Playing Hooky

Hello all! I hope this post finds you well. This morning I am watching the cat groom the dog, in a cozy living room with rainy chilliness outside. This week has been a long one. I am still trying to find ways to keep myself thinking calmly and rationally without letting depression take over.

I think it was about five months into my being sick that I began making a conscious effort to enjoy moments. To really enjoy the coffee cup in front of me; to take advantage of the weather and go for a walk without my phone out. And I find myself falling back into those patterns, it helps me be aware of things that put a smile on my face. On Friday I had been immensely frustrated with traffic, so I took a sharp right turn and went for a cruise. While this had started out as a dive out of traffic in a fit of rage, it ended with me going slowly down residential streets and enjoying the view.

I followed this act of refusing to be frustrated by playing hooky from social obligations this weekend. While I recognize that friends are great, relationships take effort and all those other good things, sometimes you just need to free yourself from obligations to keep yourself sane. So I bailed on a party (and the rushing, cooking, baking, pulling money from my visa because I’m too poor for shenanigans, and the hurrying of an overworked tired boyfriend that would have gone along with it.) and made plans with my best friend to go to an art show. I ended up bailing on that also, because I had very little sleep the night before, and my craving for adventure had dwindled. I watched a movie in bed with my boyfriend, after we had gone out for dinner (and bumped into my best friend I had bailed on! At least I was honest and told her I wasn’t feeling up to the art show… that could have been hella awkward.)

Anyway my point with all of this, is that learning to say no is so great. It doesn’t mean you are failing anyone, and it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad friend. It just allows you to take a mental health day, and take care of yourself. Something that I would have felt too guilty to do just a few months ago.

On that note I wanted to mention two apps that I am finding helpful. One is a Depression CBT Self Help app. CBT means Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and it’s basically a way to train your brain out of bad habits.

Please keep in mind that if you are dealing with depression and/or anxiety as I am, it is extremely beneficial to seek out a psychologist. Having a level-headed outside perspective, with the years of schooling and tools in their tool belt, will not only help you figure out why you’re thinking this way, but help you to stop thinking that way. It is worth looking into your insurance and benefits for. It does not make you crazy or abnormal (this fact I have to remind myself of often) and it is nothing to be ashamed of. You can’t be your best, most productive, self unless you are healthy. You wouldn’t push through with a flu for months without seeing a doctor or taking a sick day, would you? Well the same thing goes for your mental and emotional well-being! 🙂 

There is also an Anxiety CBT app that you can find in association with this Depression CBT app:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.excelatlife.depression&hl=en

My favorite part of the app is the Cognitive Diary. It prompts you out of the downward spiral thinking, and pushes you to analyze your thoughts. Once you’ve identified what the negative thoughts are, it asks you to challenge these thoughts with positive ones. Such as “Demands just cause more stress” or “Sometimes things are out of my control” or “I can handle depression even if I don’t want to”.  The Anxiety app also features a cognitive diary, with positive challenges that are comparable to anxious thinking.

I have also been practicing guided meditation and progressive relaxation. I am a fan of yoga, and try to do it a few times a week. [I follow Tara Stiles because I like her approach to yoga] Of course, if yoga is not something you enjoy, it might not be the most beneficial for you to do… but finding something that puts you in a calmer place, and allows you to feel peaceful is helpful at any point in your life. I am also looking into Aromatherapy, but have yet to do some serious research. I know a lot of people swear by it, and I can see the potential in it. And lastly, I am simply trying to take care of me. Eat things that are good for me (not cheating on my gluten-free and dairy-free diet because then I am in a lot of pain and discomfort), get a full night of sleep, taking moments to enjoy, and talking to my boyfriend, my dad, my friend, my boyfriends mom when I am not at a good place mentally.

That’s all folks! Sorry for the length, hope you have an amazing weekend, and that the week is a breeze for you. ❤

Feeling Messy

Hi folks. We’re a week away from Christmas, and while I am 3/4 of the way ready, and about the same amount excited… the rest of me feels scattered all over the place. I think a good symbol of that is the three projects all in piles around me, and two started in other rooms… 

My grandpa on my mom’s side is celebrating his birthday today, and all I can think is how hard that would be. This close to Christmas, and his birthday, and this year the huge shadow cast on that. He just got in touch with my birth mom this past year or so too. We were texting yesterday, just checking in. He and I agreed that sleep isn’t the same anymore. I wake up most mornings sick feeling and worried, and to distract myself from all that I keep the day busy. 

I called my Dad this afternoon, on a dog walk around the block. He asked if I had talked to my brother lately, and I said I’d text him this afternoon. My brother is stressed about school, he’s a year and a half away from graduating, failing a course, and therefore discouraged to the point of not even going to classes. I don’t want to push or nag him, and I am actually concerned that he is depressed. There’s an alarming amount of teenagers suffering depression. High school pressure isn’t what it used to be. In grade nine we had universities coming in and pushing us to pick degrees and career paths. I remember all to well the overwhelming panic that set in that early. And god, I’m four years into university, half done a degree, and I still feel that way! So anyway, my brother opened up, explained he was confused and let me in a bit. So I sent back a long response, saying I understood, offering advice. He immediately shut down, and now I just feel worse about it.

It’s the same feeling with my sister, she texted me last Friday, letting me know she and our brother are going to a foster home. There’s nothing I can do, not much I can say, and that is so frustrating.

Negative feelings really are a little crack in the dam, and now I’m feeling even heavier. I suppose I’ll get some cookies going, just to keep my hands and mind busy. There’s just so much sadness this year. My family on my stepmom’s side is still reeling from my grandpa’s death in the fall. My friend texted me yesterday, saying a woman from work just lost her daughter in a car accident, the father had finally agreed to see the daughter after two weeks, and on their way back to the mom’s place they got into the accident. My friend was upset, and couldn’t imagine how the mother felt. It really puts a twist in the stomach, to come up on a holiday that is all about family, and be feeling the ache of lost family members.

I hope your families are safe and healthy, and you get to enjoy some cookies too! There’s a lot of snow out here, but it’s pretty to look at, and makes home feel that much cozier. And as my Dad said before we got off the phone: “Do make the most of your time here!”