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What is Happening?

19 Jun

I posted this on Facebook today but wanted it here as well.

A good portion of my job is to be on Facebook and social media in general. Otherwise, I would find right now a good time to take a break, and I think it will serve me well to go ahead and limit the amount of time spent on my personal account going forward anyway.

I rarely speak out politically, but there comes a time when making your position known is necessary because your silence feels like acquiescence. I’m disheartened (to put it mildly…enraged and disgusted are the better descriptors) by so many things going on in the world right now. Atrocities supported and defended based on unsourced or twisted information, outright lies or misrepresentations, memes for Pete’s sake, or political party affiliations blindly followed into some sort of dogmatic effed up dystopian world that we are going to find difficult or impossible to return from. All of this is surreal. What is happening?

Before I head to the doctor for a refill on much-needed antidepressants (not sarcasm, that is seriously happening in about 2 hours) and crawl back under the covers to shun the world (also happening after the doctor), here are some links to educate, dispell a few prevalent myths, and maybe do some good in this hot mess of a society we find ourselves in these days.

  1. FACT CHECK: Was the ‘Law to Separate Families’ Passed in 1997 or ‘by Democrats’?
  2. MYTHS: 9 Myths About Trump’s ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Policy
  3. HELP: Here’s How You Can Help Fight Family Separation at the Border

Be a good human. We are so much better than this.

Photo by Roi Dimor on Unsplash

Sometimes I’m Sad Panda

16 Jun

This was originally published on Girl Go Glow, but I wanted it to live here, too. The timing is right to post it tonight. I let my meds lapse and have been trying to hold it together mentally for the past couple of weeks until I can get back to the doctor on Tuesday for a new prescription. I did what you should never do – took my meds all willy-nilly and let them lapse. I don’t know why I do this. I’m not ashamed of taking meds, I NEED them. But I think part of me feels some sense of failure that I have to have them at all to function properly. Like the real me is broken. This contradicts a bit of what I say below but that’s me, a walking contradiction.

On the worst days, I can’t get out of bed. The mattress becomes a magnet and my body morphs into a blob of iron. The bed is my safe haven, the darkness and blankets a shield. I’m surrounded by grayness and apathy. Zoloft. Therapy. Noting Triggers. Prozac. Negative vs. Positive Self-Talk. Mindfulness. Meditation. Wellbutrin. Breath Work. Affirmations. Citalopram. Visualization. Self-Help Books. Exercise. Sunshine. Worry Stones. Journaling. Lexapro. All of these are or have been in my arsenal. I won’t win, but I can maintain a truce sometimes.

I don’t purposely keep it a secret that I battle anxiety and depression. It is what it is, and it’s cool if it comes up in conversation. If I see a good resource, I’ll pass it along in hopes that others might benefit. It’s just not something I’ve spoken about in a public forum in a very long time. But as the co-author of a blog meant to empower others to live authentic and purposeful lives, if I can’t speak here about this huge part of who I am, then where and when can I? I SHOULD talk about it. Depression and mental illness are not talked about enough, as the stigma surrounding it makes evident. This stigma is real, and it bugs me that depression isn’t seen as a “valid” disease in the traditional sense. I mean, I can’t call off work and tell my boss that I can’t get out of bed because I’m consumed by sadness. It just doesn’t work that way and I’d prefer not to receive a call from HR. Yet for me and millions of others, depression is as debilitating as a migraine, the flu, or any other physical malady, but we have to pretend it isn’t and I’ve learned to hide it fairly well, except on the really bad days.

I don’t remember the day I was categorized or diagnosed as “depressed”. It seems to have been a gradual progression from childhood anxiety to bouts of depressed episodes in adulthood. I wasn’t what you’d call a troubled kid; quite the opposite. I did great in school, followed the rules, had friends, did the extracurriculars, all the normal stuff. I was shy and socially awkward except around close friends or family, but that’s pretty standard for introverts I’d say. I blame faulty genes for the most part and dumb luck for the rest. Research has shown that as many as 40% of people with depression can trace it to a genetic link and that those with parents or siblings who have depression are up to 3x more likely to also be depressed. Thanks, genetics, you’re a real pal.

