Every Little Step is a Success

A strange feeling occurs when depression lifts. I think I have lived with depression and more grief than I could handle in such a narrow space of time, I never thought I would make it through the muck. It kind of became a part of how I defined myself. No more. It is something that may happen to me but I am not depression, nor anxiety.

I made that second trip to the city not far from us. I focused on my driving because that’s what one does when they are driving–at least most of us. As I sat down in the waiting room, there was another odd feeling, I wasn’t really nervous/anxious. I sat there and enjoyed the moment. For the first time, in I don’t know how long, I was void of depression and had very low anxiety.

A moment of peace. Talk about something to make me smile, that certainly made me smile—big!

Somewhere along the way, I lost confidence in my abilities. I’m usually not afraid to try anything. Everything is new to us at some point but we will never know what we are capable of if we let fear get in the way. So far, I’m pretty darn good at demolition and cleaning up after. I have also created more work while trying to stretch beyond my perceived abilities, but I have learned from my mistakes.

Some of you know that we are remodeling a house in rural Missouri that my husband inherited from his dad. The house wasn’t in any shape to sell, we have been considering retiring there but haven’t made the final decision. We may just sell the cute little house and move on.

Anyway, that house has created a lot of areas of challenge and I just keep moving forward.

Between going back and forth between that house, hunting season, and my husband’s responsibility for his share of keeping the hunting property maintained, we have been redoing our two story decks. We had a pro come in to make sure the structure was sound but we are going to replace the decking and the rails.

My husband laid a few boards down and told me I was going to screw them into the joists.

Ummm…no way…what if I screw things up? (haha, pun intended) We didn’t go to The Home Depot for our decking, we went to a specialty lumber yard and purchased good decking because we enjoy our deck and wanted it to be the best we could afford.

By the time we reached the top deck, I decided to give driving screws a try. I may have only drove in one screw to my husband’s four but I helped, and he appreciated the time saved.

What did I learn? I have muscles I haven’t used in quite a while.

During a break, I read a quote via Instragram, which I can’t find now—It’s perfectly okay to not be perfect. -unknown to me.

Such a simple concept, isn’t it? You know what? I didn’t have my screws evenly spaced and in a straight line but I can live with that. I kept repeating that phrase to myself because it’s true.

I’m loving this strange feeling of not being depressed so that I can really focus my time on that which makes me anxious. I will not fear depression creeping up behind me because I have survived…and I will again.

 

 

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Changing Focus and Pushing to the Limit

My husband and I were discussing my anxiety over everything. I told him that a friend of mine who is dealing with the same type of driving problem that I have, asked me if I may be more anxious about where I’m going and what will happen once I arrive at my destination. My husband told me that was exactly what he thinks about my anxiety over driving.

I’ve been thinking.

And thinking.

I even took a trip to a city not too far from us. Not a city like Atlanta but bigger than where we live.

I asked myself the regular therapist-in-my-mind question….such as, what’s the worst that can happen?

Well…..a tire could fall off my car. Someone could slam into me from the side, front, or back. I could get lost. I won’t be able to find a parking spot once I arrive (that’s a biggie). There could be road construction. I could be late. Once I get there, I have to talk to strangers, or not. I could just walk around as if they don’t exist. But there could be one among the crowd that I have to keep my eye on….you know, one of the bad people.

Then I asked myself another therapist-in-my-mind question….what do I have control of?

My thoughts! That’s it! I have control over what I think about and how much time I focus on the subject.

A tire isn’t going to fall off my car. I am a good driver and pay attention to the texters and the people driving batshit crazy. I always find a parking spot, even if I have to walk. There is always road construction no matter which direction I go. I’ve been late one time because I got lost. However, I give myself plenty of time to get to appointments, on top of that, I know where I’m going! I talk to strangers and really don’t have too much anxiety over it…more than I should, but I’m working on that one. There are more good people in this world than there are bad.

So, I made that trip. I survived and will remember my survival because I have to make the same trip tomorrow.

 

 

Posted in Anxeity and Depression | Tagged | 22 Comments

My Anxiety Makes Me Anxious

Fear, we all have it. I know it, but my mind takes that fear and feeds it until I have a mountain instead of a molehill. My insides churn until I’m sick to my stomach and all I seem to think about is that which makes me anxious. I can identify the source and work on this type of fear.

I’m working on my fears until I have control over my reactions to normal daily business.

However, I have times of feeling extreme anxiety and haven’t a clue where it comes from. Standing in a store and finding that I can’t see, everything seems to blur and the people around me seem like they are floating around. Heart beating so fast, palms profusely sweating, can’t breathe, oh-my-I-think-I’m-going-to-die-right-here. That kind of fear is really scary.

