It’s Always a Test

The difficult days are starting to out-number the good. Hence why it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted.

For some reason, even though I’ve started working out more consistently and I’ve actually been watching what I eat/drink…I’m in heightened amounts of pain without relief, and I’m only able to sleep about 2-3 hours (as confirmed by my fitbit) a night.

My anxiety has been off the charts, and I’m never able to fully relax. When I do actually fall asleep, I wake-up feeling very disoriented and my pain is so bad that the thought of getting out of bed is excruciating. I can tell immediately that while my mind may have slept for a little bit, my body did not. I feel the remnants of a night long battle that drudged through a brutally cold night; my jaw is almost trapped shut and my neck/shoulders can barely move.

I’m constantly trying to stretch the stress away. Constantly trying to think of new things to help…to find even 5 minutes of release.

I feel as though I’m one of those rubber-band balls. Doesn’t matter if you take 20 rubber-bands off…there’s still a hundred layers of tightly wound wraps, clinging tightly around me.

After a few weeks of this tiresome, worn-out record…the depression was able to creep back in. Today I just felt so far away. I was alone. I started ruminating on the fact that all I am is a disappointment. Thoughts that I don’t do enough for my family, that I am failing them, that I have never amounted to anything, are so absolute in my mind…they are truth.

How’d I get through the day? Mainly, I stayed busy…pre-occupied my mind with checklists and chores.

Anxiety See’s No Age

My daughter seemed to be having a difficult day, more-so than I. Oddly, when she’s struggling, my personal battles go right out the window and my full focus becomes her. I already see that she is an over-thinker (at 4 years old). She already starts to stress out, at times, about the probable domino affect that could possibly happen because of one minuscule thing. She starts to harp and stress-out on one tiny little thing and gets so worked up that you’d swear the world was coming to its demise in the next 5 minutes!

I become calm. Otherwise, all I’m going to do is feed the fire. I have to remain calm. I am down on my knees, eye-level with her…letting her know that I understand how she feels; reassuring her that it is okay and we’ll figure it out together. I’m showing her how to calmly breath, the tension in my face dissipates and my eyes are locked in on hers. Soon, her body starts to relax, the worry in her eyes disappears and she is regaining control.

What triggered this? …she was extremely over-tired. She still struggles with the new “rise and shine” routine of being woken-up at 6:30am. She had already complained that she didn’t get a nap because the baby’s were making so much noise (the little ones at daycare), and she had a situation with one of the other kids during the day that had left her upset and made her feel a little bit invisible. Needless to say, she had a rough day.

Common Ground

I’m reminded that all of us are constantly in one battle or another. Some days they don’t seem so problematic, because we’ve gotten the proper amount of sleep, we weren’t in pain, we didn’t have poisonous thoughts running through our minds…the stars had aligned! Some days, everything falls into place nicely…and some days they don’t. No matter what, I never want to be the cause for someone else’s bad day…no one should be afflicted just because I am.

…and if I’m able to shield or help one person, for one minute from pain or troubles, then all of my tribulations are worth it. While some days will be burdensome, and my battle might be apparent for all to see, I will always try to do better and I will do anything in my power to help ease someone else’s troubles.

A Rose by Any Other Name

I read a blog post last week that was discussing “high-functioning depression” and for some reason, since reading the blog, I have not been able to stop thinking about labels.

It’s humorous to me, because people get extremely defensive when someone “labels” them…yet because of our individual identity crises, we sit here and find new ways to label ourselves.

At the end of the day, depression is still depression, right?

I’ve definitely had a few psychologists say that I’m a very high-functioning person, and people are typically surprised when I share with them that I battle depression.  Between my 4-year old, my husband, my drive to do well at my job, house cleaning, errands, life…I somehow manage (for the most part) to get shit handled and .

Drivers

Don’t get me wrong, 98% of the time when I wake up in the morning I wish I could just pull the blanket over my head and stay there alone all day. Maybe since I’m the only one around in the morning to get our daughter dressed and to daycare is a blessing?: I’m betting if my husband were able to take her, I’d give in to the depression and most likely be out of a job because of too many days missed.

