100 Days of Happiness, part 6

Day 36 – Sunday 5/25 = scarf is nearly complete. Actually, the scarf is completely complete. I sewed up the ends of it and turned it into an infinity scarf. It turned out so well that I had a couple friends ask if I’d make them one.
Day 37 – Monday 5/26 = homemade chili & fresh French bread. Mom made homemade chili, which went very nicely with the crusty French bread that I had picked up at the market earlier in the day.
Day 38 – Tuesday 5/27 = had fun watching Tiggy & Mandy playing together. It’s so nice to see the two cats playing together, without the running and hissing that they did in the beginning.
Day 39 – Wednesday 5/28 = disability payments started. Now all I have to do is wait for a check to arrive. It will be nice to have money to pay bills with again. It’s been stressing me out a bit.
Day 40- Thursday 5/29 = new haircut and colour. Saw my hairstylist Nik, who stripped the very last of the purple and blue from my hair and coloured it a lovely caramel, fading to blonde at the ends, with some blonde and copper high/low lights thrown in for depth.
Day 41 – Friday 5/30 = cleaned my room. I don’t have the ability to do much these days because my knee hurts if I use it for too long, but I was able to clean and organize my room and clean out stuff I no longer need or want.
Day 42 – Saturday 5/31 = drove around with the top down. It’s a simple pleasure, but it’s wonderful to drive around on a perfect day with the top down on the convertible.

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Today is the final day of “Mental Health Awareness Month”

I’d written previously about how May was designated as the official “Mental Health Awareness Month” and how I felt that it should not be limited to just 31 days out of the year. I, of course, still feel that way. For those who have not been following my blog regularly, or have just started reading it recently, I’ll give a brief overview. I have two forms of depression: Borderline Personality Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. I also suffer from panic attacks and anxiety. If you’d like to read more about any of these subjects, the NIMH website is a great place to start. It gives a detailed overview of the various types of depression, as well as a comprehensive explanation of what it all means.

Unfortunately, every person is different, and everyone’s presentation of mental illness and ability to cope will be different. I hide behind the walls I learned to put up after 6 years of drama school, and most people don’t realize I have any mental issues unless I intentionally share them. I’m trying to share them more now, to try to lessen the stigma of what it’s like to have mental illness. Most people think that the mentally ill are those homeless people who stagger around mumbling to themselves and panhandling. A great many of them are, but only because they haven’t had the opportunities I’ve had to seek help. I have had two excellent doctors who have helped me tremendously with finding the right course of medication that helps control my depression and allows me to live like a “normal” person most days.

I go through cycles where everything will be going great, and then some little thing will go wrong and I spiral down into depression. Lately, it’s been my knee issue. I feel like I’m taking two steps forward and one step back on a regular basis, except for those times when I’m only taking one step forward and two steps back. I deal with a lot of pain in my day to day life because of the bone spur in my C5 vertebra that is pressing against the nerves and causing a “migraine” that has been with me every single day since about April of 2006. Thankfully, I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, as I’m opiate resistant, so narcotics don’t help me at all.

At one point, I thought that I might be bi-polar, because I’d go through such intense mood swings, but I never truly hit mania and I never fit the other symptoms, according to my doctor. It’s just the regular cycle of depression. You start out okay, and then something triggers it and down the drain you go. Eventually, you fight your way back out of it and live normally for a while, and then you start the process all over again.

I don’t claim to be an expert on depression of any kind. I only know my own. I worry that my son will follow in my footsteps, so to speak, so I’m happy that he lives with his dad, who is a more stable individual. A person whom I consider to be a very good friend of mine wrote online today that she can’t take it anymore and felt completely unloved. I know it is the depression talking, and I sincerely hope that those who are (physically and mentally) closer to her can help her get through this. I know she is deserving of love, and I love her dearly, as do many of our friends. It’s so hard though, when the depression is lying to you and telling you you’re not good enough, or not pretty enough, or thin enough, or not deserving of love, because you are. Depression lies. It lies to you constantly and makes you doubt your own feelings until you don’t know if what you feel is true or if it’s just your illness making you feel that way.

