Tag Archives: depression

The Spoon Theory

my spoons

Warning: This is not a funny post. It is about chronic illness. I’d really like you to read it. I promise I’ll attempt to be funny next time. I’ve been dealing with a lot of health issues this past week and I’ve felt very helpless and misunderstood. I want you all to know that I am not asking you to feel sorry for me. I don’t want anyone to pity me. I just wish everyone could understand what life is like with chronic illness and the Spoon Theory, I think, is one of the better ways to describe it.

The Spoon Theory basically says that with chronic illness, you start the day with a certain number of spoons, when a healthy person would start each day with an unlimited amount.

Pretend you wake up and you have 12 spoons.

It costs you a spoon just to get out of bed because your entire body is one giant ache and you never feel like you got any sleep. Next you have to walk down the hallway and wake up the boys and get the daughter’s clothes for school. This costs a spoon because this early in the morning you have the most intense pain and sometimes can barely walk. You have to use one hand to uncurl the other hand because they don’t want to work yet. You can hardly lift the coffee pot to pour coffee. You think about asking your husband for help and then feel guilty because he is going to work and you are not. It costs you a spoon to get yourself mentally under control and continue getting the kids ready to go to school. If you made lunches the night before that’s good, but if you were too tired then you have to do it now and that will cost you a spoon because of all the bending and walking and you are still in a lot of pain.

The kids and husband leave for the day and you are left with 8 spoons. The house is a mess. Do you have to go anywhere today? If you do, you can’t do anything else because driving and running errands or just running around town will take all the rest of your spoons. All of them. You will be in so much pain and so exhausted by the time you get home that you will be unable to do anything else.

This day, let’s say you get to stay home. So you do the dishes and maybe start a load of laundry. Take away a spoon. You need to think about your depression and do something positive so you will color or write in your journal or meditate or do yoga. This costs at least one spoon, depending on what you decide to do.

Remember, you haven’t showered, gotten dressed, or even brushed your teeth yet. You get dressed and brush your teeth and you are tired, so tired. It costs a spoon.

You’ve got 5 spoons left and it isn’t even noon. The house is still a mess. If you really, really clean it, it will cost all of your spoons for today and probably some of tomorrow’s. You need to eat but you are so nauseous that you can’t, plus you hate to waste a spoon just to feed yourself. You decide to watch t.v. for a while and rest. You think about taking a nap, but you can’t because you are too anxious and feel like you can’t breathe. It costs a spoon to get your anxiety under control.

You have 4 spoons left. The house is still a mess. You still have to figure out something for dinner or maybe your husband will bring something home. You better have him bring something home, because you will have to use at least 3 spoons to check the kids’ backpacks, sign papers, help with homework, and generally be present as a mother when they get home. You won’t be able to make dinner, and since you’re still nauseous, won’t be able to eat it either. It is 7 pm and you’ve only got one spoon, but your daughter still needs a bath and you didn’t even shower today. You still have to pack lunches and make the coffee for in the morning and your husband hasn’t gotten any of your attention. You feel like a failure as a wife and a homemaker and a mother. You feel so sorry for your family because you don’t have enough spoons to do everything you want to do for them. The stress leads to a migraine. You are down for two days, crying and throwing up and maybe going to the emergency room. This takes all of the spoons for those two days, and possibly some from the third day because you are exhausted after such a bad migraine.

So that’s basically the spoon theory, and basically my life. I didn’t mention allergic reactions, and I think I actually spend more spoons on managing my health and depression, but you get the idea.

It takes all my spoons just to get through a day doing the bare minimum. If I want to take the kids somewhere fun, that’s all my spoons. If I want to go out to eat with a friend, I have to realize that I will not be able to do something else. If I have a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, I better lay down all morning.

I have a really hard time dealing with my health. It makes me incredibly sad to not be able to do the things I want to do. I hate having to plan my day around what I feel physically and mentally capable of. I hate that I don’t have enough spoons. I hate that by looking at me, you can’t see how hard I fight every day. I hate thinking that people think I am hateful or lazy because I don’t do things and I cancel plans all the time. I hate that I have to budget my energy and my time.

