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how am i doing?

That’s what Pete asked me today. A few short weeks ago, I was tearfully telling him all my innermost woes and fears. Death was my constant inner companion.

“I’m a lot better,” I told him. And it’s true. I can hardly believe how different I feel already. In fact, I haven’t felt this normal in a long time. Not even before I ran out of medication two months ago. So it’s not all being back on meds. I think part of it is that I’m getting regular exercise, which apparently is more important to my mental health than I realized. Another factor, I think, is that I’ve accepted where I’m at and have a certain peace about it.

There’s also the thing where it feels good when you stop being whacked in the head with a brick over and over again. Not getting a brick in the head isn’t neutral, it’s great.

sleep is good

I didn’t fall asleep immediately last night, but I guess that was to be expected. The good news is that I am pretty sure I was out before midnight, and I slept through until 7. Which means I missed working out this morning. That’s okay.

I’m a little funky and woozy, but so far free of the crippling sense of doom that has been my companion for the past weeks. Ah, relief! I can actually look forward to the weekend.

It’ll take some time to get back to full normalcy, I know. But this is a good start.

In other news, I took an online fitness quiz at The 8 Colors of Fitness. It’s a color coded personality assessment based on Myers Briggs. Here are the results, which I think are fairly accurate.

online again soon

That’s what the doctor told me, as I blinked away tears after telling him what the past few weeks have been like. I have my prescription, and he expects me to be online again within about a week.

I didn’t sleep at all last night. Not one bit. My brain activity wouldn’t let up, and my heart kept pounding away as my anxiety increased. It brought back memories of what I went through when I first sought help, and I have to admit it freaked me out.

My shrink didn’t seem phased at all by my going off my meds or the intensity of my reaction. All in a day’s work, I guess. He pointed out that my long periods of doing really, really well make it seem that much worse when I’m not doing well. I’m hoping I get my perspective back, and soon.

I’ve learned some stuff from this experience:

  • I don’t feel guilty or inadequate for being on medication anymore. Just grateful that I respond to it (knock on wood).
  • In general, my life is pretty good. Sure, there are parenting challenges and money challenges and body image challenges, but nothing that warrants the flood of emotions I’ve ridden lately.
  • There are worse things than getting old or being fat.

Fingers crossed that I get some good sleep tonight.

it’s november, so here i am

It’s a beautiful beginning to the month, and I spent most of the day shopping in some form or another. Kohl’s was having a big sale, so Moon scored bunches of jeans, socks, sweaters, pajamas and unmentionables while I got a sweater and a nightshirt. Then we stocked up on our usual foodstuffs at Trader Joe’s. I bought caulk at Ace Hardware, swim goggles and shampoo at Simply Swimming, and a new mascara at Sephora.

Quite a bit of economy stimulation for just one day. At least for us.

This morning also marked my first swim lesson since… well, since Water Babies when I was a mere toddler. I’ve already learned a lot (elbows/kicks/breathing) and I can’t wait to try it out when I do laps on Monday. The new goggles ought to help because I’ve been opening and closing my eyes as I crawl, which often leads to running into the side of the pool.

In other news, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. It’s been about six weeks off meds, and this past week or so has been a struggle. I know it’s my brain, because there is no good external reason for all this angst and anxiety. On paper, my life is pretty damn sweet. But my brain keeps sending waves of dread at random times, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to be dreading.

What’s more, I have anxiety related to going back on meds, even though I’ve got lots of experience with them, and I’m able to get results with a much lower than normal dose. It would be awesome if my dietary changes, exercise habit, spiritual practice and so forth would be enough to make me feel like my regular self. Not sure I’m willing to wait much longer to see if that’s going to happen.

Let’s see what happens this month, shall we?

new swim buddy

So, I’ve been (making my best attempt at) swimming at the Y three mornings per week. The experience is humbling, to say the least. I’m slow and awkward. People twice my age pass me up. But it’s still fun, and I like not sweating.

On Wednesday, I overheard some ladies griping about people doing water aerobics in the lap lanes. Were they talking about me? Sometimes I stay in the deep end and do water jacks and XCski moves. I make a special effort not to get in anyone’s way. One of the lifeguards asked me if I wanted a flotation belt, so I’m sure what I do is kosher in a pool sense.

I’ve seen people walk in the shallow end, so perhaps that’s what frosted the other swimmers’ shorts. Regardless, I felt a little self-conscious when I slipped into the water this morning.

