September 30, 2015: Three Good Things


1. I got a chance to use a coping skill today while waiting for the car to be repaired. When I walked into the large waiting area, there was a woman speaking loudly on the phone in a foreign language. I have nothing against that, but because I didn’t understand what she was saying, and because she was speaking so loudly, it became cacophonous quickly. At the table behind this lady, there was another woman on her phone. This woman was speaking softly on her phone – okay, well, not ON it, AT it, because she had it on speakerphone and the volume was turned up as high as I think it could possibly go. There was very little conversation going on between the woman and the person on the other end of the phone – mostly because the other end of the phone was a constant barrage of two children playing as noisily as they could, up to and including screaming at one another. Both of these conversations went on simultaneously for over 45 minutes, and I was rapidly approaching sensory overload, to the point that I almost – almost – swallowed that part of me that is terrified of confrontation to go ask the woman to please take her call off speakerphone. Being so agitated, I did the only thing I knew to do – I went in the bathroom and hid for about ten minutes until my nerves were less frayed. (To be clear, I wasn’t agitated at the woman speaking loudly – some people just have a voice that carries – but subjecting an entire waiting area full of people to 45 minutes of screaming children blasted through a tinny sounding phone speaker was just downright rude.) Managed to survive just fine and both conversations ended within five minutes of one another, leaving the waiting room almost eerily quiet for the rest of my stay. (TL;DR: I got sensory overload and used a coping skill to combat it.)

2. My recall on the first portion of the poem that I’m performing next month is just slightly rusty today. I recited the verse that I’ve memorized (there are four) to my wife, hesitated on a line, handed her the poem without looking, then went out on a limb and tried what I thought was the line. I was correct, so technically, despite the bobble, I can still remember it after a day.

3. Today will be the third straight day that I’ve completed my checklist in its entirety. The last time this happened was during a period when I had “commute” on my checklist, something that I didn’t do every day. If I didn’t drive my wife to work that day, I just marked it as non-applicable and considered doing everything else as a complete day. This was over ten months ago. This is the first time in the eleven months that I’ve been keeping this checklist that I’ve straight up done everything for the day for three days running. I’m rather proud of that.

Expensive Productivity, Part Two


This one’s going to be kinda quick and dirty. Hope you’re okay with quick and dirty. (I said quick and dirty, heh heh.)

Went back to the dealership today to have the new rim and new tires installed (they had to special order the rim and have it overnighted to the shop, hence the need for the return trip) and an alignment done. Was told over the phone it would be around X dollars, and was told when handing over the keys it would be about an hour.

Closer to two hours later, they reported the work was done.

For something like 1.75X dollars. Nearly twice what I was quoted on the phone.

I took a closer look at the bill and everything seemed to be exactly what I was told would happen. They even tacked on a $30 discount, which they didn’t have to do nor did we ask. And it was still nearly twice what I was quoted.

This is the first time that I’ve experienced anything like this from this dealership. Every other time I’ve gone, they’ve gotten me out the door quicker than promised and for less money.

The natural assumption is that the work just took longer and therefore accrued a higher labor charge, but the itemized receipt that I was given only itemizes insofar as to separate distinct services into one overall sub-price, with no line item for labor included.

Oh well. Next time I’ll be sure to expect a little more realistic results than I’ve been lucky enough to receive up til this point.

Still not enough to stop us from going back, however. This is the only place the car’s been serviced, and it’s valuable to me to have the entire service history retrievable with a single phone call.

September 29, 2015: Three Good Things


Didn’t I just do this yesterday? Anyway, here goes.

1. I managed to find the silver lining in a pretty pricey and unexpected car repair bill. At least we’ll be buying tires two at a time now instead of all four at once.

2. I had an easier time of getting everything on my checklist done today. I forget how much easier this is when you’re on a roll.

