So it’s been a while since I’ve been on here – I’ve been trying to get myself back together with somewhat limited success.
But I thought I’d give you an update about what has been happening while I’ve been gone, and why it may be a while before I’m properly back.
After a heap of heavy family and emotional stuff through the end of 2016 and the start of 2017, my mental health was sitting on a knife-edge when I initially dropped off the radar here. However, I didn’t really acknowledge how bad I had gotten at that point, so I kept going with 90% of my normal stuff (work, uni, life) because I was determined that I wasn’t going to let myself go back to where I was 5 years ago.
BAD MOVE! Determination alone is not enough to fix your mental and physical health.
I crashed, quite spectacularly. I was exhausted all the time, but couldn’t sleep because I was so WIRED from my anxiety. I was also physically unwell – I’d had a cold during January, and just never really kicked it. I tried to go to the gym, and all that did was push me further down – Hello CFS, I did not miss you in the slightest. Post-exertion malaise SUCKS BALLS.
I ended up dropping 3 of my 4 university subjects, dropping my work hours to 1 shift per week (and taking several weeks off as well, thank god I’m casual at work).
After 3 weeks of having daily (often multiple times daily) anxiety/panic attacks, I got myself in to a specialist doctor. After a barrage of testing, he diagnosed me with a couple of genetic conditions (Pyrrole disorder and MTHFR). I got one from each side of the family – talk about genetic lottery!
I’m now getting treatment for both conditions – I’m on a huge number of supplements (both conditions cause significant deficiencies in several important vitamins and minerals) and things are beginning to get better.
I’m back at the doctor in a couple of weeks to retest and see if my levels are getting back to what they should be, but I’m feeling better already. My anxiety has backed off significantly – it’s not gone, but I haven’t had an anxiety/panic attack in 2 months. I’m still tired, but nowhere near as bad as I was. I managed to go to the gym and it didn’t wipe me out.
I’m part-time at uni now, and will be graduating at the end of next year. I’ve increased my work hours back to 5 shifts per fortnight, and I’m beginning to get the housework stuff back under control.
We got a new cat in the midst of the crash, because having a furry friend really does help – if you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen pictures of her there.
I’m knitting/crocheting/crafting like a madwoman because it helps keep me level, and I’m trying to get back to cooking and eating healthy because my crash ended in me putting on 5kg :S
I may not be back to posting regularly for a little while longer, but I want to get back to blogging again. I’m not putting a timeframe on anything at the moment, just until things level out and are a little more predictable again.
As those who follow me on twitter or instagram would know, we suffered a major loss just before Christmas – our gorgeous kitty Jacket passed away in his sleep. He’d had a few health problems across the year, and I think it all eventually just caught up with him. He was 15 years old, so he was getting up there in cat-years, but it was still unexpected.
Before anyone asks, because it really is a sore point – nope. Not ready to get another cat yet. We will, but just not yet.
Honestly, I’ve been a mess. I was already a bit burnt out from working a few too many shifts during semester, and then with this horrible sad event right before Christmas, only the day before the one year anniversary of my Nan’s death, I just haven’t been coping very well.
This blog has suffered, my house is a bombsite, I haven’t done work I needed to do. I haven’t done the ‘healthy’ things I know make me feel better (gym, yoga, tai chi, meditation), and instead have spent an inordinate amount of time on the couch, watching Netflix, gaming, and eating chocolate.
I went a couple of weeks ago for a checkup (because my shoulder has been playing up again) and have been informed that I am suffering from adrenal fatigue (again). Now I have to be careful I don’t push myself completely off the edge, especially seeing as I’m heading back to uni in only 2 weeks.
I don’t know when I’ll be back writing properly on the blog, but I don’t want to go away completely. I have so many ideas for posts, but I just haven’t got the mental energy to bring them to life at the moment.
I just know that I have to take the time to sort out my mental and physical health again, before I completely wreck myself. Right now, I’m just tired and need to get myself healthy again.
*** The article linked in this post is not mine, but it sums everything up in a much better way than I could ***
Apologies for being so very very slack over the last… god, 3 months? 4 months?… something like that.
Life has been super-busy, and somewhat stressful.
I did 4 weeks of prac this semester, as well as all my normal assignments, and then on top of that I got SICK and missed part of one of my prac weeks.
I now have to make up a week of prac, and I’m just waiting for the school to get back to me about when I’ll be doing that.
