I need new lenses

I do need new contact lenses, but that’s not what I mean. I think that I’m getting so tense and tired and stressed and upset that my views are becoming distorted.

Every time I wake up, I’m thinking about my work conflict. Any time my mind is not fully occupied with a task, it’s going back to the work conflict. I’m annoyed that I’m letting this take up so much of my energy!

I’m remember how zen I was at many points last spring. I want to find that again. Things I will work on this weekend:
– be in the present
– notice when work stress is creeping back to my thoughts and say “No!” – this is my time, not work time
– find time to meditate
– move around, get out of the house

I received a reminder yesterday that I have an appointment with my psychiatrist. Finally! My last appointment was in August because I was doing so well, feeling high spirited and ready to reduce some of my medication. No need to see the doctor for three months. What a laugh. Things have fallen so far since then!

I also haven’t been seeing my therapist since last spring as I was so busy then and my yoga training was a form of therapy. But right now I have nothing and I think I’m feeling the strain of not having their support and insights.

I also stopped blogging so much, losing out on my self-analysis and your helpful insights! Already, having started blogging again this week has been a great release.

Until next time!

Be well.


A Liebster Award!

liebsteraward-april 2014
On April 3, I received a Liebster Award! As you can see, I procrastinate on the good stuff just as much as the stressful stuff. 😉

Thank you so much, SusannaAntiHero! I truly appreciate the award and am touched that my blog is something that you enjoy reading.

Here are the Liebster Award rules that I was given:

1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you.

2. Answer the 11 questions they gave you.

3. Nominate 11 other blogs with less than 200 followers.

4. Let those blogs know that you nominated them by leaving a comment on their blog.

5. Give your nominees 11 questions to answer.

These are the questions that I was asked to answer:

1. What made you decide to start your own blog?

I had a really difficult year that started with being laid-off. I found a new job, but then I was fired for the first time ever. My depression seemed to be getting worse instead of better and I was struck by the idea of blogging as a way to entice me to journal. I’m so glad that I did!

2. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I’d love to be able to teleport myself to different places in the world. I love to travel and it would be so great to skip the jet lag and just blink my eyes and already be there.

3. What is your favorite book and why?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Mostly because I love the title!! But I like how it brings another time and place and so many characters to life. It is funny, sad and touching.

4. What would be your dream job?

Travel writer. I would love to be paid to travel the world, to learn about different cultures and to suggest how others might conduct their own journeys.

5. What is something you’ve always been afraid of?

I’ve always been afraid of letting down my guard. It is really hard for me to relax around others as I’m always in self-protection mode.

6. Who is your famous person crush? (Doesn’t have to be a movie star, but definitely can be)

Hmm, I actually don’t pay much attention to the rich and famous. But if I had to pick someone, I’d say Bradley Cooper. He’s gorgeous and did such an amazing job in Silver Linings Playbook.

7. Do you believe in the supernatural and if so have you ever experienced any occurrences?

No, I’m pretty down to earth.

8. What is one of the last movies you’ve seen that you really loved and one that you hated?

I loved Hunger Games: Catching Fire, mostly because I loved the books and I think that Jennifer Lawrence is a brilliant actress.

I hated the Great Gatsby. I already knew the story and just couldn’t get into the movie. I turned it off and never finished watching it. I was annoyed by the modern music for a period piece. The twenties had such fun music, I don’t know why they didn’t use any of it. Boardwalk Empire does a good job with this.

9. If your place was burning down and you could save one possession, what would it be? (Let’s say all the people and pets with you are safe)

I’m not very tied to material things. Probably my computer as it has all of my photos on it.

10. What is something you really like about yourself?

That’s a tough question for someone who struggles with depression! I’d have to say my openness to new things, new places and new experiences.

11. And last, tell me an interesting/random fact about yourself.

I’ve been to more than 30 countries and I eventually want to see the whole world.

Here are my questions:

1)      What made you decide to start blogging?

2)      What is the most interesting place that you have visited?

3)      Are you an animal lover?

4)      What is your favourite thing to cook?

