#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.

The Story Continues

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Today was a bit of a weird day. I studied for a while and wasn’t retaining anything from what I was hearing (today was review of the past two biology lectures in preparation for my next quiz tomorrow night). The instructor’s voice eventually turned into a buzz that I couldn’t concentrate on, so I gave myself permission to take care of myself today and stop forcing myself to study. I have several hours between classes tomorrow to study and I’ll make sure I take advantage of that time.

Other than that, the day was largely unremarkable, with the exception that Ken Follett dropped the second sequel to my favorite novel this morning. The Pillars of the Earth is the story of the construction of a cathedral in a fictional town in 12th century England, during the Anarchy that followed the death of Henry I. It’s sequel, World Without End, looks at the same town a couple hundred years later during the Black Death, focusing on characters that are in many cases descendants of the main cast of characters from the first novel. The new novel, A Column of Fire, is once again centered around the town of Kingsbridge, and once again the tale moves forward about two centuries to begin in the time between the death of Henry VIII and the reign of Elizabeth I. I’ve finished the first chapter already, and so far I like it. One thing that changes from novel to novel is the language that the characters use. In The Pillars of the Earth, instead of giving the reader minutes, the passage of time is described as “the time it takes for a man to walk a mile.” Four hundred years later, in A Column of Fire, the characters’ dialogue is more refined and genteel, as one would expect from the age of the courtier. It’s a fascinating detail that makes the story considerably richer.

While I can’t quite recommend A Column of Fire from just the first chapter, I can highly recommend The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. I think if you read those two, and are ready for more of the same, then definitely pick up A Column of Fire.

 

Better, But Not One Hundred Percent

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Well, the stomach bug I had yesterday seems to be gone, but I’m still pretty run down from it. I cut a lot of corners yesterday in getting my full marks on my checklists, but today I’m playing catchup and it’s wearing me out. I’ve had some naps during the day, and that helped, but generally I’m kinda pooped.

Got a call from Mom today asking if I wanted to have dinner tonight, and I had to remind her that we’re in Austin once more. She also wanted me to know that I shouldn’t be in an infomercial under any circumstances, because she was and that’s why her back is hurting her today. I played along with what she said, though, except for the part where we couldn’t be there for dinner. She said “maybe this weekend” and I told her we’ll have to see. That much I was able to leave open-ended for now.

I finished Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology today. Excellent read, makes the pantheon much more accessible to the masses than the Eddas do. Each story is its own chapter, and the stories are quite short, so it’s a very easy thing to read a chapter a day. Took me no time to go through it, it felt like, and I’m glad I stuck to a chapter a day.

Still have a lot of stuff left to do tonight so I’m cutting this short today. (It seems like I’ve been doing that a lot. I really need to get a meaty blog post out at some point soon.) Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have more to write about.