Sunday, June 9, 2019

Self-Care That's Not So Fun

As promised in my previous post, I am now going to talk about self-care that's not so much fun. This kind of self-care involves things we know we NEED to do in order to take care of our bodies and minds, yet often we don't WANT to do them. This kind of self-care encompasses healthy habits and coping skills. It's not as easy as some may think. For those of us with depression, falling into old, negative habits and unhealthy coping mechanisms is rather tempting, and sometimes we give in to that temptation. (This from the girl who stayed up until 1:00 this morning scrolling through Facebook and Instagram.)  So, what are these not-so-fun self-care things we should be doing? And is it possible to make them more fun, or at least bearable? Let's talk about it.

  • Eat healthy foods. I'm going to admit I have not been doing this the past couple of months. I can feel it, too, in both body and mind. I've been busy, stressed, and overwhelmed. I haven't felt like menu planning or cooking. My teens have been busy. One is working long hours. The other will be looking for a job soon. They don't alternate cooking with me too often these days. I have a daughter with significant special needs who is home for the summer. I have major depressive disorder and some days it really kicks my ass. We are on a TIGHT budget. I've had so many excuses or reasons or whatever you want to call them, but I'm menu planning TODAY. I will be putting healthy food on that menu. I have done it before and stayed within the budget, and I can do it again. My fellow depression warriors, listen to me. I know it's hard. There are days I likely wouldn't get out of bed if I didn't have to take care of my daughter with special needs. Depression is like that. (And, yes, I'm on antidepressants and have a therapist, too.) But we have to take care of our bodies. We make things much worse on ourselves if we don't. I have been doing this lately, but I refuse to feel guilt over it (another lovely feeling depression likes to pummel us with.) Start small. Have fruit for dessert rather than something not so healthy. Add more vegetables at dinner and cut the bread. Eat more fresh food and less processed food. Make small changes. We can do this.
  • Move your body. This is another thing that often feels impossible for those of us who have depression. There are days when I sit in a chair or on the couch, moving only when absolutely necessary. It's like I'm weighted down. It feels almost painful to have to get up and do anything. I am numb. I'm sure my readers with depression know what I'm talking about. Some are probably wondering how in the hell they're supposed to get up and exercise on days like that?!? Relax. I didn't say the word exercise. I just said move. Sometimes that might mean walking to another room. It might mean getting out of bed. Again - small steps. You might open your door and step outside. Eventually, you might decide to take a walk. I've had seasons where taking a shower was my accomplishment for the day, and then I've had seasons where I exercised 45 minutes a day 4-5 days a week. Depression is not predictable. Healing is not linear. Do what you can when you can. Movement helps; it truly does. Maybe it's not so fun, but it's self-care that we need. And, let's face it. We've made it through much harder things.
  • Get adequate sleep. Yeah, okay, I failed at that last night. I'm feeling it today. I'm pumping myself full of coffee, Coke Zero (which I don't regularly drink), and likely I'll be bouncing off the walls soon. In my defense, though, I typically go to bed around 10:30 and get up around 6:30, so I'm practicing what I preach (usually.) Now, since Depression decided to bring a little friend with him named Anxiety when he came to live in my brain, I got a bonus of racing thoughts and issues with insomnia to go along with my melancholia. Nice. Well, because of this, I have to take a prescription at night so I can sleep. If you need medication, there is no shame in that. You must have sleep in order to manage and cope with your depression. Other than medication, some other things I do to help me prepare for sleep are to drink (caffeine free, of course) chamomile tea with lavender before bed and burn lavender incense (BEFORE I fall asleep.) I also turn off bright, overhead lights and read by lamplight. Create a soothing nighttime ritual that you can stick with. 
  • Make and keep appointments. I am not the best at making appointments, other than to see my psychiatrist and therapist. I know I do not need to miss scheduling or attending those. But other appointments? I'm overdue for my mammogram, my eye exam, and I'm sure something else, too. I will make those appointments this week. I promise. You all can hold me accountable. But back to the psychiatry and therapy appointments. My followers with depression, please make these appointments and then show up for them. And when you're there, be honest about what you're feeling. If you're struggling, say so. If you're having suicidal thoughts, tell your doctor or therapist or both. If you keep quiet or lie on the questionnaire, you are hurting yourself and possibly those you love. If you're afraid telling the truth is going to get you put in inpatient again, that's a good sign that you probably need to go back to inpatient. Look, I know how miserable it is in there. I've been there, done that. But if it keeps you safe, you need to do what you've got to do. Maybe it's not fun, but there are worse things. You feeling me?
  • Take your medications. Finally, if you're on antidepressants, take them as your doctor prescribed. They are not medications that you can stop taking when you feel better. I've actually known people who did this. The result was not pretty. Antidepressants do NOT work that way. Don't change the dose yourself. Don't try to wean yourself off. Don't add more. Just follow your doctor's instructions. I care about you. I don't want to see you do anything to harm yourself. *On a side note, some people see taking medication, especially for depression and other mental illnesses, as weak, but many people, myself included, need medication in order to be able to function. That's just the way it is. If you have any questions or comments about mental illness and antidepressants and weakness, contact a psychiatrist. They are doctors; likely you are not.* Okay, back to my strong and brave fellow depression warriors. If you need medication, take it as prescribed. Doing so is an important part of self-care. 
*Note for ignorant, pill-shaming individuals*