Another driver for me, is my daughter. I never want my daughter to suffer just because I do. It’s not her fault that I have depression and anxiety, so why should she have to ever feel that it is?

I’m not trying to deceive my daughter; when she is old enough I will share and/or answer any questions she may have about my battle. She is aware that I have bad days, where I tend to take more naps, and for right now, she understands that “mommy has an ouchie and doesn’t feel well”. Usually, on those days we’ll snuggle up on the couch and watch movies together!

Fortunately, these mommy ouchie days are becoming less frequent and I can honestly attribute it to finally finding the correct combination of prescriptions (for the depression) and from having learned my triggers as well as limits (for the anxiety). Allowing myself down-time and not feeling guilty for it has been huge, but (as mentioned in a previous post) focusing on one day at a time has helped with that.

Bottom line?

If you suffer depression and anxiety you may have nothing but bad and worse days, you might be lucky and have more good than bad…but no matter what it is still depression. If you feel better about your battle by calling it “high-functioning”, then so be it. I personally, don’t feel the need to be labeled even further than I already am.

Gonna Let It Shine

No matter what you or society call it, it is a daily fight for survival. So, please if you can see the light, no matter how dim or brief in your day, then I recommend that you hold onto that little glimmer of hope to give you the strength to get through the day. Every day does not have to be some “outta the park” success of productivity…there are literally days where getting out of bed and taking a shower is the only thing I manage to accomplish. However, not feeling guilty that I couldn’t do more is what allows me to try again tomorrow.

 

Is it Growing Pains or More?

I’ve heard somewhere, over the years, that people who have experienced trauma or depression in their life are more susceptible to experiencing postpartum. I’ve also heard that postpartum can be the “trigger” that brings depression to the surface. Meaning, someone may have always been susceptible to depression, but the after effects of childbirth is what allowed it out.

While this may not be the case for everyone…it definitely was for me.

I know that all too often people want to blame others for the way their life “ended up”. I’m not one of those, anymore…or at least I make a very diligent effort to avoid it. While people can disappoint you, influence you and affect your life, no one is to blame for what you decide to do with it, but you. Additionally, I don’t believe that anyone can ever say that their own decisions, actions, reactions did not played a part in what they experienced in life.

13 Reasons Why

Not sure how many of you have Netflix, or of you’ve been curious at all about the Netflix original “13 Reasons Why“. Personally, I have to admit, I wasn’t. My husband on the other hand was and started watching it one night.

Let’s just say after watching the first episode, I left the room and cried for half an hour. Naturally, I swore off ever watching it again. Don’t get me wrong, it has a very talented cast, and the way they execute the storyline is amazing, and their depiction of life in high school was (for me) spot on. If you can detach from the emotions that stem from the show or if you did not experience those types of events in high school, then you should be fine to watch it.

A few days later my husband was watching it again. I avoided it, and relaxed outside and enjoyed some overdue alone time. One of the grandma’s had picked up the kid for a sleepover, so we got a day of uninterrupted time at home.

However, I did later sit down with him for a few minutes to see what we wanted to do for dinner, and I got sucked into the show again. Couldn’t stop watching for about 3 episodes.

The last episode I watched, left me feeling as though I had pulled a bandaid off of a shotgun wound. The pent-up feelings I had swept under the rug (or I thought) came flooding through, and things I hadn’t thought about in two decades were suddenly at the forefront of my mind…and all the emotional baggage associated with them were on my heart. The tears came flooding through, again.

This time though, my husband came and pulled me close to him and just ever so gently hugged me and allowed me to cry on his chest. He knew exactly why I was upset after that particular episode, and he was trying so hard to be there for me.

What happened in the episode you may wonder? Well, a girl was raped.

Hindsight

I personally cannot begin to comprehend the evil that people are capable of. Anytime I see or hear about terrorist attacks, missing children, sexual abuse, any abuse or even just the conniving lies people tell, I am literally shocked. I cannot fathom how people come up with this shit and justify it as being “the right thing to do”. I can only assume that larger percentages of those kinds of human actions are derived from severe mental disabilities…I mean they have to be, right?

