Depression: What Helps

August 21, 2018

As I have said in multiple spaces including here, I am depressed at the moment. There are several things keeping me afloat during this time and I am thankful for each one:

  • A wonderful partner is integral to my being able to take care of myself. When I get like this, I am not the most attentive parent and Jared is fantastic to pick up the slack, particularly with early mornings and getting the kids ready for school when I am feeling draggy.
  • A good relationship with my psychiatrist is of utmost importance. I am so grateful that I have a good working relationship with my current psychiatrist and I feel comfortable speaking up when things don’t feel quite right.
  • I am not regularly on an antidepressant (though I have been prescribed one now). I am thankful for the medication journey I have been on over the years. It would have been easy to throw my hands up and give up when the first two or three antidepressants didn’t work. As it turns out, my particular antidepressant is a fourth-line antidepressant and it works well enough when it is necessary.
  • I have wonderful friends I can turn to when needed.
  • My morning coffee grounds me in times like this. It’s not just the act of drinking the coffee. There is something about the tactile routine of my pour-over system and the anticipation of that fresh coffee.
  • I am so grateful for my paper journal. As much as I like to write here, there is no substitute for my private journaling journey.
  • My yoga mat is serving as a gentle place to stretch when I feel up to it.

I don’t know how long this depressive episode will last, of course. I’m thankful the depression isn’t as severe as it has been in previous seasons. For now, I’m just hanging on for the ride and fighting it as best I can.

Remembering Old Dreams

August 3, 2018

I discovered blogs back in 2006 or so. I will never forget a link my friend A. sent me– it was a mom blog with a post about a toddler who had spread poop all over the kitchen counter. I was hooked.

I started following this particular mom blog and was taken with it from the start. I wanted to do something like it but the pictures were so pretty– definitely not stock pictures but not point-and-shoot pictures either. The mom on this particular blog talked about the kind of camera she used and it was out of my budget at the time. So I thought I couldn’t start a blog, because I couldn’t post pretty pictures.

The old dream wasn’t to be a photographer. The old dream was to be a blogger.

I lost sight of that dream when I bought the fancy camera. I got caught up in taking pictures for pictures’ sake. I am not the most eloquent writer and I listened once when someone told me I was much stronger at taking pictures than I was at writing, even though the dream was blogging, not taking photos.

In this transition time, though, it’s time to remember the old dream. I’ve resurrected enough old posts from other blogs to have some substance to this blog. I’ve got a domain name I finally like. I’ve got time to work on the writing part. I’ve lost the drive to have the perfect blog design in favor of building content first.

Hello, old dream.

Hair Issues

July 27, 2018

After my last disastrous haircut on February 11, I decided that I would grow my hair out. I’ve been using Jared’s clippers to trim the hair above my neck, but I haven’t had an actual professional haircut in five and a half months. To be fair, my hair was boy haircut short for that last cut. I had a really, really long way then to grow it out, and I still have a long ways to even chin-length hair.

back of my hair

However, my hair is driving my crazy enough that tomorrow I will go for a professional haircut. I am excited because I always love getting my hair cut. I am going to try to avoid getting too much of my bangs and the front part of my hair cut because it has taken the longest to grow, but I really want to have the back styled into something more cute than the abrupt shelf I have going on from the clippers. I’m excited that a stylist friend works at this cute salon and I get to go be pampered for a few minutes.

You can’t tell because of the bad lighting in the photos but I do have a number of gray’s popping up. However, I am going to just let them stay and not worry about coloring my hair. That would get expensive fast and I really don’t want to have to keep up the routine that would be required to get roots done all the time. And anyway, I like the texture of the grays that are there so far. It will definitely make me look older– I feel like it already does– but I am okay with that idea. And besides, Jared already has a chin full of white hairs. So it won’t hurt for him to look like he’s married to someone closer to his age.


Showing Myself Grace

July 25, 2018

Ending the summer with a depressive episode is hard. I am okay and it certainly isn’t as bad as it could be, but it’s been bad enough that I broke out the light therapy for mornings. I haven’t been in-the-bed-paralyzed depressed, but I’ve been more paralyzed than I like to be.

