Anxiety and Depression Update

Hello again.

Here’s an update on what I’m feeling today.


I’m feeling less like the world is closing in on me, more like I can and will be able to get through. Reminding myself that feelings are not facts and feelings are temporary really helps.

I had a really great conversation with my mom tonight, which immensely helped my outlook right now.

After sick days and leaving early from work this week, I’m nervous about what my coworkers think. Specifically this one coworker, I’ll call her Jill.

Jill is the one that made quite a few snide and passive-aggressive remarks to me late last year that made me feel really uncomfortable at work. After the bosses had a talk with her, the snide comments almost completely stopped and it was wonderful.

She’s an older woman, and I was told a couple months ago that she’s only a couple years away from being able to retire. I had no idea she was that close to retirement, she ages well.

She’s quite funny actually. Sometimes, when a truck driver pulls up to the warehouse and lays on his horn to get the guys to open the garage door, she’ll say “ope! there’s my date! I better get goin’!” She likes cats and we share funny stories about our cats doing cat things that cat parents laugh about.

So, anyway, Jill seems to keep a watch on everyone at the office. If you leave early or come in late, it seems no one notices but her.

She is one of those people that looks the same, acts the same, does the same exact thing every single day. Works 8 AM to 12 PM, takes a lunch from 12-12:30, then goes home not a minute before or after 4 PM. I know this because I work right next to her and have been for the last year and a half, and it’s always the exact same.

She comes in, turns the phones on, checks the fax machine, sets her bags down, turns on her radio, gets her yogurt and fruit and oatmeal breakfast, gets coffee, and sits down to get to work. Every single day.

I WISH I could be like that. I wish I could be so in-sync with my routine that people know what my routine is after working with me for over a year. But, no one knows my routine, because I can’t seem to get in-sync with a regular schedule.

For one, I travel at least once a month for my job. Whether it’s on a plane to another state, or downtown Chicago, I’m out of the office traveling here and there. Then, I switched my schedule so I work from home on Friday’s. Then, I’m usually in the office between 8-9 AM and I usually leave between 4-4:30 PM. There have been weeks where I was able to get there at the same time and leave at the same time every day, but that’s not how my routine works. She drives, I take public transportation. Sometimes I’m at work at 6 or 7 AM because I can’t sleep and I just say fuck it and go into the office, and then I leave at 3:30 because my 8 hours done been worked. Sometimes, I have to clean up cat poop and then I miss the ‘good train’ (the one that gets to the station right before the bus leaves so I can hop on it real quick) and then have to wait at the station where I transfer to a bus for 20 minutes. Also, I do several hours of work during the evening or over the weekend to make up for lost time during transportation, appointments, etc.

Anyyyywayyyyy… so yeah, Jill, she seems to keep tabs on everyone. Especially me for some reason.

Marketing girl has an even stranger schedule. She comes in at 8:30 and leaves at like 3-3:30 and then doesn’t work on Friday’s. I don’t understand her schedule or how she gets 40 hours in, but it’s none of my business and I trust she’s got something worked out with the bosses to accommodate for her work-life balance. I wish Jill would realize my schedule is none of her business.

Now, this week I was barely in the office. I just couldn’t do it. I can’t explain why, I just was overcome with severe, almost insurmountable anxiety, to the point where I had a hard time putting sentences together, looking people in the eye, etc.

Tomorrow is Friday, my work from home day. So I will see her next on Monday, and I plan on getting back to work on Monday full swing.

I know what I’m doing here; I’m exhibiting several cognitive distortions, specifically jumping to conclusions, about what she’s thinking and feeling. I know I’m doing this and I’m worrying about something that will likely not even happen, so why am I spending so much time and energy thinking about it?

Side-note: learning about and keeping in mind the common cognitive distortions is really helpful in everyday situations for anyone – whether you struggle with mental health or not. Click on the link above to learn more.

I do need to learn how to better deal with coworkers wondering why I’m leaving early, not in the office on Friday’s, etc.

So, I Google “how to tell coworkers about depression,” and of course, I find a few good articles that I’m going to quote.

I like this one from this article: “I have appointments during office hours each week that I can’t schedule for evenings or weekends, so [your employer] and I have set up a work schedule that lets me make up the time.”

I mean, my bosses know I’m a little ‘off my rocker,’ I have to believe the other people in the office know I struggle with mental health, because I’ve hinted at it in the past when Jill passive-aggressively commented “I’ve never met someone with so many appointments!” Well, Jill, I do have a lot of appointments, but I need to stay sane, soo….. I believe I said something along the lines of “yeah, I need to go to therapy to be able to work,” or something like that.

Did you know that: “Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability among adults 15 to 44 years old, affecting nearly 7% of adults in the U.S. each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And depression causes an estimated $23 billion in lost productivity in the U.S. each year.” Hmph. Interesting fact.

Anyway, I don’t think my depression is a “disability” per say, and I don’t think I need or deserve “special treatment” because of it, but I’m struggling with how much to tell my employer about it. How much accommodation do I need, and how much can I reasonably expect? They’ve already done so much for me… kept my job for me when I went to jail, allowed me to adjust and readjust and re-readjust my schedule… how much more can I ask for?

