Depression

All posts tagged Depression

If you can’t make neurotransmitters at home, store bought is fine.

Published June 15, 2021 by Malia

How long does it take a heart and mind to heal?

Since 2001, I have been filled with pain, anger, depression, anxiety, and an overall strong sense of doom.  There have been blips of happy during this time, but overall it’s been 20 long years of misery.

I remember mentioning to someone that I felt as though I was living under a curse.  They thought I was being dramatic.  All I knew was that everytime I came close to finally getting a grip on life my world would fall apart.  And it was always in super strange ways.

About 10 years ago, I added apathetic to the laundry list of things I struggled with.  Everything felt so pointless, and I was so tired of always being in pain.  I think that’s when my dissociating began to get really bad.  I spent my days watching myself making decisions that were typically unhealthy.  It was a bit like watching a movie or a dream.  I felt like I was living my life in 3rd person.  My body and mind were on autopilot.

So much of the last two decades has passed me by, and I just let it. I have been ambivalent, apathetic, and I let my heart grow hard.

My undiagnosed depression, anxiety, and ADHD shredded my brain.  I remember when I started college on 2003, and discovered my memory was deteriorating.  It was frustrating and scary.  Growing up my memory had been ok.  I know that towards the end of high school I sometimes struggled to remember things when I was taking a test.  But I wrote that off as just being a busy teen.  I was heavily involved in extra-curiculars, and being a pastor’s kid came with it’s own set of responsibilities.  Then when I started an actual job my senior year, my plate was beyond full. 

Feeling your memory deteriorate is terrifying.  When you know that you know something, but it’s locked behind so many doors in your brain, and you can’t access it; it’s overwhelming and frustrating and angering.

In 2018, I began getting serious treatment for things.  It’s not been an easy road.  Therapy dredged up so many things that I had locked deep, deep, deep, DEEP inside.  So much anger and pain.  It was hard.  It’s still hard.  The guilt and shame of every mistake, every pain I’d ever caused others, overwhelmed me, drowned me. 

My promise to you, my readers, is that you get the honest, genuine version of me.  I’m still not ready to share with y’all the nightmare that was March 2020 through this past February.  But I will tell you, that I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it was the final straw.  It nearly destroyed me completely.  I spent months having people close to me watch me break apart.  I had my own healthcare providers encourage me to quit my job.  But I was so determined to stay.  I had a bad habit of walking away from jobs when they started to feel a little too hard to handle.  I was adamant I was going to break that cycle.  That, no matter how hard the job got, I was going to stick it out. 

Looking back, I now know that I should’ve left my job in May of 2020.  It wasn’t until the end of this past January, when faced with the reality  of partial hospitalization, that I finally said, “Enough.” I knew that if I went back I was going to find myself in some sort of serious health crisis, maybe a heart attack, maybe a diabetic coma, or just completely and permanently losing all touch with reality. I had this sense that if I went back, I would be dead before the year was out, because I could feel my body telling me it was ready to shut down. No amount of money was worth completely destroying myself.

In April, I was running some errands, and suddenly my brain shifted into autopilot. Before I knew it, I was driving to my old job. I hadn’t been near the building since January. I could feel the panic build as I got near, and when I saw it, I broke down. I was torn between missing my friends, and the rush of memories filled with fear and pain.

When Tom had surgery in May, it was the first time I’d been back in a hospital in months. I briefly wondered if I’d find myself second-guessing my decision to leave my job. The short answer? No, I didn’t. I remember watching the medical professionals doing their jobs, and not even the tiniest part of me missed being a healthcare worker. Instead, all I could feel was relief that I was out of working in the world of medicine.

Last Friday, Tom put on Sweet Tooth. Overall, it was a really awesome show, but it was an incredibly hard watch. The first episode and seventh episode hit especially hard.