The Spoon Theory was written by Christine Miserandino at www.butyoudontlooksick.com. You can check it out at http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

Does The Spoon Theory apply to you? If so, what things do you do to stay positive, knowing that you’ll be counting spoons for the rest of your life? Do you find that you judge yourself more harshly than anyone else does? I know I do. Don’t you love my nail polish?

**EDITED TO ADD: I love each and every one of you. I swear I feel stronger with every kind comment and it really means so much to me that you take the time to send me your thoughts. I might cry, guys. You are all my favorite.


PTSD

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Things are not going well here in the land of the lost.

I realize that I’ve been sick so much in the last few weeks that I’ve missed or thrown up my medication more than I’ve taken it so I’m basically free balling here and that doesn’t work well for me.

I keep trying to tell myself to just hang on until I’m back mostly on level and that Depression Lies and that my kids need their mom. But I keep asking myself what is the point to a life where you are always sick, either mentally or physically or both?

I’m so tired of being sick.

I’m so tired of being sad.

This is a pathetic post and I’m done with it.

Here’s some information about PTSD. The bolded parts are from WebMD.

 

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be crippling. Many people think that PTSD is limited to people who have been in war or lived through some horrific act of violence. Those people can and do suffer from PTSD, but they are not the only ones.

I was diagnosed with PTSD when I was 14. Twenty years ago. And I’m still dealing with it today.

From WebMD:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) … is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event ….

…PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror…

…Most people who experience a traumatic event will have reactions that may include shock, anger, nervousness, fear, and even guilt. These reactions are common; and for most people, they go away over time. For a person with PTSD, however, these feelings continue and even increase, becoming so strong that they keep the person from living a normal life.

Symptoms of PTSD often are grouped into three main categories, including:

Reliving: People with PTSD repeatedly relive the ordeal through thoughts and memories of the trauma. These may include flashbacks, hallucinations, and nightmares. They also may feel great distress when certain things remind them of the trauma…

Avoiding: The person may avoid people, places, thoughts, or situations that may remind him or her of the trauma…

Increased arousal: These include excessive emotions; problems relating to others, including feeling or showing affection; difficulty falling or staying asleep; irritability; outbursts of anger; difficulty concentrating; and being “jumpy” or easily startled. The person may also suffer physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea, and diarrhea.

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A problem I have with PTSD is that I feel guilty that it is still a problem. I feel like I should be “over it” by now and sometimes feel like my friends and family feel that way too. Feeling guilty for being sick doesn’t help, and in fact only adds to my anxiety and depression. I don’t know how to “fix” myself. I don’t know how to be better. I would not choose a life of pain and fear if I had the choice. I did not choose to have fibromyalgia, chronic debilitating migraines, chronic pain syndrome, or the Alpha-gal allergy anymore than I chose to have depression, anxiety, and PTSD. These are all things that I fight through every single day. And it is a fight. Right now, it’s a fight that I feel like I’m losing.

I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I come from under this black cloud. Eventually I will be in the sun and I will be proud that I made it through again.

If you are struggling too, tell me about it. I probably don’t have the words to help, but I can listen. If you are happy, tell me that too. It will help me see through this dark.


Summertime Depression

 

cropped-glass.pngIt’s easier to be depressed during the school year.

As I feel myself falling down this familiar hole with all three kids here, I’m scrambling. I’m scrambling to tell them I’m sick, (which I am) and I’m tired (which I am) and to get them to just play and leave me alone.  I just want to lay in my bed in silence and stare at the wall for about 12 hours.

No, I do not want to play outside.

No, I do not want to go swimming.

No, I am not going to color.

No, I will not help you paint.

I don’t want to play and I’m not going to play.  I’m not good today and I just need you to be quiet and play with your five hundred million toys without needing my constant supervision and cheering on.

Yes, my depression makes me irritable.  No, it doesn’t help that everything hurts because I’ve overdone it this week and the weather is being weird.  Yes, I feel terribly guilty about it.  No, I don’t want to help you find whatever it is you’ve lost.

We made cookies from scratch yesterday.  Last week we put up the kiddie pool and I watched you swim for hours.  Last night we snuggled and watched movies.  Today I am broken.

Today I need to not be anyone’s mommy.  Today I can’t even take care of myself.

Depression is not easy any time, but it is hell in the summertime.

 


Pt. 1: Is This Really My Life? Pt. 2: Yes. And that’s okay.

