Depression resurfaces…

I woke up to a room filled with sunshine and a sleepy cat purring by my side. My favourite breakfast food, hot chocolate and an english muffin, were waiting for me to prepare them and I bought myself a pomegranate as a special treat.

Soon the cats started pleading for their wet cat food then, as I rolled out of bed, a thought came unbidden.

“Oh no, not this again!”

The weight of all those hours and minutes ahead pressed down hard. It was overwhelming enough to take my breath away. Meanwhile there’s nothing stressful or even annoying about today. It was my body’s automatic reaction to simply being alive.

I have so much to live for. My adult children, a happy, adorable grandson, my parents, my cats. I’ve got a girlfriend who’s nice and doesn’t live too far away… who I’m seeing next week. Friends I see every week and more friends I chat with on messenger every day. I have an apartment I love and activities I truly enjoy. I have an amazing trip in a month and a half, where I’ll be surrounded by family. It’s a good life.

This depression didn’t spring out of nowhere. I’ve been struggling for several weeks to keep up with the dishes, wash my clothes, and make healthy meals. I have to start cooking by 4pm, otherwise I simply won’t have the energy to cook. I’m exhausted all day and need a nap in order to function… then wake up fully after using the toilet at night and need to settle myself all over again. I can’t understand how, at 2pm, I can sleep with my lights on and my comforter crumpled up under my right hip while at 2am, I can’t sleep because there’s a wrinkle near my big toe.

Luckily, this time, I haven’t reached the point of suicidal ideation. The cynical part of me whispers “yet”. I really don’t want to go to the hospital. It’s not bad, just boring as hell, which is okay for the first couple of days but gets more frustrating as time goes on. I can walk around the hallway and get my 10,000 steps (which I did last time), colour pages in the cafeteria, and chat with the other people. But there’s a lot of time and a limited number of activities to fill it with. I’d rather be home with my swing chair to calm me down, friends to distract me, cats to soothe me, and family to love me. Plus the freedom to walk in nature instead of around a sterile hall.

This post took me way longer to write than I expected. I started at breakfast time and have just finished lunch. And I keep on rocking in my chair and trying to breathe normally. Now I’m going to take a nap to calm me down and settle myself and hopefully the rest of the day will be better.

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Me at Cedar Valley Park

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Why do I keep going?

You keep going because puppies and kittens are a thing and tomorrow might have the best sunset you’ve ever seen. You keep going because of belly laughs and your favourite ice cream. For the glimpse of a cardinal. For music so pure and lovely that it sends shivers up your spine.

You keep going for the sound of a baby’s laughter and a new book from your favourite author. You keep going for a bubble bath that smells heavenly and for the crisp crunch of snow beneath your feet. You keep going for summer swimming and sunlight through new green leaves. You keep going for a glimpse of that big, fat orange moon in the fall, the one so impossibly orange you can’t believe it’s not photoshopped even though you’re looking at it in the sky right now.

You keep going because of your favourite meal and how you can’t imagine not eating it ever again. You keep going because your favourite show has been renewed and it’s only four more months until the new episodes. You keep going because that couldn’t be the last mug of coffee you’ll ever savour.

You keep going because life isn’t an exciting movie with cliff hangers and a fast paced plot. It’s a series of small things all strung together by you. And you keep going because maybe one of those small things is big enough to convince you not to cut the string.

You keep going because the alternate leaves you with nothing.

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Where are the stars?

picture 2First came Kate Spade. I knew about her vaguely  because she brought out a purse shaped piggy bank titled “Kate saved” and I’d debated on buying it for Kait for her birthday. My Mom pointed out it was a play on words with the designer’s name, which I’d never heard before. I didn’t hear about her again until I found out she’d strangled herself to death with her red scarf.

Then came Anthony Bourdain. I don’t even know anything about him, just that he was 61 years old and had been fighting depression and substance abuse.

And then came the Facebook posts saying that he didn’t die too soon. He’d struggled for years and had lived a lifetime. That he’d had 30 more years than someone who’d died at thirty-one and the poster would have given anything for those thirty extra years.

I’m a hell of a lot closer to 61 than I am 30 and I can tell you right now that it isn’t enough. I want the chance to see my grandchild grow up. I want to see him finish high school, to fall in love. He’d only be 13 if I died then.

And I sit here in the sunshine and wonder where’s the light. It’s supposedly darkest before the dawn but I’m staring into the east and there’s no sun rising there.

