I Think I’m Going To Pull Through

I feel quite a bit better. Still not good, but better than yesterday. I didn’t get together with WG or FA, which kind of sucks but I really needed today to rest. Compounding the problem of my cold/flu/whatever is the fact that I haven’t slept all that well since last Wednesday when Dr W and I agreed to lower my zopiclone. I’ve been getting to sleep okay but I’ve been waking up at about 3AM and, despite still being tired, haven’t been able to get back to sleep. It’s frustrating seeing the clock show 3:30, then 4:10, then 4:28, then 5:06…

I ended up calling Dr W’s office today to see if I could go back to the full dose and he said it was no problem. I’m looking forward to seeing if it makes a difference tonight. If putting the dose back to where it was lets me sleep, what does that mean for me being able to stop using it in the future? I’ll need to talk to Dr W about it but I really hope that it doesn’t mean I’m hooked or something like that. With luck this is just a little blip and it’ll work out quickly. On the other hand, what if putting it back doesn’t help? I guess I’ll find out tonight.

Other than feeling sick and tired, today was a pretty good day. I tried to do my exercises but flaked out after ten minutes on the treadmill, all sweaty and coughing. I listened to a couple of old Dixieland records and then tried to watch The Professional on the little Roku TV device. For some reason, instead of playing commercials, the movie would start all over again. I could skip forward, but as soon as it got to the next commercial break, it would go right back to the beginning. I ended up getting tired of it (literally) and fell asleep on the couch.

The nap did me good and I got some things done around the house, played Mass Effect, and put up a couple of posts. I’m still really surprised to see that mental health was mentioned in the game and the way it was worded. I think little things like that help to make more people aware of mental illness and reduce the stigma of it. Once everybody understands that it can affect anyone at any time, it’ll hopefully be seen not as a weakness but as the illness it really is.

J mailed off my thank-you letter this morning (if you read this, thanks again!) and I started on the next one this afternoon. I find it very difficult to concentrate for long enough to write something appreciative, coherent, and not rambling. I’m sure part of the problem is how grateful I am to the people I’m writing to or about, and how much I want to just write “THANK YOU” all over the paper.

I gave myself a headache this afternoon. I was thinking about work again, wondering how and why everything happened the way it did and how on Earth I was going to get back to being a productive member of society. That led to me clenching my jaw, which led to a sore neck, which led to the headache. I really need to figure out a way of thinking about work without making myself miserable. I should probably ask Dr C about that.

I’ve done a little more cleaning up in my office and I have to say that I find it really comfortable now. I can sit and work on little things or do posts like this or I can just close my eyes, relax, and meditate. The bubbling of the water from the aquarium helps a lot, too. I should probably add that to my list of grounding techniques.

I’m in the mood to make some bread. I’ll wait until I’m plague-free but that’s something I think I’m going to do soon. It’s relaxing and rewarding at the same time. Plus, homemade bread is tasty.

Stay safe!

It’s Okay To Laugh When You’re Depressed

Part of the problem with living with depression is that I don’t always look depressed. In fact, I can sometimes laugh, carry on conversations, and engage in social activities. They key to that is the word “sometimes”. On the days when I can’t get out of bed or it feels like brushing my teeth and showering would be way too much effort, I’m not going to be very fun. I saw this story a while ago and it scared the heck out of me: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/depressed-woman-loses-benefits-over-facebook-photos-1.861843

I’m hoping there’s more to the story, but if you take it at face value, it looks like the case worker at the insurance company knew very little about mental illness and thought that the fact that the client was smiling on a beach meant that they were no longer depressed.

I’ve spoken with both Dr C and Dr W about this kind of thing and they say that the best way to speed recovery from major depression is to keep active doing things you enjoy and finding things to laugh about. Like they say, laughter is the best medicine.

J showed me a picture a little while ago and I’d like to share it here. It’s from Living With Invisible Illness’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/1576780732595911/photos/a.1576790999261551.1073741828.1576780732595911/1650434835230500/?type=3&theater)

When I saw the picture I realized it fit EXACTLY how I feel. Life with depression isn’t all sadness and weariness. That’s a big part of it, sure, but there’s a lot more to it than most people who haven’t experienced it realize. Remember – it’s okay (and good for you) to laugh!

