Post From a Coffee Shop

This picture isn't from the coffee shop, but it's a picture of a time I had coffee so...well, yeah. I needed a picture.
This picture isn’t from the coffee shop, but it’s a picture of a time I had coffee and, well, yeah….I needed a picture.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop this morning, and if you were sitting with me, this is what I would say:

I went back on my anti-depressants about a month ago.  It’s winter (a very mild winter, and the days are getting longer, but still…winter) and I was struggling. Not enough that most people would notice, but enough that things that usually felt simple felt like gargantuan, useless tasks that would someday swallow me whole.  After about two weeks of sleeping 12 hours a day, taking a shower only to put my pajamas back on, and telling myself I would do better tomorrow, I went back on my medication. A month in and I’m a little edgy type-A superwoman who should probably cut her caffeine intake (which is what always happens when I’m on fluoxetine). I’d like to be a smidge closer to the middle, but that’s the balancing game I play – and I’d rather be a little too fast than a lot too slow.

I’ve joined a couple of volunteer things and I’m a little nervous. Right after Abram was born, I went through a phase where I was INVOLVED (uppercase and italics is the only way to begin to show the magnitude) and every other aspect of my life almost crumbled…I’d like to keep that from happening again. AND I always worry about being the dumbest person in the room (Do most people outgrow that or is just that most people are better at ignoring the insecure 7th grader that resides in their head?!? Anyone else out there like me? Bueller?) I’m hoping that my opinions and knowledge (or at the very least willingness to be there) will provide some value. And that this time I find the balance between being super-volunteer of the century and you know…life.

Maybe my word of 2016 should have been balance?

Holy crap-ola (that has been my favorite word all week, I just can’t help it), I am NOT Suzy Sunshine today.

But lest I leave you thinking that it’s all rain and gray and doldrums,

It isn’t.

I bought a new dresser off of craigslist. And my bedroom is painted – white – and it’s so bright and lovely and I can’t wait to get my orangey-red curtains and some new bedding. And I think I could paint my whole entire house this white if I weren’t afraid that I’d turn into one of those too hipstery people with oversized black plastic framed eyeglasses with macrame plant hangers and weavings hanging from sticks on my wall.  (I do kind of think I wouldn’t mind a macrame plant hanger – if I could be guaranteed to not kill the plant – which I would most certainly.)

I’ve been knitting socks.  Endlessly socks.  Because I signed up for Desert Vista Dyeworks second annual sock club and I feel like just this once I should finish what I start.  It helps that it’s something like sock knitting – a project I completely love. And DVD yarn, because it’s gorgeous.

And I’ve been reading.  I read The Mortal Instruments series quite quickly because I wanted something that was 100% for entertainment and it fit the bill. I definitely wouldn’t give the whole series more than 2 stars (I don’t quite get the over 4 star rating on goodreads) but it was fun and quick and now I’m well and truly within my 52 books for the year range.  I ALSO read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (because Marian).  Despite never, ever, ever liking epistolary novels and avoiding them at all costs, I decided to try it. And despite being one of those readers who does not feel the need to mark up their books while reading (thank you very much), found myself underlining a few sentences that grabbed my attention. So it basically shook me out of a lot of my reader-y habits.  (Thank you for recommending it, Marian.  I loved it.)

So that’s me. If we were really having coffee (or tea) at this coffee shop, I’d ask you to fill me in about you and ask appropriate conversation maintaining questions, but as I’m not, it’s time to close the laptop, put away my coffee mug, and get a few errands done before I pick up the kids. But please fill me in down in the comments! Happy weekend!

you aren’t alone

12079848_525260357632381_6572273305394043553_oIt’s hard.  This fighting depression and anxiety.  I know.  I’ve been there.  I sometimes feel weird talking about it now because while I still struggle from time to time, it’s been awhile since I’ve been lost in the darkest parts of those woods and I’m a little superstitious.  I worry if I stop to think about that time I may accidentally find myself back there again, and well, I try really, really hard not to end up there again.

