A Family Visit that Went Well

This weekend I went to see my family, all of whom live very far away. It was a major family gathering which can stress me out as I never know how they will go. Sometimes everything is fine. Other times my alcoholic father has one or the other of us crying before the end of the night.

I really enjoyed this weekend and had a great visit with everyone. My father was drinking, of course, but there were enough people there that I didn’t need to be around him then and we got along in the mornings.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling very calm and relaxed the past few days. Even when things went wrong I seemed to have enormous stores of patience and I wasn’t fazed. I’m so happy about this. It makes me feel like things may finally be heading back to “normal”.

Now that I’ve returned home, I’m set to start out on my new regime of walking at least four blocks each day. I also start a new job tomorrow, so I hope that goes well. My goal for this job is to be 100% reliable. I will go to work each day no matter what. That sounds ambitious but it is a part-time job so I think I can do it.

I was really upset over being fired this summer when I was sick. Before I went off the rails I used to be someone everyone could count on whether for work or for fun. I’ve been so self-absorbed since becoming depressed that I lost track of how others might see my behaviour. It worries me that I’ve lost so many people’s good opinions. I want to regain that trust. But I guess that happens one step at a time. For now I will focus on a daily walk for myself and 100% work attendance to rebuild my reputation.

Wish me luck! 🙂

Running Around

The past few days involved a lot of running around. Not in the sense of jogging down a path (one day!) but in the sense of going here and there about town running errands.

The two biggest appointments were with my psychiatrist (yesterday) and my therapist (today). I’m getting a little annoyed that I keep having to return to the medical centre two days in a row. Luckily the next two will be a week apart. It’s a bit tiring rehashing the same things two days in a row!

My psychiatrist and I are happy with my progress and next week I’ll be able to completely drop the Pristiq from my cocktail of medications. Hurray! One down, two to go! 😉

My counselling session also went well. There were lots of successes to note and my therapist was very pleased that rather than stumbling when my original goal of walking daily proved too ambitious, I instead broke it down into smaller steps. By modifying the goal to simply going outside daily I was able to meet the goal, going outside every day for three weeks straight. I think the only other time I’ve done that in the past few years was while travelling!

Of course, now I have more homework.

      Come up with two mantras to get me out of bed each day. (The homework I didn’t finish for this session!) I need to stop being a perfectionist and just come up with two phrases that work for me.
      Move on to phase two in my “get out and walk” plan. Now I will walk at least 4 blocks each day. (And hopefully continue for more, but that is my “doable” baseline.) It can be at any time of day for this stage.
      Explore the idea of joining a local walking club to start me down the path of eventually running again. (I still keep dreaming of another half-marathon…)
      Commit to a plan for bad days, because they will happen. If I have a day where I struggle to get out of bed due to depression, insomnia or whatever, I will do the following: After feeding the cat, rather than crawling back into bed, I will go to the living room, open the curtains to let in the light, and rest on the couch. It is okay to nap there if I really need it. But I cannot return to bed until nightfall.
      Continue to blog at least once per week.

So, that is the plan. I’m feeling good today, so I’m somewhat confident that I can do it. I hope so! It is feels nice to have accomplished so much these past few weeks! 🙂

Celebrating the Little Things

Today, I feel like I had a bit of a breakthrough. Because after little sleep and a lot of opportunities to cancel, I did all I set out to do and more.

  • I went through with an interview despite having only a few hours of sleep. And I think it went well.
  • I met up with a friend despite her offering me an opportunity to bail.
  • I also got ready to meet up with another friend and when she cancelled I decided on the spur of the moment to go to yoga rather than taking the opportunity to sleep some more.

Little things, but they are progress. I’ve also made it outside at least once daily for the past two weeks and have been blogging a lot. So that just leaves my mantras as homework before I meet with my therapist later this week.

Hmmmm. Mantras to help one get out of bed each morning. Any ideas?

The RAIN Meditation

This evening I continued with the next installment of Tara Brach’s Meditations for Emotional Healing CD: The RAIN Meditation.

RAIN builds on the “Yes” meditation. It is an acronym that stands for the following:

  • R – Recognize
  • A – Accept
  • I – Investigate with Intimacy
  • N – Not Identified, Natural Presence

The first two parts, the R and the A are essentially the “Yes” meditation. You recognize how you feel in a difficult situation, and you accept that that is the way it currently is. But then you go deeper. You investigate why and how you are feeling this way. I continued with my scenario of being fired because I missed work when I was depressed.The memory made my heart speed up and made me feel ashamed and unworthy. More deeply, it is because I believe I am unworthy and this is a confirmation of that. It is my belief that I am unlikeable and unloveable. That if anyone really knew me, they would come to that same conclusion. The fear is that no one will love me and that I will always be rejected. No one will accept me for what I am… Even me. Physically I felt a throbbing in my head and my heart.

