Saturday, 18 February 2012

Bringing the Black Dog to Heel.

Bringing the Black Dog to Heel

For the years the black dog ruled me
It haunted every step.
It growled when I looked happy
And bit when I was brave.
It taught me to cower and fear
With my true self locked away.
I sought for help from others.
But so many could not aid
They could not see the black dog.
They could not drive it off
They could and did give medicine
Which helped to ease the wounds
But they could not rid my soul
From the black dogs rule
Then someone heard me
And in my open hands
She gave me a link of chain.
To help me take command.
I learned what she could teach me
And made links of my own
And then I sought from others
So that my chain could grow.
With more help from friends
Who understood my plight
I chained up the black dog
I looped my chain around its neck.
I made it come to heel
It’s been four months since it was chained.
And forced under my rule.
The black dog still fights against my hand.
But I can feel it growing tired.        
It will not rule again while I live
Though I know it will never truly yield.

I started this blog right before I was going to receive treatment for Depression and Anxiety.  I've been in recovery for about 4 months. This week, even though I'm sick with the flu I feel like I'm in control.

I used to say I felt like I was in the bottom of a deep black pit, then I felt like I was climbing out...then I felt like I was balanced above it on a tight rope, constantly fighting for balance.  Now, I've come out of this pit and I no longer feel like I'm balancing on a tightrope.  Now I feel like I'm on a bridge, its still a narrow wobbly rope bridge but it's getting sturdier.  I will always have that pit below me, but I will never be at its' bottom again.

Is that enough analogies?

Basically I'm better and while this is always going to be a battle I'm fighting...I no longer feel I need to keep a separate blog about it.  I'm going to leave this up but I probably won't update it again.  Any further posts on my mental health will go on my main blog.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Conversations with a a Toddler

(sitting cuddled up with my son)

Me: Son, you make me happy.

Son: Yeah.

Me: Do I make you happy?

Son: Yeah.

Me: I love you, do you love Mummy?

*long pause*


Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Today I didn't do my run.

Today I ate too many indulgent things.

Today I napped too much.

Today I had to ask for help.

Today I had to take my son to the childminders for half the day.

Today my son got a good job sticker for his behaviour job.

Today my son decided I deserved a sticker.

Today I won.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Exercise is my friend.

Today I did my running like planned. Last week I managed 6.5 minutes of walking and 1 minute of running. This week I managed 8 minutes of walking and 2 of running. I know it doesn't seem like much but believe me for me doing ANY running is a big deal and I'm proud of my little bit of progress. What was more I did my stretching with my son and then later did some aerobic exercise with him which consistented of me making up things as we moved around to funny songs. He especially liked "ninja suprise" where we crouched up tight like we were hiding (ninja) and then leaped up stretching out our arms (suprise). It was awesome.

We only did about 2 songs so a little over two minutes but it was fun and even my 2 year old got worn out from it. What's suprised me is I'm not having any guilt or hangups with this. I may not really feel like doing it but I'm doing it anyway, and without the "I should be able to do more! I look stupid doing this! My neighbours must think I'm an idiot!"

I think the difference is instead of looking at it as a way to get thin I'm looking at the exercise (and some changes I'm making to my diet) as part of my mental health treatment. I'm not going "I have to do this because I'm fat and ugly." I'm going "Oh! This will help raise seratonin and endorphins. I like endorphins. Ooo and it will help me sleep and if I change my diet that will make me feel better and damnit I really want carrot anyway."

Out of curiousity I went on a free website (food focus for those curious) and calculated how long it would take me to lose the weight. The best estimate which assumed I lost on average 2lbs a week was a year and a half. The most conservative estimate was 3 years. Now that's a long time, but it didn't stun me. It did make me think though. I thought; "Am I perpared to go 3 years hungry a lot and tired and achy from exercise?" and my answer was "Yes. Because frankly the 10 minutes of exercise I did today? Made me feel damn ass good.

Tomorrow isn't a running day but I think I'm going to come up with an exercise routine I can do with Charlie because that was fun as anything for BOTH of us. How often can you do exercises that involve spinning in circles and laughing as well as things like touching your toes. I'm planning on going for a walk as well but we'll see how that goes.

Am I doing a big kick where I really expect to track my food everyday and get down to my ideal size in that 3 year period? No not really. It would be nice but I'm not expecting it and I don't really think it's going happen. However, I would like to be able to run for 20 minutes at a time and I do like figuring out exercises to do with my son.

It will also help my fibromyalgia, as hard as it is for me to get moving because I hurt once I do it helps me, keeps me from getting stiffer and stops the pain from getting worse.

More than anything else though? I like being happy, and exercising makes me happy. As odd as that sounds...

Monday, 2 January 2012

Aim Low to Reach High

This seems apt at the moment because many people are, of course, setting goals and making plans.

My motto at the moment is "Aim Low to Reach High" it sounds counter intuitive but bear with me.

You see part of my CBT was learning about S.M.A.R.T. goals (you can read about them here)which I found very helpful. But I still struggled sometimes with making my goals. Then when I was making a goal about starting a crochet project I knew I can knock out something like 30 rows in a couple of hours, but when I went to make my goal I stopped. Instead of writing that I'd do 30 or 20 or even 10 rows, I said I'd do 5. I picked a time I'd work on it and when I sat down to do it I did more like 50 rows. I not only felt the satisfaction of attaining my goal but the even better satisfaction of over achieving.

