Depression #31: The Relapse, The Reminder

It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve started making exercise almost a daily affair for me. I’m very happy with myself and my progress. I’m just enjoying food and enjoying workout at the same time. At times, I find myself falling asleep on the sofa after an hour of solid tennis playing. Mornings pass by very quickly now that I exercise.

Looking back at the past, I have some new realization now that I can see things clearer. When I had my first major depression, all that mattered to me was to recover as soon as I can, it took me about half a year to finally rise again. I had the help of medication and I was happy that I found a name/term to the condition I was in.

Never would I have thought a relapse would happen and when it did, it was scarier than the first because I knew what the feeling was, I followed the feeling from being ok to spiralling downwards again. You know you have to get up and get out but you just can’t. This time around, I bounced back within a month or two, much faster than the first. The relapse was a message and a reminder to me. I didn’t only focus on getting well, it taught me to get down to the root cause, to understand my mind and body better, to be hopeful, to be positive and to just live my life without fear and anxiety. I was always looking for an answer but I wasn’t able to find it and I wasn’t even sure what kind of answer I was actually searching for. I stopped looking for an answer and to just allow life to unveil itself. Sometimes I still have a little discomfort tugging at my heart when I’m about to do something new but it doesn’t bother me that much anymore, I just let it be and told myself I can do it. I need not be perfect. I just need to be ok with the imperfect ways should I bump into them.

For 3 months, my mum was with me for 24 hours, considering I’m still not working and I get to spend most of the time with her. She made sure I have balanced home-cooked meals. At first, I felt like a burden to her. A 30-year-old something lady still having her mum preparing meals for her and to be by her side while she gets out from the depression crap. I finally came to terms with it and just see it as the love a mum has for her daughter. I didn’t want to feel bad because it wouldn’t help me anyway. Instead, I filled my heart with gratitude and love.

When my mum flew home after being with me for 3 whole months, I cried. I started crying a few days before she flew home, knowing that I’m gonna miss her so very much and that I had enjoyed the time spent with her. I was worried if I could cope being alone in the house, if I was able to prepare meals for myself and go about with my daily life since Mum made sure I had a routine and that we did things together.

I’m happy to be my independent self again. I’m happy that I’m cooking and preparing meals for myself and my sister whenever she’s eating. I made sure I do something everyday, whether it’s for the wedding preparation, cooking something, meeting a friend or just crossing things off my to-do list. I attended a concert with a friend on Friday. I’m thankful that I have 2 friends who are not currently working like me. One is on a long maternity leave so I get to visit her once every 2 weeks to check on her and see how she’s coping with taking care of her first born all by herself. The other is also on a health recovery journey that has been bothering her for a year now. We come out for meals and just share our thoughts.

I also used to think I am a failure if I am unemployed. I don’t think that way anymore because it isn’t because I want to be lazy and do not want to work but it’s because I really needed the time off, to put things down so that I can come back again, for real this time. I’m also not very bothered of what others would think of me. That itself removed lots of weight from me. They wouldn’t fully understand anyway unless they experienced the same thing I did. Even if someone doesn’t understand what depression is or how someone like me could land myself in depression, it doesn’t matter. Words cannot fully explain it unless you’ve been through it.

Happiness is…#112

Having a hearty Korean meal outside all by myself!

Depression #30: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

I’ve been waking up by my jerks in the morning. It usually happens just around the time the brain starts the engine in the morning while I’m still in bed. It started while I stopped one of the medication that made me stopped worrying but at the same time made me ate a lot. Nothing scary that I felt previously but yesterday and today, I felt a little lost. Not wanting to let it grow into something that is out of control, I took out my yoga mat and did 5 sets of sun salutation. I felt better and looking back, I think it’s due to the lack of exercise. Yoga classes in the evening have been cancelled as there are not enough students so I’m going to replace it with tennis session, my own workout at home or just yoga session at home. I’ve decided that I’m going to do exercise everyday whenever possible, even if it’s just a 30-minute walk. It is a must. I think exercise is the only most effective way for mental health as it reduces the body’s stress hormones. Relying on medication alone is just not enough because once you’re off medication, you’re back to square one. No matter how positive I think and if I stay idle with all the stress hormones accumulated in my body, I’m not making any progress.

I just played tennis at 6pm today and I’m going to play 8am tomorrow. This is also helpful in setting my day right as there’s something to look forward to. Something to kick start the morning and then that should get my system running and I can be more productive later in the day. My priority now is health, followed by wedding. I still think of the future when I sit on the toilet bowl a little longer but they are just thoughts and I would bring myself back and say, “I’ll deal with it when it comes. I don’t know how but I will deal with it when it comes.”

Happiness is…#111

Cooking grilled salmon for my mum. I can cross that off in my to-do list. Mummy has always been the one cooking for me, particularly so during my depression period so I’m happy that the role is reversed tonight.

