Noticeable Improvement Plan

Because of my depression, normal everyday tasks often feel huge to me.  In the past this has created a lot of stupid chaos in my life.  Including living in disaster areas, otherwise known as my apartment.

The advantage of growing older is that you learn coping skills.  And one of those skills was to recognize that small improvements over time make A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

So now my goals are tiny and I only task myself with noticeable improvement, not perfection.

The holidays have not been particularly happy for me.  And this has led to me not putting things away and not keeping up on the tasks that keep the chaos at bay.  So the floor around the kitty litter didn’t get swept after I scooped and kitchen counters are littered with ingredients that didn’t get put away and the table is littered with various small gifts I got from work, etc.

The things that slowly turn a home into a disaster area are starting to build up.  So today is my day off and I started to do the things.  But I don’t intend do an intensive clean and leave this apartment in shining order.  I intend to improve the situation in a way that I will notice.  So I swept the floor, I didn’t mop it.  I will clear off the clutter but I won’t dust and polish the furniture.  Next week or next month the improvement task will be polishing furniture or waxing the floor.  But it’s OK that it’s not today.

An interesting thing happens when I look at life as an ongoing process of improvement rather than a defined goal of perfection.  I look for and find a thing that will improve it.   And when I no longer need the thing to be perfect, doing it is less burdensome.  I’m not chasing a fantasy of golden perfection.  I just want to see a difference.  I can find satisfaction in the improvement, rather than dissatisfaction at the perceived ways I didn’t meet the perfection goal.

My brain is very good at twisting things into huge hairy deals.  And I think that was part of what made keeping my environment in order when I was in my 20s so hard.  To 26 year old me the house needed to look like a magazine cover or there was no point to cleaning.  All of it should be cleaned to perfection at once.  So cleaning was a huge task.  And so I put it off and things just kept getting worse not improving.

Now I just want my house to feel comfortable and neat.  I no longer feel any burden if at the end of the day there is dust on the tables.  Because that is a task that can be done tomorrow and no one is any worse for it.

As a result my apartment is nearly always in a fairly decent condition.  It may need to be dusted but there is never so much stuff on the floor that I need to step around it.  The dishes are done and the kitty litter is always kept clean, there is no laundry on the floor and the garbage is always taken out.   Because of that, now when I’ve had a bad month, the only things that need to be done to make it feel better about it will take me less than 45 minutes to sort out.

Noticeable improvements.  It’s the only way to live life.

 

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I need a list

of things to do when my brain is functional.

Inside my brain are a dozen or more nagging things I should do .  Things that don’t get done because during the brain stillness, I function on a rail.  I do the habits. I walk through the day by doing the next habit.  I focus on conquering the small stuff.

But depression is not a static state and when it moves into the zone of normal I very often get less done than I should because I can’t really seem to put my thoughts into gear to get those nagging tasks done.  I can’t remember them.

I think I need a list.  It has to be on something easily accessible.  So when the nagging thought shows up, I can put it immediately on my list.  Thus removing it’s anxiety from my head.

And when I realize I am in functional normal mode, I can grab the list and do something I wouldn’t normally get done.

I also need the list to be already set up as a functional to-do.  Ie – task broken into it’s component parts.

I will try to do it on one of my phone apps I think.  Although I find writing things down easier, I no longer carry any pad of paper.  I have a phone after-all.

But breaking down the task means it can’t be an app like Remember the Milk.  It has to be a proper to do app.  But that will be an additional electronic nagging rather than a place to put my nagging thought that safely removes it from the anxiety place until I can do it.

I think finding the right app might end up being the first thing on the to do list?  Or at least figuring out how to make an easy app like Milk work for this.

Anyway – that is my current state of mind.  I need more lists in my life.  My brain is way to full of holes.

For the 1st time in 7 years I put up Holiday decorations.

I strung lights around my front window.  I’m rather proud of that step into normal behavior.  I haven’t involved myself in Xmas since my mom died.  But I feel more human and interested in making a pretty place for myself.  So I pulled out a box of lights I bought in an after Xmas sale, with the vague idea of making some kind of decorative element for the bedroom.

Now I need to watch the kitten and how he treats them.  He and Bijou were on the balcony while I put them up.  It’s a beautiful sunny warm winter day and kitten hadn’t been out on the balcony much.  Bijou supervised.  NO GROWLS!!

But I think it was serendipitous because then they weren’t involved in putting up the lights and didn’t see them bouncing about like a toy.

You know.  I really am a WHOLE lot better than I was 5 years ago.  It’s been a long VERY slow slog that feels like nothing gets better.  But it really does.  And it has.  I doubt I will ever be Mrs. Mental Health.  But I’m getting to be Mrs. Mental OK Sometimes.

Maybe I will buy tiny tree too.

