Maybe this time

The thing about life it, sometimes it likes to pull the rug out from under you, and leave you stunned and defeated, crumpled on the ground like a pile of leaves. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t find myself explaining that suffer from a panic disorder and am clinically depressed. I find myself frustrated beyond belief when I reduce myself to my brain chemistry, and let it consume me like the swamp of sadness. UGH.

Sometimes there’s a trigger and I can see it coming. Other times it’s like I’m bring mauled by a bear and I can’t help but lay there and play dead, stunned and shell-shocked. I often wish it would just end, and I could finally have peace and quiet. Lady Peaceful, Lady Happy… that’s what I long to be.

I’m fed up with myself. I have wallowed long enough, time to try and pull myself out of this mud puddle.

Food always seems to be my outlet of choice when it comes to blowing off steam, getting back on the wagon, and generally sorting out thoughts in my head so I can make sense of my world. So I guess I’m gonna cook myself happy. And I’m gonna write about it.

I find myself afraid to try, mostly because I am afraid to fail. I have let my anxiety become the devil on my shoulder and dip into my childhood insecurities, telling me that all I’m going to do is make a fool of myself, to fail to make an impression or simply be ignored… and that has kept me from trying pretty much anything. And I’m kinda mad at myself for letting it go on for so long. I’ve got the tools to do the things, I just need to start doing the things. All the odds are in my favour… something’s bound to begin.

 

Maybe this time I’ll win.

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You can’t control the things that happen to you. You can only control how you react to those things. Sometimes, the ways you used to cope with certain situations, well they simply don’t work anymore. The probably didn’t really work in the first place, but certainly not now that you’re no longer in those situations. What am I talking about? Hell, I don’t even know half the time.

Therapy has been a good thing for me. I have been given the tools to retrain my brain, so I can let go of those unhealthy coping mechanisms, and build on new strategies to deal with my shit. All those years of feeling alone and shunned and defective, I’m beginning to look at things differently, and I’m making some difficult changes, but they will be worthwhile along this journey to a better me.

The thing about mental health resources in my city, there just aren’t enough to go around. The waitlists are insane, months or years to get into a program, and there are definitely bugs in the system. I was forgotten about on intake, and then again a few weeks later, then it was a bit of a bumpy road to make sure I wasn’t put back on the waitlist for heaven knows how long. Communicating with my social worker is still spotty, but I was lucky, because I pushed back and had people on my side pushing back to make sure I wasn’t forgotten again.

Imagine how many people maybe went through the same thing, being put back onto the waitlist again and again because of errors in scheduling, lack of communication, and just lack of resources. I am unsettled by the thought of someone in a worse state than I was at the time, who came in for help and was put back in line over and over, waiting for help that feels like it might not come.

My reaction is to share. Share the tools and share the knowledge. As the therapy group sessions come to a close next week after 12 weeks of possibilities for change, I intend to spend a fair amount of time reflecting about the work I’ve done to take the reins and steer my life in the direction I want to go.

The next few posts are probably gonna be pretty intense. Put your big kid panties on.

 

Phase 1

In January, I walked into the chiropractor’s office. After his initial assessment and an x-ray, it was determined my spine has been misaligned and it’s been causing the pain in my joints and muscles for as long as I can remember. My neck and shoulder have been slightly out of whack and declined from the years of working on my feet and hunched over a kitchen counter. I’ve treated my body like shit. But all that is changing.

After nearly 3 months of visiting the chiropractor 3+ times a week, as well as the RMT and the Kinesiologist, my body feels completely different. I wake up without pain, I can bend, crouch, and generally just move without pain. It feels incredible. I’ve actually teared up once or twice thinking about how I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t hurt. My headaches have almost completely subsided. My arm and hand don’t go numb constantly. My sciatica hasn’t flared up once since my first adjustment. My. Back. Doesn’t. Hurt… At. All. I’m emotional right now just thinking about the changes I’m feeling.

I spent the last 10+ years just treating the symptoms. Dulling or numbing the pain. Medicine. Pharmaceuticals. Never treating my body. I know, I know. I has the dumb. But not anymore! To be honest, I used to be kind of scared of chiropractic care. I thought of it as a painful process, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Chad actually convinced me to give it a try. He said he was willing to pay for it if I’d just bite the bullet and make an appointment. It couldn’t have been easier, and I was welcomed to the clinic like I was an old friend. I really hit the jackpot when I walked into that office. Warm and friendly, eager and passionate to help me feel better. I think I walked in on a Monday to make an appointment and I had an assessment and an x-ray within two days. I started adjustments immediately. The progress was gradual, but steady. I still have a way to go, but it’s so nice when you notice the improvements.

It’s also done something awesome for my mental health as well. Spending so many years in physical pain, and having doctor after doctor tell you they don’t know what’s wrong, or that there’s nothing wrong, it takes a toll on your psyche. I felt very isolated because I feel like no one believed me when I said how much I hurt. I was told more than once that it was all in my head, and lemme just go ahead and say that saying that has never ever helped anyone, ever. I felt trapped inside a broken down body, with a brain that wasn’t working properly, and it was hell. Knowing that it wasn’t all in my head, and now finally feeling stronger and healthier than I’ve felt in years, I feel like I’ve been set free. It feels good to be able to move.