Happiness is…#110

Sharing my thoughts with my husband and having him to untie the knots for me.

Happiness is…#109

Opening a joint bank account with my husband!

Depression #29: Ramblings

I’ve just finished reading a book which my dad bought for me when I had my depression relapse. It’s called “Take Control of Your Life” by Dr Gail Ratcliffe. It is a very good book that explains how stress affects us, how the stress cycle starts and ways to take control over it. It made me understand my condition better and there are things which I learnt from the book which I need to incorporate in my life. I’ve never been very conscious about my thoughts or how negative/positive they are. Now I’m starting to analyse them when I find myself thinking negatively about something. Sometimes the negative thinking comes in auto mode. We know we have to think positively but the mind would sometimes creep up with negative thoughts and these are times when I would be aware and then try to stop the negative thought from compounding even further. It’s when the compounding starts and loops that makes everything go out of control for me. I would ask myself how I could change my negative thought into something positive or if I can’t, what are the good things or lessons I could derive from this negative thought. So instead of zooming into panic mode when I have more than one thing going on in my mind, I try and calm myself with comforting thoughts.

When I was on two medications – Lexapro and Olenza, I was slightly feeling upper than I usually would. This is in comparison of what I’m going through now that I’m only just on Lexapro. My mind was mostly about food then and being able to eat and enjoy the food that I’m thinking about made me happy. I didn’t have trouble sleeping at night even if I had tea before that which usually doesn’t happen if I’m not on medication. I could be very focused on one thing and on my mind I can only think of that one thing that I wish to complete and so far progress has been good.

I’m also trying not to overthink now and not to be very angry. Anger makes a person stressed and not thinking straight. I was very good at overthinking that my whole system got jammed up. I don’t care if I’m not sophisticated or complex like a normal adult’s brain should be. For now, I need to keep things as simple as possible, especially my mind so that when I have something complex or complicated coming in, my brain has got space to move about and do the thinking. When it’s all crammed up, I can’t think at all. I also don’t care what level I should be in my career right now because what matters is finding a suitable one for the sake of my sanity. I don’t want to be too obsessed about my weight and appearance anymore. I know I’m fatter than my old skinny self and I may never get back to that skinny self once more. I don’t know but so long as I’m exercising then that’s good enough for me. I’m not going to skimp on food as well but to eat a balanced diet because I just read that a low carbohydrate diet doesn’t help in producing serotonin – a chemical that maintains mood balance.

Now that it’s October, I was a bit anxious on the first day of October because it means November is near. I suddenly have so many to do list running around in my head and I’ve been having the same thing going on for the past 2 mornings. But it’s good. It’s a time for me to practise how to stop those thoughts or put them into order. It’s going to be a learning process where my mind is able to think of more than one thing at a time and learn how to manage it again.

I’ve also been thinking about people around me more than being too self-absorbed. I’ve been spending time together with my mum for about 3 months now and it has been a joy to be with her. I know I won’t have the privilege to do this anymore when I move in to stay with another family so I’m cherishing every moment I get now. There will be times when my tears would visit me when the thought hits me but there is nothing I can do about it because I’ve entered a new chapter of life and life needs to go on. I’m happy that I’m able to feel all these emotions because it means Grace is back. I used to be very very sad when I thought about this especially during my last Chinese New Year where I was home with them because I know the next Chinese New Year wouldn’t be the same anymore. I won’t be home during the eve of Chinese New Year and to celebrate the first day of Chinese New Year with them. It would be with another family. Again, nothing I can do about this but to look forward to be able to still make a trip home despite being the third or fourth day of Chinese New Year. I just hope I would be able to sail through it with grace instead of being a crybaby. But even if I do cry, it’s just normal, isn’t it?

My most profound fear which I’ve never talked about here before is the thought of staying with in-laws. I have friends and people around me telling me all sorts of stories but I’m going to stop listening to it and even if I do come across stories again, I would need to count my blessings and to think of the good. I have always wanted to stay with just my husband and me and no one else. I value my freedom and independence. There are certain things that I want to do, a certain vision of life together that I envision. But we don’t always get to choose and it took me awhile to get my head around it. It wasn’t easy because I held on to my ideals too tightly and I wasn’t confident I was going to survive living in with another family. I had fears that appeared before it even happened or never happened. However, since I’ve had depression, I’m letting a lot of “I used to think / I used to want to…” thoughts go away and be more flexible and adapt to the changes that are not beyond my control. I cannot be stressed with too much thoughts and I can’t be living with a lot of my own ideals because each family is different and I just got to adapt to a different style. I think I can handle it. As you can see, I’m putting down things that weigh me, letting go thoughts that aren’t going to help me because I can’t afford to be too heavy in the head. I just want to be light and easy.