week.
  • I’ve had a stress headache on and off for a good portion of the week, even when I don’t have the headache I can feel my scalp. I’ve been doing heat packs and head massages but its just been coming back again.
  • I’ve been feeling detached and yet distraught which has left me kind of confused about what to do with myself. I think this is the increase in my medication settling in but I guess we’ll see how it pans out next week as I am starting to feel more alert again.
  • I’ve certainly not gotten any better at relaxing or winding down properly in the evening, or maybe I just wind up very very fast.

Lessons Learned from the Week

  • Maybe TMI but, my digestive system is certainly appreciating the improved diet with healthier movements and such – some benefits are being masked by whatever is causing the exhaustion I believe.
  • I need to focus on my hydration levels more now that my food habits are improving to keep my system balanced.
  • I need to get back into a good sleeping pattern, to aid this I am going to seriously restrict my caffeine intake if not remove it all together to no caffeine of any kind after 2pm
  • I think I need to pick up meditation again and give myself a chance to detach from the stress and let my body unwind. ( I use this app https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app )

It hasn’t been an easy week, or perhaps even a good week. My build up of self care is still very much in progress but that’s just it… it is progress. It doesn’t matter how small the step is if it takes you in the right direction. No one ever said self-care is easy in fact when you get beyond the basics of physical self care that I am currently focusing on it can get really damn hard. After all, who really likes looking at themselves that closely?

Also its starting to feel sunny and alive out in the big wide world. I spotted blossoms today and there are leaves back on some of the trees :). Just need to remember sun lotion, doh!

I am also trying to move at a steady sustainable pace with my improvements. I have put a lot of balls in the air this week and until I can juggle them with confidence I shouldn’t try and add anymore. We all want to be better now, but overloading ourselves isn’t the way to do it in fact a lot of the time we need to reduce the load and focus on doing less things well.

But that’s just what I think, what about you?

Rocking

Today I want to sit in a corner hug my legs and rock. The realisation that right now a simple task can leave me feeling panicked and overwhelmed is… well overwhelming. I feel tight right in my centre and I can feel that need for tears ready to leap up and take over again.

I also feel a little like I am sitting back and watching myself feel this way. I am detached but distraught which makes very little sense to me but since when did emotions make sense? It is probably my mind vs the drugs what my body wants to do vs what the meds are letting it do.

Im afloat on the ocean again without a paddle or so much as a piece of wood from which to let DiCaprio freeze to death. A week of self care and I think the main difference is a better understanding of the whats and why’s of how I am feeling but I haven’t worked on improving my coping mechanisms yet.

But walking away is no solution, neither is stopping in my tracks. I need to find my dinghy and a paddle and get moving sure it will be in circles for awhile but eventually I’ll get some momentum. But I know as you do, it won’t be an easy journey and I don’t have a map to get there yet.