An Old Dog Chasing Her Proverbial Tail
Friday, October 06, 2017
I will tell you something that you already know: real substantial change is HARD! Even armed with all of the latest information and knowledge in the world does not necessarily mean that it will be easy nor sustainable because it is neither.
In spite of losing 20 lbs. this past year I do not feel that I am better off today than I was ten months ago. In fact, I am in worse physical shape than when I started this calendar year. I bet you don't read that very often in someone's spark page blog entries! The 'good news' is that there is only one way and that has to be 'out and up'. I can not afford to sink any lower.
The one element that I believed contributed to this was the fact that I chose to downplay the significance of me being depressed and how that impacted everything else in my life. I finally admitted it the other night. I asked my DH if he suspected something and he said, "Well, you have been crying quite a bit lately."
There is something about admitting that you need something outside of yourself to feel better that is so hard to admit. I have a history of depression and I have been treated in the past by traditional Western medicine for it. I was one of those people who was heavily drugged by different anti-depressant therapies but really did not see an overall improvement in the quality of my life. Instead, I struggled on my own in finding the way to heal and let go of so much that had contributed to my state of mind and being. I attribute the 12 Steps program, some traditional 'talk' therapy about 20 years ago, my Catholic faith and the unconditional love of what I call my three 'earth angels' (their love was a healing balm to my heart and soul).
I have been 'battling' (it truly felt like that) various health issues for about 7 months. The causes are all stemmed from a poorly understood and applied way of dealing with those same health issues along with my 'attempts' at losing weight in the process. I often say that someone with the level of education that I have I can do some pretty damn dumb things. Never lose sight of the fact that the most important education you will ever need is 'common sense'. It is snubbed often enough but I find that when I lack it (and I often do) I will end up doing some of the dumbest things imaginable.
Now, here I am, at yet another low point in my life, and wondering how I got here. Well, if I crawled far enough into this hole it also means that I can back-crawl out of it. It is just a shame that I continue to do this to myself. I 'should' know better. How many times have I or you said this to ourselves?
So, in an effort to get myself out of this latest predicament I have decided to go back to square one and review the basics.
I had attributed my depression to the lose of my Dad two years ago. However, what I wasn't quite as willing to admit was that I had painted myself into a tight corner with overextending my commitments within our monthly budget. Some of it was reverting to an old habit of 'retail therapy' and running up my many pieces of plastic. Some of it was trying to handle some tough decisions in spite of many unplanned out of left field expenses. I had allowed myself to get run down over the summer months. My anxiety was in over drive and I ended up missing a lot of sleep over a period of a couple of months. It was at that point that I was crying at the drop of a hat. I was tired of dealing with so much and still feeling so lousy as a result that I was almost to the point of breaking down. Ironically, that point happened on the day that the tail end of Hurricane Irma 'came to town' for a 24 hour 'visit'.
As the electrical power went on and off throughout a very dark day and night with thrashing wind speeds of 60 mph and torrential downpour of rain, I was 'freaking out'. I had prepared well for this event so I should have felt secure but my lack of sleep over a couple of weeks had left me feeling terrified. I could not sleep even with sleep aids. All I could do was cry, hyper ventilate and sit rigid on the edge of my bed. I feared that I was going to die. I became afraid of the dark and if I laid down in bed even for a few moments I would bolt up fearful if I closed my eyes it would be the last.
Once the storm had passed you would think that I would have relaxed some but not so. I had a very real (to me) fear of the dark and of dying for the next two weeks. I credit several good hearted people who were praying for me in breaking this horrible spell from me. When my DH was scheduled to attend a 2 1/2 day retreat in a neighboring state, carpooling with others, I asked him two days before that I needed him to be with me because I could not stand the thought of being alone. He did not hesitate and he stayed home with me. That helped me to relax 'some'.
I had a revelation that I shared with him when I couldn't sleep. I said that I had been pushed to my limits. I had been dealing with horrific pain associated with an acute and chronic flare up of colitis (something that I have had for nearly 30 years but nothing like this) which has left me sobbing in pain since March. I had begun to eat a low residue diet with a measured amount of success but whenever I 'forgot' and ate off of that food plan I paid for it dearly.
Coupled with that pain I have also been dealing with some peri-menopause cramping and bleeding which although not as severe as the colitis pain did not help the lower bowels at all and contributed to the severity of the other.
With my untreated depression I was also being negligent in how closely I followed a healthy food plan. Some days the only thing that I would eat would be a large bag of spice drop candy for 'supper'. Food did not taste good and between being sleep deprived and always in physical pain I just became very complacent in my desire to eat better.