I wrote part of this yesterday and was so ashamed of it that I password protected the draft.

Last night was a better night; my kids have an amazing ability to  cut straight through to my core and remind me how love feels.  I guess they pull me out of my own head, and I need that, cause my head is not always nice to me.

I wrote the second part this morning.  I am hoping that by sharing this post, maybe someone who is in the dark might see how quickly the clouds can pass. Alternately, I hope that those of you who do not suffer from depression and anxiety may get a little bit better understanding of the intensity of feeling, the fear, the anger, and the self-disgust that some of us deal with all too often.

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*** MILD TRIGGER WARNING — TALK OF SUICIDE***

Alternate title:  I’m fucking broken. 

I think that it is Mental Health Awareness month.  Or maybe it’s Fibromyalgia Awareness Month.  Or maybe it’s none of those things and I am just behind on my months the way I’m behind on everything else in life.  Who knows.

Anyway.  Things are not good in the brain here lately.  I’ve noticed that a lot of the bloggers I follow seem similarly out of order.  Seems like a good time for a Canvas of the Minds post, even though my head is telling me that it will be stupid, it won’t help me or anyone else, and I should probably just stop writing altogether.  Fuck you, head.  We are obviously not on the same team right now, so you can just shut up.

Without further ado, I present a day in the life of me, my chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and potty mouth.

Monday, May 19, 2014

6:06 a.m.  Wake up.  Hobble to living room.  Want to cry because everything hurts and there’s no coffee.  Make coffee.  Wake up kids.  Take meds.  Realize that because I was sick yesterday I did not take my meds and now today is going to suck really badly.  Realize that because I was sick yesterday I did not do any laundry and this morning is going to suck badly.  Try to find clothes for children.  SUCCESS! Kind of.  At least they are not naked.  Comb daughter’s hair even though it hurts and I can hardly hold the comb.  Get hugs.  Realize that because I was sick yesterday we did not do her project and I am a failure.  Write note to teacher that likely does not even make sense.  Realize that teacher probably already knows that I am a fuckup and send note even though it doesn’t make sense.  Realize that I don’t have any cash, so kids have no lunch money.  Think about all the things I had planned on doing yesterday and feel like a failure because I was sick and didn’t do any of them.

7:00 a.m.  Everyone leaves.  Drink coffee, smoke cigarette, curse at self.  Think about what I need to do today.  Get overwhelmed and cry.  Try to get someone to take lunch money to kids.  Get irrationally angry at doctor’s office for making me get up to answer an automated message.  Pee about 15 times.  Hold head in hands.  Stare at wall.  Feed cat.  Play Candy Crush. Watch video on Facebook that makes me cry.  Go outside, sit in shade, think that I should spend more time in the sun.  Go inside.

8:00 a.m. Check email, various messages, read blogs, prepare for phone call.  Do some other stuff which I can’t remember but I’m sure I did.

9:00 a.m.  Make stressful phone call.  Shake so hard I almost drop phone.  Cry.  Decide I should lay back down because everything hurts and I am sad.  Lay down.  Everything still hurts and I am still sad.  Clench teeth and try to go to sleep.  Get up because I have to pee.  Again.  Lay down under electric blanket even though I’m hot.  Cry.  Feel nauseous and worried.  Think about a million things that I should not think about if I want to fall asleep.  Bills, kids, failure, bad mother, bad mother, bad wife, bad person, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts.  Pee again.  Curse at self because I can’t even sleep right.

10:30 a.m.  Get up.  Make more coffee.  Put on bra.  This doesn’t help.   Take medicine.  Everything hurts.  Ponder how I can live the rest of my life feeling this shitty.  Think about doing laundry.  Drink more coffee.  Look at bills.  Read blogs.  Get feelings hurt for no reason.  Get irrationally angry at cat toy.  Worry how I will be able to act happy when the kids get home.  Feel bad because I know they know I am sad.  Practice smiling.  Cry.

