I need to wear a watch. Usually the only time I wear a watch is when I am in a foreign country and I need to know what time the train is coming. Because I do not like being reminded constantly of what time it is. Kind of freaks me out, actually.
But here's the thing: without a watch I get sucked into projects that take up my whole day. Without even realizing it. And then there is the guilt of the day that can never be reclaimed and the regrets of all the regular things that didn't get done.
A very wise friend pointed out to me that I am recovering from an illness. Not recovered. Recovering. I really liked what she had to say. And I am reblogging it here because it bears repeating, and remembering. Plus it made me laugh because I could hear her saying this in response to my last guilt-ridden post.
I officially, completely, and permanently absolve you of the need to do anything about the items you have mentioned, and of any that you have not mentioned as well.
So I need a watch. Actually I probably just need a watch battery since the watch I bought to go to China is still on the bookshelf. And it has a timer that I can set for fifteen minutes. Which I have done in the past and I know I can get much more accomplished in 15-minute segments than I think.
Note: stayed up way too late last night and then was woken by perky seven year old. Which was predictable.
So after being untreated/undertreated for quite some time for my Depression, there are a number of things that still are not quite right. This is frustrating to me.
It feels like I am at the scene of some wildfire that has mostly been extinguished, but there are still smoldering patches here and there. And over there, just out of reach, something will suddenly burst into flame. I'm tired from dousing the big fire, but if I don't get my butt over there and stamp out the little flames I will be in danger of letting the whole conflagration start again.
I want to just say: Look! I put out the fire! I am not Depressed anymore. No need to worry. Now we can all just sit around on our lawn chairs sipping Mojitos with fresh mint from the garden.
I accidentally ripped out the mint that was planted in our garden on the one day that I pulled weeds and left them all over the front lawn.
We didn't have a "kid birthday party" for either of my kids this year. We can make up all kinds of excuses for why this didn't happen but the truth is I just did not feel up to dealing with excited children or their nice parents. I make my spouse attend all the other parties including class parties because I just don't do well. Sorry.
Everything I didn't want to deal with got chucked in the basement for future scrutiny. Now all those things have spontaneously come together and formed some kind of knitted-book-game-sewing-clothes-toys-paperwork monster. I am afraid to go downstairs because it might eat me. Guilt.
I don't know where the clothes are that fit me.
I have leaned too heavily on my other families to cover for me. And I am not saying this because I think that a woman's place is in the home blah blah blah. I am saying this because as the person who is home most of the time I have done the fewest things around the house. This seems wrong and unfair.
We did not celebrate Chinese New Year in any meaningful way. And this has become my favorite holiday. But all I did this year was go out for Chinese food at a somewhat mediocre restaurant next door to my place of employment.
I have not tended my friendships well.
I have neglected my faith community and not contributed positively to the health of the Meeting. I just fell apart. And since I am Quaker and there is no laity that means I have been a horrible minister.
I have not opened my mail unless it bites me first.
I have not been kind to people that I have no patience to deal with. And I don't care that I ended a sentence with a preposition. Not even a little.
I have not kept up with family except for my children's grandmothers who have pulled more than their fair share helping take care of my children when I am at work. And they are awesome. But I should be doing things for them.
I have too many unfinished projects.
The back screen door of the house needs new hinges. The garage door opener needs to be tinkered with so it works. The gutters need cleaning. The weeds need mowing. The garden needs weeding, watering and oh yeah, planting. Didn't do that until mid-July.
I am missing an entire year's worth of photographs that encompass all of my second child's baby pictures.
I stopped reading the newspaper because sad stuff was making me sad, and fluffy stuff was making me enraged, and the fact that there was a whole section called "the funnies" seemed designed to mock me.
I accidentally dissolved a trilobite in our aquarium. I have killed off several generations of fish due to somewhat benign neglect.
I have never gone to coffee with my neighbor.
I haven't read any of the weekly newsletters sent from my Quaker meeting, my children's school, my children's teachers or any other newsletters that I am receiving and haven't bothered to follow.
I have not returned phone calls, emails or twitter direct messages (the last because I don't know how) from my literary agent (who I really like) because I am not prepared to deal with the guilt of having let my novel languish because I haven't had enough of a big-picture brain to do anything to it for the last two years. (Two years!)
