Sorry for being so bleak

I realize as winter inched closer and closer and my mental state declined, my posts on here became a bit bleak. Not unlike the weather outside! (Badum bum!) While I detest, on some level, that persistent message you read on many websites and in many news articles to “be positive”, as if it’s proper to force oneself to feel a certain way (it’s not), I do believe it’s good to regularly check in with yourself and remind yourself of what joy means to you. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget when you’re in the midst of emotional turmoil and it’s nice to have a list to refer back to. This list is not all inclusive and each person’s List O’ Joy will look different, just like everybody’s recipe for a good cookie. My list is below and I’d love to hear what others find joyful in the bleakest of seasons.

 

  1. Pugs
  2. Hikes through any terrain
  3. A good rainstorm
  4. A hot bath
  5. A mug of tea
  6. Writing a poem
  7. Rabbits
  8. Riding horses
  9. Smelling essential oils
  10. Weighted blankets
  11. Making a new recipe and hoping it will turn out, but not knowing what the ultimate outcome will be
  12. Treating oneself to a delicious latte at the coffeeshop
  13. Large, warm blankets. Of the fuzzy variety.
  14. Looking at pictures of faraway places
  15. Catching up with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
  16. Cleaning up clutter (this may be more of a manifestation of OCD tendencies than actual joy. I’m still undecided.)
  17. Watching a subtitled movie
  18. Seeing my plants grow or blossom
  19. Grocery shopping. I love looking through the aisles and finding unusual items
  20. Cultivating the perfect playlist for a certain mood
  21. Making my own, whether that’s candles, soap, or bath salts.
  22. Long walks through the neighborhood
  23. A firm hug from somebody I’m comfortable with
  24. Quirky paintings
  25. Taking pictures of slugs and snails
  26. A good HIIT workout
  27. Doing yin yoga
  28. Deep conversations
  29. Long road trips across the country
  30. Arriving in a hotel after a long day of driving
  31. Reading and dreaming about burlesque
  32. Taking the longest, hottest shower
  33. Watching nature documentaries
  34. Looking at pictures of wounds/dressing wounds
  35. Listening to true crime podcasts
  36. Listening to storytelling podcasts
  37. Trying new restaurants
  38. Exploring the city I live in
  39. Daydreaming about moving somewhere else
  40. A nourishing bowl of oatmeal or cream of rice
  41. Dancing
  42. Epiphanies
  43. Popping pimples
  44. Animals, animals, animals
  45. The mountains of North Carolina
  46. Smells that you cannot adequately describe, just feel
  47. Genuine connection with another human being, that feeling of being on the same page
  48. Autumn
  49. Being on a continuous quest to find the best horror movies
  50. Happy tears

Today was a pile of garbage

No stranger to bad days. Today was a bad day. They come unpredictably, insidiously. Often, they come when I wake up feeling fresh and ready. Other times, they come on days that start ominous and progressively get worse as the minutes pass. It’s impossible to know when the walls will come crashing down. I don’t want to discuss the details of why today was a flaming hot pile of garbage, but it was provoked by finances and general holiday ennui. It felt oppressive to be alive today, like I was every step I took was weighted, like traversing through the sludge of modern existence. By 4:00 p.m. I just felt like giving up on the day and couldn’t wait until I go lie down and make the day end. It’s in moments like these therapists and friends alike will encourage you to be grateful and think positively. This is the best I can do today:

My pug blows snot bubbles in my face. It could be worse. I could be getting puked on at work (I’m a nurse).

It’s no longer -30 degrees this week. Just completely overcast, dreary and like I’m living in a fucking sepia-toned photograph of 1930’s London.

I’m off from work for another month (yay!). I have no money for leisure activities or the vacation from life I desperately need.

I have a refrigerator full of food. It’s all made with butter and horrible for you.

It’s Christmas! That time of year where there’s pressure to get along with family and the need to buy presents thus stressing your already tight budget. That time where there’s abundant food, but it’s all garbage food and CAN I JUST TAP OUTĀ FROM DECEMBER 23rd THROUGH JANUARY 2ND????

The house is clean. Yeah. No complaints there. I love a clean house.

I’ve stopped having stress dreams. I instead have broken dreams!!!!!!

