A big question

Do I want to continue this blog? Is it helping me? Is it helping anyone? Do I have a purpose in even sitting down a few times a week and writing this? Does anyone even care?

I mean, if this is just for me then I can easily open up a word document and write what’s on my mind. I’m really just trying to find a point to this whole exercise. Maybe at one time it had a point, but has that point run its course?

Is this depression? (I don’t think so; I feel fine.)

And here’s a question – I cancelled my autopay for my domain name and WordPress subscription. Does that mean this whole blog will go away when it expires?

Did I just make the decision for myself?

Back in the saddle again

I reset myself. I got myself back and track and on the road to accomplish my goals. I’ve managed to stick to my lists, eat right, workout, expand my horizons, all that jazz.

One thing I’m really struggling with right now is a friend of mine is going through a REALLY hard time in his life. And I seem to be his therapist. It’s not that I mind – I don’t, but these phone calls can be absolutely exhausting. It’s not that I don’t want to be there or even mind, but I don’t know how to help him other than to listen and try to give positive advice.

He refuses to go see a therapist – and I mean REFUSES. Won’t even consider it as an option. Don’t get me wrong – I get it. Therapy sucks. But it also can be so helpful to work through everything that’s going on in a safe space with someone who is actually trained to help you. I can only do so much. But you can’t force someone that doesn’t want to go. As much as I’d like to.

I guess I just don’t know how to help him, really. I’ve often been a sounding board or shoulder to cry on for many friends, but I’ve never dealt with issues of this magnitude. Hell, I’m actually considering going to see my therapist just to figure out how to deal with this. (This really isn’t a bad idea, deductible aside. I have the feeling that I’m going to need some support through this. As soon as I get my schedule for next week I might do this. Probably a good idea.)

Does anyone have any advice for situations like this? I just want to help, but I don’t know how.

In other news, a bunch of us are going to an escape room tomorrow after we all get off of work. We did one at this same place last summer for my birthday and had a KILLER time, even though we didn’t quite solve the puzzle. So we’re doing a different room this time. Mostly the same group with one addition that couldn’t come last time. I’m sure it’ll be a banger of a good time. I need a night of fun after dealing with all of this.

A little off of the rails

Last week got a little out of control between diet, exercise, and just getting things done. I don’t know what happened. I totally lost motivation half way through the week. So today was a reset. Recommit to all of it. And get it done.

So I went to the gym, ate right, got The List done, and now I’m relaxing on the couch.

Surprisingly my mood didn’t go too off of the rails. I felt very scattered, a little out of sorts, but not… blipping. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; everyone goes through times like that. Maybe it was the change in the weather – it was finally cold around here. It’s been pretty mild so far this year, and I’ve noticed over the years that my mood is definitely influenced by the weather. That being said, we’re finally in the state of days getting noticeably longer. Thank goodness. I’m over the 15 hours of darkness every day.

I have a confession. I’m avoiding my therapist. Not for reasons you might think. Until I meet my deductible appointments with him are $100 a pop. My shrink is the same thing, but I see him a lot less often. I can’t stomach a $100 bill for 45 minutes of therapy twice a month. Maybe that’s just me. Especially because their website charges a $4 surcharge for online payments, and they won’t let me build up a few sessions and pay them off at once. I have to pay for each session one at a time. Needless to say, I’m annoyed. So yeah, I’m avoiding him like the plague right now.

Another gripe – I can’t find a place where I can see how much that I’ve spent towards my deductible on my health plan’s website. That’s bloody irritating. Why can’t I see this information???? Ugh.

So that’s it for now. After a brief hiatus and a few crazy days. You can’t get rid of me that easily.

It’s the same, but different

I was thinking today about mental illness and how it affects each of us differently. My bipolar isn’t the same as Sue. Andy’s anxiety isn’t the same as Barb’s. And so on, and so on.

And it’s our experiences with our illness that makes us who we are.

The constant pressure of being better, doing better, combined with the fact that it wasn’t treated, really, until the last few years turned me into the quivering ball of anxiety that I am today. I’m like Jell-o that constantly shakes.

But anyway.

It’s interesting how it changes each of us, in so many ways. Depression, anxiety, bipolar… they all shape who we are. Even if it doesn’t define us, it has molded us. We are who we are today because of the struggles we’ve had with mental illness. Are there things that I would change? Yes. Absolutely. It’s exhausting to deal with it day in and day out. The constant headache and stress of monitoring your mood, trying to sooth your anxiety, try to hold it all together… it can be a bit much.

In a lot of ways that’s what this blog is really about. My struggles with mental illness and how I navigate the murky waters of my life. Sometimes I feel like I’m screaming into the universe, hoping that someone hears, and maybe even answers in response.

I don’t know. I’m feeling introspective but I can’t find the words to put my thoughts onto paper.

Signing off.

I finally got the letter

It’s official, it’s done. I finally got the offer letter.

