Life · mental health · Uncategorized

Finding a Bright Spot (Or, a black-and-white one)

**Trigger warning: Depression, Suicidal Thoughts

In an earlier post I alluded to the fact that this year has been a challenging one. It feels silly to even say that. So many people have been struggling, for one reason or another, that it feels too obvious to even point out. (“Oh, you mean dealing with a pandemic, social unrest, and numerous political monstrosities has been a sucky time for you? No shit, Sherlock.”) So many people have had it worse than I have, too. Hence the reason every time I’ve tried to write the post I deleted it for fear of sounding whiny. It’s good to get things off your chest though, isn’t it? So here goes…

I haven’t shared much about my year, minus a few quarantine tips. Like everyone else, I started off this year hopeful and excited about what lay ahead: vacations booked, cons to attend, stories to write, etc. Then, in March, most things in North Carolina shut down due to the rapid spread of COVID throughout the state. I started working from home most days of the week, only going in to the office when absolutely necessary, and Boyfriend and I had to adjust to sharing the same space 24/7. Not to mention, his daughter was with us half the time, attending school remotely. The house, which was already on the small side, never felt more cramped and uncomfortable. Alas, we tried to make the best of it. Our Spring and Summer trips had to be cancelled. Every convention I had tickets for was postponed or became virtual. My in-person yoga and Pilates classes were cancelled. By the end of the first month, I was stir crazy and bored to tears, not having much to look forward to in the near future. But, we sill tried to make the best of it. By June, little had gotten better. Things were still closed, people were still getting sick, and I hadn’t had social interaction with anyone outside of the house or my team at work. I went from feeling stir-crazy and bored to lonely, to extremely lonely, to super anxious, to depressed. My insomnia went from being an occasional issue to a nightly problem. My appetite decreased and my exercise habits went up (a desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of control over something). I felt myself slipping further and further down into a pit of despair, self-loathing, and hopelessness that I eventually snapped.

Eventually I had to face the uncomfortable truth: I relapsed. Those who struggle with depression and anxiety often struggle with it on and off throughout their lives, like I have. Over the last 15+ years, however, even at my worst, I always knew that it could be worse. I’d seen rock bottom before, but at least I could always say I wasn’t that bad anymore. Until this summer. I found myself staring in the face of a full-blown relapse. Not just with my depression, but with my anxiety and eating disorder, as well. I was losing weight and became so obsessed with food again that meal times literally sent me into panic mode. I had no motivation, no desire to take care of myself, and my brain felt like it was “fuzzy” all the time. On more than one occasion I contacted the suicide hotline, desperate for someone to help me find a reason to keep wanting to live. My medicines had been changed multiple times and my psychiatrist almost checked me into the hospital on two occasions. It was bad. I was as low as I remembered being in the past 15 years. And I didn’t even care.

Fast forward a few months: I am much more stable now, thanks to the countless sessions with my therapist, psychiatrist, and regular doctors. It turns out that some of the medication I had been put on was making me suicidal. It’s a scary and unfortunate thing that happens sometimes. I’m still seeing my therapist, because things aren’t perfect by any means. I still have a lot of shit to work on and really need some less destructive coping mechanisms. I’m still working on my relationship with food and trying to evict my eating disorder. It’s been a slow (and often frustrating) process, but I’m getting there. I wish I could say I was proud of how far I’ve come over the last few months, but I’m not quite there yet. One day at a time.

One good thing has come out of this year that I am grateful for…

Meet Noddy. I adopted Noddy about two months ago and he’s been a huge help in keeping me focused on getting better. It’s been almost two years since my last dog, Beaker, passed away and my therapist told me that it might be time to finally move on. You know, she was right. Noddy is two years old, but he never had a home outside of the shelter, so he’s like a giant puppy. He’s been a lot of work, but we love him and he makes us all laugh. (The cats did not share these same feelings, however, when we brought him home. Fortunately, Merlin has finally warmed up to Noddy and they are slowly becoming friends.) If being forced to go back into therapy is what brought me Noddy, then maybe it’s not the worst year ever, after all.

Life

Goodbye, My Sweet Boy

Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my best friend in the entire world. He would have been 14 years old soon. Words cannot even describe how heartbroken and empty I feel today. At some point I might be able to talk more about it, but right now it’s just too hard. 😢💔

RIP Beaker. You made my life better in so many ways. I love you so much, my sweet boy.

 

Life · mental health

Fits of Gratitude (Pt. 2)

A while back I wrote a post mentioning a few of the things I was grateful for in my life. They were small things, but things that brought me joy, nonetheless. This time of year is always a difficult one for me. With the beginning of the holiday season, I often find myself feeling lonely and in a bit of a funk. This year has been no different. Compounded by some news I received a few weeks ago regarding my dog’s health, as well as my own ever-present health problems, it’s been a struggle to feel the holiday cheer.

So, in an effort to remind myself to be thankful for the little things, here’s Fits of Gratitude, Part 2.

My Animals – There isn’t a single day that goes by that I am not grateful to have Beaker and Merlin in my life. Their companionship, silly antics, and snuggles are there when I need them the most. They give my life purpose and serve as a constant reminder that I am not alone. I adore these two more than anyone/anything else on this planet.

The Bookstore – My home away from home. It’s where I spend my lunch breaks to read or get some writing done. On weekends, I browse and visit friends, both new and familiar, among the stacks. The people who work there know me and always make me feel welcome. There’s always coffee in my hand and the smell of baked goods in the background. I don’t know where I’d spend most my free time if this place didn’t exist.

Books · Life

It’s Monday. How YOU Doin’?

You know what day it is…

tenor

I can’t say that this particular Monday is being very kind to me. I was up half the night feeling ill. It appears that I have some sort of stomach virus or foodborne illness. Yuck.

