February Accomplishments

I didn’t accomplish much this month beyond the everyday things. I managed to knit ballet slippers for my niece’s doll, but that was it.

February was a rough month. So difficult, I’m just now getting around to summarizing my accomplishments. I dealt with depression and illness. The entire month was a struggle. I’m quite happy that month is behind me.

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January’s Accomplishments

I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted due to massive depressive episode, but I did accomplish more than I thought I would.

Finished knitting Logan’s gloves.

Made Donal Skehan’s Chocolate Guinness Cake gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour blend and a gluten-free ale.

Sewed a baby sling for a friend.

Completed semester reports

Graded all the school papers

Worked on my diary/goal workbook

Made gluten-free blondies

Wrote 1015 words. Less than my goal, but better than nothing.

Danced every day to Faun’s new album: Midgard.

Depression is…

Real. Debilitating. Challenging. An everyday part of my life. An ongoing battle.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve wanted to blog but found it difficult to muster the drive to follow through.

I suffer from depression. Most days I manage pretty well. Depression (at least for me) has highs and lows. When it is low, I accomplish many things, dance, create, and laugh. When it’s at its highest, I lack the drive to do anything, have trouble getting out of my head, dark, debilitating thoughts running on a constant loop in my mind.

I don’t prescription medications. It’s a personal choice, made for many reasons. One of the biggest being prescription medication shuts down my creative ability. I’m writer, artist, and dancer. I can’t function without my creative ability. I choose to treat my depression naturally with a variety of things.

My personal opinion is that some depression is normal. One doesn’t always feel giddy and ecstatic. Moods ebb and flow. It’s when the lows never end that it becomes a problem. Returning to normal after a depressive episode is a challenge. It doesn’t happen overnight.

It is worth fighting to escape the depression. Joy is increased. Life seems sweeter, brighter, after a depressive state.

My advice: Don’t fight depression on your own. Ask for help. Having someone listen (and not judge) is extraordinarily helpful. Being able to say, “I can’t get out of my head. Help me,” is incredible. Not to mention a lifesaver. I recently called my soulmate and said these exact words. He talked about nothing and everything, asking questions, encouraging me to interact. He led me out of my negative, dark headspace. It would be harder to manage my depression without him. I encourage you to find someone.

If you suffer from depression, you’re not alone. Reach out.

 

 

**I’m not a licensed therapist. This post is merely a reflection of my thoughts and my experiences in dealing with depression.

Contemplation

Is there anything more comforting than that first cup of tea? William Blake contemplated eternity in a grain of sand; I contemplate eternity in a steaming cup of strong Earl Grey. Tea invites contemplation. With each sip, I contemplate my day. The moments I want to savor. The things I need to accomplish versus things I want to accomplish.

The household wakes as I finish that first cup. Life happens. Messy, noisy, exuberant life. There is a different energy now. This energy requires a more robust, full-flavored, brew: coffee. No time for contemplation. Just drink and go.

Night falls. The house quiets. I turn once again to tea. Inviting the introspection as I sip. Letting the brew calm and relax me.

There is something comforting about bracketing my day with tea. A gentleness. A peace. Excuse me…the kettle is whistling.

Today’s accomplishments…

As part of letting go of my unrealistic expectations, I’ve started listing what I accomplished at night before retiring. If I look at what I wanted/hoped to accomplish, then I’m irritated, frustrated, and upset with myself. I believe I should be able to accomplish so much more even when I’m in extreme pain. By listing what I accomplished, I silence all the negative emotions.

Today I….made a homemade pie crust that actually turned out perfect (first time ever!), finished beading one vest panel, watched a video on how to cut up a whole chicken**, followed the video and cut up a chicken, helped the Elf with his math, helped the Pixie with her spelling, and started on Christmas cards.

It might not be everything I wanted to accomplish, but it was more than I thought.

 

**This is the video I watched: https://youtu.be/qTcvt23MV2A . I highly recommend this video and this channel. Maangchi is joy to watch and her recipes are really easy to follow and taste great!