But since I’ve been sick, I’ve had trouble getting back up to where I was before. I don’t think I gave myself enough time to really properly get better, because everything has been back-to-back and I just couldn’t take the time off.
I’m just SO DAMN TIRED, and very distracted. Concentrating on anything is incredibly difficult 😦 My anxiety has been playing up again and I keep second-guessing myself, but I think I must be on a downward depression cycle as well because motivation is zero. I’ve just got to push myself through my exams, and then in a week I’ll be DONE! Hopefully I can get through without breaking, because I have plans for the summer break and I don’t want to have to spend the whole time recovering.
Start with a night of limited sleep due to insomnia. Add one early morning for university. FORGET TO TAKE ANTI-ANXIETY MEDS before leaving for uni. Forget things you need for afternoon class and get informed when you arrive at uni. Proceed to have a mini nervous breakdown in first class because the workbook questions are badly written and confusing.
I’m now skipping my middle 2hr class so I can go home and get the stuff for the afternoon class and take my tablets.
The past 48hrs have been an interesting mix of awesome and terrible.
The awesome stuff:
- A good friend FINALLY got engaged and I was there
- I got 2 new pairs of jeans and MY BUTT LOOKS AWESOME IN THEM. To boot, they’re a size 9!!!! (2 years ago I barely fit into a 12!) WOOT WOOT vanity sizing for the win BUT WHATEVER. Finally, jeans that fit my butt and waist at the same time.
Usually jeans that fit my hips/butt are way too loose around my waist and either fall down or look terrible. I have now discovered the awesomeness that is “Curve Embracer” jeans from Jeans West 🙂
- I reached my quota for “allowable last-minute schedule changes” in a spectacular fashion on Friday night. Pretty much EVERY plan I’ve made with anyone other than Hubby for the past 2 weeks has been changed at the last minute, and usually without me being informed except in passing. On Friday night, one phone call managed to single-handedly screw with ALL my plans for next week.
I spent Friday night and most of Saturday in an absolute emotional mess because I just couldn’t deal. I plan in a certain amount of wiggle room for things like this, and if I can plan for things not going to plan I’m ok (e.g. at work – no worries, all good, because I control for the stuff I can)… but if they’re things that I don’t expect to get screwed around over (like meeting up with family), I have difficulty. If I get multiples within a short amount of time, I crash and burn.
Now I’m trying to catch up on my uni work and get myself back on a even keel for next week. I tensed up so much from yesterday that 3 long soaks in very warm baths have not made as much of an impact as I would like, and I’ve had a tension headache all day 😦
Hopefully I can stay on the level for a little while now though.
Since the past couple of weeks have been less-than-fantastic in the mental health arena, I thought I might share a few of the slightly unconventional things that I find help ENORMOUSLY with my anxiety.
The repetitive movements of knitting/crochet give me something else to focus on, as does following the pattern. A simple pattern is best for if I just need to calm down from low-level anxiety, and a more complex pattern is good when I need to fully detach for a little while and get my bearings. Therefore I usually have at least 2 (often more) projects on the go at any one time.
- Rubiks cube
This is another one of the “repetitive movements” type – but can be more portable. I can solve both a 3×3 and a 4×4 cube, but I tend to only carry the 3×3 around with me – the 4×4 is a little more fragile (it’s the one that fell apart in this post). This is basically like a stressball for me – as well as being a pretty cool party trick.
I sometimes feel like this is a given, but it’s less about the chocolate and more about using it as a form of mindfulness meditation. Take 1 square of chocolate and let it dissolve slowly in your mouth, taking care to pay attention to the sensation of it – the taste, the smell, the feel. Make that piece of chocolate last as long as humanly possible.
- Vicks Vaporub
I always carry a jar of this in my handbag, and not because I’m prone to chest colds. For some reason, I find the smell of the vaporub incredibly calming. Probably some sort of way-back association with comfort from Mum when I was sick, but whatever – it WORKS. I also have gum that has a similar smell/taste while you chew it, as well as having a packet of vapodrops in my handbag.
The texture of satin has always been soothing for me – and I must admit, I still carry a satin ribbon in my pocket EVERYWHERE.
As cliched as it might seem, being able to get onto a game and kill some orcs/darkspawn/evil templars/undead is incredibly therapeutic. This is also how I nut out my frustrations if someone has pissed me off.