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours Every Day

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Fun Self-Care, Self-Love, and What the Hell is Going On?!?

Gandalf, My Hero
I'm still here. I know it's been a while since I posted. We've had a busy season of life lately. My older daughter graduated from high school. It's hard for me to grasp that fact. She's been homeschooled throughout her entire educational career, so while I'm excited for her, there is also a part of me that grieves a little for the loss of that era. It is certainly an adjustment. In addition to this, my younger daughter moved up from fifth grade and is now in middle school. My son will be a junior, so we have only two years left to do school together. Lots of letting go around here! To add to this bit of emotional unrest, I am also in the throes of perimenopause, which let me just bluntly say is hell. Plus, finally, as most of my readers know, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder two years ago. I'll tell you right here and right now that this past May was likely one of the most stressful months I've ever had in my life. I was glad to switch my calendar to June today. I'm saying it now. I'm speaking it into existence. I'm willing it. June will be a GOOD month. There may  will be stressors. I will lose my crap sometimes. My husband and my kids will lose their crap sometimes. My house will be messy. My laundry will be clean, but it might be stacked somewhere outside closets and drawers. I do NOT care. I'm just trying to survive. It's summer in the south and it is HOT. And HUMID. My sweet daughter with special needs is home all day for the entire summer. I love her, but it is quite challenging to care for her due to the nature of her needs. Then, there's the perimenopause beast. When I go three months without a period and then, suddenly, BOOM!!! Guess who? And it's like a murder scene in the bathroom. What the hell?!? I wasn't prepared for this. And the cramps, oh, they are back - back with a vengeance! It's like I'm giving birth to that alien in the infamous Alien scene. Then there's the crying. Then I'm laughing. Then I'm furious. Then I'm crying again. All of this is affecting my depression, which is to be expected. I am working hard to practice my healthy coping skills, but sometimes I fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms. When I'm overwhelmed, it's just so easy to do things that feel good at the moment but aren't healthy in the long run; I admit to doing this a few times over the past month. I've been making a conscious effort to practice healthy self-care and self-love lately. In spite of that, I am still struggling with stress. Yes, I'm still seeing my psychiatrist. Yes, I'm still taking my antidepressants. But, I still parent a child with significant special needs. And I have a husband who works a lot of the time. Oh, and I have lavender essential oil and CBD oil and even rose quartz. I even have lavender soap and lavender fabric softener and lavender dryer sheets and I burn lavender incense. My entire house is made out of lavender. My daughter has medication for her anxiety. She sees a neurologist every few months. So, trust me, we're all medicated as prescribed and oiled and mineraled and scented here, too. We get plenty of time outdoors as well as lots of exercise. My stress level is still high. No amount of any of these things will make it go away. They just help me to manage it better. Here are some of the things I do for fun. In my next post, I'm going to talk about what's known as "boring" self-care.

Being creative helps me by taking my mind off the stress for a while. I made this suncatcher. I also like to color, sketch, paint, and write.

Sometimes I spend a day alone. It is fabulous. I eat lunch at my favorite restaurant, go shopping, go to the bookstore, take a walk in nature, or do whatever I feel like. It's MY day! This is my ultimate act of self-love.

I take an (almost) daily morning walk. I am surrounded by lovely trees, flowers, birds, squirrels, and so many other beautiful sights. I get exercise while soaking in some sunshine, too. This is a great way to practice self-care. 

I go on date nights with this sexy guy! We laugh, we eat, we shop, we go to Walmart (inside joke.) Then we...well, none of your business!

