Friday, April 24, 2015

CBC Radio

Well how do you think it makes me feel you idiot!!

Another morning, same old "morning dread." I pushed my "snooze" button but couldn't stay in bed. Had to get up. Tried some meditation. Did a few stretches. Thank god for the kittens because they are always waiting outside my bedroom door and are always glad to see me. Yes, I'm pathetic.

I tried something different this morning - I put CBC radio on while I had breakfast and read the morning paper. It was pleasant - so I stayed at the table and did part of the crossword puzzle. Read some blog posts too. Took me through to lunchtime and then I got busy with chores. I'm going to put CBC radio on every morning that I'm at home. Some mornings I go for a hike and the morning dread isn't quite so bad.

So now I have two things to look forward to when I wake up: the kittens and the radio. Yes, it seems rather pathetic but perhaps it's not so bad.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Crappy Day

Yesterday was not a good day. I don't know why some days are so much worse than others. Perhaps it was the snow we got after I cleaned up the patio. Perhaps it was because I didn't leave the house yesterday. I don't know but I was pretty down in the dumps. Very dissatisfied with my lot in life. Putting myself down, feeling sad and blue.

I did come across a quote yesterday, however, that had an impact on me:

"The past does not equal the future.
Because you may have failed a moment ago,
all day today,or for the last six months,
or for the last sixteen years,
or for the last fifty years of your life
doesn't mean anything.
All that matters is."
what are you going to do now?
Anthony Robbins
Isn't it amazing to thing we can make a fresh start today? And if today sucks well we get a new one tomorrow. Living in the "now" has always been difficult for me, I'm forever thinking that I should have lived my life differently. But the past doesn't matter, the only day that matters is today. How are you going to live your "today"?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Morning Dread

Do you suffer from "morning dread"? It's that feeling when you first wake up of worry and darkness that jolts you wide awake and doesn't allow you to linger in bed enjoying that pleasant langorous feeling between dreaminess and full alertness.

Yeah, me too.

I'm not like this person who can't hardly drag themselves out of bed. I have to get up and get busy. I get more anxious if I stay in bed - there's no enjoyment in it.

And if I don't know what I'm going to do when I get up then I feel even more anxious. So I'm trying to think, the night before, what I'm going to do when I get up in the morning. Beyond the usual routine, that is.

Right now my morning routine looks like this: (and I can drag it out for several hours)

  • I wake up around 7am without an alarm
  • I respond to the "morning dread" by getting up; I'm confused for a short period of time by what order I should do things and therefore by what I should wear...exercise gear? jeans? pjs?
  • I feel like I should start out the day with meditation and stretches, maybe some yoga but I frequently don't bother, but I also feel I shouldn't stay in pjs either and jeans aren't comfortable for I say it takes a few minutes to decide. If it's a "hike" day then I know what to put on...hiking pants etc...maybe everyday should be a "hike" or a "walk" day. Maybe that's how I should start my day...but I'm inherently lazy. This is a struggle.
  • Once dressed, washed my face etc I come downstairs and make sure the cats have food and that their litter is clean. I sometimes forget about the litter til later.
  • I get my breakfast ready, make a cup of tea or coffee. Perhaps play a little with the cats.
  • Then at 8am I get the newspaper out of my mailbox and sit at the dining room table to eat, drink and read the paper. 
  • Then I check my email using my laptop and look up stuff - like today I'm looking up "how to meditate" because yesterday at group meditation the leader talked about Buddhists and how their daily meditation practice allows them to feel happy and calm and peaceful even if a bomb goes off near them. I'm not going to become a monk but I would like to know how they meditate. My once weekly group meditation is not going to get me to a place where I experience deep peace. And besides, research can really fill a lot of hours in a day! Here it is 10:18am and I'm still at the dining room table but I can justify that because I'm retired and I'm learning about something.
  • Then I have to figure out what I'll do for the rest of the day: for example today I'm doing "floors" - vacuuming and cleaning AND it's kitty hygiene day too - clip their nails and comb their fur as it's spring and they are shedding more hair. I will check my accounts and update my budget plus I will talk to my daughter once she gets up (she worked late last night). Later I will likely go for coffee with a "daytime friend" and will do any errands that need doing. As it's not a hike day but the weather is crappy I will ride my stationary bike for 15km instead of going for a walk as rain and/or snow is predicted. 
  • Once I get to abot 4pm the guilt of not working for a living usually subsides for the day (probably because 4pm was the end of my work day?) and I relax a bit more...I might read, go on the computer or get supper started. I have another blog I work on a fair bit plus a bloglist of other blogs to visit and read.
  • After dinner is when I ride my stationary bike and watch Netflix. I might have a glass of wine and some chocolate, probably neither a good idea. Eventually I plan to fill an afternoon or two with volunteer work. And once nicer weather arrives I'll be spending a few days each week at my trailer which will hopefully provide me with some peace and relaxation.
And such is my busy busy life (sarcasm intended).