I have learned how to live through the attacks of pure panic. Stepping aside and letting them pass through me has helped, but usually I’m at home and can sit alone for a while. I’m determined to not let my fear overcome my life anymore. While I get a little reprieve from depression, I will work on this with great determination and the help of my medications and therapy. Maybe, one day, I will learn the source of the extreme anxiety that overcomes my mind without warning.

I made it out yesterday. All went fine. I actually had two errands to run and had to make a U-turn in order to go the right direction for one of them. I will head out today, and I have plans for next week. Instead of driving a child hauler, I have a new, fun car to drive and I feel more comfortable behind the wheel…..now I just need to quit letting the fear of the fear overtake my mind.

I’ve got this.

See what I’m doing here? I’m taking that anxiety and standing up to it. I expect to have some, just as everybody does, but I don’t have to let it control me to the point of keeping me from an active life. I can stop my mind from feeding those fears. Later, I will work on the “unknown” anxiety.

There are many ways to conquer a mountain and I shall step on those molehills. If this fraidy cat can do it, so can you.

 

 

 

 

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Anxiety in the Moment

I read something along the line….if you are anxious, you are thinking about the future….live in the moment. So, I’ve been practicing living in the moment, even the sucky ones. I feel the moment and let it pass. If I learn something from it that will help me in the future, then that was a great moment. I breathe in all the great moments.

As a retired taxi driver for my kids, I have developed a bit of a phobia/anxiety over driving. Well, I think I have always had anxiety over driving. Having the lives of little people in my hands always created anxiety. I tried to hide it and I think I did pretty well. My kids think I simply don’t like driving.

Anyway, I had an appointment with one of my -ist doctors that is about a 40-minute drive from our house. A couple of days before, I felt the anxiety start to build. Was I going to make it to my appointment on time? What if I get lost? (which was silly because I know where I’m going) What if someone runs into me? I have to get on the freeway! What if someone won’t let me merge into the lane of traffic?

I reminded myself about the living in the moment exercise, and realized that when I’m driving I have no other choice than to live in the moment. There are cars here and there and a speed limit to follow. Every moment I am on the road is an anxious moment.

So, therein lies my problem. I have anxiety about driving so I avoid it as much as I can. I have done this to the point of isolating myself at home and not enjoying the moments spent there.

Exposure therapy is the answer given to me by my therapist and I don’t like it. Who likes putting themselves outside their comfort zone all the time?

I watched a documentary about a mountain/ice climber. I found it quite interesting since our daughter is dating a mountain/ice climber. Oh. My. Other than the blissful fact that I am not the mother or wife of a mountain/ice climber I found it quite interesting. They push themselves to conquer what is in front of them. It’s not that they have no fear, they just know themselves and their capabilities….and live in the moment. They control their destiny and if Mother Nature doesn’t interfere with an avalanche or a rock breaking off, they face that fear and are exhilarated when they reach the summit.

Why is it that I feel like a deflated balloon when I conquer a fear? Why can’t I look at the end goal and go for it with confidence?

Avoiding it won’t get me anywhere so I’m off to the veterinarian for the special animal diets to keep our cats healthy. Will I be anxious? Probably….even though it is a 5-minute drive from our house…..so I’ll go when the traffic isn’t so heavy. I will feel anxious every moment and be thankful when I return to my little isolated world.

I have plans for a 15-minute drive for tomorrow to do a little shopping where Sensible Girlfriend works.

Dammit, I will climb that mountain.

 

Posted in Anxeity and Depression, Uncategorized | Tagged | 27 Comments

Sunday With April

I’ve been focusing on the wrong things. However, the following made me smile:

  • Leaving a building of here or there, finding my Mini in the parking lot and knowing it’s mine!
  • A little “just because” gift from Sensible Girlfriend
  • Small progress on our deck remodel
  • The weather forecast showing we’re probably going to have temps under 90F for a while
  • The way my daughter really knows me
  • Breakfast with my husband
  • No Cancer!!!!

I hope you find something to make you smile today!

Posted in Sunday's Smiles | Tagged | 20 Comments

I Stand Tall, Even Through Defeat

Well, the second medication taper didn’t work exactly as I planned. I had to resume the original dosage prescribed by my doctor. Even though he questioned my desire to reduce medication, I was determined, and he let me try. It took a while to see if my mood was temporary or if it was here to stay. I know where my breaking point is and depression got the best of me this time.

Am I disappointed? No, I’m just giving my mind a rest. I’m on a quest to see if I can maintain a life imagined, with as little medication as possible. For now, I’ve gotten rid of one of six medications.

