Archive | therapy RSS feed for this section

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.

Therapy: On Feeling Better

25 May

My latest therapy session was a good one. We spent a lot of time talking about simply wanting to feel better and using that as motivation rather than relying on a number on the scale or the size of my pants to dictate my mood.

I’m feeling all of my 42 years plus about 10 more these days. I shouldn’t struggle so much to get up off my kid’s floor, be winded after climbing a few stairs, or be so stiff that I have to literally roll off the bed and hobble to the bathroom because my joints haven’t “warmed up” yet.

Realistically, the goal of having a taut, lean body are long gone. I’ve lowered my standards and they are twofold.

1. Feel better physically overall.

2. Belly less protruding than boobs.

That’s legit it, and I really don’t think this is unachievable. Until I actually try to do it. I sounds like the cliched broken record here but, do you know what I had for dinner tonight? Leftover pizza and raw cookie dough. I KNOW that is not going to make me feel better physically and yet I do it again and again and again. Which tells me that this is more of a mental struggle than anything. Conquer the mind and you conquer the body, right? So how does one do that? I have zero clue and thus the cycle continues.

Dr. B and I talked about just focusing on doing fun things that I enjoy and that are active. Indoor rock climbing and cycling came to mind. I’ve done both and enjoy them, as much as I’m going to enjoy any physical activity. A further stretch is getting back into a dance class – maybe belly dancing even. I mean, I already have the belly so I figure I have a head start on that one.

I dunno. I tend to think that I should have this figured out by now and I feel really dumb for still struggling with this stuff at my age. I’m trying to ward off an impending funk but all I can think about as I stuff junk food in my face is how I’m getting fatter and fatter. Which carries over into my confidence in other areas and down the rabbit hole we go. Maybe there will be pie at the bottom.

Photo by Bekir Dönmez on Unsplash

stress and therapists who text

17 Jul

Today was super stressful. Lots to do and my head just wasn’t in it. My brain was not working at all and I was struggling with concepts that should have been relatively simple. My boss probably thinks I’m a total doofus. Oh well. I powered through anyway and managed to get all the things done that were required. Small victories. Hopefully I didn’t screw anything up.

A therapy appointment that went over didn’t help my stress level either. It was productive as usual however. Its almost like sitting in a class about yourself. You’re the student and the therapist is the teacher…teaching you things about yourself that you may or may not know or realize. Its a bizarre thing at times. I should probably take notes.

And is it weird that my therapist texted me? I didn’t even realize she had my number and I was sitting in the waiting room and get a text from a number I didn’t recognize saying that this person was running late but would be there in five minutes. I didn’t answer and I thought there was a chance it was the doc but dismissed the thought until she comes in and says “hey did you get my text”? It just struck me as weird. Then at the end of the session she said she would text me some information on meditation resources and she did. Its like we’ve reached a whole new level in our relationship or something. Ha.

Ok, some yahoo crazy cuckoo person (me), booked a 5:45AM flight for in the morning. My reasons were noble (to maximize time with my friends) but man, getting up in four hours is gonna hurt tomorrow. I’ll manage on adrenaline alone though. I love traveling solo. Love it love it love it. I’ll be in Pittsburgh by lunchtime and all will be well.

Long morning ride

29 Sep

092813_Bike_RideI got 21 miles in this morning on Trekster. It felt amazing. Perfect weather, perfect scenery. The only thing that wasn’t perfect was my sore tailbone but that’s a small price to pay for cheap therapy.

Speaking of therapy (am I awesome at segues or what?), mine went well the other day. I’m feeling better after, as well as thanks to some great friends I’ve been able to hang out with lately. I always seem to come out of those black periods and be ok until the next one hits. So I’ll ride this wave as long as I can. Its all I can do.

Dr. B asked me some great questions, which I couldn’t answer definitively at the time but they sure gave my brain a workout thinking about them. One was “what are you getting out of x situation?” and another was “Do you really like running?” She meant literally running by the way. Many times I try to force myself into being (or trying to be) something that I’m not, but I try to put a round peg in a square hole because that’s what I think I SHOULD do. She also told me that someone was talking to her about Burning Man the other day and she immediately thought of me. It has always been on my bucket list and she strongly recommended that I look into it and/or other festivals and events like it and participate in one within the next six months. It does seem an appropriate compromise to abandoning ship and running away to Timbuktu eh?

And I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a self analysis. To sleep for me.

Ciao.

 

in which i am a major downer

24 Sep

I wonder if those who’ve passed on can watch us, the ones left here. Are they shocked at the difference in someone they knew in life because they can now see how they really are in death? Can my grandma see me? And not just see me, but know what I’m feeling and thinking? Can she see my inexplicable sadness these past couple of weeks? Sometimes I wake up and remember that she’s gone and its like a surprise that I have to adjust my brain to again and again.

My sadness hasn’t been 100% due to her passing although that is part of my melancholy. I’ve been in one of my “black” periods, to be quite dramatic about it. Sleeping a lot, missing a bit of work, not socializing, shutting myself off, irritable, snippy, crying, lackluster. A good ol’ bout of old fashioned depression I guess. For a combination of reasons that are better left to my therapist’s ears during tomorrow’s visit than for me to lay out here. Feeling like I’m just taking up space, unfulfilled, not challenged, useless, second best, less than, etc etc. All the pathetic pitiful lame things. I feel wretched even typing this. Like, what is wrong with me??? Freakin’ crazy person, that’s what.

