2014

  • I got married. All of my planning paid off and everyone, including me, had fun.
  • My bridal shower was a blast. 40 women gathered for high tea, and that was my present.
  • We went to Maui for two weeks and put 800 miles on our rental car exploring everything there was to see.
  • I enjoyed a long reprieve of emotional issues between May and September.
  • Jeremy quit his job in June to finish the kitchen renovations
  • The kitchen renovations are done! I have an amazing kitchen and living room where I can hang out whenever I want 🙂
  • We spent a week at the cabin
  • We went camping at Milk River, Silverwood, and interior B.C.after my cousins wedding.
  • Family reunion in July
  • Climbed a couple times a week except for the summer when I rode to work every day.
  • I was given the time of project manager for an event at work, having forgotten how stressful planning the wedding was. The growth is in the challenge.
  • I started volunteering as a baby cuddler in a support group for moms with postpartum mood disorders.
  • We spent a week on Vancouver island and picked up our brand new dining room table, lovingly made by talented family!
  • We tried to conceive for 7 cycles. The Twitter account I created for this journey had helped me find the emotional patterns in my cycle which had also helped others do the same!
  • I started acupuncture.
  • Jeremy has resolved to not play any video games or watch any tv or movies in 2015. I’m excited to see what kind if new pastimes this brings to our lives.
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Aside

Stigma

I have no problem blogging about my mental illness. I have no problem tweeting about my mental illness. But I can’t talk about it on Facebook. And talking to people in person about it is leading to less than awesome results.

Why is it that I feel so accepted by complete strangers all over the continent, and feel so judged by family members and friends? Obviously if you’re reading this, you are not one of them. There are people I have told about the blog who don’t want to read it and those are some of the people I feel most judged by.

Dealing with a mental illness is hard. It’s awful. On top of the shittiness of the illness itself you get this:

First I told myself that I was wrong. I didn’t even tell anyone else that I thought I might have a problem.

“I can’t be depressed, everyone gets sad.”

“Maybe if I just ignore it, it’ll go away.”

“But I don’t need medication.”

“I’m not as bad as that person.”

Once I accepted it as a mental illness (which is a very big step by the way, and really helped me feel better) I had people telling me that I was wrong.

“Just stop worrying.”

“But you’re so happy all the time.”

“It’s just a phase.”

“Just will yourself to be happy.”

I have a hard time because I’m a naturally talkative, sharing person. I hate keeping secrets. I don’t want to be ashamed to be who I am. I want my close friends and family to know what’s going on in my life, but this is sharing that is not going over well.

I get that people want me to be happy. I get that my friends want to help. I get that many of them haven’t had the support that they required when they went through similar things. Maybe they thing I don’t need help because they think that they themselves don’t need/deserve help. I don’t know. I’m getting help right now so that things don’t get worse. That’s what happens when you ignore your problems, they get worse.

I want everyone’s reaction to be, “Oh Emily, I’m so glad you’re getting help. It must be so good to feel like you’re getting somewhere and putting a name to your feelings. Let me know how I can support you.” That would be really nice.

Next week I start a 12-18 month program working with a psychologist, a counsellor and my family doctor. I’m so excited that I’ll be getting some long-term help and maybe make some real progress on this depression/anxiety, so that every time it comes up I don’t have to go to a different counsellor. I’m also very, very thankful that this is a program that my work pays for, and I don’t even need to use money from my benefits.

I won’t be telling a lot of people about it, but I’ll be blogging about it. And probably tweeting about it.

Lent

This year I decided I should give something up for lent. I’ll be going to church every Sunday, and I enjoyed the Easter season last year and wanted to be more involved this year. I wish I could give up something really big, like sugar, or social media, or negative self-talk, but I know I don’t have the power to do that. One day I will, but not right now.

I’m giving up buying food at work. I always buy sugary snacks in the middle of the afternoon when the boredom gets overwhelming and I want to stuff my face with a donut. I always think that a donut or chocolate bar or Starbucks will cheer me up. It’s an awful habit. It’s a good one to get rid of. I’m not getting rid of all sugar in my diet, because sometimes I need a cookie. But I have very few sweets at home, and I find it easy not to buy them at the grocery store.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to confront these feelings in the middle of the afternoon and get over it. Confront my desire to eat crappy food and eat that apple if I’m really that hungry. I also hope it’ll help me think about sacrifice, and denying myself certain things in order to live a better life.

Depression Anxiety Super Combo

I’ve not been doing well lately. Wedding planning is in full swing. It’s going well, but takes a lot of my energy. Home renos are really slow and I don’t feel like I have any control. I also don’t have energy to do them. My house is a dusty, freezing disaster. Work was rough, but is improving. The weather is awful and really not helping. There’s a lot going on and I can’t handle it all.