After I see Dr. Wonky Pants, I think I’ll work on reducing my crutch, Xanax. It’s my go to medication when I don’t want to deal with real life stressors. I understand that some of my anxiety just happens and I’m not sure where it comes from, but some of it I can manage by being aware of it and letting it move right on by. There isn’t one person who has absolutely no stress/anxiety at some point. I have to learn that my little, normal, anxiety producing stressors are felt by everybody. It’s all in how we look at it and face the fear.

For me, personally, Xanax dulls my senses enough that I don’t really care what is going on around me. I’ve used it to get through funerals, the anxiety of waiting for CT scan results, unknown sources of anxiety, and to simply escape daily life.

It’s about time I stand and face my fears, it’s okay if I have them. Maybe if I’m not depending upon Xanax, I will find the source of those panic periods I don’t understand. My therapist kept telling me that an anxiety/panic attack lasts 20 minutes on average. I have felt if I could only last those 20 minutes, I’ll be home free. But that’s the point, anxiety is keeping me at home. I’m afraid of doing anything at this point, and I have to get rid of the escape pill so that I can work on what is really at the bottom of my fears. Which fears have I created out of fears, and which ones I can honestly deal with.

I’ve been afraid of getting rid of my crutch but I don’t feel that it’s right to have one. The other pills are helping me stave depression and I’m okay with that. I’ve been trying to reduce the wrong medication because I wanted to hang onto my little crutch. I’ve been afraid I will fall apart at the most inopportune times. I need to learn that I have the pill if I need it but I cannot depend on it to escape being uncomfortable.

I know what I have to do. I’m a big girl now and I know I can do it. (pounds fists on chest) I’ve fallen apart many times and guest what? I’m still standing! Tall!

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Life of Recovery and Remission

I began this blog six days after my surgery to have a nodule removed with a segment of my left lung. It was cancerous. All the doctors said how lucky I was to have caught it early, however I’ve written about this over the years.

I began by writing about one thing I found beautiful, or was thankful for, to remind myself that in spite of despair, pain, depression, anxiety….there can be one little thing in the midst of it all, that can bring a tiny light.

My 5-year of no new evidence of disease anniversary passed on May 31, but the doctor thought I could go longer for my next CT scan. The scan is this week, results next week.

One thing I have learned through blogging about my experiences, whether anyone read it or not, was who I am. What goes on in my head and how I heal myself. How to be a bit more kind to myself.

Unfortunately, I also learned that I have a type of depression which my wonky doctor hasn’t quite named but it doesn’t really matter. I have ups and downs. The ups aren’t crazy uncontrolled mania, but rather I feel better and more energetic. My downs aren’t fun. Seriously, I can’t imagine anyone thinking a depressive episode as fun. The really scary part is coming out of depression.

For me, I feel wobbly. As if I’m learning how to trust myself and to avoid the anxiety of dipping below my normal again. Like I have to tread lightly. I fear most anything that places me outside my comfort zone.

Scanxiety usually places me into anxiety overdrive and I’m trying hard to keep it at bay because I just went through either a depressive episode, or a brain adjustment to the decrease of one of my medications. Either way, I’m fragile but optimistic. On top of that, I have survived every setback so far, I will make it through whatever comes next.

What did I find beautiful this morning? The sparkle of our little cat’s whiskers when the sun came through the window. A window I actually cleaned recently.😀

 

 

 

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A Pile of Anxiety

There are times I want to hide from life. You know, take the extra Xanax that will make me sleepy so that I can go to bed and forget about it all. No…I’m not talking about ending it all, simply a vacation from fighting. Some days aren’t as easy as others.

We recently took a trip to rural Missouri to work on that house we inherited and I became overwhelmed. This may have been the trigger for the somewhat lousy time I’ve been experiencing.

While we were there, the neighbors asked us to go out to dinner. Oh. My. That social anxiety kicked in overdrive. It’s not that they are scary people, in fact, they are the neighbors that anyone would love to live near—in this case down the road, around the corner and off yonder. I was afraid I wouldn’t have anything to say. We don’t really know them. On top of that, they are 30 years older than we are and have lived the life of a ruralite versus our suburbanite existence. What could I possibly have to say? Would I say the wrong thing?

Dinner went fine and the conversation was fine as well. I didn’t say anything stupid and I learned the difference between supper and dinner as well as the proper way to say pecan. (I grew up saying pee-can, in Missouri it’s puh-chan)

So, I see the pattern which made tapering off this one medication just a little more difficult. I was sad over losing our dog, I was anxious about the flight to Missouri, I was anxious about all the work that has to be completed for that house to be sold or habitable, I’m anxious about whether we will be able to move to the rural life, or if we would even like it. Then the Wee One–the new vampire in the basement–hit me with another one of his schemes that will undoubtedly cost us money to dig him out of.