Hallelujah, praise the FSM. No more of this shuttling from store to store. I now have the ability to rely on where I’m going to be from week to week.

The whole process has been very anxiety-laden. I was told that all of this was supposed to happen a month ago. But the finality doesn’t mean that things are going to be easy.

I’m going to a non-traditional store, which means that there’s a lot of things that are done differently from the way I learned. It also means that there’s a lot of extra things I have to do and learn. And I really have to hit the ground running. I’m hoping to get some quality one-on-one time with my GM next week and really find out what my responsibilities are, what I’m in charge of, and what I need to do every day. I’m going to say it – this is going to be hard. But I can do it. I know I can. Mike has faith in me. My family has faith in me. And my friends are great at pumping me up whether it’s job related, or going to the gym, or whatever I need. I really have an amazing support system.

Someone asked me recently how I managed my anxiety day to day. While I’m not on a typical anti-anxiety med, the Zyprexa really takes an edge off of things. But there isn’t a magic pill that makes anxiety go away entirely. It just makes it easier so all of the things that I have in my mental health tool box can work.

One of the first things that I ask myself is: is this something really to be anxious about? Is this something that a “normal” person would be anxious about? Or am I blowing things out of proportion?

Next: are these rational thoughts? Are my thoughts in reaction to the situation normal? Or are they skewed by negative thinking? For example: you forget to do something. Your boss tells you it’s totally fine, but you immediately think “do I need to look for a new job? Am I going to be fired?” Those aren’t normal thoughts that should follow what was ultimately a positive conversation and a teaching moment. There is no indication that you’re in trouble. But yet, those thoughts come.

And yes, sometimes they reveal legitimate worries. But more often than not, you have to recognize that these thoughts aren’t true. They aren’t real. And they have no power.

Fuck anxiety. It’s the asshole that lives inside of your brain, telling you things that are wrong. Making you worry. Making you shake. Making you believe things that aren’t true. Impacting your life in a grossly negative fashion.

I’m trying to say that I’m done with all of that. I’m using everything I can – twisting the thought and asking myself why I believe that, asking if that thought makes sense or if it is an overreaction, asking if I truly believe that or is that just what the negative thought pattern is trying to make me believe.

You have to take control back. You have to learn to minimize those thoughts – acknowledge them, yes, but understand that they don’t represent reality.

I try, every day. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but the important part is that I try. And tomorrow, I will fight another day.

Blank screen

I’ve literally sat here for the past five minutes staring at the blank screen. But I literally have nothing to say. There’s nothing in my head that wants to come out.

So in that case, I wanted to wish everyone a happy Monday, hope everyone survived the Super Bowl. I’m going to take the beet root off of my face and finish watching Doctor Who.

Currently, er… formerly reading

I’ve managed to blow through 4 books so far this year. I’m a pretty avid reader, but this is impressive, even for me. My goal for the year is 30, so I’m a little ahead of schedule (which is good as my current book Don’t Panic by Neil Gaiman, while good, is slow reading).

So to start off the year I finished Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. I actually started this book last November, but I got behind and it was a loan from Libby, so I only got about 40-50 pages in before it was returned. I was able to reborrow it and finish it. I highly enjoyed it. It’s the fictionalized account of Zelda Fitzgerald and her legendary marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald. They had a tumultuous relationship, at best. It was interesting to see the story, fictionalization as it was, from her point of view. A must read for anyone interested in writers in the early 20th century. In many cases it reads as a who’s who of the 1920/30s literary scene.

Up next was Mind Hunter by John Douglas. I like the show, so I figured the book would be an interesting companion piece – the real story straight from the guy that lived it. There was a ton of information about the development of profiling, especially the early days. Some of what’s in the book is in the show, but as a highly fictionalized version. It was interesting to see the truth behind the Hollywood. Anyone with a passing interest in criminal psychology, profiling, or even the Netflix show should read it.

Third read this year was Letters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I enjoyed his last book, and I’ve enjoyed is specials/podcasts/appearances/etc., so I figured what the heck. This book is a compilation of letters that have been written to him and his responses, copies of his opEds, etc. Seeing his thoughts on the page in such a candid form was interesting and gives an interesting look into the way he thinks. His responses to the letters about religion, God, ethics, flat Earth, etc. are especially eye-opening. He rebutts these beliefs and is able to shut them down succinctly.

Lastly, there was Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I read the first three books in the Red Rising series a few years back, but I never read the fourth, and then the fifth came out last year. I could remember only vague things from the first three so I figured I’d go back and read the first three before tackling books four and five. It was reading this book that made me remember how much I loved this series and why. It’s got so many layers to it. Plots within plots within intricacies. Sci-fi. Fantasy. There’s an slight reminder of A Game of Thrones. It’s a great series, and I’m looking forward to getting to the next three books over the next year. I’ve got no timeline to when I want to have them done, but I have the feeling book six is going to be out sooner rather than later and I’d like to be caught up.

