#608 – Relapse

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I haven’t written in my blog for almost 14 months. Life has been just busy enough to sustain me over that time, but as I’m getting closer to applying to my degree program I’m finding myself with more and more free time as the things I can do in preparation become fewer and fewer, and that hasn’t been good for me.

Let me catch you up, in case you’ve never read my blog. I have a handful of mental illnesses that have had me on disability since 2014 and pretty much housebound for a couple of years after that. In 2015 I began the process of working with Texas Workforce Commission to get me retrained and back in the job market and we finally agreed on a plan that would see me earning an associate’s degree in the healthcare field in 2017. Two other things happened that year. I had a major breakthrough in therapy and a tweak in my psych meds that together brought me out of the agoraphobia I’d been experiencing, just in time to start college in the fall of that year. Since that time I’ve been doing exceptionally well in school. After completing 35 credit hours I’ve got a 3.914 GPA. This covers all the prerequisite and co-requisite classes for my degree program, so I can concentrate fully on excelling in those classes. I’ve been socializing, I’ve been driving again, I’ve been shopping, all things that I didn’t do during my agoraphobia.

Since the start of winter break in December, I’ve been on more and more of a downswing, which I was hoping was going to turn around once I was back in school last month. I’m instead intimidated by the course I’m in now (it’s not credit towards my degree, but it is required to be completed on the application) and I’ve gotten out of almost everything that could be considered a daily habit. The only thing I am doing is continuing to take my medication almost all the time. Periods of joy are few and far between, I hardly ever have the energy to do much of anything, which means housework is usually waiting until either one of us has energy. (My wife is also dealing with a downswing on top of her narcolepsy, so she is chronically exhausted and out of energy.) Living in a messy apartment just drives my mood further and further down. It’s rare that I can find a distraction strong enough to make me forget everything else for a time.

So I am pretty much wiping the slate clean and starting over. A lot of my habits are gone. It’s going to take a while to get them ingrained again. I’m going to write them all down and then use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to prioritize them all, and start at the bottom of the pyramid, one at a time, and work my way up. In addition, I’m going to start rereading The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, which was a huge part of my turnaround in 2017.

I’m also going to start back with the regular blogging, so there is some accountability during my efforts to reverse the downswing, so you’ll be seeing more from me in this medium.

I am aware that this all looks like the person that tries to help by saying “Have you just tried not being depressed?” I know that I don’t have a large amount of control over my brain chemicals, but I believe that working towards a goal will make it more likely that I reach it. So, I’m doing this.

It’s late, and I’m tired, and I don’t expect many people to read this entry. But it needed to be written. More later.

Inconsistency of Mind

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Faithful readers of this blog know that I organize my life by two books, one made of checklists and vitals tracking, the other made of a rolling to-do list.

For the last week and a half, I haven’t wanted to crack open either book.

It’s not a matter of not feeling up to doing everything on the list. I’ve reduced my list down to only a handful of things that are not directly related to my diabetes management – hygiene, writing, reading, leisure time, the catch-all to-do check box. (Walking and other forms of exercise can directly affect high blood glucose, so that’s something that I consider part of my diabetes management.)

I’ve felt a growing need to mentally hide from things that I know I should be doing to help improve my health and my life. I want to bury myself into something mindless and escape, and yet I still want to get everything done.

I’m starting to feel like the books are a burden, rather than a blessing, and I don’t like feeling that way. They are the only metric that I have that I’m having a productive day, and I don’t want to lose them, yet I feel compelled to ignore them.

Is it my wonky sleep schedule that’s doing this to me? The few days that I was off my Wellbutrin while we wrestled with the pharmacy and the insurance carrier about whether the latest refill was valid? My feelings of falling off the bandwagon now that I’m needing more carbs in my diet?

I’m not sure, but I know that the inconsistent thoughts that have been plaguing my days recently are unwelcome and need to go away.

I’m not suicidal, I want to stress. I just go between spurts of productivity and lulls of apathy and boredom. When I was in the height of my checklist compliance, I felt like everything had a place in my day. Once I finished one thing, I’d switch to the next on the list, and if I didn’t feel up to it, I knew there was a set period of time that it needed to occur, so I could be leisurely for a little while, but would eventually need to take a break and get something checked off.

As I wrote the paragraph above, something dawned on me. Maybe it’s the way I organize the list now. I have my diabetes management stuff all compiled together, followed by everything else. The “everything else” parts of my day feel undisciplined, while the diabetes management is still mostly getting done.

Maybe a change is in order when I turn the page.

If this feeling lifts shortly after December 28th, when I move to the next page in the book, I’ll know what the culprit was.