Random Saturdays – Plan, Plan Plan

It’s barely the end of January and my calendar is filled through the end of June.  How is that possible?!  As I move through the days, I can’t figure it out, and yet, I keep packing more stuff onto the calendar.  It’s no wonder I keep having nightmares about people being mad at me for missing the ball on something that I either promised to do and never did or something that they volunteered me to do without my input.

Christmas was fun,  though.  Ben and I made the most of the time that we did have with the kids, our families, and our friends.  I was on call the week of New Year’s, but it was actually quiet enough that I was able to get out of the house without having to bust out my laptop and work.  It was a belated Christmas miracle!

Since then, I’ve had difficulty getting motivated to do any of the things I need to do, and I finally realized that it was because I was depressed…even though I’m on anti-depressants.  When I went to the doctor a week ago for a med check, she found that I had been doing well in alot of areas (cholesterol, blood pressure, asthma), but could tell right away that my depression had worsened since she last saw me.  After talking about my options, she encouraged me to see a psychiatrist who could monitor my depression more closely, but I told her that I don’t have the time or money for that.  She upped my meds a little (since I was taking the bare minimum anyway).  I will see her again in a week and am feeling much better.

It’s a difficult thing to stay on top of brain meds.  You have to keep track of where you are, what you think might have led to that, and know where you want to go.  Then, you have to keep track of your progress as well as any regression that occurs.  If you’re at the point where you need brain meds, this can be especially difficult to do.  I’m an old pro at this, though, so I like to think that I’m a bit self-aware in that aspect.

Since increasing my dosage, I am a bit more motivated to get things done.  I haven’t gotten into a regular workout plan yet, but I do work out while I brush my teeth and while I watch tv.  It’s just short spurts, but I suppose it adds up.  I’ve gotten worse at portion control since increasing my meds, but have been eating healthier in general.  So, I still haven’t found the best route for me yet, but I’ll keep trying.  Ben got a Bowflex this month and has been doing the 20-minute exercises three times a week.  It’s helped remind me that if he can find one hour a week to workout, I can too.  The cat has also been sick and we are on the second round of liver meds to try and get her better.  Having to make time to care for her reminds me that even though I may not want to workout or always eat well, it’s important to take care of myself.  At least, this is what I’m telling myself.

Plus, I need to get healthy to gear up for all of the stuff going on in the coming months.  Right now, we’re planning on getting our finances aligned to buy a house, we have a wedding to go to in February, Minecraft’s birthday, Spring Break with the kids, we’re getting married, other family members’ birthdays, the reception, tons of work, being on call, finding and buying a house once the financial stuff is good, and (hopefully) packing and moving.  Those are the highlights, but plenty of smaller events are sprinkled in throughout the weeks and weekends.

I used to rely on staying busy as a distraction from depression, but now, it just wears me out.  Ben has been great at trying to remind me that I need to rest when I need to rest.  I hate giving in and being lazy even when I know he’s right, but if I keep pushing myself, I know I’ll just end up burned out and on the couch for weeks or months.  Right now, our big project is getting the kids’ furniture set up in their rooms.  Santa gave them great gifts, but did not give us the time and energy it takes to put the furniture together.  This will really be the first weekend since Christmas that they’ll be at our house long enough to use any of it, though.  So, it’s important that we get everything set up so that they can enjoy the furniture before they outgrow it.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, but work, life, and laziness continued to distract me until I read this interesting article on non-dishware things that can be cleaned in the dishwasher.  Blew my mind!  Also, I don’t quite know how it inspired me to write this post, but, you know, such is life.  Either way, you can thank me when all your stuff is clean.

Random Saturdays – Back to Busines

So, I took a short hiatus from this blog over the past couple of months.  There were some family emergencies, lots of overtime at work, lack of sleep, etc.  I’m back on antidepressants now, after realizing that much of my suffering over the past two years has been self-inflicted.  I mean, not entirely since you can’t help what your brain chemicals do.  I should have gotten back on meds sooner, though, instead of trying to battle with it myself.  I’ve mentioned before about my struggles with depression and anxiety and how I now realize it affects my loved ones.  Still, it took a few months of actively trying to be mindful of my thoughts and actions before I realized that I needed a bit of medical help to handle my depression and anxiety at the levels they have reached.  I’m thankful to Ben and the kids for being the catalysts for the change.  Otherwise, I’d probably still be convinced that it was just my fault for not having enough daily structure to keep my act together.

