I Want To Be Hopefull

covid, covid-2019, covid-19

This is going to be another all over the place post and it’s a bit lengthy because once I start sometimes I can’t stop. I think at this point my mind has just decided that it’s shutting down partially to protect me from the emotional side of things. I am doing okay, happy even, sometimes really happy but at the same time, I am really struggling at the same time. I honestly don’t know how to process these past 5 months. To say they have been a mix of the best and the worst of times would be an understatement and COVID-19 is just a small part of it for me (for us). And yet, I am okay. I just need to process things in my own time and just not let the emotions bottle up, which I have not been doing, maybe a bit on this blog but not really.

On Friday the Nova Scotia government announced loosening up on some of the restrictions in place. It seems to me that they are taking it really slow and watching to see how it goes, which I think is a good thing, the whole learn from other’s mistakes and all that. Previously they had re-opened the provincial and municipal trails but that was pretty much it. That was more than a few weeks ago I believe, to be completely honest time seems to be both standing still and racing forward and the weeks seem to bleed into one another at the moment.

Starting yesterday they are allowing two households to join up (two household “bubbles” is the term, I am not sure if this is a Canadianism or not) to hang out at one house or the other without social distancing providing that they are mutually exclusive and do not join up with more than one household. There are still fines for violating social distancing in place and will be for a while I’m sure. It seems multiple provinces are doing this now. Which is good. I think. Honestly, I don’t know anymore.

Overall, I feel as if both Edward and I have been handling the whole COVID-19 situation okay considering, It’s everything else that we haven’t been handling well. This has been 5 months of pure hell for everyone I know, for everyone who lives in my province or has any connection with it and some of that hell is a little personal. I had some major issues with depression and anxiety even before this hit with COVID-19. It’s no wonder though. It started with the car accident in October and spiraled from there. If you had asked me at the end of 2019 if I thought 2020 could be any worse than the end of 2019 I would have said no. And I would have been so so wrong. Yet, there have been some really great times thrown in there as well. Some real breakthroughs for me as well.

This was taken last year when we were camping on my parent’s property.

I am looking forward to going to the beach. I don’t even have to worry about crowds as we have beachfront property access on the St Mary’s Bay. This is something I am looking forward to, it keeps me going, keeps us going, keeps us all going. I have never gone swimming there (not on that side but I have on the side of Digby Neck), just gone walking when the tide was out in the wet sand. It was one thing I really enjoyed about last summer and I am looking forward to it again. We can camp, we can swim, wade, walk, and beachcomb. I have never loved Nova Scotia more then I do right now and I have loved it here since day one. I will love it to my very last breath I imagine.

My parents seem to be dealing with everything for the most part as well. It’s been hard for everyone, my brother especially. My mom is in good spirits and was keeping herself busy knitting and with crafts and DIY projects. My dad has had a harder time, mostly because of pain and weakness from a herniated disk and pinched nerve in his back. He is awaiting surgery for it. No telling when that will happen, but he has been gardening when he can, cleaning up down at the beach and camp (about a 1km walk from the house through woods behind the backyard) and just generally switching between puttering around and trying to stay active and sleeping and resting when he needs too. Other than that it’s hard to tell with him. He keeps things to himself, always has. He’s loving and caring, but just likes his privacy and doesn’t complain much.

They were both excited to see me yesterday and today. Mom and I bought a Cricut Explore Air 2 yesterday and we played around with it a bit yesterday and today. We did the above glass as a test just to see what we could do with it, my parents are renewing their vows next year down at the beach and my cousin who owns the property is planning it (she lives in Connecticut) and mom and I are going to make her dress and all the decorations. We did everything for our wedding as well. I absolutely love the Cricut. There is so much you can do with it!

That’s been our weekend mostly. I felt bad for Edward because he worked both days, he’s off tomorrow though, it’s Victoria Day, a holiday in most provinces. He’s also off Thursday and then this coming Saturday as well. We are going to spend some time with mom and dad and my brother tomorrow and on Saturday we were planning on going to a local trail for a hike as it’s something we can actually do now, all day-use provincial parks are open so long as we still distance when we come into contact with anyone. It’s one we’ve never been to before called Mickey Hill Provincial Park and it’s less than 10 minutes away and it opened for the season yesterday at 8 a.m.

We need to get out after everything going on so far this year. It’s been a bad one, not just COVID-19 but more everything else that’s been going on as I mentioned above. It’s been a devastating year for us, for all of us. I don’t think there is one person that I know that has not been affected by the events since Jan 1st. In January our dentist was killed when her plane was shot down outside Tehran in Iran. Nova Scotia, more specifically Halifax lost a number of people in that incident, mostly professionals and students.