MINOR SPOILER ALERT

Watching a fictional hospital deal with a pandemic hit a little too close to home. It was a little too real seeing a disease that progressed fast and overwhelmed all the healthcare workers. I stuck it out, but I also texted and warned my friend who is still working in the lab. Just in case she was going to watch it, I didn’t want her to be caught off guard. That night, I prayed and took the meds I usually avoid, in order to help me sleep, cause I was scared that the nightmares that plagued me throughout last year would be back.

A few weeks back, I wrote about starting a new med that was giving me all the side effects. When I contacted the doctor, she asked that I try to stick it out for two weeks, because she thought it might settle down and the med would start working. Last week, I wrote about how mentally I was feeling loads better than I have in a long time. The side effects are definitely better now, I’m glad I agreed to stick it out the two weeks. My body, once it finally adjusted, has been feeling good and my blood sugar numbers are slowly getting lower and steadier.

I’m a bit of an odd duck, because I believe in Jesus and in science. I firmly believe that God gave us science, and if anything the miracle taking place in my body reaffirms this belief. My body doesn’t make neurochemicals or regulate my sugars like it should, but science has created medications that help with all these things. Over the last several days, I’ve been feeling really good. Everything has been working the way it should in my body. And I’ve made a shocking discovery.

I like myself.

I’ve despised myself for so long. All I could see were the bad parts, the mistakes. Am I perfect? NOPE. But I am silly, smart, kind, funny, generous, and phenomenally gifted (especially in music). The me that has suddenly woken up after decades of slumber, is actually pretty awesome. I would want to hang out and be my friend.

So, am I healed/cured/completely fixed? I can’t really answer that. I know that I’m healthier. I know that it’s likely the dark feelings will be back, maybe tomorrow, maybe 5 years from now, but I’m okay with that. I know I can survive the storms, because I’ve already survived so many of them.

Huh, therapy and self-care do help. Whoda thunk it?

Published June 10, 2021 by Malia

I had a really odd moment in therapy this morning. I went in with a few things to talk about. Nothing too exciting, just some things I’ve been processing and towards the end of session my therapist asked me, “That’s a lot going on. So, how are you doing with all this?”

I thought about it. I thought about how over the last several years (basically my entire adult life), when faced with similar things, I would’ve been sent in such a deep depressive spiral. About how all I would’ve wanted to do is lock myself up and hide away from everyone and everything.

And you know what? That’s not how I feel right now. Sure, I’ve got things going on that fill me with dread and anxiety but good or bad, these things will eventually be in the past, and I’ll hopefully still be here.

I’m learning to be kind to myself. My entire life, I’ve been my biggest critic, my number one enemy. I’ve been fixated on my flaws. Figured that if I made the joke first, I took the stick away from others and the bullying would be lessened. I’ve always been worried about everything, and torn to shreds with a load of guilt for every single bad thing that has happened my entire life.

I’ve come to the realization, my worry has accomplished nothing. For example, I can spend the next 5 months a ball of nerves, constantly freaking out about whether Tom’s cancer is still with us and spreading. But my worry will solve nothing. In November, he will either get good or bad news. There’s a 50% chance of good news, and if I’m going to fixate on anything, I should fixate on having hope. Instead of being my biggest hater, I need to be my biggest fan!

So, what was the odd moment? It was odd being able to look at him and honestly say, “Y’know, I’m actually doing okay with all of this.” And even odder to leave and not be overwhelmed with self-doubt, questioning if I really am okay or did I unintentionally lie to make myself look better than I am. I feel this sense of lightness. Almost giddiness.

No, I’m not cured. But I am mentally healthier. I’m seeing actual progress, and I want to celebrate that!

P.S. While playing with Snapchat earlier today, I captured this magical moment:

I’m not okay, and that’s okay.

Published May 20, 2021 by Malia

I went to therapy this morning.

I hadn’t been in a few months, and I realized on Monday, after getting Tom’s official cancer diagnosis from the doctor, that I really needed a session. 

