Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reasons for not being depressed

Hellooooooo there.  I've been confronted with yet another birthday which I don't find depressing at all.  I guess I've accepted the age thing is inevitable and I'm told I don't look my age.  I certainly don't act it.

My darling sister sent me this birthday card.  If you are reading this blog because it discusses living with depression, I'm sure you will enjoy the humour.

I love my sister's choice of card for me, she knew it would make me laugh and that it did.  Wishing you laughter and happy thoughts today.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Anxiety, panic attacks and depression - a triple whammy!

Anxiety is in my opinion is on a par with depression.  Depression is like a big black hole of nothingness, anxiety is a never ending whirlpool of terror.  Depression makes me sleepy, lethargic and I burrow to avoid the blackness.  Anxiety is gut wrenching, hand wringing, shoulders near the ears, stomach roiling, mental anguish, rocking back and forth kind of stuff.

Depression and anxiety is a double whammy, throw in a panic attack here and there and you've got a living hell.  Fortunately for me medication has taken the edge of most of the severest symptoms but they lurk very close to the surface if I'm not careful.

There are times when I wonder if I'm being a bit too precious with myself, it feels like I'm making excuses why I can't or won't do something.  However I've learnt from experience if I don't look after myself and only do what I can manage, I suffer.  There have been a number of occasions where I have committed to something only to discover that I just couldn't follow through.  That to me is worse than if you decline to do something in the first place.

When Miss C started kindergarten many years ago, I volunteered to be on the fundraising committee.  Come the school year I pulled out, I just couldn't do it.  More recently (and I'm  not proud of this), I wanted to do some volunteer work at a local hospital, I felt I could be of help.  There were vacancies for volunteers in the emergency room and after the interview, I was taken through what I would be doing and I thought to myself, what on earth am I doing here.  As I learnt more about what would be expected of me, I knew I couldn't go through with it.  I didn't say anything at the time as I was too embarrassed and ashamed to admit how I was feeling.  Walking back to the car my stomach felt like it had a lead weight in it.  I've learnt to take very close notice of my feelings and have relied on my intuition a great deal when making decisions.  I waited a few days and finally plucked up the courage to phone the person in charge of volunteering saying I wouldn't be able to volunteer due to reasons beyond my control.  Needless to say they were less than impressed.  But when I got off the phone, my relief was so great I knew I had made the right decision.

Some of the worst depression I've suffered was when I had my two babies.  Of course it was post natal depression but with my first child it wasn't diagnosed until she was 10 months old.  I still grieve to this day that I was unable to give my beautiful little girl the love and attention she deserved.  I was isolated from family as they lived on the other side of the country so I had no support networks.  My hubbie was an absolute darling be he didn't know what was wrong either.  Miss C never went hungry, she was physically looked after but I wasn't in a place where I could give her all those wonderful things mums give their babies.  I am proud that I managed to breastfeed her totally for 10 months, at least we had some bonding.  The breastfeeding was hard for me as I struggled to maintain supply and this caused me huge anxiety.  Just thinking about it now makes me feel anxious.  One day I might be brave enough to share with you the responsibility I feel for contributing to Miss C's difficulties, but not yet, it's still too raw even after 20 years.

I have a phobia which causes me extreme anxiety and once again I'm grateful to medication for keeping it under control most of the time.  It's not a problem now unless I'm directly confronted but I remember years of metal agony trying to deal with the anxiety it caused, the fact that it controlled my life completely.   I absolutely hate that I have no control over this area of my life.  I can tell myself everything I need to but it makes no difference, the thought patterns are so deeply ingrained I react immediately.

Then there's the panic attacks.  The first one I ever had was in the middle of the night.  I woke up out of the blue feeling terrible and actually thought I was ill.  I have never, ever felt so bad in my entire life.  Some people say they feel like they are dying, I felt so bad I wanted to die.  It was such a frightening experience because I didn't know what was happening.  After I had returned to some measure of calm, I was too scared to go back to sleep because I was afraid it would happen again.

Another time I was helping a neighbour carry a mattress up to her house and I had a panic attack.  Unbelievable!  Why did it happen out of the blue?  That's something I find frustrating, a panic attack for no good reason.  Most of my anxiety is low grade now and I keep it that way by not having too much on at one time.  It's frustrating because I really feel I should have more control.