5)      What is your favourite band/song at the moment?

6)      What is your favourite activity for recharging yourself?

7)      What is something you have always wanted to do, but haven’t yet done?

8)      What is your favourite television show and why?

9)      Where do you see yourself in five years?

10)   What is an interesting talent that you have?

11)   What is your dream job?

It turns out that many of the blogs that I follow have more than 200 followers and have already won many awards. So I’ll nominate five blogs instead of 11. 🙂

One Depressed Mama: http://onedepressedmama.wordpress.com/

  • I relate a lot to her posts and find them to be really insightful. She is also very warm and supportive. 🙂

Mydnyht Rantings:  http://mydnyht.wordpress.com/

  • I just started following this blog, but I really like Aurora’s insight and quirky sense of humour. She is “differently-abled but still awesome.” 🙂

Cinnamon Kittens: http://cinnamonkittens.wordpress.com/

  • She posts wonderful pictures of baked goods and is inspiring me to get back into running.

Dearest Depression: http://nicoleparish1018.wordpress.com/

  • This is one of the first blogs that I started following last fall. We’ve had some great conversations on depression, readings we’ve done, etc. I love Nicole’s dedication and positive spirit.

E.C.Teed_off http://ecteedoff.wordpress.com/

  • This is another blog that I just started to follow. I like how Ava G. tries to put a face on mental illnesses and I also really like her style of writing.

I hope that you enjoy these blogs as much as I do. 🙂

(PS: To the others who have given me awards, thank you so much! I’m hoping to respond to those soon! 🙂 )

6 weeks of blogging

I’ve been feeling for the past few months like I’ve been getting better. That after five years, I’m finally kicking this depression thing.

But I just looked back at the titles of my posts for the past 6 weeks. Of 28 posts, only about 7 were positive. The rest, on the whole, seemed to be about exhaustion and stress.

I wonder, am I fooling myself? Have I put on bandaids and forgotten to tend the deeper wounds?

Or am I being too hard on myself?

I was listening to part of Paul Gilbert’s The Compassionate Mind yesterday. The chapter focuses on the new brain and the old brain. The old brain is our instinctive brain, the part that’s quick to react, feel stress, fight or flight. And the new brain is the cortex, where all of our higher functions come in. The parts that separate us from animals.

The old brain was designed to keep us alive. To react to stress. And Gilbert notes, sometimes stress is a very valid reaction. Stressful circumstances bring stressed feelings.

I’m definitely in stressful circumstances right now, which are mostly beyond my control. Until I find a steady job and financial security, am I bound to stay in this limbo?

Gratitude for Silver Linings in a Truly Terrible Year

2013 was a crap year for me. I was laid off from my stable job of ten years. I was fired from a new job when I was sick. And my depression was getting worse instead of better. I questioned my whole value as a person. I injured my leg and couldn’t take part in sports, my regular method of de-stressing, so my anxieties mounted. I’ve become so financially unstable that I’ve become a burden on my parents. And a death in the family rounded out the year.

But there some things that happened in 2013 that I’m truly grateful for. Instead of always focussing on the negative, I’d like to focus on these silver linings.

Time for my Health
Prior to being laid off, I was struggling with depression in the workplace. I loved my job, but mentally I was declining so much that I was missing more and more days. I thought I’d have to go on long term disability again, something I was so ashamed about when it happened before and which led to me really distancing myself from everything and everyone.
I’m grateful that my unexpectedly empty schedule gave me time to really focus on me, without the stigma of sick leave. To reevaluate how I live, what works for me and what doesn’t. To really absorb my therapy and begin to implement it.

A Long Overdue Holiday
I love to travel. But after the financial problems resulting from my period of long term disability and my more recent pay losses due to exhausting my sick leave, I just couldn’t afford it.
I’m grateful that my layoff and severance pay allowed me the chance of a lifetime in terms of travel. I travelled to the other side of the world and spent two months exploring, recharging, and rekindling my interest in life. Truly priceless.