I talked to my doctor about medication, and he said that I should do counselling first and see how that went. I agreed. Medications have too many side effects and I feel that while I’m bad enough now that I think it would help, all my problems are situational and you can’t keep going on and off medications all the time. So I had my first session with my new short-term phone counselor last Friday. I think I should have a long-term in-person counselor because these guys are only meant to help you with one problem, and then you’re “fixed.” And that’s not me. I wants someone who knows my problems who I can see once a week or once a month as I need them, and they know all about me and they know my back story.

So this counselor was lovely, and gave me some homework. An anxiety inventory tool and a depression inventory tool. I thought, “Ok I’ll be pretty high on the anxiety chart, but I don’t think I’m depressed. I’ll do it just because she wants me to.” Turns out I scored on the high end of the depression scale. Lots of symptoms I thought were anxiety, are actually depression. Things like inferiority, guilt, and indecisiveness are symptoms of depression. For the anxiety I was “severely anxious.” No surprise there.

Now I’m stuck thinking about how to manage this. I’m *this* close to tears at any given moment. I’m no closer to actually getting anything done. I don’t want to leave my bed in the morning. I have zero emotional energy left for anyone else. It’s awful to be sending emails and not be able to think about how anything will sound to other people. Especially since I’m doing all this wedding stuff. 

It’s awful and I don’t want it to get worse, but I feel like I’m going to have to wait this one out. I’m thankful that I still feel pretty rational, even if I have no emotional energy to be nice.

Through all of this, Jeremy is so supportive. He gives me hugs and cuddles and tells me I’m a good person. He doesn’t tell me to just cheer up, or get over it. If things were’t as good with him, I’d be on medication immediately. At least I know this wedding is a good idea 🙂

“Rarely”

“How often does your anxiety keep you from doing something in your life?”

The answer to this was always, “Rarely.” That’s even what I said to the counselor last week that I talked to on the phone while I took a sick day because I couldn’t handle another day of work. It took me a while to put it together. It’s affecting my life in a way it hasn’t before. Intrusive thoughts. Self-loathing. Shame. Guilt. Fear. Sick days. Tears. Unkind words.

I have a lot going on right now, and I’m hitting a high point of emotional instability. I’m back on the anti-anxiety stuff from the naturopath, but I’m considering some harder stuff. First, I will do weekly counselling. My work offers short-term counselling, but I kind of want something long-term. It’ll cover that too, but only up to a certain amount.

I’m feeling unwilling to do the work. I want a quick fix. But counselling usually does help, and I think weekly will be good. I’m thankful I have sick days I can take. For my bad days, emotionally, or physically.  My immune system is a mess, and I think a lot of it is just stress.

This too shall pass, I know. But it’s always in my face these days and I just want to be better.

A World Without Evil

Today in church, we were challenged to imagine a world without evil. What is it like? We read Revelations 21 and 22, which had a lot of descriptions, but I found that most of them were negatives, like “no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” I wanted to think of the ultimate world in terms of goodness, and not simply the absence of evil. Here are some words that came to mind:

  • Love
  • Beauty
  • Believing
  • Happy
  • Trustworthy
  • Knowing
  • Honour
  • Brilliance
  • True
  • Glory
  • Equal
  • Splendor
  • Worship
  • Innocence
  • Growth
  • Life
  • Creation
  • Blessing
  • Prayer
  • Health
  • Whole
  • Gratitude
  • Holiness
  • Goodness
  • Cooperation
  • Inclusion

An odd thought came to me. If there is no evil, is there hope? Grace? Mercy? Forgiveness? Is there healing?

2013

  • Started going to church
  • Worked really hard on being more patient. Succeeded at being more patient.
  • Continued volunteering, fulfilled my commitment of doing it for one year, and finished because it wasn’t as rewarding as I wanted it to be.
  • Went skiing and hiking many, many times.
  • Went camping many, many times.
  • Made friends with another couple 🙂
  • Started climbing again and reminded myself why I love it so much.
  • Started ballet again and reminded myself why I love it so much.
  • Started to frolf (frisbee golf)
  • Played lots of soccer, and really improved. Realized I’m better offense than defense.
  • Got a “real” job with a good career trajectory, making real money.
  • Took many courses through work and gained many skills (MS Access,  SQL,  FME,  Six Sigma Lean Green Belt)
  • Spent 2 separate weeks at the cabin.
  • Went to Vancouver to see my Grandma, and saw George Watsky in concert
  • Took an amazing road trip with my friend to Portland and the Oregon Coast.
  • Went to two weddings
  • Paid off ~$10K in student loans
  • Spent some quality time with some quality cousins, aunts, and uncles.
  • Worked through some difficult personal issues
  • Became a Kitten Grandma
  • Learned about depression in a first-hand kind of way
  • Rocked Christmas Shopping
  • GOT ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!!!

