It’s Been A Good Day

Song: Theme from Knight Rider, by Stu Phillips and Glen A. Larson

Mood: 6.5

I woke up twice last night from nightmares but was able to get back to sleep. The second one was particularly bad but fortunately I was able to calm down and relax without needing any medication.

This morning I drove to the clinic to get my blood drawn for a test. Not a big deal, and it seems that getting there at about 11AM is much better than arriving when they open – I was in and out in less than half an hour. After I got out I drove around for a little while before heading home. I must admit, even though it’s much more dangerous, I think I’m more comfortable riding the motorcycle than I am driving the truck. I’m not sure why – it’s just a feeling in my stomach.

Some packages arrived, too. A new battery for my netbook, a phone holder for the truck, and the triops have arrived! I did a bit more reading and realized that it would probably be a bad idea to have both the shrimp and the triops in the same tank so this evening J and I moved the shrimp into the main aquarium. Probably a good thing, too – there’s more algae in there right now than the shrimp there could eat, so adding two more will probably be a good thing.

I think I’m going to start the triops tomorrow morning. It’ll be a good little project to set everything up. Keep me busy for a while.

J took me to my Dr W appointment this afternoon and it went quite well. We arrived pretty early so we each bought a drink and had a good chat in the cafeteria before going to Dr W’s office. The appointment was fine – Dr W told me to stop thinking and worrying about work. He is on the same page as pretty much everyone I’ve talked to about this stuff – I can not return to my old job. I just can’t do it. I don’t even think I can return to the same building. I don’t know how far away I am from working again, but I hope it’s not too long.

This evening, J and I had a really good chicken Caesar salad for supper. Normally I’m not big on salads (although my mother-in-law makes really good ones) but J and I are trying to fit more of them into our dinner rotation. Healthy body, healthy mind, right?

Stay safe!

Today’s Been Okay

Song: “Eastbound and Down” by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Mood: 6

Today’s been an okay day. Nothing particularly good happened; nothing particularly bad happened. I got a few things done around the house and did something I haven’t done for the first time in ages – watch TV. We’ve only got an antenna so we get four channels, but I thought what the heck, daytime television must be better than the last time I watched it, right? After about twenty minutes I remembered why we got rid of cable and bought an antenna. Unless I want to watch the news, TV is pretty boring. I guess that’s also why J and I just buy the DVD sets of shows that we’ve heard good things about or see on the Roku.

After that, I did some laundry (which was more interesting than what was on TV) and spent some time writing. I was able to concentrate pretty well and it felt good to write today. I also signed J and I up for an online grocery shopping service where you shop online and then show up at the store and it’s all bagged up and ready to go. I think it’s going to work out well because then I can do the “shopping” and J can pick it up on her way home from work.

My triop eggs have shipped and should be arriving tomorrow. I’m trying to figure out whether I can grow them in my little aquarium with the cleaner shrimp or if someone is going to get eaten. If that’s the case, I’ll just move the cleaner shrimp into the main tank in the living room and grow the triops in my little tank. I’m looking forward to watching them grow and see how they behave.

It’s getting quite a bit warmer outside now and is supposed to stay like that for a while. I would like to make some bread but I think I’ll wait until we get a bit of a cool spell so I’m not heating up the house with the oven. I enjoy making bread by hand – I find it relaxing and gratifying when things turn out well.

Other than that, not a lot is going on. J and I are going to watch some more Community shortly. What a good show.

Stay Safe!

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was pick up the phone and call a psychologist’s office and tell them I needed to talk to someone. J had been suggesting it for a couple of years, and even when I was in free-fall it was difficult to accept that I needed help.

Another really difficult thing was talking to my GP and telling him that I was in trouble and needed help.

I’d waited too long, though, and ended up in the hospital for three months after nearly ending it all. While I was there, I felt very guilty about asking the nurses or Dr W for anything. You know what happened? Every single one of the health care professionals I dealt with told me to not be afraid to ask if I needed anything, and that’s why they were there. One of the nurses even helped teach me that it was okay to be a little assertive if there was something I needed.

I often felt guilty about taking up a space in the ward, too. The answer I would always get back was that I deserved to be there just as much as anyone else and if they thought I was okay to go home, they’d kick me out. I was there because I needed to be there.

It took me a long time to accept that, but it’s true, and if it’s true for me, it’s true for you, too. If you’re having troubles, go ahead and ask someone for help. There are people out there who want to help you. You don’t have to face your problems alone.

Let me repeat that – YOU DON’T HAVE TO FACE YOUR PROBLEMS ALONE. It can seem daunting, but all you need to do is tell someone that you need help. Talk to your doctor, go to your local emergency room, call your local mental health crisis line – just reach out a little bit and people will help you.

If I broke my leg, would I call someone? You bet I would. Mental illness shouldn’t be any different and should be treated as seriously as a broken leg or an infection.

So, if you’re having a really tough time, please pick up the phone and call someone. Start getting the help you need and deserve.

Stay safe!