I shared a lane with (as usual) someone who can actually swim. My moment of triumph today was making it across an entire length without having to flip onto my back to gasp for breath. As I was finishing my last lap (using a kickboard), I noticed my lane partner at the end of the lane, relaxing.

“I hope I’m not in your way,” she said to me. I decided she was a kindred spirit — she seemed friendly — and we started to chat. We exchanged names and talked about our swim routines. Turns out she was at my level when she started out. “I could only swim three lengths, and I was done,” she told me. I was encouraged when she seemed impressed by what I’m doing. It makes me think I might actually be able to swim for real someday.

Anyway, I know another swimmer now. I had seen her before. She has white hair that she wears spiky and short, and she looks to be in terrific shape. Yay, a new role model!

not so hip

I felt a little soreness in my left hip last night, but chalked it up to sitting in one place for too long. This morning, though, it was full-blown pain. The kind where it hurts to put any weight on my left leg, so I hobble around pitiably as if I’m 50 years older than I really am.

I went directly to the chiropractor, but that only did so much. I’m pretty immobilized. Now I have an idea what my dog goes through. (Here’s hoping she doesn’t have all this pain, though.)

It’s not as if I’ve done any triathlons lately, so I have no idea what caused all this. Sadly, it hurts even to lie down. I am the opposite of entertaining today.

tweet what you eat

I’ve been more and more enamoured with Twitter lately, and it seems like almost every day I see a nifty new way to use it.

Today I discovered Tweet What You Eat. Basically, it’s a simple way to keep a food diary. Just log into Twitter, follow Twye, visit the Twye site, and you’re good to go. All you do then is to tweet a direct message to Twye every time you want to add something to your day’s intake. (Example: ‘d twye 1 cup almonds’)

Then you can go to your page at Tweet What You Eat and see your full food diary. You can even edit your entries there. Pretty cool!


i hope i remember this tomorrow

I decided to sleep in this morning instead of doing my normal 6 a.m. workout (at least it’s been normal for me since the time change). Except I didn’t get much sleeping done, since the dog likes to bark, and the shower is on the other side of the wall. It would have been more restful to get on the elliptical trainer and watch the first half of an Angel episode, which is what I should have been doing.

I’ve discovered that nothing wakes me up like the dark, cold blast of air hitting my face as I walk through the parking lot at the gym. And the exercise does wonders for my disposition, even if it hasn’t made an impact on my physical body yet.

i’m breathing

Turbo and I went to see a medical intuitive a little over a week ago. She had done a remote body scan on each of us, and we went to her lovely country home to go over the results in person and experience some chakra healing.

And it was rather amazing. I wasn’t sure what Turbo would think of the whole thing, but he was very open to it all. It helped that her observations were absolutely right on. She identified conditions that we already were aware of. During the healing session, Turbo fell sound asleep. Snoring and everything.

I think I got even more out of the visit. It wasn’t like she “saw” anything alarming – in fact, some of the insights she received had seemed almost not worth mentioning. But I’m glad she doesn’t edit herself, because there were things I needed to hear.

The main one being that I need to breathe. That statement set off all kinds of recognition ‘hits’ in me. I instantly remembered my massage therapist friend pointing out to me a few weeks ago that I hardly breathed. She was helping me with a stiff neck, and apparently I kept holding my breath. She told me I needed to remind myself that I deserved to take in the atmosphere. I deserve life.

So… deep breaths for me, consciously, daily. Oxygen is my friend.

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my wacky diet

I’ve been busy the past week adjusting to some major dietary changes. And by “major,” I mean we’re eating meat again, and have eliminated wheat, sugar and most dairy from our diets. By “we,” I mean Pete and myself, although Moon is pretty close to the wheat/sugar/dairy thing.

I can’t tell you how huge this is for us. The whole reason I became a vegetarian in the first place was because of, you know, animal rights. At some point, meat became completely repulsive to me. I tried veganism for a while but couldn’t stick to it. Health? That wasn’t really an issue for me, since I was already quite healthy when I made the switch. In fact, when asked, I truthfully told people that I wouldn’t be vegetarian if it was strictly about losing weight or being more healthy.

I hope my veggie friends will still love me, but my views have changed. I care a great deal about how animals are treated, so I’m buying free-range/family-farm/naturally-raised/antibiotic-free meat. It’s really surreal cooking meat again after more than a decade without it. But I have to admit, I feel good.

I’m getting guidance through this, by the way. I met with a naturopath who is working with the Blood Type Diet. Pete, the kids and I are all the same type, which is helpful. Type O. I’ve been very skeptical about the BTD since reading about it several years ago (it said I needed to eat meat! no way!) — but I’m at the point where I need to see for myself if it has any merit. The naturopath has given me some extra guidance (flower essences, a tea recipe, etc.) and so far, so good.