So while the specifics of the beginning are foggy, I do recall the grayness getting worse as I entered the real world of career and full-fledged adulthood. Being an adult sucks y’all, no doubt. I remember coming home from the doctor one day in my 20s with a bottle of Prozac. Thus began my journey through the land of pharmaceutical wonders that I’d try for a while and then, due to side effects or tolerance or something, I’d switch to a new one. Make no mistake, I am not anti-medication. I am pro do-whatever-works-for-you. I’ll probably be on antidepressants for the rest of my life, and that is a-okay. For me, meds help with the surprise attacks of depression. Sometimes I can pinpoint triggers and other times there is no warning or obvious cause. One side-note – I do know that having a baby was one of the best and worst times of my life. Postpartum depression will knock you off your feet and is one of the many reasons hubs and I are one and done in the kid department (another post to come on this at some point). I can’t and won’t go through that again. Bottom line: Knowing your triggers is helpful for minimizing the damage but isn’t possible for me most of the time.

There is comfort in knowing you are not alone. I recently started listening to a podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression. John Moe talks to comedians about their struggles with depression. Sarcasm and humor, self-deprecating and otherwise, are coping mechanisms for many of us. The latest episode featured Hannah Hart and a lot of talk about not feeling worthy; of having achieved fantastic things but not feeling like you did it or deserved it; never feeling good enough. If I recall correctly, Hannah said she might get 10 days out of the month where she felt normal and ok. That gave me pause and I thought about what my number might be; how many days do I feel NOT depressed? It’s hard to say, but I’d estimate that on average, I feel “good” about 15-20 days out of the month. That’s a lot of leftover days as Sad Panda Jenn. Yikes.

What’s a typical day in the life of Sad Panda Jenn you ask? I sleep a LOT. Can’t get out of bed and if I do, it’s a massive mental undertaking. I may or may not shower. I’m irritable or silent. Prone to tears. Withdrawn. Unmotivated and apathetic. Feelings of failure about everything. If I make it out into public, I don’t want to interact with people (actually, that’s kind of just Regular Jenn but it’s much more pronounced on bad days). I eat my emotions, so bring on the junk food. I feel like absolute shit about myself. Worthless. I sit in my car in random parking lots as long as possible. I become very internally focused. Voices in my head bully me and I believe them. I question every past decision I’ve ever made and fear future ones. I don’t understand how I can feel this way when I am so fortunate in life and there are multitudes suffering so much worse than I. It doesn’t make sense and brings a sense of guilt on top of the rest. I crave darkness and small spaces that wrap themselves around me (like my car or bed. I want one of those weighted blankets, but am afraid I’d never come out from under it.) I hate everything. I’m not nice to myself. A sometimes-helpful tip from my therapist in regards to this last one is that if it’s not something I would say to my daughter or a friend, don’t say it to myself. Treat yourself with the same kindness. Easy to say, harder to do. But I digress. All of this lasts in varying degrees anywhere from a couple of days to weeks. My method of coping is to use whatever I can muster from my above-mentioned arsenal and just wait it out. I will rebound eventually and then the cycle will start over. I do my best.

Doesn’t all this make you wanna hang out with me? I’m a real peach, eh? I know this post isn’t particularly positive or uplifting, but newsflash – neither is real life all of the time. Real life is hard and ugly and well, depressing. But it’s also lovely and beautiful and fun. What’s that saying?  Stars can’t shine without darkness.

Thanks for reading and please know that if you’re having mental health struggles, that you are in good company; I mean, I’m here, right?!?!? Know that it is ok to build a pillow fort and stay there all day if you need to. Take advantage of resources available to you and don’t feel any shame! Take meds, see a doctor or therapist if you can, meditate, volunteer to help others, journal. Develop your own customized arsenal. Reach out to people who get it, reach out to me, someone, anyone.

Just a few of the many resources out there:

That said, I don’t want to make it sound as if all you have to do is ask for help and the cavalry will come to save you. I know that depression can “mute your ability to reach out” as someone else put it after the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. This article, Stop Telling Us To Ask For Help. Depression Doesn’t Work Like That speaks to that better than I can. And that makes mental illness all the more tragic.