I’m trying to sever a relationship that is toxic, but it’s a years-long “friendship” which is hard to let go of. That letting go is part of what is bringing me down even though I know I am better off without this particular person in my life.

I’m also down that my time with Oliver at home is coming to an end, as he starts Pre-K in a week.

Even though I am not feeling the best emotionally, I am doing what I can to take care of myself physically. Here’s what’s saving me right now:

I get up in the morning and put my teapot full of water on to boil, for my pour-over coffee.

I take my medicines and supplements. In addition to my Synthroid and my Lo Loestrin FE, my current supplement regimen includes a One-A-Day for Women’s vitamin, Fish Oil, Co-Q-10, Biotin, and Alfa-Max alfalfa capsules. The fish oil and alfalfa capsules happen 3 times a day with meals. My Latuda is a nighttime medicine.

I sit down for light therapy for 45 minutes. I don’t sit exclusively for all this time– I usually make breakfast for the boys in the mix of this, too. So I am probably getting closer to 35 minutes of light therapy time.

While I sit for light therapy, I do a financial check in and check my regular blog and news haunts.

I do stretches. I have severe scoliosis and while the majority of my back is fused, the fusion does not include my neck and the scoliosis is creeping up my neck. Plus, with the fusion where it is, my shoulder blades need an extra workout to stay in shape. I also do modified crunches and arm strength training with little weights.

I’ve got a pretty luxurious hygiene routine at the moment:

  • At the recommendation of a friend, I am brushing my teeth with Cali White Activated Charcoal toothpaste in Pacific Mint.
  • I am toying with oil pulling with coconut oil once and sometimes twice a day.
  • I am getting better about flossing.
  • I am using Mother Dirt shampoo and Honest Company conditioner. I use the conditioner first and then shampoo the conditioner out. Once a week, usually on Sunday or Monday, I also use coconut oil as a pre-wash conditioner.
  • I just invested in some Vitamine Vitamin C serum for my face post-shower. I’ve only used it once so we’ll see over the next few weeks how it works out.
  • Post-shower while my hair is still wet, I use Briogeo heat protectant creme. I love the way this stuff makes my hair feel. I use it every day, whether I use the hair dryer or not. It doesn’t make my hair feel greasy at all and I do feel like it does what it is supposed to do. Plus, it smells really great.

I also invested in a new journal. I cannot give up paper journaling; it seems to be integral to my good self-care regimen. Typing out words doesn’t give the same tactile sensation to my brain. I was trying to fill up all my old journals first before I bought a new one but I found myself going back to old mental spaces when I read old journal entries. So a new start, it had to be.

That’s it for now. Simple grace, one day at a time.

Remembering My Craft

July 12, 2018

Sometimes, being a photographer is like this for me. It can take weeks to recover from a wedding, where I don’t feel like picking up the camera at all. And then all of a sudden, I’m in a funk. And I don’t feel like picking up the camera, either. Uninspired, not at all remembering the joy behind just clicking the shutter button. Feeling like I see nothing of value worth documenting.

But that’s not true, is it? Because everything around me is special to me– the people around me are special to me– so everything is worth photographing. J also says my eye doesn’t see things the way his sees them, so that’s something that makes the photography worth it to him, too. So, this is evidence that the depression is lying to me.

I’m on my second morning of light therapy and today I’ve decided is a good day for reformatting all the memory cards and getting some good shots of the boys.

It sounds silly, but sometimes I’ll just sit with the camera in the living room and put it up to my eye and click whatever I see right in front of me. Just to remember that I am, indeed, a photographer. The scenes are ordinary, but they’re mine and sometimes this exercise leads to a spurt of creativity where something else comes out of just sitting there– where I get up and go outside, or get up and find something still-life to photograph. The exercise is a jumping off point. Not intentionally but almost always a jumping off point.

Light Therapy in Summer

July 10, 2018

I keep sleeping through my alarms, no matter how early I go to bed. I’ve tried avoiding screen time before bed. My only thought as to why I am so groggy in the morning is that maybe my body is depressed even though my moods are (relatively) fine.

