This morning I stayed home with the 2yo while the older two went off to piano lessons. So I could "tidy up." This was my idea. You know, just do some light organizing. Maybe a load of laundry or a few dishes.
I noticed that the floor really needed sweeping. Which meant I had to move the shoes. So I created a new storage system for shoes and wandered around the house trying to find matches for orphaned footwear.
I eventually gave up on some of them and put them in a bag labeled: Lonely Shoes. Then I swept and then mopped. Which probably could have been the end of it.
But then I moved the kitchen table onto the deck and put all the chairs in the other room so I could mop more thoroughly.
Which is when I realized how dirty the curtains were. So I took down the curtains and put them in the wash. (Must remember to get those. I think I just heard the dryer buzz.) When I came back into the kitchen I noticed how dirty the windows were...
So I got out some old newspaper and some glass cleaner and set to work. We have really complicated double-hung or casement windows or something. Parts of the window can come flipping inside the house to be cleaned on both sides. Other parts just swing dangerously from their perch above my head. The screens are no help whatsoever and I am not quite tall enough to manage any of this.
Here is where my family came home. Which meant I had to pretend that the window project was totally something that I could do on my own. And I caught my fingers in between the screen and the upper window. I was fine so long as I didn't move my hands because I had to keep gentle pressure on the window in order to prevent my fingers from being crushed.
Right. Good thing my family was home. So it took some time to figure out how to extract me. And there was much talk from my spouse about how, "This was totally worth it because look how clean the windows are! " This, mind you, was said with a great deal of sarcasm and much laughter on both our parts.
And when I thought that was pretty much over with, I somehow got the screen stuck together with the storm window at an angle and nothing would move. More help. More talk about the cleanliness of the blessed windows.
So that was done.
And I decided it was time to switch out the kitchen table for one that was buried somewhere in the basement. I was fairly almost certain I knew where it was. Brought it up, cleaned it off, put it together and finally something went smoothly.
But I must say I got very little of the ordinary tidying done. In fact while I was doing this, the two year old was putting her own spin on the organizational scheme of the living room. It involves having everything within her reach. You know, on the floor.
So the net cleanliness and organization of my home went down in the time I spent "tidying up."
I then pleasantly passed the afternoon teaching myself crewel while chatting with a friend at her house. Which meant I was not at all tempted to tackle any more projects around my house. And now I am too tired and it would wake the children, so I can call it a day.
Grateful Crap: Having a table that fits my family without people getting their fingers pinched between the chairs. Oldest son had a great time at Lego League and I am not involved with it whatsoever.
took meds 150mg sertraline 450 mg (I think) bupropion. I got so used to taking the 3 pills I am not completely certain I took 4
talked to a friend
did some (probably just a few too many) household projects
asked for help (well, I did. Although I could have done it sooner)
For the most part I think people should leave well enough alone. Believe what they want to and, well, leave me alone I guess. My longest lasting friendships have been based solidly on this leaving-aloneness.
Even when we have wildly differing world views and/or religious beliefs. Because let me tell you there just aren't a lot of Nontheist Christian Quakers. So if I couldn't be friends with people across religious lines I would be very very lonely.
But I do not leave people alone on the topic of mental health. I am somewhat pushy. Or very very pushy, depending on who you talk to. Or just very persuasive. Persistent? Persnickety?
My first convert was an adult friend who I spoke to in my first few weeks of being on medication as an adolescent. I ran through my list of symptoms, the questions on the Health Questionnaire, and the benefits I had seen after starting my course of Prozac.
After that he went in to seek treatment.
I figure if only that one person seeks help for Depression after talking to me or reading something I wrote, my presence on Earth is totally vindicated. So, in the words of George W, "Mission Accomplished!"
I would like people to remember that although drugs seem to be the thing for me, I am not necessarily a drug pusher. I am just a treatment-pusher.
Because I don't care how smart you are, or how in tune with your feelings you are, or how self-actualized you have become through your practice of totally organic christian jewish muslim skeptic transendental bikram zen (now gluten free!)...