I don't see how confession could possibly be good for my soul. Setting aside the fact that I am not convinced about the whole soul thing in the first place. Perhaps confession is only good for people who believe they can be forgiven.
I do see why having a guilt journal is not top on the list of recommendations for people recovering from Depression.
Grateful Crap: A child with an artist's eye who shares my love of photography, a daughter who is strong willed, a dishwasher that works, having a place to stay out of the heat, having much less heat today than yesterday,
I am too tired to write much. Hunkered down against the heat. Felt very slow thinking and sluggish. Forgot what I was saying in the middle of teaching a few times. Just completely drew a blank.
That must be what it feels like for people who don't like public speaking. I looked at the expectant faces and I had nothing. Luckily my students remembered what I was saying.
Don't think it is Depression related. Just distracted and hot. 95 degrees today. Several days into a heat warning. I am not built for this kind of weather. I am built to weather blizzards. My Scandinavian genes cannot adjust to this intemperate heat.
Crap. I am racing the clock. Don't want to back date the post for some reason.
My Grateful Crap: Watching Batman Beyond with my two older children. Playing in the hose and eating fresh strawberries warmed in the sun. Curbside recycling. Craigslist. Snuggling with daughter. Reading stories. Ebay: thank you for my DSLR. I feel like I have new eyes.
Cabin fever. Too hot to go outside. I kind of half-heartedly battled Depression today, but mostly I just tried to stay cool.
It is oddly helpful for me to think of Depression as something that is not going to go away. My goal is not to banish it, but to manage it. Not a race to get better. Not a sprint. An endurance race.
In my study of things that are helpful to the brains of Depressed people I came across some evidence that keeping a gratitude journal was a good plan. Helps keep you from spiraling down into the negative.
Here are the things I am grateful for: my son who loves to read, my son who sees himself as an artist, my daughter who fiercely loves her name, good friends, air conditioning, the fact that my spouse prefers Gilmore Girls to Game of Thrones, unsalted cashews, having use of a DSLR camera to relearn my passion for photography, a job that I adore, fantastic students, having a working dishwasher,
Thought I should learn some more about the two chemicals that my anti-depressants are acting on. Until bupropion all of my antidepressants were part of the SSRI family - selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Note: not a scholarly article. Don't use this as a resource for your thesis.
Serotonin fun facts:
Dopamine fun facts:
Norepinepherine (Noradrenaline) fun facts
The blood-brain barrier thing is a real bummer in some ways. It is easy to increase the level of chemicals in the bloodstream. Harder to influence the chemistry of the brain. I suppose it's a good thing. It's not like we want the brain's chemistry to be wildly fluctuating.
I forgot everything today. Forgot to take my meds until 4 pm. Didn't bring my change of clothes to swimming (so I had to drive home in wet swimsuit). Forgot to put gas in the car (on empty). Got to the YMCA and discovered I had forgotten my purse, my driver's license, my wallet, my phone, my credit card. So I couldn't exercise because I was unable to put my youngest in childcare without photo ID.
Did a small number of things without incident. Stopped home to change and get my purse. Put gas in the car. Went shopping for food and dropped children off at Summer Blast for the afternoon. Successfully did several loads of dishes in our new awesome dishwasher. (I love my new dishwasher. It works. And greatly increases my quality of life.)
Then I accidentally threw away the wrong bubble tea (son's instead of mine), left the groceries in the car (only one or two frozen items). Managed to put the youngest one down for a nap but forgot that we didn't eat lunch. Did not drink water. Could not get on internet at home.
Felt out of sorts and grumpy and fuzzled all day. One of my friends told me that she notices when she takes a dose of bupropion late. I hate to blame the drugs, but I would really like to blame the drugs. Oh-- and the not enough sleep. That too. And the heat. And the lack of water. And no exercise. Flarg.
Better day tomorrow.
I think I did a pretty good job of not letting stubborn "everything is fine" brain run the show today. Also successfully didn't cook anymore brain cells.
To start the day I engaged in some recreational plumbing but gave up when it became clear that it wouldn't be much fun. Decided to get a new dishwasher instead.
Some days I might have spent all day stubborning my way through the problem. Fruitlessly. Before admitting defeat. Instead we just got a new dishwasher. It's much nicer. And the dishes actually get clean.