3. For the first time in years, I started the process of committing a new piece of poetry to memory. I’ve had months of lead time for this piece, but I wanted to wait until now – roughly 2-3 weeks before the performance – to begin this process. It allows me to slowly digest the piece little by little, memorizing it a few lines at a time, and extending the amount of what I can recall by small bits until I can recite the entire piece from memory. Once that’s done, I can begin work on inflection, bringing out the emotion that’s buried in the piece, by reciting it over and over again until I’m sure the version that I have in my head is the best possible version that I can perform. And usually by the time that occurs, I’m only a few days away from the performance, so the piece at its finest is still fresh in my mind come time to perform. I’ve missed this process, and over the past few years my memory has proven to be less reliable, so I’m going to be spending a little bit more time on it than I normally would, by increasing the time I work on it each day by a few minutes more than I used to do.

Being Productive Can Be Expensive


Today I basically had one thing on my to-do list: take the car in for an oil change and tire rotation and a topping off of all the fluids. And I did it! Cue the dancing girls and the juggling monkey!

Only when they came back with the paperwork they started with, “Well, we put the spare on for now,” which is never a good sign.

The oil change and tire rotation was today. Later this week, we’ll be getting two new tires, a new rim, and an alignment done.

Seems we managed to bark up against a median a little too hard and bent the rim, which led to a slow leak in that tire.

On the plus side, this means that instead of having to fork out for four new tires in a year’s time, we just split that out to alternate between changing two and two, which more importantly splits out the cost of having to replace all four tires simultaneously.

I found the silver lining in an expensive auto maintenance trip. I think I’m done adulting for the day now. Let the administration of coffee (in celebration of International Coffee Day!) and cheesy movies and computer games begin!

(NB: Yes, I know this one doesn’t really deal with my mood or my mental illness or my physical health. Thought a break from the stress of NEEDING to write about one of those topics would be good and a simple “what I did with my Tuesday” post fit the bill nicely.)

September 28, 2015: Three Good Things


Been a while. Let’s do this.

1. I went walking today. The good part was the very sweet pit bull that I met on the trail. She came over and let me skritch her for a minute before padding back to her daddy.

2. For the first time in a while, I had the energy to get through the day without a nap.

3. For the first time in months, I hit everything on my daily checklist.

A Surge In Energy


I’ve noticed something interesting about the past two months that really speaks to the nature of depression.

About two months ago, I stopped taking one of my psychiatric medications. The adventure of getting it filled has been a long and well-documented one, but I ran out and through what a comedy of errors only recently got it refilled.

Whether because of the missing medication and its reintroduction into my regimen, or due to a completely circumstantial and coincidental instance of timing, my mood and energy level tanked almost right around the time I ran out of this medication. I could barely get out of bed, and while I made a point of at least taking my meds during this time, there were a couple of days that I didn’t even want to bother with that.

I’ve slept more in the past two months than I think I have during any two month period in my adulthood. But that brings up the point I wish to make.

There were several times during that period that my mood was quite bright, even downright happy, even though my energy level was still practically non-existent. I might have been enjoying life, but I was mostly enjoying it from the bedroom, barely able to lift a finger to do anything close to my usual daily activities.

Again, timed with the reintroduction of the medication into my regimen, my energy level has been slowly increasing over the past couple of weeks, which leads me to this point in my life.

Today I decided that I actually had enough energy to try and accomplish everything that’s on my checklist of things to do. And so far, things have gone well. My checklists are organized more or less chronologically, and I’m up to date with the things that I should have done up to this point. Still have the end-of-day things that usually trip me up left to do, but from this point it should be smooth sailing.

I’m excited about this. It proves to myself that I am capable of functioning at baseline again, something I haven’t been able to do without forcing myself to do it for almost two months.

It also continues to drive home the point that the scale between mania and depression isn’t so much mood-based as much as energy-based, at least for me. Certainly my mood is down as my energy wanes, and as I have more energy my mood tends to improve to match. But I think that the energy leads the way in this equation in many instances. I certainly am not suggesting that drinking a four-pack of Red Bull is the key to avoiding depression; quite the reverse. It seems to be the amount of energy that my body can naturally generate that leads the way to a better or worse mood, but I know of many instances in the past where my mood tanked well before my energy level.

What I will offer is that I believe that mood and energy are intertwined, and when one is higher, the other will tend to follow.

