What makes a house a home…

Kait and Elmo

Kait sharing a laugh with Elmo

I was looking at my hutch and the wooden home sign on the shelf when I thought to myself, “What makes a house a home”? I’d always thought it was the people in the house that made it a home. Love, kindness, and shared connections. The bonds of family and friendship.

I spent 23 years raising my children and had no doubt our place was a home. There was almost visible love around us and kindness. And, of course, friends. Our home had plenty of hugs and kisses, plenty of listening, and lots of “I love you”. It was home sweet home.

Then I moved here with Colin. It felt different moving without Kait but, with Colin, it was still home. And now it’s me moving all by myself.

I can look at all the gorgeous things I’ve bought for this apartment. My bronze twig cutlery set, rainbow cups (one set from me and one from my parents), beautiful wall art. Everything to make my apartment more inviting. But items don’t make a home. Can it be a home when I’m by myself?

I’m going to have four cats with me to love and spoil. I have friends already talking about visiting. And I’m sure I’ll make friends there, especially since there are groups being held in the building.

Those are all good but my final thought was it’s what’s inside your heart that matters. If you enter and your heart feels at peace, you’re home. No matter who or how many people live there.

I’m not sure when I’m going to get there, the building is under construction, but when I arrive, I know I’m going to be at home.

Kait, Colin, and frog

Kait and Colin while camping

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Looking forward…

Today feels like it should be covered in glitter and wrapped in ribbon… like there should be a hint of magic along with the optimism a new year brings. Instead we’ve got rain and chilly winds. Not that it matters because I’m cozy in my home, wearing sequined slippers and taking breaks to cuddle with the cats.

This is a day of reflection about 2018 while planning for next year and thankfully my reflections are happy ones. Kait’s pregnancy and subsequent birth have brought the two of us closer together. It’s not uncommon for us to have three hour long phone calls now. And I have the most adorable grandson too. I love watching his eyes light up with happiness when he sees me. Colin’s slowly maturing and has expressed an interest in being more organized. He also wants to go out more and join some groups. And I’ve spent quite a bit of time with family and friends. Woo hoo… karaoke! I can’t forget L either. I’ve only seen her once but I’m seeing her again soon and really looking forward to our second date… considering our first one was great!

One thing I have to work on in January and February is my weight. I’d lost 10 pounds by the beginning of December then regained six. Christmas Crack is so yummy but it’s also really high in calories. And there were other snacks and treats as well. January is a fresh start. I’m going to make sure I exercise every day. There’s no real excuse not to. I have a membership to the city’s walking track, I can go downstairs for a swim or some time on the treadmill, or I can use the mini trampoline I have under my bed. Plus on good days I can go outside for a walk on one of four trails. I am sure that I can get into the 180’s before our Dominican Republic vacation in March.

I’d also like to work on my writing. I haven’t written so much as a page in my current novel over the last year whereas pre-depression I lived for writing and would write a chapter at a time. I read an article, via Facebook, that said writing in Comic Sans helps boost creativity and I’m willing to give it a try. It can’t hurt and it’s not hard to change the novel back to Garamond.

I’ve been enjoying hanging out with friends but I’ve got local friends who I only ever see on Facebook and we need to get together too. That’s something for me to try harder to arrange this year.

2016 was one of the worst years of my life, 2017 was an improvement, 2018 was great, and I’m hoping that 2019 will be amazing! Happy New Year!!!

Start your year off right

 

Happy little thoughts…

20181124_205307I went to my friends’ house on Sunday with Colin and, soon after we arrived, their brand new TV was delivered. Colin was such a huge help. The physical set up wasn’t that much of a problem, it was the programming that was the issue.

Colin patiently read through the instructions then showed my friends, step by step, how to operate their new TV. There were so many instructions and steps that I figure I’ll never own a TV again. I can download videos right to my phone or computer a whole lot easier! But he got it all working for them.

I have my first date on Sunday and we’ve been chatting back and forth. I think she’s even more nervous than I am, which is a feat. I’ve promised I’ll meet her right at the bus stop and she wants to go for a walk with me after lunch, even if it’s raining, which is fine by me. We’re going out for Indian food. Mmm… aloo gobi! I so hope this date goes well. I’m sure it will but am still nervous.

I’m looking at my cats sleeping peacefully around my room. I’m so glad I have them. They bring such joy into my life from how Lara runs screaming to meet me when I open the front door and how Blackie purrs and licks my nose when she’s getting petted. People talk about cats being cold and aloof but they’ve never met my cats.

I’ve been working really hard to lose weight for our trip to the Dominican Republic and so far I’ve lost 10 pounds. I still have three months to go so I’m sure I’ll lose a decent amount by then. I want my summer clothes to fit comfortably, especially my two new tops. I was going to share a picture of them but I already shared one a few posts down.

On Thursday I get to see Kait and her wee one. He’s growing and changing so much. Every time I see him he’s doing something new… from smiling to grasping items like his rattle. I’m looking forward to his happy smile when he sees me and having a face to face chat with Kait instead of just talking on the phone.