When some SP team challenges came around I was very excited about these since I thought they would pull me out of the slump I was in. Within a week of starting I began experiencing other physical issues which stemmed from a chronic disease named Meniere's disease. It is not fatal and the only serious side outcome (and it is serious) is that you risk losing your hearing. It is an inflammation and swelling of the inner ear canal because of excess fluid. I have had motion sickness my entire life. I have had adult onset allergies for half of my life. I knew a thing or two about feeling dizzy and my head stuffed up. However, I had not ever experienced (except while traveling in a plane or on a boat) the type of vertigo that this presented. My eyes starting rapidly moving back and forth. My left eye was crossed for a week. I have bifocals for glasses and I found that they were hard to wear to see at times. There are some quick home self-treatments that you can do: Epley maneuver is one (see sites for how to do this) and the other is simply finding an object you can stare at until your normal vision returns.
However, since I have probably had this for quite some time and went undiagnosed I am afraid that I did suffer one of the side effects. I was told in a physical in 2014 that my lower range of hearing was gone. Since that time, I have closed captioning on my t.v. (and love it) and I try to avoid situations (and there are a few) where the background noise really hurts my ears. Sadly, this means larger crowds so it does mean that I have had to choose how much isolation I am willing and comfortable with in 'enduring'. As anyone who has had any kind of 'disability' knows is that you learn to 'compensate'. I ask people to face me when they talk to me and sometimes to not talk quite as fast. Ironically, I prefer any sound to be lower since that seems to feel more comfortable.
I have been working the daily lessons in the "100 Days" by Linda Spangle now since June 1, 2016. After going through that book I realized something so simple and yet so KEY to why I overate emotionally all of those decades. On the days that I ate to fuel my body (and sometimes that went on for a long time) if I were going through a particularly tough time (and this past 7 months would count as that) I noticed that it was primarily my anxiety that prompted me to turn to food.
In the days when I didn't have bad knees I would work out every day and so I never really put two and two together. I was working off my anxiety by working out. Two of my therapists warned me against using exercise as a way to cope with my feelings rather than face them down and deal with them but gosh it feels so good to be outdoors with the wind on your face and your favorite tunes piped into your ears. How could I turn my back on that? Well, not surprisingly as my knees got worse and I had to find other sources of exercise I also began to notice my anxiety which was always at an unhealthy level.
Well, the chickens have returned to the roost. I can no longer avoid how life affects me nor how I choose to cope or deal with it. In some respects I admire that in spite of feeling like I was going to fall apart I did keep the bills paid and the lights on but I also was paying a price in not getting to the bottom of and ideally 'fixing' my emotional state. For the time being, I am taking St. John's wort and valerian root herbal supplements. My pride is bruised but I will admit that I do feel more calm and more positive almost immediately. I do cry when I see the news but I also know when to turn it off and listen to some instrumental music.
I 'announced' (I still am a bit of a drama queen at times) to my DH that I have tried to live up to this image of having it all together because I feared I would be rejected if I admitted that I didn't have it altogether. I also thought that I had to be perfect to be loved or liked. In the meantime, I have learned to lean on my DH to help with some of the daily household chores. At some point, I may even hire someone to come in and clean for me. I had to quit the team challenges because I realized that to do so might further jeopardize my fragile health. It is hard to admit to myself and to others that I am not perfect and that I am a imperfect human. I am.
Although it drives me crazy right now that my home is a mess I feel that I need to do 'first things first'. For this week and probably next that means getting back into a better sleep pattern. I lay in bed for hours before I can fall asleep. I deep breath while I am laying there and I do try to think 'happy thoughts'. I need to sleep more but often find it hard to do. I am taking the natural mood and sleep 'support' in the herbal supplements.
Through research I have found an herbal supplement, cramp bark, which works for all kinds of cramps (some people even use it after working out).
I have taken vitamins and some supplements for decades but I have found that what I most need right now is to strengthen my immune system so I am focusing on that.
Finally, I am monitoring my blood sugar multiple times a day. My poor nutrition has wrecked havoc on this area and I am refocusing my energies and efforts on lowering that again.
This 'old dog' is tired of chasing her proverbial tail so I hope I can find something new to occupy my free time. Maybe, it is time to find a chew toy I can gnaw on or bark at the birds outdoors. Either way, I recognize that although change is HARD it is not IMPOSSIBLE.
Progress not perfection.