I’ve tried to find the blessing in being wired this way and when I couldn’t do that, I’ve tried to just accept that this is the way I’m made.  And maybe if I can’t find the blessing in being made this way, I can at least let other people know that I’ve been there and there are things that help.

Take your meds if you need to.  There’s nothing wrong with needing meds. Ignore anyone who tells you otherwise.  If you’re having trouble finding the right meds, find a psychiatrist.  They know their stuff.  This isn’t a knock on your NP or family doctor, it’s just that sometimes you need the big guns.  Get a specialist.

Find a therapist.  Therapy is hard.  It is the place where you deal with the dark and the muck and the sludge and the big baddies.  You aren’t always going to like your therapist. They are the one shining light on the all those things you keep locked away.  It will hurt.  Find someone you trust.  Keep going.

Do your self-care.  I have things I have to do every day.  I have others that I have to do when I feel low or I’m going stay low. I’ve mentioned this before but here’s my checklist.  It’s going to be different for everyone but feel free to use this as a starting point if it helps you.  In the winter, I also use a sun lamp.  If I find myself in a low and lacking the ambition to complete my self care for more than a week, I know it’s time to start thinking about going back on medication.

Give yourself some grace.  The hardest thing for me when I’m in a low is feeling like I’m a burden.  I  know I’m adding to the stress load of my husband.  I know I’m being needy with friends and family.  I know that there are people who are judging me and wondering why I’m not pulling it together.  And when you’re depressed those thoughts can get really, really loud in your head.  I’m learning to remind myself that no one would ever tell someone going through chemo that they’re stressing out their husband.  When you’re sick, you’re sick and you need help.  Keep getting treatment.  Keep doing the best you can.  Pat yourself on the back for the things you ARE doing.  You managed to get yourself out of bed and showered?  Win.  You managed to get a load of laundry in?  Win.  You checked off your whole checklist and told your partner how much you appreciate their support?  Giant, super-duper, pat-on-the-back, gold star!!

Get out of your own damn head.  Stop thinking about everything. Find something that engages you and do it. Stop worrying about what people think.  Whatever they’re thinking they’re going to think whether you obsess about it or not – so stop obsessing (yeah, I need to work on this one a lot yet).  Understand that not everyone is going to get it and just move on.  There are people who do.

Remember that it ends.  For me, the biggest thing I can do is honor this is the way I’m feeling right now.  That doesn’t mean that I just give into it and stop my self-care and let it control me.  It means I do my self-care while acknowledging that I might not be accomplishing much else.  It means feeling what I’m feeling – whirling, lonely, sad, nothing – and just accepting it, not being ruled by it, and knowing it will change.  Eventually.

**I wrote this not because I’m struggling right now but because I have a loved one who is.  Because it’s the time of year when a lot of us do.  Because it’s hard to feel like you are the only person out there trying to keep your head above the mire.  Because I believe that every single voice that says, “I’ve been there.  It’s hard.  I get it.  It awful.  I understand.” makes this dense dark wood a little less lonely.**

Who Isn’t?

I am loved.

I say that to myself about 50 times a day.  Maybe a little less.  Sometimes a whole lot more.  Sometimes I say it again and again and again with the rhythm of my breathing until I stop feeling so electric and shaky and alone.

I feel foolish.  But I do it.

Sometimes, when it’s really bad, I list off the people I know who are unabashedly in my corner.

And when it’s really, really bad my mind automatically responds with all the people who aren’t.  And all the reasons why the people who are shouldn’t be.

Yesterday was one of those days.  It’s February.  It’s the first winter I haven’t been on medication for depression in years.  And my brain decided it was going to list every terrible trait I had – over and over and over again.  I finally decided to give in and write them down.

I’m not good at regulating my emotions.


I’m needy.


I don’t often think before I speak.


I’m loud.


I can be snarky & gossipy.


I overshare.


I’m not a good secret keeper.


I’m not as patient and loving of a mother/wife as I’d like to be.


I wish was more self-assured.


I overthink. 


I wrote them all down (these aren’t all of them but you get the gist) and I took long look.  And laughed.  Really truly laughed at myself.  Because who sits down and writes a list of their shortcomings and then wonders why they aren’t more assured?  Someone who overthinks, obviously.


