The art of relaxation.

mar1115

Once upon a time, I used to excel in relaxation.

Putting my feet up after a long day of work, complete with comfortable clothes, a cup of tea, a book, movie, or TV show, used to be one of my favourite things to do. I’d usually be productive during this time as well, tidying up in some manner, folding clothes, sweeping the floor, giving the bathroom a quick wipe down, tackling an army of dust bunnies, or working on my writing. Yes sir, relaxing was something that I was really good at. And while most people don’t find chores relaxing, I tend do. It gives me an outlet, with the result being maximum cleanliness!

But as of late, relaxing is something that I actually seem to fear. It forces me to do nothing, it forces me to be one with my thoughts. And if you’ve been keeping up, my thoughts are not something that I want to spend too much time with. Even if I am just sitting on the couch, watching something on Netflix, I’m also on my phone, playing games, refreshing Twitter and Facebook, trying to keep my mind from stopping.

The other night, while Brad and I sat on the couch, him playing a video game and me trying to keep my mind from wandering, I began to feel anxious. This sort of “you need to get up and go” kind of feeling. These feelings seem to manifest once in a while, though it was especially bad before I began taking my medication. I would need to go out every night for a walk to keep my heart from feeling like it was going to burst out of my chest. And last night was the first time in about a week or so I’d had that feeling. I always ask Brad if he wants to come on walks with me, and he always does, so I’m glad to have the company, and for the first few minutes we usually talk about how I’m feeling, what I’m going to do to feel better. Soon afterward, I’m laughing and joking and talking like I used to before all of this nonsense started taking place. Like someone who didn’t always feel like Eeyore.

I know it’s not true, but I can’t help but feel that lately I am becoming boring. Which is one of my greatest fears. I worry that I am boring, that my friends and loved ones are bored of me, that I am unexciting and not fun to be around. I haven’t done much lately, spending most evenings on the couch, trying to will myself to want to do something. It feels like there’s nothing going on in the city, when really I just haven’t looked hard enough. (Although conferring with Brad has revealed that it isn’t just me, that the city has seemed to be void of things to do the past two months) But, didn’t I used to be interesting? And lately I feel like I’m not. I feel like I simply exist. Which is excellent, but up until recently I felt like so much more. I feel like everyone else is doing something, which I know is not true. Most nights I’m sitting on the couch, the majority of my friends and family are also sitting on their couches. It’s still winter, people are still hibernating (even if it doesn’t really get cold or snowy here). Thing is, they can relax, and I can’t.

So, I feel like I must always be doing something. Even when trying to relax. Relaxing isn’t anything – it’s nothing.

Relaxation used to be my reward after a hard day’s work. But I feel that over the past few months I haven’t done enough hard work to warrant relaxing. Taking it easy makes me feel guilty, anxious, like I’m wasting my time. Shouldn’t I be doing something? My mind wanders to places where I’m an older version of myself, wishing I’d done something instead of sitting around doing nothing on an arbitrary Thursday night. Which is completely illogical, I know. There is very little chance that when I am older I will look back on my life with any sort of regret about the things that I didn’t do. But it doesn’t stop me from going there, from wanting to make the most of every possible second that I’m awake. And that’s fine, but it’s hindering my ability to wind down most days and nights. Because I feel like I’ve already spent the majority of my day winding down, so surely my afternoons and evenings should be spent doing anything else but taking it easy.

I’ve enrolled in a couple of courses that will give me something to do in the evenings after work. I’m doing Zumba on Saturday mornings. I’ve reached out to someone for counselling who I’m going to meet with next week. I’ve signed up to volunteer at the local Humane Society. I’m trying to get over this notion that I have in my head that seeing friends and doing things are for weekends only – they’re for during the week too. I’m trying to fill more of my free time with stuff and things that are rewarding so that when I do relax, I don’t feel so guilty. I’m trying to reclaim my passion for things that I used to do – reading, writing, creating. Our last apartment was not at all conducive to being creative, and our new place is, and yet I feel that I’ve not embraced things that I used to take pride and pleasure in. I am an interesting person, and lately I don’t feel like I am. I really want to change that.

But, as wonderful as hobbies, courses, volunteer work, exercise, and filling my time with meaningful things all are … I would love more than anything to simply be able to put up my feet and relax.

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I’m getting there.

mar06

In my last post, I talked about how I’d been feeling as of late, and the feelings weren’t great.

Since then it’s gotten better, and it’s also gotten worse. For the first week or so I attributed it to homesickness – any thoughts of Halifax had me choking back tears. Those feelings started to go away after a week, but the feelings of sadness still remained. I tried everything I could to rationalize what I was feeling. In the meantime, I was getting sick, I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t finding joy in hobbies, and the only time I didn’t want to rip my heart out of my chest to stop it from hurting was when I was out having fun with my boyfriend and friends.

I was getting so sick and tired of being sick and tired, of not feeling like myself. I would wake up every morning feeling like my chest was being crushed, and would then stand under the spray of the shower willing that feeling to go away, to wash down the drain with the remnants of the conditioner from my hair. After a month of these feelings, I decided that I needed help. Help beyond kind words and comfort from the people closest to me.

