Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving... Sigh...

 Hallmark movies. Holiday commercials. Magazine spreads.

They all perpetuate the myth that holidays are a joyful time for everyone.

I don't want to be a downer, but I'm one of those who doesn't like most holidays. 

The noise is overstimulating. I feel guilty when I eat foods bad for me... but I'm still struggling with saying no to them, especially when everyone else is. I feel pressure to socialize, which when I'm in a low cycle is especially hard.

Today, Thanksgiving 2021, has been rough. It started out rough, with several difficult to deal with situations first thing this morning. 

I thought it was getting better. When I first arrived for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I was able to talk to them without too much trouble. I thought that it was going to be a "good day."

About an hour into the gathering, I was done. I started having a hard time just talking to others. I wanted to hide. And then one of my worst fears happened....

The chair I was sitting in broke.

For someone who weighs what I do, it's always a risk, always a fear. However, my brother, at whose house we always spend Thanksgiving, weighs about as much as I do. 

I assumed his furniture was sturdy. It's possible, even likely, that the reason this chair broke is because it often was the one he sat in. Or maybe it was just defective.

When I sat down in it, I knew it didn't feel "right." I tried to scoot a little in it and it twisted instead of scooted. It rocked - and it wasn't a rocking chair. 

What I should have done was get up at that time and point it out to my brother. I should have traded chairs with someone else. I should have done... something.

But I didn't. And with one scoot too many, the chair fell apart. 

I didn't get hurt. At least my body wasn't hurt. My pride was... so much.

I'm thankful that more didn't see it happen. Everyone except my daughter, her finace', my mom, and my boyfriend were in the other room.

As of this moment, my brother and his wife still don't realize I broke one of their chairs. I don't know how to tell them. I want so much to run away.

I feel sick. I feel tired. I feel mad. 

Why can't I have a Thanksgiving without something bad happening? It seems that something happens every year. 

I can't seem to win.

Again, I apologize for being so pitiful. I'm sorry I can't be all upbeat about this day. I am grateful for so much but at the moment I just feel sad.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pushing Through When It's Difficult

It's been a rough few weeks. 

I've had a lot of work, which as a freelancer, is wonderful. 

However, I've had a lot of work, which as one who struggles with several invisible illnesses, is terrible. 

Yesterday and today I've felt especially rough. I would almost swear it's the flu, or even COVID, except that 1 - I'm not running a fever and 2 - I've felt this exact way before and was tested, and was negative.

I'm in a low cycle right now with my bipolar though because of my tremendous work ethic, I've been able to get any work with deadlines done on or before those deadlines. 

But that's where it ended. All of those other things that I want to do when I have time, like work on my book ideas, research some more in-depth articles I want to write, or get more done on personal projects, simply aren't getting done. 

I can't help but think back to a few years ago, before I found a medicine that helped my mental health issues, when I wrote an article for "The Mighty" about not being able to make myself go to the pool to work out - https://themighty.com/2020/01/worst-frustrating-symptom-depression-force-yourself-do-things/ . It was the most well-read of any article they published that week. It has gone on to have over 2,000 likes and who knows how many have read it without officially liking it.

Recently I did an update on that article - https://themighty.com/u/spotlightonstigma/content/615c2859bc0e5d01f90b8dba?utm_source=engagement_bar&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=thought_full_card.engagement_bar/ -  saying that things can change. For almost a year, other than those times I was sick, injured, or had more work than is typical for me, I've averaged getting to the pool around 2-3 times a week. 

I thought I had conquered that struggle.

Turns out, I haven't.

I'm back in that same boat. I MADE myself go back to the pool last week and I could only stay in there 45 minutes (and that was a huge fight). From lasting only 20-30 minutes a year ago, now I usually stay in over an hour, sometimes up to an hour and a half. 

I was going to try to get one more time in last week. 

I couldn't make myself go back.

I thought that this week I could get at least 2 times in, maybe 3, because I don't have much work to do (being Thanksgiving week). 

It's now Tuesday afternoon and I haven't been able to make myself go yet. I extremely doubt I'll be able to go today... and I'm pretty doubtful I'll make it tomorrow.

When I first had the idea to write about this topic this week, it was about how it is possible to accomplish what you need to even when depressed. I do it all the time with work. If I have a scheduled shoot, I can't cancel if I'm depressed or if one of my auto-immune diseases flares up (not if I want to get more business, that is). The same goes for a deadline for an article - it has to be done no matter how I feel.

But those things that I don't consider necessary, like working out, I just can't do. 

The best way to describe how I feel when I'm like this is like "swimming through molasses." All movement is a struggle. Even though my vision is physically fine, I can't see what's ahead. I feel sticky and yucky and like there's a weight pressing in on me from every side.

Last week I shot a conference. I got there Sunday night and left Wednesday afternoon. It was almost non-stop. I shot maybe between 3,000 and 4,000 photos and edited/submitted between 550 and 600. 

Remember that I'm experiencing a low cycle right now. I cried a LOT last week. I got frustrated easily. Tasks that usually aren't hard were really difficult. 

But I got the job done. I didn't cry around others. I didn't show my frustration (much). I tried my best to make taking photos this time look as easy as any other shoot.