Let’s see how the rest of the day pans out and if it goes well, I’ll be back on later to talk about today’s three good things before bed.

Finally, a Breakthrough


I have written many times in this blog about the ongoing struggle I’m having with finding a psychiatric medication manager. That struggle is almost over. I have checked with my former long-term med manager and she’s willing to see me at a reduced rate since I’d be paying out of pocket. While we work out the details of arranging a first visit, she even went so far as to call in the refills I need to my pharmacy, giving me a month of full psychiatric medication, none of which has changed since I last saw her. It’s the best outcome I can imagine, and in fact was better than I imagined, as I was surprised to find six prescriptions waiting for me at the pharmacy when I was expecting only three.

Today is day two of being almost fully medicated. (There was one of the meds that my wife called in for me that we didn’t pick up, for my back, due to being short funds for the week, not thinking it was doing a lot of good, and needing to pick up the ones that I’d been out of for so long. My back woke me up this morning and pointedly let me know otherwise. This morning was the first I’d spent on the heating pad in weeks, so I guess it was doing its job after all.) It’s a good time to really concentrate on getting back into my old positive habits, and I’m doing more or less decently on that. The last three days have been productive beyond my expectations and I’m very happy for that. I just need to keep on keeping on.

As far as the rest of my evening goes, I think I’ve earned the right to take it easy and chill out on the couch with either a game or a movie.

What I Did During My Summer Vacation


Faithful followers of this blog might have noticed there’s not really been much to follow over the past six weeks, and well, there’s a reason. Not sure if it’s a valid one, but here goes.

Around the beginning of August, roughly around the last time I wrote, I ran out of one of my medications. I have two refills sitting at the pharmacy waiting for me to fill them, but the prescription is written in such a way that my insurance won’t cover it, and filling it out of pocket would cost me well over $300, something I don’t appear to have lying around or stuffed in the cushions of the couch. Now, to be fair, I don’t think that one led to the other, but around the same time my mood absolutely crashed through the floor. I stopped following my checklists. I stopped taking my vitals some days. There were even a couple of days I was so unmotivated I didn’t even take my medication. I spent days on end sleeping until I was hungry, eating a little something, and then going back to bed. I went weeks without doing anything I wanted to do, mostly because I either didn’t feel like I deserved to have fun or (most likely) because I just didn’t have the desire or energy to bother with trying to entertain myself.

Further complicating this issue was the fact that I had a wedding to attend over Labor Day weekend (for my followers outside the US, this year that fell on September 4-7). It means almost non-stop socialization with family members that largely don’t understand how much I struggle with social anxiety, and I was working myself into an absolute meltdown over things the closer the event got. My rational mind kept repeating over and over that every time I go to visit family, I work it up to be a considerably bigger deal than it turns out being, and that the actual visit winds up being enjoyable and relatively stress-free. Because this was a very special occasion, however, I couldn’t stop my mind from obsessing over “what if?”

Well, as my rational brain predicted, the wedding went off without a hitch (except, you know, the one that’s supposed to happen at a wedding) and I had a good time visiting with everyone. Irrational crisis averted.

Once the wedding was over and I was back home, the problem became how fatigued I was in the aftermath of all that tension letting go. I spent another couple weeks trying to tell myself “it’s time to get back on book, time to reconnect with my daily routine, time to actually get back to watching what I eat.” (I had gotten out of the habit of eating healthy in favor of comfort eating during the worst of my stress, and I gained back a few pounds that I had initially lost in preparation for going to the wedding.)

But now things are returning to normal. I’m not so fatigued anymore, although I do tend to take a nap in the afternoon or sleep particularly late, and it’s time to get back on track with my daily routine. Part of that is getting back in the habit of writing again.

This is going to be a struggle, because it took me months to really get in the swing of faithfully doing my checklists of daily activities, but I know that I can do it again, because I did it before. I miss my daily routine, rudimentary as it was. It kept me focused, it kept me from feeling lost and aimless as I went through my day. I’m looking forward to re-establishing these positive habits in the next few weeks.

And honestly, I missed writing to you.