A couple of months back, I noticed that I was getting irritable quickly, and angry at random things. I was quick to dismiss this as simply a manifestation of my depression, but when I was getting angry several times a day, I decided that it was time to do something about it.
Several panic attacks, visits to a therapist, doctor and finally psychiatrist later, I’ve found a combination of medication that seems to be keeping me stable–and more than that, keeping me stable at a happier level than what I was expecting. As an added bonus, I’ve lost about 20 lbs in the two months since I restarted my anti-depressant.
There are a few of underlying factors to this; first, when I’m uber depressed, I self-medicate with food. Second, one of the side effects of the anti-depressant is loss of appetite, though I feel like I more or less have my appetite back (or have gotten used to eating less food than I was before). Third, one of the medications is technically a stimulant, which, while calming my anxiety is also giving me all sorts of excess energy.
But more important than my changed eating habits, I think, is the fact that I’ve started to exercise more. Not a great deal, and nothing terribly fancy or strenuous, mostly walking. And really, it’s the exercise side of thing that I wanted to talk about today.
So, here’s what I’ve learned–and I’m not sure that’s the right phrase, this is all stuff I’ve heard repeatedly over the years, but it’s finally sunk in. Anyway.
1) It’s not a race. If I need to stop and catch my breath, it’s okay to stop and catch my breath. I was getting frustrated for a while that I wasn’t tired, but my lungs had given out. Sis has (very well controlled) asthma, and I asked her what I could do to strengthen my lungs. She talked about how when she was in high school, she was on the soccer team and played the baritone saxophone in jazz band. Her doctors told her that those two activities were the very best things she could do for her lungs. She said that when she was playing soccer, or going on a hike or something and she would start to feel the first twinge of asthma, she’d pull back a little bit until she felt better, then power through. She suggested that I do something similar. So now, when I’m starting to get winded I’ll pause for a bit, then keep going. And you know what? I’m not getting winded as easily or as often as I used to.
2) The numbers don’t really matter. Most weight loss gurus will tell you not to weigh yourself every day. I don’t think that’s necessarily sound advice, I find myself jumping on the scale a couple of times every day–but I’m not freaking out that it’s showing a few pounds heavier in the afternoon when I’m fully clothed and just eaten than it did when I got on the scale first thing in the morning before getting dressed. I’m not even concerned that the numbers might go up one day from the day before. It’s fun to see the overall downward trend of the numbers on the scale, but there are better ways to gauge weight loss–how clothes fit, for example. (I have no idea what size I am these days) I’ve known forever that muscle weighs more than fat, and I honestly think that I have less body fat than the last time the scale was showing the numbers that it is now–I know my muscles are stronger.
3) Don’t forget the water. There are days (mostly when I’ve forgotten my water bottle) when I come home from school completely wiped out. I’ll get a drink of water–and then another one, and in a little bit, I find myself feeling better. I’ve also read that sometimes when the body is craving water, it will manifest as a craving for food. I’ve noticed this in myself, when I’ve got my water bottle, I’m less likely to want sweets. Plus, when the cravings get to be too much, I can add some Crystal Lite to my water to satisfy my sweet tooth.
4) Don’t forget to eat. There was a time (three months ago) when I didn’t know how people (like my dad) could forget to eat. And now I find myself doing it. Most days, I wouldn’t have breakfast except that my morning medication needs to be taken on a full stomach–I’m still not a breakfast fan, but if I’m going to forget to eat until about 2 pm, I better have something early in the morning. And like the water issue, I’ve had days when I’ve just felt terrible, until I had something to eat.
5) Keep goals realistic. I’m not going to go from this:
and I’m okay with that.
I’m not going to run a marathon or hike the north rim of the Grand Canyon tomorrow, but if I keep working, maybe someday I’ll be able to.
6) Healthy is more important than skinny. As much as I’d love to look like Ms. Hepburn there, I’d rather be a healthy 200 lbs (and I still have a ways to go before I get down to 200 lbs) than a sickly 98 lbs. In fact, I’m viewing this whole thing more as getting healthy than losing weight–healthy mentally as well as physically.
7) Losing weight is the easy part. Keeping it off is hard. You don’t get to the size I am without trying to lose weight at least once, only to have it all come back, and then some. I read somewhere that a person who has lost weight needs 500 calories per day fewer than a person of the same size who’s never lost the weight. This same article said that people who maintain weight loss get on average one hour of moderate exercise six days a week. I’m hoping that by getting into the habit of eating right and exercising, rather than just letting the medication do the work, by the time I get down to a healthy weight, It’ll be enough of a habit that I’ll just keep going with it.
