My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the tag “Healing”

Setback

So those of you who have been following the blog for the past few weeks already know that I cut my leg on my screen door and got six stitches. After ten days of resting patiently, I got my stitches out. Afterwards, my leg felt… mushy. It wasn’t really supporting my weight very well and I was limping more by the end of each day. Then I started to get these sharp pains in my ankle. The cut puffed up and went funny colours. Back to Urgent Care again. I was pretty sure my injury was infected. I figured I’d been in Urgent Care for a 1/2 hour or so, get some antibiotics and go to work.

Turns out I do have an infections (and the antibiotics) but I also have a tear in my Achilles’s tendon. The tear is very small but I have to be careful not to rupture the tendon. I have to wear an air cast for two weeks and then have it reexamined by the doctor. Luckily, I’m allowed to take the air cast off to sleep and shower but the rest of my day I’m wearing this sexy space boot.

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As a result of my injuries and the fact that I’m exhausted pretty much all the time, I’ll be taking the next few weeks away from the blog to recover. Unfortunately, doing my job uses up almost all the energy I have right now. This post actually took me several days to finish. So the blog will return on Tuesday, October 11. Thank you for understanding.

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Time Limits

Right now I feel like there is a time limit on how long I can be around other people. When I’m done work, I’m ready to go home, put on some comfy pants and relax. Let me explain; usually I describe myself as an extrovert. I am very comfortable around groups and I love the company of others. However, I have learned that one of the ways to overcome my anxiety is to become introverted when I am especially anxious. Confused? Check out the comic below for an explanation of how extroverts and introverts recharge differently:

Image courtesy of http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/16/understanding-introverts-_n_5989656.html

So extroverts generally get their energy from spending time with people and introverts get their energy by spending time alone. One of the quirks of my anxiety is that I switch from extrovert to introvert. Actually, one of the ways I can tell if I’m becoming too anxious is when my time with people saps my energy. If I come out of a meeting or a social engagement feeling sluggish and cranky, I know I’m struggling with my anxiety. When I can’t wait to get home after a long day and enjoy the quiet of my house, I know I’ve had a high-stress day or week… or month. In these situations recharging alone is exactly what I need. I need that time to rest and reflect.

I used to see this need to be alone as a weakness. I tied any introverted tendencies I had to my anxiety and made it part of my illness. I thought I had to be extroverted to be happy. I’m starting to discover that this just isn’t true. I actually kind of like being alone. I can do whatever I want. No one is putting demands on me. My time by myself feels like a decadent treat. Plus I’m married to an introvert, so he really digs this time where we can enjoy our time without constantly having to “do something” together.

Image courtesy of http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/10-comics-that-perfectly-sum-up-what-its-like-to-be-an-introvert_55c3adcfe4b0f1cbf1e429cc

This approach may not be for everyone but it’s working for me. Hey extroverts, we get tired too! Maybe try letting your brain do its own thing for a little while. Try not being “on” for a change. You might just like it.

Get used to being proud of yourself

Since coming off my antidepressants, I’ve being doing really well and feeling much healthier. I’ve caught myself smiling more. When I’ve checked in with my emotions, I’ve been noticing more times when I feel proud of myself. I haven’t done anything mind-blowing lately, but I feel proud of the good days I’m having and how I’m handling stress better than I used to. My transition back to work after summer break was smooth and I’m really enjoying my job these days.

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I used to feel guilty about being proud of my accomplishments. I always felt like I should be doing more or that somehow being proud of myself was selfish. As soon as I felt any pride, I would also feel a wash of doubt. Was it really OK to be feeling pride about my small accomplishments? Wasn’t everyone else doing way more than me? How could I be proud of having a good day at work when other people were trying to cure cancer or feed the homeless? Sound familiar.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of yourself. However, everyone, myself included, needs to balance it with some humility. When I say pride, I’m not talking about endlessly talking up your goings-on to everyone you know, or filling your social media with self-important updates. I’m talking about being privately happy with where you are in life and who you are. The only reason I’m sharing my feelings of pride here are because I’ve been surprised by them. This feels like a whole new way of thinking to me.