Even though I've rambled on here about depression, anxiety and panic attacks, you'll know if you read my other blog Ungardened Moments that I strive to fill my life with happy and enjoyable things I love.  I'm just so grateful to have access to medication, knowledge, counselling and support.  Not to mention a long suffering husband that truly loves me, warts and all.

I don't know why I'm prone to these things but that's my lot in life and I'm trying to make the best of it.  I thank you for your patience with this very long post and for taking the time to read it.  I hope that by sharing some of my ugly stuff, it might help someone else realise that there are many people dealing with similar things, that we are not alone and it's more common than we realise.

Have a lovely day everyone.

Anne  :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

I did it!

It's nice to sit down, take a big breath and say I did it.  I pulled off hosting a 50th birthday party which is something I certainly wanted to do but wondered how I would manage.  I had moments Thursday through Saturday when honestly I wanted to crawl into my bed and go to sleep.  I wondered how I would get through the organising, the cleaning, the timing, the baking and all the preparations that go into such an occasion.  I knew I was capable because in the past I organised my own 40th, did all the catering etc.  I've hosted 16th and 18th birthday parties too but perhaps at those times I was in a slightly different frame of mind.

So what did I do?  There was an incredible amount of self talk going on in my head.  You can do it, one step at a time, concentrate on doing one thing at a time, check your list.  The other thing I did was take regular small breaks, you might say it was a kind of reward I gave myself for achieving tasks on the list.  I had my laptop on so I could do a bit of a browse through blog land while I had a cuppa.  It seemed to do the trick.

Saturday morning was probably my most difficult time as I had such a lot to do.  There was a point where I felt myself teetering on the edge of extreme anxiety so I sat myself down on the bed (didn't crawl in, yay) and did my best to do some yoga breathing and meditation for ten minutes.  The small mental break was quite helpful and I was able to get on with it.

We all had a wonderful evening and I was so happy to see everyone enjoying themselves and my cooking.  :-)  Getting through those moments of anxiety was an achievement and gave me a bit of confidence that I can use strategies to get through.

In a future post I want to talk about anxiety and panic attacks as they seem to go hand in hand with my depressive episodes. I'm wondering if other people suffer this too and and how they handle it.  But right now it's time for some Zzzzzz.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A lovely day

Today was a lovely day and isn't fab to have one every now and then?  I took the birthday person (see birthday time) , out to lunch at a lovely bohemian type cafe with Moroccan influences in food and decor.  They also sell Moroccan decor items such as mirrors, lamps, pottery, candle holders and today they had some beautiful leather square and round floor cushions in amazing colours like aqua and red.  They were exquisitely made but at $345 each I decided not to bring one home.

This popular cafe is certainly a feast for the senses and suits the more quirky and out there parts of my personality.  It's so nice doing something you enjoy isn't it?  It's like taking a holiday from all the other stuff.  Note to self, make time to visit this cafe again soon.  Here's to taking more mind holidays!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Meltdowns and light bulb moments

Yesterday I wrote a very long post pouring out all kinds of stuff all over the place.  I decided it was just too long and too emotional to post on here. Why?  Well I had a little bit of a meltdown yesterday morning, came to the realise quite a bit about myself, my journey in this life and it led to more questions than answers.  I had been having a heart to heart with Miss G (she is so wise and understanding for one so young), which produced some light bulb moments for me

I now have a better grasp on some of the things I struggle with and why, but how to resolve these issues is something I'm grappling with.  There are constraints in place, some self imposed, some a part of life that stop me from being who I really am.  The title of yesterday's unpublished post was "Are we who we really are?"  So what I'm trying to say here is that the routines and responsibilities we have in everyday life contribute to us not being who we really are.

I am a highly creative person, so much more than I had previously realised or recognised.  An inability to create when I NEED to as opposed to when I CAN causes me an extreme amount of distress which is something I have not previously understood about myself.  I've clamped down on those creative needs as other things have taken priority.  I have a family with needs and as a mother I put them first.  I'm o.k. with that.  It's the ability to juggle family needs with my creative needs that have me floundering.  Yes I can and do my best to make time to be creative.  But that's not usually the time when I'm in that highly creative place where I can be in the moment, be totally and utterly absorbed in creativity.  I can now see how subduing these feeling and needs has not helped me.