- Tai Chi
I started doing this several years ago, when my doctor suggested it to try and manage the joint and muscle pain/stiffness that came from my CFS. It helped a bit with that, but it helped far more with my anxiety and stress levels. I hadn’t done much for a couple of years, since I moved and there wasn’t a class near me any more, but now I’ve found an app to walk me through the movements, I’ve started up again. That couple of years break means I’ve basically forgotten the sequence of movements, but hopefully I’ll soon be able to do it from memory again.
This is more a long-term thing, as it doesn’t do much in the situation of an anxiety attack, but it seems to lower my overall anxiety/stress levels and reduces the frequency and severity of the attacks.
That’s just a few things that I use to help with my anxiety, and just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you – but it also doesn’t mean it WON’T work.
These things are not meant as a replacement for medications, more as a supplement – even when you’re on medication, you can still have acute spells, and having non-drug-based remedies can be very helpful.
Does anyone have their own particular anxiety remedy that they prefer?
I had thought I was feeling a little better this morning.
Had an absolutely spectacular spaz out at lunchtime today. Why?
Because I went into the kitchen to make something for lunch, and there was nothing for me to do that with. There was food, but pretty much EVERY SINGLE DISH IN THE HOUSE was dirty and on the kitchen bench.
But that in itself didn’t phase me too much. I was annoyed, and settled down to sort out the dishwasher and get it running again so I could clear a bit of the sink and wash a plate/bowl so I could do some lunch.
THEN IT HAPPENED. I picked up a pot off the bench, and it turns out that it was a structural object for that entire section of the bench. I managed to catch most of it, but a glass fell on the floor and smashed.
Then I had to clean it all up. I was feeling pretty awful by this point, but it got worse.
Our dishwasher is missing one of the spiny things that hold the plates up – so it’s a bit of a balancing act to get the smaller side plates to stack properly. THEY WOULDN’T STAY STACKED. I’d get them sitting properly, and as soon as I moved the drawer even the slightest bit they’d all fall over again.
This was the straw that broke the camel’s back… Hubby sort of got a phone call from me in a blubbering mess, telling him that when he got home he was going to DO THE F***ING DISHES because I. Just. Can’t.
I took the little plates out and just ran it without them, because I was determined to get SOMETHING good out of the mess.
I ended up eating cereal for lunch because I hadn’t managed to get anything clean – cereal eaten out of a mug, with a teaspoon.
UGH I was doing so well WHY do I have to start having trouble again?!?!?!
And yesterday, one of my uni friends asked where I was all last week. I ended up just mumbling something about it being a ‘bad week’ and left it at that, because I’m not sure what his approach to mental health is just yet. Also, I’ve only known him for 2 months, I’m not sure how much I really want to share just yet…
Sometimes, this still feels like a very private battle, because it’s extremely hard to explain it to people without them brushing it off (“oh, we all have days like that. It’ll be better tomorrow”) or looking at me like I’ve grown an extra head or am going to randomly start killing people.
I even get the feeling sometimes that Hubby doesn’t believe it’s as bad as I tell him, but I’ve got no idea whether that’s an actual thing or just the anxiety/depression talking.
Now I’m going to go and do some Tai Chi and see if I can calm down enough to get back to my assignment.
Oh did I mention? 2 assignments and an exam, all between Friday and Monday. Haha oh what a fun week I shall have…
So woke up this morning – it’s a lovely day. Sun is out, don’t have to do anything other than a little housework, and I even got to sleep in for a while.
And what happens? Helloooooo anxiety.
I feel like I should be shaking like a leaf, but according to my hands I’m not. I’m looking at the dishes that need doing, and I feel guilty because I know I should be doing them but I’m scared that if I try I’ll end up breaking half of them. I would very much like to game for a little while and kill a few orcs, because that always makes me feel a bit better (no idea why, but it works) but I feel guilty for wanting to do that when Hubby is outside mowing the lawn. Because somehow, my brain thinks that just because HE is doing work, I should be too, otherwise he’ll think I’m a lazy idiot. And for some reason, doing something that helps me be ABLE to get on with doing that work (that could be classed as a recreational activity) would be classed as “lazy” by my brain.
Like I said, I hate my brain sometimes.
So instead I’m on here, trying to get myself calm enough that I can think straight and be able to do the dishes and the rest of what I have to do today without ending up in a little ball in the corner.
My positive feelings from my improved GPA are officially gone again now.
Hubby just called me to ask if he could use the $40 in the savings account for petrol. No, sorry, that money is there so that we can afford to pay the direct debit insurance payments at the end of the month. If we use it, I’ll have to take that money out of next week’s budget. Which is already being stretched to the limit, because we’re apparently in arrears (HOW?!?!?!? I still don’t understand how it happened) on his car payments, so we have to pay extra on that for the next two weeks.