I’m just so overwhelmed by my feelings at present. Since I have a really bad habit of refusing to acknowledge what I’m feeling and just squashing them down deep inside, I’m trying to break that.

Here’s the thing about therapy. I appreciate it. It’s been amazingly helpful. It is not fun. I don’t walk out and immediately feel better. But there’s something about sitting in a judgement free zone, talking about what I’m thinking that really makes a difference.

I’m learning that it’s okay to feel all the feelings. It’s okay to be sad or angry or frustrated or any other emotion that sweeps over me. It’s okay to acknowledge those feelings and give name to them. The important thing is what I do with those feelings.

I think it’s important to point out that just because I’m facing some dark feelings, that doesn’t mean I’ve lost hope or my faith. I’m still reeling from feeling blindsided by all this, plus I’m grieving right now. I’m still dealing with some grief over my old job. I’m grieving my lost babies. I’m grieving putting dreams on hold. And I’m grieving Tom’s kidney. I’m sure that sounds absurd, but that’s just how things are right now.

So, what about Tom? He’s always been incredibly supportive of me getting mental health help. He knows that I’m equally supportive of him seeking help. But doing so is a very personal choice. So, I check in on him regularly, and the door is open if he decides he does want to talk to a professional.

Things are hard, but we will get through it.

Some days adulting is really difficult.

Published May 18, 2021 by Malia

I have an appointment with the endocrinologist today, and I am dreading it.

They asked that I turn in my blood sugar numbers from the last two weeks. Since I currently wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that means what they have is every single blood sugar number my cgm has reported every five minutes for the last 14 days, and it ain’t pretty.

To be fair, I’ve spent the last two weeks in high stress mode. First, I was waiting for Tom’s surgery, and then there was the surgery, followed by days of waiting for results and caring for him. Then there’s the whole official cancer diagnosis. To top it off, I’m trying to compose an appeal letter to the insurance company because they determined that the necessary CT scan Tom had to have of his kidney is only necessary but not medically necessary (I’m still trying to wrap my head around that). And while I know things could be so much worse, and I am grateful that things have gone relatively well, it’s all been very high stress.

If you don’t have to deal with blood sugar monitoring, then you may not be aware of how stress messes with blood sugar. Even if I exercise and eat correctly, my numbers are all over the place. For example, on Saturday my numbers yo-yo’d all day. I went from 108 to 165 to 124 to 230 to 140 and so on. It was exhausting and frustrating.

I’m hoping they just give me a pass at the appointment since I’m currently going through this life experience. I’m genuinely trying to make positive changes in my health, but I’m also trying to keep myself from falling into a depression spiral. I’m just doing the best I can.

P.S. I’m running a giveaway on my Facebook page for some of my greeting cards. Check it out: In A Pinch Grab Bag Giveaway

Welcome to the Second Decade

Published April 26, 2021 by Malia

If you’re new to the blog, or it’s been awhile since you visited, let me catch you up on what life has been like.

Ten years ago, I started this blog when I moved from Nebraska to North Dakota. I was going through a bad time. I was lost and heartbroken, and I needed to get as far away from Nebraska as I could. North Dakota may not sound like the optimal place to run away to, but I fell in love with Grand Forks. By the December of 2012, I found myself moving back to Nebraska. There were a few reasons that prompted the move, but the main ones were a type 2 diabetes diagnosis and running out of money for school (I was working on my bachelor’s for the umpteenth time).

January 2013-January 2016 saw the following happen:

-I worked in a medical lab.

-I began dating, and got married to the boy. That’s how I referred to him on here for the longest time. His name is actually Tom, and to this day I firmly believe that the best choice I ever made was agreeing to go on a date with him.

-Early Term miscarriages 1 & 2.

January 2016-February 2017

-Tried being a homemaker, it was a bit of a disaster.

-We blew up our car engine by throwing a rod. This led to a giant headache trying to replace the engine. Pretty sure by the time we sold the car we had replaced the engine 4 times. Important lesson kids, always stay on top of your car’s oil levels and changes. It’s and expensive problem you don’t want to deal with.

