F*ck Depression

I don’t know why I’m capitalizing “depression”.  It really shouldn’t be given the importance of capitalization.  Perhaps it is because it has made it’s way like a force back into my life at the moment and seems just that prominent.

Three weeks ago it became very clear to me I was in the midst of a major depression flare.  I say “became clear” because it usually takes me a couple days to identify that this is what is going on rather than something more simple like hormone shifts due to a menstrual cycle *insert eye-roll here*.  Typically by the time I recognize the symptoms for what they are, they usually begin to dissipate.  Not so much this time.  As a matter of fact, as I was trying to fall asleep two nights ago, I felt depression’s ugly grip still deeply rooted in my intestines.  It felt like two hands were literally squeezing and pulling at my gut.  I could visualize it so clearly…and then the tears came…again.  Three weeks ago, May 21 to be exact, I was doing my workout, which I had been having great apathy towards working out lately.  During that workout there was a move I could not do and I began fighting tears.  I almost quit the rest of the workout but there is an underlying tenacity within me that is relentless and would not allow me to quit.  I pushed though but let the tears flow, helping purge the “issues in my tissues” (did you know we store negative energy inside our tissues and it can surface and release through waves of emotion after a hard workout?).  I recognized a barrage of negative self-talk and the lies I was telling myself.  I was not thinking rationally (please note I have not had any thoughts ever of hurting myself – I love my beautiful life and all I grow into through my struggles).

I had made an appointment with my medical provider because I have been feeling quite tired lately despite getting about 9-10 hours of sleep each night, but have very poor quality sleep when I do.  I thought she would recommend sleep study or want to check my thyroid.  After filling out my PHQ-9 (a depression screening tool), I scored a 7 – which all-in-all isn’t too shabby, but I have never scored more than a 3…and I’ve been filling out these forms for at least 18 years.  My provider did do a few blood tests, which were all within normal limits, and ended up increasing my antidepressant.  I was hesitant but knew it was what I needed.  I felt like a failure – that I was not able to get out of this flare on my own and now needed to increase my meds which I had been on the lowest dose of ever.  But I knew it was the right decision.

I recognize several stressors which may be contributing – health issues with my mother and taking on care of a parent; my oldest son working hard to make sure all things line up for getting into college, as well as leaving for boot camp (he left this morning *all the tears* – God help me if he ever deploys!!); that same son taking the ACT prior to leaving; several trips to pay and plan for over the next four months; and anxiety over my husband asking me to make our marriage legal in a small backyard ceremony/reception (we call each other husband/wife but have not filed paperwork/been legally married).  I realize this last item should be a wonderful and exciting time but with how irrational I was thinking, I could not relax about it.  We have since figured out a plan that allows us to have our own private ceremony with just us and also have a small reception for the family…and I am excited for it.

What I want to know is, what brings these flares about?  I have been the most stable I have ever been with my depression over the past year and a half.  I have even been able to trial going off of my antidepressant for about six weeks.  Doing so helped me recognize I still need a little boost with medication for balance.  I have an amazing husband, a beautiful relationship, am so proud of my kids, love my job, am the happiest I have ever been in life…so what gives?  As a nurse with a psychiatric nursing background, I have seen a lot of the ebbs and flows of mental illnesses, however the most preplexing to me is depression.  Most of the other illnesses remain stable as long as you follow your treatment plan, however depression seems to have a mind of its own…flaring up whenever it damn well pleases.

All I can say is, never give up, never stop battling this bastard of an illness.  Find your support and climb out from under the clouded veil of depression to hold onto that support.  I know it is hard.  I know you do not want to.  However, you will come through the storm much sooner if you face it head on instead of allowing it to have its way with you.  I know I am still fighting this flare, but it is slowly leaving my body.  I can see little glimmers of my true self breaking through the clouds.  I will never stop fighting.

 

 

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Time is a Thief

I have no idea what I want to say.  What I do know is that I have been bogged down all day with a weight on my mind but unable to pinpoint it.  Tonight while taking an Epsom salt and lavender bath, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness.  I felt the gravity of this world.  I felt sadness for my kids growing up in this time of life.  I feel like my kids are facing an uphill battle and I am not able to protect them from it, let alone help them prepare for it because it is affecting my generation as well.

My parents’ generation saw an increasing divorce rate.  Moms started returning to work.  Jump in the saving grace of Hamburger Helper and Hungry Man frozen dinners.  Drive thrus increased in popularity as our parents faced an increasing pace of life and the stretching of time so thin there was no longer time to fix a full home-cooked dinner for the family; introducing my generation to the start of highly processed food and fast food alternatives.  Now, as my generation is fully submerged in technology’s mach-speed pace of life, taking time to prepare healthy food for us and our kids is for the minority.  However, if we do not wake up to this disparity, this “minority” will be all that is left.

As a nurse I see countless of individuals in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s with auto-immune disease, “strange” cancers such as brain cancers – glioblastomas for one, kidney failure, heart disease, pancreatitis, diabetes, and the like.  THIS IS NOT NORMAL!!!  My children’s generation is the first one predicted to die before their parents.  THIS IS NOT OK!!  Eating clean and taking time to meal prep is my new standard.  Do my kids joke about mom eating kale all the time (I don’t ever eat kale, although kale chips are pretty tasty)?  Do they joke about plant-based protein and measuring my portions?  Absolutely!  But are they learning by my example?  I sure hope so.