Then after that the events in April with the mass murder in Portapique in which someone with ties to our family was killed as well as 22 other people (I did not know them personally but honestly it was so horrible that everyone is dealing with it) and then the military helicopter crash off of Greece that killed 6 all of which most had a tie to Nova Scotia, some were from here. May 6th and the days and week’s following were devastating again as a 3-year-old from Truro went missing and has not been found and then today, we’ve had another tragedy for the province. One of the Canadian Snowbirds (an aerobatics team) planes crashed during their country-wide tour in support of the victims of the previous 2 incidents I mentioned. It crashed near Kamloops, BC, and one of the pilots was a Nova Scotian from Halifax. It’s just been non-stop.

So, yeah, basically I am done with the first half of 2020. I know it’s not technically till the end of June, but I am done with it now. I am ready to move on and make the rest of the year more positive, find the positives in as much as possible. I am not worried about this as I know I’ve got this, but it’s hard all the same. I just feel like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet and I am falling and falling. I know I am not the only one though and that keeps me going. I know my family and friends and strangers are suffering just as much as I am. COVID-19 is just an added insult to the misery that has been 2020 so far.

And that is why I need to keep looking on the bright side, wherever that is… not really finding it right now sitting here with tears streaming down my face as I think of all this while my husband sleeps on the couch at 1:30 a.m. but whatever, it is what it is. He’s always here for me and me him so I am not worried about that either. We are solid and that brings me some relief. I should really wake him up though and go to bed.

Overcoming Phobias

One of the things I really want to work on over the summer is overcoming some of my phobias. I don’t have that many but I want to work on them and see if I can either overcome them or improve my response to them significantly. I have two in mind to start with that I really want to work on.

The Phobias

  • • Spiders
  • • Heights

What happened to cause them?

That’s something I really can’t pinpoint or even a timeframe when they started happening. I can remember as a kid that neither bothered me much and my parents have confirmed that. One of them though I think my father might have shed some light on the other day when I was talking to them and my brother on the phone.

Spiders

When I was younger I can remember being fascinated by them. It didn’t matter how big or small I loved watching them. I guess looking back I was never a fan or touching them or having one on me but I could watch them move or make a web. I was fascinated by their webs as well. Somewhere along the way I stopped watching them and became fearful if I saw them. Eventually, I have gotten to the point where I freeze in fear or sometimes I scream and run.

My dad said he figures this has to do with my childhood when we were living in Germany. We used to go for bike rides quite often into Hügelsheim and then towards the Rhine, along the Rhine and across into France. We would go about once a week to a little restaurant there. To get to it you had to bike under a highway bridge and dad said that it was just teeming with spiders under there. He said for him that’s when he first remembers me showing any fear of them.

Heights

This one is a little harder to place. When we were in Germany we were close to the mountains and the Black Forrest. Looking on a map now I believe that we were most likely closest to Belchen, which is a summit to the south of Baden-Söllingen in the Black Forrest. I remember we would go on almost weekly drives up in the mountains not just Belchen but all over the place. We also went camping all the time, we traveled all over and went skiing in the winter every year in Lucerne (Switzerland) and I had no issues being in the van when we went up the sides of those huge mountains. I had no issues when on ski lifts or gondolas. By 11 I was skiing double black diamonds so that meant going on some pretty big gondolas up high and I never experience any fear that I remember.

It wasn’t until the 90s when we were in Calgary that I remember the first inklings of fear when going on ski lifts or gondolas there, but that being said I would close my eyes and ride it out. More uneasiness then a true fear at that point. We moved back to Nova Scotia in 1997 and I don’t even remember any issues with heights for a while. It was not until a friend of mine got me in a ferris wheel at the Halifax Busker Festival that I really remember freaking out, crying terrified, hiding behind her, and just absolutely panicking. Since then it has just gotten worse. My mom is afraid of heights so maybe that has something to do with it, the number of times I saw her freak out, but at the same time, dad and I used to tease her (yes, I know, now looking back I seriously regret that).

What do I hope to accomplish?

I am really hoping that as far as spiders go that I can work on my fear enough that I can at least deal with one when home alone. Right now I panic and throw things at them, but killing it is something I do not have the heart or the courage to do. And I don’t want to anyways. If I could get to a point where I could get it into a container or something and take it outside to let it loose that would be awesome. Also, I’d like to be able to look at pictures online without freaking out and getting the major heebie-jeebies.

When it comes to heights I would like to try and determine where my fear came from if possible and see if I can overcome it a little at a time. I love amusement parks and love waterslides but this is interfering because I am terrified to go up to the top of waterslide towers and scared to get on high roller coasters, ferris wheels, etc. I was able to do it at Disney World back in 2015 when my mom, dad, and I went to Florida. The only reason I was able to do it was because my 24-year-old brother (at the time) was able to usually place himself between me and the edge where I could see how high up I was, that and excitement. I mean, come on… Disney World!!!