Earlier this week I had a severe mental breakdown because I felt that my knee wasn’t getting any better and that I was going to have to live with yet another permanent pain in my life. I allowed myself to cry for a day and feel sorry for myself, and then I talked myself into believing that everything happens within its own time, and that I just have to be patient and let myself heal at whatever speed that is. I know I push myself too hard, and that’s one of my weaknesses. Unfortunately, pushing myself too hard on a newly operated knee can result in causing more damage than good, so I’ve had to go back to being a lazy lump with an ice pack  and elevation to try to get the swelling down, and to not walk any more than possible. I hate it though, because I’m not the type of person who can just sit around and do nothing all day. There’s only so much reading or crocheting I can do before I go batty.

 

Waking up to sad news is never a good thing

Maya Angelou passed away this morning. I didn’t know her, except through her writing, but she always felt like a friend to me. I can’t say that I know what it’s like to grow up dirt poor as a black girl in the south during the heart of the civil rights movement, but she made it come alive for me in a way that other writers never could. Maybe because there were so many incidences that we both shared in our lives; it made me feel less lonely. I will miss her voice.

This entire past week has been a rough one for me. I’ve slipped back into my depression, but I’m fighting hard. One of my Pandora stations is a country station that I’ve put together, which is limited to songs that were released prior to 2006 (with a few exceptions), because that’s when I stopped listening to country for the most part. It started to get too personal. I like relating to my music, but I don’t want it telling my life story. A few days ago, I made the mistake of tuning in to that particular station, and a string of songs came on that reminded me of happier times, when I had fewer worries, I still enjoyed life and spending time with my best friend, and my life hadn’t yet unraveled.

I don’t know how other people react, but when a song reminds me of a happier time, and I know I’ll never have that moment again, it puts me in a sad mood. So basically, the entire theme of my week is one of sadness. I’m trying to break out of it and trying to find my inner peace and happiness again, but it’s been rough.

On Friday afternoon, just before my surgeon’s office closed, one of my incisions reopened after having the stitch removed the previous morning. I did what any sensible gear-head/field doctor would do and re-sealed it with super glue until I was able to get in to see my doctor yesterday. He’s not concerned about it, except that it’s going to leave a scar. Honestly, what’s one more scar to add to the hundreds I already have?

I’m trying to decide on a tattoo for my right arm to camouflage many of the scars on that arm. I’m thinking of a climbing rose, to honor my paternal grandmother, as my orchid honors my maternal grandparents. I’m not sure yet, so it won’t be happening any time soon. It will definitely be flowers of some kind. I’d like it to be bright and colorful, so maybe just wildflowers. I’m in no hurry, and it’s best to not get something permanent done while depressed anyway.

100 Days of Happiness, part 5

Yes, I’m late getting this posted. It’s been a rough week for me here in week 6, and I’m struggling mentally, but I’ll get through it. There has to be at least one thing that makes me happy every day, right?

 

Day 29 – Sunday 5/18 = drove to the store by myself. For the first time since surgery (only 4 days previous), I was given permission to drive my car again, as long as it wasn’t for a long period, and that I was careful about moving my knee too much. 


Day 30 – Monday 5/19 = lunch/bay with Isaac. My friend Isaac came and picked me up (and then I let him drive my Z) and we went down to the bay to sit in the sun and hang out, and then went to my favorite brewpub (Coronado Brewing Company) and had lunch.


Day 31 – Tuesday 5/20 = massage. I treated myself to a massage to de-stress.


Day 32 – Wednesday 5/21 = new purse. After discovering that my traditional shoulder purses are not practical for use while on crutches, I searched and searched and finally found a really cute cross-shoulder bag that is roomy enough to carry everything I need, but small enough to stay out of my way.


Day 33 – Thursday 5/22 = stitches removed. I will admit I was happy about it at the time, but I wasn’t happy Friday afternoon when the right incision opened back up again, just 10 minutes before my surgeon’s office closed. 


Day 34 – Friday 5/23 = started crocheting a scarf. The last time I picked up my crochet needle and did anything besides move it from one box to another was over 12 years ago, when I made my son a baby blanket. After a week of mostly boredom (there’s only so much reading one can do before one’s eyes cross), I decided to crochet something. It turned out to be a scarf.