The Dentist – a lesson in depression management

My mouth is a disaster.  A disaster created by lack of maintenance which is a byproduct of depression.

When the stillness of depression overtook me I didn’t go to the dentist.   My teeth are not great – very prone to cavities and so they need regular attention.  But I didn’t go.  Until a painful tooth pushed me there and I had to have the tooth pulled because I didn’t have the money for the root canal.

That was the first of 3 teeth I had pulled in that fashion over 6 years.  Those were the only time I went to the dentist.  All of them were visits to the Urgent Dental Care.

But the painful teeth wasn’t the worst.  The worst was a cavity in my front tooth that was visible as a divot on the side of it.  It made me feel shame.  It made me feel like I couldn’t go on interviews because people would think badly of me for having a hole in my tooth.  It made me ashamed to see old friends and family.  It was a huge mental monster in head.

The last tooth I got pulled was earlier this year.  The dentist was very kind.  He suggested we tackle my mouth one tooth at at time.  He didn’t suggest a regime of dental cleanings or plan a giant trip tick of my mouth problems.  He just said – when you have some money saved just walk in.

And that’s when I realized that this was how I could make it work.  The Urgent Dentist is obviously more expensive than most dentistry, but not exorbitantly so.  (at least this practice.)  But they offer something that is invaluable to me.  They work 7 days a week, 5 of them until 10pm.   They encourage walk ins.

Convenient hours is a huge plus and when it’s tied to walk in it works with my brain dysfunction.  It takes a whole lot of self talk and consideration and aborted attempts to get me to the dentist.   And when the moment gels – I can just go.  No need for an appointment – just go.

An appointment would create a whole new layer of problems.  I would miss appointments if my brain moved into stillness at the moment the appointment came up.  That would make me a persona non-grata with a dentist.  And I would create a larger thing out of potentially missed appointments than they might in reality be so I would just make that into a reason not to set up appointments.

Yesterday, a Sunday afternoon, I walked into the dentist and got my front tooth fixed.  It felt like a triumph.  It’s been a source of shame for years and now it’s fixed.  In an  hour.

It’s not the dentistry tradition I grew up with.  And so it never occurred to me that I could do my dentistry by just walking in, but I can.  So, now for the next few years, I will be saving money and when I have enough, doing next tooth.  By walking into the office when my brain will allow it.   I am not rich.  But the extra money is more than worth this benefit to me.  I wonder how many other people would benefit from it.

 

 

Depression is Not a Choice

This idiot.  This Egotistical Moronic Attention Whore wrote a whole pop psychology thread about how – depressed people just need to be happy and change.  Just do it.

Mr. I don’t have a degree in any field related to this but I kick box and have a large following so I MUST KNOW  SOMETHING, RIGHT?

You know what?  It’s not just him.  Tumblr had a whole month where they put non professionals into their Q & A to answer questions about mental health.

Because our culture views mental health as a thing anyone can advise anyone on.

Do you know why I don’t talk about my ongoing nightmare of mental illness in real life?  Because of this shit.  Because my illness would then be subject to everyone’s foolish and uneducated thoughts.  I would be branded as just too lazy to change.  Enjoying my sadness.  And just to blame for all of the nightmare that has been happening in my life for 10 years.

And you know what?  I DON’T NEED THAT SHIT.

And fuckwit up there, with his kickboxing degree is telling me that it’s all just fake.  That my life’s nightmare is all a big self inflicted hoax.

FUCK HIM.

He will go though life feeling like he is MR. FUCKING INSPIRATION. When in fact he is a like a hideous cancer of insidious doubt and self hatred inflicted on people with depression.

Do you know why he did this?  FOR ATTENTION.  LOOK AT ME.  GIVE ME HEARTS AND RETWEETS.  LOOK AT ME.  He is an attention whore entirely oblivious to the attack he just launched inside minds of thousands of humans.

DEPRESSION IS NOT AN ILLNESS ABOUT SITUATION.  It’s a mental state that continues no matter how fucking good things are. The best that can be said is that you manage better in different situations.

But believe me, for no particular reasons, I will feel better one day than another.  I will plunge into an abyss for no particular reason.  No doubt my life can aggravate it, like a germ will infect a wound.  But the germ would have been harmless without the wound.

But no matter the situation, the depression remains.  It ebbs and flows but it’s still there. Always.  And probably forever.

Fuckwit Andrew is the pus from the crusty boil on the worlds asshole.  Others wished him some terrible karma for his wrongheadedness.  But I wouldn’t wish this mental state on Trump. But I do wish he would shut the fuck up.

I don’t mind if people are attention whores, but don’t destroy other people for attention.

Today I didn’t commit suicide

There have been really terrible places and times in my life where that was a statement that ran through my head.  Times when it was a choice and I was aware of it as a decision.

