Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Recently Read: The Depression Cure

Got around to reading the book "The Depression Cure" by Stephen Ilardi a few weeks back and just haven't gotten around to blogging about it. 

I think the delay may have to do with the fact that the book doesn't make a big splash. It's common sense with some science and anecdotes and mainly one giant affirmation of what I already believe, that lifestyle has a major impact on depression. 

For over a year now I've been slowly distancing myself from traditional forms of treatment for depression, leaving behind medications and psychiatric treatment and even minimizing naturopathic visits in lieu of lifestyle changes and focusing on living instead of living to treat a disease. It hasn't been a cakewalk but I have felt much better than recent years when I became far too enveloped in disease, treatment, and symptoms. Sometimes, just moving on a bit helps more than trying so hard!

I have found that the naturopathic approach has been the most helpful but the intensity of treatments a bit overwhelming. I appreciated Ilardi's simplifying approach to adding Vitamin D and fish oil supplements little by little as opposed to a heaping pile of supplements "that may help" a wide array of symptoms. I've found that many of my sub-symptoms have been cleared up by addressing the larger issues, and circumventing the overwhelming supplementation helps maintain morale.

So while I can't recommend "The Depression Cure" as a groundbreaking work I can say that it represents that most effective treatment I've yet tried and the closest representation of my treatment goals. It's an easy read and it's really simple but the results are undeniable. 

I have to admit I'm feeling a bit huffy as I write this thinking of all the years of reading and pills and supplements and exercise and therapy and appointments yet finding myself using such simple means to feel better lately. It reminds me of the anger I feel watching advertisements that lead people to make poor life choices or looking at poorly made "food" on shelves at markets and thinking of all the sick people unwittingly making themselves worse. 

I have to remember that we're only human and that sometimes it takes a while to learn a lesson. It's taken me quite a while to reach a place where I respect my body and mind's limitations and aim to live within those limitations and improve my outcomes. 

Even more important is remembering that each day is a new beginning and giving myself the space to fail and try again as many times as I need. Sometimes with depression it takes a lot of "restarts" before you can get anywhere, it's not a personal failure it's just part of the struggle.

Just keep trying.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rough Seas

Yesterday (especially last night) was rough for me. My mood slipped downward despite exercise and chores and I noticed a shift in my mental patterns toward some nasty habits.

The nasty habits I refer to are comparison and shame. Facebook seems to prey on these weaknesses! A bevy of false advertising and professional photography that I really believe is meant to incite jealousy catches me in my weakened mental state and plunges me deeper into shame.

As I feed the negativity I then want to divorce myself from all my perceived shame; memories, photos, and even wishing I could vanish from others' memories-as if they recall all of my most embarrassing moments. It's a sort of twisted vanity born from my depressive brain believing that my life is worse than anyone else's.

It's the hallmark of many of my worst episodes, the early stages of losing faith in my worth completely and the first step down a long, dark path toward suicidal thoughts and desperation. Hopefully recognizing the thoughts and trying harder to avoid this downward spiral will prevent a full blown episode!

And in that spirit, I'm off for a walk with the devil dog.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mrs. W or Mrs. Worrywart?

After weeks of eating poorly (think bland, beige foods with not enough nutrition for proper wellness) and feeling sick my mood is suffering. I've had a couple mini-episodes that I seem to be bouncing back from all right (a bad night and then a slow day and I'm back at it) but overall my mood has been lowering in a slow decline.

The lack of energy and general "yuckiness" is one thing but now the anxiety and near-perpetual worry is beginning to haunt me as well.

Of course, being pregnant gives one thousands of things to worry about. The thing is, worrying doesn't get me anywhere! And after resolving where the baby shower would be held I immediately found myself moving on to a new worry and I recognized that I'm in a bad mental pattern leaping from worry to worry on an endless, stressful loop.

I've made the first step in the right direction by recognizing the problem and now I'm moving into proactive problem solving mode.

My energy has been up and down lately. Some days are better than others but I'm taking advantage of what rebound in energy I can and am accomplishing more chores and getting more exercise (walks) and even trying to integrate some yoga into my routine (new habit still pending).