I’ve hinted at “mental health days” to my boss versus taking a “sick day” and they are not buying it. She says “when you’re sick you take a sick day. When you’re not sick but don’t want to come in the office you take a vacation day.”

Ugh…. I’m not planning on taking anymore days off anytime soon because I’m actually really looking forward to getting back to the office and the routine that going to the office provides, but.. it’s not like I don’t want to come in to the office, I just… I guess… yeah, I don’t want to.


Furthering my research on depression and anxiety and mental health in the workplace…

Here’s another good article about depression and anxiety in the workplace. It says:

You have difficulty concentrating on work, are exhausted because you can’t sleep, feel on the verge of tears all the time, are nervous and overwhelmed, or some combination of the above.

But that’s just part of work and the daily grind, right? Better learn to suck it up and deal, right?

Not exactly. There’s a definite difference between regular ol’ stress at work—a big presentation, a client’s disapproval, a heavy workload—and serious depression and anxiety.

Definitely a difference between working on a big project and the anxiety that causes versus my ‘other’ anxiety that is nonsensical and doesn’t seem to have a root cause. I actually thrive in the stress that a big project has… I like getting down to work and being able to focus on that project for several hours at a time. I’ve tried to explain this to my employer, like, no, it’s not the project that’s driving me insane, it’s this ‘other’ anxiety and depression that I can’t put my finger on…

The article goes on to suggest:

“Take short breaks during the workday—go for a walk and cry if you feel the need, call a friend or family member, or simply take some time to yourself. It’s also important not to isolate yourself.”

Yes! I started taking a walk around the building, which takes about 2 minutes, every hour or so just to get off my butt, clear my head, and get some fresh air. Often times, I come up with some of my best ideas and solutions on my short walks.

Another article talking about how to tell the bosses about depression.

I’ve told my bosses about being a recovering alcoholic, and I’m hesitant to tell them about the mental health issues now? Like… one would think that owning the identity of a recovering alcoholic is harder than owning the depression and anxiety, but for me, the opposite is true.

I have come to terms, 100%, that I’m a recovering alcoholic and I have no problem telling anyone I meet that I’m in recovery. But telling them that I suffer from depression and anxiety is like… idk… harder than telling someone I am a recovering alcoholic.

Telling people I have depression and anxiety… it’s like, poor me, right? Fuck! I don’t want special treatment or pity or for people to baby me because they think I can’t handle whatever it is… I just want to be normal 😦 Hopefully, this new therapist I’m seeing on Saturday will help me deal.

I drafted this email to my boss… explaining what I’m doing to get my mental health under control… going to therapy, taking meds, talking to friends and family, making plans with friends, etc. etc. What would be the harm in being open and honest? Should I hit send?

I can’t decide. I would feel better if I hit send. But, will it jeopardize her opinion of me as a good, capable, dependable employee?

Just had an idea. I’m not going to hit send. I’m going to go over the email with my new therapist and then decide. Good decision, Judith.

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Judith

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ANXIETY & DEPRESSION

Fellow WordPressers,

Thank you for tuning in to tonight’s edition of “What the fuck is going on in Judith’s head.”

Seriously, though.

My mom is going to read this, and ask “why didn’t you tell me about this?! Why didn’t you call me?!” and the thing is… sometimes I can’t put it into words so I just don’t talk about it until I can finally communicate what it is I’m feeling, and that moment I can communicate it, I do. And right now, this is that moment. This is the moment it all comes out in word vomit gibberish, and I’m sorry for holding it in for the few days I couldn’t say what it was that was bothering me.

I’m so awake on a weeknight, at 1 AM, feeling like I’m walking through mud, and feeling like I’m just… UGHGHGHGHHHHH.

I posted on Sunday that I finally feel back on my game after the holiday’s. Well, that feeling was fleeting and temporary. I now feel like I’m on the verge of a mental breakdown.

Here’s the thing… I have not been drinking. I have been taking my medications as prescribed. Doctor added a new medication, one I’ve been on several years ago, but when I was on it several years ago I was also drunk as fuck so it had no effect on me, and if it did, I was out of my mind anyway so I don’t know if or what side effects I actually experienced.

I don’t know how much of what I’m feeling right now can be attributed to this tiny tiny pill, smaller than a lentil, that I have been prescribed. The medication I’ve been prescribed is for bi-polar. Bi-polar has come up with many doctors I’ve seen, several times, so I’m starting to believe the bi-polar thing has some validity.

On top of this, I apparently have this weird virus that can’t be necessarily diagnosed, but here’s what it’s doing to me: complete, utter exhaustion; bone, joint, and muscle pain; GI issues (very unpleasant); instant and unpredictable nausea; headache and chills; sneezing and coughing; sensitive to light… but I don’t have a fever and apparently not contagious. Bottom line, I feel like shit. and my anxiety is like screaming at me and beating me up.

I am noticing some irrational fears of mine becoming a problem. Examples: irrational fear of being fired, irrational fear of being attacked or mauled on the street, irrational fear of taking public transportation (which I do every single day, multiple times), fear of people thinking I’m drunk or high because my anxiety is literally tweaking me out, fear of my downstairs neighbor coming up here and beating me up because he bangs on the ceiling/floor at all hours of the day multiple times a day. Like… what the hell?!? WHY?

