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.

i’m here, depressed

May 7, 2018

mood: sad

I’ve been depressed. The melancholy developed into a full-blown depression. No good reason. Except, I haven’t been eating the best and haven’t been exercising as much as I was for a while.

The reality is, I’ve been in contact with the high school boyfriend (with my husband’s full knowledge of all communication) for several years. I recently ceased contact and that cease of contact has me depressed and doubting myself.

I know that healing had long stalled and that it is good for me to have stopped that relationship/ faux friendship, but there is something in my brain that makes me feel like it was a real friendship and that I didn’t have to stop talking to him.

However, my husband has a different take. The high school boyfriend is not at a good place, with no degree, no real job prospects beyond entry level customer service, and the husband thinks that I only really relished in talking to the high school boyfriend because it made me feel better about my own life. Which, admittedly, is probably true.

And so, I feel more isolated now that I am not talking to the high school ex anymore. But, the bandaid of the old abuse stories has been ripped off. And the faux friendship is over.

My husband says my ex lost the right to know what is going on in my life twenty years ago when he violated me. And I know he is right, in my head, though my heart wishes something else were true.

Moving On

October 7, 2017

Jared said it was probably after Porter was born. I think he’s wrong– I think it all started happening earlier than that.  I think it happened after the miscarriage.

I was really only trying to think back about the when and why of that whole situation because I think it was about that time that I stopped caring about myself. I cut my hair off. I stopped doing my daily yoga. I stopped thinking it was worth taking care of myself.

I think I know why. I think I didn’t start thinking of myself as defective until that miscarriage. And so much has happened since then that, when taken in isolation I could maybe be shaken off. But when they all pile up inside my mind, there’s so much that tells my vulnerable brain– tells my brain in error– that I’m defective.

I’m not defective. I know that now. I’m human.

It was relatively little things, like yoga. Like my religious use of lotion. Like drinking absurd amounts of water. Like that yogurt smoothie for breakfast and nothing else. Like watching what I ate. Like sucking my stomach in (what little stomach I had then). Like tending to my feet to make sure even the bottoms were moisturized. Like occasional professional pedicures. Like professional haircuts instead of home butcher jobs. Like reading A Course in Miracles. Like meditating. Like being utterly religious in observing my 9 PM bedtime, so that I could be up before the sun rose, as early as 4:30 AM some mornings. It was a daily walk. It all mattered– every bit of it. It was my self-care, and it kept me grounded.

It was a million little relatively superficial things that, when added up, kept my mood relatively stable, kept my weight under control, and kept me feeling good about my body. This was my self-care routine for years– from college clear through the move to Grinnell in April of 2005, and beyond, at least for a little while.

It must not have all gone out the window in an instant, because I remember doing the yoga at least occasionally when I was pregnant with Porter.

But then it got hard to even breathe, and it all seemed like so. much. work. not. worth. it. I sold myself short. I was depressed, yes, deeply so, and so everything was hard, but I was so wrong about thinking it was not worth it. Because in doing so, I was telling myself that I was not worth it. And I absolutely was.

It makes me sad that my kids don’t know a mom that truly takes care of herself. It’s probably been twelve years since I consistently tended to myself. That’s my kids’ lifetimes.  I deserved better than that as a new mom.

I’m doing what I can now to change it… starting back my liberal lotion use, and I’ve done yoga four days in a row. Except for tonight being a late night, I am trying to get back to a regular sleep routine. I’m trying to eat better and get a little meditation in. I’m taking baby steps.

Twelve years is a long time to not care about one’s self. All I can say is, I care now and while I can’t reverse the damage, I can pick up the pieces and move on.

Early Mornings

March 26, 2017

For a while now, I have struggled to stick to any semblance of a routine. At first, I chalked it up to depression. But now, lack of routine has become a thing of its own to conquer.

So here I am. I got up at 5 a.m. this morning in an attempt to jump start routine of some sort again.

I’ve always, always been a morning person. Except for those college days when I would survive on three or four hours of sleep because it was the social thing to do, staying up late. I still got the most done in the early mornings, so I still got up relatively early, even then.

Lately, though, on days when I had no other responsibilities, I have slept far too much, far too late into the morning to say here how late I have been sleeping. It’s embarrassing. It’s time to stop that habit.

I love early mornings, preferably before 6 a.m., because no one else in my house likes them. No one else is awake at that time. P is an early riser and L is too on the weekends, but not this early. I can have the house to myself and I can think clearly without little boy noise convoluting those thoughts. Occasionally, I can do yoga or at least stretches.

Early morning is a good time to remember that it’s okay that my life doesn’t resemble what I thought it might once upon a time. It’s a good time of day to remember that I do, indeed, have things to contribute to the world even if it doesn’t take the form of a paid job. The depression is far less in the early morning– the day holds hope.

