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- Major depressive downturn over the winter. As usual, I was well into it before I realized it was happening. So that sucked. In good news, my medical support team (primary care + psych meds shrink) is very good, so I wasn't adrift alone and had the resources to deal with it appropriately.

♥ My deeply beloved goddog Indy Anna Jane came to the end of her long and happy life, and is no longer with us. There's a vast empty place in the world and I'll be grieving for her for a long time, but I have the comfort of knowing that she had a wonderful and ridiculously long (for her breed) life and the best sort of peaceful death. Like my friend D says, you want them to have all the good days and none of the bad ones, and that's the great grace of having animal family members. You can spare them the bad days.

+ Came out (still coming out?) of the depressive downturn largely thanks to a HUGE revelation. I have lived with major depressive disorder pretty much as long as I can remember. First major episode at age 12, and I can recall less severe ones as far back as six or seven. The symptoms -- the problems it causes me, the ways it disables me -- have always existed as multiple aspects of a single disease, always occurring simultaneously, peaking and ebbing in synch, as if they were inseparable. For the first time ever, this has changed.

Perhaps the most damaging aspect of depression for me has always been what I've called "paralysis of will." Maybe there's an official name for this, but I've never come across it. The phenomenon reminds me of my uncle who had Parkinson's. He'd talk about the difficulty he had initiating physical action -- taking a first step, for instance -- and how the message "pick up foot and move leg forward" somehow got interrupted between his brain and his body.

This is so very much like what I've experienced with depression, how I've found it extremely difficult and often very nearly impossible to initiate action of any kind, especially changing from doing one thing to doing another.

One of you lovely people (not crediting since I can't remember if it was in a locked post) once linked to this Shakesville blog entry -- There's Good News and Bad News. And Fat News. -- that does a brilliant job of describing this phenomenon. (Also contains discussions of mental illness, doctors, and how they relate to overweight patients. The whole thing is very good.)

This paralysis of will has caused me more grief and done more damage to my personal and professional life than pretty much anything else I can think of. So many times it has been either impossible or so overwhelmingly difficult to take action -- any action, even the simplest, and the more important and meaningful, the harder it got -- and that has caused me to have extremely high rates of absence from work in most of my jobs as well as being incredibly unreliable with everyone close to me.

The HUGE breakthrough: I discovered during this winter's depressive downturn that, apparently thanks to my current medication regime (Pristiq for depression + low dose amitriptyline for pain/depression + Adderall for ADHD and somnolence), I am now much more able to break through the paralysis of will and take action even when the mood aspects of a depressive episode are very bad. (Dr. Shrink says Adderall probably gets the credit for this.)

To put it more succinctly: I can take action even when I don't feel like it. Even when I feel miserable or apathetic or simply utterly shut down. My ability to take action is no longer tied inextricably to mood.

It's life-changing.

So far my focus has been on physical activity -- getting up and getting moving, doing pretty much anything at all (as opposed to my previous almost complete inertia and inactivity).

I'm still wrestling with severe chronic pain problems in knees/hips/too many other body parts to list, and at first all I could do was walk to the mailbox and back every day -- the equivalent of about half a block each way --and even that was very hard and very painful. After five days of that, I was able to walk a full circuit of the little 20-unit mobile home park where I live. After a few days, I increased to twice around. Then up the street to the first telephone pole and back, with increases every few days, telephone pole by telephone pole.

It's been about 2-1/2 months since I started doing this, and I'm up to walking 30 to 40 minutes a day. My pace has gone from 30+ minute miles to just over 20 minutes per mile. Now I get antsy to get out there and walk, and I hate days when the weather is too crappy to do it -- but even on those days I do a couple of sessions on the stationary bike. I'm getting out in the yard occasionally and slowly, gradually, starting to get it into shape after winter and winds wrought their usual havoc, and getting ready to start my veggie container garden soon.

The physical improvements -- many of them, in many aspects -- are great, but the best thing of all is the mood elevation I get from it. This is what as has brought me up out of that ugly depressive downturn. No med changes, just this.