My doctor brought up that I might have fibromyalgia. I don’t know how I feel about that. I look up the symptoms and yes, I have all of the symptoms. But, like, anyone can have all those symptoms. I do not mean ANY offense to anyone currently suffering with fibro, but part of me thinks fibro is a ‘catch-all’ for anyone experiencing pain, fatigue, memory and mood issues. But like, yeah, I have all that shit.

I posted on Sunday I’m having issues with memory. Remembering what I just ate, remembering what I was just in the middle of doing, remembering where I’m going.

I have contacted 2 places that are covered by my insurance to start some fucking psychotherapy. I feel like I’m losing my mind. Tomorrow I’m going to call them again and try to get in right away because I can’t handle the internal struggle I’m going through right now.

I have no idea how I’m going to pay for the therapy I need, but I will figure it out, I’ve done it before and I can do it again. I hate that I have to think about the cost of therapy.

On the one hand, I tell myself “Judith, you are smart. You are very resourceful. You’ve gotten through some tough shit and you are not going crazy,” and then the other part of my brain is like, “you psycho crazy need help now.” I’m trying to reason with myself and I’m trying everything I can to put my mind at ease but it feels like there are two sides of me fighting each other for control over my mood, feelings, rationale, everything.

I don’t feel like drinking. I know drinking would not do any good and when I wake up I would hate myself for undoing almost 21 months of sobriety and everything I’ve accomplished along the way, and these problems would still be there, and be worse, than before I had a drink.

I don’t feel like doing anything I normally like doing. I’ve reached out to friends saying “hey I feel really depressed right now,” and they’ve texted back with words of encouragement. I just feel like a hot mess, but then I survey my apartment and all the things in it that I’ve gotten back or have because of my recovery, and I realize the hot mess is all up in my head.

Some people say to me, “it’s all in your head,”… like, yes it is all in my head, but I’m the one that has to put one foot in front of the other to keep on truckin’, and right now, I actually have to say to myself, “put your foot in front of the other, then the other, there we go…” I have to think about walking.

I don’t want to scare anyone, I just need to document exactly what I’m feeling at this moment because when I do finally feel better, this will all have felt like it wasn’t that big of a deal and I need to be able to put into words what is/was going on, right now, when I feel like I’m falling apart.

I feel like I’m fraying at the edges, losing pieces of my sanity along the way. I don’t know what started this, I don’t know how to put a stop to it. The best way I know how is to talk about it, journal about it, try to go about my daily life, and reach out for professional help.

I’m thinking about the saying “feelings are not facts,” and that is SO easy to say but not easy to apply in situations like this. All the quotes and things I’m about to reflect on originate from this article by Psychology Today.

Upon occasion, every now and then, some people get a feeling that isn’t real. They may think that it’s real, it may feel very real, and they may truly believe it’s real, but it’s just a feeling. It is wise to remember that, as important as emotions are, feelings aren’t facts.

No, my irrational fears are not facts. The feeling like I’m fraying at the edges is not true. It is a temporary feeling and soon I will feel like I am doing well and keeping it together enough that I resemble a normal 27-year-old adult. I’m copying and pasting some good words that I need to remember and possibly even meditate on right now…

The best thing to do when you are feeling like something isn’t right is to check it out. Don’t sit on it, push it down, or try to ignore it; your emotions won’t cooperate. Sometimes the only way out is by getting into the feelings and first looking at how you might be creating them. Combine that with some gentle (not accusatory) questioning of the person or people who you believe may be the cause. Look for truth and be open to see how it’s possible that your feelings may not be accurate. It also can be helpful to get an outside perspective from someone you trust.


This process isn’t an easy one, but it is far less painful than living your life feeling like your world is crashing in on you.

Just because I feel like crap, and I feel like I’m going crazy right now, doesn’t mean that I actually am.

I have done some productive things in the last few days. I got a cat sitter for the kitties when I’m gone to Las Vegas. I did my laundry. I cleaned up my apartment. I’ve gotten a little bit of work done. I paid my bills.

I can’t understand why I feel like physical, emotional, and mental SHIT. I don’t understand how I can go from being a productive member of society to a bum seemingly overnight. In a few days, I went from feeling relatively OK to feeling like I just can’t do life.

It’s a struggle to get myself in the shower right now. I don’t feel like taking off the shield that is my clothes. I don’t feel like getting wet and cold. Then I do and I’m cringing the whole time. Why is this so hard?!

I looked in the mirror and I barely recognized myself. I don’t look like me right now. I don’t feel like me right now.


So here I am, it’s almost 2 AM, and I’m googling “crippling anxiety.” I found this blog, written by Fiona Thomas, about living with anxiety and depression, and accepting it. I’m pre-ordering her book, “Depression in a Digital Age: The Highs and Lows of Perfectionism.”