You Cannot Talk Yourself Out Of A Major Depressive Episode. YCTYOAMDE. What a great acronym
Wow, I seem to be somewhat sassy today. Good sign or bad sign, you be the judge. But I might not care what you think.
Grateful Crap: feeling normal
took meds (although really super late)
spent a lot of time having a toddler say to me, "I just love you mom." and snuggling
WAAAAAAY too much sugar. Oh well. I won't think about that today. I'll think about it tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.
Yes, my asthma is very well controlled. Yes, I haven't wheezed in years,(mostly I just cough uncontrollably). Yes, I am really good at breathing. I have been inhaling and exhaling regularly for almost forty-two years. That more than exceeds the 10,000 hours that somebody says you need to become an expert.
So why do I need a reminder once or twice a year that
I think partly it's that I don't think of my asthma as being "real" asthma. It is normally so well in hand that it causes me no concern.
Except it's important for me to remember that it can lead to complications following an infection. I have had terrible bronchitis, influenza and pneumonia (not at the same time). They kicked my ass and really worsened my asthma symptoms and now I am a wee bit paranoid. Hypochondriacal even. So I panic at the least pulmonary symptom.
I feel a weird something in my lungs and I call the nurse care line. And they see ASTHMA on my chart and they hear me say things like shortness of breath and tightness in my chest and it's off to urgent care for me. When really, what I needed to do was just remember the above three things. allergies+air quality+ illness = worsening asthma symptoms.
Also, it is hard to work on being good to your brain when your body feels like crap.
Grateful Crap: that my real asthma is so mild that I usually don't notice it. And that when I feel weird it is just a gentle reminder that I do have to watch what I inhale.
took meds 150mg sertraline, 450mg bupropion
went for a 10 minute walk
My depressed friends do all kinds of activities to keep their brains active: scrapbooking, crossword puzzles, gardening, watching movies, purging the house of all nonessentials, rearranging the furniture, or painting the bathroom.
So I need to do less of what I did today (poking around for stuff to learn about Depression) and more time just doing stuff. I may change what I choose to write about... make the writing part of the recovery instead of just about the recovery.
Grateful Crap: supportive coworkers who scramble to help with bizarrely creative sub plans when I am sidelined with some sort of Influenza Like Illness (ILI).
took meds 150 mg sertraline 450mg bupropion
slept. a lot.
did not take the opportunity of having a day at home from work to do some major hair-brained project like moving furniture from the basement to the kitchen. This took great will power and the fact that I was asleep for most of the afternoon.
I am running a slight fever. I cheated and rewrote my post from yesterday because it was huge and unwieldy and I didn't care for it. And I am the one with editorial control over my blog, so if you liked the other one-- too bad.
This morning called the nurse care line about two of my three children to triage sore throats (non-strep) while the third one (age two) coughed like an old man with a two-pack a day cigarette habit. They are all fine. I have a fever.
I realized today, that I am a very odd mixture of abstract randomness and an odd passion for numbers and good data. Perhaps it comes from seeing computer programming and database design as a creative endeavor. I don't know.
The blog is a good example-- I have my creative endeavor in posting the narrative, and the numbers bit with the dosages and other activities so I can chart them.
I am curtailing this now so I can drink water and laze around.
Grateful Crap: You know, good stuff that happened.
took meds: 150 mg sertraline, 450 mg bupropion
drank a lot of water
relaxed (okay, so I was sick and I don't really get to count this.)
Sometimes I fall apart. You know, messily sobbing in a very un-Minnesotan way. Crying unstoppably. Unceasingly. With no apparent cause. Or maybe there is some minor thing. Some paltry irritation.
Sometimes the minor thing or paltry irritation is in the form of blunt or thoughtless words. Perhaps meant to be "constructive criticism." Which at some times can feel like destructive criticism. Or "tough love" that feels just plain tough.