Exercise certainly helps my mood but is only one piece of the puzzle. I've also got some mental habits to work at and for this I'm looking to mindfulness and meditation. The yoga certainly helps me flex some of these mental muscles in addition to physical benefits but I need to take the change beyond my yoga practice and into my entire day.

And when all else fails some good ole distraction can save the day. Thankfully I've got a to-do list a mile long and am never short of something distracting to do. Whether it be chores, reorganizing for baby, crafting, or watching a favorite show (yes, The Golden Girls have been over to my house a lot recently) it all helps get me through rough patches.

Even though I'm not exactly stellar lately I feel like I'm able to avoid backsliding into severe conditions and am optimistic that I can turn things around for the better.

In other news, my pregnancy symptoms seem to be getting a little bit better but there are still bad days. Nausea and low energy can throw a wrench in my day but on good days I'm able to get some stuff done and feel like I'm contributing.

The hubby and I have been surprised at how difficult the first trimester was and we're anxiously awaiting the fabled "Golden Tri" where my symptoms are alleviated. Of course, there are no guarantees and I could be sick for the entire 9 months but we have to hope that isn't so!

Millie puked the bed and Iroh is doing fine though he is looking "old" from time to time. A little wibble wobble hip action lately for the old bloke. Fio is still psychotic and a handful on walks around other dogs but after a good long walk, when he tires out a bit he seems to do better, so I'll carry on forcing him to walk as far as I can stand!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Slow & Sweet

Today started off slow because of a horrible night last night.

The hubby and I got to talking about the apartment and baby stuff and moving and we weren't agreeing on much. I'm dug in like a tick against moving and the expenses entailed and he's freaking out about having room to raise a child.

In the end we tried to go to bed but to no avail. I stayed up tossing and turning while he went to the living room to surf the internet. I was able to soothe myself for a little while but eventually the stress got to me and I began having negative thoughts, symptomatic thoughts. The hubster tried to soothe me but I couldn't stand his touch. Hours passed until we gave up trying to sleep and instead opted for some cartoons at 1:30 AM, resolved our differences, and finally got to sleep some time after 2:00 AM.

So this morning I was a not a ray of sunshine although the wet asphalt and overcast skies did bolster my spirits.

Odd, you say? Maybe.

After a hot summer I love seeing the clouds return and smelling the rain and wet trees on the air. The cool air invigorates me and I yearn for the autumn. Every year (when I'm not insanely depressed) I relish this seasonal shift. I get to fall in love with fall every year and I love it.

That said, by January the dismal western Washington weather will get to me and I'll need a happy light to get me through the late winter. But oh, this sweet transition to autumn is delightful. Spring is all right but I dread the transition to summer. But here we are again, approaching my favorite time of the year and I'm grateful for it.

Once I was able to get moving I made it to my hair appointment and got trimmed up for the next couple months. It was fun getting out and about and joking with my stylist.

Now I'm home and having lunch and picking up my cross stitch. A slow day, but a sweet day so far...

and I'm grateful.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

So Far From Then

It seems like not so long ago I was recovering from a pretty bad episode. Completely knocked on my ass, back to square one trying to anchor myself in this world and find a reason to roll out of bed in the morning. I still bear the pink scar on my upper arm from that bad week. Although it's been over 2 months it feels like it just happened.

But so much has changed since then.

The hubster and I talked for days about needing something to change. I emphasized how fed-up I was being stuck in the same cycles just waiting for my disease to bite me in the ass and losing track of the days I spent tucked away in the apartment, alone with the animals; I needed something to change as soon as possible.

We talked about me going back to work and back to school. Talked about moving. Even talked about starting a family and how we really wanted to have kids before our thirties (late-twenties kinda sneak up on ya). Even with all our ideas and considerations we felt at a loss. All our logic and rationale wasn't getting us anywhere, it was time for a leap of faith. Being spiritual people we felt compelled to launch our question out into the universe and see where the cosmic die would fall.

What should we focus on? Family or career? Do we put our dreams of having children on the back burner and focus on getting me back to school, into a career, and ourselves in a house? Or should we jump aboard the baby train while the eggs are fresh?