Neither here nor there (and I am in no way justifying what happened to me), but looking back I realize that if I had followed the rules and been where I was supposed to be, I probably would have never been raped. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that single event ended up creating a downward spiral, snowball effect in my life for several years to come.

Strength? or Weakness?

One question that always rings with me, is whether a person can blame how their life “turned out”, to one event?

To this, I believe it depends on the individual and the event. Every single person has their own threshold (physically and mentally), and sometimes you don’t know what yours is until you’re pushed to that point. It literally becomes survival of the fittest, and for me I learned at a very young age to be a survivor of life. Constantly struggling for a moment away from the fight or flight mentality, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, I stubbornly pushed my way through, until life became a task list.

Final Thoughts

There are always different perceptions and perspectives, and whether they are right or wrong, people derive their own about themselves as well as others all of the time.

But, who’s to say that someone else’s are wrong?

For instance, a small child may throw a temper tantrum because they didn’t get what they wanted. A teen may be incredibly dramatic about something because of “teen hormones”. An adult may just snap at the people they love over the simplest non-essential thing.

…but what if we took the time to look past the yelling, defensive front? Would we find that what the person was yelling about has nothing to do with what the problem actually is?

Maybe we find out that the child is having a difficult time adjusting to a new schedule and they don’t know how to identify or explain what they are feeling yet.

Maybe the emotional teen is being bullied, but feels that people would say they’re making it up for attention.

Maybe the snippy adult is battling depression and anxiety, and by the end of the day after work, family, and the never ending to-do’s…they just have nothing left in them and are hoping upon hope, that someone will catch them and tell them that they did a good job.

 

 

 

Nevermind

I often feel as though I spend a large part of my day “reasoning”. If it’s not with my own internal dialogue, then its discussions with my daughter, my husband, coworkers, etc. I feel as though I am constantly having to explain the intent of not only my verbal or physical actions/reactions, but also those of others, all the while needing to actively be in the moment, so that I don’t say or do something that could possibly be perceived as wrong.

Needless to say, there are some parts of a day (or even entire days) where I get so broken down from it all and I just say “Nevermind”.

Nevermind about listening to me explain, yet again what I battle, daily. Nevermind about the chronic pain and migraines I suffer, day in and day out. Nevermind about my wants, preferences, needs. Nevermind the racing images that feel like shards of glass in my head…nevermind that I never get a “break” from them. Nevermind about the extra burden I carry in every thought and step. Nevermind the fact that I was strong enough to keep it at bay and get through the day.  I don’t want the extra weight of justifying, explaining, convincing…so, just Nevermind.

Just “there”

Each of us has a story to tell. Each of us have faced trials and tribulation, and in this day and age everyone is eager to share their story. Whether it be through a blog (such as this), Facebook, Instagram, or whatever. There are definitely pro’s and con’s to this, and I myself flip and flop between them.

There’s a vicious vortex we have fallen into. While we do have knowledge of the world in our fingertips, people seem to be more lost than ever. The number of people who suffer from depression is higher now than ever. According to DBSA, 14.8 million American adults suffer from depression a year and according to ADAA, over 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder.

This could be a coincidence from various facets; people are more open to sharing, there are easier mediums to share through, people are actually tracking these kinds of data, etc.

However, more and more studies are showing the connection between the amount of time spent online, the instant gratification that people now require, our diets, lack of exercise (or just being outside), and the disconnect from actual, in-person, social relationships.

Sadly…I know the above, yet I don’t change anything in my own life to improve any of it. Is this a cycle of self-sabotage? Or could it be that we have also gotten so enraptured with knowing more, doing more, being more, that we’ve lost sight of actually living?

I have talked about living in the “now” previously (see my post from March 23rd), and I have shared ways that have worked for me, to get into the right mindset to be able to pull myself out of the overwhelm and into a manageable state. But, it’s difficult. It actually takes work and at times requires every ounce of me to get there.

