It’s a four-letter word in disguise, and I’m trying to remove it from my mental vocabulary. Its brother, shouldn’t, is also a culprit.

“I should take a walk.”

“I should do the dishes.”

“I should [be doing something other than what I’m doing right now.]”

When that annoying little voice in my head tells me whatever I’m doing isn’t good enough, it’s usually prefaced with a should or a shouldn’t. My therapist gets credit for noticing this pattern, but yesterday I decided to combat the shoulds with some cognitive redirection.

I’m going to reframe the situation when I encounter one of these words, taking a minute to think about what I need and/or want in that moment, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to my laundry list of obligations.

“I’ll feel energized if I take a walk.”

“I don’t feel like doing the dishes. They can wait.”

“Am I content right now?”

What I find most surprising is how much I have to correct myself during the course of a single day. The number of times I beat myself over the head with shoulds and shouldn’ts is kind of sad and astonishing — just think of all the mental energy I could save by not doing that.

questions, questions

It’s been a rough week. Talking about it is hard. Writing about it is harder. Everything I say is laid under a microscope of my own making, scrutinized, and ultimately rejected.

Am I overreacting? What would people think? Should I even say anything at all?

I wonder if it’s just a bad day, or a bad week, or a bad month. I worry it’s the beginning of a slide.

Is this temporary? Should I have my meds adjusted? Is everything still going to suck when I wake up tomorrow?

I wonder if I’ll spend the rest of my life questioning my mental health at every turn. I ask myself “why”, which turns into a vortex of self-doubt that usually ends at, “There must be something wrong with me.”

Not enough exercise? Genetics? Too much sugar? Hormones? Seasonal? Too negative? Too much stress? Brain chemistry? Not enough water?

I think I’ve been operating under the assumption that the medication is a temporary stopgap and eventually I won’t need it. At some point, I will go back to being “just me.”

But what if I can’t? How will I know? How do I adapt?

All the wondering turns to worrying which is exhausting, which just makes everything worse. So I go for a walk and I feel a little better. Black cherry frozen greek yogurt helps, too.

Then I wake up today, and I feel good. Capable. “Normal,” save for the feeling I’ve just had an unsatisfying whirlwind fling with a real jerk of a person, who happens to be…me.

Depression is such an annoying, unpredictable bitch.

tl;dr: i should blog more

The irony of being a WordPress geek who rarely blogs is not lost on me. I spend most of my days in front of a screen, working with this very interface, but how much of that time is actually spent blogging for me? Practically none. And it’s not that I don’t have anything to write about; I have plenty! In fact, I have a list of potential blog topics a mile long, dating back to this spring.

I’m going to make an effort to work through the list in the next couple weeks, in preparation for (my first!) NaNoWriMo. I figure if I flex my writing muscles here, I’m more likely to complete the month of November with a workable first draft.

Topics covered may include:

  • Our new house and its myriad of slow-going projects
  • What happens when you drop a pot of coffee on your kid (spoiler alert: Bad things!)
  • How I wrote a novel I’ll never be able to publish
  • This year’s Halloween costumes
  • Life with a newly-minted two-year-old
  • Life with a newly-minted Kindergardener
  • Health update

But I’m going to start on a high note (hah) by writing about my biggest reason for not writing: Depression.

I tried to write about it sooner, but everything came out morose and dark and un-fun. Makes sense; depression is a pretty morose, dark, and un-fun thing. I have a list of saved drafts that, from my newly medicated perspective, sound like sad whining. I’m grateful I didn’t publish them, but I’m also grateful I wrote them for me.

(Why do I feel like everything I publish here should be light and fluffy? I don’t know. New therapy topic!)

Here’s an excerpt from one of those drafts:

Originally, I thought it was the winter blues, lingering. Then I thought it was situational stress, that would get better once we’d sold the condo and moved. Then I chalked it up to ye olde woman’s woes — oh, those pesky hormones! Then I tried telling myself to get over it, snap out of it, and suck it up, which, as you can probably guess, went over really well with my anxiety-ridden brain. But now I’m beginning to think that whatever Eeyore-esque cloud has settled around me is not going to magically disappear, no matter how much I try to brush it off as nothing, or pretend it doesn’t exist, or yell at it to go away.

On my best days, I’m mostly neutral. On my worst days, I’m non-functional. Thankfully (?) there are mostly neutral days and not a lot of bad days, but just one day where I can’t get out of bed because the world is nothing but black, crushing anxiety, is one too damn many.

The ability to feel genuine excitement or joy would be nice, too. I miss that.

The me of today, the Celexa-and-therapy me, is feeling awesome. I no longer wake up and dread getting out of bed. A messy house will not give me a panic attack. I can actually feel happy about things again.

The amount of stuff we’ve been through in the last year makes my head spin. I suppose I needed a reality check; at my first therapy session, I began to list all the things I felt I had to keep track of, and after the sixth or seventh major item, my therapist’s eyes said it all.

Lady, you’re going to make an excellent client.

Two little kids. New puppy. Moving. Selling our house. Renovations. New living arrangements. Full-time job with travel. Crappy internet. Weight loss. Exercise. Me time. Husband time. Family time.

Over the summer, I shed a couple of those items, and now I’m managing my crazy life and mostly enjoying it, rather than suffering and dreading it. It’s amazing what a little pill and regular talking can do for your perspective. Depression made it hard to want to talk about anything, and not writing got me out of the habit. Now that the former is being addressed, I can work on the latter, and hopefully the result will be a more active personal blog!