None of this is groundbreaking stuff–I know I’ve heard it all a million times before, it’s just been in the past few months that it’s started to sink in. And while I’m not, by nature, and adventurous person, this whole being healthy and happy thing is an adventure that I’m not sure I want to give up any time soon.
Life has not been fun lately.
I’m having a hard time adjusting to this new semester–I like all of my classes individually, but together…I don’t know. I think part of the problem is that I am going to school six days a week, and so I don’t feel like I’ve got much time to relax.
I did start on an anti-depressant, but I had the bad luck of getting hit by a head-cold/ear infection pretty much the same time I started taking the pills, and so I’ve been headachey and dizzy, and I don’t know what’s side effects from the medicine, and what’s because I’m sick.
Emotionally, though, I’m feeling more stable, so that’s a plus. I’m not losing my temper the way that I have been, and while I’m not happy, I don’t feel hopeless.
Even with the beginnings of stability, I feel like I’m being kicked in the teeth. And it’s nothing big, it’s just the little things that keep piling up until they get overwhelming. It’s the anxiety, the frustration of trying to understand the reading, the not being able to sleep, making stupid mistakes then paying the price…. You know, life.
It’s been a strange, rough day.
I’m still feeling the effects of the panic attack yesterday–I was able to go out to make it to class, and to get some grocery shopping done, but besides that…
I’ve spent the day alternately crying, and hyperventilating.
This is really strange, because sleep is a giant ‘reset’ button for me, if I get a good night’s sleep (which I did, once I managed to fall asleep at about 3am) whatever I’m dealing with emotionally seems to melt away–at least, the emotional stuff that comes from inside my head.
I’m so tired of being a crazy person. I hate the way my brain and emotions betray me. I hate that I’m doing everything I should to make it better, and it’s not helping. And mom, I don’t need to hear that it’s time to go back to see a therapist. I can’t afford it, and I don’t want to make you pay for it.
Above all, I wish I could understand why, in the past three years or so, my depression has turned into more of an anxiety disorder.
And I wish I could make it go away.
I passed an important milestone today–I had my first bona fide panic attack since starting school. Yay?
I’ve talked about how nervous I’ve been about going back, but it’s been more of a “I feel so out-of-place” nervousness, not a “if you come any closer I’m going to hurt you” nervousness.
The really strange thing is said panic attack didn’t happen while I was getting ready to go to school, commuting to school, at school, commuting back from school, driving to Salt Lake to see my family, while I was with my family, or driving home from seeing the family. No, this particular panic attack chose to strike just as I was going to bed. So now I’m too freaked out to go to sleep, thus the updated blog.
The really crappy thing is I can usually pin-point the trigger of my anxiety, not so much today. I don’t think it’s school–I’m not going so far as to say I’m over being nervous about school, but I don’t have anything overly stressful happening right now. It could be family issues–Mom and Dad were in Salt Lake to consult with a doctor, who told them to come back on Monday, then again on Thursday (I like to drive, but I’m glad I’m not doing all that chasing.)
The most likely culprit I can find is money. And not even real money, I’m talking hypothetical money–the money I’m saving to make a big-ish purchase hopefully before the end of the semester. You know, the kitty that only has $25 in it? The one that I’d like to see grow to at least $200 before I make a firm decision on which of the three technology-based items I’m considering would be the wisest purchase?
On an unrelated note, I’ve discovered something quite encouraging to me. I’ve discovered on the days that I’m not updating the blog, I’m writing, or attempting to write, actual stories. So, I feel less guilty about not updating every day, because (and please don’t go through the archives and find where I’ve stated anything differently) the whole point of “The Storyteller Chronicles” isn’t to post every day, it’s to get me to write every day. Somewhere in the past few months, the distinction between the two got lost on me.
- Panic Indications and How to Adapt the Anxiety in Your (after50health.com)
- Recognizing Panic Attack Symptoms (badcreditdebtmanagement.com)
It’s been a rough day.
I woke up this morning with a headache–which is and of itself is unusual. I get headaches frequently, but very rarely wake up with one. I took some Advil, and then took the dogs for a walk. When we got home, I still had a couple of hours before class started, so I laid back down, hoping that a little more sleep would make my headache go away.
Not only did it not go away, but when I woke up again, class had already started. And by the time I would have been able to catch the bus to campus or walk there (I’m being realistic about how fast I move, here) it would have been over.
