Current Thoughts on my Current State

I have been feeling the urge to really make a dent in my memoir lately. However, that has been difficult as my day-to-day life is pretty intense these days. That is not to say that I have some sort of wild social life and am traipsing all over the city having fun all the time. It’s intense in the sense that I have a lot of stressful things coming up. Again. No surprise there, I guess.

Not the least of which is my July CIP exam week. It now includes writing three exams, as I have to rewrite one of my exams from last semester. I failed one of them by a narrow margin in April, and wanted to get the rewrite out of the way as soon as possible. I signed up to rewrite in July…after I already enrolled myself in two new courses. Smart, right? I thought so initially, but now I’m not so sure. It’s the middle of May and I am already studying. I do not want to make the same mistake I did last time. I am determined to pass all three. The good news is, that after passing these three exams, I will only have one course left to complete before I earn my CIP designation. It is very exciting, as it will have been almost three years in the making. Needless to say, I will be taking a break from schooling again for awhile… I feel like I deserve it at this point!

Okay, now that’s out of the way, back to the writing thing. I have a prologue for my memoir! It felt like a huge accomplishment to get the words down. It goes along with the introduction I worked on over the winter. The first 1500 words of my book are out there. Out there being, of course, in a word document saved on my laptop. It’s not out there publicly, and it will likely be quite awhile before it is. It has been shared with a few trustworthy friends at this point, and I am keeping it that way for now. I met with a friend to get feedback on it tonight even. It was a nice confidence boost. I feel ready to write more, but I also am drawing a blank on material. This is the reason I spent so long preparing for this process, but it’s no less frustrating. I will continue with the writing again. Of that, I am sure.

The good news through all of this is that I am in a great mood. I mean, sure I am tired a lot still, but in the grand scheme of things I am in good place overall mentally. It has been a pretty nice change from what felt like the norm. So, crazy busy, but mentally doing better than I have in awhile. Bring on the writing! …Soon…

My “creative director”

 

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It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

It’s easy to admit to yourself when you’re struggling. It’s another story all together when you admit to someone else how hard your day-to-day life really is. Showing weakness in itself talks its toll. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do when you’re an adult.

But here’s the thing:

You are not alone. You may feel like you are, but you’re not.

Everyone struggles in one way or another, and more of us struggle with our personal mental health than you may expect.

Don’t be afraid to reach out. There will always be someone there to help. There are resources available to you if you’re struggling. You won’t be judged for reaching out for help when you need it, even if it’s just calling a friend.

The good days usually outnumber the bad, but you don’t need to pretend the bad days don’t exist.

If you suffer from depression, mediocre days may be the norm. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to have some better days…or maybe even good days. Maybe therapy will do the trick. Or maybe medication. Or maybe even a combination of both. It’s ALL okay. Fantastic even. Trying to help yourself is never a bad thing. In truth, it’s a really great thing.

* * * *

I was officially diagnosed with depression in the form of Persistent Depressive Disorder (also known as Dysthymia) in the fall of 2014. My therapist noted that it gets worse depending on the season. I was also diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, trichotillomania and excoriation disorder (also know as dermotillomania or skin picking disorder). Most of these conditions are co-morbid, meaning they occur together. I saw a therapist weekly for about a year and a half before she discharged me. I have used the tools I learned while working with her ever since.

During the spring and summer of 2016, I fell into a deep depressive episode, and it got to the point where I went to see my family doctor. It also took some prompting from friends and family, because I am pretty sure I was in denial. But I made the appointment and my doctor and I agreed that the best course of action was antidepressant medication. I have been on it since August 2016. I now stand by the fact that starting medication saved my life. It also improved my overall mood level, by improving the baseline I operated at emotionally.

It is important to understand that medication does not cure depression. It only makes it easier to manage on a day-to-day level. This has made a huge different for me in my overall life. My depressive episodes have evolved from contemplating suicide pre-medication to lots of cry and having to talk to someone. While I do still have bouts of suicidal ideation, it’s not something I would ever actively or consciously consider. I really do love my life and the people in it.

