Do Not Want

Here we are again.

I want to be excited and happy and full of anticipation as my son embarks on his new kindergarten adventure next week. I want to infuse his upcoming birthday party with joy and cupcakes. Instead, I’m ambivalent. Tired. Going through the motions. My gardens are full of weeds and grasses, my to-do list keeps growing, and I can find zero fucks to give.

Perversely, my fatigue and apathy drive me to stay awake later, and eat poorly, which results in a poor night’s sleep, which deepens the fatigue, which helps keep the cycle going. This has been the pattern for a few days now — last night, I didn’t turn the lights out until after 11:30pm, which is well past my bedtime. I just didn’t care.

I’m recognizing it. It’s like I’m seeing myself from outside myself, willing myself to bust out, cheering myself on. This evening, while my son was bathing, I busted out some crunches and push-ups in an effort to get myself in a better headspace (and out of my smartphone). It kind of worked. It did something.

My plan for tonight (having already gorged on carbohydrates of various kinds) is to finish writing this, wait for Connor to ask for a foot massage and to talk, take care of some nightly clean-up in the kitchen, maybe take a swag at my to-do list, then go into the sunroom (where I haven’t relaxed for weeks) and chill with a magazine. Then, I’ll head upstairs around dusk and spend some quality time cleansing my face and whatnot, to continue the relaxation theme. If I’m not too tired, maybe I’ll do ten minutes of yoga before tucking into my graphic novel cookbook for a bit, then turning out the lights just after ten. That should leave me rejuvenated for a conference with Connor’s kindergarten teacher in the morning.

I have a plan. This is a step in the right direction. Executing that plan will be the next step.

Yes, I have to consciously work toward treating myself right. Lizard Brain doesn’t know shit about treating me right, and if I don’t plan ahead, that’s who ends up driving the bus.

Same Old Story

A while back, I created a “depression” category for my blog and moved all my past relevant posts there. Since then, whenever I think about writing a post specifically about how my (undiagnosed) depression manifests itself, I go back and read some of the things I’ve already written, and then I kind of figure there’s no point in rewriting the same sad story a few months later.

That attitude is unhelpful, though, because 1.) I created the category partly to gauge how often I have these feelings, and 2.) writing and getting my thoughts out of my head is therapeutic for me the majority of the time.

Even so, the main way my depression manifests itself is a lack of interest in the things I usually enjoy — including writing. I don’t exactly have the best windows of time to freewrite, either: my brain is working best during the day, when I need to be devoting my brainpower to my paying job. By the time I have time to myself to write in the evenings, especially when I’m feeling blah like I am now — I’m done. It’s just not happening.

Today, I ended up tickety-tapping out some words here and there during my lunch and breaks. This needs to get out of my head. I need to recognize that I’m feeling all meh, talk some stuff out, and make sure this actually gets posted to my blog. (Unlike the few times I’ve felt like this and either started writing or thought about writing and then just gave up on it.)  (more…)

Vicious Circle

I’ve been feeling kind of meh for the past few weeks. I haven’t had a proper workout since before Thanksgiving — some I skipped because I had other obligations, some I skipped because I was tired and I used that as an excuse (can’t have me lifting with bad form and hurting myself), and some I just didn’t feel like doing. (So much for that Discipline Over Motivation thing.)

Whether as a result of not working out or just correlated with it, I’ve also been extra stupid tired lately. Tired and hungry is a Very Bad Combination for me in the evenings, because my lizard brain goes foraging for food and doesn’t quit. Then I also stay up later when I get stupid tired, just because I don’t think to check the clock and get my ass upstairs at a reasonable hour. Then, because I’m overtired and I ate so late in the evening, I have trouble getting to sleep. Once I do get to sleep, I have trouble getting up (I’ve overslept my alarm every single day this week).