I guess I’m hoping that by sharing this, you’ll remember to be proud of yourself too. Tackled a project at work? High five! Cleaned your house? Thumbs up! Helped someone solve a problem? You rock! Remember to take a little more pride in all the amazing things you do, be they big or small. I know it’s improved my outlook.

Am I finally turning the corner? 

https://m2.behance.net/rendition/pm/7134185/disp/e920cfd21ce4e790b625a8b1cb89eab0.jpg

So I have been suffering through the process of coming off my antidepressants for almost a month. It has been much more difficult than I thought. Well actually, coming off the meds was fine. It was the two weeks after I stopped talking the pills that kicked my butt. In my last post, I mentioned a list of withdrawal symptoms I was experiencing, including brain zaps.

The good news: the brain zaps have pretty much stopped.

The bad news: my other withdrawal symptoms got really awful.

I started to have irrational anger. When it comes to anger, I may have a short fuse but it’s a quick explosion too. I get angry for may five or six minutes tops unless it’s something really serious. Lately though, everything seems to be making me mad. For example, I caught myself getting angry at one drive for running a red light, (how dare you endanger us all?) and cursing another for not running a red, (get out of my way, you slow-poke!) Poor Nick has born the brunt of my craziness with relative good humour, although when he laughs it just makes me angrier. The upside is that I generally recognize these bursts of emotion as irrational and can at least wait them out if I can’t get rid of them.

I have also been suffering horrible headaches and body aches almost every day. I get cramps in my legs and sharp pains in my back whether I sit, stand or lie down. I am still exercising but it takes all of my willpower to drag myself to the gym.

Finally, I had a few days where I’ve had some very negative thoughts I can’t seem to dismiss. Mostly, I feel sad and worthless. Again, I know these emotions and thoughts are just part of the withdrawal and not real. That doesn’t make it less exhausting to put up with.

Today was totally different. I felt almost normal. I didn’t wake up in pain or with nausea. I actually wanted to get out of bed and start the day. I was able to eat breakfast without gagging. In my Crossfit class I felt stronger than I had in days and I wasn’t totally exhausted by the end, (although I got a good sweat!)

Better than all of that, I enjoyed my day! I wasn’t just waiting for the day to end so I could crawl into bed. I hope this day wasn’t a fluke. Perhaps my withdrawal is finally winding down. I love feeling like myself again.

What Art is in Your Home?

Nick and I have decorated our home with art that we love. Creating a calm, comfortable home environment can help ease mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. For me, when I feel anxious our home is my sanctuary. It’s where I go to regroup and build up my strength.

I wanted to share some of the art in my home with you. Whenever possible, I’ve listed the artist information. Maybe you’ll see an artist you enjoy and you can check out their work. Maybe it will inspire you to add some art to your home or workspace. Maybe you’ll just enjoy this mini-gallery. I hope it brightens your day!

 

 

Sometimes you have to let someone take care of you

So I mentioned in my last blog that I’ve been suffering from heightened levels of depression lately. However, I also mentioned my amazing support system. I wasn’t kidding. I am very blessed to have people who care so much about me. My main support is usually Nick but he’s had to travel a lot more lately because of his job. Something that was particularly difficult for me recently was when he had to travel on a Sunday. The weekend is traditionally a time Nick and I reserve for each other and perhaps our family and friends. It is our time to reconnect. So when Nick had to leave early Sunday morning, I found myself increasingly sad leading up to Saturday night.

While talking to my Mom she clued into the fact that I was feeling down and she offered to come visit me for the day. At first I was worried that would be too stressful for her. After all, we’re a four-hour drive away. “Oh honey,” my Mom replied, “I’m retired. What else do I have to do?” So my Mom came to visit. We didn’t do anything too interesting. We wandered around downtown most of the day. Then we headed back to my house, got into our pajamas and ordered Chinese food. It was an easy day full of conversation. It made me feel much better.

