I’m… is it okay or OK?

I had the endoscopy yesterday, and honestly the worst part of it was getting the IV in. That Ativan I took beforehand really helped — I didn't make a scene, just held my arm away and cried hard but silently for about sixty seconds, then let them do it.

The nurse was really good, I don't even have a bruise.

Don't really remember the rest. There was a brief wave of unpleasant feelings when I was wheeled into the procedure room, but after they asked me to turn and lay on my side I was out like a light. My throat isn't even noticeably sore, or at least not more than I would expect from chatting all night in a loud restaurant. I did have to leave the building in a wheelchair though. It was very comfy. And it was necessary, because my knees and legs were definitely on a slightly different plane of existence from my brain.

Today, I'm still feeling sleepy and a little chilled out. I don't know how much of that is residual effects from the sedation (or the Ativan) and how much if it is relief to have the whole thing over with. Both, probably. I'm taking it easy.

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Walking With Giants

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. Your words have helped me feel a little lighter, a little more inspired. Plus, I had a kitty lounging on my chest and purring for quite a while this morning, which was nice.

The day after I made that post, we had already planned to go to a nearby redwood forrest and do a nature walk. My energy felt so sapped that I almost didn’t want to go, but between my partner’s infectious enthusiasm as sheer momentum I went. This particular park has an amphitheater area that we’re considering as a wedding venue, and I really wanted to see it. Temperatures have sometimes climbed to the 100s recently and that day was no exception, but at least the forest was full of shade.

“Green spaces are known to be good for mental health, and beyond that, there’s the powerful business of encountering.” —Nimue Brown

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With that, I felt a little better too. And this past weekend, as a delayed birthday present, my mom took my to Disneyland! It was very hot and very crowded, but even that helped clear my mind of non-immediate concerns. The Jungle Cruise was still there, despite some rumors we had heard of it being closed down permanently, and Space Mountain and Indiana Jones were as wildly enjoyable as ever. Plus, Disney is astonishingly good at accommodating allergies and I found gluten free bread here and there when I least expected it. (Grilled cheese and tomato soup, om nom nom!) Not for nothing is it called the Happiest Place on Earth, and although most of the happy glow wore off once I came home and returned to real life I do feel better for the three days of mental relief. I am extraordinarily lucky and grateful for that.

I don’t think I’m depressed. There are a lot of things I need to adjust in my life to get to a better mental place — I am too stressed, I am too anxious, I am worried about my upcoming endoscopy and the single Ativan I will take to keep myself calm that day, I don’t get enough exercise, I don’t eat enough protein, and I need to carry on with purging gluten from my system.

For the first three, I have started talking to a therapist again. I’m going to try and get back into meditation and breathing exercises, which might be a little easier to remember to do once the endoscopy is over and done with. I’m also taking some steps to reduce the stress in my environment… Work stuff. It’s a process.

For the last three, I have my Fitbit. I bought it for myself a few months ago and have been gradually bumping my step goal up from 5k as I build better daily habits. Currently my goal is 7k and I’m doing a pretty good job of hitting it. The app also tracks exercise and food/calorie/macronutrient intake. In the past week I’ve been using it as a food journal, in case I need to look back and figure out if I ate anything that wasn’t gluten free by accident. It tells me what percent of calories are from protein, too, so I can be more mindful of that.

There are probably other things I can do, but this is where I’m starting. I’m already taking vitamin D every day along with my anti-anxiety medication, which I believe isn’t giving me as much burnout from side effects as it was a few weeks ago. When I remember, I take gummy multi-vitamins. Once I get though the endoscopy, perhaps I will turn more of my focus towards meditation, vitamins, and writing more often.

And my partner and I definitely plan on taking more nature walks. We even bought matching water bottles for the purpose. 😊

Overall, I am not at my best, but I am better. I hope all of you are doing okay.

“Heal yourself first. Get what you need, do what you need to, first, always first, but after you have made some progress and stored up some strength yourself, go out and help the rest of the world heal.” — Lisa

Is this Depression?

I feel… wrong. Sometimes it feels almost like being dizzy, like my head is disconnected and floating slightly above my body like a balloon on a short string. Sometimes it feels like everything around me is moving at a slightly faster tempo than I am.

The amount of times I say “I don’t know” on any given day has quadrupled, at least — I never know what I want to watch, want to drink, want to eat, want to do in my free time. Or, if I do and that turns out not to be an option, I am generally unable to think of a second option. It’s been so hard to write lately, for the past month or so with only short-lived exceptions.

Yesterday, I locked my keys in my car because I’d forgotten to put them in my pocket. A couple weeks ago I “lost” my credit card because I put it in my back pocket, right into the middle of a stack of business cards, and a couple days after I “found” it again I forgot to take the cards out of the pocket and they disintegrated in the wash.