I’m flawed.


I’m human.


And who isn’t?


I’m getting through this winter without medication.

I’m a work in progress.

And I’m loved.

And man, am I ready for spring.

In the Fall

It is officially becoming fall. Temperatures are in the 40’s at night and we’re leaving our windows open and burrowing down beneath blankets. I love the changing colors and the crisp air and the pumpkins and the mums and the honeycrisp apples. This is hands down my favorite time of year.

And also one of my hardest. It’s the time of year my depression starts talking.

You won’t be good enough until you do ALL.THE.THINGS. Organize everything from top to bottom. Keep a perfect home. Have a better kitchen. Prepare organic gourmet meals. Attend that fundraiser. Work on the committee. Volunteer. Serve on some non-profit boards. Train for a marathon. Stop being fat. Drive a better car. Journal every day. See ALL.THE.PEOPLE. Go out for breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Coffee. Do more. BE MORE. Even then, you won’t be good enough. Everyone will see what a fraud you are. You will die alone with hundreds of cats and they will eat out your eyeballs. Yes, I’m exaggerating. You’ll probably only have tens of cats.

This monster in my head is a cruel beast.

So here’s what I have to say to that monstrous voice in my head:

I am enough.

If I die in the perfect and perfectly kept home, as a prime physical specimen, having served on volunteer committees and boards, with hundreds of people at my funeral, I am enough. If I die alone and hundreds (or tens) of cats eat out my eyeballs, I am enough. Either way, I’m dead. And it doesn’t matter a hill of beans which one of those lives I’ve lived as long as it’s the life that made me happy because I. AM. ENOUGH.

(Ideally, I’ll reside somewhere in the happy medium of that equation.)

So here’s what makes me happy in the fall:

Saying no.
Curling up.
Taking on a few projects that will make the upcoming holidays less stressful.
Knitting.
Watching old movies.
Drinking apple cider.
Walking the dog in the woods.
Baking bread.
Writing blog posts.
Learning my new camera.
Creating anything.
Spending time with my people.

What are some of your favorite fall activities? Do you tend to get a little “blue” this time of year?

Walking Through, Owning Up, and Giving In

“I’m just burnt.” I find myself saying.

The house is messy. It’s clean, but the clutter is making me twitchy and the bending down and picking up and putting away is just too much.

I’ve got a meal plan written out. And a list for shopping. But I have absolutely no desire to go, push around a cart, load and unload the car, put away, and then make the food so it doesn’t go to waste.

I have a friend I keep meaning to call because I adore her and she’s a good friend and you have to be a friend to keep a friend but having to maintain a conversation? I just don’t have the energy.

While it’s been mentioned a few times, the doctor recommended/approved “medication experiment” resulted in a very apparent conclusion: I need fluoxetine just as much as I need indoor plumbing. I can survive without it – but life is a lot more pleasant for me (and everyone else) with it.

The general time line? Two weeks of weaning, the acknowledgment I like life with it better than without it, back to regular every day medicine. My mind/body is pissed that I’ve been messing with it’s routine (oh, how I love a routine) and I quite honestly don’t know what end is up most days.

I want to read, write, knit, embroider, sleep, and snuggle with my loved ones. Period. Doing the day to day stuff that keeps life moving? Just thinking about it makes me want to curl up and pull the covers over my head. Having to compose the appropriate response to a friend’s statement? My body starts vibrating and I want to yell, “I don’t know. I can’t think straight. Just talk to me next week.”

I have depression. Maybe bi-polar II (depending who you ask). And I used to try to fight that. I used to try and pretend everything was okay and plaster a smile on my face and get through and that would work. Until it didn’t. Then I’d lie in bed and sob for weeks while life crashed down around my ears.

A few things have changed (thanks to a whole lot of counseling): I am more aware of feelings and can communicate them more effectively. I take medicine. I don’t pretend. I don’t fight.

