Struggling with irrationality…

I’ve lived in my body for 47 years now and I had grown accustomed to how it behaved. Well at least up until two years ago when my depression quickly spiraled out of control and my anxiety skyrocketed.

These days I’m taking Effexor, Abilify, Mirtazapine, and Lithium to keep my depression in check and so far they’re working quite well. But I’m only taking one Clonazepam a day and, quite frankly, I might as well be taking a baby aspirin for the amount of help it seems to offer. I’m not about to stop taking it to see if it gets any worse. It got dropped down by half once already and that was not good.

Right now I’m working on getting myself out of the house for walks at least five times a week. On three of those days, I’m in a group right beside the Oshawa Creek trail so it makes sense to walk either there or back. That leaves two days to find an alternate path. Thankfully I have two other trails I frequent plus the walking track at our local recreation centre.

The hard part is getting out of my house. It’s so much safer and comfortable at home, especially in my room. I can read, write, scrapbook, and chat with friends. But the more time I spend at home, the stronger the urge is to not leave. And that’s a trap I don’t want to fall into.

I have my main trail mapped out in detail. I start out by the Midtown Mall then go under the John Street bridge, through the park, under the Gibb Street bridge, etc. I know the order of every bridge I’m going under and how many more I have to pass. That still doesn’t stopped the occasional sudden panicked feeling that I’m not home and, even if I left right now, I wouldn’t be home any time soon. I feel like a mouse under the gaze of a hawk, trapped and absolutely petrified. It takes every ounce of strength I have to keep taking one step after another. Thankfully the panic eventually fades, especially with a breathing exercise or counting down my senses (five things I can see etc).

Or like today. I was almost to the end of the trail, almost to my Social Recreation group, when a miniature street sweeper approached, cleaning the concrete path. The driver stopped the sweeper and waited for me to pass before starting again. Meanwhile I struggled with intense panic because that wasn’t supposed to happen. I can pass all the fishermen and women, the dog walkers, the joggers, the bikes, the people in scooters, the people on electric motorbikes… with no problem at all. I see them all regularly. But I’d never seen a sweeper on the trail. It was something new. Something different.

It’s frustrating because I know full well that’s an irrational fear. It makes sense to have a vehicle to clean the path. But that realization didn’t stop my heart from pounding or my chest from tightening, squeezing my lungs and making it hard to breathe. I assured myself, again and again, that I was safe and almost to group. It was only three blocks away. Even so I was still trembling slightly when I walked into the room and poured myself a glass of water. Luckily I don’t think anyone noticed.

It’s calling for rain all tomorrow so I’ll be walking on the track in our recreation centre. I haven’t walked there since December so I’m hoping my anxiety won’t be too overwhelming and that my music will help soothe it down.

The past two years have been a roller coaster of moods, emotions, and irrational fear and I don’t see them disappearing any time soon. Hopefully I’ll get used to this new normal, at least enough to make peace with it. Hopefully I can smooth out those irrational fears.

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Little blue flowers beside the Oshawa Creek

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Planning ahead…

This past week has been weird. We had rain that turned to freezing rain, then snow, then freezing rain again, then more rain. Everything was slick with ice on Sunday so we cancelled our weekly visit to my parents’ and then my Tuesday group got cancelled even though the ice had melted by then, leaving only the snow.

slush and snowIt was Wednesday when I realized I didn’t want to go anywhere. Not to the walking track, not to the Cedar Valley trail, not even downstairs to the treadmill. I just wanted to stay home, safe in my room. I didn’t need a medical degree to know this wasn’t good. So I went for my walk, despite the anxiety. The walk was horrible. Half the sidewalks weren’t shoveled and the snow was grainy and treacherous. I’d take a step that seemed firm… until it wasn’t and my foot was sliding down and sideways. Then I finally got to the trail and discovered it was 90% slush and 10% running water. I looked at the mess shown in the picture, turned around, and walked back home. The good news is I still got my 10 thousand steps in.

I got back on track with my group yesterday then had my group again today followed by a walk home on the Oshawa Creek trail… a trail that’s, thankfully, paved and shoveled.

One of the group facilitators commented yesterday on the groups stopping for summer, which made me realize that my whole schedule is going to change completely come the end of June. In one way that’s obvious, it’s just I hadn’t been thinking that far in advance. But those handful of days with no schedule made me realize I really need a schedule, whether it’s external or self imposed.

One thing I know I’ll need to incorporate is walking. I figure if I get up, have breakfast, then go for a walk, that will get the day started on a good footing. I’ll also need to carve out family time, likely Sunday as that’s the day we’ve been meeting. And when Kait starts her maternity leave, I’ll need to carve out time to visit with her and, eventually, the wee one.

I figure if I start planning slowly now, I’ll have a good, solid plan by the time summer rolls around. A plan that incorporates exercise, fresh air, and healthy food. A plan that doesn’t end with me retreating even farther into my room.

