Hobby Focus: Music

Hobby: Music

Cost: Starts at zero, goes to $$$$$ depending on what you want to do

Time Required: Completely up to you

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like at least some kind of music. For me, music can be fun, it can be uplifting, it can be emotional, and it can be a distraction from things that are bothering me. Just listening to some high-tempo music from almost any section of the music store can help cheer me up and get me moving a bit when I’d rather just sit in a chair like a lump.

When I hear a new song, I’ll listen to it normally the first few times. After that, I start to concentrate on the song and see if I can tease out particular melodies or instruments. I used to play trumpet and I “play” the bass guitar and for me, one of my favourite things to figure out is the bass line to a song. Even if I can only hum or whistle or think it to myself, I’ll always try to figure out the bass line first. To be honest, I don’t often pay attention to the lyrics – I just treat the vocals like another instrument and listen to the pitches and progressions. Every song is a multitude of pieces that have to work together to sound right and I find it rewarding to figure out each part.

When I was young, I was raised on country music and 60s rock. I didn’t listen to metal or pop, just the dusties and the oldies. When I moved away from home, I worked in a computer store that was upstairs from a music store. They played music all the time, and that’s where I was exposed to a lot of new genres that I really liked. Then, I met WG and he introduced me to all kinds of new music that I didn’t even know existed. I like everything from classical to punk to EDM. I’m not a huge fan of really, REALLY heavy metal, but I can sit through it without clawing my eyes out.

I’ve probably mentioned it in another post somewhere (possibly more than once) but I’m really into the late-70s/early-80s punk. The Monks, The Undertones, The Bureaucrats, Gorilla Angreb, The Ramones, The Angry Samoans… I like a lot of the stuff from that period. Lots of it is really fast moving so it gets my toes tapping, too.

I’m having a little bit of trouble doing it now because my hands are a little shaky, but something that really helped pass the time was picking up the bass and playing along with a song or figuring out how the bass line went. I find it quite rewarding when I’ve finally figured it out and can play along. It makes me feel good, helps me concentrate, and, like I said, it passes the time. I keep thinking that someday I’ll dig out the trumpet and blow the spiders out of it but it’ll take a lot of TLC to get the trumpet ready to play. It’s been, somewhere around a dozen years since I last took the trumpet out of its case. Maybe I’ll try to make a goal of fixing it up and trying it sometime soon. We’ll see.

For me, music isn’t just music. It’s a tool that often helps me forget the things that are bothering me – if only for just a short while. There’s no shortage of it, and it’s always easy to find. It’s not as good as a therapist, but it helps in a pinch.

Stay safe!

Thursday

Today started out a little rough. When getting ready to leave the house, I put my phone down at least three times and forgot where I put it. Then, I got to Dr C’s office and found out my appointment was actually yesterday. Despite the mistake being 100% my fault (if you’re reading this, I’m sorry about that), she was able to fit me in somehow and I think we got a lot of stuff done.

Thus far, Dr C has been leading me through a lot of CBT and it’s helped a lot. There are a few things that are proving to be a little more stubborn, though, and for that we’re going to try EMDR. I’m not familiar with it at all but she described it in detail and gave me an information sheet to look through. I have high hopes – the CBT worked better than I could have possibly hoped, and as I’m receptive to the EMDR, I don’t see why it shouldn’t help.

I’m still not feeling quite right. It’s like I’m a little bummed out or something, but not quite. If it’s still bothering me tomorrow I’ll do some meditating on it and see if I can figure out what’s going on. I hope it’s not the beginning of another slide – the good thing about that is I have a much better idea of what to do if it happens and with luck I won’t end up in the hospital again.

J came home early from work today. She has also caught the creeping crud. I made her tea and hung out with her for most of the afternoon and evening. I enjoy being near her, even when we’re doing totally separate things. I played some more Mass Effect and fiddled around with the new Raspberry Pi camera. I’ve got it working but it’s really out of focus. You can change the focus manually but it takes a really careful touch to not break the camera.

Tomorrow, the weather is finally supposed to start approaching normal for this time of year. I’m really hoping to take the plants outside during the day and put them in the garage at night. I also want to get the oil and coolant back into the bike and start it up again. Once the bike is done, I have to cut up a few cardboard boxes that are in the garage and I can start welding again. I’m really looking forward to it – J got me a new welding shirt for Christmas and I’m really looking forward to not starting myself on fire like I did with my previous welding shirt (that was just denim). The first thing I’m going to weld is a practice bead or two on some junk steel, then I’m going to make a stand for my grinder. I have the parts, but I just need to get it all together.

Stay safe!

Doing Okay

I thought I slept well last night but maybe I didn’t – I’ve been tired all day. It wasn’t a “bad” day, but I spent a lot of it just staring into space or snoozing. I had a good chat with my mom this morning, which was quite nice since I hadn’t talked with her for a while. My parents are getting excited for an upcoming trip and I really hope they have a good time.

