Bedside Bookshelf

  
As you have probably gathered from my myriad references to my untidy house, I am not great at keeping things clean. I don’t mind some clutter, and I keep things in piles on the floor sometimes. My husband isn’t crazy about it, but we don’t let our house get so out of control that a weekend of cleaning can’t fix it. One of the messiest areas in my house is my bedside. I have makeup, perfume, medication, glasses, jewelry, pens, lotions, nail polishes all crowding up my bedside table. Nearby is my beading supplies, cross stitch supplies, more makeup, my sunlamp, and about 20 books. It’s kind of a mess, but not completely arbitrary. Most of it is in purposefully crafted piles. The books, especially, are ones that I repeatedly return to for my mental health. I keep them by my bed so on a bad day when I will more than likely be stuck in bed, they will be just an arm’s reach away. Today I thought that I would mention a few of the books I keep close by as recommendations to those of you who love to read.

Literature/History

I love to collect old hardback books. My fireplace mantle is filled with my collection. I even have a collection of very small hardback copies of Shakespeare plays. One of my all time favorite books, which I found in my hometown in Texas at a local charity book sale, is an adult picture book titled “The Life and Times of Elizabeth” from 1967 and was published as part of a series called Portraits of Greatness. It is full of beautiful portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and her contemporaries as well as a historical account of her life. Elizabeth I is one of my historical heroes. I am drawn to her power and strength. I like to read about her to encourage me to push forward, accomplish more, and be strong despite opposition. I also keep close a book of poetry that my father gave me called “The Singer.” I mentioned it in one of my first posts. It is a beautiful poem about Jesus. It is easy to read and engaging. It provides me with hope and reminds me that my earthly father and my Heavenly Father both love me immensely.

Spiritual

I don’t keep my bible by my bed because, fortunately, I use it more often and so it moves around rather than staying by my bed. But, I do keep my daily devotion and other spiritual books by my bed. My favorite devotion in recent years is “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. It is a wonderful book that continually makes me think, pray harder, and hope more. This year I am going through Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost For His Highest” for the first time. It is really great, and although life has distracted me from faithfully doing a daily devotion so far in 2016, I keep this book close and easily accessible. There are books by three more Christian authors that I keep, in rotation, by my bedside: C. S. Lewis, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, and my dad–David O. Dykes. These three authors have helped me form the spiritual ideology that I adhere to. Right now I have “Mere Christianity” (Lewis), “The Cost of Discipleship” (Bonhoeffer), and “HOPE When You Need IT Most” (Dykes) on hand. The first two I have read before, and I often return to passages that I have highlighted or dog-eared. I am sporadically working through my dad’s book for the first time, although I also return to some of his other books that I have read before, too. It is important to me to feed myself spiritually with devotion, teaching, and theology. This helps me feel more comfortable in my spiritual life and makes me more stable overall.

Mental Health

Right now, the three mental health books that are by my bedside are Randi J. Jensen’s “Just Because You’re Suicidal Doesn’t Mean You’re Crazy,” which I have mentioned before, “Free Yourself Be Yourself” by Alan D. Wright, and “The Mindful Way Through Depression” by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn. All three of these books have been truly formational for me. “The Mindful Way Through Depression” was my first direct introduction to mindfulness, and I cannot stress enough the real benefits of practiced mindfulness. It becomes a way of life, and through practice can becomes an automatic response to stress and anxiety. It takes time, practice, and dedication, but this book is a wonderful place to start. I return to it to refresh my skills. “Free Yourself Be Yourself” is a Christian book about healing your heart and accepting Jesus’s unconditional love. It was a very important book for me when I began to incorporate Christianity into my mental healthcare, which has made a wonderful change in my ability to think positively and accept myself. Finally, “Just Because You’re Suicidal Doesn’t Mean You’re Crazy” by Randi J. Jensen has revolutionized my views on what she calls the “psychobiology of suicide.” I could not have so fully made my commitment to never commit suicide without this book. This was a roadmap for me to understand what has been happening to me and address it head on with strength and gentleness.