Not Too Bad

Song: “Sweet Home Chicago” by the Blues Brothers

Mood: 6

I didn’t sleep that well last night. I woke up a couple of times because my back was sore. I think it’s sore because with my CPAP machine, I can sleep on my back. I never used to be able to do that and I think I’m spending a lot of time sleeping that way. I’m not used to it, so my back gets irritated.

I think.

Anyway, today wasn’t one of my best days, but it was far from the worst. I did some laundry, spent a little time writing, listened to some records, and did a lot of thinking. I’m trying to figure out where I’m at and how close to returning to work I am. I can confidently say that I’m not ready yet and I’m scared to go back. There’s no way I can return to my old job – I’ll just end up in the hospital again (or worse). I don’t even think I can work in the same field. The problem is, I have no idea about what kind of accommodations my employer can or will make, and I’m afraid to ask.

I also wish there was a sign or light or something that could tell me exactly how far I still need to go. I’ve been off work for about fifteen months and just thinking about this stuff still makes my stomach fill up with butterflies. Most of the time I can’t even see myself being able to drive to work, much less do anything productive. Baby steps, I guess. Lots of baby steps.

I’m getting a little tired of baby steps for everything. I want to be well. I don’t want to be stuck at home. I want to be a productive person again. I want to go out to restaurants with J and hang out with friends somewhere other than home. Some days it all feels really far away, though.

I’m doing my best to keep my head up and baby-stepping my way forward but it’s exhausting. I’ve had a kidney stone and I think I can say that if I could trade my OCD, anxiety, PTSD, depression, and panic disorder for another kidney stone, I’d do it in a second. At least with a kidney stone there’s something there that you can see… something that needs to be removed, and once it’s removed, you feel relief. With mental illness, it comes and goes as it pleases, nothing shows up on an x-ray, and you have to work your ass off to feel better. It’s not fair.

The good things in life are worth it, though.

Stay safe!

Accomplish Something Today

I have found that mental illness can be pretty ruthless. I’m never sure when I’m going to be hit with a huge bout of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, fear, or worse. Up until recently, I’ve been enjoying relatively few nightmares but they seem to be making a bit of a comeback. I have tools to deal with most of this stuff, but it can be very discouraging to have to fight off the same things over and over again.

One thing that I find that helps is to break my day down into the tiniest pieces and treat every completed piece like a win. On the days I’m stuck in bed, even something as simple as sitting up and putting my feet on the floor can be a win. Making breakfast and taking my pills is a win. Sitting on the couch with the blinds open and enjoying the view outside is a win. Taking the time to do my self-compassion exercises is a win. Calling someone to talk is a win.

There are going to be some days when I can’t even put my feet on the floor. I know it will happen but hopefully they will be few and far between.

You know what I find sucks the most about all this? I have to do it. J, Dr C, and Dr W can help (and help a lot), but I’m the one who has to go through the steps and do the work. There doesn’t appear to be any instant or magic solution to all of this – it’s all about how much effort I put into it.

For that reason, I try really hard to accomplish something – anything – each day. Sometimes it doesn’t work out but on most days I can put at least a couple of wins under my name.

Stay safe!

And The Weekend Comes To A Close

Song: “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet

Mood: 7 to 7.5

Today has been a decent day. I woke up once last night from a nightmare but the rest of my night seemed to go pretty well. Today felt like a really lazy day, though. I didn’t do a heck of a lot, just sat around and chatted with J and took a nap in the early afternoon (which was really nice).

I’ve got a lot of stuff to do this week. I’m behind on laundry (again), need to pick up some groceries, go for my Dr W appointment, and go for blood tests. I think I need to squeeze a motorcycle ride or two in there somewhere just for fun.

I also want to get back to welding. The garage is almost ready for me to hang my blankets and screens, and I’ve got an unopened box of 7018AC rods that I can’t wait to try out. J has a couple of things she’d like me to build for her, and I have a couple of projects to work on, too. It’s been a while since I did any welding, though, so I need to run a bunch of practice beads before I get to actually trying to build anything.

I’ve probably said this before, but I really enjoy welding, even if all I’m doing is running beads. Once the mask is down it’s just me and the arc. Therapeutic in its own way.

This coming weekend J is considering heading out of town to see her parents. I’m looking forward to seeing how I do by myself – it’ll be the first time since I got out of the hospital that I’ve been on my own for a weekend. Just typing this up is probably making more of a big deal than it really is but I see it as another step forward.

I think that J and I are going to watch an episode or two of Community this evening. We’re nearing the end and I’m not sure if I want to see the last episode. I just want to think of the characters as continuing on and having more adventures together. I really like that show.

Stay safe!

Tales From The Ward, Part IV

Day 26

Fell asleep at 2300, woke up at 0600. Woke up only twice from nightmares.

Was very dizzy for a little while today. Not sure why.

Feeling very groggy this morning.

Breakfast was Special K, a bagel, and fruit sauce.

Looks like one of the patients is being discharged when they don’t really want to. I hope things turn out well for them.

Group this morning was healthy living.

Dr C should be here today.

Lunch was a chicken salad plate, bagel, and diced pears.

Did a 45 minute easy walk today. Felt good to be active.