We rolled the dice and waited for the message.

Now it's months later and sure, my arm still carries the same mark and I still struggle to get out of bed in a timely manner but my mood is much better. I haven't been exercising as much and my diet was shot to hell the last several weeks but for a very good reason.

I'm pregnant.

Today is the last day of my first trimester to be more specific. My baby is the size of a plum and has already turned my life upside down. Barfing until I pee my pants, eating nearly constantly, crying over wasted banana (in my defense it was making me barf) and generally being a hot, cranky, hormonal, unstable, nauseated mess!

The universe answered our question. We conceived on our first try. Our motion of faith, our roll of the dice got the directions we were needing.

Was it a crazy thing to do? Yep. Did it scare the bejeezus out of us? Yep. Are we happy with out decision? Absolutely.

It's a complicated journey that brought us here. My disease has certainly influenced us, how could it not? But we chose to conceive in spite of my illness and move on with life as best we can. We've learned a lot through all the dark days. Learned about each other, partnership, coping, and health. We've also learned that we must move forward. In some strange way my disease has helped me realize that sometimes I need to get out of my own way and just live the life I'm here to live and the hubster is ready to live that life with me.

I've found supportive midwives and they're well aware of my mental history and we're all on the same page; upbeat but cautious and realistic. I could relapse at any time and I'm at increased risk for postpartum depression and I accept those risks. I'm not down and out and life doesn't wait for anybody. I'm moving on to a new phase and hoping for the best while being ready to fight the worst. A little scared but so happy and awestruck as well (I think that's pretty normal!).

So that's the big news and probably why the blog has been a little dry lately-I haven't been able to write freely as I kept this secret! Now that we've heard the baby's heartbeat and I've made it through the first 12 weeks I feel safe letting the cat out of the bag and I'm excited to share my experience more fully from now on!

Come February (or late March) we'll have a new member in our pack! Hope he/she isn't allergic to cats!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Corn Sniffs

There is something special about corn on the cob boiling away on the stove. It just smells so good. So "summery." Of course, it's also in the 80s and boiling corn on the cob in our little kitchen is making our whole apartment feel like a Calcutta hostel but the smell is still delightful.

The heat has been getting to me-again. Yesterday I took a nap and woke up dehydrated and over heated. I stumbled around to the kitchen where I sipped water and tried to cool myself down with a wet washcloth but it took the hubster and a bag of ice to get me back to sensible.

I cannot wait until fall.

It's beautiful with the bright blue skies and shimmering lake, all the plants happily growing for the skies but without AC I'm miserable. I can enjoy weather in the low 70s but anything higher and I just wanna mope in a pool of cool water like a hippopotamus.

Who knows? We could have warm weather through most of September too! Yuck!

Well, if I can't enjoy the heat of summer at least I can enjoy the bounty. Corn and watermelon and such. And somehow lemonade just tastes better in the summer...

In other news, Millie killed a massive insect that got in the house this weekend. That thing cast a shadow. I could feel it banging around the ceiling it was so big! Took her nearly 30 minutes but she waited for her opportunity, smacked it into the wall, watched it skitter to the ground, and then pounced on it. Pawed for a bit and then carried it off to munch it down. She scares me sometimes.

Iroh has been enjoying the heat. I think it helps with the arthritis. He is such a slob though, laying in all the pine needles on the balcony with dried wet food on his nose and all his dandruff and scruffiness. If he were a human he would be a most interesting specimen.

Fio has been taxed by the heat much like me. Our walks our cut increasingly short as the temperature climbs. He starts slowing down, looking toward home and even laying down in whatever shade he can find until I cave in and reverse march to base.

My mood has been all right but I'm starting to feel the affects of isolation and getting lonely. We are going to my parents for a BBQ this weekend but I'm missing my best friend and wanting to have someone visit me up at my place so I can host. There is something different about having someone visit you instead of constantly visiting them. Maybe something about validation? Reciprocation? Whatever it is, I want it.

Kinda missing the age of the water sprinkler and kiddie pool, but that could very well be in our near future!