Part two of keeping a lid on things was that I declined to paddle in the dragon boat race today. And it was a good call. Had I paddled I would have been in full sun on the water all day. Instead I came as a spectator for a few hours and I was wiped out.
I had no idea that it could take multiple days to bounce back from heat stuff. I have no fantastic insights on Depression today. But I didn't feel like it was running the show.
Today I am doing nothing. Okay, I called a friend and we went out for coffee. And I went to Target and refilled my prescription. But other than that, nothing.
I am tired.
Not the bone-deep tired of deep Depression. But kind of. Almost.
Here was the thing I did today that is helping in the campaign to keep Depression in its place: I arranged for automatic prescription refill.
A bold step. I never did this before because once I had it auto-delivered and I forgot to take my pills so often that I ended up with a stockpile. But now I'm on the band wagon of consistent and appropriate use of pharmaceuticals AND I have more than a month of daily compliance with anti-depressants I feel that I can commit to renewing my pills regularly.
Now I need to nap.
No post yesterday-- I was busy being exhausted and hot. So this is my back-dated post. Spent yesterday helping carry heavy things in the heat. In spite of the fact that the other responsible adults around me tried to keep me from overheating, I didn't do a good job of heeding their advice.
I can be very goal oriented.
It's hard to stop a project once it gets going. And this project involved carrying heavy things (like an old hide-a-bed and a giant old big screen T.V.) up or down a flight of stairs and into or out of the garage. In high heat and high humidity.
I thought I did a pretty good job of staying hydrated. I had a glass of water before and after each big move. Still I was pretty flushed and breathing hard. I made sure to cool down (including taking a cool shower) before making the trek home.
And it worked. Kind of. I felt great in the car. Felt great when I came home. Then I just never really quite returned to regular. I couldn't get cool. I was in air conditioning and very uncomfortable and sweaty.
I don't have any signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but I called the nurse care line anyway, since I don't trust myself as a reliable reporter of what it is okay for me to do. Her advice: stay in air conditioning and relax for at least 12 hours. Drink a lot-- but not just plain water or I risk sodium deficiency.
Unfortunately it also means that I will not be paddling in the dragonboat races tomorrow at Lake Phalen. Even under ordinary circumstances I have trouble with the heat being on open water in full sun for a full day. Add to that extreme aerobic exertion and the adrenaline rush of a sprint race... I can't do it.
Sometimes it really sucks to be a responsible adult. If I were just listening to me I would totally do it. Because I had a blast paddling last year. Instead I will bring my new telephoto lens and hopefully get some great pictures of the races.
Is this heat sensitivity a side effect of the bupropion? Maybe. As I found before it can increase tendency toward dehydration. And sertraline, my other anti-depressant, can decrease the amount of time I can spend in the sun before getting burned. Which I did yesterday. And sunburn contributes to the body's difficulty in cooling itself.
I think the fact that I have energy now after a long period of being lacking in energy makes it difficult for me to regulate my energy expenditure. In short, without extreme fatigue warning me to stop, I may just keep going.
Here you see the Kick-Ass Superhero, The Crimson Warbler, striking fear in the heart of the brain-eating zombifying supervillain: Dastardly Depression. Of course she is in her street clothes, so you may not recognize her. (That can't be the Crimson Warbler, she's wearing glasses!)
I started this morning by taking a series of self-portraits. Why? because I am playing with my new camera, because I don't typically enjoy taking pictures of people and I particularly do not enjoy having my own picture taken. So I thought I would challenge myself.
In the first pictures I look very stiff and posed. My arms stand out from my sides and my hands are desperately looking for somewhere to be. It is how I typically look in pictures where I am told to stand next to someone and smile.
Then I relaxed and applied a photographer's eye to the portraits. Eventually I came up with some that I actually liked. However, I must say that I am not a good model. I need a lot more practice. I have no idea where my hands should be, for instance. This led to a ridiculous photo set containing the image to the left.
I also went on a walk, met with friends, showed my photographs to people and posted them to my tumblr site. Go me. I figure learning to take pictures of me that I like can only be a good thing self-esteem wise. And then maybe I can learn to stop looking like a busty scarecrow in other people's pictures.
Quaker, teacher, parent,