Someone’s been wailing in the bathroom for over ten minutes now. I really hope they’re okay.

My session with Dr C went very well. She asked me a bunch of questions and – fortunately – once again saw how everything fit together and that I’m not psychotic or otherwise crazy. I will continue to follow her instructions to the best of my ability. I am very lucky to have her as my psychologist.

Supper was fish sticks, potato wedges, carrots, and mango for dessert. I believe I’ll be dipping into the candy shortly…

Dr W has filled out the disability paperwork and given it back to me.

 

Stay safe!

What A Good Day

Song: “Bongo Rock” by the Incredible Bongo Band

Mood: 9 (not a typo!)

Today has been a very good day. I slept pretty well last night, went for my first motorcycle ride in 21 months, and J and I hung out, did some painting, and had some good talks.

I haven’t felt this good for a very long time. I’m not entirely sure how to put it into words.

I think it’s really important to write down and remember days like this.

Wow. I don’t know what else to say. I hope everyone gets a chance to experience great days like this!

Stay safe!

Finally Did It!

I think I’ve said this before, but J has been my biggest support, encouragement, and cheerleader throughout this whole ordeal. She knows how much I enjoyed riding my motorcycle and was very cautiously encouraging me to get back on and go for a ride. We picked up a new jacket earlier this week so I had all the equipment I needed.

This morning, I was very nervous about going for a ride and was thinking of putting it off until tomorrow. J suggested that I should try today since traffic should’ve been light and the weather was good. Finally, I agreed and put on all my gear. J went out to the garage with me and was very encouraging all along the way.

I should mention that I haven’t taken a ride since September 30th, 2015 and other than an oil and coolant change, the bike has been sitting all that time. I could feel my anxiety building as I thought about what would happen if it suddenly stalled in the middle of a turn or what I’d do if it broke down a little too far from home to push it back. I hit the starter and after a couple of cranks, the bike started right up, sounding healthy and ready to go. I talked with J for a bit while it warmed up, then got on and duck-walked it between the cars and the house. Once I was past the cars, I let out the clutch and put my feet up.

As soon as I turned out of the driveway and onto the street, it felt like the bike and I hadn’t missed a step. It’s not a fast bike and it sure isn’t pretty, but when I’m riding, my mind clears and all I can focus on is the road around me and the bike. It’s a great feeling. I tend to anthropomorphise quite a bit when dealing with the bike, but when you’re riding down the highway at 100km/h it’s hard not to think of the bike as my buddy. We both have good days and bad days and we both cover for each other’s mistakes. It’s kind of like a horse, just exactly not a horse.

Anyway, I brought my helmet camera along for some proof:

It felt good to be back on the bike. I put about 25km on it before I pulled back into the garage. I wasn’t nervous about it anymore, and I think there will be many motorcycle therapy sessions in store for me over the next while.

J, if you’re reading this – thank you so much for all your help and encouragement! You help make me brave and I really appreciate it.

Stay safe!

Friday Of A Long Weekend

Song: “I Believe I Can Fly” by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Mood: 7

I slept pretty well last night despite being bamboozled by the movie we watched just before bed. Named A Town Called Hell, it was almost impossible to follow and at one point we were almost sure it had jumped to another movie entirely. But, J and I like watching these movies and making fun of them – kind of like how we enjoy listening to records.

This morning I had a Dr C appointment which went quite well. She’s going to be leaving soon for a year and is going to transfer my file over to one of her colleagues. I’ve got to say that I’m pretty bummed out about that – I’ve been working with Dr C since February of last year and she has been really good at prying stuff loose and getting me to think more rationally about things. I don’t doubt that her colleague is also top-notch, I’m just very comfortable with her and I think she knows me pretty well by now. But, you’ve got to look out for number one and she’s no different.

After we got home, I went through all of my motorcycle gear just to make sure I could find it and it was still serviceable. I think I’m going for a ride tomorrow! I’m both nervous and really looking forward to it at the same time.

J made supper this evening and man was it ever good. Beef, cheese, tomatoes, homemade taco seasoning, corn, rice… all elements of a really good dish. I’d like to say I helped but all I really did was open a couple of cans and grate some cheese.

After supper we went for a little walk around the neighbourhood. There’s a park just across the street that we rarely go to so it was nice to take some time to walk through it and explore around a bit. It was around 19C out (so perfect for me) and there are still no mosquitoes around (which is really strange but I’m not complaining). It felt good to get out and enjoy some fresh air.

J needed some stuff from Amazon so we put in an order. One of the things I ordered was a “Triops” kit. A Triop is a freshwater crustacean that has three eyes and looks pretty disgusting. I’m wondering if they’ll get along with my cleaner shrimp. I’ll probably raise a few of them in a separate container to start and make sure they have lots of food (they tend to eat each other when they’re hungry).

This evening, we watched another western called Eagle’s Wing. It was the last movie in that Spaghetti Westerns pack we’ve been watching and I think it’s the one that made the most sense. The acting was good, the quality of the video and audio was pretty good, and it had a story. Not too bad.

Other than that, not much is going on. Wish me luck for my motorcycle ride!
Stay safe!