-We were so broke, and I completely lost hope that things would ever get better. It was a really dark time.

February 2017-April 2018

-I went to work in the lab at our local pediatric hospital.

-I was sick all the time, mostly with respiratory infections.

-Was officially diagnosed with PCOS. I’d been fighting to get someone to officially diagnosis it since 2012. It’s awful trying to get female reproductive health issues diagnosed and treated.

-Decided to leave the job mainly due to my rapidly deteriorating health.

-Adopted an 11 year old Puggle. She’s my first dog ever, and she’s my baby.

-Early term miscarriage 3.

April 2018-August 2019

-Attempt #2 of being a homemaker, again was a bit of a disaster.

-Got officially diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, and depression. I already knew I was struggling, but it was really helpful to finally have an actual diagnosis.

-It was a dark time, but also a time where I learned quite a bit about myself.

August 2019-March 2020

-Went back to the hospital lab job as a casual employee.

-My grandmother passed away.

-Early term miscarriage 4.

March 2020-Now (April 2021)

-At the end of February 2020, my job was going really well. I was getting healthy, and was finally losing weight. I was on top of the world, and when a full time position opened up I decided I was ready. Let me just say right now, if I had known what was going to hit by mid-March, I would’ve never gone to being full time.

-Working in a hospital lab, during the first 9 months of Covid was a special level of Hell. Eventually, I may be able to write more about it, but I’m not mentally or emotionally in a place where I can do that yet.

-The last week of December 2020, my mental/physical/emotional health bailed on me. I’d been trying so hard, for months, to hold it together. I kept telling myself if I could just keep going eventually things would better. At 2 a.m. on 12/28 I was sitting in the shower, sobbing, and I knew I was officially at my breaking point. Months of barely sleeping, high stress, panic attacks, crying all the time, and constant nightmares when I would manage to sleep had all taken their toll. I was put on leave through January, with the intention that I would be heading back to work. I had countless doctor appointments, and by the end of January I came to the realization that there was no way I would be ready to go back to work. So, I chose my health and my sanity over my paycheck and benefits. I know I made the right choice, but it wasn’t an easy choice.

-Early term miscarriage 5.

What does the second decade look like?

I’ll be completely honest with you, right now I qualify a good day as one where I get out of bed and put pants on. Overall, I’m not doing very good. I am starting to heal from last year, but it’s slow going. Right now, I can only manage baby steps, but I’ve decided baby steps of progress are better than no progress at all.

I’ve been encouraged in therapy to return to writing, and right now the easiest writing for me to do is this blog. And since it’s important to have goals, I will end this post with a small list of goals I have for the next few years:

Goal 1: Getting healthy so that expanding our family (whether biologically or by adoption) is an actual possibility.

Goal 2: Moving The Banana Gift from being a dream to a reality.

Like I said, it’s a small list. I’ll be back tomorrow!

Chocolate: 1, Me: 0

Published February 6, 2020 by Malia

People do many things when they feel down. Shop, sleep, drink, sleep around, send text messages to people they absolutely should not be texting. You get the idea. Me?

I eat.

Sometimes I shop, but 98% of the time, I turn to food. It’s been my go to for decades. Does it make me feel better? Yeah. Well, at least it does for a few minutes. And then regret seeps in. Followed by shame. Then I feel even more down than I already did. Which usually leads to more eating. It’s not a unique story by any stretch of the imagination.

Almost a month ago, faced with out of control blood sugar numbers, and severe anxiety about my weight I decided to make one more attempt at losing weight. And since January 14th, I’ve done really well. I’ve lost twenty pounds and stayed completely on plan. I’ve eaten tons of veggies. My blood sugar numbers have been awesome! I’ve resisted pizza, Wendy’s, Arby’s, a giant bowl filled with leftover Christmas chocolate, and piles of baked goods. That’s the short version of an incredibly long list. I have seen myself exercise self-control I really didn’t know I was capable of.