I’ve also been rocking crazy vivid dreams that don’t feel particularly restful, like last night’s dream about me being incarcerated and slated for execution because of a traffic violation, and my dream-world attorney was dead and his son had started a restaurant instead of continuing the practice, so I had no representation. Especially being an atheist, the You’re Gonna Die Soon dreams are extra super unrestful.

I’ve been dealing with early morning headaches and general fatigue all week, and today my eyes are visibly puffy. I’ve gained a few pounds over the past several weeks. I feel nasty, both physically and mentally.

I’ve just been in a fuck-all mood lately, too. I’m tired and I don’t give a shit. I try not to let it affect my interactions with others; unfortunately, that extra social effort during the day means I sometimes snap at my son in the evenings when I’m extra tired. Which makes me feel like an ass.

It’s dark and cold and I’m tired and irritable. I don’t want to be active; I’d rather park myself in front of the TV and eat lots of carbohydrates.

Which is exactly what I don’t need.

It doesn’t help that it’s the Christmas Season, which means I’m supposed to be cheery and generous and OMG It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year — and I only got one one batch of chocolate chip cookies baked and in the deep freeze before my brain was like NOPE. FUCK IT.

I have a long weekend coming up (I had to use my last two Personal Days before they expired), so hopefully that will recharge me and help me get back on track. I’ll spend some time sleeping in (“No waking Mommy up before 8:00”) and baking cookies with my son and enjoying my husband’s company for Date Night and getting my hairs did on Monday morning.

I know I need to rein in my evening eating. I need to get back to being active at least three days a week (preferably daily). I also need more sleep than the average bear — nine hours  a night is just right for me, and the seven I’ve been getting just ain’t cutting it.

As with so many other aspects of my life, I know what to do. I just need to do it.

I wonder if I should bring this up to my CNP at my next visit. I wonder if being meh for a few-week stretch every few months constitutes clinical depression that requires medical attention. I don’t know. For me, this is normal. When I neglect myself, it shows. When I feed and exercise myself properly, I’m fine.

It’s just a matter of a.) identifying what tips the dominoes and b.) determining what it takes to stop the cascade and right things again.

Mental Health

I clearly need to step back and commit myself to some sort of mental reset. I’m still in a blasé mood most of the time, especially in mornings and evenings. –Actually, no, it really is most of the time, now that I think of it. I get brief reprieves when I’m eating lunch or working out or interacting with others, but mostly I’m really in a funk.

I feel affected in every area of my life. At work, I can’t concentrate. At home, I lose my shit with my son much sooner than I should. After his bedtime, I trudge down the stairs and think about how this preschooler power struggle isn’t what I wanted my life to be. Then I either stuff my face or go down the smartphone rabbit hole (or both). Then I stay up too late. Then I oversleep. Rinse and repeat.

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Depression?

I’ve never been officially diagnosed with depression. As a teen, I wanted help, and I even asked for help — but in retrospect, I’ve chalked it up to hormones and typical teen drama. As a young adult, I put the blame on myself for allowing my days and nights to get turned around in college, causing a spiral of oversleeping and poor academic performance. Now, in middle age (*shudder*), I throw the blame on myself yet again for fostering poor sleeping habits and just having a boring life in general.

I find myself writing about this quasi-depression often enough, though, that I wonder — is this normal? Do other people find that every few months, there’s a stretch of a few days to a week or longer where they really just don’t give a shit?

I’m overtired, unable to concentrate (except on writing this, so I think that’s irony?), and have no interest in doing things that would normally be exciting for me — today’s yoga class, for instance, or mailing exposed rolls of film off to be developed. My sense of responsibility is strong enough (thanks to parenthood) to get me out of bed, get my kid up, get myself to work, cook meals, and do all the necessary things… so I’m not really depressed, right? Depressed people spend all day in bed because they can’t bring themselves to get up. That’s not my M.O., so I’m not depressed. Right?

At my last visit with my GP, the nurse asked me something much more epic — something along the lines of “Do you ever feel hopeless?” Hopeless? No, tired and apathetic and disinterested are definitely different from hopeless — and it’s not all the time.