Is this what depression feels like? Or am I just psyching myself out? Because between my growing dread of an upper endoscopy, fretfulness about switching to all gluten free all the time, the anxiety I already had anyway, recently fiddling with my medication, and the fact that it’s 100° F out again today… I just don’t know anymore.

Life is a Complex Matter

Happy 4th of July! I must admit that right now I am not the proudest I have ever been of my country — more like, rolling my eyes real hard — but a federal holiday is a paid day off work and that at least is worth celebrating. Today there was less car exhaust in the air during usual rush hour time, and that’s worth some happy thoughts as well.

This Independence Day I would love to declare independence from the bad vibes and depression that’s been clinging to me for a while now, but I can’t. The dark clouds over my head are there and pretending they aren’t won’t get me any less stormed on.

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.”  — Walt Disney

In the past several months I feel as though my anxiety has gotten worse, and being toldI tested positive for celiac disease hasn’t helped. My jaw feels tight and at times almost clicky again. I’m back to flinching when I’m a passenger on the freeway and someone cuts in front of us. I am borderline apathetic about getting up every morning, partly because I don’t want to move and partly because I feel queasy.

I can’t just overlook these things. They’re too big, some days it’s hard to see anything else. All I can do is remember the buts.

  • I might have celiacs, BUT that means that maybe going gluten free will help me loose weight. (If nothing else, a GF bagel is smaller than a regular one, and similar upsides to portions.)
  • I might have celiacs, BUT that could explain some of my recent spikes in anxiety and insomnia, and offer hope that they’ll settle again soon.
  • I might feel queasy more often and easily now, BUT that’s probably because my sertraline dose was increased three weeks ago, so my body will probably adjust soon and that’ll go away.
  • I might feel queasy more often and easily now, BUT maybe that just means I shouldn’t drink any more alcohol until my body settles down a bit. (Because I’m really, really sick of getting hit with a hangover an hour after having two drinks.)
  • Sometimes I feel way too stressed and panicky and like I have no way of changing any of the stressful factors in my environment, BUT I have my partner to support me and, if I really need it, lavender pills to help calm me down. That at least clears some space in my head to think.

In theory, lists like these will help me stay more level. I don’t know if it’s working. I think it might be… but I’ll have to wait and see.

Short Story #03, February — Driving

The prompt for this was, “Lets shed some reality on mental illness. It’s not cute, it’s not a joke and it’s not an excuse: Write about a panic or anxiety attack.”

I just want to add the disclaimer that it’s not a good idea to drive while having an anxiety attack. If you’re prone to them (mine don’t strike all that often) it might be best to have a built-in plan for what to do if you need to get off the road, even if it’s just to pretend you have a sudden burning desire to stop for Starbucks or something.

If you like what you read, feel free to like it on TheProse as well!

Continue reading “Short Story #03, February — Driving”

Writer You Rather

The first several questions are from Rachel Poli, and then I found some more here because I was bored. Feel free to answer these questions on your own blog if you want. Link back to me so I can see your answers, though. 😊


Would you rather go on a writing retreat in the middle of nowhere with no wi-fi, or in your home office being interrupted every so often by friends and family?

That depends on the length of the retreat. The middle of nowhere sounds kind of nice. Is it somewhere picturesque? I could deal with no wifi for, I dunno, about a week. (I once explained being an introvert to my mom by saying, “I could be shut up alone in my room with a stack of books and my laptop for a week and I’d be fine. You’d go stir crazy within a day or two.”)

Any longer than a week and I’d take the home office option. At least that way I can get some kitty snuggles in too.

Would you rather publish one best-selling novel and never write again, or publish multiple novels that either don’t sell well or sell average?

Multiple novels that sell average. I’m not in this for the money, I figure I’ll always have a day job one way or another. If I don’t have something external to influence my schedule I tend to drift toward nocturnal and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Would you rather be a best-seller with your real name and people stopping you everywhere you go, or a pen name no one knows who you are?

Real name. Don’t get me wrong, if you stop me on the street I’ll be awkward as hell, but I want my name on my work. If only so my parents can finally brag about how cool I am and send copies to everyone they know.

Would you rather teach English/creative writing high school classes, or college classes?

College, because ugh teenagers. Plus it’d be nice to teach people who aren’t just there because they have to be.

Would you rather only be able to write during NaNoWriMo months (April, July, and November), or only be able to write five days per month?

Mathematically, the NaNo option would give me more time to write, 90 vs 60. But… realistically, I probably work on my creative writing about five days a month right now anyway. That’s a low I’m working on changing, but for now I’ll go with the second option. Slow and steady wins the race is more my forte anyway.

Would you rather read your writings to an audience of ten people who love you or to 10,000 people you don’t know?

Ten people who love me. I’m not a crowds person.

Would you rather do a cross-country book store tour or blog tour?

I’m not entirely sure what both of those entail, but I guess I’d take the book store tour. It’d be a nice chance to get out and about, see bits of the country I’ve never seen before, all that jazz.