When I was growing up, I read somewhere (probably a Reader’s Digest) that if you ever land in quicksand, you shouldn’t struggle. It’s the struggling that causes the sand to swallow you up. Instead you are supposed to relax, lie back, and float/paddle your way to safety. (I just looked it up and that advice holds true.) Depression is like that for me. The more I push against it and try to make myself feel better the more mired and stuck I get. Soon enough, I’m drowning in it. But if I calm down and look around, I realize that with some patience, I can get to safe ground.

So I take my medicine. I go for walks. I build in time. I do what is absolutely necessary and put the rest in a box to be figured out later (both literally and figuratively). I let one part of my brain worry that I’m not loved while loving on the people who love me. I acknowledge. And breathe. And pray.

It’s a constant tweaking and balancing and judging and asking very trusted advisors if my lens is broken. It’s hard. It can be exhausting. I sometimes feel like a burden to my friends and family. But I don’t get swallowed up the way I used to. I’ve learned to float in the mire and not get bogged down by it. Eventually, I’ll get through without crashing my life down in the process.

And some days, that’s enough hope to get me through another load of laundry.

And I’m Back…

**This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase from one of these links, your price will remain the same but I will collect a small portion in advertising fees to help support this blog. Thanks.**

If you didn’t happen to read the update on the last post – the weaning process lasted two weeks before I just said, “this isn’t working” and started back up on my meds. It was a little more involved than that, but the general gist is that Prozac and I may be friends for life and I’m okay with that.

In other news, it’s almost April. I have no idea where my March went but I got very little on my list accomplished so hopefully April is a little more productive. And after the dreadful winter we’ve had, I’m ready for the thaw, the garden planning, and the window washing – I might even ENJOY window washing this year since it means spring is finally here.

On the home front, we have family coming into town for Easter and we’re busily working on putting in a new shower (we ripped one out a few months back but never got around to putting in the new one), hanging curtains (we’re a peeping tom’s dream – we’ve lived here over a year and still haven’t managed to get curtains on the majority of main floor windows), and generally organizing and updating things that we’ve been putting off simply because we haven’t had any driving force. Adding to the excitement, I bought a new shower curtain liner today for the kids bath. Definitely blog worthy stuff over here.

As for the books, I read four in March (one short of my goal) and didn’t buy a single one. That means I’ve made it 1/4 of the year without buying myself a single book. I AM however leaning pretty heavily on family for the newest and upcoming releases of the clothbound classics I collect (hint,hint, hint, hint, AND hint).

Are you looking forward to anything in April?

The Reason for the Quiet

UPDATE: It’s been about a week since I’ve started weaning, and I can say I’m not doing it now. I’m already more prone to snapping and moving away from the hustle and bustle of my family and that is simply not the person I wish to be. Fluoxetine. I love you.

It’s been more than three years since I landed in the hospital because of a variety of stressors and my decision to quit taking Lexapro cold turkey. Since then, I’ve made my twice yearly psychiatrist visits, my 1-2 visits each month with a psychologist, and my daily appointment with a low dose of Prozac. In the process, I’ve learned that I’m both highly sensitive and highly reactive (though with a lot of counseling my reactivity is lessening). I’ve learned what makes me feel better, what I need to avoid, and how certain things are simply required.

So last spring when my doctors started talking about weaning me off Prozac and seeing how I would do, I declined. A year later and it’s come up again and this time, I’m giving it a try.

I’m taking things very slow. The process will be over months. I’m testing the waters, following my checklist and doing the things that work for me.

Staring at a computer doesn’t work for me. In fact, on my best days, I’m no where near a screen. I’m organizing a room, playing with my kids, working on a project, knitting, reading, journaling with traditional pen and paper.

I have so much I want to share – books I’ve been reading, knitting projects I’ve been completing, graduate school registration for the fall (two classes or one?!?), home decorating ideas, recipes. Life has been so full lately.

But for now…

It’s too full of living to be blogging.

Now I’m off to drop a little at a birthday party, visit the library, and enjoy the last two days of spring break.

MWAH!

This Too Shall Pass

Today has been hard.