World Semicolon Day…

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image by Project Semicolon

As most of you know, I struggle with mental health issues. I’ve been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, severe anxiety, and agoraphobia (something I’m fighting hard against). I’ve been suicidal several times and luckily enough cognizant of the fact enough to ask for help. I’ve been hospitalized four times.
 
Today I speak out in support of world semicolon day for the millions who are too scared to speak up. Too scared to say something’s wrong. Too scared to reach out because they are positive no one will care. I promise, someone will care. I have a list of numbers and websites here that offer help and support.
 
Today I am grateful I didn’t jump.
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February 75th…

I am so tired of winter, especially since it’s April. I don’t want to see snow or ice, of which we have both. I want to see green sprouts in the grass and flowers beginning to bloom. So far that hasn’t been the case although the long range forecast calls for sunshine and warmth by the end of the week. I’ll believe that when I see it. And, since I’m stuck inside, I’m working on our “spring cleaning”.

Ato do listbout a week ago, Colin decided to turn our storage closet into a computer room, which meant relocating a bunch of stuff to the living room. Some of it’s been moved but there’s still a handful of stuff in need of a home. Cleaning that clutter was one of the chores on my to do list two days ago, along with cleaning off the kitchen table and repairing my Canada Day decoration… which made it’s way out of the storage closet to collapse into four pieces on my kitchen table. The rest of the chores have thankfully been completed, it was just those three remaining.

I know I’m going to be cleaning the living room on my own, simply because Colin currently has homework he’s ignoring. Homework that will suddenly become of major importance as soon as I set foot in the living room. But, whether he helps or not, it has to get done, and I’ll feel so much better without the clutter. Does anyone else feel crummy when the house is messy?

I don’t know why but for some reason I feel like my head’s stuffed full of clouds today. I’m trying to concentrate on writing but my mind tugs in all sorts of directions and my thoughts feel mushy. I’ve got no other way to explain it. At least I don’t need much brain power to clean, although I probably could use it to write. I’ll edit this later to add an after picture of the living room. My before picture is only going into my accountability group on Facebook.

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The clean living room. Colin brought the patio umbrella in because it was windy then decided it made our apartment look more “springlike”. Also, it’s snowing… again.

A rest day…

So today is February 74th. The wind is howling outside my window and the snow is buried under a layer of ice, with more coming. In short, it’s the perfect day to stay home and rest…

*looks at my bed*

… something my cats are doing amazingly well.

I had my psychiatrist appointment on Thursday and my suspicions of agoraphobia are correct, so I have something new on my plate. I had an aunt (by marriage) on my Dad’s side of the family with agoraphobia and she ended up housebound. I don’t want to get that severe. So I push myself to get out most days, no matter how hard it is. Keeping track of my breathing helps a little. Finding things to see, hear, feel, and taste* helps a lot more. And sometimes I just grit my teeth and keep walking.

Then he mentioned that I do better in the summer, which is something I’ve said before, but then I stopped to think. I’ve been hospitalized in June and September, both of which are summer here. I think that suicidal depression is able to hit at any time but the long, low days are more likely to happen during winter. If that makes sense. Sometimes things that make sense in my head don’t translate as well on paper.

My fresh start is doing well, despite the weather. I was able to get out for two walks last week and, so far, have lost 2lbs. I’ve also made sure I’m eating a lot of vegetables and fruits. And luckily the weather is improving starting tomorrow, with warmer weather and less rain. Hopefully that trend will continue and we can move on to April and May instead of lengthening February.

And now I’m going to curl up in my swing chair and read, ignoring the wailing wind on the other side of the glass. Today’s my day to rest. Tomorrow I’ll work on walking again.

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Picture taken from my room on February 73rd

* I am NOT actually tasting things on my walk. That one ends up simply being saliva and whatever I ate last.

A fresh start…

The winter months are the hardest ones for me and they have been since I was a teenager. Back then I didn’t know much about depression, all I knew was that winter sucked. I dreamt of having a small garden of grass (the green lawn variety) that I could simply smell and rub my hands across, something tangible to remind me of spring. And now I have my room to remind me of summer, with it’s teal walls, big windows, and lots of greenery.

I have depression and anxiety all year round but winter means colder, shorter days with less time for walking. Plus the cold is a good incentive to stay home. And then there’s the carb cravings. I’ve gained thirteen pounds this winter and I’m pretty sure I’m having a brownie baby. One studded with chocolate chips.

Right now it’s still blah, all greys and brown. It’s still chilly too and the forecast for this week is mostly rain. It’s not the first of the month or even the start of the week. It’s got nothing going for it to be a fresh start but it is, simply because I feel like starting again now.

I’m not going to track my food intake. I tend to get obsessed over what I’m eating and anxious that I’m eating too much or not enough. Instead I’m simply going to use my Fitbit to track my steps. I got my 10 thousand steps in yesterday and, depending on how hard it’s raining, will get them in again tomorrow.

I am determined to be healthier and feel healthy. This summer I’m going to be back in my favourite t-shirts. This summer is going to be amazing!

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