In regards to life in general, some things are better now than they were at the beginning of the summer.  Some things are not.  However, my more chemically balanced brain is helping me keep everything in perspective.  For example, I can’t believe it’s already the end of September!  I mean, I’m still making plans for the end of September, so how can it already be that time?!  October is going to be a busy month, but I know November and December will be too.  Holiday season is always busy for us all, but it’s also Birthday Season for my friends and family.  Actually, I guess there is also birthday season from spring through early summer now that I’m with Ben.  At any rate, it means lots and lots of things to look forward to and discuss on the blog 🙂

One thing I’m looking forward to is reviewing my blogging buddy, Jack Flacco’s, second book – Ranger Martin and The Alien Invasion.  Look for that review on my blog in mid-October.  I’m only on the first chapter right now, but I’ll tell you a secret…I’m definitely going to read the second chapter as well.  Okay, I’ve already said too much.  Time for me to go back to reading and stop with the detailed spoilers.

Random Saturdays – Triggers

I don’t know about you, but I have some very strong emotional triggers.  Since I no longer spend most of my non-work time alone, I’m becoming very aware of my triggers.  There’s not much that I can do to avoid them, but I’m trying to be aware that some emotional/physical roller coaster of some sort has been triggered and that I need to stop it.  When you’re alone all the time, it doesn’t really matter.  It just means that you’ll spend the weekend sleeping on the couch, trying not to think about things at all until you can get back to the welcomed distraction that is work.  When you’re not alone, you have to be aware of these things because they will affect others and you will waste your time with your neuroses instead of enjoying the company of your loved ones.

Also, it’s alot easier to get your crap together for a few hours on a Saturday so you can enjoy an afternoon with your parents than it is to get your crap together every day so that you can make the most of your non-work time with people instead of enjoying the comfort of wallowing in your own self pity.  Who knew?

Here are some of my biggest triggers:

  1. Money — I have none.  I don’t usually spend it, so I don’t normally miss it.  I also don’t like people spending money on me;  it always makes me feel guilty.  I’m a grown ass woman with a damned job, so why should I mooch off of other people?  If I’m with a group of people participating in something, then it’s okay if I don’t fully participate so that I can save money.  My friends and family understand that I enjoy their company more than I enjoy doing things, per se.  Ben’s friends and family aren’t as familiar with my brand of crazy, though.  So, I can be rude and offensive and not partake in things, or I can let people pay for me to do things so that I can be part of the group.  It causes me alot of anxiety.  When I can, I try to pay for some or part of whatever it is so that I don’t have to feel like such a mooch, but I just can’t keep up with them in that sense.  Of all the people I know, it’s just Amanda and me that have this issue.  So, yeah, I realize that it’s completely irrational for money to cause so much anxiety for me for those reasons, but it does.
  2. Food — Okay, this one’s not as weird, but it’s still unhealthy.  Society’s materialistic standards, blah blah blah, I’m fat.  More than that, I’m very short and asthmatic.  So, my weight is tied very directly to my health.  Even if I overeat at just one meal, I can feel my gut pressing on my lungs, threatening to deprive my body of oxygen at any moment.  I don’t have any self control when it comes to food, so I only police myself by buying specific groceries and preparing specific meals so that I don’t have the opportunity to think about changing my meals.  This doesn’t work quite as well with Ben.  We went to the grocery store this week and the only produce we got was a small veggie tray that remains untouched in the fridge.  The rest of the $80 of groceries were mostly crackers, cookies, nuts, and frozen pizzas.  I’m a compulsive eater and can easily eat an entire meal without remembering that I’ve eaten at all if my asthma or acid reflux aren’t reminding me that I have.  I also grew up in the 80s with a mom from a Third World country.  So, I learned to eat whatever was on my plate, no matter how much it was or how sick it made me.  For the most part, I still do that today.  Even when I’m aware of what I’m doing, I can’t seem to stop.  When it comes to sweets, all bets are off!  I will knock down old ladies and children to get to German chocolate cake.  Don’t get me wrong;  I’ll apologize afterwards…when my belly is full of cake…So, I’m constantly thinking about what I have eaten, what I will eat, and what I wish I were eating, which makes me feel bad about myself, which makes me feel self-absorbed, which makes me feel guilty, which makes me depressed and anxious.  (For the record, beating up old ladies and kids makes me feel like that too.  I just think that those feelings are more appropriate for the situation.)
  3. Shopping for Clothes — Even just thinking about buying clothes gives me the heebie jeebies.  Once or twice a year, I can get in a mindset where I can put aside my hatred of myself to focus on my love of quality clothing at good prices.  The rest of the year, I just look at the holes that my thighs are wearing through my jean britches because my thighs are so fat and I pray that the jeans will win the fight for just a few more months while I eat a pint of ice cream to console myself.  (I’ll see your #2 and raise you a lactose intolerant.)
  4. Man, that last sentence did not paint a pretty picture in any way, did it?