I am finishing up my first month on Lo Loestrin FE (yes, birth control even though I had a tubal and Jared had a vasectomy. We are thorough). The idea was to make PMS and my periods less severe. I do think it helped the PMS but I think while the moods are a lot better, my body itself is behaving as though I am depressed, with my energy level or lack thereof. I am finding it near impossible to find the energy to exercise right now, even though I really want to force the issue.

So even though it is summer, I am instituting the light therapy again. Today was the first day of light therapy so I probably won’t notice a difference for a few days. But it is worth trying without resorting directly to an antidepressant.

taking care of my mental health

May 23, 2018

mood: slightly anxious

I’ve been flirting with depression the past few days. It’s partly just the time of the month in my cycle, partly my own mental cycle. Nothing is really wrong in my life.

I am under the care of a psychiatrist, but I’m leery of therapists these days. This is for two reasons: My most recent long-term therapist was not good with boundaries and it became a friendship, and she overcharged me as well. And then, I tried a different therapist after that long-term one, but she didn’t take insurance and was not helpful at all in trying to self-file….AND she was expensive. Plus, in my experience, I’ve found that therapists don’t tell me much that I don’t already know how to do.

So, I’m left to go it alone with much self-care besides my doctor visits and medication. I definitely am compliant with my prescribed medication.

I try to exercise. This consists of jogging and yoga. I am not very good at either one, either in regularity of attempts or in practice of actual doing. If it is going to get done, though, it gets done in the morning before I get my shower.

First thing when I get up, I take my thyroid medicine and vitamins and allergy meds (pollen is so bad this year). I had my thyroid done away with via radiation in 2015, so I never miss that synthroid. I try to drink a full glass of water with it, sometimes out of a bottle that is actually closer to sixteen ounces.

I always have coffee which I drink black and something light to eat for breakfast. Recently, I’ve taken up drinking a cup of hot water in addition to the regular cold water for my medicines, before I drink my coffee or eat breakfast.

Breakfast is usually a GoGo Squeez. Sometimes I pair it with cashews or a small smoothie. On more lazy mornings, I’ll have a biscuit or a pancake or whatever the rest of the family is having.

I try to eat sensibly though the past few months have been sporadic with much more junk food thrown in than I should really be eating. I do feel better mentally when I watch what I eat, though.

I read blogs in the morning as well…. I have a few mom and family blogs I follow, as well as a few photography-related blogs. I try to avoid the news in the morning but it’s sort of like a train wreck I just cannot resist checking in on. Here are a few of my regular haunts:

I get something positive from each of these sites, something that contributes something positive to my mental health.

The single most important thing I’ve done in recent months for my mental health is to subscribe to a music service. I chose Apple Music, though I was torn between Apple Music and Spotify. I chose a subscription music service because of the radio function. I can find new music far more easily this way. My brain tends to gravitate toward sad, familiar music, which perpetuates the cycle of depression. Unfortunately, there are whole albums I just cannot listen to and that I know if I listen to I will end up depressed for an unpredictable amount of time. With the radio stations on Apple Music, I can find current music and stay in the present. It’s not cheap at $9.99 a month but this expense for self-care is proving itself to be worth the expense.

Outside time is important to my mental health, too. This summer, outside time will be a priority for our entire family. I am blocking a couple of hours off each day for outside time. I am not going to dictate what the kids do outside; they can choose to bring their tablets outside and play video games if they want to. The point is to spend the time outdoors. We have a beautiful yard and despite living downtown in our city, our back yard is surrounded by trees and quiet. It’s perfect for communing with nature.

Finally, sleep is an integral part of my mental health self-care. I try to be in bed by 9 pm and asleep by 10 pm. I am not the greatest at turning off my phone and giving my attention to my husband or a book, but I am trying to get better about it. I sleep from 10 pm to 6 am, sometimes longer.

Mental health self-care is particularly important to me with my health issues, but I am also trying to instill the importance of taking care of your mind in my children, as well.

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