The N means taking a step back from those intense feelings and look at them from the eyes of your wisest self or, if you can’t, then from the eyes of some one caring and compassionate, like Buddha. I did the latter for I obviously have difficulty with being compassionate with myself. At this stage you are supposed to comfort yourself that that is not who you are, that you are something larger than this small segment you keep focussing on. You are to place you hands on your heart, accept and comfort yourself, and arrive in a larger non-identity or natural presence.

I have to admit that I got a little lost between I and N. I think it was a useful meditation for starting to look more deeply at why certain patterns keep being triggered, but I couldn’t reach the next stage. So, I think I’ll need to try this meditation again on another day to see if I can absorb more. I believe it is an important one as that critical factor of self-acceptance is, I think, the only way to move forward emotionally and spiritually. She mentioned that each time we have these negative thoughts about ourselves, it is like we are breaking our own hearts. I really want to stop doing that.

The Worst Anti-Depressant Side Effect

Today I was bothered by what I find to be the worst side effect of anti-depressants: excess sweating!

It doesn’t seem to matter which drug it is, they all make me sweat. Though the worst by far was Effexor.

It is unbelievable how much I sweat. I’m not talking about a little sweat at the armpits. I sweat on my face, even by my eyes, behind my neck to the point that my hair gets wet, and all down my back. My forearms, my legs, just about everywhere except my palms, though they do kick on when I am nervous. It is extremely disruptive for someone with general anxiety and who already is challenged by social gatherings.

I’m not bothered by sweat when it is warranted. When I am running for a sport or in a race, of course I will sweat. What bothers me is sweating while I walk to work at a relaxed pace. I’m bothered when I’m doing the same yoga practice as everyone else, and yet no one else is even sweating, let alone dripping with it like me. Last week I slipped on the sweat on my yoga mat! I sweat when I wash the dishes or when I’m blowdrying my hair. And no, I’m nowhere near menopause. It’s also not a weight issue, because it has affected me even when at a normal weight.

Between the sweating and the psoriasis, I’ve had to adopt a whole new wardrobe. I need to stick to white or off-white shirts as anything else could lead to very embarrassing situations. Black would be okay for the sweat too, but the psoriasis rules that out more often than not.

It has a huge impact on my lifestyle and comfort around other people. Yet, it’s something most doctors don’t take seriously. They also don’t know what kind of specialist to send you to. One understanding doctor sent me to a dermatologist, but he was no help at all. “Some people just sweat more than others.” Yes, I understand that. But this is beyond excessive. I wish they could just accompany me for a day and see how little it takes for me to drip with sweat.

My psychiatrist asks if I think it will make my friends like me less. No. But my discomfort is being in the workplace and embarrassed by sweatiness. Or the impact it has on anyone who isn’t a close friend but whom I still interact with. It makes me physically and emotionally uncomfortable. When I’m not sweating, I’m shivering!

Okay, this is a rather gross posting. But I wonder if anyone else is having similar reactions to anti-depressants. Have you found a solution beyond changing your wardrobe?

So frustrating.

Rise and Shine!

I had a good morning! This despite lack of sleep and the temptation to cancel. Yay!

It was around 2 am when I fell asleep – meditating and blogging too late! 😉 – and my lovely cat woke me at 7 am, an hour earlier than my alarm. Thanks, Kitty!

I was super tired and ready to call off my morning plans. I thought and thought about cancelling. In addition to my fatigue I had my psoriasis treatment on, so I knew washing my hair would be a chore. Another disincentive. But I also reminded myself about all the work I’ve been putting into getting outside daily and gradually becoming more social. Big debate!

Since I had an extra hour, I decided to put off the decision and went for a nice long mineral bath while playing my favourite CD. I thoroughly washed my hair three or four times to remove the nasty psoriasis gel, and was feeling relaxed and somewhat more alert. I decided to go. And I had a wonderful time meeting up at a social gathering with people I did and didn’t know. I was very chatty, social and happy. I hope this means that Prozac will be a successful medication for me. I’m so tired of being alternately apathetic and anxious.

So, I just wanted to record this to remind myself that I can have a good morning and that it is worth resisting the pull of sleep.

Although I did need a nap after lunch! 😉