So there is my bedside bookshelf. I didn’t include all the books about diabetes that have newly taken up residence by my bed or the journals–both old and current. It is quite a mess, but when my head is a mess, it helps so much to be able to quickly grab a book that I know has helped me before. Sometimes even just seeing the titles reminds me that I can do this because I have surrounded myself with resources to help, and I have put in years of practice to overcome my struggles with depression, anxiety, and suicide. I encourage you to check out some of these books if they interest you, or find other books more suited to your desires and situation. Part of a well rounded approach to fighting depression involves research and resources. Happy reading!

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The Weeks Since Diagnosis

  

It has been more than 6 weeks since Ada’s diagnosis, and I feel like I am finally beginning to settle in. I did some intense grieving, hitting all the stages at different points, but I feel like I have at least begun to accept our new normal. It helps that I faced the fact that just a couple of weeks ago, I was staring at the gut feeling that I was headed for a breakdown. I have mentioned before that I require a lot of downtime. Downtime can include rest, sleep, hobbies, or meditation. The schedule I had set up for myself during the second week after diagnosis took away the majority of my downtime. When I made my initial schedule for including Ada’s diabetes into our lives, I was riding the high of facing the crisis head on. I do that. When there is an emergency, I focus and act; my body is more awake and energized, and I can work harder than usual. Something else I usually do is lie to myself that I will be able to keep my new energy alive interminably. I can’t. I have so much personal experience that tells me that I after a crisis, I will return to my need for longer stretches of downtime. 

About 3-4 weeks after diagnosis, I was beginning to fail. Each I of weeks 3, 4, and 5 I had at least one day where I was unable to function beyond caring for Ada’s most basic needs. I could not take her to school, I could not work on my house, I could not spend time with my family. I fed my daughter and took care of her medical needs. Otherwise, I spent the day in bed and in tears. I was continually exhausted, and each nonfunctional day took 1-2 additional days of recovery, not to mention the day before often being frantic before the crash. I was spending more than half my week at the mercy of my mental health. I had lost my balance–the balance I had spent years perfecting. It was just gone and there was nothing I could do to get it back. Ada needed me to change everything for her, but in the process I was losing myself and my grip on reality. My fear was that I would also lose my ability to care enough to care for her. That really scared me, so I knew I had to do something. I had to face my present situation. I was crumbling and putting my daughter’s life at risk in the event that I did breakdown.

I went back to one of my most important mottos–I love myself! I had to choose my mental health before several other things that I had tried to make more important. One of the biggest things I had to face is that I was unable to handle the school schedule I had set up, and I was not ready to just let her be alone given that we have had some real trouble avoiding low blood sugars. Taking her to school and then going back to her school an additional 2-3 times per day; spending an hour or more in the nurses office some days because her low blood sugars became more common and harder to bring up. I should have been able to do it. Right now as I write this I feel like I failed, like I should have been able to keep doing that. But the truth is that I was falling apart and the school schedule was contributing to my exhaustion. Once I began to be too exhausted to take her to school, I began to feel immense guilt about the whole situation. That is what began to push me over the edge. I couldn’t face the exhaustion, but I was being strangled by the guilt. 

So, I decided to homeschool her through the end of the year, and the positive effect that this decision has made on our family has been huge. I have recovered; Ada is no longer either facing roller coaster blood sugar levels or boredom at home all day. She is learning, being active, I have the energy to take her out of the house, her blood sugars seem more manageable, and I am able to maintain more control over her physical activity, which often makes her low without a snack directly before. 

Ada doesn’t really know when she’s low, either, which has made all of this more difficult. Hypoglycemia can cause a person to ultimately go into a coma, so it is very dangerous. Most diabetics get certain symptoms that alert them that their blood sugar is low. Ada doesn’t seem to have the regular symptoms. She feels tired and hungry when she is low, but she also feels tired and hungry at other times and her blood sugar is fine or high even. Those symptoms don’t seem very reliable since they are often unassociated with low blood sugar. This is one of the major reasons I am so interested in Ada having a Diabetic Alert Dog; the dog will be able to smell low blood sugars sooner than Ada may realize what is going on with her body. This could save us from an emergency room visit, hospital stay, or worse. Ada’s medical team likes the idea, our landlord has agreed to allow us to bring a service dog into our house, and so many of you are making it financially possible for us to give Ada a wonderful companion.