I’m not necessarily awkward in social situations, but when I get this awful anxiety, I can be. I like this quote:

I’ve spent years giving myself a hard time for not coping well in social situations, but I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m an anxious introvert who needs plenty of alone time to recharge my batteries. Learning to forgive myself and show myself a little more compassion is proof that I’ve finally overcome the demons that contributed to my anxiety, leaving me content and ready for the future.

https://www.healthline.com/health/crippling-anxiety#7

Fiona says in her blog:

On the good days, I make it to the shore and I’m climbing up that hill at a mile a minute. My motivation is unstoppable and I honestly question if I was ever really depressed at all (oh, hi there imposter syndrome).

https://fionalikestoblog.com/2017/10/10/depression-recovery-relapse-feels-painfully-good/

Yes yes yes. On the good days, I’m like the queen of productivity, and question if I was every really depressed at all, which is why I feel it is important to write this blog post right now.

When everyday tasks such as showering become overwhelming I know it’s time for a sick day, but the thought of having to admit this to my employer just adds fuel to a fire which is already burning out of control.

https://metro.co.uk/2017/10/09/why-i-refuse-to-tell-new-employers-about-my-mental-illness-6979682/

I get so much anxiety over taking time off/sick days. It’s rooted in my irrational fear of being fired on the spot.

If I’m feeling good, I feel great. And I’m sure people begin to question whether my depression and anxiety is even real. Then, when I feel bad, like now, I feel like I’m complaining and being dramatic. But I’m not. I just don’t feel right.

A comment on her blog post says this:

For those of us with mental illness, it can be such an exhausting task to make yourself do the things you know you should do, when it would be so easy to just let go and give in to temptation of sinking back to the depths of your sickness.

More quotes and things to remember right now…

Some depression triggers can be avoided, but others can’t. “A person has to learn how to move through the event or the experience as best as possible,” Serani says. If you’re starting to feel stressed or overwhelmed by something in your life, Serani suggests taking these steps:


Get through it with positive talk. Tell yourself, “This is temporary,” “I’ll feel better soon,” or “I’m just experiencing a bad moment, I’m not stuck in a bad life.”
Nurture yourself. “It’s essential to feed your senses when triggers loom in your life,” Serani says. “Listen to music, or savor a cup of tea, soup, or coffee.” You might stimulate your sense of smell with soothing peppermint, florals, or woodsy scents with aromatherapy, candles, or a walk outside. Taking a warm bath can also be soothing.
Reach out to others. “It’s easy to want to be alone when stress hits, but isolating yourself from people can worsen depression triggers,” Serani says. “Let others know you’re struggling and talk about it openly as much as you can.” Consider joining a depression support group to be able to talk to other people who also understand what it’s like to live with depression.


If you suspect you’re experiencing a new bout of depression, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or therapist. Remember that depression relapse is common and nothing to be ashamed of.

https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression-health-well-being/factors-can-trigger-depression-relapse/

Ahh the positive self-talk. I am totally not doing that right now. I am reaching out to others, I’m trying as best I can to talk about it. Maybe the therapy places I’ve reached out to have depression support groups.

Anyway, I should try and calm my mind and head to bed to get to work tomorrow.

I’m scared to actually hit “publish” on this post because I’m not looking forward to bringing all of this to reality. But, here it goes…

It’s been a while! Happy New Year!

Hello Everyone!

It’s been over a month since I’ve written a blog post on here. You know how it goes… holidays, new years, birthday (for me)… etc etc.

So, what’s life been like for the last month? I hit 20 months sober on January 9, so that’s pretty neat.

This will be a lot of me rambling about what’s bouncing around in my head tonight.

I’ve been BUSY, as I’m sure we all have. In one of my last posts, I made reference to starting a business for the greeting cards/postcards I was making. Well, I did that. I have my own website, Etsy shop, and I’ve been attending art events & pop-ups to sell my cards. So far, so good. I know I probably can’t make a living off selling $5 handmade cards, but it’s really fun and has become my main coping skill as of late.

If you are interested in the cards, let me know, and I will direct you to where you can find them. A few examples below:

So yeah, I’ve been staying very very busy with that. I love collecting materials to collage with, I have fun listening to podcasts, music, and watching shows while making the cards, and it’s been a great source of entertainment because friends have been busy with their families and such, as have I.

It’s fun to laugh at my own puns, jokes, and thoughts as I put a card together. It’s even better to see people laugh at the cards I make. Besides art shows, I haven’t sold to anyone besides friends and family and when I make my first online sale to someone I don’t know I am going to SCREAM and CELEBRATE!!!


This year, it felt like getting back into the daily routine of life after the holidays was a lot more difficult than in years past. I can’t be sure why, but finally, going into this week, I feel back on my game.

Last week, I was so distracted and all over the place. I lost my Ventra transit card, I left my umbrella at work and then it rained, I couldn’t focus at work, my apartment was a disaster, I felt so scattered. I couldn’t remember what I just ate or what I just did. I would walk into the kitchen like “why am I in here?” Not just the usual forgetfulness that everyone has, it felt worse than that. It led to a lot of feelings of anxiety and frankly, depression.

The after-holiday lull is a real thing. Even if it is just back to reality, as this article suggests, it still sucks. The article makes a good point, saying:

“Your blues, like the excitement that preceded them, are temporary and natural, so you needn’t fight bad feelings or cling to good ones. The best way to deal with this is to examine your ever-changing states—without judgement—knowing feelings and circumstances will inevitably shift again, and practice celebrating real life with all its many quirks.”

