Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Take Care of Yourself

This week I am on a much needed break from work. I can tell that it's not enough. Work has been extra stressful and the mental tiredness, the burnout was too much. I have been burned out for months and taking extra days here or there to get me through until I could take a week off.  I'd really like to take a month off but I suspect they might not allow me to do that even though I have enough vacation days to cover it.  

This of course is the cycle of which I want to break but never seem to pull the trigger.  I work full-time but I've been wondering how much of an impact it would be if I went part-time or remained full time but lessened my hours. I don't know if working 35 hours would have a significant impact over the 40 I currently work.

For sometime I have been feeling tired, exhausted and that goes all the way back to around 2014. My mom had been diagnosed with ALS and now I was responsible for making meals for my dad and doing his laundry and other chores around the house. 

My mom died in 2016 from her disease, my dad a year later in 2017 from cardiac arrest and a perforated intestine. I was taking care of both of them, living in the same house. After my dad died, I then had to deal with taking care of the house, eventually selling the house I had lived in for 43 years at the time and moving a block away.  I sold some items that belonged to both of my parents, watching items belonging to my dad go was the hardest.  Saying goodbye to the house was the worst. It was the only home I knew. 

I have to say I did not feel like me for a while. Mind you my parents never knew that I had made seven suicide attempts in my life or that I was dealing with dysthymia.  They never knew.  Here I was mourning for my dad pretty hard.  My mom was easier only because I knew it was coming and plus, we didn't get along that well so saying goodbye to her was more of a relief. My dad was unexpected.

I lived in a haze for awhile and all the things I used to do I didn't feel like doing. As someone who journal writes everyday, I suddenly found myself unable to pick up a pen and write.  I made attempts to but nothing came out. Journal writing comes pretty easily for me and to then find myself in a position where I couldn't was new territory. I had closed down. I was this way for a long time.  It wasn't until my dad's estate was officially closed that I felt I could then focus on me again. I still couldn't write for another few months and then it started to come back.  Just as I was starting to put my life back together the pandemic hit just as I was making some strides.

The pandemic caused a locked down and it's fairly safe to say that a good part of the population hated it.  I hated it because I had just starting getting my life together and the pandemic pushed me back down. I was by myself, disconnected from the world in a lot of ways. The pandemic as we have seen in the news took a toll on all of us mentally.

Little by little, day by day I felt I was drowning, sinking down into a very bad place.  A place I did not want to visit. I have managed to not drown too much. I did have a couple of mental breaks but managed to find a way to cope, to be resilient.

Everyone's journey is different. The symptoms of depression, dysthymia are something we all share but the journey of living with it is different for all of us.  The best we can do is to be kind to ourselves. I know it's hard to keep the inner saboteur quiet and not doubt yourself but it can be done.  We all struggle but we do make the effort to stick around for one more day.  

In taking care of yourself, do something for you. Take a walk, sit in the sun, watch people, pick up something from the grocery store you've always wanted to try and try it. Write a letter to a friend and mail it, send cards to your friends to let them know you are thinking of them. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers. Do anything, no matter how small that speaks to you internally. Give yourself permission to acknowledge your darkness, know that it's there and know it doesn't have to consume you completely. Give yourself a moment, whether it's 10 seconds, 5 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day, no matter the amount of time to be in the light. You deserve it. We all do.

I'm not sure why my brain triggered this song in my head but please enjoy this hit from Neil Sedaka.

Rock on!

~Maynard




Saturday, June 12, 2021

Potluck Saturday - Queijadinha

Today, I was a little adventurous and went with a friend and co-worker to a co-workers house for an outdoor party.  I was able to see people I work with that I hadn't seen in ages. It was nice to see them. It was a potluck party with a Latin American theme.

I brought a Brazilian dessert treat called 'Queijadinha' which are essentially little custard type tarts/little cakes.  The traditional version has butter and cheese but I found another recipe without those elements. I had never made them before and they turned our pretty well.

I had thought of making Brigadeiros or Pé de Moleque (Peanut Brittle) as the recipes weren't too complex.  I did make an attempt last weekend to make something called Paçoca but that did not come out well at all.  It was a simple recipe but I had issues from the get go.  Someone asked me why I made a Brazilian dessert and my response was that my favorite skateboarder - Bob Burnquist - happens to be from Brazil. 

It was interesting to watch the facial expression because it was clear they did not know who Bob was. Given the crowd I was pretty sure no one had any interest in skateboarding or cared and I was fine was that. I never go to parties as I don't have a good time typically and I hate crowds.  This wasn't bad at all. I managed to last 3 hours before pulling the plug.

I can't say I was happy to see people but it was nice to chat with people and catch up a little. I'm just not one to socialize this way.  Being around people is kind of draining for me and I'm very much the type of person to go somewhere by myself.  I can be around people for a while and then I need to go away to recharge myself. 

The past few weeks have been a bit hard because I hit a patch of a few days where I questioned why I was even here.  I have no reason to stay here.  I'm just wasting space and don't feel I have anything more to contribute.  I did get a bit of a knock on the head when my brain decided it would be funny throwing suicide into one of my dreams.

Here is the thing...during my years when things were very dark for me, I'd have frequent dreams of killing myself by jumping of a building. I'd always wake up the next day feeling better.  A psychologist I once saw suggested that I was killing off parts of myself that I did not need in my dreams as a way to find myself. I haven't had these type of dreams in for a looonnnnnnggggg time.  When I had this most recent dream I did not freak out about it as I didn't jump off a building.  I was talking to another person but I knew in dream land it was just a representation of a part of myself.  I was explaining that I didn't want to kill myself but that I had no reason to really be here and for them to understand that.  It was a moment to internally vent to another part of myself how hard it is to deal with this dysthymia crap all the time. 

Oddly enough, this internal dialogue must have needed to happen because the next few days I felt good. I don't want to say happy but I was in decent spirits. It was like something was resolved and I could enjoy things around me no matter how small. 

When I explained this all to a friend, they said I never fail to amaze them in my abilities to look at the situation and understand what is going on.  He said I could have easily freaked about the dream but the fact I was able to recognize it was not like my previous dreams was very telling.  I was definitely proud of myself for looking at the situation.  When it comes to my dysthymia and my past of multiple suicide attempts, I have continually over the years tried to understand it and not be ashamed of it. I have tried to look at the ugly side of it all which a lot of people don't want to do. Let's be honest, does anyone? 

Okay. That's it for today folks.  A little adventure and a little learning about myself.

Today's musical treat is an acoustic version of "Here Comes The Rain Again" by the Eurythmics. Enjoy!

Rock on!

~Maynard