All of this is leading up to my most recent episode, which culminated in an emotional breakdown. I’ve felt pretty low emotionally for awhile, even though some exciting things have happened. Back in September I went to the doctor and we increased my medication dosage.  It has helped, but the winter is always especially difficult for me. I struggle the most in the darkness of winter and the humid heat of summer. Earlier this week I was feeling under the weather and it triggered an emotional breakdown. I was feeling like crap and I needed a hug. Unfortunately, since I live alone, there was really no one around or available to give me the hug and physical contact I needed. This led to an overwhelming sense of feeling and being alone. This was when the uncontrollable crying started. I just couldn’t stop. I knew I needed to talk to someone. I couldn’t work through the emotions all by myself. For this, I turned to my closes friends. I messaged them and they were able to help me start working through what was happening and to start making healthy decisions to recover. I also asked my closest local friend to call me as soon as she was able. She talked with my for close to an hour. She listened. She was a rational voice, and ultimately she helped me stop crying. We also made arrangements to meet the following day.

While I didn’t sleep very much or well that night, I no longer felt alone. I appreciated all the friends I reached out to for support so incredibly much. None of them judged me. They each showed me nothing by love and compassion and support, which was exactly what I needed at the time. In general, this is what can be expected from your loved ones. There are only rare exceptions. And here I am, a few days later, and in a better place mentally and emotionally. Reaching out allowed me to work through it and come out feeling better than before. In fact, I was able to return the favour to a dear friend this weekend, which I would not have been able to do without the help and support I received before.

* * * *

For those of your who are struggling locally and are unsure of where to turn, here are some available resources in the are:

CMHA Middlesex – 519-668-0624

CMHA Walk-In Crisis Centre – 519-434-9191

WAYS Mental Health Support (Youth-focused) – 519-432-2209

London Mental Health Crisis Service – 519-433-2023

Ontario Mental Health Helpline – 1-866-531-2600

You Know Something’s Wrong When…

The world we are living in is a very difficult one to live in. On one hand we are surrounded by SO MANY great and beautiful things like friends, family, nature, the freedoms we enjoy – but on the other hand we are dogged by some of the ugliest things. Racism and bigotry are very much alive and well. Violence is everywhere we turn. Extremists of all kinds seek to dismantle all that we have worked hard to achieve as a society. This is becoming especially apparent with our southern neighbours, the U.S., based on recent events.

I have been struggling a lot with my depression this summer in and of itself, but watching events unfold around the world, mostly in the U.S. since Donald Trump was elected president, has been profoundly disheartening and has had a negative effect on my mental health overall. It has added to what has felt like a gradual spiral dive turned crash and burn into the ground. My mental health is in the shitter. My anxiety is at a 2-year peak, and my depression is the worst it has been since I went on medication approximately a year ago. I realize part of it is seasonal, part of it has a social aspect, but I feel like a large portion can be attributed to struggling to live in this world we have created for ourselves. I’m not saying I am suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, but it is becoming more and more difficult to go about my day knowing what has been happening elsewhere and thinking about what could potentially happen that day. It’s a very stressful way to live.

The events that took place in Charlottesville this month had a more profound effect on me than I ever could have expected, leading me to examine my own belief system and the way I look at this and similar situations. The fact that neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and white nationalist groups feel like they have a place in society today is scary to me; bordering on terrifying. They shouldn’t have a place anywhere. I thought we as people learned from history, at the conclusion of World War Two, 72 years ago. I was so, so incredibly wrong.

I consider myself a feminist, and my political leanings are quite far left. I am very much against any form of racism, bigotry, or hatred; things that are very easy to say considering my privilege. Sadly, it is all I seem to see when I attempt to read or catch up on the news.

It’s difficult to handle these huge amounts of negativity everywhere when living with depression. I sit here and feel like I should be doing something about it. Single-handedly if I could, as impossible as that is.  I question myself constantly: Do I do enough? Do I allow it to happen? Am I helping to perpetrate racism and bigotry and hatred as a white person? I know there are opportunities out there, but most times I just do not have the energy or the motivation. It’s difficult enough to get out of bed every day and get my self to work, let alone do anything else.

It’s so hard living in this world. It makes me want to rage quit.