Another huge thing is that I had my last coffee on Sunday. Coffee is as big (or bigger) an obstacle than meat for me. I love, love, love the coffee. But I’m hanging in there.

da list

Yep, I have a few plans for 2006. It’s got to be better than 2005.
First, my fitness goals:

  1. Attend step aerobics at 6 a.m. Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and miss as few classes as possible.
  2. Get butt out of bed on Tuesday/Thursday and do some time on the elliptical trainer at the Y.
  3. No more bedtime snacks. Stop eating past 8 p.m.
  4. More fruit, less sugar.
  5. Do the Five Tibetan Rites that we learned about at a wellness workshop last night (at church of all places).

Next, my life as a crafter:

  1. Learn the basics of sewing, with an eye toward recycling unwanted clothing into cool new stuff.
  2. Knit at least one pair of socks.
  3. Make a moebius basket, and continue to knit every day, even if it’s just a row or two.
  4. Plan family meals and teach cooking skills to the kids.
  5. Install closet organizer and turn part of closet into craft storage area.
  6. Finish doing the scrapbook pages about the vacation we took three years ago.
  7. Take out long-abandoned cross stitch and calligraphy supplies, and find out if doing that stuff is still fun. (I’m going to bet that it is.)
  8. Make at least one outfit for the Blythes, knitted or sewn. Take pictures.

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i’m a turnip

The way I’ve been feeling the past few days brings back memories of my freshman year of college. Except I haven’t had any alcohol, and I’m still staggering around watching the walls undulate.

After two days (and finally acknowledging some strange little chest pains I’ve been having on and off for weeks), I decided to call Dr. Ann. Whenever anything out of the ordinary starts happening to my body, I immediately think about my thyroid. Maybe my medication is out of whack, and I’m turning hyperthyroid. She didn’t think so, but it had been more than six months since my last blood test. So, off to the lab I went.

I told the technicians that I was a challenging draw. (This is something I’ve learned to do after many missed veins.) After having my right arm poked, they tried my left hand. Then my left forearm. After that, back to my right arm. Then my left arm. Good thing I’m over my fear of needles, eh?

Finally, a technician and a student-in-training walked me over to the adjoining hospital to visit the people who draw blood from preemies. I offered up my heel, but no dice. The technician there found a vein in my right arm, but nothing happened, even when he moved the needle around. He asked me to show him the inside of my left wrist. (!)

After the needle was in, I realized my whole arm was shaking. I apologized, and the technician said, “It’s not you, it’s me. Keeping this going is like holding on to a butterfly wing.”

My thyroid is fine, by the way. I have a viral thing going on that’s causing the dizziness, and my chest pain is a classic case of costochondritis.

But the bruises? They get the sympathy from my kids.

so much for that energy

In case you’ve been wondering, I’m still getting up at 6 am for an eye-opening workout at the Y. I kind of dig driving over there when it’s still dark out… it’s like I’m headed for some secret adventure.

Yesterday, though, I must have been a bit groggy or something. I grabbed the bottle of thyroid medication for my first-thing-in-the-morning-empty-stomach dose, opened the lid, swallowed a pill and took a few swigs of water. As put the bottle back in the cabinet and turned to walk away, I thought, hey, that was a capsule.

I accidentally had grabbed my OCD medicine, which I had already taken the night before. The main side effect? Drowsiness. That’s why I take it before bed. Duh.

Most of the day, I desperately wanted to lay my head on my desk and go to sleep. No such luck, though, because it’s still crunch time at work. Lesson learned: pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth.

a jolt of energy

You might be wondering how Project: Morning Person is going. Well, the answer is pretty frickin’ awesome. Not that those first few days of hauling my butt out of bed at 6 a.m. were easy. And going to step class after being away for more than a year? Pretty comical, actually.

But somehow I feel more energetic and upbeat than I have in a long time. Maybe it’s the extra few hours of sunlight. (I’m not hiding under the covers until 8 or 8:30 anymore.) Or maybe it’s the endorphins from the extra exercise I’ve been getting.

In any case, I’m actually looking forward to my morning workouts. And that’s cool.

sniff, sniff, cough *hack*

I’ve got one of those nasty summer colds, the kind that makes your head feel like it’s stuffed with balsa wood. I’m still working, but my trash contains an impressive mountain of used Kleenex.