1:00 p.m.  Decide to write this stupid blog.  Arms hurt so bad that I can’t type after first paragraph.  Curse myself, silently this time because I think I’ve been upsetting my cat with all the yelling.  Wonder how the fuck I am supposed to get anything accomplished when I feel so shitty.  Think if I was going to kill myself, I would eat a lot of meat first.  Read article about stupid meat allergy.  Eat a cup of peaches.  Smell a funny smell in kitchen and think I should clean the kitchen so it looks like it did Saturday, but then I got sick Sunday so maybe I should rest.  I hate resting.  Wonder how come I only feel like a worthwhile human being if I have accomplished something.  Wonder if just existing is this hard for anyone else?

1:30 p.m.  Realize kids will be home in three hours.  Think I should listen to some music or go for a walk to cheer me up.  Don’t do either of those things.  Think about calling my dad but know I will just cry.  Mom calls, points out that I haven’t eaten anything but one cup of peaches in the last two days.  Eat another cup of peaches.

That is as far as I’ve made it today, and looking back over that, it’s disgusting.  I don’t know what I expect to accomplish with this.  I think my initial thought was that maybe someone who didn’t have depression, anxiety, or pain could read it and get an idea of what it is like, but now that just sounds like the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.  I’m pretty sure I told myself I was going to post it anyway, because my brain can’t be trusted right now, but what if the bad idea was writing this in the first place?  This is just so stupid.

After I wrote that, I proceeded to have a full-blown, hunker down in the floor, shaking, heart pounding, terrifying panic attack.  Laid in floor and practiced breathing exercises until I could get meds, then laid in bed and focused on breathing in the good, out the bad.

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Part 2

When the kids got home yesterday, things got considerably better.  Thing 2 came home from school not feeling well and after a big hug, he went straight to bed.  I hope he is not feeling the same way I’m feeling.  My mom made us dinner and talked to me for a while and also gave me a big hug.  Thing 3 fell asleep on my lap watching the Bachelorette, after we chose some pictures of her to send to school and picked a favorite book for her to take.  Thing 1 is so funny.  He cracks me up all the time.  We made some jokes about the guys on the Bachelorette, and he offered to carry Thing 3 to bed; so sweet, always watching out for me.  Husband came home and I filled him in on the Bachelorette and then we watched Jimmy Kimmel.  Godzilla, people?  Really?  Oh, that was hilarious.  Then I went to bed and it only took me probably an hour to fall asleep.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

6:25 a.m.  Husband wakes me up.  I don’t speak to him.  Go get coffee and meds.  Everything hurts.  Get Thing 3 dressed and brush her hair, wake up Things 1 and 2, and am happy to tell them they have clean clothes in the dryer.  I am happy that we did Thing 3’s homework last night.  Husband shares video of movie trailer — I will watch anything with a talking raccoon, especially one who has to adjust his balls.  (I’ve got issues.)

7:15 a.m. Everyone leaves. It was a good morning.  I drink coffee, look at email and Facebook and messages.  Get sleepy.

8:00 a.m.  Go back to bed and sleep like a baby for 2 hours, even though the phone woke me up midway.

10:00 a.m.  Drink coffee.  Think about stuff I need to talk to the doctor about.  Think about making a list.  Play Candy Crush.  Think that maybe it’s okay that my brain is so fucked up sometimes, since a lot of highly creative, talented people struggle with mental illness.  Decide to add this to my post from yesterday that I never posted and even password protected because I was so ashamed of it.  Marvel at the difference a day makes.  Feel thankful that the tide turned once again and that I am still here on the beach.  Think about trying to build something stronger to hold onto for next time.


Deep Thoughts, Brought to You by the Easter Bunny

Have you ever heard of Behavioral Therapy?  Well, in a nutshell, it’s supposed to teach you to think happier so you will be happier.

However, I am an asshole, and as such, I usually think not-nice comments in my head when people suggest that I should “think happy thoughts.”

But.

source:  sodahead.com

source: sodahead.com

I just had something of a breakthrough here, sitting on my couch in my second day of the same pajamas, eating leftover Easter candy, and hurting so badly that I curse at myself when the phone rings or I have to pee because then I have to hobble around and that hurts even worse than typing, which is really quite painful since my hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders are all screaming.

Makes me wonder why I’ve spent so much money on therapy, if I can just come up with this shit on my own and not have to shower or drive.  Anyway, I presume you are on the edge of your seat?  Dying to know what I’ve discovered?

Okay, okay, calm down.