Last Saturday night, I had an incredibly realistic dream. I was tearing my house apart, devouring every little bit of chocolate I could find. I woke up with the most intense chocolate cravings I’ve ever had. I fought it all day Sunday, ending the night by sticking my head in the previously mentioned giant bowl of chocolate and just smelling the chocolate fumes. But the important thing is, I didn’t give in. I didn’t actually eat any. The cravings continued for days. To top it off, I’ve been feeling a lot of stress about work, my stupid fertility issues, and my upcoming root canal. The cravings and stress have started dragging me down into the dark place I don’t like to think or talk about.

I hate the dark place. I know I’ll climb out of it eventually. I’m just hoping I’ll crawl out in a few weeks, instead of a few months. This isn’t my first visit to it, and I know it won’t be my last. I’m not a strong person, but knowing I’ve gotten out of the dark place countless times over the years, helps me hold on. I may sound flippant, but honestly I feel anything but.

Knowing all this, I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that last night I gave into the cravings. I ate a ton of chocolate and gummies, both from a Japanese snack box I ordered before deciding to get healthy. A strawberry ice cream popsicle, and three bites of a truly disgusting frozen chimichanga. I came very close to going to Taco Bell and ordering 3/4 of the menu, but it was after 10 pm, and would’ve required the wearing of pants.

By 11 pm the regret and shame had settled in, and I realized that I had two options. Clearly the first (and hopefully last) binge of 2020 hadn’t magically drug me out of the dark place or really made me feel any better. The only good that came of it was that my chocolate cravings were no longer driving me mad. So, my two options were:

A. Fall back into my old norm of binge, feel even worse, binge, feel bad, and repeat ad naseum.

B. Accept that I fell off the wagon, suck it up, and remember the important words from Gone With The Wind, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”

So, I woke up today, checked my blood sugar and weight, and hopped back on plan. Nothing magically changed overnight. I’m still in the dark place. I’m still stressed, and honestly I would much rather have had a bagel than my breakfast drink. I can’t promise that I won’t give into my cravings again, because I’m smart enough to know I probably will. I’ll keep facing the same battle, but hopefully I’ll do better the next time I fall off the wagon.

It’s been a long weird decade

Published December 31, 2019 by Malia

12/31/09. If you had asked me what my life would look like ten years in the future, I would’ve given you an answer that bears little resemblance to what actually happened.

How has it turned out? Let me see…

-I’ve lived in two different states.

-I’ve worked in two different medical labs.

-I got married.

-I discovered that I’m actually a dog person (I still like cats, but dogs are my favorite).

-I’ve discovered a genuine love of crafting.

-I’ve had two surgeries.

-I’ve had miscarriages.

-I’ve lost the best grandparents in the world.

-I’ve experienced evolution of relationships with both family and friends.

-I’ve learned to think for myself.

-I’ve learned hard truths about myself.

-I’ve been given gifts I never expected that have quite literally changed my life and given me back hope that I lost long ago.

Life has mountains and valleys. The last decade was filled with mostly valley, and as much as it hurt, as much as it tried to destroy me, I’m ending the decade able to say, “I’m still here.” I can’t say I’m ending the decade a better person, but I’m definitely ending it more self-aware and in touch with the world around me.

So, what about the next ten years? Honestly, I don’t know what life will look like a decade from now. If God gives me another ten years (which I really pray He does), I know that I don’t want to waste them. I don’t want to reach 12/31/29 and find that I’ve accomplished nothing. I do know that for the first time in my life I have a dream of something that I want to do, that’s not just a pipe dream (I know I’m being a bit vague, and I intend to flesh this out in upcoming posts). I know that I have certain talents, and I’ve got a calling on my heart to use those talents, and to give. I know what gives me joy, and what my purpose is. Now the trick is to dive in and not give into my fear of failure.

I survived the decade.

I want to thrive in the next.

