So here it is.
As we’re now well into October, I thought it would be a good place to start. It’s been 1 year since I took a stand to start taking care of myself, starting out with working out more often.
And when I thumb through my “workout bujo”, what do I have
to show for it?
I had a mostly decent October, then a few weeks in November, December was pretty empty, and after that, with exception to a few things in February, it just kind of dropped off.
And as I thought of all this, I had to look back at what actually happened in the last year.
This past weekend, I hosted a quilling retreat with some of my quilling/scrapbooking friends, just as I had done during the same time last year.
However, there was a HUGE difference between the two weekends…
Last October, I was sucked into a major depressive episode. I had this whole retreat planned, and I didn’t even want to be there – not because I didn’t like my friends or getting together, my mental state just wasn’t there. I charged enough of a fee for it to cook all the meals myself (boy was that a mistake!), and loathed everything about the weekend, to the point where, when one of the attendees volunteered to help with dishes after a meal, I gladly accepted. Normally, I have the attitude that I “have” to do it all, and if I don’t, I’m a failure. This time, however, I didn’t care if I was a failure – someone wanted to help me, and at the time, I certainly needed it.
But the thing I learned through this depressive episode would be something that changed my life. A couple of weeks after the retreat was over, I met with my counselor again and told her everything that was going on. I had no joy to do anything. I had little energy, or desire, to do anything. My days basically consisted of going to work, climbing in bed as soon as I got home, letting my 4-year old watch tv or play by himself, and pawning every activity on my husband I could. Only to wake up and do the same thing day, after day, after day.
She asked me, “Are you depressed?” I told her I didn’t know because truly I didn’t. During the past year before that, we had worked through so much in my EMDR therapy sessions, that at the moment, I didn’t “feel” as depressed as I had back then.
I went back to work that day and being swarmed with mundane digital sorting tasks, I mulled over her question.
“Am I really depressed?” I really couldn’t answer that.
So I shot her an email and asked: “how can you tell if you’re depressed?” She promptly responded with some information to look up, which I tried to understand, and told me we could discuss it at our next session (2 weeks from that day). I told her I didn’t think I could wait that long, and she was able to get me in the following week, about 3 business days after my last session.
I sat in her office that day, feeling numb as I had been.
She told me the information she sent may have been hard to understand, but then
said, “Ok, let’s get to work,” as she pulled a large book off her bookshelf.
She began asking me questions from this book on how I was feeling – if I had lost pleasure in things I used to enjoy, if I felt like hurting myself, and on and on. Some questions I could definitely answer yes, some I answered no, and some were somewhat vague and could be a yes, based on context.
But then she asked me one question, and everything began to fall in place.
“Now, how does all of this relate to your [menstrual] cycle?”
“Spot on!” I quickly replied. I told her I had been paying attention to my cycle for about a year now because I noticed a good friend and I would always get in a fight about a week before I was due to start my period. We even came up with using the phrase “code red” so that I could easily indicate I was near starting and in a bad mood, and my bad mood wasn’t from something they did.
She began asking me more questions:
“Do you have a marked affective lability, for example, mood
swings, suddenly feeling sad, or an increased sensitivity to rejection?”
“Do you have marked irritability, anger, or increased interpersonal conflicts?”
“Do you have a marked depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, or self-deprecating thoughts?”
“Do you have a decreased interest in usual activities?”
“What about a subjective difficulty in concentration?”
“How about lethargy, easily fatigued or a marked lack of energy?”
“Hypersomnia or insomnia?”
“Sometimes, I don’t know. I’m a light sleeper.”
“A sense of being overwhelmed or out of control.”
“What about physical symptoms such as breast tenderness or swelling, joint or muscle pain, a sensation of bloating, or weight gain.”
“I don’t know I’m not sure.
And then she said “Well, you may have major depressive disorder with anxious distress, but you for sure have PMDD. So I think it would be best to see your doctor and talk about these things.”
And that was when my life changed.
So, yeah, a lot has happened in the last year. I’ve had to work through realizing that anti-depressants don’t work for me. I’ve been thankful to have a very understanding chiropractor willing to work with me to find things that work, and I’m glad to now report that we’ve found a group of supplements that work to not only ease, and almost eliminate my symptoms, but have also given me a shorter, lighter period. I’ve also been working with my counselor on the actions I can take when I’m having one of my “bad days of hell week” – whether that means taking the day off work, finding a place to which I can retreat when I’m having an episode, reminding myself to not take things personally, to stand up for myself when necessary, or to ask for clarification to make sure I’m not going to take something personally.
So with that, the last year is over, and a new one begins.