They say that in the darkness there’s stars but the depths are inky black and no pinpricks of light are shining back at me.

I told my psychiatrist that those two were rich, with all the amenities that affords. The best therapists. The best counselling. I’m, well, not rich. I worry about falling through the cracks to land seven stories below. I guess technically eight because there’s a slope under my apartment.

My psychiatrist is worried about me.

When is going to the hospital the best choice to make and when is it running away from my problems? I’m already avoiding both balconies. My mind spools like an old film projector, showing reel after reel of me jumping. But, at the same time, I need to get the letters from our office for Revenue Canada. I need to deliver my new prescription to the pharmacy. And my cats would miss me.

And I look to the sky and hope, in vain, to see the stars.

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Playing depression limbo…

I got my glass measuring cup from the cupboard and started carefully pouring milk. It took me a couple of seconds to realize it was cow’s milk. I’ve been vegan for five years. No harm done though. Oreo was right by my feet so I pulled out a ramekin and gave him the milk before carefully rinsing the cup. I put the milk away and got out a carton of cashew milk and set it on the counter then got a carton of cashew milk and stared in bewilderment.

I laughed about my forgetfulness and made a humorous post on Facebook. Then it came time to make dinner the following evening and I just did not have the energy to make anything. The simplest meals seemed much too hard. So I had an english muffin with peanut butter and a mug of hot chocolate, my usual breakfast and standard depression dinner.

Last night I had a dream that I was an inpatient in the psychiatric ward again. I can remember thinking “how did I get here?” and remember the frustration of being back yet again.

This morning I finally recognized the depression clinging to me like tar. It’s heavy and weighs down everything I do, making each task take twice as long. I tried to carefully plan my breakfast but still ended up with two hot chocolate mugs waiting on the counter because I’d completely forgotten I’d got one out already. Depression fucks with your memory.

20180505_101511.jpgI know life isn’t fair but that was my first thought anyhow. I’m on twelve pills a day (seven prescriptions) and have been trying so hard. The weather’s getting nicer, the sun’s shining, and the buds are almost exploding from where they’ve been hiding all winter. Every day brings a bit more green… a bit more colour. I should be happy. I should be eagerly anticipating Kait and Josh’s move to their first apartment together. I should be eagerly anticipating their first child and my first grandchild. I should be thrilled to pieces about Colin’s acceptance into college prep classes. And I am… underneath all that tar. So far anhedonia hasn’t reared it’s ugly head. I’m still scrapbooking, still going to karaoke, still visiting family.

So I’m going to dye my hair teal and take the bus to my parents’ house this afternoon, hoping I can fake it well enough to be good company. And I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Depression has pulled out the limbo game of “how low can you go?” but I’m not interesting in playing that. Hopefully, somehow I can work past it. Hopefully I’ve got enough supports in place to work through and past this depressive state.

Two years…

I deserve better blankTwo years ago I cried until I thought I could cry no more and still the tears kept coming. I cried until my eyes swelled shut and my head ached. I felt like my entire world had fallen in on me and there was nothing left but ruins. Like there was only one option left and that was to jump off my 7th storey balcony to the unforgiving pavement below. All that stopped me was the concern that it might not be high enough. What would happen if I ended up paralyzed? I wouldn’t be able to try again.

Luckily for me I’m a writer. I write about everything and this was no exception. I got on Facebook and a veritable flood of words was released. I lied and said I wasn’t planning to kill myself. Even so, what I said was worrying enough that my sister Jen called then drove me down to the hospital. My Mom traded off with her when Jen had to pick up her kids. It takes a long time to be seen for mental health issues but they do keep close track of you.

In some ways that day feels like the beginning of a whole different life but it wasn’t. I’d been struggling with my mental health for at least a year. My family doctor started me on Effexor the spring of 2015 and prescribed Ativan for my rare panic attacks. It was getting harder and harder to stay at work. Some days I’d grip the sides of the cash register or my arms in an attempt not to run screaming out the door. I had always been the fun loving person. I cracked jokes, sang along with the radio, hugged people who liked hugging, and joked with the regular customers. My manager joked that Happy was my theme song. All that slowly drained away as my focus turned inward, a silent struggle to keep running my life.