Our fundraiser to pay for Ada’s scent imprinted Labrador Retriever puppy can be found at this link: https://www.gofundme.com/getadaadog 

Our fundraiser goal is $5000. $3000 of that is to cover the cost of the puppy. The additional $2000 is to cover our expenses to all three go pick up the dog in Utah and attend a weekend training conference with our chosen breeder/trainer and her team, all of which is a requirement for receiving the puppy. Any additional training, food, vet bills, etc, we will be covering ourselves unless we raise more money than our goal. If that happens, I promise that every penny raised for the dog will be set aside and only spent on dog-related purchases.

As soon as I know more about where we are on the waiting list and how long our wait will be, I will be sure to let you know. Thank you for believing in my desire to give this gift to Ada. It means so much to me that you all care about my sweet daughter. Much love to you all.

Ebook project

I’m working on an ebook project! I have decided to take roughly 25 of my best posts and put them together in a collection. I intend to include new material and will also be doing some editing. Parts of my blog are now private as a result. If I find time to blog as well as work on the book, then I will continue to post here. I will also try to be more active on my Confessions of a Chronic Depressive facebook page, so feel free to follow me on facebook.

My plan is to use all the money raised by the ebook toward getting my daughter a diabetic alert dog. The book will be cheap, I promise! I just want to use my work toward helping my girl.

I hope you all understand and will stick by me as I complete this project close to my heart. I hope you’ll buy and share my book or donate to my daughter’s fundraiser.

If you have any ideas regarding content you’d like to see in the book that I have not covered before or haven’t covered thoroughly enough, PLEASE message me with questions or ideas. I’d love to write more new content to add to the collection.

Much love to you all, and I will keep you updated.

24 Hours Later

  
It’s not getting easier. It’s getting tougher and I am not able to keep up which makes me feel guilty, secretive, and ashamed. I’m doing all of the basics–blood sugar checks and insulin shots–but nothing else. Or if other things are getting done it’s just a blur. Half of the time I can handle it but the other half (and increasingly more) of the time I feel like I’m drowning. 
I think I might be losing it. All the hard work I put in, all the commitment, all of the patience has all been negated by life. Ada’s diabetes is out of my control. It just happened. Shit happens. But the timing has been jarring. Weeks after I successfully evaded a depressive episode and committed to refusing suicidal ideation, I am being tested to my limits. All of the things I had in place to maintain my health seem to have gone out the window. I need help. I can’t do all of this. I’m not doing it all, and I’m afraid of how little I have left in me before I crash. 
So many times recently I have asked God why this is happening to us. I don’t think I can handle it, so why? It’s a stupid question, I know, but a deeply felt one. I am not sure how we are going to do this. We are all working hard but falling short of what we feel we ought to accomplish. Things are chaotic. I’m trying desperately to adjust. I don’t know how though. I just thought I might be free of depression and then it pulls me back in. Right now I don’t think I’ll ever get free, but that’s just right now. 

24 hours later:

I refuse to keep feeling this way. I vow to take risks and make changes to keep from becoming depressed. I won’t let myself crash because my daughter needs me every day. I deserve a life; I deserve happiness. I did have a nice, healthy routine in place, and now that has disappeared. So, rather than pushing myself beyond my limits, I choose to be flexible and make choices that support my mental health rather than just meeting others’ needs and expectations. 
After nearly a month of grieving the lifestyle we lost, I am ready to start rebuilding a new routine that accommodates Ada’s and my health needs. I can still be free from depression, it just may look differently now than I ever expected. As always, I will continue to keep you updated as I face the struggles around me. I won’t give up even if I have days where I want to.

Depressed Zombie Mom

  

I feel like I’m slowly drowning or suffocating in this new normal, which isn’t normal at all. Ada has had a bunch of lows over the last few days, so we have had to change dosages, test more, rest more (but sleep less). My house has been neglected, and my old nemesis–dirty dishes–is back in force. I’m getting very little accomplished other than Ada’s needs, and I have no idea what happens to the little bits of time I have in between. Sure, she’s most important, but at some point (it’s already been a month) I have to figure out how to get everything done that I’m supposed to do. Not just housework, but errands, hobbies, friends, personal hygiene. I feel like I get NOTHING else done, and it depresses me. I’m working hard but continuing to fall behind. I feel lonely. Isolated. Always stuck at home or Ada’s school or in the car. I’m drowning. And I’m tired. I want this to all have been a dream. I don’t know why, but things keep getting worse and I’m ready for something good to happen. I need something good to happen. Keep praying friends, and keep fighting even if it seems like your effort is meaningless. It’s not. I have no idea what God has in store for me, and I can’t say I’m really looking forward to it given how chaotic the present has been, but I’m continuing to trust in His goodness despite my difficulties.