**The takeaway today is to always plan a few things the night before for the following day as feeling "dazed and confused" is really hard to endure first thing in the morning. Your mind will thank you for it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Walking and Depression

After hiking outside yesterday (it was a balmy 17c) it was back to the indoor track today as the rain is pouring down. 

If there is one thing that I can point to that lifts my spirits it's walking and/or cycling. It doesn't matter if I'm walking inside or outside once I get into a rhythm I start to feel small stirrings of happiness. Yes, it's only temporary but the benefits are real and eventually longer lasting. The following excerpt explains a bit about how exercise helps with depression...

(For the entire article go HERE)
A study published in 2005 found that walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week had a significant influence on mild to moderate depression symptoms. Walking fast for only 15 minutes a day five times a week or doing stretching exercises three times a week did not help as much. (These exercise lengths were calculated for someone who weighs about 150 pounds. If you weigh more, longer exercise times apply, while the opposite is true if you weigh less than 150 pounds.)
How does exercise relieve depression? For many years, experts have known that exercise enhances the action of endorphins, chemicals that circulate throughout the body. Endorphins improve natural immunity and reduce the perception of pain. They may also serve to improve mood. Another theory is that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which may directly improve mood.
Besides lifting your mood, regular exercise offers other health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, protecting against heart disease and cancer, and boosting self-esteem. How often or intensely you need to exercise to alleviate depression is not clear, but for general health, experts advise getting half an hour to an hour of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, on all or most days of the week.

I read on one woman's blog about how hard it was for her to be motivated enough to walk. She put her workout clothes on the floor by her bed so they would be the first things she'd see in the morning. It helped! We all know how easy it is to make excuses or to "forget". Sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning is all we can manage. TRY to make the effort to walk, better yet walk with a friend if you can. Motivate each other.

Have a laugh on me!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A New Habit

Yesterday, in the mail, I received my new acupressure mats from Spoonk!! (one full-size and one travel size)  I am hopeful that it will help both with physical pain (as does acupuncture) but also will help elevate my mood.

This morning I laid on it during meditation; then I also stood on it (in socks) for a few minutes. I was able to stay laying on it for the full 25 minutes of meditation. I can't report any amazing results but hopefully with repeated use I'll notice a difference.

Here are the claims made by Spoonk:
Enhance your health and wellness
You can treat your body and calm your mind in just 20 to 40 minutes on the mat. The Spoonk mat will energize you in the morning and help you unwind in the evening. Regular use will create the desired level of relaxation in your body that prevents the accumulation of stress and tension.
Spoonk™ Mats are made of all natural materials:
  • 55% certified organic hemp, 45% organic cotton
  • GOTS (Global Organic Textile) certified organic fabric
  • No synthetic AZO dyes
Eco Foam:
  • High quality Plant Based foam made VPF technology
  • No Fire Retardant Chemicals (PBDE and CFS)
  • No toxic off-gassing chemicals
Stimulation Points:
  • Recyclable nontoxic ABS Plastic.
  • Heat pressure - no adhesive glue
  • 6,210 stimulation points for optimal effect
  • Original design of crown-shaped discs
Eco foam made in the USA.
Assembled in Canada.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Dreary Thursday

When the sun is out it always helps me to feel a bit better. But all we seem to have lately is drizzle, wet snow or thunderstorms! I didn't wake up until 8:45am today which is unheard of for me and it sort of knocked me off course all day. The acupuncturist said I would sleep well after my treatment and I sure did although I did wake myself up once by talking out loud during a dream.  I wish I could remember the dream.

Today was pretty good considering the late start. I met my friend Michelle for coffee at 1pm and ended up offering to volunteer at an event that she is helping out with later in April. That will be good for me as I want to consider various charities etc for volunteer work. I also saw a parent of one of my former students - it was nice to say hello.

After coffee I went to Indigo to purchase a book on Mac computers as there is so much I want to learn, especially if I follow my idea of creating special education curriculum as a sideline.

Another sideline I'm considering to augment my teacher's pension is putting Adsense on my other blog as I have a fair bit of traffic. But I just couldn't get it to work and ended up sending them an email outlining my problems. I hope I can sort it out.

The other day I read somewhere that it's easy to figure out what retirement is NOT: it's NOT working, it's NOT getting up early every morning, it's NOT constant meetings and appointments etc. But what IS it? That's much harder to figure out. But figure it out I must because not having much to do is certainly not as enjoyable or rewarding as you would think!