100 Things I Love Part 5: 81-100

Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2017. I am feeling a lot of positivity about this coming year and am looking forward to seeing what it brings. In the meantime, I bring you the last installment of my little self-care project. 100 Things I Love, has been really uplifting, and I have found that I have generally been able to keep a more positive attitude versus before. I am calling this self-care project a success!

  1. Watching my friends’ and my sisters’ kids grow up
  2. A freshly tidied space
  3. Scented candles that smell like baked goods
  4. Breakfast
  5. Scarves – I hate having a cold neck!
  6. A nice hot bath
  7. That I can take medication to help manage my depression
  8. Super hero movies
  9. My antique desk
  10. Being able to play PC games again (It’s been years.)
  11. Organizing my clutter
  12. Coming home after time away
  13. Sleeping in my bed after I’ve been away for a night or two – it really feels amazing
  14. Being able to drink tea from a travel mug!
  15. A sense of accomplishment at the end of the work day
  16. Writing when I can; when I feel inspired (however rare it may be)
  17. Curling up in bed right before I fall asleep when I am good and tired
  18. Fresh starts
  19. The amazing friends I have in my life
  20. Coming up with this list

And there you have it. 100 things I love, complete.

2016 was a heck of a year. There were a lot of changes, and a lot of things that stayed the same. I started a new job, and as a result I made an amazing new friend. The new job also resulted in working at the first job I’ve ever felt appreciated and respected. She is truly wonderful. I finally started loving living alone, and that has resulted in being able to focus on things I wasn’t able to before. My best friend moved across the country. I am thankful however, that we are able to keep in touch thanks to Apple! I had a health scare with Tobi, but we weathered it and she is healthy now, aside from the continuous issues she has had to deal with for most of her life.

I have big plans for 2017 though. I plan to travel! I plan to meet people! I will be starting my house savings. I will be improving things around my apartment, a plan for which has already been set in motion. I will be taking better care of myself and my health as well. I have many goals I have set out to accomplish. I am excited for these things, and will of course be sharing what I can.

Happy New Year!

100 Things I Love Part 4: 61-80

I know it’s been a little bit since I last published for this project. Family Christmases got in the way! I have a break from gatherings now, and thought I would continue on.

Welcome to Part 4 of the 100 Things I Love project. Reflecting over Christmas and being away from work made it a bit easier to come up with some additions for the list, which was pretty awesome.

  1. Any kind of cool nerdy coffee mug
  2. My TARDIS collection
  3. Wiggling my toes in new warm grass
  4. Sitting around the table chatting with the family after a big holiday dinner
  5. Sitting on my back patio/landing reading a book in the sun
  6. Finishing the latest project
  7. Wayne’s snickerdoodles – Gluten Free and AMAZING
  8. Quiet days to myself with no expectations
  9. Yummy-smelling candles
  10. When plans go off without a hitch
  11. Feeling prepared (this one is helpful for my anxiety too!)
  12. A glass of ice-cold water
  13. A nice, brisk walk.
  14. Great conversation
  15. Bookstores
  16. Having a library card
  17. Collecting Classics (the books, that is)
  18. Holiday leftovers
  19. Learning to manage my money effectively
  20. Treating myself from time to time (It’s just good self-care.)

I hope you had a great holiday! I did, for the most part. I find it a bit more difficult these days to really get into it as the majority of my family are adults or are nearing adulthood. There is less emphasis on the excitement of gift-giving, and more on just being with family. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really great. It’s one of my favourite parts of the season. It’s just hard to get pumped up and in the “holiday spirit” when that’s the case. I am back to work for the rest of this week, and then we are on to New Year’s Even this weekend. I have plans to go see some friends and spend the night playing board games and eating and drinking lots of wine. I am very much looking forward to it. I hope you have some exciting New Year’s Eve plans as well!

100 Things I Love Part 3: 41-60

Welcome to part three of my self care project. These are items 41-60. This bunch was quite a bit more difficult to come up with. It seems to be more difficult as I get deeper into it. The rest of these are going to be a challenge to come up with!

