Waiting for today...: November 2014

Saturday, November 29

Saturday the 29th: Exhausted...




Fog at dawn on US Route 13, Delmarva Peninsula



Four days off this week and I almost feel like I haven’t had any.  It seems as though exhaustion is in heavy pursuit of me… determined to take me captive.

It’s not just exhaustion.  I’m also feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I began going through my mail; attempting to get organised.  And tracking my finances; trying to get myself back on a budget.

This is a tricky predicament I’ve found myself in as I also have to study for a certification exam.

*sigh*

I’ve got to get a grip.  Recall my priorities.  Tunnel my vision on self-care only to avoid an unnecessary spiral.

I’m feeling fatigued.  
My brain feels “dry”.  
I’ve got a slight headache.  
I’m short tempered.

I’m dehydrated.  As I look over my activity chart, I realize that my water intake has not been adequate these last two weeks.  I’ve also been drinking caffeinated beverages.  Rehydration just may be enough 
to turn exhaustion away.



As a child, I remember being fascinated by everything around me. I took to drawing
early, trying to capture those things. My earliest remembrance of this fascination is from
elementary school. Instead of paying attention in class, I went about trying to recreate a
design I saw on a hand-woven bag. My creativity has waxed and waned since then. As I
grew up and became aware of cameras, my interest shifted from drawings to photos. It never evolved beyond pointing and shooting however. And just as I lost my passion for drawing and “less than amateur” photography, I lose my desire to write from time to time. I am almost certain it is related to my instability. So on days like this, when I’m speechless and lacking or time simply eludes me, I’ll share instead one of my photos in hopes to somehow keep my diminished creative flow from dying altogether.




Sunday, November 23

Finally, I See


I saw a man the other  morning standing on the corner seemingly waiting for traffic to slow that he may cross the street.  This man appeared to be talking.  Talking with his lips and with his hands, no one present with him.  I couldn't tell if he was on a blue tooth.  Or if his bulky dreadlocks were hiding ear buds and he was simply lost in his favorite song.
In the few seconds that it took me to notice him, before having to make that right hand turn on the way to work, I realized that I saw him through different eyes.
As a young child, I would've stared at him.  Tugged on the coat of my adult and pointed.  I would have been curious but at the same time afraid.  As an older child, I would've laughed at him, teased him and called him "crazy".  My friends and I would've made a spectacle as we jeered.  As a young adult, I believe I would have sympathized with him.  But my sympathy would be nothing more than fleeting.  And as the setting changed my sympathy would to turn, into indifference.
Today, I see through different eyes.  Through the eyes of one who suffers an inner turmoil that seeps through to the surface for all to witness and misconceive.  Of one that wrestles daily with those powers which seek only to tear down and destroy. Through honest eyes.  With curiosity and humaneness.  Through the eyes of one who hopes to someday be a voice for the voiceless. Courage for the faint of heart.  Can you see?

Mood disorders are no better or worse than personality disorders.  Eating disorders, no better or worse than anxiety disorders.  While we all suffer differently our suffering still consists of hopelessness, stigma, fear, emotional and physical pain among others.  We are the many faces of mental illness.  It doesn't take much to conceive.  You just have to be willing to "see" through different eyes.



Sunday, November 16

A Time to Regress



Statue of a Hawaiian girl in the The Aloha Tower Marketplace, Honolulu Hawaii



I’ve alluded to the fact that I was an avid reader as a child. And before moving back to the states I had an impressive book collection. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to bring it with me. And when my grandma died I was told nothing about the fate of those books. I just wondered, and still do, about what became of my collection.

The first few groups I tried to fit into once I returned home was short of avid readers. If there were others they did not make themselves known. Perhaps they were more worried more about fitting in like I was. Whatever the case, I was thankful for the few that did share my interest.