And on Saturday we’re having a family dinner at a Thai restaurant. They make the yummiest food. I love their tom yum soup and golden curry with rice. We’ve been going to this restaurant for about a decade now and haven’t got bored of it yet.

I’m really enjoying the new season of Doctor Who. The Doctor’s great and the stories are entertaining. That being said, I haven’t seen last week’s yet because Colin keeps stalling. If he stalls tomorrow I’m watching it on my own. It sounds nice to curl up on my swing chair and watch it on my phone.

Winter’s coming and they are forecasting a long, bitterly cold one so I’m going to start buying groceries that are easy to prepare for the days I’m weary plus a few frozen dishes for the days I just can’t find the strength to even boil rice. I can’t make winter go away but I can prepare for it. I don’t want to end up back in the hospital so I’m going to do what I can now to make sure winter is as easy as I can manage.

And now Colin’s wanting to chat before bed so it’s time for me to go.

Enduring winter…

Some days I think of Robin Williams and am sad he died so young. Other days I’m amazed that he lived so long. It’s all in my perspective at the time.

Depression and anxiety are separate illnesses but they feed off each other in a continual loop of fear and hopelessness, making even the smallest task seem insurmountable. I’ve found having a routine helps but that’s not perfect and some days find me rocking in the kitchen, too anxious to start dinner and too uncomfortable to leave.

I spent two weeks in the mental health ward of our hospital last winter. That’s something both my psychiatrist and myself want to avoid in 2018. So I’ve been trying to keep myself busy. I’ve got two groups each week and they each do a variety of activities from bowling to making bath bombs to playing games (I love Headbands) plus a social worker from the Canadian Mental Health Association comes on Fridays to check in on me and make sure I’m doing okay. That still leaves the bulk of my days empty, which is good in some ways. I often need time to wind down and relax after an activity. But the time alone doesn’t help the intrusive thoughts or being thrown into an anxiety attack over a load of dishes. I don’t even know why I’d have anxiety over something so small, yet it happens.

One friend of mine and I have decided we need to get together more often. She lives in the building behind us so it’s not exactly a hardship to meet. She’s well aware of my anxiety as she got to witness it full blown the day she and her husband took me to Costco. I’d been there before but on a weekday morning, not a Saturday afternoon. From the crowds you’d think there was a massive blow out sale going on but there was nothing, just lots of people buying until their wallets exploded from the pressure. I have to admit, the jumbo sized container of laundry soap packets was a good deal but it was nothing I’d go back for. So now we stick to karaoke at the quietest bar I’ve ever seen. Like so quiet I’m expecting a “for rent” sign on their door any day now. My friend also goes to another bar but has informed me it’s way too loud and crowded for me to handle.

My other friends have social anxiety and get anxious and cancel at the last minute. Which is generally okay because I’m taking deep breaths and trying to avoid an anxiety attack at the same time. But none of us are scary so I’m going to make more of an effort to connect with them. I’m sure we can manage getting together for tea.

Then there’s just the general suckage of winter. It was -22C this morning when I woke up. That would be a good number without the minus but it’s horrid with it. That’s not walking in the woods weather, it’s staying at home weather. But I can’t sit at home for three months either.

Colin and I have disability passes to our local recreation centre so we can walk on the track, which is boring but doable… especially with an MP3 player. And hopefully we’ll get some -2C weather to go walking outside.

And now I sit, watching as the sky turns dark so early, working up the courage to go make dinner. The window beside me is emanating cold air but otherwise my room is warm and summery, comfy enough that all five cats are napping in here. I study them, sprawled bonelessly across my bed and mat then I look back outside and settle in to wait for spring.

my room

My safe space and sanctuary from winter. I think it’s cozy and the cats certainly agree. There’s a strand of white lights on the wall but they don’t really show up here.

Getting by with friends…

Today is not a good day in some regards. I woke up feeling suicidal and, quite frankly, the only thing stopping me from going to the hospital is spending eight hours in the ER waiting room and their crappy food once I’m admitted. But I’m home and I’m safe in my room. And one of the reasons I’m safe is you.

I was terrified when I discovered that cheque had been removed? voided? well it just wasn’t there anymore. That was my entire half of the rent just gone… and it was replaced in one day by friends. One day. It’s more than I expected… it’s more than I hoped.

I am so glad all of you are here. Thank you!

Happiness is…

Happiness is… spending time with Jeremy, either playing Mario Kart or swimming, and just having fun. We’ve been going to a different pool lately, one owned by the same landlord but in a nearby building. Jeremy loves it and I love that it’s warmer than ours.

1221 pool

“I’ll race you Mom!”

Happiness is… picking out the perfect presents for Jeremy for Christmas. Yes, I know I shop early. Yes, I know there’s still 130 more days left and it’s still only August. It’s just that Christmas is my favourite holiday of the year and they really will love  all of them.