So how does one find a balance?  I honestly don't know.  And to be perfectly honest, I don't really feel like finding a balance. 

The light bulb moment came to me when I was making a Fathers Day card yesterday morning.  I was in my creative element.  There were textures, patterns, colours, images saturating my mind.  And I suddenly realised I was happy, really and utterly happy.  Then it struck me that I am at my happiest when I'm creating.  Be it gardening, painting, drawing, sewing, crocheting or card making.  Time ceases to exist.  I dabble with the piano when no one else is home which is rare.  My hubbie plays beautifully so I don't feel comfortable playing around him.  But when I have a go at something like Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, ooooo, I'm in that place again, creating, creating music.  It's so good.

When I was younger, much younger, I had this feeling deep down inside that I could paint, that I wanted to paint and so I had some lessons in water colours.  They were o.k. and I knew I had some ability.  A couple years ago I decided I would try oils and have had lessons ever since and I love it.  I have this feeling deep down inside that I could weld sculptures, abstracts.  I don't know how to weld and don't have the space to but that feeling is there nonetheless.  The same goes for pottery, maybe one day.

How can I be who I really am while being what I am needed to be by others?  Huge question.    Plenty of conflicting emotions.  No easy answers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Emotional roller coastering and distractions

Today has been a day of emotional roller coastering.  Is that even a word?  Too bad, I like it.   :-)  I really don't know if this is unique to me or whether other people go through such a range of emotions in one day.   It's a bit exhausting I must say!  So today I had a period of time when I was really angry and I have absolutely no idea why.  That's the bit that gets me, I like explanations for things.  Then I had times when I was very happy, that was really NICE!!!  Add to that a little bit of sadness and a lot of joy.

When I get angry I just don't know what to do with it, especially when there doesn't seem to be a reason for it.  As I have done on many occasions before when I need a distraction, I put on some music, quite loudly too, music that would be considered quite alternative, music someone my age wouldn't be expected to listen to.  Man it was good.  Didn't take long before I was singing away and no doubt making other people smile when we were stopped at the traffic lights.  Hey, it's free entertainment!  (Perhaps I should mention I was driving and not dancing and singing on the footpath.)

Sadness came today when I was reading a blog by a lady who has been going through a difficult time with one of her children.  She has a diagnosis for his condition now and although in one way this makes it easier to deal with, it's also a time for a little bit of grief.  It's the realisation that your child is not in the mainstream and that life is going to be challenging for them in many waysYou know you are in for continuing times of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion as you help your child to reach their full potential.  You know you are in for the fight of your life so that your child has a voice, finds his or her place in the world and is recognised for their abilities as much as their disabilities.

My joy today came from three things.  First I received a message from the above lady who was appreciative of some words of encouragement I left on her blog.  I commented because I understand what she will be going through as I've been in her situation with one of my own children.  My second  very big joy came from a phone call Miss C received about having a third interview for a job.  (She has been looking for work for a couple of years.)  This sounds really promising as she has progressed through two interviews.  The third joy came from Miss G receiving 98% for a biology test which she didn't have time to study for.  She is doing two VCE subjects in year 11 and biology is one of them.  Her goal is to reduce the amount of subjects she is doing next year in year 12 to 5 instead of 6 to lighten her work load.  But she has to get a high score before her school will allow her to do only 5 subjects next year.

Happiness came from being out and about and being distracted in a pleasant way.  From finding the perfect birthday present for a family member.  The focus was off myself and onto other things.  Finding a dress to wear to the ballet was pretty amazing I must say, this time last week it wasn't looking to good in that department.

So I guess I have realised again today how much distractions can help with emotional roller coastering.  It can be music you find groovy, doesn't matter if someone else thinks it's rubbish.  It can be from the joy of knowing you have helped someone else.  And it can be from little things too. 

Now I need to go and make dinner or there will be no joy at all for my hungry family!