My Raspberry Pi 3 and assorted other goodies showed up today. I’ve been playing a bit with the Pi to see if J and I can play Heroes of Might and Magic 2 on it but I’m not quite there yet. I really hope this new version has the horsepower to do it.

My Dr W appointment today went well. We left the zopiclone alone but completely removed what was left of my supper lorazepam. I used to take 2mg in the morning, 2mg at supper, and 2mg before bed, but now I’m down to 0.5mg in the morning and 2mg before bed, and I haven’t missed it yet! I have some rescue lorazepam in case I need it but I’m really hoping this trend continues.

After my appointment, J and I went to the local motorcycle store to take a look around and then went out for supper at a little greasy spoon we like. We hadn’t been there in a while and it looks like they did a whole bunch of renovations to spruce the place up. J had their house special burger and I had a chili burger. We both really enjoyed the food, and we went early enough to avoid the supper crowd so I was quite comfortable mentally.

After we were done supper, I asked J if I could try driving us home. She said sure and I got us home without incident. I was pretty anxious in places but I think it went quite well. That marks the farthest point west from home that I have driven since I got ill. I think I will try to drive myself out there soon so I get more comfortable with it.

I’ve been wrestling with something for a little while now. My favourite uncle – who lives out on the east coast, has asked me if I’d like to go hunting with him in September. I’ve never been asked before and I really appreciate it but with the problems I’m having with leaving the house now, I doubt I will be comfortable leaving the city for several days. Plus, I really, REALLY don’t like flying. It’s not the flying part that bothers me, it’s pretty much everything else. Airports, security, lines… I’ve never liked that stuff. But I’d really like to go and visit my relatives. Plus, I don’t know how many more years my uncle will be going out hunting. I don’t want to disappoint him but at the same time I don’t want to take on more than I can handle. I’ll have to think on that a bit. September is still a while away at least.

I have my Dr C appointment early tomorrow morning so I need to remember to wake up with J and, more importantly, stay awake after she leaves.

Stay safe!

An Okay Day

Replacing the zopiclone that had been cut from my nightly medication made a huge difference in my sleep last night. I woke up once at about 3AM but was able to get back to sleep quickly and slept the rest of the night. When I finally got up this morning I felt more foggy but less tired than I had the last few days.

I think my immune system has finally routed whatever virus I picked up and is cleaning up the last pockets of resistance. I feel a lot better today but I’m still walking around with pockets full of tissues just in case my nose decides to start running again.

I listened to some records this morning while I did laundry: the Dukes of Dixieland and the soundtrack from The Sting. After that, I put up the “one month” post and did some more writing. I tried to get up the oomph to do something physical but my tank was pretty empty today for some reason. I feel a little down and (as usual) I’m not sure why. Hopefully it will pass quickly.

I have my Dr W appointment tomorrow and I hope that we can figure out what to do about the zopiclone. I suppose that I’m going to have to reduce it again and some day get rid of it entirely, but maybe there’s another way that’ll make it easier. Taking 3/4 of my current amount instead of 1/2, something like that. It’s at the top of my list for medications I want to stop taking because it tastes SO BAD. It’s like old metal coat hangers being roasted over a bunch of burning tires. Blargh.

I think I’m going to spend some time this evening doing arts and crafts with J. I tried oil painting last night and boy was it different from the acrylic I’m used to. I’ll have to watch another couple of Bob Ross episodes before I try it again.

Stay safe!

It’s Been A Month!

Today marks a month since my first post to this site. I’ve got to admit, writing about how I’m doing and the things that help me has been feeling good. Of course, there are some days when I don’t feel like doing anything, but I’ve been really enjoying this. I’m grateful that Dr C suggested I try to get back into hobbies that I used to enjoy, and thankful for her, Dr W’s, and J’s support.

I started posting two days after I got home from the hospital. It was quite difficult at first – I didn’t really feel like writing, didn’t know what I wanted to say, and had trouble writing it down. Since then, it’s been getting easier to come up with things to say and write them down.

I’m still feeling pretty well since I was discharged. I’ve had some ups and downs but I think I’m trending steadily upwards. Dr C and I are no longer dealing with the crisis of the week, instead we’re able to work on the same thing for a couple of weeks in a row. Dr W has been reducing my medication and despite having to return to the earlier dose of zopiclone, I am still down a fair amount of medication from where I used to be.

I’ve still got a long way to go, though. I still can’t answer the phone, I still have nightmares and panic attacks, and I can’t handle crowds, sirens, or police, government, or military imagery. I still stay away from news sites and TV channels and I have to be careful with the movies and shows I watch with J. My memory and concentration aren’t very good, and I can only drive comfortably within a limited radius.

But that’s okay. With more work, time, and the support of my family, friends, and professionals, I will continue to get better, even if there is the occasional step backwards.

If you’ve been reading my ramblings, thanks for your time and I hope you found something useful or helpful along the way!

Stay safe!

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!