Ahh yes, practicing acceptance. Good reminder after the celebration of Christmas, my birthday (it was on Dec 30, I turned 27), and New Year’s.

Most of all I think I’m just, like, disappointed there is no real time off work until Memorial Day (late May, for those not in the US). A whole 5 months without a paid holiday… feels like soooo long. Which reminds me, I need to plan out my vacation days for the year, because 10 days of vacation goes by really fucking fast when you don’t plan it out.


In other news, I changed my work schedule. Not much, but a little bit. I used to work half-days on Friday’s, now I work from home the entire day on Friday. I am so relieved by this. Going into the office for 5 straight days is exhausting and honestly I don’t know how everyone does it. I don’t know how people go to work for 5 days straight and feel like they’ve had time for anything else but work and sleep.

Monday I’m usually glad to head back to work. Especially after the last 2 weekends, which I’ve spent pretty much by myself. By Sunday at about 5 PM, I get a little restless and ready to put some real clothes on, put on some make up, and go somewhere. Tuesday is usually fine, Wednesday is fine. But by Thursday morning I’m like… UGH.

By Thursday, things have piled up that I need to do. Go get groceries, do my laundry, clean up & do the dishes, pay bills & budget, go to appointments, etc etc. I get anxious leaving my apartment when things aren’t cleaned up. It sounds silly, but I live in a small space with 2 cats, and when something simple is out of order, like my bed not being made, it totally makes a difference in how this place feels.

Anyway, with working at home on Friday, I can get up and start work at 6 AM or whenever I roll out of bed. I can take a break to go to appointments and pay bills. Or, I can put in my 8 hours and get it all done by 2 PM. I love the flexibility my job offers, and I’m so happy they ‘keep up with the times’ by allowing me to work from home for 1 day a week.

My boss has offered that I just pick a day a week to work from home for the last year, so I finally took the offer and just picked Friday’s.


Last night, I watched the movie Beautiful Boy. It’s based off a book, written by David Sheff, the father of Nic Sheff who wrote Tweak. Here’s the links for the books:

Anyway, I read the book a long time ago, before my addiction got out of control and a very real thing for me and my family. Watching the movie, now, after over 20 months sober…. holy shit.

I cried, no, I sobbed, several times. The things that Nic would say in the movie to his Dad, to his parents in general, the manipulation he used to get them to enable him… the way his Dad finally cut him off, the way his Dad did research to try and understand what his son was going through… it was all so REAL.

The movie was incredibly well made. I tend to be skeptical of movies that have something to do with addiction, because several movies I’ve seen doesn’t portray the heartbreaking reality of addiction.

I would recommend this movie to anyone, but especially for addicts themselves, to gain a better understanding of what it was like from a parents’ perspective.

I remember reading both of these books in high school, and I was in awe at the power that addiction and mental illness can have on a person. Now that I’ve been there, done that, I KNOW, inside and out, the depths and despair that Nic went through. I feel like I know (though I am not the parent of an addict, and hope and pray I never will be) the struggle of loving a child in active addiction, through what my parents and I have discussed and from reading and watching different things about it.

God… it’s just so fucking sad. So fucking sad. I don’t know what else to say. The movie ended with a quote that said overdose is now the leading cause of death for people under 50 (or something along those lines). How has it come to this?!

I mean… I think I know some reasons for why it has come to the leading cause of death for people under 50… but god damn.


What else?

I don’t know. Just livin’ the dream. New Year New Me? Nah… I like who I am today. My only new year’s resolutions include: not working as much overtime unless absolutely necessary, and trying to think through shit before I act on it a little more. That’s what I’m going to work on this year.

Big ass trade show coming up. I’ll be in Vegas for almost a whole week. I’m part excited to see Vegas for the first time, and I hear there’s some great AA meetings out there, and I’m part dreading being gone from my cats and my apartment and my city for that long.

Yes, I said that… AA meetings in Vegas. Why not? I’ll give it a shot.

WFS is still goin’ strong. I’m starting a bi-weekly Tuesday night meeting for people who can’t make it to the weekly Saturday noon meeting. I’ve gotten quite a bit of interest in it… we’ll see who comes!

Volleyball is starting soon… I just had to confirm I will be available to coach the spring season. This is the last season I’ll coach these girls before they’re off to high school and (most of them) trying out for their high school volleyball teams. I’m thinking I’m going to take a break from coaching after this season. I will have been a coach for 2 years after this season, and I’m feeling like I could use a break… but I’m going to miss the extra cash it provides… IDK we’ll see how I feel come fall season.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading 🙂

Have a fabulous week!

Judith


Weekend Update for December 1 & 2, 2018

Hi Everyone. I want to write about several things tonight. But first, there is something that is heavy on my heart.

I’m saddened recently by the news that the life expectancy in the US has dropped for the nth year in a row due largely to suicide and drug overdoses.

See this NY Times article for reference to quotes I’m about to use.

At what point to we stop stigmatizing mental health and drug & alcohol addiction and realize, THESE PEOPLE NEED HELP. Our friends, our family, our coworkers, our coworkers family’s, the people we pass on the street; they MIGHT be struggling, and if they are, we need to HELP them with empathy, compassion, and love.