Random Saturdays – Begin at The End

I’ve been a bit M.I.A. lately, at least as far as this blog is concerned.  Between crazy work stuff, being sick, being depressed, the holidays, Ben, ice storms, and get-togethers with friends that I don’t see often, everything else has been on the back burner.  Having said that, I did want to get at least one real post up before the end of the year.  My one-year blogging anniversary is December 21, 2013, so, I decided to do a sort of year in review post since I’m ending the year in a completely different place in life from where I started in January.

At the beginning of this year, I had a bunch of projects that I wanted to do.  I tried to plan things out and block off my time.  The only things I really did were keep up the blog and learn how to use Inkscape.  I also managed to get into a workout routine until I moved last summer and paid more attention to my daily habits — everything from calorie counting to how often I get headaches and migraines.  It didn’t really help me get healthier, but I did lose weight.

After I started dating Ben, I gained 7 lbs.  I had just started getting back into working out after my summer move, but that stopped, too.  I started slacking on the blog.  I fell behind on email.  I haven’t been reading books or magazines much, either.  I’ve been sick twice in the past two months and think that I’m getting sick again.  In general, it seems like dating Ben did away with the little bit of progress on my goals that I had made, but that’s not really true at all.

Even with tracking my health issues, I wasn’t able to make any improvements in my health before Ben.  Now, I’m paying more attention to how all of my health issues are tied together because they directly affect my emotional and mental well-being, which directly affects Ben and his kids.  Since it’s not just me, my cat, and the t.v., I have more motivation to do something about things that I know need improvement.

When you’re alone and you get sick, it’s easy to just wallow in your self-pity and give up on trying to improve anything.  When I feel like this around Ben and see how worried he gets about me, or when I have to hide from his kids in the bedroom because I don’t want them to see me depressed and get it into their young minds that being mean to yourself is a normal way to think and act, then it suddenly seems more important that I get my crap together.  Granted, I realize that I’ll have to struggle with depression my whole life.  I realize that I can’t change myself overnight.  I realize that when I get sick, things in my body will be thrown off and cause depression on a physiological level that I will just have to learn to handle.

However, I’m trying to be mindful of all of the small things that I still have control over when I’m sick and/or depressed.  When I’m sick, I’m trying to make more of an effort to shake myself out of depression because it directly affects my loved ones.  I’ve always known this, and it’s always been motivating, but Ben and his kids are motivation on a whole different level.  I had no idea that someone like Ben could even exist.  He is a nicer, smarter, better (but not funnier) version of me.  His kids are wonderful – fun, affectionate, smart, and always concerned about how much money I spend on gas and rent.  I don’t want to teach the kids how to hate themselves and I don’t want Ben to have to deal with me hating myself if it can be prevented.  So, even though my projects were all put on the back burner for the last three months of the year, it’s all been for the best.