Then why can't I get to the pool? I know that in actuality, neither event nor at least the amount of effort I put into it, is "necessary." I could have done less and still gotten paid for the conference. I could get to the pool and only stay for 15-20 minutes and it still would help my joints and my mood. 

On the other hand, getting money to live on is definitely needed, though not technically necessary. However, so is my health.

I just realized something else. I feel like spending the day in bed. However, I am at my desk typing this. I'm not getting paid for it. I'm not even sure if anyone else ever reads it. 

Maybe I put a higher priority on it because it's somewhat work-related, more so than exercise at least, which isn't. 

I don't have the answers to these thoughts. I do know that writing them out has helped me organize them so that I can work through them easier. 

Meanwhile, I'm still going to try to get to the pool this week. Maybe this heavy, numbing depression will leave and I will want to go. Or maybe the depression won't leave but I'll make myself go anyway.

But whatever happens, it's one more reminder that in this journey of mental health issues, you never completely "arrive." 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Apps that Help Me Make it Through the Day (Part 1)

I jokingly call my smartphone my "external brain," but honestly it's not a joke. I can't imagine living without it. Yes, I use it for fun, for entertainment, but more than anything it's a tool to keep my life somewhat sane.

If you have any issues with mental health or auto-immune diseases that affect your mind and body, I'm sure you can understand. No matter how much I try to keep my life organized, there is just way too much information to try to keep up with and less brainpower than I've ever had in my life in which to do it.

I thought this week I would list some of the apps that I regularly use to help stay on top of things.

CHROME INTERNET BROWSER...

    I found Google's Chrome browser many years ago, when they were one of the very few, or maybe the only, browser that you could use on multiple platforms and share info. I have a system of bookmark files for various parts of my life and I save bookmarks like crazy. Sometimes I go through them to clean them out because I get too many and some are useful anymore. But having the same access to those bookmarks makes many tasks easier - and I have that same access on my phone, desk computer, or laptop.  

TEXTRA...

     It might not be the same now, but my texting program on the phone I had a few years ago stunk. I hunted around the app store and found Textra. It's really not that special but one feature I love is that you can pin certain contacts to the top of your texts. I have seven people who rotate around in those first seven spots and so it's always easy to find them when I want to text them again. There are also some personalization that can be done, such as assigning specific colors and individual ringtones or vibration patterns to each person.

ALARM CLOCK PLUS...

    This is one of the few apps that I paid for. It includes a good bit of personalization like how long you want your sleep timer to be either for all of your alarms or by the individual alarm. It also allows for specific ringtones to be attached to certain alarms. Again, a lot of these options are standard now but when I first found Alarm Clock Plus, they were rare. Oh... I also love the nap option, where you set an amount of time before the alarm goes off, not a specific time of day. I'm actually using a nap timer right now. When it goes off, I have to leave.

    Well, guess what? It JUST went off. I'll finish this later.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Sometimes Really Good Things Happen

So much of this blog is focused on the negative that I thought I would mention three really wonderful things that happened this week.

1 - My ex-husband sold the house he inherited from his parents. He owed me a LOT of back child support. For years, I've been thinking about going after him for it. However, since he doesn't have a regular job, I didn't think I could get anything from him. In other words, you can't get blood out of a turnip.

For over ten years, he has been telling me he was going to sell his house to pay what he owed. EVERY time I talked to him about it, he told me that it should be ready to list on the market in "about six weeks." This went on for years. 

Then four or five years ago, he inherited a house from his parents. By this point, I pretty much never talked to him as our daughter was older and so I didn't need to (no more co-parenting). I just assumed that he would sell that house as it was ready to sell, no major issues that needed to be fixed first. 

More and more time passed and finally, I asked. He told me he was planning to see one of the houses. It didn't happen.

By this time, I was over it. I was VERY over it. I decided to file with the child support enforcement office, not caring if I never got any money or if he went to jail. I was just over the whole thing and wanted someone else to deal with it.

I filed just before COVID. Needless to say, my case got held up for a very long time. I had to wait again, but at least I was working on it.

A year and a half later, I got a letter that my court case was scheduled. I won't go into that day and all that went into it, but it went well. I was very pleased with the judgment. 

During that year and a half, he decided to sell that extra home. Again, I won't go into all the specifics of everything that happened, but before he sold the house, I got a lein on this house using the child support judgment. 

Well, finally, the good news! He sold the house earlier this week. I'm not 100% sure, but I think that sometime next week I should get a check for the entire amount... the ENTIRE AMOUNT! I'm truly amazed that this could happen... finally.

2 - Back in August I took a plunge and did something I've always been too scared to do - I entered a photo contest. 

I didn't hear anything for months. I finally assumed that I didn't win. 

This week I found out that I won - and with BOTH my photos! No money was won but my photos are on display at the Birmingham Museum of Art for the next couple of months. I think that's too cool!

3 - I took a day off yesterday and went to visit a friend who lives almost two hours north of me. I went with my daughter, her fiance', and my boyfriend. We saw some of the beautiful fall colors. We ate lunch with my friend. I got to show him some of my photography that he usually doesn't get to see (he's my mentor and life coach). 

It was incredible to be able to get out in nature as well as spend time with some of the people I love the most. 

Even with lots of mental and physical health issues, good things do happen. I'm starting to try to recognize those things, even the little ones. Gratefulness is so important in recovery but it's also extremely important to make it through life, especially when you deal with hard times every day.