I’m just a little battle fatigued dealing with the anxiety. I keep telling myself to live in the moment, but the moment really sucks. So I look forward to the next moment, and it sucks too. So, I look forward to the next moment……

**I usually write these posts and don’t intend to publish them, but then I think there may be one person who can relate, and know they aren’t alone. Things aren’t all doom and gloom.

Let’s see…..what did I find to smile about during all of this?

  • Driving my Mini. Oh, how much I love that car
  • One of my cats learning that she can lean against me instead of lie on my lap
  • Finding that I’ve lost 13 pounds and I don’t crave sugar like I was
  • I did find something on television that caught my attention – a preseason Seahawks football game
  • Today is better than yesterday
  • The view from our Missouri home–looking outside helped me forget all the overwhelming tasks we have to complete on the inside.
  • Baby cows
  • A yellow butterfly that sat on the sill outside the window as I was washing dishes
  • My asthma inhaler (ok, this didn’t really make me smile, I’m just glad I have it)
  • The vampire in the basement went back to work and is in school at the same time. Our fingers are crossed that he will finish school sometime soon.

I hope you find something to smile about. They are there, even through the fog of depression. It takes an effort to note them, but the little things add up, don’t they?

 

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A Handful of Pills

My husband saw my grocery list on the counter and asked if it was a list my son had made for the inevitable, dreaded shopping trip. I told him that it was mine. He responded by saying that it didn’t look like my handwriting. You know what? It didn’t.

The words are printed and small, with no abbreviations. Everything arranged on the page in the order I will zip around the store to get out of there. The items written with a scrawling hand.

I’m walking a thin line right now. The first medication my doctor and I decided to cut out was semi-successful. I mean I felt some effects of being off the medication but I was not sad nor elated. I adjusted and I felt more like myself. Then I tackled the second medication….the one I’ve been on the longest. The one that makes me flat. It leaves me with no zest for life. No enthusiasm for anything.

This tapering has been a little rougher. For the first time, in I don’t know how long, I have lied on the couch watching nothing on television. I skip around the channels trying to find something to catch my interest, avoiding any of the monotonous news coverage of our political race.

My mind is adjusting. Or is it? One has to really know their emotions and what is going on inside their noggin’s to know what is depression that will last and will require the increase of medication, or if it is just a temporary feeling. I constantly read inspirational messages with the hopes that the depressive symptoms are temporary and will move on. I feel the depression, I know it’s there, I will let it move on. Is my armor of determination enough to fight through this? I don’t know but the depression isn’t moving on as quickly as I had hoped.

Last night before I went to sleep I kept repeating, “please let me wake up tomorrow and feel better”. Over and over I said this until I finally fell asleep. I woke up early and didn’t want to get out of bed until I heard the incessant whine of one of my cats begging me to get up and feed him.

Do I feel better this morning? Hmmmm. I don’t know, I haven’t had my second cup of coffee yet. However, I didn’t turn on the television.

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Coloring Within the Lines

Well, I made it. Grieving the loss of our family pet while decreasing a couple of medications.

I’m still standing, and doing it very well. I believe I will have the strength to look inside myself when things seem to go a little wonky. I’m smart enough to know that I’m not perfect and that my mental status can be precarious so I have to be vigilant. I have to eat right and exercise my body as well as my mind. I need to reach out to those who are on my team, and most of all, rest when I need to.

I would like to say I’ve been busy, but mostly I’ve been “adult coloring”. Yes, I find it almost as relaxing as knitting. I have found that I color with whatever pencil I pick out of the pile of leftover colored pencils my kids brought home from school at the end of each year. I have some fancy colored pencils, but the Crayolas work just as well for me. I’ve even made mistakes that would drive me crazy but this exercise has kept me focused on what really matters. If I start in a pattern and stray off, my first instinct is to berate myself. Just as in life…..does it really matter? Will it matter in the big picture?

Crap. I’ve lived my life coloring outside the lines and berating myself for doing so. Now I can see which parts have made me who I am today. Some past shenanigans are not worthy of revisiting because I have learned what I needed and then let I them go. Not that I’m perfect and negative thoughts don’t sneak up on me but I’m onto them. I can choose to let the negative thoughts take over my mind, or I can move along to another topic. It gets easier and easier to work on blocking negative thinking.

Through all this, some of the things I’ve found made me smile:

  • We’re finally working on reinforcing the deck. I’m going to get my sanctuary back. It’s been slow going because it has been h-o-t here.
  • Couldn’t find one of my cats and later found that I shut him in the pantry.
  • The pain I was feeling in my mouth was a fractured tooth. The dentist pulled it. While I’m not completely pain free, I can feel it diminishing so that I can smile…all snaggly toothed. Naw, just kidding. The tooth is a chomper and nobody can see it. Soon I will get an implant. The big thing is that the pain is going away.
  • color

I hope you find something to make you smile today.

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