Everything still hurts a lot. I still spend my life dog-paddling in an ocean of pain. But most things hurt a little less than they used to. The worrisome exception is my hips, which hate me a lot, and the pain there is getting worse rather than better. I just got a referral for physical therapy, so we'll see if that can help improve that situation. I've done really well in the past with PT for my knees (fairly severe patellar arthritis), but my hip x-rays show only mild arthritis so I don't really have a definitive diagnosis for what's causing the hip pain.

One obvious cause is weight. I was at ~270 lbs before starting this physical activity thing, and in the 2-1/2 months since then I'm down to 249 (as of this morning) -- which is very nice, since I haven't been trying to lose weight. Food is my active addiction -- I'm great at sobriety, really solid at it, but you can't stop eating and I fail utterly at moderation. If I even think about "dieting" or changing my eating to lose weight, it pushes all the addict buttons; there's no better way to trigger an eating binge. So I don't think about it; it just backfires. However... eating to keep my blood sugar where it belongs (I'm type 2 diabetic) does not push the addict-brain buttons -- thank all things merciful -- so I have been paying good attention to that (without obsessing over it) and enjoying the somewhat reduced cravings for junk and increased appetite for veggies and protein that are apparently one of the side benefits of physical activity. (Really? Bodily wisdom? Me? How unexpected. But welcome.)

So while I'm not trying to lose weight or even thinking about it aside from stepping on the scale once a month or so, I am grateful that there's even a little bit less stress on my hip joints, and if that trend should happen to continue, so much the better.

+ In support of all the above, I have joined the FitBit brigade, and am now wearing a FitBit Surge pretty much 'round the clock and benefiting from the surprisingly potent motivational boost of hitting daily goals and racking up the stats. And the pretty graphs! I'm a sucker for the pretty graphs. Any of y'all doing it? Want to do the FitBit Friends thing, or whatever they call it? You can connect to me through my gmail which is LCBergstrom (at). Or comment or send me an e-mail or a PM with your info an we'll hook up.

Goals going forward: Re-engage fannishly. Comment more. Converse. And I think I'm ready to re-commence podficcing. I need to finish the Sid Project, which is about half done. And I have some dS/C6D things I really want to do, a couple of which are WIPs. I very much want to do the dS/C6D Big Bang this year -- given the above, I think this could finally be the year that I actually complete it -- but I'm leery of signing up. I've failed so many times and I feel like I've let everyone down once (or twice, or three times) too often. I love the community aspect of participating in the BB, but these are all the people I've repeatedly let down. Maybe I'll just record whatever I record, whenever I get to things, and post as they get completed without trying to tie them to any formal event. *waffling*
There are 14 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
lucifuge5: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lucifuge5 at 03:23am on 27/03/2016
Firstly, I'm sorry to hear about Indy. :(

Gaining insight about yourself is great. I'm glad to hear that this revelation has propelled you into becoming more aware of who you are and what you need.

I've failed so many times and I feel like I've let everyone down once (or twice, or three times) too often.

It's been literal years since I've participated, but I'm more than 100% sure that both the mods as well as the community would love to see you participate. Mind you, it's OK if you prefer to do things at your own pace too. It's just that reconnecting to fannish communities via challenge sign-ups can be deeply encouraging and rewarding.
boxofdelights: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] boxofdelights at 05:54am on 27/03/2016
I am very happy to hear from you.
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
posted by [personal profile] j00j at 01:28pm on 27/03/2016
It's good to hear from you!
I'm so sorry to hear about Indy. But yeah, we had a similar thing with my beloved greyhound-- he lived a long life for his breed (13 years!) and we were able to spare him most of the bad days. It's lucky. Hugs.
I'm really glad to hear that you've got a meds combination that lets you do more. That's awesome!
isis: (don't leave my fandom!)
posted by [personal profile] isis at 03:28pm on 27/03/2016
Condolences on your loss. Animals so quickly become family to us. But wow, yay you for making a positive change in your life - I know it's super hard sometimes to find the correct medication that will help solve an issue without causing more cascading problems in other arenas, so it's great that you have new meds that allow you to live your life in a better way!