20180418_101120.jpgIt’s been two long years but I’m slowly rebuilding my life. I’m printing out my scrapbooking pages and am finally up to mid 2017. I’m starting to read again and am thinking, once again, about my novel. I’ve joined three groups and enjoy every one of them. I visit my family every week and try to get out once a month for karaoke (yes, I can sing LOL). It’s not the same life I had before. My attention span is negligible. I find two hour classes to be just long enough. Any more would be overwhelming. But I’m surrounded by friends and family. Life is good.

Am I back to normal? No. I’m currently taking twelve pills in order to function and still struggle with anxiety. Am I happy? Yes. And I think that’s the most important answer of them all.

building your life

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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Reality is just a word…

I woke up this morning feeling discombobulated. Well actually I woke up feeling like I had to pee but as soon as that got sorted out I felt discombobulated. Like the rest of the world took a step to the left and I misread the instructions and took a step to the right. Everything looks the same but there’s something off. Chances are it’s me. Meanwhile life goes on, even if it doesn’t feel quite like my life. As if I’m running after normal… kind of like when I was a kid and tumbled off the wagon at the apple orchard. Running as hard as I can and hoping someone will reach over and help me back up.

My eleven year old cat Blackie has lost a bunch of weight, like half her body weight. I didn’t notice at first because she’s fluffy and has a big round tummy. Plus I usually scratch her neck and chin. But last week I ran my hand across her back and felt backbone. I did more rubbing and found her collar bones and her breast bone. I’d originally called that her keel bone but that’s in birds and I’d have to take another step to the right to get that far from reality.

Last night I sent Colin out to get wet cat food and he came back with Whiskas Duos. My plan was to get a small plate and open the tin in the bathroom. Colin pulled a Oprah instead, snapping off cans and handing them out willy nilly. Here’s wet food for you, you, and especially for you. They all loved it and, most importantly, Blackie immediately started gobbling it down. Then I looked closer and realized she was only eating the broth, not the chicken bits.

This morning, Blackie was sitting by the electric fireplace, just relaxing, so I got her a container and spooned it out on a plate. And today she started eating the chicken pieces. I don’t have a “way to go you’re eating chicken bits” award but if I did, she earned it. Then I made the fatal mistake. Smudge likes to lick peanut butter off my finger while I eat breakfast. She’d been there before I served Blackie but wandered off.

“Smudgie… Smudgie-pants… I’ve got peanut butter for you!” I called.

Smudge ran over, sniffed my finger and walked away. Behind her came Lara, Angel, and Oreo… while I blurted “I didn’t call you”. Soon they were all crowded around Blackie. I went from eating breakfast to turning into a cat bouncer. And all the while, Blackie gobbled away. When she stopped, Angel (our 12 year old) was the only cat left so I let her have a shot at the plate. Ten minutes later, the sounds of retching filled the air. I followed the sound to the bathroom, where Angel was busy vomiting.

“It’s okay baby. Sometimes food is like that,” I assured her as she gagged. It didn’t come back up last night so I’ll give it another chance, maybe it was just a coincidence. Maybe she took a step to the right too. Maybe the food’s different here. Whatever it is, she gets one more chance with wet cat food, otherwise she’s staying 100% dry.

I don’t know what time Colin went to sleep last night but I woke him up at noon and just now, at 12:40pm. Hopefully he’ll stay awake now because I want to clean up the living room today and all the mess consists of his computers and two chairs which he insists we need and I insist we don’t need… especially in the middle of the floor.

One weird thing I’ve noticed is I don’t rock when I’m typing. But today I’m rocking all the rest of the time. Maybe typing counts as stimming? Maybe that only works a step to the right?

I’ve got a prescription to give to my pharmacist. My psychiatrist does not like the sheer number of pills I’m taking a day, which would be ten. I just counted. So he’s switching out the clonazepam for another pill that also works as an antidepressant and will continue to drop and modify my prescription with each appointment. He also knows my blog address now. I don’t know if he was just reading it that once or if he’s checking in every once in a while. It was probably just a one time thing but, just in case, hi Dr. K.

With any luck, Colin will be willing to drop off my prescription today. Otherwise I’ll have to do it tomorrow. I’m not going out feeling like this. I have to cross an intersection of two fairly big roads and I don’t feel connected enough to my body to do that. I’ll stick with dishes and standing in the living room saying, “I’ve got half a computer tower here. Where do you want it? No, the centre of the living room is not an option.”

But maybe I’ll cuddle with Blackie-boo first.