The balancing act

What a lot of people don’t realize, well those that don’t suffer with mental illness, is that every day is a balancing act. A little teeter one way or the other could have disastrous effects. And if you fall, you better hope to all hell that you have a good safety net to catch you.

I’ve asked people in the past how much time they spend every day managing their mood. Most of them just looked at me like I was nuts. Apparently very little. I swear, I spend most of my day managing my mood and emotions. If not managing, then monitoring. Mental check-ins every so often, gauging how and where my emotions are running, etc.

This is sometimes made hard by the fact that at work I have to remain upbeat, personable, and friendly, even if I’m everything and anything but those things. Some days it can be exhausting. Some days I pull it off with no problem. Others… it’s not quite so easy. Those are the days that I need to come home and do some R&R. Those are the days that I look forward to my days off.

It really is a battleground sometimes in my mindscape.

So how do you do it? We all wear masks, even we don’t realize that we’re wearing one. There are times when I can’t deal with what is going on in my head right that second, so I have to put in a “For Later” file to be dealt with when I get home, while I’m working out at the gym, hell even when I’m driving home.

I hate this.

On a side note, we’re watching Evil. And this show is horrible. I’m really not sure why we’re still watching.

In other news, the new routine is going well. I’m having a hell of a time with calorie counting right now because I want to snack on all of the things. And I mean ALL OF THE THINGS.

Keeping up with the Joneses

I’ve had an Erin Condren planner for about six months. I love it. It keeps me organized, breaks up everything I have to do during the week, and keeps my life together.

But.

I just discovered the world of washi tape, stickers, and all of the cool things that you can put into your planner to jazz it up and make it more yours. I’m trying not to go overboard, but I want all of the things.

I joined a Facebook group about the planners, and I have to wonder, seeing some of the posts people are making how much is just doing what everyone else is doing? I mean, some of these women change the look of the planner entirely until it looks like it’s almost unusable for the purpose of, you know, planning. Like, who can put together the most colorful/arful/whateverful layouts and mods.

These things aren’t cheap – why would you spend all of that money and then change so much of it? I don’t know. I don’t get it. Sometimes it just seems like people are out to outdo each other. I know this group very much exists in a vacuum (and don’t get me wrong, there’s some great ideas that I’ve started to incorporate in my own style), and that there’s thousands of people that use these things in their base form, but some of this seems absolutely insane.

Any way. I found out today that my placement is most likely going to be in the store where I already am. I’m happy about it – I already know the people, I know how the store and my department will function, and I’ll have a partner. All good things. And the commute doesn’t suck. Another bonus.

My mood this week seems to have bounced back from the “depression with phlegm” episode. I still tire easily, but I’m getting my feet back beneath me. It’s been a good week, so far. Work is going well, I’ve been getting stuff done around the house, and I’ve made the pledge that I’m going to start at the gym next week. I signed up for a New Member Orientation tomorrow before work so I can get the lay of the land.

Right now I’m feeling highly motivated – to get the house in order, to get our finances in order, to lose weight, to get organized, basically to get my life together. I don’t want this feeling to end. I see good things on the horizon, if only I can pull everything off. I’ve got a lot of balls in the air, but I’m feeling confident. I just need to start feeling 100% again.

New Year. New Me. Let’s fucking do this.

It's like depression, but with phlegm.

So I had the flu. Had it for about a week and a half, and it was miserable. Of course, I didn’t realize it was the flu until halfway through, so I continued to work through it all. That was a bad move. I told Mike one day when he asked how I was feeling that it was like depression but with phlegm. I was congested, coughing, but in a lot of ways felt like I feel when I’m depressed – no energy, no motivation, the constant desire to take a nap, and there was definitely a day where I literally could not imagine ever feeling better, I felt so bad.

But I appear to be on the mend, I still have a lot of garbage in my lungs so my doctor gave me two inhalers to try to break it up and get it out. But I’m still tired. I get tired very easily. Most of the day I just want to sit down or take a nap.

Needless to say the flu has put the kibosh on a number of my plans for the New Year. Going to the gym has been out. I even still need to go and pick up my key fob and get a tour. I’m hoping by next week I can start going for easy workouts, maybe just a slow walk on the treadmill. This week I’m going to start doing some yoga at home just to get moving again.

I’m currently sitting on the couch with my feet up trying to get the motivation to go ice some cookies so I can distribute them to friends, family, and people that provide services for us.

I really just want to take a nap.

(On the upside, I’ve lost almost 2 pounds so far this month, so that’s good!)

I'm sick and can't sleep

Hello fellow insomniacs. It appears that I have the flu. This sucks. I got the shot, but apparently the strain that’s going around isn’t represented heavily in the vaccine this year. Wonderful.

I don’t think I’ve been sick, really, in about four years – back to when I had a kidney infection that landed me in the hospital. I had forgotten how much this sucks. I’m exhausted, I ache everywhere, and I generally feel like crap. I’ve been sick since Friday with no end in sight. I’m still muddling through to the best of my ability – going to work, trying to get stuff done around the house, etc., but it’s hard because all I want to do after I do the simplest task is take a nap.

I succumbed to that desire today. What was supposed to be a 1-1.5 hour snooze turned into a 4 hour coma. Which, of course, means that I now cannot sleep. I have to be at work at 8, and it’s already 12:30. I tried to go to bed at 9:30 but I just tossed and turned, couldn’t get comfortable, and wide awake. Finally around 11 I got up, got the kitchen and living room cleaned up, got the checkbook balanced, got some stuff done in my planner, read a bit, all while listening to podcasts. I just want to go to sleep.

I was thinking about this today, though. Being sick feels a lot like being depressed, except with congestion and coughing. Think about it – no energy to do anything, general malaise, feeling down and like crap, sleep screwed up, little to no motivation, and the overwhelming desire to be a blob on the couch while watching The West Wing.

I’ve still been taking my meds as usual, and I know this isn’t a real depression, but this really sucks. It’s depression with phlegm.

I actually looked in the mirror today. My skin has no color, my eyes are kind of glassy – I kind of look like a zombie. It’s not a good look.

To everyone out there dealing with the flu – I feel you bro. We’ll get through this together.

I’m going to go find a cat to cuddle and try to get some sleep on the couch.

New year, new you and all that jazz

I’m not a big fan of resolutions. At least not in the way that most people associate with New Years. Saying “I want to lose 40 pounds” is all well and good, but how are you going to do it. I think that making a plan and having it in place before the 1st is the only way you’re really going to succeed.

And I’m not really a fan of the word “resolutions.” I prefer goals. Goals are attainable. A resolution, to me, sounds like something that’s talked about in the House of Lords.

So let’s talk about some of my goals. (And for the first time in three years “find a new job” is not on them. Score.)

  1. Lose 40-45 pounds through diet and exercise.
    This isn’t going to be easy. I lost 25 last year, and then gained 8 back in the months since starting the new job just because I couldn’t figure out how to balance my time to do things like workout and meal prep. There was always something in my field of vision that seemed to require my attention. And to be fair, a lot of the time I was just too stinking tired. So I’m recommitting to tracking what I eat/portion control using the LoseIt app, and working out both at home and I joined a gym that just opened. At home, I like the workouts by The Body Project on YouTube. They have their own site that you can join and pay for more videos, but I’ve found the ones on YouTube are more than sufficient for me. They get me moving and sweating, and I’m that glorious just-worked-out-sore in the morning.
  2. Save at least $1000.
    This is going to mean being frugal. I’ve already signed up for a program through my bank that if you use your debit card however times in a day on a specific account, they transfer that same number from that account to the savings. I’ve also set up direct deposit of $25 every week when I get paid into the savings account. I am choosing not to count my personal portfolio or IRA through Stash as part of this savings goal. Those are longer term projects. This $1000 is just to have a cushion.
  3. Run a 5k, even if it’s on a treadmill.
    I used to run in high school. I mean really run. I feel like this would give me a great cardio burn in terms of training as well as giving me a solid goal to shoot for. I’m going to use the C25k (Couch to 5k) app to help me in this endeavor. Ultimately, I’d like to do something like the Tough Mudder this summer, but I don’t know if I’m going to be totally ready for something like that. I’m trying to be realistic, here.
  4. Blog consistently.
    Up until recently I’ve been managing to do this. But up until recently, it seemed there was always something on my mind that I wouldn’t mind committing to paper, even if it was just to help me through my thoughts. I’m going to be looking at other blogs and see what they’re writing about for inspiration. So far this blog has been very heavily about my mental health, and it will stay that at it’s core, but I want to branch out and talk about books that I’m reading, things that I’ve seen in the news, the progress on these goals, etc. I’ve set a task on a habit tracker I use called Productive (too bad this isn’t a sponsored post – I’ve mentioned, what, three apps already?). It will remind me to update three times a week.
  5. Read at least 30 books.
    I managed 34 last year, and I think I can do at least that. This is easily attainable so long as I manage my time. I’ve found that if I primarily read on my lunch break I can move pretty quickly through books, but I don’t know with this new position how much of a “lunch break” I’m going to get rather than more of a working lunch. So this is going to mean carving out some time in the mornings or evenings when I’m not working, as well as days off. I’m shooting for at least a half an hour 5 times a week (thank you, again, Productive). Sometimes this means I’m going to have to make the hard choice and put down Reddit and pick up a book, but this is important enough to me to sacrifice mindless scrolling.
  6. Take time to relax
    This is going to be hard. I’m not a sit and relax kind of person. So I sat down and thought about it – what relaxes me? Reading! Yes, that does it. Crocheting! Cross-stitching! Baking! Gardening! Getting caught up on movies/shows! Skin care! Ok, maybe this won’t be that hard.
  7. Take the certification exam for the Six Sigma Green Belt.
    The stupid prep book has been sitting under the coffee table for six months. It’s time I do something about it. I have the educational background, and this could be a big feather in the cap for career progression. Time to get serious and do it.
  8. Get and stay organized.
    I tend to be organized. I can be very type A about it, to be honest. And by that I mean aggressive. But I’m retaking that bull by the horns this year. I bought an 18 month Erin Condren Life Planner last July and have been keeping track of schedules and to do lists and what not, but I haven’t been utilizing it to it’s fullest potential. So I spent a few evening last week making trackers, charts, lists, etc. to help keep me on track and organized. I’m still playing with some ways to do things in the meat of the pages, but that’s going to be trial and error until I find something I like and that works. Another thing I did this week was buy a nice 4-tier wire cart from Walmart to keep my crocheting stuff, my cross-stitch stuff, my study books for the Six Sigma exam, and all of my stationary stuff (mostly for the planner, if we’re being honest), to get everything off of the coffee table and couch and into something that I can easily put away if company is coming over, but helps keep everything together. I plan on tackling the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the laundry room, the bonus room in the basement, and the garage, in that order over the next few months. I want to get everything cleaned up, put everything in a specific place and get this house the hell in order. Our longer than expected but still temporary roommate should be moving out this year, so I’ll be utilizing the space in his closet to keep everything in the upstairs tidy.

So that’s it. My year in advance. I’m hoping things like actually utilizing all of the functionality of this planner will help keep me on track for a lot of things. Making visuals that show how much weight I’ve lost, how much money I’ve saved, what books I’ve read, etc. will help keep me motivated.

I’ve got this.

So what are your plans for the new year?

Of course, things were going so well

I FUCKING HATE IRRITABILITY! And to make matters worse, I’m irritable that I’m irritable. It’s like a never ending cycle.

This morning was fine. Had a nice lunch. And then, we went to Walmart. Two Saturdays before Christmas and we had to go to Walmart. I hate Walmart on a Saturday to begin with. It’s too people-y. Today was even worse. The irritability spiked somewhere in dairy, which is also about the time I realized that, not only did I not take my meds this morning, but also that it would be too late to take them by the time I got home.

And now I’m crashing. God damn it. I hate feeling like this. Things were going so well.

I’m hoping this is just a blip. Please, let this be a blip. Just a bad day. I can’t afford for it to be any more than that. I don’t want to go through this. Not now. Not when everything was starting to come together.

I really don't have anything to say today

I’m drawing a blank tonight. There’s nothing that springs to mind that I want to write about, or even to get off of my chest.

A girl I used to work with asked me to be a reference for her. That was kind of flattering. But I also realize that she can’t ask anyone she currently works with as that company has the bad habit of firing people that they hear are looking for a new job. I hope she gets it. She’s a good kid, and has worked hard.

A friend of mine had a baby recently, and she contacted me the other day about rehoming her 4 cats because she doesn’t have time for them and she’s scared to have them around the baby. Let’s be honest, it’s probably more of part B and less of part A. I’m trying really hard not to judge her. I’m sure it’s a tough spot to be in. But I’m a big believer that adopting a pet is just like getting married – for better or worse. You figure out a way to make it work when times get tough. You don’t just… give up. I’m trying so hard not to judge, but I’m disappointed. Very disappointed.

Mike surprised me with an early Christmas present and bought me a new Apple Watch. I had been rocking the series 2 for the last three and a half years, and it was on it’s last leg – didn’t hold a charge, I had to turn off all of the notifications to try to save what little battery I had. It pretty much told time, and that was it. When it had a charge, that is. I swear, it spent more time in Power Saving Mode than anything else. So he decided to use his bonus to upgrade me to a fancy, new Series 5. I feel so fancy. And all of my notifications are back. I’m excited.

I’ve… got nothing else.

I’m still just plugging along as best as I can. Is this stability?

The beauty of melatonin

My sleep sucks. There’s no other way to describe it. I wake up in the middle of the night, I sleep through my alarm to the very last second I can because I wake up exhausted, I have a hard time falling asleep, etc. I’ve had these melatonin gummies for months now, always scared to take them because I worry I won’t wake up on time in the morning.

I started taking them this week because I’m downright exhausted all day and my quality of sleep is absolutely awful.

I’m getting the best sleep I have in years. I’m falling asleep quickly, sleeping through the night, and actually waking up before my alarm goes off. I’m waking up a little groggy, but once I get going I feel much better than I have in a long time.

Makes me wonder why I waited so long to do this.

Oh yes. The fear and anxiety.

I think the key is going to be getting to bed early when I have to be up early (something I do any way) and really letting myself get a full 7-8 hours.

But I was thinking about it this morning – I was letting my anxiety keep me from a good night’s sleep. So my train of thought went to what else does my anxiety keep me from doing?

I have a list:

  1. going to parties
  2. going new places
  3. trying new things
  4. meeting new people
  5. starting a new job (I’m convinced that part of the reason it took so long for me to find a new job was unintentional self-sabotage – applying with the wrong resume, making mistakes on the resume, unintelligible cover letters, flubs on phone interviews, etc.)

I have a lot of anxiety about a lot of things. Really thinking about it, there’s not a lot of things that I don’t have anxiety about.

In my professional life my anxiety keeps telling me that I can’t do it, I’m not cut out for it, I’m going to fail. In my personal life it’s you have no friends, your relationships are going to fail, you’re going to be alone.

Reading that last paragraph I realized that I think and write about my anxiety as a separate part of me. Like it’s not really part of me, but rather someone or something else inside of my head.

But anyway, all of this anxiety eventually leads to depression. Which eventually kicks back to a mixed or hypomanic episode.

I hate mental illness. It’s like an unending game of Russian Roulette. Which chamber has the bullet? How many chambers are there – 2 or 15? What kind of bullet does the chamber have in it – anxiety, depression, mixed, hypomanic? Do I have to shoot myself in the head? Can I try it in foot, this time, maybe?

Ugh.

I hate that this is something that so many of us have to deal with. I hate that so much of our lives is spent monitoring our moods, feelings, thoughts, etc. just waiting for one errant thought or action to send the whole house of cards tumbling down. I hate that the space inside of my head is so disorderly that I can’t even imagine a way to organize it. The funny part of that is that I’m typically so hyperorganized and together.

Well, I’m going to go clean the oven because that’s something I can control.

And now, I can't sleep

I have a training class for work tomorrow. Have to be up early, on the other side of town. So I went to bed early – took a melatonin and settled in for a nice sleep.

Almost exactly an hour after I fell asleep I woke up in an absolute panic. I was supposed to do an online e-learning course sometime this week before the class. I was convinced that I hadn’t done it.

So, heart racing, I flew out to the living room, booted up my laptop, went online to the portal… only to discover that I did the class on Sunday.

And now, I can’t sleep.

My heart is racing, my breathing heavy. I tried to lay back down and go back to sleep but now I’m too keyed up.

I fucking hate anxiety.

I really wanted to get a good night’s sleep in. I felt like crap today – acid reflux can be a real pain in the ass – so I wanted to be well rested for tomorrow. Sitting in a classroom for 8 hours on a Saturday is not my idea of a good time. As it is, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow.

I feel like, though, there’s something to explore here.

People don’t realize the effects that anxiety can have. I mean, it’s not like you get anxious and then immediately get over it. It takes time to calm down and regroup, even if it isn’t a full-on anxiety attack. So while I’m writing this I’m doing deep breathing exercises to bring my heart rate down and relax.

But anyway, I digress.

Anxiety isn’t just a mental problem. Sure, it all starts in your head when those pesky little neurotransmitters get all wonky. Your thoughts start to get away from you. But then your heart starts to race, your breathing becomes short and labored. You start to sweat. Your legs get restless. Your fingers get tingly and numb. It gets to be uncomfortable to be in your own skin. And sometimes, all of these symptoms get totally out of control and you have a panic attack. But sometimes… sometimes these things just linger for an indeterminate amount of time.

So that’s where I am. Trying to calm my racing heart, to cool off, to calm my legs down. At least I didn’t start to sweat.

Well, I think I’m calm enough to try to get some sleep. Wish me luck.

*luck*

How to tame the savage anxiety

There’s a corporate visit today at work, so it fell to me last night to make sure everything got done. I did what I could and then delegated the last few things to the night crew. I woke up at 4 in the morning and seriously considered throwing on jeans and driving up to the store to make sure everything was done. I didn’t. I managed to convince myself that I needed to trust my employees that everything got done and everything was fine. It was hard.

I generally don’t trust other people to do what they either say they will or even what they’re supposed to do. Taking the power out of my hands and giving it to someone else was terrifying. I’m still not entirely convinced I’m going to be fired.

This is the part of anxiety that sucks. That little voice that you can’t shut up. That nagging fear in the back of your head.

But I managed to shut it up. So a small victory.

To be honest? I’m still anxious about it. And I probably will be until I go back later in the week. I haven’t gotten any phone calls/texts/emails about it so I’m assuming everything is fine?

I hope it is, at least.