Champagne & Chocolate Fridays – Friends

Champagne & Chocolate Fridays - Friends

Toasting to my special-friend-Grandpa and the wonderful life he lead and the love he gave. And to my friends who checked on me all week and some who wrote me messages that I haven’t been able to respond to yet because they make me too teary, but I will.

What are YOU toasting to this week? I need The Good Stuff, please.

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On Loss

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A little side step here.  This week I’ve been really struggling with loss.  For me, it’s a definite trigger for depression, so I have to be very careful about it, but it’s….looming in the background.

Last weekend we lost a super sweet friend, someone we considered our “adoptive grandpa”.  He was the sweetest man you’d ever meet and 9 times out of 10 you’d catch him smiling….at anything and everything, but especially you.  He was active up until almost the very end, bright as can be, and a joy to be around.

We knew he was sick, but he went from doing relatively well to taking a horrible turn suddenly and passing quickly, which I suppose is a blessing – his suffering wasn’t long.  But here’s the thing – I hate that he even suffered at all.  How can someone so good, so pure, such a light in the world have their last moments be so horrible?  I know it’s just the body’s process, but it really, really, really bothers me.

Sitting on the phone with his wife while she cried and cried is one of the worst possible experiences I’ve ever been through.

And then Monday was the anniversary of my Dad’s passing, and all of a sudden that day spent staring at him, my then 23-year old self wondering how I was going to live the rest of my life without him, came flooding back.  I stayed in bed all day Monday because it was just too much.

I know loss is part of life, and the longer my journey here is, the more people I’ll lose.  It’s just so hard.  Especially when I’m working so actively to stay positive and to enjoy every moment.

Although I’ve been sad all week, I only stayed down for one day.  That for me, is progress.

Champagne & Chocolate Fridays – A Smart Man!

Champagne & Chocolate Fridays - A Smart Man!

I am toasting to my amazing husband, whom not less than an hour ago I casually asked his help on something I was stuck on in creating my new business, AND HE BLEW THE LID OFF OF IT in two seconds flat and now I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. The ideas are POURING out of me. WEEEE. And also: OH MAN! And finally: HEEEEEE!

What are YOU toasting to this weekend? Tell me. I MEAN IT.

How did I get here? ADD (Part 6)

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The diagnosis of ADD came just at the beginning of my group therapy sessions for depression and anxiety.  So needless to say, I was getting confused with all of these conditions whirling around in me, and the only thing I could really do for myself was keep taking the antidepressant, follow through on the group therapy sessions, and I studied a bit on ADD – my doctor recommended that I read “Delivered from Distraction”.  I shouldn’t say I just studied, I immersed myself in the book and took copious notes.  Sometimes it would just be a section or chapter and then I’d let it absorb for awhile.  The book explains what ADD is, and how MANY people have it and don’t even know they do, until it becomes debilitating, as it was for me.

Here, according to Drs. Hallowell and Ratey are the characteristics of the “dark side” of ADD, which I could completely relate to:

  • Pessimism (which most people who only saw me infrequently would guess I couldn’t possibly have, but ask my husband who is with me day in and day out.)
  • Frustration
  • Moments of despair
  • Surges of self-contempt as well as baseless rage at others (self-contempt is correct in my case, but “rage” was never a factor for me.)
  • Unpredictability (I don’t know how true this is from people on the outside relating with me, but I do know I couldn’t STAND routine and would have to shake up things as much as possible.)
  • Lapses into addictive behaviors and substance abuse.  (Hello.)
  • Ongoing struggles to get organized. (In my case, my house seems neat as a pin at most times, but please open a drawer, a closet, pull up my computer files, and BOOM.)
  • Feelings of being in-effectual and reckless no matter how successful the person becomes (I’m going to write more about this one.  This was…a biggie for me.)
  • Periods of being remote, cut off, and impossible to reach.

Oh, yes.  Cruising down that list, I almost couldn’t breathe because it was describing me to a tee.  And I had alllll this time….allllll my life just thought that’s how EVERYONE is.  I just thought I couldn’t handle it as well with others.  So, instead of identifying these problems (and not knowing it was a real condition), I just did what I could every day to struggle through it, to make sure I came across as Susie Sunshine as much as possible so I wouldn’t have to REALLY look at this stuff.

I had spent so much time dwelling on things in my past that I could point to and say, “that’s why I’m messed up!”.  When really, yes I had some stinky stuff happen, but I also had a condition that was ignored and that if it had been treated early on, I believe I’d be a different person today.  I honestly believe that ADD IS the reason I was messed up.  Or am messed up, but I’m working on it.

Next time I’ll talk about how I’m working through ADD to get and feel better.  (Hint: this one does not include medication.)

Need to catch up?