As an adult-onset exercise fanatic, I approve of your daily walking! It all adds up and reinforces health pluses - exercise keeps your brain going, keeps your heart going, helps you lose weight and stress your joints less, sends blood flow to your tendons/ligaments/joints to keep them in good shape, etc. Hopefully the PT will help for your hips. I've found that a simple routine intended for runners to strengthen their hip girdle really helps me.
sage: photo of two polar bears standing on hind legs, embracing. (bear hug)
posted by [personal profile] sage at 04:12pm on 27/03/2016
*hugs and hugs and hugs* I'm so glad you're feeling better! This is an amazing set of breakthroughs -- hooray for all the work you've put into your self-care! Also, I'm sorry about Indy. She sounded like such a sweet dog.

If there's some leeway before the BB signup deadline, maybe try doing a tiny podfic & posting it now, just to see how it goes? It might give you a better sense of how doable a longfic will be.

*hugs more*

Again, so glad to hear you're feeling better! <3
scriggle: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] scriggle at 05:18pm on 27/03/2016
Mal! *glomps*

I's so sorry to hear about Indy. {{{hugs}}}

I'm glad to hear you're feeling better. Yay for breakthroughs. And for getting in some walking. (I really need to do that myself.)

I've been hanging around the fringes of DS lately but I'd definitely cheer for some podfic by you no matter what the length.
Edited Date: 2016-03-27 05:18 pm (UTC)
desireearmfeldt: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] desireearmfeldt at 08:11pm on 27/03/2016
To put it more succinctly: I can take action even when I don't feel like it. Even when I feel miserable or apathetic or simply utterly shut down. My ability to take action is no longer tied inextricably to mood.

That's great to hear! I hope things keep improving for you.

It'd be great to see you get back into podficcing etc. at whatever speed is most enjoyable for you.

My personal feeling about the Big Bang is that it's deliberately set up so that one is not letting anyone down by signing up for primary and then not completing (anyone *else*, that is; as someone who is prone to getting upset about not doing what I said I was gonna do, I very much sympathize with not wanting to commit if you're not sure of the outcome). Which is to say, I encourage you to sign up if you think it'd be fun -- I honestly don't think anyone will think any less of you if you have to drop out. (And there are several folks who have signed up saying "Maybe this'll be the year I finally complete" or "I want to finish this WIP that's been on the back burner for 10 years," so you wouldn't be alone in that.)
omphale: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] omphale at 10:32pm on 27/03/2016
I'm so sorry to hear about Indy, but I'm glad it was quick and that she didn't suffer. And I'm happy that you're back online in whatever capacity you feel up to--and that your exercise options are good ones and make you feel better-ish. I'm just...happy you're around, is all. Which sounds stupid, but there it is.
blueraccoon: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] blueraccoon at 11:43pm on 27/03/2016
I am really happy to hear about the depression revelation and the activity and everything. Go you!

You have my condolences on Indy. There's nothing like losing a dog. (I try not to think about losing mine) *hugs*
celli: a woman and a man holding hands, captioned "i treasure" (Default)
posted by [personal profile] celli at 04:18am on 29/03/2016
feroxargentea: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] feroxargentea at 03:29pm on 29/03/2016
The Big Bang thing appears to be entirely without pressure, other than whatever you might place on yourself, so you would be free to sign up just for the company :)

As for FitBits, I don't use one because my main exercise is swimming and they're not waterproof, but I have a couple of friends who like having FitBit buddies to help share motivation, so let me know if you want hooking up with them.
boxofdelights: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] boxofdelights at 04:09am on 01/04/2016
Baby barn owl learning to fly, for cheering oneself:
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
posted by [personal profile] luzula at 08:41pm on 07/04/2016
Hey there! I'm so happy to see you posting and to hear what's going on with you. *has finally got around to replying* I'm so sorry about Indy. But glad that you're on the upturn, and that you've found a way through that paralysis of will. That is great news.

