SERIOUS ACCOMPLISHMENT TODAY, friends.
I called the pharmacy. On the TELEPHONE.
Like, I was out of medicine, so I casually picked up the phone, all la-dee-da as though I do this every day, dialed, talked to another human, and ordered more meds.
It took less than two minutes, as opposed to the usual two weeks of crippling inertia and dread.
It took no brain space and carried no anxiety, as opposed to a full mental shut-down, clammy skin, and racing heart.
Then — then, friends — I put in a full day of work. Like it was no big deal. Like work is feasible. I called the pharmacy, I worked, I made food for myself and others, and I didn’t want to die or hide or cry.
That’s when I realized I’m truly on the mend.
I’ve found whole, big pieces of myself. And I also remembered how very slow is the road to recovery.
I’m on the upswing now, though. Really for real this time, as opposed to all the other times in the past 12 months I thought I was better.
Last June, I was able to get out of bed and sit on the couch. That was it. Just walk downstairs in the clothes I’d worn the day before (and the day before that, and the day before that… times infinity), put my butt on the couch, and turn on the TV. At night, I reversed course. And that’s when I knew I need medical help. Again.
By July, I could make myself food. Sometimes even a sandwich, which requires enough brain space to think about multiple steps. It felt like a miracle because, frankly, it was.
In August, I traveled with my family, and while I still found breathing an extraordinarily difficult task — probably because of the trash compactor practicing on my lungs such that short and shallow gasps were my only option — I didn’t eff it up for my kids; I did one activity with them per day, even if it was just sitting next to a pool, before I put myself back to bed.
I’m still waiting for my trophy. It shall read Didn’t Eff Up Family Vacation. Or perhaps instead of another trophy, this one should be a medallion like the participation awards handed out at the end of marathons. That seems fitting.
By December, I had the energy to decorate the house in my signature half-assed style, which included setting up the tree I trimmed three years ago, throwing stockings in the general direction of the mantel, and making two ingredient fudge. I spent three hours, max, on decorating, and I felt like a hero. CURED, I thought. Or at least in Depression Remission. I mean, the contrast with June was stark. I pretty much passed out for the rest of the Christmas season, but three whole hours of productivity — during which I breathed full breaths — was infinitely more than I’d had all summer.
This week, though, I MADE A PHONE CALL. Undeniable proof of mental stability.
Rejoice with me, friends, for that which was lost has been found.
For those of you who may be in the same boat — on the long road home — I’m sharing the following five real actions I took this year to ease my depression.
None of these is a substitute for medical and/or counseling help, but all of them played a role in giving me measures of relief along the way.
5 Real Ways I Eased My Depression This Year
Greg, in fact, was trying to dry himself after his shower yesterday, and it took him forever; he had to go slow so the towel wouldn’t rip more. Because big, rippy holes? Not a good reason to buy new towels. Truth is, Full Towel Disintegration isn’t enough to force such an extravagant purchase. We’ve never bought a towel in our lives, and this is no time to start.
You won’t be surprised to learn, then, that in 23 years of marriage, we’ve spent exactly $399 on mattresses. That’s cumulative for everyone in our house. Because if friends and family are giving them away, who are we to say no?
Unfortunately, though, my mattress wasn’t doing me any sleeping favors, and it turns out sleep is a critical part of mental health. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So Greg and I succumbed and bought a Purple mattress.
Worth every penny, folks. Every penny.
(Don’t buy the Purple sheets, though — they suck. I mean, they’re great for a couple weeks, but then they start to pill, which is a real bummer. Stick with your regular sheets. The used ones you got from grandma. 😉 )
2. CBD Oil: Yep. Hemp oil. I’m going full Oregonian these days. Cannabidiol is the non-intoxicating, non-high-inducing extract of marijuana.
NOTE: You really do need to be careful with this for two reasons. First, the manufacturing of CBD oil isn’t regulated, so it’s important to be sure you’re getting a product that is exactly what it says it is. And second, the research on CBD has been minimal. It’s been proven to help with epileptic seizures and looks promising for social anxiety and as an anti-inflammatory, but there’s no conclusive information on the last two. A lot of anecdotal data, but nothing FDA approved.
I’m using a minimal amount of CBD oil (from a provider for whom I can vouch personally with a product that is what it says it is) 2 hours before bedtime as a sleep aid. I don’t know if it helps with sleep or not, to be honest, nor do I know if it’s the CBD or a placebo, but it’s helping me heaps with the anxiety of falling asleep, which is a Big Deal in my universe and, combined with Camomile and Lavendar Tea, is allowing me forego ambien most nights. For the win.
3. A Consistent Bedtime Routine: …. HA! Just kidding. At the time of this writing, it’s 10:30pm, one kids is crying because life is unfair (literally nothing triggered this — he’s just deeply troubled at the unjustness of All of Life), one is waxing eloquent about toast, a dog is barking, I can’t find my hairbrush, and I’ve just remembered 27 things I need to do before I sleep. Bedtime routines are probably helpful. I’m not maligning them. I’m just saying they’re apparently not for me.
Actual #3. Trashy Novels: Trust me here, recovering from a depressive episode is no time for deep thinking or self improvement. Staying alive and moving closer to health is all the improvement you need right now. Cross my heart. This is where trashy novels come in. They’re escapist fluff that allow you to shut your brain down. Some people can do this with trashy Netflix, so you do you. The key here is evading reality with brain candy. Give yourself permission to just rest that noggin.
4. Foster Dogs or Do Some Other Unreasonable Thing That Brings You Joy: Now, if it were up to me, I’d have two dogs. Maybe six. Possibly nine hundred. But because Greg’s heart is a hardened lump of coal, I get one. He tried for zero, but I solved that by not buying a miniature horse, thereby proving what a sensible choice a Golden Retriever is. To make up for the dearth of dogs in my life, I asked Greg if we could start fostering Goldens. He said no, so now we’re fostering Goldens. In conclusion, do something that Makes No Sense to the people around you but brings you Great Joy and Soothes Your Soul. The sense-makers will understand eventually. Probably after you don’t buy the miniature Jersey milking cow you’ve been eyeing.
5. Sunshine: Because Vitamin D, folks. Those of us in climates like Oregon have to get creative sometimes to find it, but it’s a biological imperative — especially for brain and bone health — and no source delivers Vitamin D better than the sun. Thank God my kid goes to college in Hawaii so I have to visit her. Time with my baby girl + Vitamin D + twinsie pics replicating her Instagram feed. I mean, I can’t go wrong.
That’s all for now, friends, but I am, as always, sending you love and waving in the dark,
P.S. Speaking of Vitamin D and twinsie pics, there’s more of this magnificence coming soon to a blog near you:
P.P.S. Yes, my daughter and I can share clothes. Obviously.
P.P.P.S. Sorry it’s so hard to tell us apart. You’ll just have to guess which one is me.
P.P.P.P.S. #Twinsies #MotherDaughter #CantTellUsApart
P.P.P.P.P.S. I genuinely can’t think of a better way to end a post about mental health than by adding a photo that ensures you’ll question mine. 😂🙌🏼🎉