I light candles, burn incense, meditate, go barefoot in the grass. 

I love being outside at night. We light the citronella candle and sit near the citronella plant to (hopefully) keep the mosquitoes away. Some nights I drink a mug of chamomile tea. 

And here I am with my rescue baby: Gandalf. I'm not sure who actually rescued whom. Look at his sweet face. He is my heart. He jumps up and "hugs" me. When we sit in the chair together, he has to wrap his legs around mine.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Be Free

Be Free

Be free. Be truly, unabashedly, honestly free. Just be you. Unapologetically YOU.  Never let an ideology or belief system - I don't care what it is or who taught it to you or how long you've believed it - stifle you or harm you or tell you that something is right or logical when you know that it is NOT. If you are being taught that you are less than, inferior to, must be submissive to, must be led by...then GET OUT. You have a brain. You have a personality. You have a life. Go live it. Be free.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

School Days, Patience, and Special Needs

This picture captures a moment between my two youngest children. My teen, who is homeschooled, was still working when his little sister got home from public school. She gravitates toward him, and this day was no different. He has so much patience with her and so much love for her. I love to watch the two of them together. Being a special needs family is difficult much of the time, but moments like these remind me of how much we all learn about love, patience, gentleness, and the beauty of life. 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

This or That? Travel Edition

I'll go first.

  1. Nature
  2. Airbnb
  3. Train
  4. History
  5. Adventure
  6. Beach
  7. Alone
  8. Plan it
  9. Suitcase
  10. Resort
  11. Sightseeing
  12. Party trip
  13. Hidden gems
Okay, your turn!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Book Release: Mountains and Melancholy

I'm excited to announce that my book, Mountains and Melancholy: A Collection of Poetry About Life With Depression, is available now. It can be purchased from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. Order yours today. When you're done reading it, please take the time to leave a review on Amazon. I appreciate your support and encouragement as I've worked toward and reached this goal. I am now working on my second poetry book and am also writing my first novel. I look forward to sharing them with you as well. Thank you all again!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

2018-2019 Homeschool Year

We started back on August 13; however, I am just now finding the time to write about our curriculum and schedule for this year. It has been that hectic. With one senior and one sophomore, the workload is heavier -for them and for me- and also increasingly challenging. To add a little more stress  excitement, my senior is also working part-time. Plus, I still have my writing, which sometimes means early mornings and late nights to ensure that I meet deadlines. On a side note, look for exciting news about my writing coming soon. For now, though, let's continue with the homeschool discussion. We typically school five days a week, Monday through Friday, although we've already had to do some school on a couple of Saturdays in order to make up for missing some school time due to issues that arose during the week. Since I have high schoolers, most of their work is done independently. I check over it, and then we go over any corrections that need to be made. Some subjects, such as Literature, History, and the Sciences, are interactive in our home. We discuss ideas and themes, events and people, and do labs together. I'm also available to facilitate in other subjects as needed. I believe in teaching students to learn independently, and I've been fostering that type of environment since we started our homeschool journey in 2006.

I use a mix of different curricula. I choose based on the learning style of each child and also what fits my teaching style; it's important that you take both into consideration. Also, one other piece of advice before I share what we're using this year: be prepared. Plan, plan, plan. I spend around two months each summer planning our homeschool year. I block out around one-two hours 3-4 days a week over that time period and research options, buy materials, familiarize myself with the materials, see how many days/weeks it will take to finish each subject, and then loosely plan the year. That works for me. Find your style and then make planning work for you.

*My Senior's Curriculum
Psychology and You
Forensic Science Fundamentals and Investigations
American Government Balancing Democracy and Rights
Fundamentals of Economics
Math-U-See Pre-Cal & Trig
Memoria Press The Iliad & The Odyssey Set
Art Appreciation
Word: The Poet's Voice

*My Sophomore's Curriculum
First Form Greek
Art Appreciation
Word: The Poet's Voice
Math-U-See Geometry Set
History Odyssey Ancients Level 3
Ancient Literature
High School Chemistry in Your Home
Analytical Grammar

*Don't freak out too much at the prices. I didn't buy all of these new. Some I borrowed from friends and many I found on Paperback Swap and Thrift Books.

If you have any questions, please ask. Also, I'd love to hear about the materials that you're using and about how you plan and schedule your homeschool year. Let me hear from you soon!

Self-Care That's Not So Fun

As promised in my previous post, I am now going to talk about self-care that's not so much fun. This kind of self-care involves thin...