My dog would live solely on peanut butter if I’d let her.

Published January 25, 2018 by Malia

Okay, kids, it’s been a really rough week, and I can’t write without sounding like I’m in a super dark mental space. So, instead, I offer up snapchat videos of Gracie trying to clean out a peanut butter jar!

Also, I should point out that we’re in the middle of a flooring project. We don’t normally have just bare, plywood floors.

Hopefully, y’all are as amused as I am with Gracie’s antics.

I’m just going to put a heads-up here: The word penis is used more than once in this post. You’ve been warned.

Published January 6, 2018 by Malia

So, I just had a meltdown about brownies. I genuinely hope you had a better night than that.

And, it’s not even really about the brownies. It kind of is (I really love brownies, and the brownies that started my falling apart were filled with cream cheese and homemade), but it’s about so much more. It’s about my bruised fingertips, it’s about no longer being able to turn to food when I’m stressed, and it’s about having to stop avoiding my diabetes. I’ve gotten really good at avoiding it, but I feel like I’ve reached this point where if I don’t grow up and get my disease under control truly bad things are going to happen much sooner than I’d like.

Because I spent my evening in a funk, I didn’t even think to share my video. So, first, it needs so explaining.

Last week, I was wandering on the internet, and I stumbled across video for this product, the Rollie Eggmaster, that can make eggs pretty quick. I was immediately intrigued, because I really need to be eating some kind of healthy breakfast, and most mornings I just don’t have the time as I have to feed the animals, take the dog out, and get my butt to work. I found the product on Amazon, and it was cheap-ish,so I decided to try it.

It arrived on Thursday, and Friday morning I used it for the first time…and here’s how it turned out:

It’s okay, I know what you’re thinking,”Egg penis eggrection.” You’re also probably wondering what that bag-looking thing on top is. First, the bag looking thing is actually just egg white that didn’t make it all the way to the bottom of the cooking chamber. Second, yes, yes that is an egg penis.

I sent that video to a friend, and her response was, “That’s terrifying. I suddenly feel I need to file a sexual harassment charge against your breakfast…”

In case you were wondering, it doesn’t just make egg penises; it also makes pb & j sandwich penises, pizza penises, burger penises, the food penis options are almost endless

All joking aside, it really did work and did what I needed it to. Yes, it’s a bit weird, and yes, I’ll probably giggle like a teenager everytime I use the thing; but it’s nice to have an option for breakfast that’s quick and healthy.

Dear 2018, I refuse to make a pile of resolutions I’m just going to break in a day. So, let’s just promise to be kind to each other. Okay?

Published January 1, 2018 by Malia

I have been standing in my kitchen, washing dishes for the last 20 minutes, thinking about what I could say as we head into 2018.  Did I come up with anything wise?  Well, if you think that, “at least it’s easy to turn a 7 into an 8, so when I write 2017 on everything for the next two weeks and have to change it, it won’t be that difficult,” is wise, then sure, I’m super wise.

Actually, I’m feeling grateful.  Things were bad a year ago.  The boy was working a nightmare job.  His only income was commission based, and he worked 12-14 hours every day, 7 days a week.  To make matters worse, he rarely had sales, so more than once we went an entire month with him not having a paycheck.  Our bank account more frequently had a number that was red with a little minus in front of it, than it had a number in black.  It didn’t help that I had this constant mystery pain on the left side of my abdomen that no one could give me an answer about.  The worse things got, the more frozen in depression and anxiety I got.  I got to the point I was having trouble functioning as a human.    Things were bad, and dark, and I spent most of my time feeling completely and utterly hopeless.

Now, it’s January 1, 2018, and the boy no longer works the job from hell.  Our bank account, while not super healthy, hasn’t had bright red minus numbers in months.  I still have my mystery pain, but hey, two out of three bad things aren’t bad anymore.

So, here’s to 2018.  Here’s to starting a year with a bit of hope and a lot less fear.