Not because of any external circumstance. Not because of something that was said or unsaid. Not because of things done or undone. Simply because my hormones are off and I have a feeling of impending doom. Days like these I think every good thing is an accident, every bad one deserved. I just know that my friends (who love me) simply tolerate me because they’re too polite to do otherwise. I’m certain my husband (who is amazingly loyal and kind) probably wants to have an affair. I don’t have a doubt that every person I’ve ever met (who is busy living his/her own life) is right this very second thinking or talking about what a horrible, socially inept loser I am.

In short, my lenses get all screwy and I’m just a bundle of fun to be around.

Depression is something I’m going to fight for the rest of my life but in the last few years, I’m learning to manage it. Riding it out and checklist-ing it into submission, I have the freedom acknowledge it without being ruled by it. And that gives me hope.

But today is just hard. I feel creepy crawly and itchy and mushy and weepy and like I need to be loved but that I’d lash out if anyone got too close. And I really just need to not be PMSing anymore but I’ve got another day or so – so say a prayer for me that tomorrow will be better, okay? And then I’ll be all weepy and mushy and not all grouchy and pouty.

Do you have days like this too?

The Happy Healthy Checklist

I like just living my life. Content in the knowledge I have friends to hold my hand, a husband to hold my heart, and children who hold my future. I like that a very great deal.

But every so often, depression comes around. Depression is a bitch who likes to stir up trouble and create drama. When I’m smart, I realize that she’s visiting and ignore her stupid commentary and life goes on much like before. Sometimes, I am fooled by her voice (it sounds so much like my own) and I end up stirring up trouble and real-life issues that could have been avoided if I had only been wise to her ways.

The best way I’ve found to keep the depression at bay is my self-care checklist. These are the tried and true things for me (along with my prescription for a daily dose of Prozac). Most days I don’t do all of them, but if I’m in an unusually gray place I try to, and when I’m “maintaining” I try to get at least half of them in daily.

 

I’m sure I could probably remember to do these things without the list, but checking things off it gives me a sense of accomplishment and that helps fight depression as well. Because I find this useful, I made it into a pdf that I’ve laminated and put in my planner. I think everyone can get some value out of a routine, exercise, and good eating even if you don’t suffer from depression, so I created a link for the printable if you’d like to use it.

Eventually I’d like to add this checklist to a “daily sheet” with meal planning, to-do’s, water consumption, and the like (similar to this) but for now, this works.

This Moment

I hold my breath and wait for the other shoe to drop, create disaster scenarios in my head to serve as warm up to the inevitable someday pain, develop safety preparedness plans for storms, intruders, plague. I say prayers at night before bed, in the morning when I wake, at intermittent intervals throughout my day. Keep us safe. Keep us safe. Keep us safe.

It’s so unbelievably good. Warmth, full bellies, the occasional vacation. Listening to V read or A sing. My husband walking by with a kiss and a pat. All four of us snuggled together on a Sunday morning – tickles and laughter under cool sheets. I remind Him that He never gives us more than we can handle, and I break easily.

“It could all come crashing down.”

“These things happen.”

“What if…”

I slip on my shoes. Lace up. Match my footfalls to the listing of calamities in my head. My brain replaces one list with another as I settle into a rhythm. Two breaths in. Two out. Run from your center. Light feet. Relaxed shoulders. Long spine. Mula Bandha. Soft face.

My doxology could go on for miles. Thank you for this step. This leg that healed. The sun that rose. The breeze. The husband getting ready for work. The kids eating breakfast and bickering as siblings should. The fog around the edges that doesn’t take hold the way it once did. The friends who bring stories and encouragement and coffee. The gentle and quiet click of knitting needles and warm dog on my toes. Thank you for this moment. This moment. This moment.

My body runs out before my thankfulness does. I am covered in sweat that has no where to go – the air already filled with damp. I use my opposite foot to pull off my shoes, pour myself a glass of water, chug. Again. Head upstairs while my thighs pop from exertion. I stand under cool water. I towel off. I get dressed. I look at my list thinking only of what there is to do. Laundry, dishes, dusting, weeding. The day to day business of living.

Thank you for this moment.