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My fortune cookie really summed up the day.

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And from my Mom’s cookie we learned that even fortune writers have a sense of humour!

 

Anxiety Down, Depression Up

Most people suffer from both anxiety and depression, rather than one or the other. I am one of those people. As most of you know, I’ve been working really hard to control my anxiety and I’m seeing some positive results. However, the tricky thing about mental health is that it can run in cycles that are difficult to break. So right now I’m leaving a time of anxiety but I’ve landed in a time of more depression.

There is no single cause for my depression. The triggers affecting me right now are work stress, Nick being away on a business trip, a lack of time with my friends (we are all just so busy!) and the waning of sunlight as winter approaches.

When I’m depressed I have trouble concentrating, I’m not motivated and I sleep a lot more. In fact, sleeping is one of the few things I feel like doing. I feel helpless and hopeless. Even my usual pursuits and activities hold no appeal. Everything seems like too much work.

This blog took me longer than usual to write because I have difficulty describing what it is like to be depressed. Because the causes of my depression are complex, no one thing is going to snap me out of it. It is going to take time and hard work. However, unlike past bouts of depression, I am confident I will come though this alright. I have lots of support and healthy habits to help me though. Wish me luck and patience because I’m going to need lots of both.

Making the Most of Spring: Therapeudic Gardening

I always thought I was bad with plants. I kill most house plants. In fact, my mom, (who has an incredible green thumb,) has rescued many of my houseplants and nursed them back to greenness in the safety of her own home. However, since buying a home, I have figured out that I do alright with outdoor plants. I have a lot to live up to. Most of my neighbours are retired and their gardens are breathtaking. So I had no choice but to get outside and at least make my yard look presentable by comparison.

This year, during a particularly deep bout of depression, I spent a whole day working in my garden. I dug and planted and raked, all in a light rain. Something about having my hands in the dirt felt healing. I was out all day. I ate lunch in the garage because I was too dirty to come inside. I stayed out until the sun began to set.

Spring is the time to plant. Here are a few photos of some of the work I did:

Round one.

Round one.

Before.

Before.

After.

After.

Before.

Before.

After, (mini herb garden in a pot).

After, (mini herb garden in a pot).

I was so excited about my first projects, that I went back to the garden store and got more supplies so I could keep working:

Round two.

Round two.

Before.

Before.

After.

After.

Oh, and for those of you in the London area, I went to Van Horik’s for my garden supplies. It’s a smaller nursery but the staff is very knowledgeable and always ready to help. My suggestion is to grow something this Spring; inside or outside, vegetables or flowers. Growing things is good for the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

On Ramp Yourself Back In

Everyone has to take a break from training now and again. Recently, I took a break while recovering from a respiratory infection, (nobody wants to train next to the girl barking like a dog.) That was a short break. A few years ago I had to take a month out as I recovered from whiplash. To make a long story short, a deer hit my car; I did not hit it. Needless to say, my physiotherapist made me promise not to train until she gave me the go ahead.

If you’ve had to be away from the gym, don’t be shy about coming back. Here are my tips for turning a regular CrossFit class into a personal on ramp session:

1. Make time for mobility. Don’t skip your warmup and cool down. Your body will thank you.

2. Be realistic. This is not the day for new skills or personal records. Back off your weight and focus on your form. For example, here was my first workout back:

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So usually for my back squats, I would lift between 90 and 95 lbs. On my first day back I lifted 62 lbs. Next time, I’ll lift more until I’m back up to my target lifts again. There is no reason to assume you have to come away from your first day back to the gym so sore you can’t move. Ease back into it.

3. Talk to your trainer. Helping you get back to design after an absence is part of their jobs. They can always suggest modifications to get you back to form.

4. Rest! Giving yourself a break during your workout and afterwards promotes quicker recovery.

Of course, my biggest tip is to get back to training as soon as you (and possible your doctor) feel you are ready. See you there!

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