|My favorite painting: Flaming June, |
by Frederick,Lord Leighton
I wake up around 9:00 a.m. Since this is the most energy I’ll probably have today, I get out of bed and take a shower. It takes me a full forty-five minutes: some twenty just getting through the shower, then drying off, moisturizing, brushing my teeth, and double-checking to see I haven’t forgotten anything.
I’d guess I usually put on three applications of deodorant before I’m SURE I remembered it. But, that’s life with brain fog. I’ve stepped out of the shower without rinsing the shampoo from my hair before, too ashamed to admit how many times I’ve probably done that over the past fifteen years.
It’s time for breakfast, but insulin, first. I have a little kit in the fridge to keep my materials together: two kinds of insulin and their corresponding needles. I have this down pat, now, so it’s not quite 10:00 by the time I’ve put the kit back into the fridge.
I’m thirsty, so I try to figure out whether to make instant tea or just throw some baking soda in a glass of water. Baking soda would be easier, because I don’t have to use a spoon, just sprinkle some in. I’ve probably been eating too many acidic foods lately, anyway, so time to alkalize my body. Now it’s 10:00 a.m. and yes, I just spent fifteen minutes making a decision (while preparing my injections) and acting on it.
I usually eat a banana and an apple for breakfast, but I forgot to buy bananas yesterday. Thank God today isn’t a yoga day, which starts at 10:30. I’ll be able to fix myself something to eat for once, instead of just fruit and nuts.
I see an avocado, and remember buying it last week, not quite ripe. Squeezing it, I decide it’s now or never. Scrounging in the rest of the kitchen, I come up with more ingredients: chips, baby spinach, a yellow bell pepper, an onion, salsa, sour cream. Too bad the hubby’s not here to fry some hamburger so I can officially call it ‘taco salad’, but I have to be on top of my game to trust myself with the open flame of a gas range anymore. Hell, I barely trust myself to cut up the onion and pepper without accidentally cutting off the tip of a finger.
|Me and my rock.|
The salad is mostly done, when hubby walks through the door. He says he forgot a paper at home, but I suspect he’s picked up on my wish to have meat on my salad; he’s remarkably psychic with me. He starts the meat, and I note the time: 11:45. Yes, it took me an hour and forty-five minutes to gather the ingredients from my tiny six-by-nine-foot kitchen to fix a salad, all while my insulin is dropping my blood sugar and I’m growing increasingly hungry. And I'm lucky I didn't happen to think any thoughts that would make me burst into tears, too.
I come in here to write on this blog, and the meat is done at 12:05. Hubby calls me in, I add the meat and salsa, and sit at the computer to eat it while cruising Facebook. I’d like to think I made a lot of decisions to account for the hour and forty-five minutes it took to fix myself lunch, but the only one I can remember right now was asking hubby to take some old beans out to the compost area. Even then, I completely forgot to have him include the kitchen scraps I’d been generating from my salad. How much of this can I blame on brain fog, anyway?
Now it’s 12:33, after noon, so time for my ‘head meds’, my daily antidepressants and supplements. I pick up the gallon baggie from the arm chair’s table on my right to line the bottles up on my tray table. I take them individually out of the bottles, swallow them with the baking soda water, put them all back in the baggy, and transfer the baggy to the extended window ledge on my left. It’s the only way I can keep from taking them more than once a day. When it’s past midnight, I’ll put the baggy back on the arm chair table.
Now it’s 12:47, and I’m wondering whether to mention all the other little things that have been going on all day long. Waking up to one doggie’s puking sounds, and getting them out the door when I noticed she thankfully didn’t puke, just made the sounds? The phone calls I ignored so they would go to voice mail and I could get my breakfast salad done? Staring at the avocado pit in my hand, wondering if I should ‘start’ it – as if I could finally remember to water a plant every day for however long it takes to grow into a tree?
|I was 'up' for Maxine's 90th birthday. |
A fabulous dinner for a
This is what really ticks me off. It’s 1:00 p.m. and I haven’t gotten anything done but this blog. I’m a fairly smart person – I got a 4.0 GPA for my master’s degree – but most people judge ‘smarts’ by how fast you can act, correctly, to situations. And depression is such a severe lack of energy that you get overjoyed when you can manage to think a concrete thought.
When your ‘flashes of brilliance’, or, say, something you must remember, overcome the brain fog for an instant, you cling to them desperately. I complained about not being able to think to some of the people at my yoga studio the other night, and one person said she’s had that happen, but it was an allergy that didn’t make her sneeze, and recommended NasaCort. Another person spoke about how this NasaCort really helped, so I spent about ten minutes before yoga chanting NasaCort in my mind.
During final relaxation, I panicked when I realized I had forgotten the name of the medicine. When we sat up, I suddenly remembered and blurted out to her, “NasaCort?” She said yes, so I physically chanted NasaCort, NasaCort, NasaCort to myself until I got to the store, some twenty minutes later. I’m certain anyone watching me fill my car at the service station thought I was some lunatic, talking to myself.
One of the ways I’ve been managing my depression lately has been to NOT fight it, but rather, try to figure out what it is teaching me. That's really the big question: WHY do I have depression? Obviously something’s not right, or I wouldn’t have it.
So I’ve tackled the physical side, changing my diet and doing yoga and minimizing stress, which is what probably caused the adrenal overload and nervous breakdowns in the first place. I’ve tackled the mental side, taking antidepressants and working with psychologists and going through fifteen years of abandoned junk in my house in my year-and-a-half-long ‘spring cleaning’, still in progress. But what about the spiritual side?
I’m a practical person, but also spiritual. And if there’s one thing the spiritual community constantly emphasizes, it’s that things happen for a reason. So, what is the reason I have depression / bipolar disorder? As in, what's the lesson it's meant to teach me?
Brain fog: I’ve prided myself on my intelligence, so I needed to experience being virtually incapacitated in order to get humble. Now I try to discover everyone’s hidden genius. Whether they graduated from high school or not, I feel like everyone has a secret superpower, like quilting or baking. EVERYONE has something they can teach me.
|A book I wrote with/|
for Aunt Maxine
Lack of energy: I used to be able to work twelve and fourteen hour days as a teacher, so I needed to slow down. I’ve used my bedridden status to come up with stories I type up and publish when some days I can barely sit up in an overstuffed armchair.
Inability to get anything done: I was an alpha-overachiever for so many years, so I should realize my value, and everyone else’s value, despite not having ‘anything to show’ for my efforts. Now I realize we aren’t ‘worthy’ because of the things we can do; we are worthy because we are alive.
Unstable body: I quit testing for karate belts at my brown belt level because by law you have to declare your ability to defend yourself when you reach black belt. So lurching into the furniture and walls while walking through the house has undoubtedly taught me not to judge anyone’s clumsiness, or any physical condition at all. Can you deny Stephen Hawking, another sufferer of depression, is currently the most brilliant man alive?
So maybe I do have a few answers. I’m taking better care of my overall health, that is certain, and I’ve seen some improvements, especially doing yoga. I’d hate to think it’ll take me another fifteen years to get out of it, though. I pray daily for a miracle, but until then, medications are my mainstay.
Be healthy, all. Namaste.