I am extremely relieved to report that I am feeling a LOT better now. The withdrawal effects coming off the anti-depressents were truly dreadful- it felt like I was living in some kind of horrible, alternative reality- but they have subsided now.
So much has been happening, I thought it would be best to list things:
- We have new addition to the family- a ridgeback puppy. His name is Ernest and he is simultaneously the cutest creature on the planet and the most hectic. We got him because he is one of the best kinds of dogs to run with and will make running in the forest and greenbelts a lot safer for me. He will also add to our security because ridgebacks are fairly intimidating, large breeds. It is a long-term project, though, because Ernest will not be able to run with me until he is over a year old, without the risk of getting terrible arthritis later. This means that at the moment, I need to walk the puppy and Benji AND run on separate occasions, which makes for lots of time outside, which is not a bad thing!
- I am doing a lovely parenting course, called Roots and Wings. I love the other moms doing the course and feel excited that some significant shifts will be made in our family as a result of the course.
- I have done 2 Toastmasters speeches on Intermittent Fasting and want to post a detailed post on this practice, which really seems to be helping me.
- We had the most incredible holiday over the long weekend at the end of April. I can highly recommend a visit to Victoria Falls and this will definitely be a full blog post for another day.
- I joined a #100gratefuldays challenge, where I am posting a pic each day and writing about what happened on that day that sparked gratitude. It is a powerful practice that keeps one focused on finding those special moments throughout the day.
It feels like I am almost managing my depression and anxiety without medication, but I am not under any illusion that I am healed. For example, I am struggling with feelings of victimisation and I have to remind myself all the time that I am the master of my own destiny and not a victim of circumstances. That, for example, I chose to get a puppy and getting up in the night because of him is a consequence of my own decision. A decision I do not regret, especially when snuggling him and breathing in all his precious puppiness! Negative thoughts are present almost constantly, even as I search for my grateful moments and enjoy so much of my day! The word “battle”, when used referring to depression is a truly apt one. I battle ALL THE TIME. But I don’t think I am losing the battle. I am exhausted by it, but I feel I am making progress.
My hope is that my brain will adjust and strengthen in time and things that “push me over the edge” right now, will no longer do that and my capacity for stress, anxiety and anger triggers will improve. Please, please, please let it be so.
- I did a NIA dance class on Monday. I have been doing NIA for years, so that is not newsworthy in and of itself. It is just that this particular Monday class is taken by the teacher that I started doing NIA with and I have been longing to do one of her classes for ages (but it happens during work hours, so have not been able to do it up until now). I had perhaps put too much anticipatory pressure on this, because it was nice, but not amazing.
- On Wednesday, I did a yoga class for essentially the very first time (I did one or two yoga classes at the gym in my 20’s, but didn’t really “get it” then). Now, this, was amazing. The yoga teacher was recommended (here is a link to her site) to me and I came away from it feeling simply incredible. Calm, centred, positive. On filling in the health-check form, I hesitated, but then inputted depression, anxiety and being on anti-depressants.
- I took open disclosure to a whole new level on Thursday, when I did a speech at my Toastmasters club about depression, anxiety and me. This took guts to do, but was just SO rewarding. More about that later.
- On Friday, I faced my demons and tackled clearing up my office space. It is not finished, by no means perfect, but an important start has been made. The clearer surfaces reflect the calmer mental space I am feeling.
- I dealt fairly well with a tantrum on Saturday morning, but there is a lot of work still needed here. A topic for another day.
Wow, looking at all of that, it feels like I achieved many things!
Back to the speech on Thursday. For a written version , please click on this link. What is just so uplifting and powerful about having stood up and done this speech, is the overwhelming support, love and sense of not being alone with this battle that I came away with. Not only that, I came away with hope.
At our Toastmasters club (and at many others, but not all), everyone has the opportunity to write a “woohoo” note to any of the speakers. I got sent many beautiful notes (see pic of some of them above). Some people were identifying with depression and/or anxiety themselves, and offering advice on what worked for them; one mentioning their husband is battling and how hard it is for the rest of the family because he is so irritable; others simply supportive. It all confirmed that this is a condition that is far more prevalent than I think even the statistics suggest. To give you an idea of the prevalence, my GP has mentioned (quite a few years ago, and to my mom, not me) that he prescribes more anti-depressants than antibiotics these days.
A little aside:
I only realised when I didn’t get “best speaker” and felt a bit tearful, how much I had wanted to be acknowledged as such! I guess that is my competitive streak coming through. The person who was awarded best speaker was admittedly far better prepared than I was, and her speech better fulfilled the criteria of the project (that of researching your topic) we were both completing . She is probably also just simply a more talented speaker. Get over it, Cam!
Things that came out of this speech:
- People who are now the most inspiringly centred and successful among us have often had turbulent times in their past, where they battled depression. There is hope. This condition can be overcome.
- I want to try TRE- Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises.
- I am considering doing “The Journey”. Highly recommended as a turning point for another depression sufferer
- While at the moment, I am in acceptance mode about my mental health, I am daring to have hope that I can heal. This is almost too scary to contemplate. Is it possible for me to move through this and out the other side? Neither of my parents have been able to do this. Can I?