2018 hasn’t been the best of years for me, health-wise, has it? IS THIS WHAT HAPPENS AS YOU APPROACH 30? If it is, well, maybe I don’t want to do it. Take it back!

Other than being sick and another impending life crisis on the way, I had a pretty good weekend. I got some more writing done. I’ve been making pretty good progress on one of the books I’ve been working on. I mean, I think I am, anyway. It’s progress, anyway, whether “good” or “bad”. I also started another short-story, just for fun. And, of course, there was lots of snuggling going on with these precious little faces:

I’m more than halfway finished with Darker Shade of Magic. It’s so good that I haven’t wanted to put it down! Why didn’t you guys tell me to read it sooner?!

Oh, wait…you did. Several times…

Did you finish reading any books this weekend? What did you read? 

Books · Life

Bookstores and Cat Wizards

Yesterday was the loveliest of days! I took the day off work to take a day trip to Asheville, NC. Asheville is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s home to my favorite independent bookstore, Malaprops, plus tons of fabulous restaurants, antique and vintage stores, shops of all sorts, art galleries, music venues and theaters, breweries, etc. I’ve always wanted to move to Asheville. I hope to make it a reality someday. Just need a bunch of money and a really good plan first…

A few people have asked about Merlin the cat wizard recently, so I thought I’d give you all an update. Merlin has been living with me for 2 months now. I hate to say this, but I don’t think he’s adjusted very well yet. You can see in the following pictures just how miserable he is.

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Snuggles

They fell asleep holding hands and my heart melted all over the place. ❤

I hope you are all having a great day, wherever you are. We could all use more of those in our lives, no?

I’m off to see the wizard.

Life

Battle of the Cat Wizards

Happy Monday! I am super pleased that it’s a holiday and that I don’t have to be at work today. That means there’s more time for reading, writing, and relaxation.

I want to tell you all about the excitement that’s been happening at the house lately. For several months now we’ve gotten periodic visits from a sweet little gray kitty, who we refer to as Gandalf. A few days ago Gandalf showed up to say hello and was surprised to see that there was a new kitty in our window. Merlin was clearly pissed by this other wizard cat’s audacity. He sat in the window for several hours and growled at Gandalf, clearly trying to defend his castle. They’ve been doing this on and off for days now.

It’s an wizard cat showdown and I don’t know who’s going to win. Seriously guys, the suspense is killing me.

Books · Life

Saturday Snuggles

I’m in a little bit of a funk today. I’m not really sure what my problem is, maybe I’ve just been cooped up in the house too much. Or maybe I’m coming down with kangaroo pox. I sure hope it’s not the latter, because I’m not sure if it’ll be covered by my insurance. The boyfriend is currently cooking something that smells like feet and he’s expecting me to eat it later. (We’ll see about that.) Seriously, guys, it’s pretty gross…

Despite my funk, today hasn’t been all that bad though. There have been lots of snuggles with the fur babies. Also, my copy of Cruel Prince finally arrived in the mail! Yay.

How’s your Saturday going? What have you been up to? 

cuddles

(Merlin clearly doesn’t mind my kangaroo pox.)

 

 

 

Life

The Birthday Boy!

Today is Beaker’s 13th birthday! I can’t believe that my little man is so old already. I couldn’t have asked for a better sidekick all these years. I have no idea what I would do without this dog.

In honor of Beaker’s birthday, here are a few pictures of him, being his sleepy and silly little self. (I took the one on the bottom just a few days ago. Obviously, he and Merlin are getting along well.)

Life · Uncategorized

Meet Merlin 


I would like to introduce you guys to my new kitty baby, Merlin. I adopted him this weekend from the Humane Society. (This was the Christmas present from my boyfriend that I hinted at earlier.) He’s 8 months old and I fell in love with him pretty much instantly. His name was Nash, but I’ve decided to call him Merlin instead. 

Yesterday was his first day in his new home. I’d say he’s adjusting well. 😊

Life · Uncategorized

…And to All a Good Night

Greetings! I hope you all had a merry and most enjoyable holiday. Or at least a generic, non-shitty Monday. After all my griping and worrying, I am happy to report that I not only survived Christmas, but I actually managed to have a good time.

I survived both dinners with the boyfriend’s family. Fortunately, no meat was flung in anger, which means that I will probably be invited back next year. (Disclaimer: I call this “fortunate,” but I feel like the only ones who are benefiting here are my boyfriend’s family. Just imagine the story I could have shared with you all if I actually had thrown a rib roast or ham across the room. *sigh* I’ll do better for you guys next time, I promise.)

We opened presents with my boyfriend’s daughter on Christmas Eve. Lots of books and Harry Potter-themed gifts were exchanged at out house. The animals also received presents and lots of treats.

Here’s a shot of Beaker, all worn out from playing with his new toys, and Ash, trying to disguise himself as a present:

One of my favorite gifts I received was from my mother. She took several years worth of home movies and had them converted from VHS tapes onto DVDs for my siblings and I. I watched a few of them last night and really enjoyed myself. It’s nice to be reminded of forgotten times and relive happy childhood memories. There were some nice scenes of me sleeping/farting, taking a bath, and attempting to eat a plastic bag out of the garbage can. I was so much more sophisticated back then. I also learned that when I was 3-4 my voice sounded like that of an 80 year old woman with emphysema. I’m really glad I grew out of that phase. Or maybe I didn’t and everybody has been shielding me from the truth for all these years? (This is bothering me. I feel like I need to investigate further.)

There’s another exciting present that I received from my boyfriend that I can’t wait to share with you guys, but it’s not quite time yet. Anyone want to guess what it is? Hint: No, I didn’t get engaged and I don’t have a bun in the oven. There are brownies in the oven at the moment though, which, to me, is even better than having a bun in your oven.