Since You’ve Been Gone

20 Apr

aaron-burden-363695-unsplash


I can breathe for the first time…Just kidding.

After about a year’s absence I kinda just have to start over here. Here are the major highlights:

  • I started a new job! 🙂
  • Our dog died. 😦
  • I restarted and then quit grad school. Again. 😦
  • I’ve gained about 20 pounds. 😦

One out of four is not great, I realize. But the steady stream of good stuff that has continued through 2017 and into this year serves to even it out I think. We’re calling it break even anyway.

First, the job. Y’all know I have complained ad nauseam about Cubicle Nation for-freakin’-ever. I have been at the new gig for over six months now and I’ll be honest, barring being a kept woman or a travel writer, this is about the ideal job for me at this time and place in my life. I’m doing fun social media, communication, writing things at a non-profit. The commute is still outrageous, but I do get to work one day a week from home. The other negative was that I took a god-awful huge pay cut, but the trade-off was worth it to do worthwhile, fulfilling, and creative work. So yay happiness!

Second, the dog. Our chocolate lab, Cooper was ten and a half, and after a couple of weeks of obvious illness, we found out he had cancer throughout his liver. We had to put him peacefully to sleep. I’ve never had to experience that before and it was heartbreaking. But there was no way I was going to see him not be able to get around and in pain. This was the right choice. One day (if I can convince hubs) maybe we’ll get another dog. For now, we’re adjusting to life without our Big Brown.

Third, grad school. I continued work on a graduate degree in Liberal Arts, did a few classes, then a major bout of depression hit me, and I quit. Plain and simple. It sucked, and I kind of hate myself for it. But then the new job came along and it doesn’t have the tuition benefit anyway, so I suppose it was meant to be – if you believe in all that Fate crap. Anyway, maybe anything past a Bachelor’s degree just isn’t for me. Or maybe I’ll go back someday. Time will tell.

Lastly, weight gain. What’s there to really say about that? I still struggle mightily with depression and all the food issues that go along with that. And I like my sweets and junk food, sue me. Living healthier is constantly on my mind; it’s the doing it that hinders me.

So there you have it. A year’s absence caught up in a few paragraphs. Here’s to reviving Finnspace.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

2016 so far

24 Jan

…has already had quite a few ups and downs.

The Ups

My dad’s store moved to a new location and it is pretty amazing. Nicer and newer with better parking and facilities. It’s been a stressful time for him but I think things are finally settling down and falling into place.

Hubs had some big/positive things happen at his work that are in his/our favor. I’m sure it means more work and stress on his part but that comes with it.

Kiddo is happy and healthy and had a great Christmas and is doing well in school and dance. She has a lot of friends and loves her teacher. Pretty well-adjusted so far. I may pay for this in the teen years but so far so good.

I am officially a graduate student! Classes started last week and I’m pretty excited. This deserves it’s own post.

I’ve grown a lot closer to and have developed some great friendships with some amazing women at work. They have really been a wonderful support to me lately. It’s interesting because I’ve worked there for a couple of years now and have known these ladies the whole time but just in the past several months have really connected and started hanging out with them regularly.

I have been doing a ton of cross-stitching lately, for gifts and otherwise. I’ll have to post some photos. I find it very relaxing and just plain fun. My mom taught me how as a kid and it’s one of those hobbies I start and stop and eventually come back to.

The Downs

I am trying to find employment closer to home to eliminate the craptastic commute. I had a first and then second interview for a fantastic, exciting job and was really feeling good about it. I didn’t get it and I was crushed. That was/is a hard mental hit and I’m still struggling with it.

In that vein, depression is a real thing already this year. I’m dealing but it is a constant cloud that hangs over me.

I’ve already been to one funeral this year. My sweet sister-in-law’s father passed away.