Don’t get me wrong, they are still kids – ok, teenagers.  They eat fast food and go get “coffee” with their friends.  But the amount of processed foods they are eating has greatly decreased.  Will it make a difference?  Who knows??  But I sure hope so.

Aside from diet, the increase in social media and technology via personal electronic devices and increase in video gaming has prompted a sedentary lifestyle.  My kids see me working out at least 5 day/week.  They see me getting stronger, having more energy, being more active, losing weight and helping others do the same.  Will it change their lives?  Who knows??  But I sure hope so!

I watched my sister bury her 5-week old baby girl due to several congenital issues.  I’ve watched friends bury their children due to cancers, auto-immune diseases, congenital diseases, and sudden illness.  I hope I never have to bury my child.

Time is a thief.  After working with a patient of mine who is 19-weeks pregnant and seeing the baby on ultrasound, I look back on my kids’ lives and wonder where the time has gone.  My oldest son leaves in 4 months for boot camp for the Army National Guard – a decision I am so proud of him for making.  My youngest starts driver’s education in the fall.  You don’t get any of those days back.  Once their teens and are being social in their own little lives, hanging out with friends, getting jobs, and doing what teens do as they start preparing to leave the “nest”, they aren’t as interested in hanging out with mom anymore.  So I watch from a distance…and repeatedly ponder, “Where has the time gone?”  How much have I missed because I had to work full-time to support them?  How much have I missed because on top of working full-time, I also had to go to school full-time in order to have a career that would support us and our future?

I strive to enjoy my time with them now and not ruminate on what I have missed.  I did not have a choice.  Our future depended on those sacrifices.  However, each night I struggle falling asleep because deep inside me there is a pocket of dread for what my kids might face tomorrow.  And all I can do is pray they will be okay.  Pray that the seeds that were planted when they were small have taken root and will guide them as they grow.  Pray that they continue to be open and learn; and learn from their experiences and mistakes.  I pray they have a good, happy, and uncomplicated life.  I pray they take their faces out of their phones and enjoy the company of those around them.  I pray they make a difference; that they affect change in their circle and in society.  I pray they recognize my sacrifices and what I have instilled through example, and that they know without a shadow of a doubt how much I love them, believe in them, and how much they are capable of.

I pray we have a long time together still; uncomplicated, in health, and in happiness.  For time is a thief.

Revelation

I truly never imagined living life in true joy – this is deeper than happiness. Joy comes from deep inside and is not a fleeting emotion as happiness is. I love my 40’s (never thought I’d say that!), I love the woman I continue to become (and hope I never stop “becoming”), and I truly love living life. The trials I’ve been through (several), mistakes I’ve made (LOTS of them), people I’ve disappointed (including myself) have helped me learn. These things have taught me grace, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, unconditional love, and acceptance; invaluable life lessons. I never imagined a life where I am comfortable with who I am, in my own skin, appreciating the gifts and talents I have been blessed with (not in a self-serving, conceited way), and truly loving myself. I want to encourage others that this kind of life is possible – it is amazing, it is a gift, and is something meant to be shared and given away. I want to help anyone I can to understand this is possible and to be there helping others reach the same thing…it is beautiful.

Anxiety…the Lurking Beast

If you struggle with anxiety, you know what I mean by the lurking beast. When will it surface? When will it rear it’s ugly head?

Most days I am fine. Going about my daily business, enjoying life, and living to my fullest. However, every now and again, I end up with my breath choked from my being by the merciless hands of anxiety.

If I knew why it shows up it would be easier to address.  I search for the cause yet often come up empty and am hit with an overall sense of heaviness; “impending doom” as some like to say.  Regardless, it sits on my chest, steals my ability to breathe, and stings my eyes with tears.

My goal is personal – it is to not use my prescribed anxiolytics but to work through these symptoms with skills I have developed by pushing through these moments.  My go-to anxiety buster has been talking to my husband or a friend.  Do you realize the more you turn inward, the more power you give the anxiety beast?  The beast wants to shut you down and render you helpless.  What many do not realize is how many others struggle with the same thing!  Talk about it!  Be open about it!  Take your power back!  It is quite amazing how this seemingly simple act (notice I did not say easy) frees up your spirit and makes the beast hightail it out of your life at that moment.

While anxiety might always be part of my life, I do not have to succumb to its demands…and neither do you.  It is a horrible disorder to deal with but can be managed.  I encourage you to talk about it.  Together we can bring awareness and make it okay.

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Minimum Two Years Experience Required…Wait, What??

Have you ever been job searching and found the perfect job? Only to have that job require experience…but you know you can do this job!! There is nothing more frustrating!  So, how do you get the experience if no one is willing to take someone without experience?