The universal response to this is shock. Followed by "You seem like such a strong person. I thought you could handle it."
And sometimes I can.
I am a strong person. I know what is important to me. I know what I value. I know what I will and will not do. I have strong opinions which often differ from the norm. I am quite used to bringing "an interesting element of clash" everywhere I go.
But sometimes I am not as strong as at other times. It just looks that way.
On seeming strong:
I don't know that tough love, thinly veiled sarcasm and bluntness taken to an art form are ever a good option. At least not for honest communication. There are better ways of connecting. But for people who are fragile-- often in invisible ways-- these forms of communication can be truly destructive.
Grateful Crap: cool enough to go to meeting again; start of First Day School.
took meds (150mg sertraline, 300mg bupropion)
Quaker worship (albeit shortened by the start of First Day School)
talked to friends
good conversation with sons
I am not honest with myself. I may be one of the few people that I lie to regularly. I am not trying to lie, but my brain just pulls one over on me and I believe it.
I can be pretty sure that I am doing fine. I can be pretty sure that I tracked something or did something or wrote something-- but I didn't. And these lies become more pronounced the deeper the Depression.
Then, of course, I get to beat myself up over all the forgotten things once I realize that I haven't done or tracked or written them. Follow? Which makes me feel worse. Which makes it harder to keep track of the things because my brain is slowly sizzling with exactly the wrong sort of chemicals.
The beautiful thing about blogging is that I have readers who know me in real life and will notice if I don't post. And will bug me about it.
If I were doing this on paper, I could lie to myself and believe that I was writing daily. But not. And who would call me on it?
When I was an infertility patient I was the queen of good data. I had five years of basal body temperatures charted in a series of Excel spreadsheets. I brought them in to talk to my doctors. I knew exactly which medications we had tried and for how long. I knew which hormones needed to be active at any given moment in order to have the whole system function properly.
I learned to give myself shots. Not just the subcutaneous ones, but ones that went into the muscle. The nurse training me was nervous because she had never trained a patient before-- only other nurses. I was so nervous that in order to give myself the shots I had to have everything laid out exactly as she had done. I needed five cotton balls on the far left. Then a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Then the glass ampules of powdered medication and distilled water. Then the long needles with their plastic caps. And finally the sharps away bottle where I put my discarded needles.
As a Depression patient I have thus far had very crappy data. It is all vague and hearsay and relying on my terribly unreliable brain as a narrator.
How can you ask someone whose brain is not working as it should whether their brain is working as it should?
How can you track things over time if one of the things you lose is the ability to track things over time?
How can you know which dosage of which medication works if you don't know when you started or stopped or what the dosage was or what symptoms you had at any given time?
And great jumping josephine, who wants to keep track of all that information anyway. NOBODY. Oh, except me.
Because I have tried everything else. And once you try everything else and it doesn't work, the only thing left is the thing you haven't tried. This may be something of an exaggeration.
But I have tried the following things to remember to take my meds:
So I am collecting good data. Good narrative data. I will then be able to comb back through these entries before I go see my behavioral psych therapist and have some general idea of how the meds and the dosages correspond to my level of functioning.
Grateful Crap: watching cousins playing and tackling and laughing. (Ages 1.875 through 10.6 or so)
took meds (350mg bupropion; then later 150 more of bupropion and 150 mg sertraline)
saw a friend
met with family
tidied up a bit (but not insanely)
When my kids take medicine for an earache or a sore throat, they turn to me immediately after swallowing the first dose and say, "It still hurts!' To which my standard reply is, "It's medicine, not magic. These things take time."
And now those words are coming back to haunt me. Because what I would really like, thank you very much, is a magical cure. My fairy godlessmother would descend from somewhere and tap me on the head a few times, sprinkle some glitter and that would be that. Instantly Depression lifts.
Maybe medicine should be looking into beefing up their magical cures. Not quackery, you understand, but real magic. *sigh.* I will not hold my breath. No really, I will not hold my breath. I find that slowly breathing in giant breaths is very calming. Although it also possibly means that my asthma is not as well controlled as I thought. I may be quietly hyperventilating without realizing it.