I continuously feel like I’m in a vicious cycle; while I may be able to take a different route for a period of time, I always end up back on the same rocky, windy trail. Either a physical ailment (sickness, injury) will occur, or a situation that I haven’t had to face in a long time rears its ugly head, or an additional element gets piled onto my already overloaded shoulders. Whatever it is, it seems far too easy to “tip the scale” and then everything I had been doing so well for the last month or so, seems as though it was all for not. I have to pick myself back up again, and start all over.

While I believe that these kinds of cycles are elements in everyone’s life, I can’t help but wonder am I the only one that has physical pain and emotional darkness every single time?

Escape Routes

I don’t think it matters whether you battle depression/anxiety or not…all of us want to run away from it all, at one time or another. Life, at times, can feel daunting.

Unfortunately, for me…no matter where I go, I can’t escape. There is never a moment where I can take a deep breath and just “be”.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

You know how people always talk about there being voices? Well, for me, I don’t hear anything. I mean, sure I hear my own negative thoughts bumbling around, but for the most part I can easily identify and deal with those. For me, it’s the images.

What do I see? Every. Single. Day? I face the horrible imagery of me killing myself, and all of the mediums in which it could be done. I have repetitive images of sharp blades, shotguns, of different “accidents” there could be and how I would do it. I see the crime scene, if you will, of where it could happen and worst of all, how my loved ones would “find me”. My sick head even tries to rationalize pre-meditated actions that could be taken to ensure that my daughter is not the one who finds me. (sick, right?)

There’s Nowhere to Run

The average person will have “bad days”, and longs patiently for their next vacation so that they can disconnect from the daily grind and let go of it all. Unfortunately, I seem to get more ailments and in more fights with my loved ones, when I’m on vacation.

I don’t even care to waste money on vacations anymore, because I know that I won’t be able to relax and enjoy them for what they are. In fact, many times the trips/vacations create difficult platforms for controlling the demons. In those moments of quietness, there is a level of vulnerability; the daily chaos of the world subsides and your defenses are down. Unfortunately, my thoughts and deep seeded feelings are still with me; there’s no “off” switch, and they seem to rise to uncontrollable levels during these down times.

Conclusion

Maybe you face these same things. Maybe you feel like there’s never a moment of relief, a moment to breath. Sadly, I don’t have suggestions for overcoming this darkness…I honestly don’t know how I survive it every day. I merely wanted to share, to let you know that, you are not alone. Most importantly, do not give up. Every day may be exhausting, and by the end of the day you may feel like you are literally hanging onto a piece of thread…but, you have to hold onto hope. You. Matter.

If you have suggestions of what those of us who go through these imagery battles could do, please feel free to share. I don’t mean by sharing some cutesy meme or quote or by saying that “I just have to change the way I think”. But, if you have honest insight of what has worked for you, please share. I know that I personally would enjoy a day away!

 

 

There are Valley’s Low Enough

It’s been a while since my last post…let’s just say that life got crazy.

No matter what change you agree to, or how happy you are about it; it can be difficult. For me, I believe that the anticipation and stress gets amplified because of the anxiety. Somehow I manage to “pick up my feet” and get it all done, but I’m not too sure that’s a good thing.

What change did I bring on myself? Well, I had my Essure tubal ligation, started a new job and had to switch to an Android phone (having had an iPhone for 5 years). When you list them out, they seem pretty simple. However, each of these changes had huge emotional and physical impact on me, which seemed to be amplified because they were all happening at one time.

I’m not sure that I can explain the reasons why, without them sounding like excuses to so many people, and maybe to some degree they are (the jury is still out on this). However, I have definitely noticed a trend with the highs and lows in my life.

A Personal Hypothesis – Stages of Depression

It almost seems like depression comes in waves or stages, similar to the stages of grief.

The Calm Before the Storm: I’ll have calm waters where I feel great, healthy and positive for a few weeks, maybe even a few months. I get a feeling of hope, like “maybe I’m on my way to getting rid of this disease”!