Not stigma, tough love, or ignorance; not ostracizing them or kicking them to the curb like some hopelessly gone degenerate.

The thing that I struggle with, is that these deaths are avoidable, treatable. As this Dr. quoted in the article says, “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.” People do not have to die from drug overdoses and suicides.

People are experiencing increasing hopelessness, driven by “financial struggles, a widening income gap and divisive politics.” Like… What the actual FUCK! Government and society CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS SHIT.

Another thing, this report is likely not accurate. The NY Times says “The CDC figures are based mainly on a review of 2017 death certificates,” and we know that death certificates are not 100% accurate when showing the cause of death (according to NPR, and this article).

Lastly, this is all about drug overdoses. What about deaths related to alcohol? Accidental injury,  cirrhosis, heart disease, cancer… all of these things could be attributed to alcohol if we drilled down to it. Not to mention suicides.

It pains me that this is the reality we are faced with today.

When I was at the grocery store this evening, I am 99.9999% sure I walked in on a woman shooting up. Here’s what happened:

I walked in to go to the bathroom and I noticed there was someone in a stall. I noticed a few odd items outside of the stall. A take-out container, a water bottle cap, and a lighter. Not typically things you would have in a bathroom. Knowing from experience, I knew these items are things that are used for drugs. Anyone else walking into that bathroom might have thought someone left this, but I knew it belonged to the lady in the stall immediately, and I knew it was for drugs. I could sense it… I have a 6th sense of detecting when someone is using drugs, on drugs, drinking, etc because of what I’ve been through.

I do my business and come out to wash me hands. She comes out of the stall, grabs the items outside of the stall, and begins to wash her hands and rinse out the container, the cap. I try to mind my own business, but I see a syringe fall out of her jacket sleeve into the sink. Confirmed – I have walked in on someone shooting up.

I look away, I busy my hands with the paper towels. I make eye contact with her through the mirrors and I see that familiar loneliness and resigned look I had in my own eyes during my drinking days.

Sometimes, I will say to someone “are you ok?” just to check in and let them know that someone, a stranger, sees them. But, this time I didn’t. I just walked out and went home.

GOD DAMNIT… Should I have said “look, I don’t know you, I don’t know what you’ve been through, but you do not have to live this way. There is another way, there is a way out,”? I feel for her, I know what it is like. While I never shoot anything, I know the emotion, physical, mental, spiritual pain that addiction causes. I wanted to help her… but for some reason, I just didn’t say anything, this time. I don’t know why, my heart was just telling me to let her be.



Next on my things I want to write about tonight… and on a lighter note… Christmas.

The last several years, I had NO money whatsoever to buy gifts for people I care about.

This year, I have a little extra cash to buy friends and family gifts, and I am so excited to GIVE this season.

I put a lot of thought into what I am giving my friends and family, and then I made a bunch of collaged Christmas/holiday cards for everyone on my list.

Here’s what the collaged Holiday cards look like:


Non-Holiday

I cannot wait to give the gifts, that I started giving early!

I gave my friend K, who works at an animal shelter because she loves working with animals but hates the job that she’s doing there a mug that says “I just want to drink coffee, take naps, and save animals.” I couldn’t NOT get that for her!

I got the boss lady a tacky mug that says, “Dear Boss Lady, thank you for being my boss. If I had another boss, I would punch her in the face and go find you,” and then a tasteful gift of a picture of her & I at a tradeshow earlier this year.

I got the boss man a tacky journal that says “My favorite employee gave me this journal” but I have to tell him the story behind it. Because… this journal comes… and it is so cheap and tacky that I can’t give it to him without an explanation.

First, I didn’t notice the journal says “she deserves a raise!” at the bottom. Like I just got a raise, I can’t make this comment, even with sarcasm. Then, and the worst part, is that the journal has little quotes in it that are suggestions for a boss to say to their employees to encourage them, like “It’s clear how much pride you take in your work.” Like this journal is SO bad-tacky that I can’t even give it to him as a joke.

I returned it on Amazon, but it was one of those returns that was refunded but you don’t actually have to return the item. So, I’m still going to give it to him, but with the preface of the story behind it. I hope he at least appreciates the story LOL.

I can’t tell you what I got my Mom and Dad because they read my blog… but just know… the gifts I got you guys are so perfect for your situation of parking your cars outside of the garage, you’re gonna love em.

I can’t tell you what I got my Aunt because she also reads this blog, but I hope she has a little extra wall space for an 8×10 frame 🙂

The other Aunt I can tell you about because she does not read my blog (for various reasons… it was my choice to not share this with her). She is a boss lady at the cosmetic company she works for and she OWNS it. So I got her a gold-foiled print that says “BOSS LADY” in fancy letters and I’m going to frame it for her so she can put it in her office.

For my cousins… I printed pictures we took earlier this year (actually at my 1-year anniversary/Mother’s Day party) and I’m going to frame those, too.

My Grandma and Grandpa are getting collaged cards with a note. I have no idea what to buy a 79-year-old man and an 87-year-old woman (I actually don’t know with confidence their actual age but I think they are that old).