Would you rather write in a rooftop garden surrounded by city noises — or in a quiet studio with cows as your neighbors?

I’m going to go with cow neighbors, just because living in a city would up my general anxiety level more than I’d like. I can’t imagine not having a car, but I know that living in a city would either be murderous parking fees forever or murderous attempting to parallel park forever. Also, I’m not so naive that I don’t realize it would be both. Forever. I get nervous just being a passenger in city traffic. That kind of stress is not good for the creative juices.

Would you rather teach writing in a high school or go back to grad school for a Creative Writing degree?

Creative Writing degree. I’ve considered this, but don’t have the money or quite enough motivation available to actually do so. Also, see above where one of my answers included the phrase “ugh teenagers.”

Would you rather bravely share your writing or sit on the writing sidelines forever?

Brave. I’m writing to get these stories heard, what’s the point if no one ever reads it? Otherwise I’m essentially just doodling around in a private journal. I know I’m an anxious person, but I’ve been sharing my work in creative writing classes since high school and sharing fics (at varying levels of polish and read by beta readers) online since college. I can deal with that part of it.

Dear Life

Dear Life,

I know that I am at the end of my prescription and at the end of refills until I see a doctor again. I embrace the vertigo and sluggishness of not being able to take my pills for a couple days in a row. I drag myself out of bed on days when it’s the last thing I want to do, or something I wouldn’t mind doing it if I didn’t feel so profoundly and inexplicably unready to get up. I accept that sometimes my job is crazy and I have to do my best to just laugh at it instead of taking it personally. I agree to make plans even when it feels like everything is piling up and I have so much to worry about doing, especially in light of the fact that it’s not actually that much and the feeling of being overwhelmed is just there for other reasons.

It sucks, but I am meditating and drinking plenty of water and trying.

Love,

Me

Monday Musings #15 — Anxiety, Horror, Zen

Do you follow Zen and Pi? There’s a newsletter associated with the blog that I’ve subscribed to and read, eventually. Today I didn’t feel like getting it if bed right away and it was one of the most recent Unread things in my email inbox. So I opened it.
There are always links to interesting reads at the end. I have to admit that I don’t usually click on most of them, and when I do it’s somewhat haphazardly. After all, I usually have a lot of blog post notifications from the blogs in subscribed to waiting in my inbox to be read as well. But today I saw this and clicked immediately: “Horror movies for anxiety?”
One of the hurdles I had to get over in order to ask my doctor about anxiety medication was simply that thinking about how long I have been living with anxiety makes me uncomfortable. As far as I can tell, I went from relatively extroverted to an introverted bookworm at some point just before or during fourth grade. By sixth grade I was a huge Stephen King fan, my favorite movie was Jaws, and vampires that are actually scary became (and for the most part continue to be) my favorite type of humanoid monster. So reading this article about how many people with anxiety self-soothe with horror at first made me uncomfortable because it points out something I’ve been doing for longer than I’d like.

Continue reading “Monday Musings #15 — Anxiety, Horror, Zen”

#25 – Sunday, July 3

“What irritates me, is when people, well meaning of course, say things like “I know things seem really hard right now but it will help if you can muster up some gratitude for everything that you do have.” In my mind, what I hear is admonishment: aka stop complaining. It gives me an instant twinge of annoyance like an electrical shock because it isn’t helpful advice.

Here’s the thing—being reminded to be grateful when you’re having an emotional breakdown is a little like being reprimanded for crying too long when you skinned your knee as a kid. The message is that it’s not okay to hurt or express frustration. It’s not okay to ask, in your own roundabout way, for help to process what’s happening for you. … We want to believe this stuff works because we want to feel better. But the real shift isn’t going to come from memorizing platitudes and trying to follow along.

The real shift happens when we become aware of what’s holding us back from being able to follow the advice in the first place.” (x)

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Look closely for the dangling power lines and the tree in the road.

I’m grateful for…

🐢 – Getting a haircut. I had her take off probably at least three inches to just off my shoulders. Bring on summer.

🐢 – That falling tree not landing on my car.

🐢 – Those power lines not falling in on my car or electrocuting me after I got out.

🐢 – Generally not being dead after a tree fell down behind me and the power lines fell down in front. That was a weird mix of bad luck and good luck.

🐢 – Remaining calm when I nearly died. Continue reading “#25 – Sunday, July 3”

Sunday Gratitudes #23

“Making gratitude practice a habit, making it part of my everyday routine, is the most effective step I’ve taken to bringing more happiness into my life. It’s simple and it’s powerful and by creating a meaningful gratitude practice you will put happiness at the heart of your life too.” (x)

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(source)

I’m grateful for…

🌼 – The beautiful cottage rental we saw over the weekend! Knock on wood.

🌼 – My parents going out of town and lending me my mom’s minivan while I deal with the fleas. Continue reading “Sunday Gratitudes #23”