When that statement was running in my mind, I recognized that my choice should have been an achievement, but mostly I was just aware of it as a fact.  I survived.  I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it.

There have been times recently when I think about suicide without actually intending it in any way. I think about how I would do it, what it would feel like. I’ve been told that is called suicide ideation.

That is a bizarre place to be.  When I step back and look at what I am doing, I realize – why am I thinking about this horrifying thing?  Something is really wrong in my brain.  And then I remember.  Depression.  Depression is wrong with my brain.

Depression is the most slippery of all the enemies I will ever have.  I have put a personality on my brain disfunction.  To recognize the disfunction as something OTHER than me.  Because that is what is so hard for me.  My brain seems to think and do all kinds of messed up things.  My brain – Me

But it’s not me.

It’s the bastard – Depression.

When I can step back and see that it’s this Other thing, I can watch the way my brain acts that feels foreign to who I am, then I can get a grip on the fact that it’s not me.  Its not who I am.  Depression is something outside of me, making my brain act weird.

The hard part is that the brain is the part of my body that holds Me.  So when it acts weird, it feels like I’m weird.  But then I’m letting the Depression define me.  When I don’t move, it’s easy to decide I’m lazy.  But that isn’t a characteristic of who I am.  It’s a characteristic of the Depression.  When I’m in charge – I move.

My point is – Depression is not who I am.  It will swirl around in my head, sweeping my thoughts in weird directions, so that I spend time planning a suicide I really have no current intention or interest in carrying out.  That is just one of the obvious things.  There are so very many weird things it makes me think and do.  But those things are not me.  They do not define me.  They define Depression.

And it just takes a small step back to watch it, to recognize it as an outsider in my brain – a fucking bastard whom I can imagine shutting into a closet.  I wish that imagining that would make it go away, but it’s not that simple.  What is helpful though is remembering to step back.  To realize – it’s not me.  It’s Depression.

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Some people have service animals for coping with their mental illness

Animals that will make you hold their paw if you are anxious, or will stop you for self abuse, etc.

I have an Enabler animal.

Lily loves it when I am home and in bed because then she can cuddle with me. So she actively puts herself on me, refusing to move when I want to and makes it harder for me to get out of bed.

She trained herself, so that part was saving me money, I guess.

I’ve had a bad week and decided to take off Thursday and Friday so that at least when the implosion of my Depression happened I wasn’t calling off work.  Lily approves.  I’m not sure if I do.

It’s almost like I’m supporting the depression when I plan for the implosion, but I also know intellectually that the implosion was coming, whether I asked for the days off or not.  The only difference was whether I proactively handled it better for my job.

And this does at least keep the depression from using an unexcused absence as fuel for a bonfire of self hate.

And also Lily enjoys it.  And frankly, it’s all about Lily.  She knows it, I know it and we are all better off if everyone agrees on the state of things.

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Learn by Harpiya

-LEARN-by Harpiya

Female Warriors, a metaphor with troubles.

I struggle with depression and anxiety.  I’ve recently adopted a personal metaphor of being a warrior against the parts of my brain that don’t function as they should.

So occasionally I search for a female warrior image that matches the emotional state of my struggle.

And this is when I became hyper aware of the weird fetishizing of women as warriors.  Maybe I shouldn’t even call it a fetish because those images predominate.

It is nearly impossible to find an image where the breasts are not carefully delineated and huge.  And many just show the breast naked. I’ve seen images where the woman is naked and has a leather strap around her waist while she carries a sword.

Then there’s the weird poses.  You know the ones I mean.  Just look at the cover of any book or movie poster with women in action roles and they are arching their back awkwardly to push forward the breast or their hips.  They are angled so their butts show, their dress is slit and their leg is up to show the thigh.  And generally the perspective of the viewer is such that a body part like the breast is the predominant feature of image.

In other words they are selling sexual suggestion.  The thing is that this is so predominant that it’s normal and I never paid much attention to it.  It’s been that way my whole life.  But when I wanted to select images that reflected my particular emotional state it became suddenly clear that finding images with any emotional state besides sexuality was going to be something of a challenge.

So I try very hard to avoid images that turn the woman into a sexual object instead of a warrior.  Its so demeaning to the very concept of warrior, isn’t it?  It basically says this woman is actually just a toy for men that is playing at being a fighter.  Don’t take her seriously.

I prefer my images to be she’s serious and possibly deadly.cb48c4d911ccc83280384d5f8cc963c7

Weekend Triumphs

imageI ended the week on a high note.  My brain has decided to climb over the rim of the Abyss of my depression and see the world.  Sunlight and Energy and Optimism.

I cannot even begin to tell you how magnificent that is.  I know it won’t last, but while I’m here I’m glorying in it.

