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.
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?