Part 1: The Beginning

Part 2: Shameful Secret

Part 3: The Holidays & New Year

Part 4: Hospital Fun

Part 5: Medication & Therapy

How did I get here? Medication & Therapy (Part 5)

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In my last post, I talked a bit about my hospital stay and how I found myself open to starting medication.

I’m super duper sensitive to medications (which isn’t frustrating one bit, she said with her voice dripping sarcasm), so I had reluctantly accepted my doctor’s suggestion to try an antidepressant.  I should say re-try because I had tried two different antidepressants way back when I first started having health issues.  I wasn’t looking forward to going through the side effects again, even though I was on the lowest dose possible, but my doctor nearly insisted that I have to push through the first few weeks of side effects and that they WILL get better.

He was right of course, and I started to have interest in doing things again in mid-May.  That’s about around the time I decided to do my Do 100 Fun Things This Summer Project.  I was moving slowly in the beginning, but I was getting out of bed, off the couch, and reaching out to people again.  And enjoying myself in the process.

Next, I thought about adding therapy so that I could get my mind in order and then hopefully not have to depend on medication to make me feel better.  So I was assigned to a general therapist at my health care provider.

Here’s a funny story – in that very first appointment I was telling her a few of my major struggles, and I could tell she was trying to diagnose me on the spot, which kind of annoyed me.  After a while, she pulled out a booklet and started going through it with me – it was about a condition called “Borderline Personality Disorder” .  I was super scared of the sound of that, and as we went through the information together I could see why she identified that with me, but I also thought she might be wrong about the diagnosis and I’d have to give her more information.  But I listened patiently and promised to read through the literature and return for a follow up appointment.

As I was leaving her office, I was almost to the stairs when I heard someone call my name.  When I turned around it was a lovely older gentleman I used to be associated with through a nonprofit I had commitments with.  I hadn’t seen him in quite some time so of course when he caught up to me we embraced.  As we did, I realized I was holding a big ‘ole booklet with a cartoon person on the front and the word BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER splashed largely across the top.  While we chatted, I was trying to do everything I could to cover it up so he wouldn’t see it.  I did that thing where you try to lock their eye contact so intently (and uncomfortably( that they won’t look away and then tried to fold the booklet up in the meantime, praying he wouldn’t see it – it really was so funny.

I came back to see her again, and this time I started out with the fact that my biggest concern was that I had been gaining weight rather quickly since starting the medication (which is a pretty common side effect).  The therapist wasn’t qualified to discuss medications, so she suggested I see a psychiatrist for advice on the medication.  She also introduced me to some of the support group therapy they had on campus for depression and anxiety, and I signed up to attend one the same day.

Group therapy was pretty amazing.  I suppose it was shocking to me (although it probably shouldn’t have been) to see so many people – average, normal people like me, even though as I type that I don’t even know what that means – coming in and sitting down to get help for depression and anxiety.  That other people were being just as brave as I was to get help for something that was troubling them as much as it was troubling me.  That I wasn’t alone.

The therapy sessions were six weeks long – once a week – and there was a different topic or coping mechanism covered every week.  I found it fascinating to hear some of the ways other people related to or dealt with depression and anxiety.  Some people had some SERIOUS problems that were greatly attributing to their diseases and I felt like I shouldn’t even be in the room with them because my problems weren’t as big or my life wasn’t as rough.  But the more I learned, I realized it doesn’t matter.  No one is “typical” when it comes to depression and anxiety and it can hit anyone.  ANYONE.

Some days I learned a lot, or I was touched by the people in the group, and other days it took every ounce of my being to walk into the room and not burst into tears the moment I sat down (during the summer I was doing A LOT at looking what in my past was bringing depression and anxiety to the surface and it was incredibly painful at times.  Regardless, I’m glad I went through the program.

I also did get into the psychiatrist to talk about my challenges with the medication, my sensitivity and the weight gain.  While we were becoming acquainted she asked if I’d be willing to test for ADD.  I was blown away.  Isn’t ADD a “kids” disease?  Isn’t that for hyperactive people or people who are all “fly by the seat of their pants all the time?  That’s certainly what I thought.  But she seemed REALLY hot on me taking the test.

I don’t remember the exact numbers on the score, but I do remember I scored SUPER HIGH for ADD.  Like WAY high.  As I read the questions and determined how I live my life, my habits, my daily struggles, etc I just about cried because I identified with almost every single thing that ADD sufferers struggle with.  I couldn’t believe it.  She said confidently, “Oh yes.  It’s definitely ADD that’s contributing to your depression and anxiety.  Mind:  blown.

More on ADD next time.

Need to catch up?

Part 1: The Beginning

Part 2: Shameful Secret

Part 3: The Holidays & New Year

Part 4: Hospital Fun