Friday I looked up 3 recipes and put together a grocery list for them and then after work I went to the grocery store and shopped like grown up for the ingredients.   Most of you are wondering why that sentence is something wondrous to me.  Well, I hate to shop, I buy the same things everytime shop, and those things are always cheap frozen meals and sandwich fixings and cat food.  So this was a triumph of mental energy for me.

Yesterday a UTI that had been hovering annoyingly in the background for 2 days decided to get serious.  So I went to the Little Clinic and got tested and meds.  Like a grown up.  Again, you are thinking – uh, that seems like a normal thing to do, Sara.  YES.  It is.  It’s a totally normal thing which last week I would not have done.  I would have abused ibuprofen and tried to drink more water and hoped/pretended that it would just go away before I died of a kidney infection.  Seriously.  So.  I’m loud and proud about my normal action to get antibiotics.

Then I came home and cooked and cleaned.  Like that was just a thing I do.  I know!  Its so weird and wonderful.

Today I want to buy shoes.  This, of course, sounds like a wonderful fun thing to do.  But for me its a THING.  First of all, I want to buy some expensive shoes from Mephisto because I’m a fat middle aged woman who needs good shoes.

So I had to wait for my tax refund to get them.  I got that on Thursday.  But then I spent my shoe money on my UTI.  This is annoying.  Now if I buy the shoes I am going to be using the money I had earmarked for car repair/maintenance.  That seems like a frivolous way to spend potentially necessary money for car stuff.

So now I’m debating.  I need new shoes in any case.  I think my ankle pain is because my current shoes have worn soles and so they are putting pressure on the joint in an odd way.   Also I’m fat.  I keep saying that because the scale yesterday was VERY RUDE to me.  I may need to start facing my eating habits.  But that’s off the subject.

The point, which I keep wandering away from, is should I buy the expensive shoes or just go to DSW and find something from the clearance rack?

I should probably go to DSW.  Sometimes you can find a great quality shoe for stupid cheap on clearance.  But that NEVER happens when you are actually looking for it.  It only happens when you are killing time while your friend is buying shoes or just shopping to be social with your sister or something.  Intention is never part of good deals.

Anyway, I’m in a good enough place that going to DSW is an actual possible thing I could do.  So that is in favor of that plan.

What do you guys think?  Go to the locally owned shoe store and get a good pair of shoes or just go to DSW or just stay home and cook?

Next up on It’s A Thought…. Women Warriors.  A metaphor with challenges.

How I get things done with depression/anxiety.

I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.

~John Keats

That is what depression is for me at its worst.  Its apathy of the greatest and most destructive sort and when its manageable its a fight to gain enough traction to move.

When its manageable, I have to set up systems or I won’t win.  These are methods, tricks, processes I use to get myself to do the simple everyday tasks that you do without much thought.

The best systems are habits.  For example, my morning routine includes things that are habit.  I clean the kitty litter every morning before I leave for work.  I take out the trash when I leave the apartment.  They just happen without much thought.  And once the habit is there, it has to be a very bad day indeed to stop the habit.

But some things are just not tasks you can turn into a habit.  For example, I’m not going to vacuum my house daily.

So I set up a list of tasks that I will do.  The items on the list are not huge.  It does not say for example:  Clean the Bathroom.   It says clean the sink.  Clean the toilet.  Sweep the floor.  Mop the floor.  Clean the tub.

Then I set up a timer.  The timer is set for 45 minutes or an hour.  When it goes off I do a task for 5 minutes or until its done, whichever is first.  Then I reset the timer.  If I don’t finish the task, it has to be finished when the timer goes off next.

When I do that all day, I get a clean apartment, clean clothing, etc.

The thing is that nothing on the list is overwhelming.  And nothing on the list takes more than 5 minutes in normal circumstances.

Another thing I do is time how long it takes me to do onerous tasks.  Cleaning kitty litter used to be a bugaboo of mine.  I used to put huge blocks in my mind around it.  So one day I timed how long it took.  45 seconds.  It stopped being onerous when I realized it took less than a minute of my life.  Sometimes my brain creates disproportional views of things – and taking a simple step like timing it creates an objective ruler to break into my misconception.

I want to create more habits.  Routines that get done daily.  However starting and sustaining a routine for long enough to become a habit is hard.  My attempts have been failures so far.

Depression is not a static thing.  It changes daily and even hourly.  Its on a continuum.  Sometimes I just don’t move.  Stillness.  I can’t even get out of bed to go to work.  I’m nonfunctional.  There is no hope at all to exercise willpower.  Its not even in my list of options.

Sometimes I’m functional.  And if I pull out the mental whip and beat myself with it I can get some basic things done like going to work.  Its a weird terribly unhealthy way to get myself to move.

Sometimes I functional and hopeful.  And in those days I work with systems and goals..

Today I’m functional and hopeful.  Today is a good day.