Although the first friend I made entering elementary school had a few unpleasant personality traits, she was also a reader. We often read the same book and would have competitions to see who could finish it first. There was another friend, in middle school that had an interest in reading and collecting comic books. And finally, there was my friend in high school. Even though she favored the romance novels and I took a liking to thrillers and horror, we would take time away from the group to bond at the library.

Somewhere along the way, between the Bahamas and now... between the pages of school books and an overwhelming need to fit in even at the expense of my own identity, I lost interest in leisure reading.  And each time I felt a hint of a spark returning, it would be squelched by guilt. Guilt would tell me that I couldn’t afford to waste my life in a book. Or, “you’re a professional now; you ought to be reading nursing journals or manuals”.  And my personal favorite: “if you can’t set aside time to read the bible you shouldn’t be reading anything else”.

One of my favorite places to go when I cut school as a teen was the bookstore. I would grab a book from the bookshelf and find myself a little corner. It was one of just a few moments of peace I found in those days. I would forget about the mounting tensions at home. I would forget about the misery incited by my peers in the classroom. It was an opportunity to forget about my life.

As I reach back into my past to identify the starting point of my many complexes, including my guilt monster and my insistence on punishing myself, I am also searching for that little girl that was once content and full of wonder. Before she was dejected, she showed me how to enjoy the simple things in life and she was always ready for an adventure.  And when she couldn’t create her own, she found it in a book.




Thursday, November 13

I've Decided


It’s been a year since I decided I didn’t want to be in denial anymore.  A year since I sat nervously in the waiting room of the psychiatrist’s office, waiting for my first therapy session.  Searching the faces in the room hoping to not see a familiar one. About a month later, I got my first prescription for a mood stabilizer.  Later, an antidepressant.  It’s been a long year and I’ve learned so much about my condition; about myself.  Yet as this recent episode of acute depression has passed, it is evident I’ve only scratched the surface.
It will also be a year in December since I decided to start blogging again.  Actually, I toyed with the idea for a couple of months before coming to a decision.  I hesitated as I remembered the fate of my blogs in the past but moved forward when I came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter:  I was only going to write for me.  Of course this didn’t stop me from exploring the blogosphere for other mental health blogs.  After joining the community at PsychCentral, I became aware that there may be a place for me and my story.
  
I’ve noticed that many bloggers have been living with and battling their illness for years.  I thought maybe I could lend to the perspective of a person who is just beginning the long journey to wellness.   A perspective that would include a view of the many challenges, stumbles, even successes and breakthroughs that we all have faced as we finally decided to take on our illness.  Laying claim to our lives once again.  Or at least that’s what I thought.  Even though it went against the initial premise of my wanting to blog again.  Fear of failure had me conflicted and indecisive.     
So again, I've been here for a year.  I know there is a place for me and my story.  But since December, I’ve be straddling the fence about what I want this place to be.  Its somewhat distant mood whispers to “stay away”.  Its choppiness has secretly created an air of confusion.  Other than myself and a few chosen loved ones it wasn’t published to attract any attention.  If someone else read it I thought, “that’s cool”.  If no one read it I thought, “that’s fine”.  Perhaps it is this need to draw people near but at the same time protect my fragility that has kept me conflicted.  And maybe that's why I feel like I could never fit in.   Or why I only a few months ago began making a real effort to connect with others in the community.   
I have always valued the ability of some who keep in mind the bigger picture. The bigger picture in this instance being the unfortunate level of mental health illiteracy in this country.  Sadly, I would be part of the problem and not the solution if I did not use my blog to at least help raise awareness.  So, I’ve come to a final a decision.  Instead of closing my Blogger account and going into a virtual isolation.  Instead of silencing myself and becoming a mere spectator in the fight against illiteracy and stigma associated with mental illness, I’ve gone about the business of making Waiting for today more… personable, intimate and fluid.
With this I hope to not only make friends in the mental health community but to also be more of an advocate.  Having a fear of rejection and failure will make it challenging in terms of putting myself out there in greater display. Even when I’m not depressed I tend to keep myself in a little hiding place.  All tucked away from the unpleasant things that come with having to be outside myself.  But isn’t attaining mental wellness about finding the courage to come out of our comfort zone?  To forsake the darkness and step into the light?

related: Why A Blog?