Grandparents

When I was little, I was lucky enough to have many, many grandparents. Both my mother’s parents and my father’s parents divorced when they were kids, and both remarried. I knew them all. With some, I spent more time than others, but I knew them all and no one lived more than a 7 hour drive away. I even knew two of my great-grandparents really well. I have been lucky.

But now I’m planning my wedding and I have one grandparent left, and she’s really sick, and lives really far away. While two of my grandparents lived well into their 90s (one was 95 and the other was 99.5) I’m pretty sure I’m going to have no grandparents make it to 90. I’m sad because I won’t be able to see them at my wedding. I’m sure they’ll be able to see me. Sometimes I feel the presence of certain grandparents. And I always feel the presence of my great-grandmother. It’s kind of like she never left. My mom feels like she is close too. So I’m sad for myself.

I’m sad because my kids won’t know them. But I know this is just a part of the shift of generations. My grandparents passing on means that I get to pass on into the role of “adult” and “parent” and my parents get to be the new grandparents. It’s still sad when your family is different from they way you’ve always known it to be, but these are roles we are all looking forward to. 

2014 will be a year full of new things, and many firsts!

Anxiety and Doubt

One of the most prominent thought patterns during times of anxiety is self-doubt. I second guess almost everything I do, and most things other people do where it concerns me.

Should I ask her if she wants to hang out with me? She probably doesn’t. Has she been avoiding me? I probably shouldn’t call her.

What should I get him for his birthday? He’ll hate that. That’s a terrible idea. Why can’t I think of anything good?

That was so not the right decision. This will mess everything up. I should have waited. I should have asked someone else what they thought. What if this makes  a mess out of everything?

Usually figuring out what I should get people for Christmas is an awful ordeal full of going back and forth and thinking that everyone will hate their presents. This year, since I was more depressed than anxious, I had no problem. I never once questioned my decision on a gift. It was awesome. Now my anxiety is back and I’m planning my wedding. It’s going well but my internal dialogue is constant questioning of the wording in every single email I send, and each decision I make, each pin I put on my Pinterest board.

How I tackle self-doubt:

  • I talk a lot to my support people about what’s going through my head. They’re good at letting me know when my decisions were perfectly fine, and what I can do to manage the other ones that I should change or whatever.
  • For long-term decisions, I remind myself that I made that choice by going through all the options, and using the information available to me. I remind myself of the other 80% of the time when I think that decision was a good choice. Doubting a decision for a couple moments shouldn’t negate hours of reasoning.
  • I remind myself that I’m not my anxiety. These thoughts are not rational, and I don’t have to listen to them. I acknowledge them, tell them I don’t need them and try to move on.

Do you ever have to deal with nagging self-doubt? How do you manage it?

Wedding Anxiety

Aaaaand it’s back.

I was almost starting to miss it. The high heart rate, the feelings of inadequacy and doom. Life just wasn’t the same without my anxiety. But it’s back. Those familiar feelings have come back to snuggle into my chest. Nice and comfy.

Planning a wedding is stressful. Everyone tells you that. Stress comes from expectations that don’t get met. Stress comes from unknowns. Stress comes from assumptions that are never investigated. I go really up and down with it. EVERYTHING IS FANTASTIC! this is a disaster. I’M AMAZING. what the hell am I doing. THIS WILL BE SO MUCH FUN. everyone will hate it and hate me.

So. When I’m feeling my heart rate go up, I try to remember this:

  1. Breathe. Get more oxygen in your brain, it’s starving.
  2. Chill. Be realistic. What will actually happen? Not what’s the worst case, but what’s the realistic case?
  3. Priorities. Think about the experience and not the money (as long as we’re still on budget).
  4. Remember. It’s anxiety speaking, not real life.

I’m thankful I’m back into being able to do some exercise. I walk my 10 minute walk to work and back. I’ve gone climbing a couple times, and feel the burn. I’m going to sign up for the gym at my work so I can do some drop-in classes once a day. So I’ll get fit and reduce my anxiety all at once. My foot feels ok. It’s kind of stiff, and definitely weak, but holy crap – I can walk and I can drive so I don’t care if it’s not perfect. I need to start taking my vitamins again. I’m so bad at taking them, but it should help my craziness.