I just had a total meltdown while I was on the phone, I just couldn’t stop crying and apologising. In a way, this isn’t my fault – I made sure all the bills were paid, I made sure he had food for while I was away. I spent only $50 to feed myself for this week and part of next week. I ASKED HIM how much he needed for fuel this week, after explaining that we didn’t have a lot of money left after paying the bills (we had $70 total for food and fuel, because we had to pay extra for ANOTHER bill this week – the changeover from monthly to weekly pay has not been at all pleasant). He said that he didn’t need fuel, so I allocated $50 for me to get food for myself and $20 for him to get the “extras” he’d need over the week (bread, milk, cat food).
And now I get a call from him asking if he can put $40 in for fuel. I told him that if he wasn’t planning on coming over this side of town on Tuesday already, not to worry about it. But he came anyway. YES I miss him, YES it was great to see him, but now this is happening and it feels like it wasn’t worth it. Now he is using the $20 that was supposed to be for HIS food for fuel, and apparently “That should be just enough”. If you thought you’d need $20 for fuel this week, you should have said. I would have just gotten veges and beans, rather than getting fish and chicken as well. I DON’T MIND EATING VEGETARIAN FOR A WEEK. The friends I’m house/pet-sitting for have chickens, so I’ve got free eggs. I could have gotten by on less for food, but I though it would be OK for me to have meat, since he said he didn’t need fuel.
My mum gave me $40 cash on Tuesday night, because I was out of fuel myself and she needs me to drive her to the airport on Friday and pick her up when she gets back. I COULD HAVE GIVEN HIM $20 OF THAT ON TUESDAY! I only put $20 in my car to start with, because it’s not like I’m driving anywhere except the airport on Friday, and I might need money for public transport or something. Because even though Hubby hadn’t used that $20, I’d allocated that for HIM so I wasn’t going to use it because it’s not what it was planned to be used for. He didn’t say on Tuesday that he might need fuel, so I thought he was still OK. So I didn’t offer, because I thought it was all sorted. I’d talked to him about how much we’d paid for everything, and why certain amounts were “just sitting” in certain accounts, so that he knew WHY we only had $70 this week. I thought he understood that we can’t USE that money that’s sitting in those accounts, otherwise we’ll be in an even worse situation at the end of the month when the direct debits come out.
And somehow, in my head, this all leads to me feeling guilty because I spent $50 on food this week. I feel guilty about BUYING MEAT. If I’d just decided to go with beans and rice, I could have fed myself on half as much. But I thought we could afford the $50, so I spent that. (I’ll point out here that $50 a week for food is pretty low in Australia. It’s not like I was buying anything but the basics.) AND I FEEL GUILTY FOR BUYING MEAT. For some reason, I feel like buying meat for myself is not justifiable. There is a little rational corner of my mind that tells me I’m being an idiot. I know it’s silly to feel that way, I spent very little and got a very healthy menu for the week. But the rest of my brain is freaking out, because I feel guilty for spending Hubby’s hard-earned money. Because I’m not working ATM. We decided as a couple that there was no point me trying to get a summer job, because I would be spending half the time on the opposite side of town (no matter where I got the job), and I would be spending most of the extra money I earned getting to and from the job. We decided we could manage. So I feel guilty because somehow, my brain has connected this joint decision with it being my fault that money is tight. I feel guilty because I have a $20 note sitting in my purse, and I can’t get that cash to him, and he’s the one who needs it. I don’t, I still have about $5 in silver rolling around in my car, which I can use if I need bread or milk before next pay day. I don’t need the cash. But he does, and I can’t get it to him, and this makes me feel even worse about the whole situation.
I always tell people I went into psychology to understand how other people’s brains worked, but really it was to try and work out how my own works. Because the rational part of my mind can’t make any sense of the spiky wave of anxiety that takes over sometimes, and the anxiety won’t listen to the rational part.
I know it’s not my fault. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty. I know I have no reason to apologise. BUT FOR SOME REASON, I do feel this way. I think Hubby gets frustrated by it at times, and I totally get that. I’m there having a meltdown, and apologising for everything, and he CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO MAKE IT BETTER. They’re panic/anxiety attacks. The only thing I can do is wait and let them run down. Which makes me feel guilty about having a lack of control over my emotions and reactions. Vicious cycle, much?