I was sitting here, as mentioned above, and I was feeling really, really shitty about not getting anything accomplished today.  By that I mean I’ve done a load of laundry and made a couple business calls and that’s it.  Oh, and I closed the dishwasher so the kitchen would look cleaner.

So I was basically giving myself a silent talking to and just, you know, berating myself because I’m not able to do all the things that I could do before.  I was thinking about all the time that is just gone, disappeared, because of the chronic migraines.  All the time that I will never get back, spent recovering from an allergic reaction or a migraine or from a trip to the store.  And I was thinking about all the time lost, spent just staring at the wall because I was so depressed that doing anything but that was just impossible.  And about all the time I’ve wasted crying, and how feeling so bad today (physically) makes me want to cry more because it makes me feel worthless and like a failure when I’m not able, either physically or mentally, to do what I’ve decided needs to be done.

Then today I thought, hey, at least I’m not in bed with a migraine.  If I had a migraine right now, or an allergic reaction, I’d be throwing up and maybe even have to go to the emergency room.  I wouldn’t be able to talk to the kids when they get home, or see my husband, or write anything, or watch t.v. or anything except throw up, try to breathe, hold my head, and cry.

So, really, today is not so bad.  I mean, I’m still in a lot of pain and I’m not going to get any housework done, make dinner, or do anything that means I have to get out of this heated chair, but…at least I’m able to be in this heated chair.  My kids can come snuggle me here and their voices won’t make my head explode.  I’m writing this, and although it’s no masterpiece, I’m pretty sure I’m making sentences, which is more than I’m capable of some days.

So that was my breakthrough.  On days like today when I’m feeling bad and feeling guilty for feeling bad and for what I’m not doing, maybe I should instead think about what I can do.

This is weird and I kind of feel like smacking myself.  I think I just gave myself permission to relax.  Or, maybe I’m high on sugar and chocolate.  I don’t know, and I don’t know how long this strange phenomenon is going to last, but I am glad it’s here for now.


It Could Be Me.

I do not know Merry.  But I do know, all too well, the damage fibromyalgia and depression can inflict on a life.  This could easily be me.   You can go here to read Merry’s story and donate if you can.

Steph


Blog for Mental Health Project

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“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  

Ever since I heard about this project, I’ve been determined to contribute.

I start a post, then I stop.

I write a post, then I delete it.

I did not realize how difficult it would be.

One of the hardest things about depression, for me, is explaining it to someone who doesn’t have it.  I’m no Jenny Lawson or Allie Brosh, and this is hard.  I’m still thinking about a cop-out.  I just gave you links to two of the best bloggers in the universe, who also happen to have struggled with depression, so…does that count as a post?

No?  No.  Ahem.  Okay.

People who don’t suffer from depression mostly don’t understand it, and even people who mean well often don’t “get it.”  They don’t know why you can’t just “get over it” or “look on the bright side.”

Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me it is just not that easy.

Depression is like this crushing weight, this mantle of sadness that you can’t take off.  And it is so heavyYou don’t want to wear it, because it makes everything seem pointless and it drags the ground wherever you go.  You try to stand up under the weight of it, but it is persistent, and it pulls you down and down until you feel so small and insignificant that you think you might disappear.  And if it is really bad, you think everyone might be better off if you did.

Depression is sticky, like a spider’s web, and you’ll try and try, and you might think you finally got it all off, only to find that you can’t breathe and you can’t see and all you can feel is guilt – guilt that you’re crazy, and sticky, and always crying.  Guilt for not being strong enough to throw off the cloak and clean up the webs.  Guilt for being weak and for being in pain and for just wanting to hide.

Depression is like this bottomless pit and you just keep falling.  You might reach out and try to stop the fall – or you might be so far down in the dark that you don’t think you’re worth saving.

Depression is a bubble that you can’t pop.  You’re inside it, and you can see the shiny world outside, but you can’t quite reach it.  So you go around in your bubble and pretend that you are really a part of the world, but you know you are separate.  The bubble won’t let you feel the sun on your face and the laughter around you sounds flat and unreal.

I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager.  Twenty years later and it’s still a bitch.  But I’m still here.  I might just be putting one foot in front of the other some days, but I’m still here, and I’m still moving forward.

http://acanvasoftheminds.com/2014/01/07/blog-for-mental-health-2014/

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm


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