I can’t seem to get in control of my weight. I’m trying and have friends who are in this with me and are a great help, but no one but me can do it. It can be so discouraging and I just want to sit in bed and eat cake. Yada yada. It’s such a weird thing. The whole body positive movement that seems to be popular these days is great. Loving the body you have now and all that jazz. I’m totally on board with OTHER people loving the body that they have…but not so much me; I don’t love the one I have and I’m not sure how to get there. You can say “I’m happy with my body, it’s beautiful, does all these great things, etc”…but to actually BELIEVE it. Not happening.

The plantar fasciitis is still bothering me. My own damn fault because I didn’t continue with PT like I was supposed to. I have a very self sabotaging mindset and this is a prime example. I do have an appointment for PT this week to start over however. Back on the horse and all that.

So there you have it!

Peas ‘n carrots,
Finn

The Struggle Bus

31 Oct

I agree with this article, to a point.

Why You’re Depressed and Not Getting Better

I’ve asked myself this very question many times and yet again over the past few weeks. It’s been a very low time. I’ve missed work because I couldn’t get out of bed. I’ve gotten ready for work and then had a breakdown in my garage and ended up crying and sleeping in my car for an hour before going inside and climbing back into bed for the rest of the day, I’ve cancelled appointments, withdrawn from the world and then reached out to friends, cried, curled up, and wished for the world to go away.

It’s a constant question…Why can’t I just be better? I am proactive. I take medication, I see a therapist regularly, I meditate. I’m going to try hypnosis. There are things I know I can do better though. Eat healthier and get more exercise are a couple of extremely important examples that are a particular struggle for me, especially while in a downward turn.

I want to throat punch those who say to me, “just be happy”, “why are you sad”. Because don’t you think I WANT to feel better more consistently? Do you think I, or anyone, WANT this?

I do think depression is a disease, but I also think the author of the above article has a valid point that there are other causes from within and these are things I talk about in therapy. However, my brain is chemically broken. I believe that.

This current downturn seems to be breaking and I’m peeking out from under the gray blanket a bit. It’s a cycle. A cycle that’s always in the back of my mind because it’s not leaving me, it will always return and I’ll be right back under the covers again, withdrawing.

Sometimes the only thing that works for me is to wait it out.

yo yo, etc

11 Apr

Good news. I got a killer haircut and color today. Also, I’m back to my normal level of crazy vs. bedridden crazy. The darkness ran its course and is in the background until next time. That’s just the nature of it. My entire body is sore though and I feel stiff and creaky. I think mostly from doing a lot of walking at work in inappropriate footwear, and I guess the rest is just from being almost 40 or something. In other medical related news, I’m on a new asthma medication that I take daily instead of just relying on my inhaler, which I was borderline abusing. So far it’s working great. I’m well on my way to pill boxes labeled with days of the week and gallon ziploc bags full of meds. Womp womp.

Speaking of work, this grant that’s due first part of May will be the death of me. I’m learning a lot though. Mostly that I don’t like project management of grants, ha. Its going ok overall with some general frustrations over my emails not being read and feeling out of my element. But its keeping me busy and that’s a plus. The other big aspect of my job I truly like, however. I’m coordinating a weekly workshop and am in charge of all aspects. A bit stressful but such a high when all goes well and I’m finding my groove.

I totally bailed on a 5k today. Kid wasn’t feeling good last night and that got me off kilter, but to be honest, the main reason was that I just didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I do what I want ya see. I did make up for it later this afternoon and got in a 4 mile wog. I’m freaking out a bit because I have a 1/2 marathon in a month. I just want to do it in 3 hours and I’ll be happy with that. Tomorrow we bike. Monday we wog. Tuesday we weigh and hope to hit the 10 lbs lost mark. But now we sleep.

stars

6 Apr

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 7.49.28 PMThe only reason I got out of bed this morning was to get my kid to school and then pick her up again this afternoon. Then I collapsed back under the blankets and willed my bed to swallow me whole.

While meditation, yoga, therapy, and medication have dramatically decreased the frequency of the “episodes” I have, there are some days when even those things are powerless against my anxiety and depression. On those days I am broken and the only thing I can do is wait it out and hope the cycle passes quickly.

When I fall, I fall hard but at least its usually onto a soft mattress and comfy blankets.

Tomorrow will be better.

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