Crochet Conquered

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Photo provided by the Author

I recently took a 5-week crochet class at the local art center, which was basically like an open studio. That is, you go in, work on your project, and the instructor is there if you need help, which I did lol! What made it a class and not an open studio, I think, was that the instructor demonstrated some techniques.

Also recently, I signed up for a 2-week course on making amigurumi — cute little stuffed toys (see picture) — at the yarn store. This class overlapped the other, and I wasn’t sure if 2 concurrent classes would be too much for me. They were on different days, so it worked out. And yes, I made it through both. Hence, the title of this post!

In the time between starting this blog (August 2017) and the present, I never once made it through an entire course of anything except the online writing classes. I’d drop out at some point, or miss a majority or all of the classes. This time, I succeeded in going to each one of my classes without missing any or dropping them.

Just last night, I was exhausted and in a rotten mood, but my husband encouraged me to go to my class anyway. Crocheting helps me take my mind off things because of the concentration required. Talk about being in the present moment! I’m glad I went to class because I was able to finish my little stuffed octopus (above)! I was always too scared to even try to make these toys, but now that I know that it’s pretty easy, I’ll probably make more!


Do you miss attending a regular hobby because of anxiety or other mental health issues?

3 Things to Do More Often

I have a lot of bad habits, but I’m trying to establish good ones. Here are some things that I can do more often:

  1. EXERCISE: Well, I exercise nearly every single day by walking on the treadmill and doing one exercise, like jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, lunges, or squats. The former, I do for 10 minutes. The latter, according to that particular fitness challenge, I’m supposed to do 3 of the above exercises a day. I only do one because I can’t do all 3 one after the other yet.
    I can’t walk for more than 10 minutes because it is so frickin’ boring, even though I always read a book — which helps. Plus, it’s challenging for me right now. I went from doing zero exercises to what I do today. I can increase the length of time or the speed in which I walk, slowly. I feel that I can increase the exercises, but in very small increments. My therapist says that any movement is good.
  2. DIET: I feel that I can eat better than I do, like eat more salads because they aren’t as calorie dense as say, a cheese quesadilla. The problem is I don’t like salads. It’s not that I don’t like vegetables — I hate trying to spear the pieces of lettuce with my fork. It’s unsatisfying not to get a nice mouthful of food. I do occasionally eat — and enjoy eating — a salad, and I can choose salad more often when we eat out.
  3. READ: I haven’t been reading anywhere near as much as I used to. Part of the reason is I don’t have enough time. Another is because the last few books I read have bored me.
    I’m currently reading Educated by Tara Westover. It’s a memoir about how the author grew up in a survivalist family. That is, the dad was convinced that the End of Days were near and made sure his family would be protected. He also didn’t believe in the government, so some of the kids didn’t have birth certificates or drivers licenses.
    It’s interesting and I like it so far. But it’s not the kind of book I can’t put down and finish in a day.

So these are 3 areas of my life that I want to improve: slowly increase the number of exercises that I do; eat more salads/make healthier food choices; and make time to read every day, not just while I’m on the treadmill.


Is there anything you would like to improve?

Exercise

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Photo credit: eccampbell on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

So as I mentioned yesterday, my lifestyle change includes exercise, which I absolutely cannot stand. I know from experience that this helps lift depression, but it’s so hard for me to do; I have no incentive. At least not immediate, rewarding incentive (a slice of pie, anyone?).

Over 10 years ago, I played hockey and used to work out every day. I alternated cardio with mat pilates.

I felt great working out, both physically and mentally. My body was fit and trim, and the depression dwindled and I felt confident. I challenged myself to how long or how quickly I could run on the treadmill, which felt good. I even used to go to a gym, albeit in the late mornings when most people had already worked out and left for work.

What makes it so hard today? I honestly don’t know. For one thing, I’m not playing hockey, so it’s like, why bother? I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to do the physical work!

