Journal 1/6 – Taking care of yourself

Worked today and will work the next two days. Three days in a row probably doesn’t sound like much to most people, but it’s my first three day stretch since my leave of absence.

It occurred to me this morning that people who’ve lost a loved one to a brain aneurysm might be really offended by my references to such. I apologize if I have offended you. I have a friend who died from one and it seems like a peaceful way to go. They say he didn’t know what hit him.

I’m going to focus on self-care over the next few days to get through them. Dr. Liz has me tracking my mood daily on a scale of one to ten so we can adjust medications as necessary. Yesterday was a four, started out rough because one of our dogs has liver disease and she was symptomatic Saturday and Sunday morning. She rebounded and had a pretty good day, but any time she refuses food and play or vomits, I’m sure the end is near.

I will do my best to stay fully present in each moment, getting out of my head as much as possible (besides writing).

I put on make-up and jewelry. That makes me feel like I’m kind of putting on social armor, and I definitely feel better when I go in the work restroom and see myself in the mirror. The lighting in there is horrible, so my mirror image never reflects what I thought I looked like when I finished getting ready in the morning.

I’m not drinking alcohol for the time being. It depresses the nervous system, which is what I am trying to combat, and it uses space on my serotonin receptors that I need to be receiving the antidepressant medication.

I’ll remind myself to take deep breaths occasionally, using my lungs and diaphragm. I hold a lot of tension in my chest and abdomen, so this helps my body relax and, hopefully, not stay in fight-or-flight anxiety.

For the anxiety, Dr. Liz has also recommended I seriously increase my protein intake and decrease my carbs. Actually, she told me the number of grams I should have of each daily and suggested I get a food counter; but the idea of that stresses me out, so I’m just focusing on a general increase in protein and trying not to eat as much junk. She also recommends eating a small amount of high-quality, very dark chocolate each day for depression. I’m kind of loose with that one. I just make sure to eat some chocolate every day.

Dr. Phil says not to worry about what people think of you because they’re not thinking about you. They have their own lives going on, and I remind myself of that.

One of my really good friends, who has supported me through all of my depression episodes, has urged me to get a special light for chasing the gray days away. I finally got one. It’s a “happy” light. I used it for the first time this morning.

My gynecologist recommends 5000 units of vitamin D a day. He says it’s proven that people who take it feel better. Of course, I’ve been taking that for quite a while, even before this most recent flare-up, but I’m continuing.

Hugging can also improve one’s well-being. We usually hug for just a second or two, but science shows that a 30-second hug releases oxytocin, a neurotransmitter, into our brains.

Not sure what anyone else says about it, but smiling makes me feel better. Even if I’m not in a great mood, and especially at work, I try to smile with teeth showing once in a while. If I’m in an okay mood or better, I try to smile a lot.

One of the most obvious self-care activities is exercise, and this is the one with which I have the hardest time. In the best of circumstance, I don’t exercise regularly or have the desire to do so; and when I’m feeling low, it’s not what I want to do. I just want to lie down. I used to walk our dogs frequently, but I injured my shoulder and my poorly-trained dog pulls hard on the leash. I feel guilty going for a walk without them, though. This is one I’ve got to work on.

Painting is great creative outlet for me, but I haven’t for months. I know I won’t get into that for the next three days because I’m working, but it remains on my list of goals for my days off. A top priority this week will be taking down the Christmas decorations one of my sisters was kind enough to put up for me, and then I hope to paint. Who knows though, because since I’ve come back to work, writing and resting are all that I’ve managed on my days off.

I try to be kind and helpful to anyone who crosses my path, because that makes me feel better too.

Another thing I plan to do is re-read a post/meme one of my sisters sent me yesterday:

It's okay if you thought you were over it but it hits you all over again.
It's okay to fall apart even after you thought you had it under control.
You are not weak. Healing is messy, and there is no timeline for healing.
Be gentle with yourself.
@Enlightened Consciousness

Published by Sara

I'm middle-aged, mother of two adult sons, and a wife. I've been a teacher, counselor, medical transcriptionist, student teacher supervisor, substitute teacher and now I work in retail. File that under life takes many twists and turns one cannot predict!

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