Furthermore (<- smart word), I’m going to Paris with Cathy for Christmas and New Year’s, a trip that I planned before I started dating Ben.  Since my plane ticket and rental cost of the apartment in Paris are non-refundable, I’m going to suffer through missing Christmas with Ben and his kids and force myself to go to Paris with one of my best friends.  (I’m only half-joking.)  I tell you what, though.  On January 1, 2013, I did not anticipate having a boyfriend with three kids or going to Paris for Christmas.  You never know where life will take you, but you just have to get out of your own way and enjoy what life brings to your table.  I’m trying to be mindful of how lucky I am for my life so that I can fully enjoy the time I spend with my friends and family this year.

I hope you stay mindful this holiday season, too, absorbing all of the joy and love shared between you, your friends, and your family.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Random Saturdays – I Dare You To Meditate

On the way to work on Monday, I got into an argument with a guy while returning Redbox movies. He was mad at me because he thought I should have pulled into the parking lot further so that his truck wouldn’t stick out in the street. I was upset that he didn’t seem to care that I was waiting on a guy to finish walking in front of me. A little girl around the age of 10 or 12 was there to hear the whole argument, except for when she covered her ears, which was most of the time. I refrained from yelling, cussing, or personal attacks until the point where he called me an idiot after I walked away. I told him that he was an idiot and a jerk for being so inconsiderate to me, the guy crossing the street, and for doing all of this in front of his daughter. Then, he made a vulgar sexual gesture at me, right in front of this little girl, because that’s how you win an argument at a Redbox.

I was upset with him, but I was more disappointed in myself for letting him get to me. Why didn’t I take the high road? Just because I didn’t yell, cuss, and flail wildly doesn’t mean that I handled the situation well. I tried to calm down by thinking about how this incident wouldn’t matter 10 years from now, or even tomorrow. I thought about how aggressive that guy was driving before he even pulled up behind me in the parking lot, which might indicate that he’s just an angry and aggressive person anyway. He’ll have to go through life as a jerk and I’ll have to go through life as…

…me.

And that’s when the tears started.

I cried the rest of the 45 min drive to work before calming down just before getting out of the car and walking into the building. Within 15 min of sitting at my desk, I was in tears again. Thankfully, I wasn’t snot crying. It was just a steady stream of hopelessness and disappointment. I distracted myself with work and eventually stopped crying.

I kept reminding myself that the start of the 21-Day Meditation Challenge was that day. When I got home, I could meditate and really get some perspective, rather than just distracting myself enough to function for eight hours. When I signed up for the challenge, I really just meant to continue working on my own meditation practice. Ironically, this challenge’s focus is on relationships.

Because this is a Deepak Chopra challenge, I felt that I didn’t need to worry about it being 21 days of learning how to get a boyfriend/husband. Still, I am reluctant to tell people that I am participating, in case they think it’s some desperate hippy dippy attempt of mine to rope in a man. Also, there are some lines from a song called “1000 Times” on Sara Bareilles‘s new album that describe exactly what’s going through my muddled head about 50% of the time nowadays:

In another life I wouldn’t need to
Console myself as I resign to
Release you

When you relate most to those words in a song about an unrequited crush, then you probably shouldn’t sign up for a 21-day challenge to get a boyfriend. I already knew this, though. What I hoped to gain from the challenge was a more disciplined meditation practice and some perspective on how I interact with others.

I’m not a particularly kind or good person, not bad, but not kind or good. I don’t adequately express my love and gratitude for the people that I love most in the world. I live in my head so much, that it’s hard for me to remember that people can’t just sense how much they mean to me. I’m alone so much (and like it that way) that I forget that I have to speak to other people when we’re spending time together. I’m so grateful for the people in my life that I feel like my heart could burst at any moment and I weep when I think about it (as I am doing now while typing, so much crying today), so I don’t say anything because people don’t understand tears coupled with heart attacks is my way of saying, “I am immeasurably grateful to have you in my life!!!”