I’m currently reading Don’t Panic by Neil Gaiman which is a biography of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in all it’s iterations. It’s a slow read because of how much story there is to impart, but it’s fantastic. Anyone that’s a fan of Mr. Adams should definitely pick it up, borrow it from the library, etc. It’s got a lot of Gaiman’s humor with a twist of Adams’s. I’m enjoying it immensely.

So that brings us current on my reading situation. I’ve got a few other books that I’m picking at. They’re humongous so I’m really not seriously reading them. I’ll pick one up every so often and read 20-30 pages, but I’m not really in the mood to sit down and read something that big. Notably Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I’m hoping to hit the first Wheel of Time book this year, but we’ll see. Do I really want to start a fourteen book series where each book is 600+ pages? That just sounds like a lot. And I don’t know that I have the mental fortitude to dive into something like that.

Making progress

Went to the gym for the fourth time today after work. It was a tough one, but I did it. And then I came home and ate hot dogs (and no, I’m not kidding). I cheated a little today and went 50cal over my budget for the day, but I’ve been good all week. And 50cal isn’t all that much. I think I’ve got myself planned for Thursday to jump on the scale. We’ll see if there’s any progress.

Work dragged today. When I was doing the schedule first thing in the morning and in the late afternoon when I was doing paperwork it wasn’t too bad. But man, those middle hours dragged on forever. It was actually painful to be at work. I hate days like this. It’s so hard to stay motivated and focused when you want to be anywhere but where you are. On the upside, I’m now halfway through my 8 day stretch. Too bad the hardest part (Monday into Tuesday) is going to be the worst as I close-open between those two days.

As of right now my transfer for next week is still on. But tomorrow is Monday, so who the hell knows what’s going to happen over the next four days. For all I know I’ll be going to Kentucky by Thursday. (For the record, this is not a possibility, but it sure as hell feels like it could be, at this point. I just want to know where I’m going to be, without the Wednesday Hail Mary of “we’re just going to give you a schedule here since we haven’t heard anything else.” I’m over it. I don’t even care where I go or if I stay where I am. I just want some permanence so I can go back to planning my life and having some sense of being grounded and stable. Honestly? With all of this going on, I can’t believe that I haven’t had any kind of even mini-episode. Thank God for meds, I guess. I haven’t even seen my therapist since November, or my shrink since December. For me, this is a miracle. With all of the uncertainty and doubt, the stress of not knowing what’s happening, I’ve managed to stay stable. I’ve managed to stay sane. Even with quitting smoking and going back to vaping, changing my diet, etc.

It’s been a hell of a year so far, filled with ups, downs, and even some sideways, and there’s still 11 months and 5 days left.

Major irritations, but I kept my cool

I started off this morning with my store manager telling me that I’ve finally been assigned a store, and unfortunately it wasn’t that one. I’d start at the new store on Sunday.

Cool.

About an hour later, it was off. And then it was back on. And off. And then on, but I’ll start the week of the 2nd rather than this Sunday. You get the picture. This went on all. damn. day.

But I kept my cool. Despite my annoyance, I kept my cool and generally didn’t let it show. There was one customer that tried my patience, but I didn’t snap, I wasn’t rude. Maybe a bit short, but I kept it together. Considering I’m very prone to irritability, this was huge.

I’m proud of myself.

I also went to the gym today. I didn’t need a pep talk to go in, I just got there, went in, and did it. And then I came home and get everything on my list done, despite my desire to come home and sit on my butt and watch SVU.

A lot of small victories today.

Planning

Last year we talked about building a raised garden bed to grow vegetables this year. We kind of forgot about it over the intervening months, but it came up this morning, and I think we’re still going to do it.

We’ve watched some YouTube videos on how to actually build the bed, and have tentatively checked out prices for lumber and supplies. I’ve been researching when to start plants inside, when they should be transplanted, etc.

I’m excited.

Last year I really discovered my love of gardening. I designed our flower beds outside, got everything planted, and tended to them all year. Getting outside with my hands in the dirt is something I really enjoyed, it turned out.

And this year I’m planning on adding more.

But right now I’m enjoying the planning process and trying to figure out what we want to plant in the raised bed, and what, if anything, I want to add to the flower beds. I want to find a magnolia tree to plant next to the patio this summer. I love those trees. They’re the most beautiful trees in the spring, and when I see them it makes me happy. Happy that winter is over, happy that nicer weather is on the way, happy it’s spring, and happy that something so beautiful is still in the world.

In the flower beds I know that most of the plants should come back. There is one (the rhododendron), that I’m not sure about. It didn’t do well last year and I ended up transplanting it somewhere else, so I’m not sure how it’s going to do. If I lose it, that’s fine. I’ll be disappointed, but they’re kind of fussy about planting conditions and our soil kind of sucks. I’m just hoping everything else returns. I liked everything I planted last year.

I did find last year that getting outside and gardening helped my mood – it helped sooth my emotions, and getting outside was wonderful. I’m really looking forward to that this year.

Anyone have any suggestions on what to plant?