Anxiety · Depression

The Mind/Body Connection

IMG_0745Jellyfish, Vancouver Aquarium, April 2017

It’s now been nearly two years since this great anxiety train rolled into the station and almost derailed me for good. And I really do wonder what life would be like if it hadn’t happened to me, and I wasn’t this way.

One thing that has definitely changed is I am so much more aware of how my body reacts to things. I have been thinking a lot these past few weeks about how much of depression/anxiety is physical, and how much is thoughts. A lot of times we treat mental illness as if it’s something we can think our way out of. If we were just nicer to ourselves, we’d feel a lot better. Etc.

But lately I have been wondering, how much are the thoughts swayed by what the body is feeling? And if anxiety and depression are inherited, how much do life circumstances actually play in triggering anxiety and depression?  Or is it that the physical strains of stress on the body triggers the mind to produce anxious and depressed thoughts?

I have wondered this because I’ve noticed profound changes in my mood whenever I do certain things. For instance, when I exercise, go for a swim, or take a cold shower, my negative thoughts turn off and I become calm, relaxed, and hopeful. It’s like I’m actually incapable of thinking bad things. In contrast, the other day I was feeling really hormonal. My chest was tight, I had a throbbing headache, and my muscles were sore and painful. All I could think were dark, despairing thoughts.  Then I took a painkiller, and it was like the clouds parted and I felt all would be well again. I felt much more hopeful and optimistic.

I’m no scientist. I don’t know for sure. I only know the experience of my own body. But I’m thinking, the brain is a physical part of the body. It’s connected to what’s going on everywhere in it. It wouldn’t surprise me if our thoughts were influenced by the stimuli experienced by our bodies.

Anxiety · Depression

Back on the meds

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Daisies, June 2017

Just a short update today.  I finally got in to see a doctor last week.  He said that given my family history and the fact that my mood has been so up and down, I should stay on the escitalopram indefinitely.

I am both relieved and devastated at the same time.  Who knew it was possible to feel both?

Depression

Regretful

Stoneycroft

Painting by my mother

I don’t know that I really have a topic today, other than I just haven’t been feeling well.  I have been moved for six weeks and I still ache thinking about what I left behind.  I still don’t feel settled in.  I have been working for a month and I am tired all the time.  We are still living at my mom’s but we have bought a house.  I am exhausted from all the work that entailed.

I keep having this nagging, pervasive feeling that I made a huge life mistake.  We moved back to my hometown, which is in a really economically depressed part of the country.  Part of the reason we moved was so that we could do more and give back to the community that raised us.  But I worry that the poverty and lack of education will take too much of a toll on me.  Almost everyone who graduated with me is gone, moved to greener pastures like I was for the last ten years.  Everyone who is educated eventually leaves.

It is just a really depressing situation.  In the place I just moved from, I was always jealous of the people my age who had all their family and friends with them and almost no one left.  I did not have the privilege of being raised in such a town.  In the town I grew up in, the reality was that everyone leaves when they graduate.  Canada is peopled by the scattered population of the Maritimes.

I know there are lots of good things about living here, but right now I am in a funk.  I have already started to help people in my new job, but I worry I have given up my dreams of adventure and success.  I just wish I could feel settled and content.

I am turning 35 next month.  I don’t want to be old.  I don’t want to have made the wrong decision and doomed myself for life.

Anxiety · Depression

A new place

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It has been a very long few weeks, but we have moved.  My mind and body are still in shock.  Having a mental illness adds another dimension to the confusion and chaos.  There are times when I really struggle to remember just why we did it.  It was in part due to my mental breakdown.  We wanted a slower pace of life, and we knew we’d find it in our old hometown on the other side of the country.  But ooh boy, has it been rocky.

Moving out of the place I lived in for the past ten years has felt gut-wrenching.  All the people, routines, places, and a million different memories, have suddenly vanished.  I feel like an exile on a distant shore.  The place I am now is both physically and culturally very distant.

We are staying at my mom’s house until we find a place of our own.  Being back in the town where I grew up feels freaky.  Everything is familiar, yet different.  I am trying hard to reconcile the place I remember with the place I see before me.  There are so many things I recognize, and yet I marvel at the things I never noticed when I was younger.

It is stunningly beautiful here.  Like, knock-you-over, jaw-dropping beauty.  Just across the street from my mom’s house is a gorgeous lake set against a backdrop of evergreens.  In Ontario, this place would be overrun by screaming kids and parents carting gigantic strollers, Tim Horton’s cups, and dogs.  But here our only company is the ducks.

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Our bedroom overlooks a forested ravine where trains regularly run by, so close you can almost touch them. The deer are abundant too.  They wander almost up to the house.

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The pace of life feels much slower.  There is almost no traffic, and people will stop for you when you try to cross the street.  We are just a short drive from the ocean, which I have always found peaceful and restful.  When the stress of moving is too much and I start to feel derealization, this setting helps combat that.

Fundy Trail

Work is my biggest worry right now.  I have no idea how I am going to feel moving from an incredibly busy, hectic, fast-paced environment to a much more sedate one.  I have another week before I start work.

I am trying hard to combat feeling like a failure, that I somehow couldn’t take “real” life in the busy world.  Any move is a trade-off, and what I lose in amenities and access to things I make up for in nature.

Time will tell how things go…

Anxiety · Depression

Not What She Seems

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This week has been terrible.  Last week was good, this one is awful.  It is my last week of work before I fall into the abyss of not working, and I am a nervous wreck about it.  My good-bye party was held on Tuesday and I left it in tears.  My mind keeps spinning around and around, racing with all sorts of terrible thoughts about the immediate and distant future.  Even though I am moving back to my old hometown, even though I have another job lined up, I can only think awful things.

I would be lying if I said I haven’t been thinking about suicide a lot lately.

Nobody would ever, ever, ever suspect that I think these things.  Everyone keeps saying how nice I am, how happy I look all the time at work, how wonderful that everything is working out for me and how excited I must be to move back home after ten years.  How fortunate, they say, for my new workplace, to have someone like me, who loves their job so much and never misses a day of work.  How lucky that I have a husband who adores me and takes care of me, and friends and family who love and support me.

They don’t know that in the cracks between my day, the moments when I’m not doing anything or just driving or on the treadmill at the gym, all I can think of is, maybe I should just cut my wrists and be done with it all.

And honestly, after nine months of this shit, of looking forward every day to crawling into bed at night for the sweetness of oblivion, it is goddamn tempting.

That’s me.  The luckiest woman in the world.  The happiest woman.  The one you work with, your best friend, the one who seems to have her life completely together.  This is what she thinks.  This is how she lives her life inside, every minute of every day.

 

Anxiety · Depression · Sensitivity

A (negative) HSP week

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Source: Introvert Doodles

I really needed this comic this week.  It has been a bad few days, where nothing seemed to go right.  It rained all week, everyone called in sick to work, library patrons were extremely demanding and I felt miserable and full of PMS.  I am back to having an upset stomach and tight chest at the end of the day now.  I found the noise from people just unbearable: the screaming, whiny kids, the obnoxious teenagers, the loud cell phone talkers, the constant allergy sneezes.  I just wanted to stuff cotton in my ears and retreat to a private, quiet space.

I am really looking forward to leaving this all behind.