My brain tells me that the correct solution to all this is, “Suck it up, Buttercup.” Therapy might help, or meds might help, but maybe I ought to see if I can help myself first. You know, eat right, exercise, meditate (zazen, walking, writing, etc).

If I can help myself, then I’m not really depressed. Right?

Tired and Meh (Again)

I was going to title this entry “Behind the 8 Ball,” but then I realized that has more of a connotation of being in a losing position or a bad situation. I really just feel… meh.

I’ve felt meh before: November 12 and October 21 last year were two times that I actually wrote about it. Usually the meh keeps me from writing at all. I can’t blame it on my womanly cycle, since these three identified meh days were on cycle days 15, 18, and 11 in a 24-day cycle — not close enough for a correlation, I don’t think. I’d also love to blame the meh on the newly-reformulated Weight Watchers diet, but that change didn’t happen until December.

My weight’s been creeping up lately — just by a few pounds, but it’s noticeable to me. I’ve been having trouble resisting carby snacks when I’m tired — sugary desserts, pasta, that sort of thing. During the day, at work, I’ll keep a steady stream of coffee and tea going all day, with not much water in between.

According to my Sleep Cycle app, I spend between 8 and 9 hours in bed a night, with a “Sleep Quality” rating around 82% (although I spend more time in bed and sleep better on weekends than on weeknights). My bedtime is just before 11pm, on average, and I get up around 7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends. I sleep better if I do some yoga before bed to wind down, and if I get the lights out by 10pm. I sleep worse if I watch TV at night or stay up until 11pm.

I decided to hit the reset button on my eating habits today, in the hopes that getting my nutrition in order would help. I started the day with a light breakfast of toast with honey and some coffee with Splenda and cashew milk. That’s 124 calories out of my daily 1700 (according to LoseIt!), or 5 SmartPoints out of my daily 30. The plan was to cycle coffee or tea with water, and enjoy a light lunch of fruit between my 12:20 yoga class and my 2:00 team meeting, then make a largish salad with some protein for dinner. Surprisingly enough, the plan went well: I drank seven glasses of water, plus one cup of coffee and a few cups of tea (both green and black); yoga (as I suspected) improved my mood considerably; I didn’t feel the need to go buy a supplemental lunch from the cafe downstairs; and my dinner salad with a side of salmon went better than expected. I then had a low-calorie dessert and a small protein-rich snack after my son went to bed. As I finish this entry and prepare to post it, I’m contemplating a decaf latte with 1% milk.

Related to my sour mood: I’ve had a hard time lately just being alone with myself. I’ve been reading The Dude and the Zen Master before bed, doing some hamstring stretches, sometimes doing 15 minutes of yoga — but mostly, if I’m alone, I’m hunched over the blue glow of my phone. I stopped tracking my phone usage at the end of last year, and I think it’s crept up again. I’ll bet that I’d be happier if I cut down on my screen time and reintroduced meditation (zazen) into the daily mix. Hell, if I just stuck to a bedtime routine like I do with my son, that would be a good start. I just have so much other stuff I want to get done at night (but, oddly enough, I end up going down the internet rabbit hole instead of getting stuff done).

I’ve just been grumpy and tired and headachy and can’t concentrate and I want something to change. Today was a definite step in the right direction.

Meh.

I’ve just been in kind of a funk lately. I have moments of yay, but mostly I’m feeling meh.

I haven’t been able to properly work out for over a month, thanks to my nagging back pain. In early October, my back complained about both kickboxing and yoga, and all I’ve done since then is a couple elliptical sessions and some walking. I suspect the lack of exercise is affecting my mood, on top of my just being in constant low-level pain or discomfort. (Yes, I suppose I could take something for the pain, but I’d rather not if I can deal with it, especially now that I’m in physical therapy for my lower back and I need to monitor my improvement over time in regards to pain.)