So I took some action today:

  • possible volunteer opportunity
  • enquiring about a possible income source
  • bought a book to help with yet another income source
  • did spend some time on facebook interacting and posted some TBT (Throw Back Thursday) photos which received a lot of feedback. I also sent 4 photos to a friend's parents of their son who died 30+ years ago - they were really touched!
Did NOT get anything done around the house...tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

One Step at a Time

In my ongoing effort to get well, both physically and mentally, I had acupuncture this morning for my back. A few weeks ago I went on a very difficult hike - 20km across icy terrain. I had an impossible time trying to maintain my balance and ended up with piriformis syndrome as a result. I've been doing lots of exercises and stretches but thought maybe acupuncture would help me cope with the pain as it had worked for me before when I had a pinched nerve in my shoulder.

The doctor said I may only need one session which was great news as it costs $50 each time. I felt pretty good after so decided to do some walking at the BMO Centre. I haven't been there before but since it was pouring down rain I decided to use their indoor track. I walked for about an hour and a half without pain.

I feel good that I took action today and looked after a health problem. I'm feeling some pain in the backs of my legs but it's not killing me. I can cope.

Something else I'm trying to do is have more contact with family and friends. I find it remarkably easy to become isolated. The more isolated I become the more isolated I want to be. It's a vicious cycle and I know it's not good for me even though I tend to create situations where I don't see/talk to or seemingly "need" anyone. I think that's the introvert in me. Introversion and depression are not a good combination.

Today was not a stellar day for interacting with others but I did text for awhile with my friend Michelle, I spent time with my daughter, I confirmed breakfast on Friday with a former colleague by email, wrote a post for my other blog, talked to my acupuncturist (does that count?), and received a phone call from a friend. Didn't really feel like going on facebook today.

As far as activities I made myself complete a little DIY project in the main bathroom. I cleaned out the cupboard under the sink, wiped it down and put down new contact paper, installed an extra shelf for added storage, threw out a few things and then re-organized it. Also put up a rack in my daughter's bedroom so she can hang her dance medals on it. It felt good to get a couple of things done. I feel somewhat motivated to do the same with the powder room tomorrow as I have lots of contact paper left. We'll see.

Oh, and I did a little shopping at Walmart - I bought two zero-gravity chairs for our trailer which is located on Lake Huron. I set one up in the living room because I thought it might make a comfortable place to take a break as I'm not supposed to sit very much - I'm on it now and it's VERY comfortable.

All in all a fairly good day.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What Makes me Happy

Before I get into what makes me happy I thought I'd add a little more background to the story. I may need to do this from time to time so that posts make sense.

Things came to a head for me last July, 2014. Mike, my partner, had left me the previous Dec., 2013 and I had retired at the end of June 2014. As per my original plan I packed up my pickup truck and drove to my home in PEI.  I thought I could still live in PEI on my own since my partner backed out. But after being there for a time I had a bit of a breakdown and found that indeed I could not manage being there on my own.

Adding to my difficulties was the fact that I was gradually coming off of two medications - one for back pain (which was also a very low dose anti-depressant) and another for anxiety related symptoms of menopause. No doubt the terrible withdrawal I went through contributed to my mental anguish. Nevertheless I sold my home back to its previous owner (at a loss) and came back home to Ontario where I had more of a support system. It helped to be home with family nearby but my depression continued.

So...what makes me happy now, or, what made me happy in the past? Is there a way to increase my level of happiness? I would give anything to experience happiness and joy and excitement once again. I take no medication these days - I have been medication-free since last summer and have no desire to be on anti-depressants again.  I am including a shocking "Big Think" video that my nephew posted on Facebook today that reveals that anti-depressants suppress emotions, making it hard to cry and difficult to empathize.  I have experienced these things and quite frankly it terrifies me.

This blog will hopefully cover my journey from depression back to happiness, but the way I feel now it seems next to impossible to believe I can elevate my mood/feelings/emotions to the point where I can be joyful. However, that being said, I do believe that time heals all things. We shall see. I am ready to give it the All Canadian try!!

I feel happy (sort of) when...