A Reality Check
Getting fired was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. The way it was done, the shock of never having any prior indication from my boss that I wasn’t performing well, the fact that I wasn’t even given the opportunity to justify my day off for being sick by seeking a doctors note, and the walk of shame as I left and my friendly colleagues avoided looking at me, it was just terrible. I’d been sick twice in a month. That was actually a lot less than in recent years and I was trying so hard to readapt to the workforce after months off and a period of post-travel depression. I transitioned from sleeping nearly 24/7 to starting work at an earlier time than I’d done in the past ten years and I was changing medications as well. I was getting my life back in order, then wham!
I’m grateful because the resulting crisis led to me really taking my recovery to heart. I worked hard to implement some of the things that I’d learned in therapy.I came up with the idea of blogging to help me journal. And I discovered this wonderful, supportive community.

Reaching Out
I’ve never been one to discuss my personal problems, fears and struggles. I’ve had a tendency to retreat from everything in self protection and because I felt like such a failure and waste of space.
I’m so grateful that I decided to create a WordPress blog. When I decided to create an anonymous blog, I decided to lay it all out on the line. To tell all, things I had only otherwise told my doctors and therapists. And I discovered that there were so many great people out there who struggle with the same problems as me. I went from isolation to a sense of community and support. And I honestly think that it has been the one most important step I’ve taken in the 4+ years that I’ve been trying to recover from major depression, anxiety and a complete breakdown.

New Doctors, New Medication
After a mishap with my first psychiatrist (he blew up one day when I questioned why I needed to take mood stabilizers when I wasn’t convinced that I was bipolar and I was stressed about the warnings in the medication’s literature), I found a new psychiatrist with a fresh perspective. And she really listened to me when I noted my overall problem of apathy and lethargy. A lack of energy to get about my day or to care about much. And she recommended a change from the medication I’d been on for three years. The medication I was on had helped me overcome my period of despair, but I had stagnated and wasn’t fully progressing back to health.
I’m grateful to have been listened to, to have taken on an active role in my treatment, and I’m so grateful that the new regime of Prozac and Wellbutrin seems to be working.

Rebuilding Confidence
I haven’t been able to find full-time work yet. But I did have a short but intense part-time contract, working afternoons and evenings.
I’m grateful that I had that opportunity to rebuild my shattered self-confidence. Sure I was underemployed, but I showed myself that I could still roll with the punches and that I really could once again be a valuable and reliable employee. That I could go to work for every shift and never miss a day. That I could be punctual, too, when I didn’t have to contend with early mornings, the most difficult part of the day for me.

Reconnecting with Family
It is so sad that we lost my aunt to cancer a few weeks ago. She was such a wonderful person and so young. I regret not having visited her recently and that I kept some distance because I didn’t want to discuss my depression and unemployment.
I’m grateful that I travelled for a full day to go to her funeral. That I listened to stories about her strength in facing her challenges, both in terms of cancer and a truly difficult childhood. I’m grateful that I was able to reconnect with family after the funeral, that I had this breakthrough moment when I realized that despite all the dysfunction and trials and tribulations, there were some great people in my family. And that we all dealt with our problems by retreating from each other, but there was still love there. I’m grateful for the realization that I can rebuild some of these relationships. I just need to take the first step because we are all so cautious and reserved. I’m also so grateful for the support my parents are giving me while I’m ineligible for unemployment insurance.

I still struggle with bad days, but they are becoming fewer. I know that I’ve really progressed a lot since starting my blog. I’m beginning to regain my confidence. I’m beginning to realize how I’ve been stigmatizing myself, and how I’m really not that different from so many people out there who struggle with similar mental illnesses. I’ve become much more comfortable with my diagnosis of major depression and anxiety. I’ve overcome a lot of my shame. And I feel more comfortable acknowledging my illness, yet knowing it doesn’t completely define who I am.

My hope is that all of this progress comes to fruition in 2014. I think I’m finally ready!

10×10 Challenge: Day 2

As I posted earlier, I had a bit of trouble with motivation today. But I changed things around by flying through three tasks at midday.