Why am I sick? Maybe because I haven’t had any significant exercise in the past week or so. I’m afraid I’m turning into a lump. But check out this horoscope from
Free Will Astrology:

CANCER (June 21-July 22): During my years in college, I enjoyed watching the evolution of Richard, a shy geek in my creative writing classes. Long before he penned a single good poem, he was a bohemian art poseur. On his backpack there was a button with the image of rock poet Patti Smith. He often wore a t-shirt bearing a quote from poetry icon Allen Ginsberg, and he was never without his book of Rimbaud poems. Everywhere I went I saw him scribbling ostentatiously in his journal as he chain-smoked clove cigarettes. To my surprise, Richard’s work gradually began to match his persona. By sophomore year he’d spawned some evocative poems, and soon after he graduated, he published a fine chapbook. In his development I witnessed a perfect example of the saying, “You become what you pretend to be.” That’s an excellent theme for you to meditate on right now, Cancerian.

I need to get back to doing what I do best: fake it ’till I make it.

feeling hot hot hot

Sure, it’s been 90 degrees the past two days, but I dutifully did my exercise outside anyway. In fact, when a choir buddy emailed me yesterday to ask if I wanted to get coffee, I suggested that we go out walking instead. We went at least three miles, yammering all the way.

Today it was supposed to rain, so I didn’t want to take my bike to work. I walked instead, and the rain never came. So I effortlessly fit 50 minutes of walking into my busy day. Of course, I nearly melted.

bike to work week

What a time for the bike pump to fall apart! I bought a new one on the way to work (in the car), so I was able to use my bike as transportation after going home for lunch. *Whew* — I made it through Day 1. I had registered and everything.

Before my current job, I had a 17-mile round trip to the office. Now it’s less than 1/5 of that. It’s not really even long enough for me to break a sweat, but the upside of that is I can wear my work clothes and I don’t need toweling off before greeting my co-workers.

breathing again

Well, I’m already much better. I have also had a few reassuring talks with people who’ve been down the short-term steroid road. One of my neighbors told me that her energy level improved a lot the first day or two taking them. I can vouch for that.

Last night we all went to a Game Night at our church. It was awesome fun. And good for my busy busy mind.

This morning I took Moon to the area strings festival. Peter opted out, which was fine. Originally, we were planning to skip it completely and head up to the Dells for the day. We ended up deciding to just go for the afternoon — which meant the festival was an option again.

The Dells trip took place because Sisters #2-4 were there at a resort with their families. We hung out with them in the hotel room and went out to dinner. We also watched Nephew #2b so that the rest of the gang could go frolic in the waterpark without having to worry about a three-month old who wasn’t keen on going in the water.

It’s been a good weekend so far.

many meds

Yesterday, after the 100th person came in to my office to comment on my hacking cough, I finally called my doctor. And got the nurse, who listened to my symptoms and wheezing, and said that the doctor would most likely recommend short-term steroid treatment. I’m not that sick, just coughing my guts out to the point where I can barely catch my breath. An infection is unlikely, yada yada. I already use an inhaler during the winter, for cold-induced asthma symptoms.

Of course, I immediately turned to my old friend the internet to read up on steroids. Appetite increase, check. Insomnia, check. Mood swings… uh, oh.

I freaked out, because I’ve been having enough mood swings on my own since discontinuing the OCD med. Not that I’d really acknowledged that fact, or let anyone else know that I was having any trouble. Basically my thought was: I don’t want it to get any worse. It was a big giant wake up call.

Long story short, I called my shrink doc and now I’m back on the OCD stuff along with the steroids. Today I’m 100% better than I was yesterday. I even had lunch with Carrie, and I sorely needed the girlfriend time. So it’s all good.

By the way, the steroids… it’s a 6-day course, starting with 6 pills the first day, 5 the second, etc. The little case they come in reminds me of birth control pills, for some reason. Huh.

early riser

Two whole days in a row I’ve been up and about before 8 a.m., so I figure it’s a trend and I can write about it. Yesterday I stayed up when the kids left for school, and I showered right away so I could go shopping. Yes, shopping. My main motivation was yarn on sale at Michael’s, which must mean I’m really into this whole knitting thing. But hey, Homespun for $3.59? I’m right on it. I actually accomplished a bit of the Christmas shopping as well. Go, me!

Today I decided it would be a great idea to go to the gym before work. Can you imagine? I was exercising by 7:45. And I lived. Now I’m showered and blogging, and thinking about having some yerba mate today instead of my usual coffee. Freaky. But cool.

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