Survival (Fight or Flight): Suddenly, out of nowhere a hurricane hits and it takes everything in me to survive a day at at time. It feels like everything is coming at me 90 mph from every direction; I can’t make out a singular thought. I’m struggling to get my head above the water.

Anger: I get angry at myself or worse, those around me. Chronic pain spikes, making exercise unbearable. I can’t concentrate and I am unable to communicate complete sentences…often times, incapable of remembering basic words (or even the alphabet). I get extremely irritable and things that don’t normally bother me, become the bane of my existence!

Numbness/Hibernation: I start to shut-down, turning off emotions, saying “no” to outings, projects, chores. Everything in my day become a series of un-emotional task lists. “Took my daughter to school?…check”. “Eat something…check”. I become a robot and the thoughts that my life will always be like this, start to become acceptable.

A New Hope: This one seems to vary for me, in each cycle.

  • Sometimes my daughter nudges me into this stage of healing. A certain smile, laugh, a question she has or even witnessing a moment where she has learned/experienced something new, will remind me of why I’m here.
  • Sometimes my stubbornness will pull me out of my “funk”.  As though I’m taking a stand against myself and refusing to go down without a fight. I finally regain my strength and move forward.
  • Sometimes it will be a church service, reminding me that God has a plan…and even though I can’t see it or understand it, there is purpose and hope.

What Causes the Stages?

I know stress does.

I’m also starting to believe that the shear volume of stimulus that humans receive on a daily basis puts us into overload. I think we push ourselves too far with expectations of income, material items, self-image. We require instant information at the push of a Google search. We want instant gratification/results, with little to no effort required from us. I think we are are experiencing brain exhaustion…and I plan to dig into this topic more and share my findings!

 

 

 

 

 

The Struggle is Real

This particular post has become more “scientific” than I intended. Please remember, I do not hold any scientific degrees or training and everything here is purely my personal views and opinions.

Naturally I can’t speak to or try to generalize what each individual may experience when going through the trenches of depression/anxiety. There are meme’s, quotes, interviews, etc. that seem to sum-up what I feel during those low points, and since any search on Google will populate the same generalization of what I feel, I can only assume that we all can be categorized under the same umbrella of feeling lost, judged, alone, tired yet can’t relax or sleep, and any other cocktail mix you’ve been dealt.

e1b612416a4c6c48eb4e301bdeebee94I believe everyone has their own extremely unique personal battle, and everyone who battles may be able to say “yeah, I agree I feel like [fill in the blank]”, no one really ever shares the specific words, images, or thoughts that smother them; people just share the end-result, over-generalized feeling. There’s still a huge stigma around mental health. There’s a fine line of who you can tell, who you can share some things with, and who you can get to the dirty truth of it all with. No matter what, the struggle is real!

So many of us seem to associate to the umbrella feelings…I wonder if some of us suffer from the same ruminating thoughts and imagery too? My hypothesis is that maybe there is a link or deeper common factor (not just the general trauma/abuse, environmental factors, etc.) between us that can identify the WHY ME? of it all.

I’ve often felt like I was another number or statistic, type-casted into a psychological bucket flooded with information and treated like a clinical lab rat; being told to go to that support group over there (in your spare time and when you’re actually able to power through the morning to get moving), or come to this doctor’s appointment over here, or try this drug and in a few months we’ll see how you reacted to it. Sadly, it wasn’t until recently while reading “Women Conquering Depression“, that a bigger picture came to light.

The Magical “Ah Hah” Thought:

If depression is considered a disease in the brain, then maybe these thoughts/feelings are because of a deficiency. Similar to when you suddenly crave chocolate, it generally means your body has a magnesium deficiency or when a vegetarian might crave red meat, it can mean there is an iron deficiency.

So, what does my brain “need”?