Day 35 – Saturday 5/24 = meeting with friends. Went up to Amy’s house to meet with our fundraiser committee and had a great time laughing and talking, but also getting things finalized for the fundraiser on the 6th. 

I decided to mix up the theme on my blog

So much has changed in my life lately, I figured a new look on the blog would be good. Opinions welcome.

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My surgical update

I would have posted sooner, but I had to make sure I had it straight in my head first.

This past Wednesday, I finally went in for my long awaited knee surgery. I had been assured over & over again that it’s just a simple procedure & that I’d be up and running around again in no time. I wish it was that easy.

The problem with exploratory surgery is that you never really know what you’re going to find until you get in there and get a good look around.

The good news is that, while I definitely have thinning of the cartilage in my knee, it wasn’t ruptured or torn at all. The bad news is that the condyle head of my tibia (that’s the knobby part at the end of the bones) has suffered extensive wear and deterioration. To put it simply, at 39, I have the knees of a 60 year old.

The doctor did his best to scrape it clean and clear up the mess, but if that doesn’t stimulate new cartilage growth to replace what I’ve lost, I’m looking at a much more invasive surgery, perhaps even going as far as a total knee replacement. Obviously, this is not what I wanted to hear.

I wanted it to be nice & simple, with a fast turnaround time, so I could get on with my life. It doesn’t look like that’s the case here.

I’m trying really hard to be optimistic here, but it’s not easy. It seems like every time I try to make plans to improve my life, my body just laughs at me & something else breaks. At least I have my empathetic cat, who can always tell when I’m having an especially rough day & he comes to comfort me. Too bad I don’t have a man in my life who is that selfless.

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100 Days of Happiness, part 4

Day 22 – Sunday 5/11 = Mimosas & mother’s day. When I had asked my mom what she wanted for mother’s day, she very adamantly replied that she didn’t want anything. No brunch, no shopping, no movies, nothing. So, I figured I’d give her what she wanted and leave her alone. To that end, I went to my sweet friend’s house where he mixed up mimosas for us, and then we watched TV and generally relaxed. It was a nice stress-free day.


Day 23 – Monday 5/12 = free coffee. There is a gas station near my house that brews excellent coffee, and the owner refuses to let me pay for my drinks. It’s such a minor thing, and yet, it means so much.


Day 24 – Tuesday 5/13 = great conversation with my neighbor. I caught up with my neighbor regarding everything that’s going on in our lives. It was just a wonderful conversation full of jokes and laughter, which helped ease my mind regarding my surgery.


Day 25 – Wednesday 5/14 = surgery is done. And speaking of… my surgery is over with. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as smoothly as was planned. We were expecting a torn meniscus, but instead, it turns out that the condyle (the bumpy part at the top of the tibia) has been grinding down and is seriously fractured instead of nice and smooth. The doctor did scrape it down and clean it up, so hopefully I’ll get some new cartilage growing in, and won’t have to worry about a bigger surgery any time soon.


Day 26 – Thursday 5/15 = mint chip ice cream. We’ve had a nasty heat wave for the past several days, with temperatures either just at or over 100°F. That’s absolutely miserable when you have your leg wrapped from mid-thigh to foot, living on a second story where heat rises, and no air conditioning. Thankfully, my mom was nice enough to buy me some mint chocolate chip ice cream to help cool me down, as well as to soothe my throat from the intubation part of the anaesthesia process.


Day 27 – Friday 5/16 = catching up on sleep. I think I must have spent a good 12 hours sleeping throughout the day. I was so worn out from the surgery still, and the heat wasn’t helping. Getting some extra sleep definitely helped improve my outlook on whatever is coming next in my life. 


Day 28 – Saturday 5/17 = playing with kittens. We had another big cat/kitten adoption fair today, and I was able to shadow one of our adoption counselors, so that I could learn more about what it takes to become a full-fledged adoption counselor. It was also nice getting to meet many of my fellow volunteers that I’ve exchanged emails with regularly, but never met in person.

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