  1. Dark chocolate
  2. Hand dyed wool
  3. Geeky memorabilia – autographs, pop figures, art, etc.
  4. Leaving work early
  5. Owl-themed décor
  6. Travelling to new places
  7. Sleeping in
  8. Sleeping in general
  9. My comfy green wing chair (It’s vintage!)
  10. Not having to cook if I don’t want to
  11. Adult colouring books
  12. Pen pals – the old-fashioned kind!
  13. Receiving letters and packages in the mail
  14. Candy canes
  15. Wine
  16. Sleepy kid/baby snuggles (while babysitting)
  17. Tabletop game nights with friends
  18. Video gaming with friends (World of Warcraft, Path of Exile)
  19. Wrapping gifts for others at Christmas
  20. My Batman coffee mug

It should also be noted that today is my blog’s anniversary! I have been active on this blog in one way or another for five years. It feels like a real achievement!

100 Things I love Part 2: 21-40

Welcome to part two of my new self care project. These are items 21-40. This next bunch was a bit trickier to come up worth. I think this is going to get more difficult as I continue!

  1. A good movie drama
  2. Teddy bears/stuffed animals
  3. “Character” – as found in old buildings
  4. My family – even if they sometimes drive me crazy from time to time…
  5. My new computer
  6. Tea! (loose leaf)
  7. Helping friends when I can
  8. The people I work with – they are some truly great and kind people
  9. Radiator heat – so warm and cozy!
  10. The first snow of the season
  11. Not owning a car
  12. Being able to live (relatively) comfortably on my income
  13. Comics
  14. Feeling valuable, like my work/effort is appreciated
  15. Being free to do what I want, when I want
  16. Productive days
  17. Sailor Moon
  18. Crochet
  19. Shopping for gifts (mostly for others, but sometimes for myself too)
  20. Cat snuggles

100 Things I Love Part 1: 1-20

Welcome to part one of my new self care project. These are items 1-20. These first few were pretty easy to come up with. I’m not sure if it will stay this easy!

  1. My cat Tobi
  2. My apartment
  3. Living alone
  4. Coffee
  5. Sunshine
  6. Tacos
  7. Cozy blankets
  8. Doctor Who
  9. My blog – even if I don’t post as much as I would like anymore. It’s been a 5-year labour of love so far.
  10. Playing games (both video games and board games)
  11. Books/reading
  12. Pens
  13. Tragic Toys
  14. Feminism
  15. Trying/learning new things
  16. Pizza
  17. The colour grey
  18. Sci-fi TV
  19. Stars
  20. Lilacs
IMG_1689
*sings* These are a few of my favourite things… *sings*

Some Thoughts on Self Care

I’ve been publishing mainly regular life and personal posts and I’ve also been thinking it might be time to change things up a bit. I want to write a bit about self-care.

Self-care is the thing I never knew I needed until I started seeing my therapist in August 2014. With her help I learned that self-care is key to managing mental illness, especially anxiety and depression, as is my case. It’s also something I’m not very good at, or at least feel like I’m not very good at. Self-care can be as simple as taking a nice hot shower after an especially trying day, or curling up with a good book on a weekend afternoon. Simply put, it is taking the time to check-in with and look after yourself.

Some of the things I do for myself are take baths in the evening, read, play World of Warcraft, and have a regularly scheduled weekly movie night with a dear friend of mine. She struggles with her mental health as well, and the movie nights keep us both social even when we are having a hard time getting through the day. It also gives us both someone who is there and supportive. Basically, it helps us to both feel like we’re not alone and going through things on our own. The movie nights have gotten me through some pretty tough times.

The point of this post is something of a self-care exercise in itself – something outside of my ordinary realm of self care. I can across it on Pinterest, in a pin about practicing self care when things are especially tough, and I think it is a beautiful idea. The idea is to compile a list of 99 things you love. I’ve decided I am going to do this… with a slight modification just because of my own idiosyncrasies: 100 things I love.

I am going to create a list of 100 things I love. I wont share them all at once… It might get overwhelming, and it might take me awhile! I will probably share twenty or so at a time as I come up with them. The goal is to remind myself and maybe you as well, that there are great and beautiful things out there to keep us going. For those of us that live with mental illness in our daily lives, it is something important that we shouldn’t forget.

So, stay tuned for it. It will be coming soon:

100 Things I Love

 

September

September has turned out to be a very busy, very interesting month to say the least. A lot has been going on and a lot has happened, and I’ve been doing a bit of adjusting.