I think so many of us suffer from “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to our internal organs. As long as there isn’t something catastrophically wrong, then we assume everything is working as it should.  There’s no visibility of a wound; there’s no scrape from a fall.  There are a million examples of the effects that the body endures because of heart problems, liver problems, strokes, etc. And, while SPECT imaging can help in identifying the problem areas in the brain, more and more research in various scientific fields are finding that the whole body needs to be treated. If you take a symptoms oriented approach to fixing an issue…it’s just going to create more symptoms because you never deal with the root problem. I’m not trying to get spiritual here, but our bodies and our lives do require balance. For some of us (and I’m definitely the pot calling the kettle black here), attempting to achieve balance is a lot of effort! It becomes another overwhelming task or expectation that weighs us down, making it feel impossible. Where does one even start to work on this? I mean, it’s hopeless!

But…after awhile you realize that something HAS. GOT. TO. GIVE. You can’t take another day of chronic pain. You can’t take another drop of guilt. You can’t live through another morning of waking up feeling more exhausted than you were when you went to bed.  You can’t stand another second of feeling stressed, but not knowing what is causing it!

This is where so many people break. The daunting undertaking of change becomes too much, and they give up. How do I know? I’ve been there, recently. It led to the creation of this blog. I know change doesn’t happen overnight, and I know there are going to be times where I just want to give in to the “easier” path. However, I know now that is a vicious rabbit-hole to go down and all it will do is encapsulate you into a catch-22 vortex of misery.  I have to break the cycle. Being aware of the cycle isn’t enough…actions must be taken. I mean, the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, right?

Eating better, drinking better, exercising, relationships, socializing, more me time. Bit by bit, I am making subtle changes to my lifestyle to take care of the “whole” me. The first thing I’ve been working on these last few weeks has been drinking more water throughout the day and having less alcohol throughout the week. I was also working out 30 min to an hour at least 3 times a week…until I sprained my ankle (no, it was not from working out)! I haven’t set required amounts of water or completely cut-off alcohol…I’m not trying to set myself up for failure…but I’m taking steps, and that’s all that matters.

 

 

 

Introduction – The Beginning (Part II)

If you read the first post, you may be wondering what happened next…and some of you are probably thinking “this chick is crazy and I’m done reading this blog!”. While this blog may not be geared for all audiences, please note that the intent is to share the raw truth of my experiences in facing the toxicity of depression and anxiety…in hopes that others going through their silent battles may find comfort and hope to keep pushing through.

DARKNESS FALLS [continued]

I woke my husband up and said “something is wrong, take me to the hospital”. He seemed very confused and looked at me as though he had dreamt it and needed confirmation this was real. I was standing there with a look of terror, eyes filled with tears and probably pretty worn down from not sleeping for the last 4+ days.

He asked me to give him a minute to get dressed and gather Kassidy’s things. I remember he and I both were worried about me being in the room alone with our daughter…fortunately, I had enough of “me” left to be able to get her diaper changed, get her dressed and gather her things.

From this point everything was kind of a blur. I remember my mom coming to the emergency room. I remember my body feeling so out of my control. I remember sleeping. I remember worrying about our newborn having to be in an emergency room and fearful that she would catch a cold/flu, etc.

…then I agreed that I needed to be admitted to psychiatric. I remember laying in the emergency room while they tried to find me a room (Kaiser California doesn’t have psychiatric hospitalization, so they had to go out-of-network). I remember the EMT’s having to run through their 5150 protocols to transport me to the ambulance and further to the other hospital. At this point, they would not let my mother or husband take me to the other hospital…I felt like I was a criminal, slightly embarrassed that it had come to this.

The check-in process at St. Joseph’s in Orange, CA was quite lengthy. However, I realize that when someone comes there seeking medical help, it’s most likely due to an unforeseen emergency which the nurses have to work with on top of their normal jobs. Vera was the woman who was there to explain the next steps, provide comfort, and honestly, was the angel that provided me hope and helped me get through the next 7 days.

I’ll share my experiences in a separate blog…but let’s just say the biggest motivator in my life to continue battling my depression and anxiety, is to make sure that I never end up in the psych ward again. I am too afraid that I would not have the strength, and would “lose myself” completely.

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