When this happens at its worst, I nearly cease to function. I don’t want to do anything but sleep. I have no motivation for anything but what I absolutely have to do to get by. I haven’t been eating well and exercise has been non-existent the past few weeks. I’m currently thinking that I won’t even bother with the 1/2 Marathon that I was training for. My heart isn’t in it anymore. That makes me feel like a failure. Again.

Kiddo has been pushing my buttons lately. She is severely attached to me. Like, I can’t go anywhere without her. She doesn’t want her daddy, she wants me. It’s sweet and endearing until I can’t remember who I was before being a mom anymore and am on the verge of running away. Really running away, not just to the grocery. Yesterday I finally put my foot down and went for a drive just to escape the responsibility. I came home to news that she had sobbed herself to sleep calling for me. My tombstone is going to read, “She lived every day trapped by guilt for one reason or another. Even when she fled to the grocery store for some peace”.

The mommy thing isn’t all bad of course and I don’t mean to insinuate that at all. We spent a great day at the zoo and at her best friend’s house, we went to her first Titans game, the ballet, rescued a turtle with a chopped off leg, yada yada. She’s funny and sweet and loving. The bad doesn’t last. It’s like the pain of getting a tattoo. The pain lasts until you think you can’t stand it anymore and then it stops, is soothed and then starts over again. But while the needle is poking you, over and over again…you wonder what in the hell you were thinking.

And I wish I could explain it all better. I know my impatience with kiddo is a by product of my mood and other things that are going on. That’s not fair to her and I try not to let her see it although I’m not always successful at that either. The Accountant doesn’t get it. Doesn’t understand why I’m just not happy, why I snap at him and kiddo, why I just start crying for no apparent reason. Basically, I’ve been a royal pain to live with lately.

I had a dream this morning. I was running. Through fields, up hills, through forests, in between weird blue crosses, along the beach…dodging cars and people…running fast and strong and free….I came to a path up a steep hill alongside the ocean. Instead of running along the beach, I choose the uphill path. I could see a sparkling city skyline over the top of the crest and I was running towards it as fast as I could. And then my alarm went off and I cursed the interruption. Always reaching for something that I can’t ever seem to obtain.

funny and serious

7 Aug

downI was reading something the other day that stuck in my brain and made me want to “write it out”.

What’s that saying about never letting anyone determine your self worth? Something like that. I make mistakes. Sometimes the same ones repeatedly. And there are times that I feel like I have imparted grace to others in multiple instances but don’t get that same consideration given back to me when its my turn to screw up. It is what it is.

I am not an inconsiderate person who hurts others intentionally, and it is hurtful when it is insinuated that I am. There are reasons people do the things they do, reasons they act a certain way, underlying causes. That doesn’t necessarily make them right but its a fact. My therapist is always telling me not to feel guilty for my feelings. I have them, they are there, they don’t go away just because I or someone else wants them to. Feelings are feelings and you have them, you can’t help it.

This is not about trying to justify actions or be some sort of martyr figure. I mess up. I say things that I shouldn’t. Lash out when its unreasonable and illogical. I regret it later and am sorry and will say so. And then I try to work on that and improve myself. Therapy is not a cakewalk folks. It is raw, and difficult, and takes guts. And I rehash the same issues over and over again in sessions. But I am trying. I am doing my best. That’s all I can do.

But enough about all that.

My parents sent me and kiddo a package the other day…my mom must be reading my blog because she sent me a journal to log all my dysfunctions. There are quotes throughout, mostly sarcastic which suits my personality, check-boxes to choose your vice for the day and space to write out the crazies. Hysterical. But probably quite useful.

journalThe End.

guilt, uselessness, and two kinds of bikes

31 Jul

“Your guilt-meter is so jacked up”….actually said to me by my shrink today. She pulls no punches and I love that. We talked about guilt, which seems to be a theme in my life. I am full of “shoulds”…I should feel this way, I should act that way, I should believe such and such, I should do this, I shouldn’t do that…and when I don’t feel or act or do what I’ve been conditioned to think that I “should”, I subsequently feel guilty about it. Sheesh. What’s wrong with just being me? Authentic, real, guilt free, ME. Is that so awful? We also discussed freedom and flexibility, relationships, and motorcycles.

I’ve decided that I’m feeling useless lately. I don’t talk about my job here but its in a weird place (figuratively) and is the root of much of this useless feeling. So I’m trying to fulfill that need elsewhere with my volunteering (which also serves as a distraction) and extracurricular activities I suppose. I just want to feel like I’m doing something helpful, fulfilling, and not lame. That’s all I wanna be really…not lame.

This weekend I will be taking a two day long class in order to get my motorcycle license. Yes mom and dad, you read that correctly. I am a nervous wreck (pun intended) and a skeered lil’ girl. But, I am doing this! I have ridden with The Accountant and have walked and coasted a tiny bit by myself on his bike but never actually driven it myself. I can however, ride a bicycle so I have totally got this. Right? Right. Which is a nice segue into my next bit o’ news…

I’m getting a road bike, as in the kind that you pedal. A friend and I are going to the bike shop next week just to look and maybe get me measured, although we could do that part ourselves. But I know nothing about them and my friend knows a lot about them. I have connections folks. I’ve decided that I want to add some variety to my fitness routine and running is hard on the body so this will give my joints a break and some new way to get hurt. Haha. Another friend has mentioned doing a duathlon with her but that is far far far in the future. It is nice to think about though. For now, I’ll get a decent used starter bike and go from there. Total newbie here so advice and input welcome.

Rawk on.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: