Coping with the darkness

Duvet Day

My new friend Lillian left an amazing comment, and as part of that she asked: “When you are in your dark place how do you force yourself to even get out of bed?”

Today just happens to be one of those days. I feel the darkness hovering and today is the day when I have to drop everything and deal with this before it gets worse. So that’s step 1: Pay attention and try to head it off before it gets dangerous.

Step 2: Tell someone. Bear has always been super supportive of me, but he didn’t get how this disease worked for a long time. We’ve been working on educating him and me learning to speak my needs and it’s paid off for us. This morning all I had to say was “I’m feeling the darkness around the edges,” and he knew what that meant. He made plans to get home from work as soon as he could, he’s planning to make dinner, and this evening he’ll be working on cleaning the house, since chaos in my environment is always a big trigger for me. I’ll also be reaching out to my network of friends who can just remind me that there is love and friendship in this world.

Step 3: Make sure I’m up on my medications. Medicating is really hard, particularly for people who deal with depression. I really try to be rigorous with myself but if I’ve gotten lazy or lost track, I have to address it. I also have some medication I can use when I’m sliding into one or the other of my poles, so I’ll use that.

Step 4: Decide what the bare minimum is that I need to do today. When I’m depressed then even fixing lunch seems insurmountable. If I hold myself up to my usual standards than the weight of it all will bury me. Some days the bare minimum is to just make it to the end of the day. Today I’ve decided that I can get Atti to and from school, and keep us both fed and safe. And maybe, after I’ve rested I’ll take a shower. And for extra bonus points I might even color my hair. Every single other thing will just have to wait.

Step 5: Self-care. When I have a cold, I love to eat popsicles and drink hot tea. They make my throat feel better and clear out my sinuses. When I am depressed, I do puzzles. I cross stitch. I watch British comedy. They make my brain feel better. The stigma around mental illness is so enormous that most of us have internalized it. I’ve found that my answer to that is to pathologize it. Treat it like the disease that it is in every way. When I have a cold I feel no shame about staying in bed and drinking tea. So today I will shake off the shame, stay in bed, and laugh at British sitcoms until I feel better.

If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. Take care of yourselves, friends.

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Year of Pleasures: DANG DOG!

Dang dog!
How can I love something so much when it causes me so much trouble?

That necklace she’s wearing? It used to be sprinklers.

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Year of Pleasures: Friends with Benefits

Canning Tomatoes

It pays to be friends with farmers. My pal Dave planted me 65 tomato plants. I have been canning for two days and it’s barely August.

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Year of Pleasures: Hammock

Hammock
Our first purchase for the new house: A hammock. These should be prescribed for stress relief.

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Year of Pleasures: Love Note

Love Note

Woke up, went to the computer, and discovered this waiting for me. I know how to pick em.

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Year of Pleasures: New friends

Atti and his new friend
Moving is rough. And moving as often as we have, there have been times when I just did not have the energy to put myself out there again. This time I didn’t have to find it. Friends found me.

My first week at church I found an instant friend and we’ve been close to inseparable since. A friend from a facebook group found me and adopted me, and introduced me to even more friends from the facebook group, including one who lives super close and dropped everything to come and say hello. And our next door neighbor brings her coffee over on Saturday mornings for chats in the garden or has us over for barbecues. This is her grandson Gavin. Gavin has autism, and that feeling of being a little different, of needing to do things their own way, of making room for their needs, has made him and Atti fast friends.

You know Atti loves him when he shares his iphone games. In his world that is like sharing the last piece of chocolate cake.

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Year of Pleasures: Fresh Tomatoes

Summer's first Tomatoes
The last renters planted a couple of tomato plants and a zucchini, and I get to reap the benefits. There is nothing like vine ripened and sun warmed tomatoes.

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Year of Pleasures: Puzzle Therapy

Conceptis Puzzles

With the craziness of the last few months – commute, solo parenting, the move, general life upheaval – I am depleted. Luckily summer is a good time for depressives. If this was happening in the winter I’d be in trouble. But still, I have to be aware, so I’ve been trying my best to take things a little slowly. I’ve been reading a bunch and playing lots of dumb computer games. I love logic puzzles, so when I discovered Conceptis.com, I was overjoyed. There is so much there for puzzle nerds, and it’s now my go-to time killer when I need to spend some time just thinking or being still.

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Year of Pleasures: Gourmet snacks

Fancy nuts
One thing there is no shortage of in the central valley is wonderful things to eat. Even driving down the freeway, but especially on the backroads, you see farmstands everywhere you look. Now that I’m out of the valley and into the fancier foothills, the food gets fancier too. Flavored nuts in pretty packaging, jams and jellies and spreads, and those little churro nugget things – I’m still not entirely sure what they’re made from but boy howdy were they delicious. I get snacky when I write, and now I keep an assortment of these flavored almonds in a basket next to the computer.

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Year of Pleasures: Friendship Roses

Friendship Roses

I’ve been so deep down the unpacking rabbit hole that I’ve had very little time to check out my new neighborhood. But I think that’s probably OK for now. Before I move on I wanted to spend the rest of this week remembering the things I’ve loved about Modesto. There are already so many things I love about our new place that it would be easy for me to jump right in without looking back, but Modesto has been good to me, so I want to say goodbye.

These roses were technically my neighbors, but they managed to push their way through the fence and grow on my side of things. Which I thought was perfectly appropriate for yellow roses – a sign of friendship.

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