Stay Safe!

Hit Hard By The Crud

After a day of feeling better, the cold/flu/plague I picked up came back with reinforcements. I spent the weekend blowing my nose, coughing, and sneezing. Today in some ways has been the worst – lacking the energy to do anything, I spent most of my day either in bed or wishing I was in bed.

On the upside, I did finally finish a thank-you letter that I’ve been working on for the better part of a year. It’ll feel good to finally send it. Only one more letter to go and I’ll be all caught up!

J and I watched a bunch of Community episodes last night and had a good time. I think we’re going to watch a couple more this evening but I’m not totally sure.

I was supposed to get together with WG and FA tomorrow but I got in touch with them today and cancelled. I hate doing that, I was really looking forward to the record store and going on a caper with FA.

Well… I guess this is going to be a short post because I need to go and blow my nose. AGAIN.

Stay safe!

Welcome To The Weekend

After the problems I had sleeping back on Wednesday evening, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I slept pretty well last night. I woke up at about 4AM from a vivid, terrifying nightmare that took a little while to calm down from, but when I was asleep, I slept very well.

When I woke up this morning, J was getting ready for work and my cold hadn’t gone away. A CPAP mask feels weird enough, but coughing and sneezing into one is even weirder (and much more disgusting). I got up, had some breakfast, and got ready for the day.

I did some writing for a while, then headed to the basement and watched Interstellar. I found it to be a fantastic movie with kind of a weak ending. It was long, too – over two and a half hours – but it did its job of grabbing my attention and keeping it for the duration. I don’t know what I’d do if I was an astronaut, alone in another galaxy. Part of me thinks I’d jump up and down in glee, but the majority of my brain just can’t process that kind of loneliness.

After the movie was over I played around with my Raspberry Pi computers and installed SETI@Home on a couple of them. They’ll take forever to do the calculations but at they use very little power and that way they’re doing something. Who knows – maybe my little Pis will find some alien signal.

Once I was done playing with the computers, I went back to writing. I find that when I’m in the mood, stuff just pours out of my brain, into my fingers, and onto the keyboard. I like writing all kinds of stuff. Short and medium-length stories, primarily sci-fi or mystery, that sort of thing. I’ve got three stories on the go right now and pick one to work on that matches my mood.

After that, it was more Mass Effect. I sure do like that game. I get a kick out of the bickering between companions when we’re driving around on some God-forsaken alien planet.

After J got home, we had supper and then talked for a while. J went to get some of her evening stuff done and I sat down at the table with a canvas and paints and spent over an hour painting another masterpiece. This time it was a pier going out into the sea. Dr C has a picture like that on the wall of her office and I did my best to emulate it. Of course, I’m not a painter… but I still enjoyed myself.

I think I’m probably going to spend the rest of my evening blowing my nose and watching some more episodes of Community. That’s a good way to start the weekend.

Stay safe!

Don’t Wait

I was a bit of a strange kid. I’d always stay awake during trips in case something happened, I’d always be the designated driver, and when I was in university I’d always be the one who helped (and sometimes carried) the drunk people up to their dorm rooms and check in on them. It wasn’t fun but I always felt like I had to be the responsible person in the room.

Fast forward some years to when I started working in my current job. I was responsible for ensuring business continuity in the event of a disaster. Disaster planning became one of my specialties – at the time I didn’t realize it, but I was feeding my OCD and using it to help me be a better planner. Other people would send me their disaster recovery plans and I’d always find something that they’d missed, regardless of how unlikely it was.

Then, in 2012, management changed. I could no longer get spare parts for the equipment that I was responsible for and had to start cannibalizing redundant systems. Management didn’t seem to understand or care how important the systems were. I was starting to spin out of control, my OCD and anxiety opening the door to panic attacks and severe depression.

All along, J was trying to get me to go and see someone about what was going on. I was sure I could handle it myself – I figured all I needed to do was put my head down and work harder. I started getting headaches every day. I was grinding my teeth in my sleep. I was not pleasant to talk to. Eventually, I realized I wasn’t able to get angry anymore, I just felt dull irritation and resignation to everything.