I've started a new exercise routine, as well--it's a ten-minute workout every day for the big muscle groups. I've never really liked the term "life-hack", but I can kind of see it now, because this is so much easier than going to an actual gym, which feels like such a hassle to me that I can rarely make myself do it. But this works very well for me, partly because I am good at making habits out of small things.

Oh, and if you're interested, I still have that podfic WIP which is missing 7000 words of Vecchio POV. : )
verushka70: CKR's hands are just so damn sexy. (CKR's hands)
posted by [personal profile] verushka70 at 11:39pm on 24/01/2017
As I abandon LJ (except for using my Gmail OpenID, which bypasses the Russian-located no-longer-https LJ servers), I saw that you had added me on DW. Thanks! Then I saw this post of yours.

I am so sorry for the loss of your dog (and what a cool name). That is so hard. Letting them go is the same as letting any loved one go. You're glad they don't have to suffer, but you mourn and you miss them so MUCH. I have lost a few pets over the last several years and it is hard, SO hard. Even though this is extraordinarily late, you have my sympathies.

Re: the paralysis of will... having been on ADs since around 1990 myself, on many different kinds over the years, I completely relate. Knowing I need to do something does not, however urgent it may be, equate to actually doing it. Some time over the last decade I saw that described as 'amotivational syndrome' but I think that is a bullshit term for something that is clearly biochemical/neurotransmitter related. It did improve vastly on Adderall. Unfortunately, the Adderall also boosted my BP up into 160/100, 180/100 range -- and I don't have high BP (perhaps I should say, I don't have it yet). So they took me off it, and I descended back int my usual scatterbrained slowing of self.

In the last year perimenopause and a lot of other physical shit has dogged me into near paralysis. It was all I could do to drag myself to work and drag myself back home. My house regularly suffers from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). The few friends who do occasionally come by know it's going to be a crazy mess because it's always a crazy mess. My bathroom is clean, my kitchen is (mostly) clean, I have clean plates and silverware to eat off of; sometimes that is the most I can manage. Such is my life, and it has been for several years, and I don't see that changing until I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Even a recent med change to nortriptyline, while vastly improving my sleep and boosting my mood, has not changed that (I was on amitriptyline years ago, so I had a hunch that would happen... but it will inevitably decline; it's just a matter of when, not if). I still get home from work on Fridays and often do not go out or do anything until I leave for work again Monday mornings. Dealing with people and social engagements is very taxing, and I deal with a lot of people who want stuff all day every day that I work. Being DONE dealing with people doesn't help my isolation, but it is literally work to force myself to go out and do stuff. Sometimes I can. A lot of times, I can't. So I often don't. And it's always worse in the winter when the days are short, but it happens plenty in the summer too.

We do the best we can. Put one foot in front of the other day by day. I am glad to hear that your physical activity is increased and you're feeling better. I expect to experience a slight boost with the lengthening of the days, because over the decades, I've noticed that happens.

I don't beat myself up about this stuff anymore. I get enough of that from well-meaning people who don't get it, never have, and never will. Fortunately, being perimenopausal -- hopefully soon menopausal -- I don't much give a fuck what people think anymore. This is who I have been a long time, and who I'll most likely continue to be, and I'm almost always doing the best I can, even when that's neither obvious nor good enough for the Type As (who don't seem any happier than I am, really).

But if that's the only upside I get out of losing my estrogen -- not giving much of a fuck what people think -- well, that's a bonus I wasn't expecting! I look forward to giving less fucks than I already do now. *g*

You take care. I'm glad to hear the Adderall helped immensely. That alone should be PROOF that what ails us is NOT psychological, it is goddamned physiological -- because if it weren't, adding Adderall wouldn't necessarily improve it!

But with or without Adderall -- whatever you can do, it's good enough, dammit. *g*

Don't worry about replying. I fall off the face of the planet regularly, into my own "don't want to do anything/see anyone" world, retreating into reading (and at really bad times, just passively bingewatching stuff because I can't even engage my mind in reading, let alone writing fic).

I certainly would never hold it against anyone if they didn't reply or respond to something. (I've been the recipient too often of people taking my lack of response insanely personally, when it's just the life-long apathy and depression I've always suffered.)