Happiness is… watching Jeremy’s happiness at finally buying the laptop they’ve been wanting for years. And seeing their confidence bloom again. I’ve watched for several years as Jeremy hid much of their feminine side and today they casually bought a pink and white laptop bag because it’s “perfect” and a hot pink keyfinder button for their keychain.

new laptop

“I am smiling!”

Happiness is… needing to work on a suicide prevention plan and asking friends permission to add them to a contact sheet… then getting so many friends volunteer it might turn into a contact booklet. I don’t know if my friends realize how much this means to me, how much it feels like I’ve been wrapped up in their caring.

Happiness is… going for a whirlwind vacation in just under two weeks and listening to Jeremy chatter about it several times a day. We have so much planned from the butterfly conservatory, to the waterpark, to the antique aerial car over the Niagara whirlpool; I’m not sure how we’re going to fit in sleep.

fallsview waterpark

“I can’t wait until we get there Mom. What do you think we should do first?”

Happiness is… waking up to two adorable kittens snuggled beside me. Their antics amuse me and warm my heart every single day.

Smudge relaxing small

So much adorable in such a small package!

Happiness is having so many things to be happy about 🙂

Baby steps…

I had my breakfast on my balcony today, while Jeremy slept in. The sun streamed down on me while I read a book on my phone and sipped my hot chocolate.

balcony bliss

Yesterday I went for a walk with my friend J and her dog to the local dog park. I warned her that I looked like hell and was not very chatty. She didn’t mind and told me I could come in my pjs if I wanted. Which was actually tempting until I lifted my shirt to put on deodorant and took a good whiff.

She sent an old computer home for Jeremy too and zie went into raptures over it.

“Oh wow! Mom! This thing has a molex connector. I can’t believe it!! And the power box is dead but I can fix that. I’ll just have to set it externally because it’s a Dell.”

I got the Dell part, I already knew they can’t be modified or upgraded without certified Dell parts; although Jeremy apparently had a work around for that. But molex?

“It’s the connector that came right before the sata connector,” Jeremy explained patiently.

I still didn’t understand but I know when I’m out of my depth so I just smiled and nodded. Soon the computer was not only set up but online and connected to our network. Well, Jeremy’s network. Zie has it set up, modifies it regularly, and looks at a wave graph to make sure our connection is set up to a barely used frequency so it can go faster.

The only computer class this kid has ever taken was a basic keyboarding class. I fought the school board for years to allow zir to take computer classes but they insisted it would be too hard for zir. Meanwhile zie’s already planning that the next computer zie gets will run DOS “because that would be fun to learn”. I was a teen in the 80’s. Fun and DOS are not words I’d ever used in the same sentence before.

And then there was last night. Jeremy laughed and talked to zir new computer for several hours while setting it up. Zie laughed while I made dinner, giggled and ate dinner while watching The Young Turks, ran to the bathroom to vomit, and continued laughing.

Jeremy settled back down with TYT while I checked my dinner post on Facebook to see when I’d served zir (technology is wonderful sometimes). A half hour earlier. Was that long enough for zir to have absorbed the medication? I quickly called the pharmacy and headed to Google “how long does it take effexor to get into your system”. What popped up was more relevant to zir than me…

“How long does it take for Effexor to work? Sleep, energy, or appetite may show some improvement within the first 1-2 weeks. Improvement in these physical symptoms can be an important early signal that the medication is working. Depressed mood and lack of interest in activities may need up to 6-8 weeks to fully improve.”

This would have been so nice for the doctor to tell me. I’ve heard the two week line before but I’d gone into the hospital feeling between 0 and 1 on a scale of 0 to 10 and went up to 4 by my first appointment. I knew I was still having problems. I knew things weren’t right. I wish someone had told me it would take over a month to reach anything close to “normal”. I honestly thought I was losing my mind.

I sat on hold, singing along with the Everly Brothers. The pharmacist interrupted the second song to tell me zie’s fine. It’s absorbed within 20 minutes.

I’m trying to take things one day at a time and break everything into manageable pieces. Some days are easier than others. This month I don’t qualify for any sort of assistance so I’m sitting here grateful for my obsession with stockpiling food. I have a list of papers I need to obtain (along with some lovely phone anxiety). My application for disability is timed, which means I have to start filling that out on top of applying for Employment Insurance (which I qualify for).

*deep breath* it will get done.

I’m grateful for the friends who message me, visit, and call (even from California). I’m not the best conversationalist these days but I try. I’m grateful for my family who I’m seeing tomorrow. We’re going to the garden centre and I’m going to plant a fairy garden (complete with fountain). Last, but not least, I’m grateful for my kidlet Jeremy who can be annoying as hell some days and almost certainly has Pathological Demand Avoidance (a diagnosis I found when sent a link by accident). But zie also is funny, kind, and supportive… offering me hugs when needed and suggesting I go sit in the rocking chair and rock if I seem overwhelmed.

My next baby step is a walk to the lake with Jeremy where we’re going to try to get photos of the almost full moon rising over the water. It will be fabulous.