The biggest thing that has happened is I finally made the decision to speak to my doctor about medication for my depression. My doctor was very receptive and listened to my concerns and asked appropriate questions. He agreed that medication was a reasonable option, and I walked out of my appointment with a prescription he felt would be a good fit for me. I started the medication that very day and haven’t looked back. I started noticing improvements around the four-week mark, just as my doctor said I should. Here I am almost 6 weeks later, doing better and feeling better than I’ve felt in a very long time…

…Aside from my stupid foot! Earlier in the summer I did something to my foot and initially it was no big deal, but it progressively got worse (mostly because I kept walking and didn’t rest it; my fault, I know). Earlier this month I finally started taking it easy and lo and behold! It started feeling better! Then, just shy of two weeks ago, I had to run to catch a bus to make it to an appointment on time. As I was running (of course I was wearing flip flops), I felt a horrible twinge in that very same foot and it starting hurting again just as much, if not worse than before. I felt like I just couldn’t win! So, as it turns out I strained my foot. Bye bye flip flops for the rest of the season! It has been less than a week wearing my cute and comfy polka dot shoes and my foot is already feeling better. it is amazing how a minor change can manage that! Anyway, foot is officially on the mend and I will be walking 10,000 steps a day again in no time. That makes me very happy.

Unlike the close call I’ve had with Tobi this month! My poor sweet fat cat has had a rough go. Tobi started acting a bit unlike herself, agitated and such. She was also a lot less snuggly, but she was eating and drinking fine so I just kept an eye on her. THEN she had a couple accidents. It was time to go to the dreaded vet, as she NEVER does her business outside of her box, nor does she leave it uncovered. I knew something was up and had a pretty solid idea of what it was. It’s not a new issue for her. She needed or bum squeezed again (a.k.a. her anal glands expressed). Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like and it is exactly as gross, but it helps my baby. She went in two Saturdays ago, and I am SO thankful I talked a friend into coming with me. The tears started flowing as soon as I heard her start to cry. It had to have been painful. THEN the veterinarian came out and told me that when she expressed them, one of Tobi’s glands was about to rupture it was so full. It was a super close call. The vet put her on antibiotics to prevent infection, and a new food to help with the root of the issue. I felt so bad for her. It was a lot to go through. The good news is a week and a half later, she is back to her old self and is more snuggly and active than ever! I am hoping for no more close calls with her. I’ve had 8 great years with her and I want a MINIMUM of 8 more!

In other news, I started a bullet journal earlier this month and I freaking love it. Not only is it helping me keep better track of appointments and events, it is helping me to keep track of daily tasks, habits, and the nice little things that happen in a day that we often forget. It is also allowing me to get creative with decorating it! October is almost upon us, and I will be making a few tweaks for October that will hopefully help keep my reboot on track. It’s a small thing, but it has created a huge positive change for me. I like positive change.

I also started my second course for my CIP (Chartered Insurance Professional) designation. Let me tell you, this one just dove right in! There is a ton of material being covered, and I already have my hands full. I am pretty sure I will have to put in a lot more effort than I did for the last one. That’s okay though. It’s nice to sort of have that feeling of being in school and learning again. Especially that learning part…Even if it is the driest subject matter know to man… I kid, I kid. Or do I?

And guess what?! My new computer is close at hand! I had a small setback in timeframe due to Tobi’s impromptu almost emergency trip to the vet, but things are back on track again and I dont have to wait too much longer before I have the money available – probably only a month or so. It will be VERY exciting to have a computer I can play games on and use Photoshop and Office without it freezing on me every little while. Don’t get me wrong, my MacBook has served me well these past several years, but it has done its time. I am ready for a change (and a computer I can play World of Warcraft on again)!

Along with the resurrection of weekend MTG nights with Steph and reading more than I have in a long time, and weekly Alice visits, I have managed to keep incredibly busy. Super awesome nerd-friend-coworker is doing the CIP class with me, and I think it’s going to really help with motivation and keeping up my studies for this term’s class. Some apple-y goodness may also be in the near future now that autumn has arrived, and probably a trip to Sparta too. In all reality though, I am looking forward to the fall wind-down and some cozy nights in. I want to get back into blogging more regularly and I think that just might be the time to do it.