I went to a walk-in clinic and spoke with a doctor there. While we were talking, I began to feel better, telling a professional what I was going through tends to do that. Her nods and her follow-up questions to some things made me confident in the self diagnosis that I had given myself a few days previous, based on doing some Googling of my symptoms (which is terribly ill advised but I was tired of not having any idea). She gave me a test to take home, and wanted me to get some blood work done. The test wasn’t anything terribly official, just a way to rate my symptoms and feelings, and if I scored over a certain amount, we would have a clearer picture of what was going on.

On Monday, I went back to see the doctor, and the diagnosis was what I expected: likelihood of depression.

She prescribed me a month’s worth of medication, with instructions to come back after two weeks so we could discuss how I was feeling, and how the medication was working. Right now? I feel like a trash barge for a few hours after I take the medication. The most prevalent side effect for me seems to be drowsiness, which makes it very difficult to focus at work. There are also some other side effects, but those seem to go away after a little while. The doctor said it could take up to a couple of weeks to feel and see the benefits of the drug, but I can say that most afternoons I do feel better than I used to, whether it’s the drugs or just me willing myself to feel better, who knows?

I’m so happy that I’m on some semblance of a path to feeling better, more like myself, but I’m also angry.

I’m angry because for 29 years, I was fine. Yeah, I got sad and down in the dumps once in a while, but it was nothing that I couldn’t resolve on my own, or by talking to my parents or friends. I know that there’s nothing or no one to point fingers at – depression is a disease and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. And that’s part of why I’m angry. There’s no reason why I’m depressed, I just am. And I have to accept that’s just the way things are right now.

It’s difficult not to get my hopes up right now. I really want this medication to work, and ideally in a couple of months be absolutely fine, but there’s nothing to base that on. I want so badly to feel like myself again, that part of me thinks I’m capable of willing the depression away. It might be with me for a while, possibly forever, and right now I’m trying to make peace with that. There’s nothing wrong with me if that’s the case, it doesn’t mean I’m any less strong. But it also might begin to slowly ebb away, and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t what I wanted.

Right now, I’m trying to focus on the positives in my life, of which there are a lot. One of the biggest positives in my life right now is Brad, who has been my rock throughout this whole ordeal. He is the greatest partner that one could ever ask for. Time and time again he reminds me that I’m not in this alone, that we’re in this together. Every morning before we go to work, he tells me he loves me, and that he hopes I have an amazing day. He checks in periodically during the day to see how I’m doing. He gives me frequent hugs and kisses. He holds me when I’m upset. He came with me when I had my blood work done, held my hand, and then bought me a doughnut. He’s just this wonderful presence in my life, and I think I’d be lost without him.

I feel like I could talk endlessly about what I’m going through right now, how I’ve been feeling, but really I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’ve had to work at my happiness, which isn’t something that I’ve had to do before – happiness tends to come naturally to me. So to have to work at something which has always just been right there is a foreign concept to me, but one I am trying to tackle with every fiber of my being.

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Be okay.

feb1115

I tend to be positive, happy, and optimistic 95% of the time, it’s simply the way that I operate. Obviously, I’m not some manner of robot, I do feel negative and not so wonderful things on occasion, but I allow myself to feel those things and then move on from them. To me, there’s no point in dwelling in negative thoughts and feelings. But for the past few days, moving on from feeling not so wonderful feelings has been difficult.

There is nothing inherently wrong with my life right now, but for the past week or so I’ve been sad, emotional to the point of breaking down and when my boyfriend looks to me for a reason why, I just shrug. I can’t explain it, and I wish that I could. I don’t think that it’s caused by anything specific, but a myriad of things – if there is a “cause” at all.

Sometimes when my period is late (which it is right now) my hormones like to make their presence known even more. Sometimes the transition from winter to spring leaves me feeling oddly morose, and I haven’t the faintest idea why. Sometimes my self confidence wavers, and I can’t fathom why my wonderful love would be or stay with someone like me, despite daily affirmations of his love for me, that he would move mountains for me if I needed someone to. Sometimes I miss my friends and family back in Halifax so much that it physically aches, even though I have a lot of friends here in Victoria, and they are all wonderful.

Sometimes I’m just sad, and I don’t know. And that’s okay.

I’ve been better, but I’m also getting better.

Last night I cried and was ill. Then I laid on the couch drinking tea (lovingly made by Brad), while watching the insanity that is Mike Tyson Mysteries. I got a full night’s rest, complete with oddly hilarious dreams. I woke up, and I felt better.

I don’t feel 100% yet. But I can feel my appetite returning, and I don’t feel like I’m constantly blinking back tears, or trying to suppress feeling like I’m going to be sick.

It’s a start.

I wish I could pinpoint why I’m feeling this way, but I can’t. I’ve tried to. When I think of all the things that are going on in my life right now, there’s nothing I can rightly see that would have me feeling this way. I’m making some changes right now, with things to do in my free time besides sit on the couch. I’m learning to play the ukelele, I joined a book club, I filled out an application to volunteer at the local SPCA, I’m starting to do yoga in my home again, I’m reaching out to people more simply to chat because I miss the sound of their voice and the cadence of their words.

At the end of it all, I simply want to be okay, and right now I’m struggling with that. But I’m working on it. I’ll get there.

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