So, I was hoping that this meditation challenge could help me gain some insight into how better to deal with how much I love people vs. how difficult it is for me to be around people. Then, I had an argument with a stranger in front of his daughter. Apparently, I need to do this challenge because I need some clarity on my relationship with everyone in the entire world. I have always been an overachiever.

Random Saturdays – Blue Monday

When I got to work one Monday, I heard that a coworker had passed away over the weekend.  We worked at the same place, but due to the nature of my work, I talked to this guy alot via email and IM, but not much in person.  It wasn’t until the coworker who told me the bad news showed me a picture of this guy that I realized that I had talked to him quite a bit in the break room.  I also learned that this guy was only my age.  After a couple of conversations with a few people over the course of the day, I learned that it seems that the guy had been having some health problems.  The police or whoever had to bust down the guy’s door and found him dead in his bed.

I don’t deal well with death.  I mean, nobody does, really, but every time a loved one has died, I spiraled quickly into depression.  If I was already in the midst of depression, I would just dive further into it.  Because I wasn’t very close to this coworker who passed away, I didn’t immediately start snot crying and I don’t anticipate the depression that I finally made progress on last month springing back up to haunt me.  I’ve also been so busy at work and home that I haven’t had much time to think about anything other than work and my moving To Do List this week.  Whenever I do get a few slow minutes, though, I start thinking about this guy’s death.

I often joke that I’m going to die alone and firemen will burst down my door to find my cat eating my face, but only after the neighbors complain about the smell.  It’s a sick and morbid joke, but I really do worry about it.  The thing is, I love living alone.  Besides doing what I want when I want and how I want to do it, I like being alone because being around people exhausts me.  I’m an emotional sponge.  I’m not a mirror, so I don’t reflect it back; I just absorb it all.  Even if the emotions are positive and happy, I still end up feeling exhausted after all of the smiling and hugging and excitement and laughter.  Last month’s insights that helped me get a grip on my most recent bout of depression kept telling me that I need to be around people in order to get more familiar with dealing with the emotions so that I can understand and process them better.  This is probably true, but it’s also alot of work that I just don’t feel like doing right now (or ever).

This brings me back to my point (I do have one!)  I like being alone.  I like living alone.  I do not fear death.  I fear dying alone.  I’ve heard it said that nobody dies alone.  I’ve also heard that everybody dies alone.  I get the thought processes behind both of those statements, but my fear doesn’t have much to do with either of those things.

I worry on a very superficial level about humiliation — What if I slip in the shower (which I do all the time), but I don’t catch myself and I bust my head open on the bathtub, and when the neighbors complain about the smell, the police bust down my door to find me naked and decomposing, just a stinky blob of hair and cellulite???  I mean, that’s me now, minus the decomposition and with more clothing, but still, I worry.

My fears are a nice combo of superficial and deep — What if I die alone, and the authorities find me days later after busting down my door (again with the smell), and because my parents are dead and I have no children and I never got married and I don’t have even have a boyfriend and all of my friends are either dead, in retirement homes, or don’t care about/don’t remember me, there is nobody to notify???  Then, they have to pay some company to come and clean out my apartment, and whatever cat or dog I have at the time gets put into a shelter where he or she is euthanized after a couple of weeks because I usually adopt crazy pets that nobody else will take.  Then, bills and credit card companies or whoever start being like, “Hey!  Why doesn’t this old lady care about paying these bills?!  She pays every thing off every month for 80 years and suddenly stops.  What kind of crazy person lets her credit rating go to hell suddenly?!”  And there’s nobody to tell the dumbasses that I’m dead.

How sad is it when the only people who will eventually care that you are dead are debt collection agencies?

I play this scenario out in my head again and again.  I think about all the terrible things, wonderful things, and mundane things I’ve done and will do.  I think about how much I love/have loved so many people, places, and things.  I think about all the efforts I’ve tried to make towards my spiritual growth.  Then, I think about how seconds after my death, none of that will matter to anyone.  I will only matter to anyone again in a few months when my bills become delinquent.  I think about how these will be the last thoughts that run through my mind before I die.  Sad.  Scary.