How am I going to overcome them?

That… is the question of the year. I really have no idea. Thankfully I am getting counseling so it’s one of the things I plan to talk to her about. Should I tackle them head-on? Is there any specific methods that seem to work. Is there any coping strategies, etc. All things I plan to ask about.

So those are two phobias I really want to tackle this year. What about you?

Questions
  1. What’s your greatest phobia if you have one?
  2. What are some ways you attempt to deal with it?
  3. Do you have a plan to try and overcome them?

Why going back on meds for mental health issues is not failure

Warning: this post may be triggering to some and deals with the topics of mental health, depression, anxiety, medications, therapy, and suicide. Please do not read this post if you are sensitive at the moment to any of these topics or unsure how you would react. Please reach out to your local helpline if you are having thought of suicide or of harming yourself or others. I am not a mental health or health professional and this is just my own opinion. I am not advocating one way or another for the use of medications or therapy in mental health, just my own observations.

I’ll be the first to admit that when I was able to come off medication for depression and anxiety in the mid-2000s, I swore I would never go back on them. I hated the stigma. I hated the side effects. I hated remembering to take them. I hated everything about them. I was not ready, not willing, and not able to come to terms with my diagnosis and start the path to healing. Should still have been on them? Was it the right decision? Probably not, but since I refused to take them properly my doctor was more concerned about them causing harm to me, or me causing harm to myself with them and so she took me off. I had moved back home at the time after a couple of years of living away from my family. When I moved back I had good support so I think this might have been part of her thought process at the time.

Surprisingly I did okay for a number of years, after the initial rocky few months of withdrawal symptoms. So I don’t know, maybe it was the right decision at the time? I guess I will never really know. Six years later I ended up back on medication after trying to take my life for the second or third time. At the time I was going through some tough stuff and in a relationship that was very abusive. I felt like a complete and utter failure when I was told I needed to go back on some sort of medication by my family doctor. He prescribed me Paxil and referred me for a second time to a psychologist. I again was having a hard time with my diagnosis and with the idea of taking medication which I felt just compounded the situation. I talk a bit more about mental illness & me in other posts.

One of the things I failed to notice at the time and honestly so did everyone else around me, was that I was still not taking the medication properly. I didn’t think much if I missed a day here or there. There were days I just didn’t feel like taking it. I would start taking them, have some bad side effects and then stop taking them for a few days or weeks and then I would try again. This was the worst thing I could have done. I can’t say that I wasn’t warned because I was, in passing, by both the psychologist and pharmacist but no real emphasis was put on what this would do to me, to my mind, to my body. So I continued on taking them whenever I remembered or felt like it. I wondered why I felt so horrible. I wondered why I had continued thoughts of suicide. I wondered why I felt so down and felt like it was absolutely impossible to function day in, day out. Again I started hating the medication, hating the stigma of being on them because misguidedly I felt like people knew I was on them because of the side effect like falling asleep at work. I swore to myself again that I would never ever go back on them.

Fast forward another 5 or 6 years and once again I am back on them after losing my job and having a car accident. This time around however has been completely different. After talking with my new psychologist who is wonderful, we both agree that I am now ready to face the truth, willing to admit that I needed help and that I was struggling. With help from her, my husband, and my parents, they helped me realize the truth, that taking medication is not failure, instead, it is success. I am now willing and able to keep track of my medication, to use an app to ensure I don’t forget them. I have my husband to remind me as well, but I am learning to take control myself. The road ahead may not be easy. I may have setbacks. I may even feel again that I’m failing but the truth of it is, is that I am not failing. I am succeeding.

I am taking control of my life in a way I have never done before or only ever attempted at. I am accepting therapy in person (well, via zoom at the moment), I am doing the homework I am given. I am taking the medication, Cymbalta this time around. Beyond the initial side effects the first 2-3 weeks I am tolerating the medication rather well. I am feeling better. I am feeling hopeful. I feel refreshed. I am taking them on time and every day. I think I have only missed one day in about 6 months, which really didn’t affect me because I am taking them properly. This has made such a huge difference in my mood, my attitude and how I am processing things.

I still have a ways to go, but another difference this time is I am coming up with my own goals, my own things to work on and accomplish rather than waiting for other people to suggest things in my absence of being able to. In therapy when she suggests setting goals I come up with a lot of them myself. I participate and give suggestions on what I want to work on and how I want to improve my mental health and tackle my anxiety. All of these things make, for me, going back on medication a success. Do I still hope one day to get off them? Of course, I do. However, I no longer look at being on them as a failure, as being a necessary evil but instead as a tool to help me be the best me I can be. If I am able to come off of them again sometime in the future then great, and if not, that’s perfectly fine too.

My success is measured by who I am as a person and how I treat others and not whether or not I am on medications for mental health issues. I am so much more then that