Even though it was just one of the institute classes, not one I had to pay for, I’m still really mad at myself for missing it. I realized, later on that I could have driven to campus and parked in a pay lot–in fact that’s probably exactly what I would have done had it been one of my college classes.
This stupid headache hasn’t gone away–and it’s made me tired and irritable all day.
My other goal for today was to figure out my online class.
So, here’s the thing–I had signed up for what I thought was an online math class. I was getting anxious that I hadn’t received any information about how to access my class–math is not one of my strong suites, and I didn’t want to fall behind. I thought that maybe I needed to pay tuition first, but I took care of that yesterday, and the website was showing I was all paid up.
I finally decided that I needed to get as much information as possible before I called the help desk, so I started digging deeper into this class, finding out stuff like who my professor is, and, oh, wait, what’s this?
It’s not an online class, it’s a second block class. Which means I’ll be going to a classroom and meeting with him face to face, but not until the middle of October.
Yeah…I’m feeling really smart right now. I have no idea why I thought it was an online class.
I’ve spent a good part of the day studying–more than I strictly feel that I need to. Still, it will be good to get in the habit, right? Part of the reason I struggled with college the first time around is the fact that I didn’t study.
There’s part of me that wants to put “The Storyteller Chronicles” on hold until further notice–until my life becomes more interesting, or less interesting, or I have more to write about, or whatever.
Another part of me chimes in and says “No, dammit. Corianne, you’re not going to give up just because things are getting hard. You WILL find something to write about, it WILL be interesting, and you WILL enjoy it.”
At which point the rest of me blows her nose, whimpers because that hurt her ears, and goes back to bed.
From the shoulders up, I’m feeling much better, actually. My ears have gone from constantly hurting to a dull ache like when you travel up in the mountains, and they need to pop, but won’t. I felt good enough to join my sister in meeting Mom in a park a half hour away from my house–kind of a mid point between where Sis lives and Mom lives, for a picnic, and to pick up some stuff that Sis needs to take her family camping. With my ears feeling better, though, my stomach has started to hurt. I’m hoping that it’s either a) the constant stress in my life that’s been put on the back burner since I got an ear-ache re-manifesting itself, or b) the gunk from my ears draining down the back of my throat into my stomach, the way it should.
I guess I spend too much time reading Free Range Kids, but I marveled at the fact that it didn’t take G long to be surrounded by a group of five boys (and one girl) all close to his age playing together. Granted, they all wanted to hit the mini punching bag Mom had brought, but still…
I’m glad there’s a place, and people in the world who will let kids be kids.
It was good to gather with the family, even if the weather was less than cooperative. We ended up moving our picnic inside of Mom’s car–you know, when the wind started blowing down branches big enough to knock a man out.
I’m getting more and more excited about going back to school. I want to start classes, its just…I hate getting bogged down in the administrative stuff. And I tend to let the little stuff you have to do before you do the big stuff keep me from doing the big stuff. Crazy I know.
So the allergies/head cold is totally kicking my butt, to the point where WebMD is telling me that I have an ear infection. Or thyroid cancer. But probably just an ear infection.
I’m considering it karma because I’ve known that Lulu’s had an inflamed ear for a while, but haven’t done anything about it*. Do you think the wipes I’m using for her ear would work for my ear?
I’m hovering at that annoying point of feeling good enough to y’know, actually do stuff, rather than spending the day in bed.
I got up this morning, got ready, took the dogs out and saw I had a half hour before I had to leave for church, so I sat down on the couch with a book, and promptly fell back asleep. And didn’t wake up until church was over. Whoops.
I feel horrible about this too. I have a friend, who I first met about three years ago, soon after I moved into my house/ward. He was on crutches at the time–he was a marine, and had been injured in Iraq.
The story loses some of it’s drama when, after talking to him for a bit I found out that he was an explosives expert, and had been hurt in a training exercise.
A year of crutches/physical therapy later, and Phil went on a tour of duty to Afghanistan. Which, happily, he returned from, and decided that his time in the marines was up.
So, what does a good Mormon ex-marine boy do next? He goes on a mission. His farewell was today. In my ward.
And I missed it.
Phil, if you are reading this, I am so sorry. I wanted to be there, I really did.
You are going to be an awesome missionary.
*I am not an awful dog mom note: The inflammation in Lulu’s ear is more like a hot spot that happens to be located on the flap of her ear. She’s not showing signs of vertigo or nausea. She just scratches her ear. A lot. I’m treating it with some OTC wipes, and they seem to be helping–except now she runs away when she sees me coming, because she doesn’t want me messing with her ear. Sigh.