Thursday, November 6

Article: African American Women and Depression


Speaking with a my middle sister-friend and her mother, my third mom, got me to thinking about how real the avoidance of treatment for mental illness is in the African American community...
With the breakthroughs that I've had since starting cognitive behavioral therapy and the short duration of my latest acute depressive episode (which I contribute to therapy), I am now self-proclaimed promoter of this particular type of treatment.  As I've opened up to my loved ones about my struggle with depression, many of them have in turn opened up about their own struggles as well.  I am careful to distinguish between depression and sadness as I tell my story.  But as I listen to theirs, I slowly realize what they have experienced is more than sadness.  While I become saddened by their admission, it becomes a great opportunity for me to educate and encourage them to seek treatment.  Then reality sets in.  The responses are all too familiar.  Either they have been in therapy before and "it didn't help" or they prefer to receive "counseling" from their religious leaders instead of a licensed professional.  The following article delves a bit more deeply into how history has helped shape our psyche resulting in the reluctance to admit to and seek treatment for mental illness.




Depression is a huge health concern among African Americans — particularly women — but mental health is often stigmatized in the Black community… “During slavery you were supposed to be the strong one. You weren’t supposed to speak. You were supposed to just do,” said Esney M. Sharpe, founder and CEO of the Bessie Mae Women’s Health Center in East Orange, N.J., which offers health services for uninsured and underserved women. “…Our moms and our grandmothers always told us to suppress. Just be quiet, chalk it up, get up, dress up, fix your face, put on your best outfit and just keep going,” she said…  Because mental health is a taboo subject in the African-American community, Black people are less likely than other groups to even acknowledge it as a serious problem…


con’t reading: African-American Women and Depression by Nia Hamm published at PsychCentral. Retrieved September 30th, 2014 from http://psychcentral.com/lib/african-american-women-and-depression/00020415 

related: Mums the Word, ... Black Folks and Mental Health: Why Do We Suffer in Silence?

Tuesday, November 4

Teeter-Totter


It’s been a rough week.  I worked five of seven (the last seven) days.  I’m tired.  I did practically nothing yesterday… maybe that’s why I’m tired.  I don’t know.  I don’t like this.  It’s back to work tomorrow.  Monday and Tuesday.  I’m off Thursday and Wednesday but my ass is tired now.  Maybe a walk will perk me up. -- Sunday, November 2nd 2014


The walk was great.  Felt good to stretch my legs.  It was a cold day to take a walk but the air was crisp and refreshing and I was cozy in my faux fur lined fall jacket. After I returned home I had breakfast, took in a movie and took a nap.  When I awoke, still no motivation.   I can’t lie, it trouble me a bit.  As I’ve already mentioned, the first month or so after an acute episode I have to be very careful to not overdo it.  I was afraid I had done just that by working an extra day last week.   I just couldn’t say “no”.   That’s the part of me I still fight against: the part that tells me that I’m selfish.  
So as the negative thinking began, I immediately put into practice a lesson from chapter two of my Mindfulness for Dummies text.  I chose to be gentle with myself and I gave myself the benefit of the doubt.   I neutralized those negative thoughts and feelings by telling myself “perhaps your energy is not yet restored” and “perhaps your battery recharges much slower than you previously realized”.   But most important was the reality that my world wasn’t going to go to shit if I took one more day of rest.  To force myself to do otherwise, I’d be taking a gamble that wouldn’t have been worth it.  


So, I rested easy the rest of the day.  I’ve survived Monday, I’ll muddle through Tuesday and I’ll see how I feel on Wednesday.  Hopefully by then my motivation will have grown from a feeling to a doing.