  • my two cats are curled up beside me
  • my 24 year old daughter and I are getting along...watching "Friends" on Netflix and laughing our asses off as one example
  • I'm out hiking in the woods, alone or with friends
  • I meet a friend for coffee
  • I go to group meditation
  • I am not in physical pain (suffer chronic back pain)
  • I am doing yoga
  • my daughter and I work together on something (Easter dinner)
  • I spend time with girlfriends I have known for years
  • I go to my trailer
  • I ride my bike
  • I travel abroad or take a "road trip"
  • I read a good book
  • when my daughter is happy
  • I am involved in activities I enjoy
  • I hear a good live band, discover a new group whose music I like
  • when I complete a DIY project successfully
  • I create a delicious meal/dessert
  • I stay on budget
  • I write on my blog/respond to comments/read my friends' blogs
As you can see I'm not stuck for things to do, I have many interests and enjoy many things. BUT, right now there are barriers to my enjoyment. For example I have pulled muscles that prevent me from doing physical things that I enjoy, like hiking. Depression prevents me from engaging in the activities I enjoy such as genealogy, carving and other artistic pursuits. My daughter is struggling - she broke up with a boyfriend of several years and can't find full-time work that she enjoys. Money, while I have enough, is not so plentiful that I can travel abroad more than once a year. 

My challenge, right now, is to overcome these barriers (at least the ones that apply to me) so that I can get back to enjoying all of my activities and interests. I would also like to add "volunteer" work to the list as well as "activism." I feel these would enhance my life greatly so that I could feel, once again, that life has purpose and meaning. 

The combination of retiring, losing my life partner, losing my "future" (living with Mike in PEI), selling my PEI home, coming off of all medications and having a struggling daughter has steered me into the "ditch of life"!! A key to all of this is humour - I would like to rediscover my wicked sense of humour once again which would also help me to cope with all that has happened. I'm not one to lay down and give up, even when depressed. 

Here are the steps I've taken yesterday and today and will take tomorrow:
  • went to meditation with a friend and sat on my "donut" cushion
  • had coffee with another friend and sat on my "donut cushion"
  • inquired yesterday via facebook of a hiking friend about her participation in "Dragon Boat Racing" and will attend the upcoming recruitment meeting on April 20th
  • will be going to acupuncture tomorrow in hopes of some pain relief (it has helped me before)
  • made an Easter dinner with Kazi yesterday
  • much cuddling of kittens :)  and "liked" a facebook page with photos/videos of kittens being cute and funny
  • made plans to have breakfast with a former co-worker this Friday
  • might make pancakes tomorrow morning with a friend after acupuncture if I'm feeling up to it
  • will pray for my daughter who has a job interview this Friday 
A good list - I am "happy" with my efforts so far.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


I look at depression as a battle - either it will defeat me or I will defeat it. There seems to be enough will in me to desire the win, I just don't know know whether I have the necessary skills or strength.  I have another blog that I post on 3-4 times a week but I don't go on and on about my depression there. I thought having a spot where I could just write about my depression and the details of my battle might somehow by helpful or therapeutic not only for myself but for others.

A little background:
This May I will turn 59. Two years ago at this time I was a special education teacher at a highschool near where I live. My health was relatively good and I shared my condo with my daughter, K,  who is now 24 and my partner, Mike. Mike and I were looking forward to the end of school when we would drive to PEI and spend the summer there.

In 2010 I purchased an old but renovated farmhouse with a view of Casumpec Bay from the front porch. It was an idyllic existence.  My daughter who was working several part-time jobs would stay in the condo and look after our elderly cat. The plan was that when I retired we would move permanently to PEI.

Fast forward to now:

  • I am retired. 
  • Mike decided that he didn't want to live in PEI after all or with me for that matter and disappeared one weekend when K and I were on a mother/daughter trip to Toronto. I came home to find his closets/dressers etc empty.
  • I had to sell the house in PEI. Daughter and I living in the condo with 2 new cats (our elderly cat passed away at the ripe old age of 20)
  • Suffering with back pain. 
  • Lonely, sad most of the time, keeping myself isolated
  • Unmotivated, have lost interest in the things I used to do 
  • Feel anxious sometimes, feel dread when I wake up in the morning
  • don't like myself very much, wallowing in regrets about my choices in life, feel like a loser
Where I would like to be:
  • able to feel happiness and joy
  • socialize more
  • regain interest in activities
  • feel satisfied with my life
  • wake up looking forward to each day
  • feel loved
  • feel excited about life
  • be useful - feel that life has meaning
  • be free of pain (both emotional and physical)
This is a pretty classic list of symptoms of depression. Click on the link for more information. Depression runs in my family - my dad spent a lot of years in and out of psych hospitals suffering from depression and anxiety. I know I have to watch myself though I don't feel suicidal like he did. I just feel blahhhhhhh. 

Tomorrow I'm going to try to figure out what makes me happy. That's what I want to be. I don't want to be dead. My life has been far from easy and I will share some experiences that have led me to be where I am now. 

I really really hope I can find some readers/bloggers who are in the same boat as I am. Because the hardest part is feeling alone. 

Talk to you tomorrow.