I even got Marketing Girl something. For all of my coworkers, I got 4×4 pictures that we took during that company photo day printed of us, and I’m going to frame those.

I got all my friends a coffee mug that reminds me of them, and a little something else that I’ve noticed they like. For example, one friend came over and commented on my letter board, so I got her one of her own.

Even the kitties got presents. I got them a scratching post (finally) and a window hammock.


And for myself, I got this “Be Courageous” sweatshirt/sweater:

Ahh.. the season of giving. I am truly enjoying the fact that I can give this year. YAY PRESENTS!!!



I started an Etsy shop to sell the antler chandeliers that our friend and neighbor up-north (by my parents new house) makes. His dog finds the antlers, he crafts the chandeliers. They are quite overpriced, looking at the other antler chandeliers that people are putting on Etsy, but I’m just gonna leave them the way they are for now, until I can curate some more authentic antler decor to draw people into the shop.

I think selling on Etsy will be my new hobby. You know those collaged cards I was talking about that I am making for everyone this year? Well, I’m thinking, they are so cute and fun that I might sell a pack of 12 for a couple bucks on Etsy. It only costs $.20 to post a listing, it takes me a few minutes to make, so even if I make $5 on the pack of 12, I’ve just bought myself the coffee I drank while I was doing it.

If you’re interested in seeing the existing Authentic Antler Shop, click here.

Stay tuned for the new shop of collaged greeting cards I guess LOL!


Anyway, take care of yourselves this Holiday season.

Have a fabulous weekend & BE COURAGEOUS!

Sincerely,

Judith

Fun Facts about Judith

  1. I buy a bag of ice every other day, if not every day. I love ice cold drinks.
  2. I always have good scents… whether it be from a candle, a wax warmer, or a diffuser.
  3. I rush home to watch The Nightly News with Lester Holt.
  4. I cried when Jon Stewart left The Daily Show.
  5. I can rarely sit long enough to make it through a movie.
  6. I am sometimes a night owl, but almost always a morning person.
  7. I make lists. All. The. Time.
  8. When I get in the mood to craft or collage, I can go at it for hours. But then I won’t feel like doing it for months at a time.
  9. I truly enjoy being alone, except when I’m lonely.
  10. I had a pug named Mikey growing up, and Mikey is a legend. When I get together with my family, we almost always talk about something Mikey did.
  11. I also had a black lab named Cleo growing up, and we often share stories about him, too. He was a loveable ass hole.
  12. I want to be friends with everyone until I just want to go home and be by myself.
  13. I have a love-hate relationship with traveling right now.
  14. BLTs are my favorite sandwich.
  15. I worked at Jimmy John’s for 5 years, throughout college and as a part-time job afterward.
  16. I HATE overhead lights with a fucking passion.
  17. I love miniature things and oversized things, but not normal size things. Normal size things are OK.
  18. I eat a lot late at night, right before bed, and I’m trying to break that habit but it’s a habit I developed after I stopped drinking.
  19. I don’t typically drink coffee on the weekends.
  20. I generally don’t set alarms in the morning, I seem to have lucked out with an internal clock that wakes me up when it’s time.
  21. Even when I’m wearing pajamas, I like to match.
  22. I used to think I was Rebulican (I mean… in my defense, Republicans weren’t as bad in the late 90s, early 2000s, when my younger self was forming a political opinion.)
  23. When I go on a date, I immediately envision myself married to that person. I can’t help but think 5 years ahead.
  24. My first job was as a camp counselor at a Christian youth camp. I can’t believe at 18 years old I was entrusted with 24 would-be 3rd graders.
  25. I can’t think of a 25th fun fact right now. LOL.

 

More to come as I think of them.

 

What are some fun facts about you?

 

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Judith

Thoughts for November 19, 2018

First – thank you to the several people who liked and commented on my recent posts! The whole reason I started this blog was to 1). get it out of my head and on to “paper”, and 2.) Show people that recovery is possible, even when it seems like it’s sooo not possible. I am always available to my readers for support. Please reach out if you need. I am here for you. You are not alone.

Secondly, I am feeling that itching anxiety again… I think it’s because I am leaving home to go to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving.


In the last week or so, my kittens have been so naughty. Digging, biting, chewing, unraveling the toilet paper, eating anything and everything, scratching. I think it’s because they’re bored and mad at me for leaving. And I have to leave them again.

I have so many toys for them to play with, and I put them in their kitty toy box every morning and every night. I know they play with them day and night because I always find them scattered about my apartment when I get up or get home. So I know they play with their toys to keep them entertained.

I have a small cat tree, it’s really all I can fit and afford at this time. I know they play with that, too, because it’s often shifted from it’s original position.

I don’t know how else to keep them entertained while I’m gone. I got 2 kittens so they can keep each other company, because I know there’s days I’m gone for 12+ hours and times when I have to leave for a day or three at a time.

I hope I can take them home for Christmas because I really don’t want to leave them home alone for a third time in 6 weeks.

I know I sound ridiculous, like a crazy cat lady. Well, I am a crazy cat lady. My kittens keep me company all the time and yeah, they mean a lot to me, OK!? LOL


I literally get this itching sensation… my nose, my eyes, my eyelids, my eyebrows… my hands… like my entire face itches when I’m about to leave town.