We have a fold-up treadmill here at home, but it’s a pain to use. I have to lower the part I “tread” on every time, and lift it back to position when I’m done. It probably takes longer to set up than it does to use it! So I started using the treadmill again, erratically. I started walking for 10 minutes at 2.3 miles per hour, and will increase both the length of time and the speed as I go.

My “treadmilling” increased when I came across a 30-day workout challenge on Pinterest that has nothing to do with walking. It seemed to me that it would be good to warm up on the treadmill before doing the exercises specified in the challenge: push-ups, squats, crunches, and lunges. Each day the number of these exercises increases and by the end of the month, I’ll be rocking out. Lol! I’m on day 6. I’ve also heard that it takes about 30 days to establish a new habit. My new normal. Wish me luck!


Do you exercise regularly? Would you do a 30-day challenge?

Diet

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Photo on Visual hunt

I joined a weight-loss program in February. It’s called Noom (this is not an ad!). Since I began, I’ve lost all of 4 or 5 lbs. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but my fellow Noomies on the Noom Facebook group assure me that slow and steady wins the race. I also suspect that the lithium is hindering my weight loss because of its side effects of weight gain.

This is the first program I’ve participated in. Noomies have said that on other programs, people would lose a bunch of weight in the first 4 weeks or so and then gain it all back and more. Noom supposedly helps you maintain your goal weight by use of psychology.

Every day, there’s a “lesson” in the Noom app that explains a concept, such as reasons why we choose to eat the foods that we do. Or what type of eater you are. I’m an emotional eater, but I already knew that! Still, being reminded makes me really consider the reasons why I eat when I do. For example, if I feel bored, I eat. If I’m either upset or happy, I’ll eat. I can’t remember what the other types of eaters are, but I do know that I also fall into the group that will eat something just because it’s there.

Noom uses psychological tactics to combat these. For example, it helps if you put your snacks in the cabinet because out of sight, out of mind. If you reward  yourself with food, they suggest that you instead reward yourself with things that have nothing to do with food: a  new pair of shoes, a day at the beach. Basically, they change the way you think–to come up with a “new normal.”

My new normal includes exercise (yuck! I’ll cover that tomorrow). And making the healthier choice when it comes to food. I actually ordered a salad instead of something heavier at a restaurant! It was difficult to make that decision, but it has become easier.

I do eat whatever I want to, but foods are classified green, yellow, and red; red is the least healthy. As long as you stay within the calorie limit (that Noom sets based on your height and age) for red foods, you can eat it! They really stress portion control by stopping eating when you’re full and/or eating when you’re hungry, neither of which had ever occurred to me.

The weight loss will come. I just have to believe and be patient and not compare myself to other Noomies. That, so far, has been the hardest thing to do.

Living with Bipolar

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

So unfortunately, living with bipolar while my depression is in remission is not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s not like a get-out-of-jail-free card that allows me to escape the confines of my mentally ill brain. And it doesn’t mean the depression won’t return. For me, it means having to continue doing the things I did when depressed:

  • take my meds every day, even if I feel fine and don’t feel like taking them.
  • continue therapy, even when I don’t want to see my therapist because I feel that I have nothing to discuss. (Well, there’s my anxiety, I suppose.)
  • maintain sleep hygiene by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This also helps keep insomnia away. Don’t ask me how; it’s what they say! In my experience, it works.
  • continue to see my psychiatrist, especially now that my appointments are months rather than weeks apart.
  • practice self-care, whether it’s by showering every single day (which I don’t do and is another story), going to a salon/spa, or treating myself to a slice of pie.
  • get my blood drawn to check if the lithium is at a therapeutic level.

These are some of the things I have to manage, plus diet and exercise (which I’ll address in the future). So for me, except for the emotional and physical heaviness I feel when I’m depressed, as well as my bleak outlook, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between depression and remission. At least that’s how I feel right now.


What differences do you feel when you’re depressed followed by remission?