At work, I have trouble concentrating on what I’m doing. I feel like I have monkey-mind in a big way: easily distracted, can’t focus, can’t seem to get tasks completed, and get extra frustrated when I can’t puzzle out a problem (as is the case right now, actually). My annual review is coming up soon — today is my work anniversary — and I hope my boss doesn’t feel the same way about my job performance as I do.

All I’ve been wanting to do in the evenings after I get my son to bed is feed my face and play on my phone — or watch TV, which is a rarity for me. I don’t feel like writing, reading, cleaning, organizing. I have blog posts backlogged, either half-written or unwritten… but I just can’t get excited about finishing them.

I’m sure part of it is the time change — or, more accurately, the season change. No matter what time the clock says it is, the daylight hours are getting shorter. Plus, the weather has been gloomy, overcast, windy, drizzly, and generally fall-dreary (instead of the autumn I love, with brisk colors and bright blue skies and hoodies galore). Last night, we had a windstorm that blew most of the remaining leaves off the trees… including my beautiful burning bushes. No more vivid red border in the back yard, unfortunately.

My mood and habits are creating a nasty cycle with my weight, too. I was all gung-ho to reach my goal weight by Thanksgiving… then by New Years… and now I’m wondering if I should just throw in the towel for 2015 and work to maintain instead of lose. My frame of mind is no longer in the right place for this, and I don’t know how to get back in the right headspace. I just can’t summon up any fucks to give.

And no, it’s not that time of month, but thanks for going there, anyway. Honestly, it does kind of feel the same, mood-wise, now that I think about it.

Maybe going out for date night this weekend will perk me up.

Overload

It’s not even that things are that bad, or that stressful. Sure, I biffed the garage door last week, necessitating that I use the remainder of my personal time from work — until my work anniversary next month, anyway, when my vacation days renew. As far as work itself goes, it’s a little stressful and scattered right now, and there are a few fires to put out, but it’s not making me dread going to work every day or anything. And, yeah, my at-home to-do list is extra-long, but that’s nothing new.

No, I really just feel… well, I can’t really describe it. Not quite stressed out, and not quite overwhelmed. Not so much a defeatist attitude as the feeling that the treadmill is throwing me off the back. Or, for those of you who (like me) watched American Gladiators in the early ‘90s, like I’m holding steady on the Reverse Treadmill at the beginning of the Eliminator.

eliminator

There are just a bunch of little things that keep piling on and piling on, and I really only have so many hours I can squeeze out of a day — which makes it worse when my mindset isn’t where I’d like it to be and instead of being productive after my son goes to bed, I fall face first into a bag of popcorn and a mini-marathon of Good Eats on Netflix. Or when I waste half an hour figuring out why Google Chrome and Windows 10 don’t seem to play nicely, so I can’t upload a simple image for my blog post without resorting to the new Micro$oft browser, Edge. But anyway.

I’m not going to regurgitate my entire to-do list here, but I have several on-going messes I need to clean up around the house, I have Fall cleanup and planting to tend to in the garden, I have multiple work projects going on at once, and I have a self-imposed deadline of losing 12 pounds in five weeks. Also, thanks to me having to take so much time off in two-hour increments for car maintenance, haircuts, and Connor’s doctor appointments, I am all out of time off of work. (Except actual sick time. I can still get sick.)

If I want to get things done, I need to prioritize and be OK with some things at the bottom of the list not getting done until later — or not at all. It’s a matter of consequences, really. Therein lies the problem: lots of things in my queue have been deprioritized multiple times. I know I would feel happier with a clean home office, a clean closet, family photos framed and hung on the walls, Connor’s notable art projects from school either scanned or framed or put into an album. But it all takes a back seat to the more visible or time-sensitive tasks: gardening, daily household chores, child rearing. And sleep. I need to get to sleep earlier if I want to sleep better.

I’m stuck in the same damn spot on that reverse treadmill. I need a boost — or a new strategy — to get some actual momentum.