Taking Stock

It’s a new year and the tendency is to resolve to be better in the year ahead. Three days in, I’ve done that, broken that and become a bit lost. So after a long absence, I thought I might return to blogging, something that has helped me so much in the past in figuring out where I am and where I am going. So here I am.

Major Depression:

Six years post-major depressive breakdown, I really do feel like I’m on the verge of breaking free. There have been several relapses, but they aren’t as bad now. My doctor and I have been lowering my medication over the past year, and I’ve managed to make some progress regaining my career. Low mood, hopelessness or sadness aren’t so much the issues now as anxiety. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

The companion of my depression has been anxiety. This, I think, is my biggest obstacle at the moment, but here too there has been progress. I think for a long time my shame over mental illness fueled my anxiety and made me so afraid of people finding out. But a lot has happened to fight the stigma of mental illness and I think this has helped. I’m comfortable discussing it with some friends, I don’t dread going to see my psychiatrist, and I’m not ashamed to admit my situation to myself. 

But I’m currently not managing my anxiety very well.  I’m struggling a lot financially, the aftermath of my prolonged depression and career issues. I’ve taken significance steps to address this, but until these play out there is a lot of immediate stress in trying to stay afloat. So here is where I try to remind myself that I have taken the steps, that I’m almost at a point where I can balance things. But it’s hard. Not being able to pay for the simplest things, figuring out how I’ll feed myself and get to work until my next pay cheque arrives…it all adds up. My psoriasis has flared up and there are big red sores where I’ve scratched too much. I wake up with my fists clenched and tension up and down my arms. I struggle to sleep at night and yet sleep way too much overall. I’m sleeping in the day to avoid my worries, but this is just perpetuating things. 

I also stress about work. I’m struggling with a project and veer from worry to avoidance. This has affected my recent work and I’m seriously stressed about going in to work this week. I also worry about my work reputation, which compounds other worries. 

Right Now

I feel this post getting more negative as I confront my worries. So I will take a step back and look again at the big picture.

Depression: under control, with the exception of oversleeping

Anxiety: grounded in real stresses that I’m taking steps to manage

Medication: gradually lowering

Work: I’m functional, I have recovered some of the ground lost when I was laid off, and I have found a job and organization that I like

Social: I’m making some efforts to break free of my hermit like ways, though there is still a lot of work to do here

Shame: lessening as I’ve stopped self-stigmatizing and I have opened up to some

So that’s where I am in a nutshell. Thanks for listening 🙂

A mini breakdown and recovery

Today I had an important test I knew I could ace, and yet I mismanaged my time and wasn’t able to finish. I was so frustrated and angry with myself, and I had a mini breakdown.

I cracked. I cancelled everything planned later in the day and buried myself in bed. I wanted to cry, I wanted to hide, I wanted the relief of sleep. I slept for hours. Constructive, I know.

But then I woke up. And I felt a bit more compassionate towards myself. Yes, I didn’t do as well as I could have, but I had been exhausted from lack of sleep. Also, it is still good practice for other tests and maybe I will do better than I thought. Nothing I can do about it now. Just learn for next time.

And I had a surge of energy and started to tackle a lot of things I’d left half done. I got rid of clothes that didn’t fit, purged clutter in my room and completely organized my closet. It felt so nice as these were things I’d been wanting to do for quite a while and the clutter always weighed on me.

So at the end of the day, I’m feeling more neutral — not upset over the test as that is finished and there is nothing to do but wait for the results, and satisfied with my decluttering progress. I was triggered for the potential of crashing, but managed a bit of compassion to reenergize and inspire myself in other ways.

Re-finding my yoga mat

Today, after a few months off, I re-found my yoga mat. It feels so good to be back.

Why did I stop? Well, mostly due to pain in my arm that made yoga difficult and frustrating and my crazy work schedule which makes it hard to stick to a routine. Oh, and it is expensive and I’m still trying to get back on track financially.

These are all true, but the thing is, with all the conflict, stress and long hours, I really need yoga now more than ever.

Today after a really long sleep I woke up and decided that it was time to just get on the mat at home. I’ve trained as a yoga teacher. I know what to do. I can adjust the routine to work around injuries and aches and pains.

So I put on a meditative music cd, stepped onto my mat, and just did a free flow of whatever poses I felt like in the moment. It was so great!

It’s unfortunate that I lost yoga for these past few months, as I’m sure it would have really helped with the stress.

But I’ve found it now, and it feels good. I plan to try to get on my mat every day now. Any length of time, no routine to memorize and follow. Just be present and move.

Namaste! 🙂

Some much needed self-care

This week I took the time for some much needed self-care. A long session of massage therapy helped get rid of some of this built up tension. And for the first time in over six months, I got a haircut! With all my stress and psoriasis and losing clumps of hair, it was so nice to have a head massage and bring some order back to my hair. It’s nice not to feel so straggly and the shorter hair will hopefully make it easier to treat my scalp.

I also went to a follow-up appointment with my psychiatrist. Re-upping my medication to the levels I had in the spring seems to be helping. I have tremors but otherwise my mood is much improved with the higher dose. I feel a bit more able to handle the work conflict. We talked a lot about my work conflict at the session. I explained how I work with someone that veers from ordering me about and yelling at me to being as nice as can be. She said that this treatment is harassment, and it was a relief to be validated. I’ve felt so uncertain about myself. With a history of mental illness, I wondered, is it me? Am I being too sensitive? Am I the problem? But she reassured me that yelling at people in the workplace is never appropriate. She was annoyed that my boss wants to send my to a course on working with difficult people and difficult situations. She thinks it’s my colleague needs to learn how to communicate with people. But I’m of the mind that a) this may be a good way to learn some new strategies because I do get very stressed by interpersonal conflict and b) if they want to send me on a course then I guess they don’t want to fire me.

Anyway, that’s where things stand. Some improvement and a lot of self-care to get me through this stress.

Any tips on working well with difficult colleagues?

A clean slate

Today has been a good day. I slept well, woke up when I was ready and immediately showered and went out. I bought food for me and my kitty, and then went back home for a big day of cleaning.

There is something about cleaning that is invigorating. It’s kind of like exercise, with the wonderful reward of a relaxing environment free of the chaos of my messes.

Now that I’ve cleaned almost every room, I can sit back and enjoy the coziness. I think I’ll even light the (electric) fire. And then a friend is coming over for a dinner and a movie.

All in all a really nice day. So nice to have a bit of relief from the stress.

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.

Postponing Action

I went into work today ready to quit unless other work arrangements can be sorted out. Instead of discussing things first thing, however, I got caught up in impromptu training so I waited for an opening.

When I did discuss things with my boss, it was clear that he would talk to my colleague about his treatment of me, but that was it – no other arrangements. I decided to hold out a little longer, but said I would be out of there the next time.

I was very stressed and tense all afternoon since no solutions were in the offing, but I am staying for now as at least I don’t have to work with the tyrant for a few more days. I’m trying to look at it this way:
-If I stay one more day, then I make $– more dollars.
-Apply for as many jobs as possible while I can.
-Give one more chance before quitting.
-Mental health is number one priority. Quit if you have to.

As I walked home today, I could feel all the tension in my body. It’s like I need to have a good cry to just release it, but I’m not able to. Instead I started chanting a mantra to myself as I walked:
It’s – not – worth – it.

Life is too short to be miserable (especially after five years of depression!). If things don’t improve next week, I owe it to myself to get out of a toxic work environment.