Yesterday

  
Yesterday was tough. I felt depressed from the moment I woke up. The night before I had been exhausted–eye lids heavy for hours exhausted. I didn’t get enough sleep despite my exhaustion, so I felt depressed and exhausted as soon as I woke up yesterday. Any I wasn’t able to shake it the entire day. Finally, I began napping off and on at 9pm and was able to go to sleep by midnight. I was up by 7 this morning, but I felt refreshed after my restful evening and uninterrupted sleep. I have done dishes, enjoyed some television, and handled some unusually high blood sugar levels with Ada just fine today. I am continuing to process and develop. Things are ok today.
I did, though, want to share some of what I was feeling yesterday. I was too upset to write a full post, and I didn’t want to throw out negativity without some objective reflection, so all I did was free write my feelings. I’m sharing them today, though, because I encountered some very familiar feelings yesterday–a mix of old depressive thought patterns and new scenarios based on Ada’s diagnosis. I felt trapped by my new circumstance, and lost without my freedom. Here’s what I wrote last night after a day of crying or numbness:
“I feel like I’m crumbling. I feel like a failure. I’m only scraping by, doing the bare minimum, and I don’t think it is enough. All day I’ve tried to get out of my own head to no avail. I hate the constant schedule the missed sleep, the forced injections. I hate that my life seems to be out of my control but all I can do is try to regain control over Ada. I feel lost in the shuffle, like my purpose is to be her nurse now. Is that enough? I will do it willingly, but is it enough to find peace, contentment, and happiness? It doesn’t feel like it. Before my life was dedicated to my own mental balance, now my life is all about Ada’s physical balance. And it changed in an instant without warning or preparation. Just do this now or else. It feels awful. I feel like I felt as a teenager–wanting my own control but being required to live by others’ standards, but this time I can’t buck the others’ points of view. They are right. Ada needs this care to survive. If I don’t do it, who will? If I don’t sacrifice my life, then she’ll have no life of her own. This is what it means to love unconditionally, but no one said it was always easy.”
I was so overwhelmed and exhausted. I was only able to fight negativity all day without any energy to find positivity, which means feeling very little at all. What I did feel at times was overwhelming sadness without much cause. I tried to put my words into thoughts above, to label this as a reaction to our new normal, but it all felt familiar. My brain wanted me to believe that I am forever destined to be trapped. If not by my own disease, then by my daughter’s. And even when she can care for herself, something else will steal whatever amount of freedom I have left. 
That’s all a lie. My depression wants to take advantage of all this. I’ve built up a strong fortress to protect myself from depression, but, on days like yesterday, it can momentarily get through. The key is to keep fighting. I kept telling myself yesterday that I would feel better after some good sleep, and I do. But telling myself that it wouldn’t last forever helped me yesterday. I was able to keep using my skills–distraction, redirecting my thoughts, zoning out rather than allowing myself to chew on what my depressive brain was feeding me–knowing that I only had to fight this hard now. It could very well be easier tomorrow, and now that tomorrow is here, I can say that it is better.
Keep telling yourself that it won’t last forever, and I truly believe that when you find the right ingredients for your balanced health recipe you will feel better. I have mine in place–medication, mindfulness, meditation, rest–so that when I have bad days they stay bad only a day or two; then I can bounce back. It doesn’t have to be permanent even if it is a constant fight. Keep feeding yourself positivity. It is the ace up my sleeve. I practice positivity a lot–sick or well–and it makes a huge difference when I need positivity. I know how to look on the bright side, and even if I have trouble believing it, I keep trying to until I can again. Stay strong, keep fighting, be well. The journey continues with unexpected twists and turns.