Returning to blogging…

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. As my birthday draws steadily closer I’ve been examining my life. Trying to find what brings my joy, what relaxes me, what keeps my stress levels low. One of the things I realized looking back over previous years was I how happy I was when I was reviewing/blogging. I’m not ready to jump back into reviewing, but blogging…I think I can handle it.

The remainder of this post is going to touch on “Living with Fibromyalgia”. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in February 2009. Apart from one month, I’ve not taken any prescription medication for this illness. I believe one should treat the cause of an illness and not just the symptoms. Doctors don’t know how/what causes this illness, so they prescribe medication to manage the symptoms. That’s not for me.

I want to talk about my day to day struggle with fibromyalgia in the hopes that it might help people understand what’s like to have this illness.  It’s not easy living with a chronic illness.  I often hide my pain. Say I’m fine. Paste a smile on and go about my day. Why? Because healthy people don’t want to hear about my pain. They can’t understand what I feel or why I constantly deny my pain. I pretend to be well. Pretend to have a semi-normal day. It’s not fair; but, it is what is.

For me, the bone, joint, and muscle pain is ever constant. It never fully goes away. Some days it hurts just to open my eyes; the pain is that overwhelming. On those days, I grit my teeth, take two Tylenol, and go about my day. I work part-time, homeschool my three children, and look after household matters. I can’t lie about in bed all day, no matter how much pain wracks my body. This inability to let the pain confine me to my bed has many (including my extended family) believing I exaggerate the effects of fibromyalgia.

It is ongoing struggle for me not to lash out at my family and friends when they complain about how tired or drained they are when they are sick. I want to yell, “This is what my life is like every day. And every day, you look at me like I’m crazy for not being able to join in completely.”

Learning what triggered the intense pain flares was/is the biggest step in coping with my fibromyalgia. I don’t overextend myself. I’ve learned how to say “No.” I make sure to rest before I leave for work; a twenty minute nap works wonders. I watch my gluten intake. Exercise lightly. I don’t spend a lot of time outdoors; high humidity (a year-long given in southern Alabama) is a big trigger. Being indoors with air conditioning helps. Extreme temperature changes can cause flares; as can extended periods of insomnia.

As much as I detest living with this illness, I have learned from it. I’ve learned to slow down, to enjoy life. I revel in the simple things: baking with my kids, dancing in the rain, counting the stars at night. I’ve learned patience. Learned to let go of my unrealistic expectations in regards to what I should be accomplishing. Most of all, I’ve learned how to look for and experience joy even in the darkest of moments.

 

life, death, and those moments in between

This month has been particularly rough on my family. My great-great aunt had surgery. My father had a heart attack on the 4th. (He had competent, immediate care, healed quickly, and was allowed to return home on the 6th. He is a workaholic but this has forced him to slow down.) On the 11th, the pastor of our church passed away. He’d been an integral part of my life for thirty years.

Even with all of this stress and worry, my inner critic refuses to quiet. I’m ignoring her comments about not accomplishing enough the past few weeks. In the midst of all this, I’m focusing on the things I did accomplish: knitted a Cara Bear, knitted a dress for the Cara Bear, made twelve dozen cookies for the funeral, finished two books, held an impromptu photo shoot with my sisters, rearranged my kitchen and living room, made dinner for tomorrow, and dessert for the Bible study, read over the home economics curriculum I purchased. Honestly, I’m quite proud of my accomplishments. In the midst of all the emotional upheaval, I endured. I allowed myself downtime, knowing the emotional upset would wreak havoc on my fibromyalgia. I’ve played board games and cuddled with my children and my nieces.

In short…I’ve lived the past few weeks. I didn’t force myself through the motions. I felt every emotion, allowed myself to feel and express them, instead of hiding. I’ve reveled in the everyday: my soon-to-be-twelve-year-old daughter climbing into my lap, my fourteen-year-old son embracing me constantly, the sixteen-year-old sharing his favorite television episodes, my niece leaning against me as I knit her Cara Bear, savored scones with lemon curd, played in the rain. These moments I remember. The ones I cherish. That is life…and I’m so very thankful for every moment.