I went back to a may post of mine (I think it was the 26th) and came across a list of my Depression symptoms.
So, on my own personal Depression scale, it looks like I am about an 18. Which naturally has no meaning whatsoever because I don't know what I should be shooting for. I gave myself 2 points for CHECK, 1 point for SOMETIMES and 0 points for NO.
I'm thinking that a goal of 14 would be reasonable. That would average "SOMETIMES" for all of those. I think sometimes is a good goal. After all, it is only the continued experience of symptoms for several weeks that constitutes a Major Depressive Episode.
Okay, so if you have access to any real magical cures, I would appreciate the Depression being gone. I can deal with the asthma and allergies just fine if I have to pick and choose. Just deal with the brain thing, okay? I like my brain. I want to be able to use it for a long long time.
Grateful Crap: That I am glad not situationally Depressed on top of this chronic thing.
took meds (150mg sertraline, 450mg bupropion)
met new people (introduced myself and everything.)
I felt better this morning sort of. Things seemed a little less foggy. Crisper. When I was driving this morning it felt like I just got a new prescription for my glasses. So the fog wasn't so bad, at least early on.
I still felt removed from my emotional reactions. I laughed at appropriate times and made other appropriate facial expressions. But it felt kind of programmed.
I saw a tree today (not the one pictured at left) that looked healthy on the lower branches so if you were standing underneath it seemed fine. But from a distance you could see that all the limbs at the top were bare of leaves and bark. It was putting on a good show, but things weren't as rosy as they seemed.
As the day progressed I felt less and less good. More fuddled. More distant. I got lost going to rehearsal tonight. I have been going to the same place for rehearsal every Thursday for... ever.
Went on auto-pilot. Started driving someplace else. Forgot what I was doing for a while. What day it was.
I know this happens to me and other people even when they are not Depressed. But it brought me back to similar experiences that happened very frequently in high school prior to receiving treatment for my Depression.
I was driving home from a gig-- some holiday thing at a church I think. And I asked if a friend could drive to my house so I could follow him home. Really? Yes. Because I couldn't remember where to turn. I was afraid of getting lost. But if I was following his car, then no problem. He thought I was joking. Or that our existentialism teacher had put me up to this. Which is a pretty strange thought.
This following people was one of my weird adaptive behaviors to deal with my untreated Depression. So the getting lost in thoughts and lost on my familiar trip felt eerily familiar. And I likely invested the incident with too much importance.
My communicating with people or lack thereof continues to be a great source of stress. I dated someone once who blamed me for ignoring him if I did not notice his presence in a crowded room within some arbitrary period of time. Because it proved that I didn't care about him. And I would hear about it for a long time afterwards. My primary job was to wait expectantly for his presence and to sense it immediately. Those were some dark days. I am feeling just as on edge now about my electronic communication. i am not noticing people in the room fast enough.
Also, it turns out that beating yourself up over past failings is not actually good aerobic exercise.
I did yoga today with a fantastic instructor. Very much a connect with the moment and honor your body and be gentle with yourself. It was fantastic. Exactly what I needed. Although I did get very hot and sweaty (unusual for fitness yoga in an air conditioned room), and I had trouble slowing my breathing down.
I think I need to start taking my inhalers regularly. It will make it easier to tell if breathing difficulties are related to anxiety or asthma. Still hooked the oxygen. Can't quite get enough of it.
Tomorrow I must pick up the refill for my prescription. I also start volunteering with an early childhood class with some of my favorite teachers, which I am super excited about.
Grateful Crap: the transient nature of bad moments, and the ability to remember that they are transient.
took meds (150mg sertraline, 450 mg bupropion) but not until 6pm. I need to remember earlier. I think it is better.
did 25 minutes on elliptical trainer
did 1 hour of yoga
remembered to pack my lunch
Quaker, teacher, parent,