Overall, today rates an 8 out of 10. I’m going to stop there because I’m a bit exhausted from the extra blogging today. So here are my tasks, in order of completion.

1- Self-Help: check. Watched YouTube videos on empathy and positivity.

2- Get out of bed: check.

3- Something nice: check. Relaxing bath.

4- Go outside: check.

5 & 6- Exercise and meditation: check. These were most troublesome today. I missed my yoga class, then blogged for so long that I missed swimming too. Then I debated whether or not to go to my mindful living workshop. Luckily I did go and it included several meditations, and some yoga exercises too. I learned a few new breathing techniques, and some interesting ideas. I didn’t get to meet too many people one-on-one since I got there just as the class was starting, but there was a good group dynamic. I’m glad that I went and will keep an eye out for future workshops.

7- Veggies: check. I ate a Greek salad with my spanakopita.

8. Clean or organize something: check. I did a week’s worth of dishes. (Yes, I was very lazy earlier in the week.)

Where I fell short: job search and finances. I’ll be sure to make that up tomorrow. For now, I think I might go to sleep early!

A Productive Monday

Today was much better than the weekend. I straightened out the contract once and for all (no, not enough certainties or money) and was feeling energetic.

I saw my therapist for the first time in 6 weeks and she was amazed at how much progress I’ve made. She could tell right away by the way that I was talking that I am more upbeat and energetic. And it’s mostly due to you! I told her about how much support I get through our little community and how beneficial blogging has been in helping me be more conscious my moods and anxieties and the influences behind them. And my reactions – I’m beating myself up less often.

She laughed and said I was too funny when I showed her my one week challenge (smiley faces and all!) but was very happy that I’d taken her advice (break things down) and applied it in my own way to make it work for me. It’s okay if it looks childish – I apparently like putting stickers in boxes! Lol

I also did a lot of work on the career front. I applied for one job and I also met with a friend experienced in freelance work to find out if it’s really worth my time pursuing it.

So, here is today’s tally:
Get out of bed – check
Go outside – check
Career – check
Socialize – check
Mental health stuff (therapy) – check.

I’m liking the new challenge, but I need to find a way to fit exercise in more often.

Good night! 🙂

One Week Challenge – Day 7

This is it, day seven of my one week challenge! I’m so happy to have made it through to the end. And 93% is a fantastic success rate when you consider that without the challenge, I might very well have passed my week off in bed. I think it proved to be a great help to have flexible but set goals to inspire me to move past my exhaustion and do a certain amount of things each day.

Career: Check.

I was up and able to leave the house by noon today, a great improvement over yesterday. I went shopping for some new work clothes. Since I’ve gained so much weight over the past few years, I had few wearable things left in my closet. Also, I wanted to have something current to both help me feel better in a professional setting and because a photographer friend will be taking photos of me so that I can beef up my professional web profiles. Bonus: There was a big sale, so I was able to buy more than I would have otherwise. 🙂

Cleaning & Organizing: Check.

Today, I watered my poor neglected plants. Some are looking a little sickly so I hope my lethargy didn’t end up killing them. I also brought out the garbage and recycling, did more dishes, and finished up the last of this week’s laundry. It was nice to feel productive.

Exercise: Check.

After going out earlier in the day, I didn’t feel up to going out again to visit the gym. So I tried another fitness DVD that I bought years ago. This one was belly dancing and it was so much more fun! I’d once taken belly dancing classes while at university and I’d forgotten how much fun it is. And how much it kills your arms!

As the belly dance routine was half an hour, I rounded out the hour with thirty minutes of random yoga poses. It was nice to stretch after the intense belly dancing, and relaxing too.

Self-Help: Check.

While doing my yoga, I hummed along to music from one of my meditation classes. I find the chants to be calming, so I count that as self-help. And my blogging too, of course. 🙂

So that’s it! Here is my little checklist. I’ve found that I never grew out of the satisfaction I felt in kindergarten whenever I received a gold star, so this is an adapted version with smileys!


Thank you for all of your support throughout the week! It really made a difference on the more difficult days.