When I was in South Carolina with Kathy, we were talking about being an ‘easy’ traveler. I used to be an easy traveler… I had literally no problem leaving the country for 6 months to study abroad, and while I was there, going to a different country every weekend. I grew up going ‘up north’ almost every weekend. I can’t remember a time I had so much anxiety about leaving home.

Things have changed, though. I now get motion sick quite easily. The type of motion sickness that makes me feel like I have a headache right behind my eyeballs and like I have to dry heave.

I don’t have alcohol to comfort me and keep me company when I’m on a plane or on a train.

Also, this is the most permanent home I’ve had since I left for college in 2010. Up until now, I always thought about my next move… my next apartment, the next city, the next job, the next best friend, the next boyfriend, what I wanted my life to look like next, wherever and whatever ‘next’ meant. Now I feel relatively settled and I’m not thinking about my next move, therefore feeling more, idk, whole at home. I guess I get fairly homesick when I leave my apartment and my city now. It’s like I feel a certain type of ownership over where I live now and the city I live in. I don’t think I’ve ever really felt that. In fact, I know I’ve never felt that.

In the past, I knew all my ‘locations’ were temporary. The home I grew up in was temporary, because I always planned on going to college. The closer I got to leaving for college, the more temporary it became. I hated the town I grew up in, I never felt totally and 100% comfortable there, I never felt like I could really be my true, ‘weird’ self (I was made fun of for being ‘weird’, whatever that meant).

When I went to college, I knew that town was temporary, too. The job market at the time (2010 – 2014) was not good, and it didn’t seem like the town I went to college in was going to be hiring fresh college grads anytime soon. So I knew I would have to look elsewhere for employment after college. I didn’t want to stay in the town I went to college in because of all the times I made an absolute ass of myself while drunk, and I was fearful that would come back to haunt me.

When I moved to Milwaukee… I’m not sure why, but I also knew that was temporary. I wasn’t really making meaningful friendships, I didn’t feel like I fit in… it seemed everyone my age in Milwaukee went to UW-Milwaukee and formed their friend-groups there, leaving no room for the outsiders. That’s exactly what I felt like the whole time in Milwaukee, an outsider. When I became physically dependent on alcohol, while living in Milwaukee, I knew I had to get out of that town. I knew I would not live to see the age of 30 if I continued living in Milwaukee. And again, I was scared of all the times I made an ass of myself while compeletely and helplessly wasted.

Then came several more small towns; I was brought to those small towns by rehabs and sober living houses. But, because I wasn’t totally committed to my recovery at the time, I still had the feeling of “this is not where I belong.”

After moving back home after the big-ass relapse, I felt SO alone, back in the hometown of no opportunity, low paying jobs, and literally 1 friend. Living with my parents was obviously temporary, but I had no idea what my next step was… I had no idea where to go or what to do next, it was all so temporary.

Then, finally, I was brought to Chicago. Not by choice, but because I had to find another sober living, someplace I would have an opportunity to get better, make friends, continue treatment, and get a job, eventually.

I felt like I could finally take a deep breath and relax when I moved to Chicago. I immediately felt like I fit in, weirdness and all. I felt like I could finally be myself. I felt like I was finally HOME. I no longer wanted to continue the wandering and endless search of a place to call home, I wanted to actually stay.

Chicago is my home, my safe place, where I’m comfortable. Where I have friends, a job, a job I don’t want to leave. I have tools and resources here. I repeat, I actually want to STAY.

I feel like I can finally plant my feet and stop running from whatever it was that I’ve been running from ever since I can remember.

All of Chicago has happened by chance. I never thought about living in Chicago when I was younger or in college. Sober living happened by chance, my job happened by chance, some of my good friends, like Kyle, have happened by chance.

Anyway, I get this itching and niggling and annoying anxiety when I leave.

Why, though? I am going home to be with my family for Thanksgiving. I am going home to be with them, especially because I couldn’t be with them last year due to being in jail.

My next trip for work will be super short. It’s only 1 night in Washington state, and while it’s a short trip, it’s going to take a LOT out of me. The flights are like 5.5 hours each way. I fly out early Wednesday morning, and with the time change, I’ll be at the customer’s office by 1:30, which would be 4:30 my time. We will again be doing training sessions, and then the next day is the ‘manager’s meeting,’ and I fly out at like 4 PM, getting home at like 10ish. Kathy goes, “you can work from home that next day since you’ll be getting home late.” Like, YEAH I’m going to work from home that Friday, I’m going to be EXHAUSTED from that trip.

After that, it’s home for Christmas. Again, I shouldn’t have such a hold-up about going to visit my FAMILY, who I am very close to and love dearly, for the holidays. Ugh.

It is what it is, I’m sure I’ll enjoy the time with my family thoroughly. Idk… the only thing I know how try and relieve this anxiety I’m feeling is to blog and stay busy, which is what I’m going to do.


I’m really hoping that I can become an ‘easy’ traveler soon, or at least an easier traveler.

At the end of the day, there are so many things I can do to help relieve the itching anxiety, but there’s only ONE thing I can’t do, and that’s drink. So I have plenty of options when it comes to dealing with what I’m feeling.

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Judith