That felt great, and during the rest of the week I did even more crochet and actually achieved more other things. What I think happened is by making my goal easy to achieve it took the pressure off, then when I got to the doing it the goal felt easy to do.

I've kept to that and made small goals and consistently over reached them. Yes I knew I'd over reach it but more often then not I'd over reach past what I thought I could actually do. I think by aiming below what I think I'm capable of I give myself confidence, that then means I don't tell myself what I can't but instead say what I can.

For instance, this year I want to start a running program. It's usually 9 weeks. Well I won't be doing it in 9 weeks, not with my fibromyalgia. In fact I think it's going to take me a month per step -9 steps, 9 months. However I'm giving myself 2 months for each step.

So what I'm saying is that I've decided to set myself up for success instead of failure.

I think I prefer it.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Separating the Physical from Mental

This last week my fibromyalgia has been flaring very badly. I've been in an extreme amount of pain and exhausted, regularly having to nap and even then by 8 o'clock I am flagging badly and I'm having to take my painkillers a lot more frequently than I'd like.*

It's sucked, no question. No one likes to be in pain or feeling run down. It has been especially annoying this week because I didn't do anything to cause it. Often when I have flare it's caused by me over doing it, this time I didn't. In fact I was very careful about pacing and at no point over reached myself, and yet here I am popping pills and cursing slightly every time I move.

Unfortunately there isn't much I do about it either. I've stretched, took hot baths and showers, used microwave hot pads, and even meditation but nothing is really helping and there isn't anything the doctor can suggest to improve it. My only choice is to keep up what I'm doing, keep moving as much as I can and wait for it pass.

However, ever cloud has a silver lining even in this cloud of pain. For once I am in pain without being depressed. My mood has been very positive this week and I've got a lot done despite my pain. I finished crocheting a blanket, started a book and got almost all the Christmas cards finished and posted. I've not attacked myself over the fact I was struggling physically and accepted that I just have to take painkillers and keep going as best I can. I've even accepted that I need help and have not been ashamed to ask and receive the help I needed.

This has helped me with an old issue. I've often worried that my pain is just in my head, that it's a symptom of my depression. This has proved to me (my doctors already knew) that my pain is a physical illness, not a symptom of my mental illness. To have that distinction proved to my satisfaction is very reassuring.

Especially as recently I was chatting to a woman who asked about the fact I walk with a stick. I replied I had a chronic pain condition and explained (briefly) about fibromyalgia saying that my nerves thought they were in pain even when nothing was causing that pain. She said "Oh so it's a mental illess? It's just all in your head?" I replied that no it was a neurological illness. My nerves don't work right, not "I'm imagining" my pain. Even though the woman meant well and was actually a very nice woman that did rankle me more than I cared to admit.

Sometimes it's difficult to separate my physical illness from my mental but it's important to remember that while they can effect each other they are separate illnesses in their own right.

*For context the optimal amount of painkillers I would take in a day is none. I've been taking more like 3 or 4 a day for the last week.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Ups and Downs

I haven't been blogging as much recently. That's been because I've been struggling to maintain the progress I've made mentally and because I've been in a huge amount of physical pain off and on.

Despite my love of autumn and Christmas the colder weather is not my friend and I find myself struggling with badly with my chronic pain. In general I associate autumn and winter with the phrase "Holy crap! What it this bad last year?" to which the reply is always "Yes."

I forget in the spring and summer how much my pain is affected by the weather. Sure I'm in pain in the warm weather but it's not as crippling bad as it is in the cold months. That pain combined with the shock of it makes it very hard to deal with. I'm better at dealing with it this year. I sort of remembered that it was bad and emotionally was better able to deal with it. I've also been a lot more careful in pacing and balance.

I'm not trying to be supermom or superwife or anything like that, I'm acknowledging when I need help and asking for it. This last Thursday, for instance, I was cooking a roast chicken and was supposed to do mash with it*, I realized I was starting to struggle so I asked my in-laws to pick me up some pre made mash. I had already anticipated I was going to need some help so they were already planning on taking my son out for a couple of hours. Essentially I did everything I was supposed to in order to prevent a flare up.

So imagine how pissed off I was on Thursday night/Friday Morning to realize I was really bad pain...basically in a very bad flare.

But at least I wasn't angry with myself. I was angry with my body for betraying me but not with myself for being "stupid" something I usually beat myself up about.

It's been hard to remain positive, the bad days have sucked when I've had a panic attack or using should statements or when it's really bad emotional reasoning. The emotional reasoning for me seems to be along the lines of "I'm in pain, that must be because I'm a terrible human being." which of course is nonsense.

In some ways the hardest hit was acknowledging my habit of occasionally becoming fervently "spiritual" or religious and seeing meaning in everything is probably a symptom of mental illness. Part of "Mania" can be delusions. It's hard to swallow, but it makes sense why when I'm depressed or stable I tend towards atheism.

Taking that in mind I've embraced my atheism, but it's hard admit you were delusional. Mildly, but yes I was delusional.

So yes, I've been up and I've been down. That's not new, I've been up and down most of my life. The difference is that when I'm up now I feel really good and when I'm down I still have hope. I still maintain faith in myself, which is so far from where I was in January of this year.

Right now, my ups out weight the downs. Even through the pain.

*we were celebrating Thanksgiving