On to Phase 2: Strengthening 🙂

Revised Bucket List

Making changes in my life means making a plan. And then throwing away that plan and coming up with plan b, c, d, e… Taking a goal and breaking it down into smaller goals, means people who like to make lists are going to have a good time (check) and it seems a lot more manageable when you break something down into steps so you can see it through.

With that, I’m starting my new plan. When asked to write the narrative to my ideal life, it was an eye opener. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? Who do I want to be? WHAT DO I WANT? *cue existential crisis*

Relax Vic. You got this.

I want to be happy, healthy, and loved, just like everyone else in the world.

A life full of experiences, instead of objects. A life full of knowledge, instead of regrets. I wanna live!

I’ve started bucket lists before. I used to think that if the list was completed, I’d be happy. Turns out, I want that list to be unfinished. Simply because if I cross off everything on my bucket list, it means I’m dead. I will keep adding, and keep crossing off. Exploring all my options, and choosing the ones that work for me and give me joy. Can I get a hallelujah?

So here it goes, the start of the latest bucket list. In no particular order. Subject to change. First draft. To be continued…

  1. Write a book.
  2. Declutter my life. (Complete a declutter challenge. Why is everything a challenge? BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS HARD)
  3. Run my own business.
  4. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  5. Act in a play
  6. Learn to sing
  7. Learn to play an instrument
  8. Finish my degree.
  9. Travel the world.
  10. Figure out how to work a crown into an office casual look. 😉

Life Traps And Setting Myself Free

So, like many people, I am currently in therapy. I am in a program that helps me identify the events in my life that have shaped my core beliefs and coping skills, and gives me tools to help myself react better to these issues to resolve them more healthily.  Healthfully? In a more healthful manner. Yes.

Here is what I have learned:

  1. I have trust issues. Surprise! I share everything and nothing, because I literally don’t know which way to go. Things are gonna even out.
  2. I am my own worst enemy, but things are making a lot more sense as to how I got that way. And I can fix it.
  3. My sense of defectiveness and being broken is not deserved, nor is it accurate. I’m fucking delightful.
  4. My self deprecating humour is a defense mechanism, and I gotta cut that shit out. I’m bullying myself and that’s like punching myself in the face asking myself why I’m hitting myself.
  5. I cannot control what happens, but I can control how I deal with it. What used to work doesn’t work anymore, and I really need to make a change in order to grow and move forward.
  6. I am stronger than I give myself credit for.

I’m changing my behaviour. Ever heard the term “fake it ’til you make it”? Well, that’s how it starts. I have to tell myself the opposite of what I’ve told myself for the last 34 years. You are worthy. You are loved. You are wonderful. Mantras. You can do it! It’s the journey, not the destination (we all die anyway). That last one needs a little work.

I want to make sure my journey isn’t all about the struggle. Because while the struggle is real, so are the victories. So, I’m setting myself free. Free to share and live without having my anxiety take over and keep me trapped inside my own mind.

It’s the first step that’s a doozy, eh?

 

2018: Off to a Roaring Start

Hello friends,

This week has been… eventful. Well, only one day, but I’ve spent the rest of the time just trying to catch up.

I tried a ballet class on Sunday night. It was for beginners, and I thought, hey, I love ballet. What a great way to get into shape maybe. About 50 people showed up for the class and the teacher, bless her heart, said she didn’t want to discourage anyone from trying ballet, so she made an attempt to accommodate everyone. Turns out, I need a beginner beginner’s class, and my ankle and foot injuries from the last couple of years immediately said “oh, I don’t think so bitch”. That many people in the studio, I began to have a panic attack, and I was by the far wall away from the doors, so limping out and escaping without everyone watching me was impossible. I know that you’re going to say “well, who cares if they’re watching? who cares if they see you?”, yah, I know. I was frozen in fear and I ended up just watching the class for the last 20 minutes and trying not to cry. So, no ballet for me. At least not yet.

I did not like what I saw in those studio mirrors. I had such a hard time with even the most basic of movements. I was about as graceful as intoxicated donkey wearing roller skates. Picture that for a second. I used to be so light on my feet. Fit and strong. Now I’m an intoxicated donkey on roller skates. My how the mighty have fallen. It was a wake up call.