If I don’t want to leave the house the next month, I don’t have to. My dream of being a hermit can finally come true.

My bangs don’t look like shit. That’s pretty okay.

Not all my plants have died. Just some of them.

I’m not a special snowflake and I DON’T WANT TO BE A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE.

I can convey yelling through strategically placed capitalization.

I still hate humans, but at least I can talk to them without panicking inside my head now that I’m on medication.

This is an exhaustive list. What I mean by that is I’m completely exhausted and there is nothing else I can bring myself to add at the moment.

 

All Aboard the Pharmaceutical Train

This fall left me feeling wrung out. I don’t know that I ever really feel stable and like I have a hold on the various pieces of my life. What I do know is when adverse symptoms grow in severity I feel like I cannot get my head above water. My perception of the world changes so that I am an animal trapped in a cage. I look around me and see everything, everyone as a reason for fear. I become irritable to the point I avoid leaving the house and speaking to anybody. The way somebody talks, the way they close the door, the way they chew, the very essence they exude feels abrasive. I am overstimulated by noises, sensations. A loud truck passing by sends my heart rate upward into the realm of abnormal. The feeling of a certain sweater makes me feel like I am covered in bugs. I rip it off in disgust. Another day this sweater may just feel like any other article of clothing. I cry easily. I tear up sometimes for no reason. The normally manageable feels completely unmanageable. There is a level of stressors I am equipped to handle and the threshold at which I break is exceedingly low. One stressful situation a day is all I can withstand. I constantly feel like the world is falling apart, like I am falling apart and despite my attempts to hold myself together I am in a thousand different pieces drifting away in divergent directions and I cannot possibly hold it together. This was my fall.

For years, I hated being on medication. I hated how it made me feel. As a somewhat granola-loving individual in my early 20’s, I hated myself for taking medication. The people I surrounded myself with told me how worthless I was for succumbing to chemical assistance. I felt like I didn’t belong and to some extent, I’ve always felt this way, but I didn’t belong with the people I actually cared to belong with for the first time in my life. People I thought I find that ever-elusive sense of belonging with. So, after much struggle, I took myself off medication after three attempts. I was free from medication for around four years and I officially went back on medication last spring. I decided to take buspirone to take the edge off my anxiety, but ultimately it was not effective. This fall, I was so unbelievably miserable, I decided to take an SNRI with open arms. I ran towards it.

You know what? I don’t regret it. As a medical professional, I do believe medications are overprescribed. However, I also believe they can be incredibly helpful for throngs of people. They give quality of life. While I am a firm believer in preventative medicine, there’s a point you reach where you need medical advances to complete the process. To provide some perspective, I was doing everything people tell you to do to keep your mental health in check. I was regularly seeing a therapist. I spent time with my pet rabbit. I worked out every single day of the week. I integrated yoga into my life again after a long hiatus. I avoided gluten. I ate lots of fruits and vegetables. I kept a regular schedule, going to sleep at 9:30-10:00 p.m. every night and waking around 6:00-7:00 a.m. every morning. I forced myself to leave the houses, even to run to the grocery store. I started meditating. I put lavender and vanilla oil in my oil diffuser every night. I talked to loved ones. I wrote out my feelings. I started worked towards changing major stressors, mainly, looking for a different job and choosing to hold off moving out of state for the time being. I took vitamins. I avoided alcohol. I cut out caffeine. I avoided scary movies and negative news. I did everything I was supposed to and I was floundering.

When I took the medication, it was the day after a particularly difficult work shift that left me feeling like a shell. The effect was almost immediate. I felt like a stopped had been placed in the bottom of me and all of my everything–my emotions, my energy, my resolve–was no longer rapidly leaving me. I felt like I could, albeit shakily, stand on my own two feet. I felt the emotions simmering underneath the surface and I had the side effect of feeling slightly numb and repressed, but as the days passed, I’ve started to just feel relieved. I have a break from the confusion, the fear, the identity crisis, that feeling of drowning in my own mind.

I know that there is still work to do and I intend to do it. I want to be better to myself. I’m quick to feel like I am worthless, to tell myself I am worthless over and over again. I want to be present in my friendships. I want to be a loving partner. I want to contribute to my community and create that sense of belonging through positive participation.