This analogy went through my head this morning after I finished a very difficult workout.  I was thinking how many people do not start a fitness program because they believe they are not “strong enough” or “in shape enough” or able to compete with the others.  That mindset is why I love Beachbody and not going to the gym, but working out at home!!  I have no one else to worry about but myself; no one is looking at me, I can focus on my workout and challenging myself.

Back to today’s workout…another “fitness sister” posted a workout yesterday that sounded like a workout I would enjoy so I checked it out today.  The workout was very strength-intense – my strength is nowhere close to that of the cast in the program but I knew it was not about them, it was about me challenging myself.  Did I have to modify?  Heck yeah!!  I have chronic back problems and occasionally my symptoms flare – especially if I am not using my core during difficult workouts.  That was going on today, requiring me to modify those movements.  Plus, like I said, I am still developing my strength and modifying was necessary – but my workout STILL COUNTED!!  Some individuals (like my hubby) do not like to modify and look at modifying as failure and would rather just forego the workout if they are unable to do it full out.  Just like getting that job experience, modifying gets you the ability (the experience) to go full out.  Modifying is a necessary step in fitness progression.  No one goes to the bench press for the first time, loads up each side with 150lbs and does 10 reps!!  They start light – it is the same thing…it is still modifying!

That being said, only compete with yourself; challenge yourself!  Embrace the modifications there to help you progress to the next level…to get your “experience” in for the full workout (that perfect job).  It builds belief, strength, and ability.  You CAN do it!!  No matter how long it takes…never give up.  If you do not do it now because you believe you “can’t” and look back a year from now from the same place you are at, will you regret not starting because you did not want to modify?  Just modify…and let’s look back a year from now seeing how far we have come!!

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Changes Galore

My “new” life journey is now a solid six months in.  While the outward physical changes are so rewarding, the inner changes of spirit, mind, and body are priceless!  Eating clean, adding a “daily dose of dense nutrition” simply through adding Shakeology in the morning, and adding exercise to my daily living has helped me establish a strong foundation.

I would go so far as to say getting to this place of jumping in and doing it has taken years, many starts and stops, yet never giving up.  I have always desired healthy living, however, during earlier times in my life, looking back on those times, what I was trying was not right for me and I unconsciously allowed the obstacles I was facing to be stronger than the inner fighter within me.

Stability in my relationship has been key to changes along my life path.  When I met Will, I was struggling very much with depression.  I had a negative thought process which I passed off as being a realist.  He challenged me to, at least, not post negative thoughts/feelings on Facebook.  This impacted me – I love this man so deeply and did not want him thinking I was being negative…so I became cognizant and stopped this bad habit.  That was three years ago.  As I stopped putting out negativity, I noticed my thought process changing and my depression becoming more stable.

Jump ahead three years and I am so positive-focused and my mind frame is steeped in positivity.  Clean eating has no doubt contributed to my mood stabilization.  Depression and anxiety are null – that does not mean I am inhuman and do not have my “bad days” or struggle with things like PMS!  But I handle those times so much better!  I feel inner peace, joy, contentment.  I love my life!!  This is an amazing place to be at!  I had always struggled with life and the challenges of life.  When those challenges come now I am stronger and due to being positive-focused am able to weather these “storms”.  Through strengthening my body, developing mental strength and habits for positivity I come through these “storms” faster and more successful than I would have in years past.  I do not become derailed like I used to.  I also embrace the storms because that is how we grown and change – like metal, we are refined by fire!

While my excitement for each new day and my improving metabolism springs me out of bed each morning now and keeps me from napping (I seriously used to nap almost everyday and now cannot nap for the life of me!!) I thrive on the passion and positivity that flows through my soul daily.  I want to share that and bring that to the lives of anyone yearning for it…and stopping at nothing to get there.  It is possible!

Trust the Process; Trust the Program

I have been consistently committed to my daily lifestyle change for health and wellness for four months now.  Yesterday I decided to weigh myself, which is something I do not engage in frequently.  I have been noticing several changes recently in the way my clothes fit such as tightening my belt about 4 notches tighter (close to 2″) and the way my scrubs and jacket hang on me at work.  I wasn’t expecting big results.  After returning home March 31 from our trip to the Dominican Republic where I even worked out in our room in the mornings and kept up my nutrition, I only gained 3 lbs but easily got back on track upon returning (no access to All-Inclusive tropical drinks will do that!!).  I decided to do a more relaxed program, Country Heat, and focus a little bit on cardio.  This program is much different than the MMA-focused Core de Force or the pilates-yoga inspired 60-day PiYo, which I absolutely LOVE!!  Country Heat is pretty much like simple line dancing, but the slower pace allows you to actually concentrate on contracting and holding your muscles while you dance.  I do not feel a significant change in my appearance, only the change in how my clothes are fitting, as previously mentioned.

Needless to say, I have lost ten pounds over these last 3 1/2 weeks!  I am thrilled!  My coach always says, “Get off that scale!  Trust the process and trust the program!  It works!” and I can truly say it does!  I have not lost a total of twenty pounds since the start of this journey in January.  If I can lost another twenty over the next eight months I will be elated, however, my goal is to continue trusting the process and program and making sustainable lifestyle changes each day to continue a healthy lifestyle.