J was very patient and supportive of me, and when I finally started to listen to her and looked around for a therapist, she was 150% onboard. My first session was very difficult. I wasn’t sure how things went, and to be honest, I wasn’t completely sure I needed to be there. It didn’t take long, though, for Dr C to figure out what was going on. My OCD had taken over and I was spiralling downwards like a bird with a broken wing. She suggested I speak with my GP about medications, which, while terrible at the time, paved the way for me to meet Dr W and get the proper medications.

Could I have avoided a lot of these problems and heartache if I’d just listened to J and went to a therapist before I was already in deep trouble? I’m pretty sure the answer to that is yes. Maybe not all of them, but it would have helped. Even just the grounding techniques that Dr C taught me were invaluable and, if I’d known them earlier, would have helped me tremendously at work. I don’t think I would have ended up in the psych ward twice, and, with luck, I wouldn’t have experienced suicidal ideations or auditory hallucinations.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you have family or friends who are worried about you, or you’re worried about yourself, don’t wait to see someone. There are resources out there you can access, people who want to help you, and people who are paid to help you. Don’t wait until you feel like there’s no way out or nobody who you can talk to. Millions of people experience the same feelings – you are not alone. Nip mental illness in the bud by talking to someone before things get out of control!

Stay safe!

It’s Going Around

I didn’t sleep very well last night. Between worrying about those government changes and the reduction in my Zopiclone, I couldn’t fall asleep. Usually it takes about two hours for the medication to kick in and start to slow me down in the evening but I think I was somewhere around five hours in before I fell asleep. The sleep I did get, though, was very good. That new mattress pad works wonders. It feels kind of weird when I first sit on it but it helps my back out a tremendous amount.

J had today off so we split up around 11:30AM. I headed off to my appointment with Dr C and J headed off to the Honda dealership to get the summer tires put back on. My appointment went quite well – I think we’re starting to get close to cracking the source of some of my problems. That would be fantastic but boy, is it tiring. I always surprise myself with how mentally tired I am after a session. There’s an awful lot of thinking and listening to my mind involved and I still sometimes find it hard to accept that I need or deserve help. To top if off, I forgot the cheque today. Dr C was fine with that but I still felt pretty bad about it. I’m glad she knows that I’m not trying to rip her off.

After my appointment, I met J at the dealership and we went to Canadian Tire to pick up some seeds, lawn bags, and deck waterproofing stain. Midway through our walk through the store, I started to feel quite tired. By the time we got back into the truck, my throat had begun to hurt. By the time I got home I had a headache and my skin hurt.

I’ve caught the cold that’s going around. Wonderful.

I went and plopped myself down on the couch in the basement, pulled a blanket up to my neck, and tried to get comfortable. I think I snoozed for a little while but I wasn’t very comfortable so I ended up going up to bed and getting an hour or so of sleep. Some Tylenol helped my aches so things weren’t too bad, but I feel like I’ve been dragged behind a gravel truck. Hopefully I kick the bug quickly and am back to feeling well.

This evening J and I are going to watch some more episodes of Community and putter around the house a bit. There’s always something that needs cleaning up or fixing!

Stay safe!

Feeling A Little Stressed Out

Today went quite well. I slept not too badly, had a good morning, and got a fair amount of stuff done around the house. I’ve been playing with a Raspberry Pi and seeing if I can turn it into a little personal webserver. I’m not particularly enjoying it but in some ways it feels good to sit down and play with a little computer again.

I had a really good chat with my parents this morning. We talked about all kinds of stuff, and Dad is very interested in coming out here to help me set up a raised garden in the back yard and maybe even do a couple of other little projects around the house. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m really lucky that my entire family is so supportive of J and I. I couldn’t ask for better parents or in-laws.

