Current Mental Health – December 2019

Acceptance
Photo credit; Feggy Art on Visual hunt /CC BY-NC-ND

Volunteering at an animal rescue: I started volunteering with animals again, after years of merely contemplating it. I could never quite make that leap. I beat my anxiety about it, but I still doubt myself.

At first, I worked with the dogs (giving them outside time, cleaning their kennels, and so on), but since then I’ve been writing thank-you cards to donors pretty much each week. Because I don’t work directly with the dogs, I feel that I’m not as essential to the rescue and that somehow I am less than other volunteers. To be perfectly honest, I prefer thank-you writing because I’ve developed a slight fear of dogs, ever since the time a dog got really mouthy with me — she had my fingers in her mouth and brought her mouth too close to my face for comfort. I didn’t know what to do, and I never mentioned it to anyone. Other people didn’t have problems with her (as noted in the Facebook volunteer group) and she has long since been adopted. But my anxiety remains.

Depression: My depression has mostly remained in remission, although I hit a rough patch earlier this month. I began using my light box again, which nipped that in the bud. Showering is still sometimes a challenge, especially because it’s so cold in the bathroom! But I manage.

Hobbies: I took up knitting again! I don’t think I hold my hands properly, but the proper way is uncomfortable for me. I haven’t made anything yet because I need tons of practice. All of my practice swatches have holes in them, and I keep adding stitches lol! I’m trying to be patient. In case you’re wondering, I still crochet.

Holidays: My husband and I spent Christmas just the two of us and our dog and cat. (Our cat, Angelo, turned 19 in December!) We exchanged gifts and had a very nice meal that my husband cooked: corn and scallion salad, mashed potatoes with a bechamel cheese sauce, and roasted mushrooms with garlic (we’re vegetarians). And apple pie (not homemade) for dessert. Later in the evening we saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (link contains SPOILERS) for the second time in 5 days lol!

Happy New Year! I am looking forward to continued good mental health in the coming year; and now that I’m in my 50s, I’m looking forward to the new decade!


What are you looking forward to?

Current Mental Health – September 2019

Photo by VisualHunt

This post is a week late. Oops.

My mental health has actually been good this past month! I’ve been really active, doing more stuff like volunteering once a week, and physical therapy (for my right shoulder) twice a week.

Sometimes I didn’t follow through on my weekend plans, usually dinner and/or a movie. Part of that is because it’s been gray and rainy. But also because a part of me just wants to stay indoors and not leave my house. I don’t think I’m depressed, and I resolve to keep all of my plans this month.

In fact, we went to a nearby apple festival this past Saturday. I’d been looking forward to it because a candy shop I frequent was selling their caramel apples there, which they only make this time of year. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the reality was bad. It was so crowded, with people shuffling in different directions all at once. I was afraid we’d get separated (we also brought our dog), or that Rudy would get into a scrap with another dog (he didn’t). We stayed maybe 15 minutes, just enough time to find the candy booth and buy some caramel apples. Thankfully, the candy booth was near an entrance so we were able to leave the crowd quickly. We may have left early, but at least we showed up — and survived — so that’s pretty good.

My sleep has improved, I’m now only waking up once a night, like around 4ish. I then move to the sofa and I’m out again til about 7 or 8am.

The shakes haven’t been resolved, but I emailed my psychiatrist today. He said he will put me on a very low dose of Klonopin to — if not make them stop, then at least continue to minimize them. I’ll still be taking propranolol for that, too. I’ll let you know if it works next month.


Do you avoid crowded events/areas? Let me know in the comments!

Fail Better

Fail better.
Image from QuotesCover

Long ago, I owned a t-shirt with this quote on it, and the quote became my favorite. It was from grad school, specifically the MFA Creative Writing program at the university. I wish I knew what happened to the t-shirt. I’m pretty sure they’re no longer available.

I first learned of Samuel Beckett in high school. Some friends and I saw a play called Waiting for Godot, and I remember that it impacted me. The gist of it, to me, was that you can always sit around waiting for something that may never happen; or you can get off your ass and do something about it. Simplistic, but that’s how I understood it.

Beckett didn’t come up again until grad school, believe it or not, in the form of the above quote on a t-shirt. And it impacted me in much the same way as the play did. At the time, I was sending out poems, poems, and more poems to various literary journals for publication. All I received were rejections, rejections, and more rejections. Failure. Because of this quote, I was able to put the rejections behind me and start again. I was ready to fail better.


Is there a quote that you love?

Crochet Conquered

IMG_0096
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?