On a higher note, Chad had a nice warm bubble bath waiting for me when I came home from the dance class. He heated the bathroom with a little space heater, made it all steamy and lit a eucalyptus Scentsy. Lavender bubble bath and the perfect temperature to wash away my panic and anxiety. Topped it off with a cup of peppermint tea. He sat in the bathroom with me and let me cry and was just… there. I kinda love that guy. He’s pretty great. I’m gonna keep him 🙂

On Monday, Chad and I were about to head out to run some errands, when I thought I could hear water in the walls. It didn’t sound like the people upstairs running their shower or anything like the sounds we were used to (sound proofing ain’t great here). As soon as I called the landlords to report it, the building alarms went off. Aaaaaaand the water started in our apartment. It was running down the walls, leaking from the window frames, filling up the light fixtures (thankfully, they cut power to the building), and gushing from the sprinklers, but not through the sprinkler system… through the ceiling. A burst pipe near the roof filled the upstairs apartment with water (and the tenants were at work) and then began to seep through the ceiling and walls into our apartment. Chad and I spent the next four hours switching buckets under waterfalls spilling from the lights and sprinklers, and changing towels up against the walls, tossing bucketfuls of water over the balcony, because it was just coming in too fast to toss down our drains. Now there are fans and a giant dehumidifier in our rooms, and we’re almost dry. And none of our belongings were seriously damaged, because we frantically rearranged our apartment to save our precious junk 🙂

By the time the building managers got into the apartment upstairs to assess the damage, it was already too late for that apartment. So much damage. I feel very bad for them because they moved just a few months ago from another apartment in our building… one that had flooded on the first floor. They just can’t win.

I snapped right into action, grabbing buckets, towels, and even somehow starting a Facebook live video right in the middle of it all. I documented everything, because I had a feeling it would come in handy down the road. We’re probably going to have to be moved into another apartment at some point. There’s major repairs to be done. It was a tense, anxiety filled day, and I only cried once. And that was because I got a face full of dirty smelly water and it was gross. I deserved to shed a few tears. I smelled like wet drywall. Chad and I didn’t stop until the water finally stopped, after 4 hours of sopping up giant puddles and bailing buckets of water, moving furniture, electronics, and trying to keep Sonny from freaking the hell out. What. A. Day. I find it somewhat amusing that when the shit really hits the fan, when I really should be panicking, I don’t. In times when I should be relaxed and calm, my brain somehow convinces me that my situation is dire. WTF brain?

Yesterday, Chad and I were dead tired. So, we gave ourselves a day to just rest and recover from all of that. Once it was all over, our bodies released some of that tension that we had pent up throughout Monday’s fight, and we were both so so so sore.

Today I got a call from Mental Health, letting me know that I’ve been registered in one of the 10 week programs to help me manage my depression and anxiety. And it starts almost right away. I called back to confirm my space, and I’m looking forward to January 18. The journey continues.

 

 

34 – Saving myself from myself

I turned 34 years old yesterday.

Fuck.

It has affected me differently than I anticipated. I guess I thought I would be a different person by this age. But then again, I should have figured out that I wasn’t going to follow a regular path in life.

I have a lot of things to work through in the coming year, then perhaps by 35, I will recognise myself a little better.

I have started my journey again with mental health services, am trying medications (that in itself is a journey) to see if we can’t calm things down a bit so I can get my footing under me and move forward. It started off on a sour note, but I guess I can get over that. I want to be stronger, live my life instead of simply existing, and I think the connections I am making through mental health services, I can learn where to focus my healing so it gets easier to take on the day.

I fell into kind of a rut this December, and I’m both embarrassed by it and frustrated that I fell back into that trap. I feel the need to worry endlessly about the worst case scenario in every situation, no matter how relaxed the atmosphere. I don’t enjoy the things I used to enjoy because I’m a tensed up ball of anxiety and overwhelming sadness and emotions I don’t know how to identify let alone express. I can’t describe how numbing and exhausting this circus is.

I’ve been told that New Year’s is the worst time to make resolutions, because you won’t stick to them or something blah, blah, blah. Everything has kind of conveniently converged at this time frame for me, so I guess I’m going to make some New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. Learn how to communicate my feelings without alienating anyone.
  2. Learn to treat myself like I would treat other people. It has been mentioned to me more than once that I talk down to myself, berate myself when something goes wrong, basically treat myself like a lesser person, all things I would never do to another human being…
  3. Have conversations with people about my anxiety and depression. It’s not going to just go away because I have read a few chapters and do a few exercises involving writing letters that will never be sent or meditating and focusing on breathing for a few minutes a day. This shit is exhausting to try and work through on your own. Having people who are willing to listen and help me figure it out is a blessing I do not intend to take for granted.
  4. Have conversations with people about something other than my anxiety and depression. The last few months have been particularly shitty for me. I have had a lot of people reach out and I am so grateful. They have helped me heal and grow. I am looking forward to brighter topics with these people in 2018.
  5. Do more fun things with my friends and family. I spent much of 2017 in hermit mode. I have a lot of things to deal with , but I want to make 2018 the year of not hiding away. I expect this one will be one of the hardest resolutions for me.

I think that’s a good starting point. Baby steps, as they say. My mental health worker can already see it in me. I asked her why she didn’t just give me a copy of the workbook from which she was giving me chapters. She said it was because she knew I’d read it all in a day and try to do everything at once and basically short circuit. I guess I’m pretty easy to read, eh?