This afternoon I had my appointment with Dr W. Things went well – my zopiclone dose has been cut in half – that’s three weeks of reductions in a row! He was also happy to hear that I’d made it to the group session yesterday, both from the perspective of attending a group and that it was the farthest destination I’ve been able to drive to since I got sick. I really like Dr W – he’s a straight arrow and a really nice guy. I think that it’s really important to be able to get along with your doctor, possibly even moreso when it comes to psychiatry.

The government released a new budget a little while ago and I had a chance to ask Dr W how it was going to affect care around town. His answer wasn’t particularly encouraging but he cautioned me, saying that government moves at the speed of… well, government, and there’s always a chance nothing will happen. Or even the opposite of what they say. Regardless, I’m going to try to put together a letter to send to my local government representative. I find change difficult and I’m not looking forward to any that may be coming my way.

Other than that, J and I watched a couple of episodes of the first season of Community. It’s a great show that can make me laugh even when I’m a little stressed out.

Stay safe!

Tales From The Ward, Part I

I kept a journal from the times when I was in the hospital so I figured that I’d post excerpts from some of the entries every once in a while. I can’t name or even describe people or their actions, so everything is going to be limited to me and what I went through.

Okay, here we go…


Day 1

I arrived in the evening, after being in the ER at one hospital for a physical evaluation, a Crisis Centre for my initial psych evaluation, and spending overnight at another hospital’s psych unit. The staff at the front desk were very friendly and patient with me. They got me hospital clothes and socks and locked all of my regular clothes up. I met my psychiatrist, Dr W. He seems OK.

I’m in Room 17. It’s got three walls, a curtain, a little desk with no chair, a hospital bed, and some shelving. I wonder how I go about getting a chair. Maybe it takes time before I can have one.

Dr W wants to change the medications I’m on. That’s what – 3 changes now at least? At least I’m not on things I don’t need anymore. It seems my GP didn’t know what he was doing. Might need to change doctors once I’m out of here.

I’m a little frightened. The staff is great but the environment is strange and many of the residents are quite ill. I’ve tried saying hello several times but have mostly been ignored or only given the briefest of glances.

My nurse this evening is C. She’s very nice (like the other staff). She’ll be the one who gives me my medication this evening. I’ve got to admit – I have no idea how to act or what to say around the others.

I hope things go well.


Stay safe!

A Decent Day

I didn’t sleep all that well last night but I still felt pretty good when I got up. I had cereal for breakfast and chatted with J until she headed off to work. I thought about taking a nap but instead I sat at my desk, brainstorming about work and education and time. I didn’t come to any conclusions but I did write out a couple of pages of ideas. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to get closer to where I want to be the next time I look at it.

I think about work a lot. Having time off is really allowing me to get better, but I want to help people and be a positive contributor to society. I’m following all of the instructions I get from Dr W and Dr C and I can feel a general trend upward but I’m still scared that I’ll have a really down day (like a two or a three) or have a bunch of panic attacks. Plus, I still can’t drive very far and I can’t answer the phone.

This afternoon I went to my first group session outside of a hospital. I took a few wrong turns but I got there. It was very interesting and the facilitators were very good. As it’s like Fight Club, I can’t go into much more detail but I think I’m going to try it again next week and see how it goes, then talk to Dr W and Dr C and see if this should be something I pursue.

On a happy note, driving to the group session marked the farthest I’ve driven from home since I went into the hospital on May of last year! In some ways I’m proud of myself, but in others I’m still embarrassed and disappointed in myself for not being able to drive wherever and whenever I want.

This evening, J and I had a wonderful dinner and then went downstairs to start putting the room we call the “laboratory” back together. It had turned into a dumping ground for stuff we were sorting through but we’d really like a clean, functional room so we started there. All of my Spongebob memorabilia went into a box for later opening or getting rid of. I really like the early Spongebob cartoons (yes, I realize I’m 40+) and my family and friends got me a lot of Spongebob loot over the years.

This evening I started to set up a little webserver at home using a Raspberry Pi. I’m pretty rusty with this stuff so it’s taking a lot more thinking than I’d expected.

In just a short while J and I are going to head to the rec room and watch some TV – probably a few episodes of Community. All in all, the day was quite successful and I’m feeling pretty good, probably around a six or six and a half.

Stay safe!