I guess that’s what it boils down to, with me and early mornings. It’s easier for me to have hope in the early morning. There are possibilities, even if I can’t put my finger on what they are exactly.

In Which I Ramble

March 6, 2017

In a previous post called, “Documenting Even the Mess,” I decided I would take pictures of our house even in its horridly disorganized state. I’ve started doing more of that, just as a therapeutic exercise to get my finger clicking the shutter on my camera. But none of them are save-worthy, much less share-worthy. I always end up just wiping the memory card clean in favor of a new day’s worth of photos, which I always hope will be more worthwhile, memory-wise.

I am also growing more cognizant of the fact that my children need their privacy as they grow older, so I am currently doing a re-assessment of how much I share, photo-wise, of them. Two of them don’t mind my sharing, but one does a little bit. Even he has given me his permission to share pictures I take of him, but I do feel like I need to back off the constant sharing of the documenting of their days that I did when they were younger.

As such, I’ve been taking far less pictures in general these days.

All of that having been said, I do think I will start writing here more often again. It is a good outlet for me. And, I will continue to strive to use my best judgment and share family photos occasionally as I feel like I find balance between respecting my children’s privacy and my need to share my life with the world.

It’s time to also start writing a little bit more about real life:

I’ve been horribly depressed for well over a month now. It’s been debilitating. With the help of medication, I think I may be starting to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel of depression, and I surely hope this is indeed the case. This has been a stay-in-the-bed all day kind of depression, the sort of depression for which I seek out help in tending my children. I always deal with the depression after episodes like the one I had in November, in which I was manic, and I always know it will be bad in the aftermath of those episodes. I always forget how bad it can get, though. This episode was no exception to that pattern.

It’s a tough balancing act, this mental illness of mine. I go for weeks, months, and even years of being relatively okay, and then BAM seemingly out of nowhere, something triggers my brain to go haywire. I didn’t see this past episode coming at all, and sometimes there are clues.

I haven’t written about the episode here, but I have been journaling like crazy daily throughout the entire experience.

It’s always horrendously embarrassing, because I act in strange ways that are inexplicable to everyone around me, everyone but myself who follows along with the bizarre thought patterns that happen when I am in that state. And I have difficulty explaining to other people why I act the way I act, and it just turns out nasty. Sometimes I hurt people’s feelings, sometimes deeply. I’ve hurt family. I always remember what happens in those episodes too, and there’s always the memory of why I acted the way I did in the moment, and then there’s the realization that my brain jumps to irrational conclusions when I am in that sort of state. I stop sleeping and the lack of sleep becomes a vicious cycle, because then I become paranoid and afraid to sleep. The episode just takes on a momentum of all its own.

This type of episode has now happened seven times in my lifetime, counting the allergic reaction to a medication that precipitated my episode of 2008. It shatters my life each and every time. Prior to November of 2016, it had been well over six years since it had happened. I’ve gone as long as ten years between episodes.

It’s why I feel so rotten about myself. I never really had an outstanding self-esteem, but to know that I have this defect going on in my brain that causes me to act in ways that occasionally make me quite incoherent… that is just about intolerable. I cannot express in words the agony this knowledge gives me. It has cost me friendships. It has, seemingly permanently, affected my ability to work outside the home.

I sound despondent even now, even though I am not. Today, I actually got out of bed and am proceeding with a routine of sorts. But I’ve largely glossed over the details of my life in re-establishing this blog, picking and choosing the old posts to re-publish, and it’s time to stop doing that. Some days are quite wonderful around here, and some days are extraordinarily hard. Some days, for me, even breathing is a chore. Today is not one of those days, but if I am going to use this blog as a real outlet, I have to be real and admit that this is sometimes the case.

In other news…

J and I are getting serious about getting our house organized and in order. We want room in our garage to be able to park our cars inside. We want the bottom floor, at least, to be presentable so we can enjoy having guests over. I know that having organized surroundings will only help my mental state. The boys are desperate to have friends come over to play and more than once I’ve had to say no simply because I felt like the house was too messy. That excuse has to stop.

On that note, laundry is calling my name.

When Things Really Are Messy

November 1, 2015

There are times in my life when life gets really messy. When laundry piles up and the dishes don’t get done and there is darkness.

There are times in my life when everything routine comes to a grinding halt. In such times, I wonder how it all got this messy.

In my messy life, I often get lost in the details.

In my messy life, I frequently forget the importance of taking care of myself first.

In my messy life, I often forget that it is okay to ask for help.

I am emerging from a season of messiness in my life. I see the light in my life for the first time in a long while.

In this season, it is vital to keep going and to clean up the mess one piece at the time. I have to remember that it does not all have to be done at once. One load of laundry at the time, one clean dish at the time, one misplaced household item back in its place at the time. One to-do list at the time, I am going to clean this mess up one item at the time.

I am going to clean this life up– one thing, one step at the time.

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