Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good Day

You would think I would learn by now that just expressing my feelings helps tremendously... I've got to do it more often, instead of staying inside my head. So after pouring out my heart late last night, I had a good day today. Layni and I went to church, and the service was geared towards the kids who stayed throughout the whole service instead of going up to Kidzone... and for the big kids among us, who love the songs with actions and the funny skits and the pastor dressing up and telling us stories as King David. Afterwards, we went out to lunch with friends and the kids had such a great time together, the goofballs! They made me laugh. I came home and had a quiet, relaxing afternoon to myself. I had a nap, read Gone with the Wind (Jolie just finished it and told me I have to read it quickly so we can watch the movie together - the history involved is fascinating!), watched Sex and the City, and worked on my new dishcloth addiction. My mom is an amazing knitter, but I've only ever mastered dishcloths (and a baby blanket for my best friend's daughter, which took two and a half years and a lot of sweat and tears... and it was nothing fancy!). While I was home this fall, my mom taught me to purl (I told you, I am an amateur!) so it's opened a whole new world of dishcloth patterns. Guess what everyone's getting for Christmas! Put your order in soon, haha. Tonight, we all watched The Amazing Race together and then Jolie and I had our Desperate Housewives fix. It was a good day filled with simple pleasures. I am blessed with friends and family and a faithful God, and I am grateful.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Feelings... What Is Normal?

I was just rereading on the internet about dysthymia. I've struggled with depression since I was about ten years old, with growing intensity through the years, culminating in almost constant suicidal thoughts in college. For me, it was just life... I didn't know anything different. I was filled with self-hatred... "stupid ugly bitch" was a refrain constantly running through my mind, almost 24-7. I remember banging my head on the foot of my bed when I was a kid... to punish myself? to replace the emotional pain with physical pain? When I got older, I would scratch myself in frustration and self-hatred. I am so grateful that God made me a complete wimp, or I might have cut myself or inflicted other physical injuries (or gotten into alcohol and drugs). I might have thought of a pain-free way to kill myself and had the courage to go through with it... oh, I thank God for my wimpiness and my sense of humour, which were the two things (beside His grace of course) that enabled me to survive all those horrible years. After years of ignorance, then self-denial, then fighting the system to get the help I needed, I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and chronic dysthymic disorder. Though I mostly struggled with severe and often suicidal depression, I would occasionally have my "high" times... not as extreme as many cases; in fact, at the time, it felt great. I would have lots of energy, I would feel uninhibited socially - I would also have poorer judgement (which I never realized until afterwards) and would inevitably crash. It's been almost a decade since I was diagnosed (correctly) and started on an anti-depressant that was effective for me. Since then, I've never experienced the highs or suicidal lows of bipolar disorder, but I still struggle with the everyday "low-level" depression.

Since I got back from New Brunswick, I've been struggling with physical tiredness, lack of motivation and focus, feeling overwhelmed and wanting to withdraw. I often think I'd just like to crawl into bed and hibernate for several months. I feel guilty like I'm just being lazy, whiney... that if I was a better person and (oh, the joys of being a Christian and the guilt that comes along with it! ) if I just prayed more or had more faith, I wouldn't struggle like this. I feel overwhelmed by the things I should do and punish myself by not doing any of the things I want to do, and end up doing nothing and feeling even worse. One of the things I struggle with most is my natural tendency to be a loner and my struggle with social anxiety, with the love Jesus has put into my heart for people and wanting to bless them with His love through me. I often think if I wasn't a Christian, I would be a total hermit. Many people (most?) either frustrate me or frighten me (did I mention the social anxiety disorder?)

I'm sure there's a lot of things contributing to these feelings. Leaving my family in New Brunswick and not feeling that I had enough time to spend with them; the darker, colder days of fall; changing relationships at church, which has always provided my foundation of friendships. I belonged to a small group for several years which ended about a year and a half ago. There were about half a dozen of us who attended regularly and they felt like my family. I cried and laughed and learned and prayed and shared with them. I still have Thursday morning Bible study, but it's not the same. It's a bigger group and not as intimate. Our church is growing too, more people coming on Sunday mornings and it just feels bigger and more impersonal to me. I feel disconnected from the people there, and worse, feel like I don't even want to make the effort to be connected anymore.... and feeling guilty for feeling that way.

I'm just feeling... not terrible, but not great... feeling guilty because I know so many other people have far worse trials and challenges than me, so how can I complain or feel bad? Just feeling like crawling into my nice cozy sheets and not coming out for awhile.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where Did the Last Three Weeks Go?

I can't believe in two days I will be flying back to BC. Part of me is excited to see Jolie and the kids and my friends again; part of me is already missing my family and wishing I could see them more often. I have done too much Christmas shopping... I'm going to have to ship myself a parcel because I can't fit it all into my suitcases... oops!

I spent a few days with my best friend and her family. We celebrated an early "Christmas" together - exchanged presents and had a Superstore cake (the best!) and listened to Christmas music. Alisha and Derek got me addicted to Slings and Arrows, a Canadian TV show about a Shakespearean theatre company that I gave her for her birthday, so we spent every night after Ella went to bed watching a couple episodes. Derek, God bless him, made me buckwheat pancakes twice while I was there - my favourite, but which I'm usually too lazy to make myself ;) I sat in on Ella's Montessori homeschool class, which was lots of fun. And we would read bedtime stories and cuddle together every night. We also celebrated Ella's 4th birthday with lots of presents, cake and friends, and enjoyed walks in the woods behind their house. It was so great to be together again!

I also visited with my cousins, who love animals of every sort, and my aunt, who loves books and movies even more than me! Went to dinner and saw Nights in Rodanthe (a tearjerker) with an old friend.

My parents, aunt and I visited Minister's Island - the beautiful (although desperately in need of funding for repairs and upkeep) summer estate of an early 1900's railroad tycoon - I love history! Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera and my dad's both died out halfway through the tour :( We had to drive over a sandbar at low tide to get to the island... good thing, as my mom is not fond of boats :)

Yesterday we drove up to the Miramichi (where my dad has spent lots of time fishing) and stayed in a lovely log cabin. After hitting the local dollar store (you know what mom's and my priority is!), we walked beside the bay just across the road, swung on the hanging porch swing, had barbecued steak, and played 45's. A relaxing, fun evening. Today, we stopped at the Parksville Suspension Bridge, which Dad and I enjoyed walking to take in the view of the Miramichi River surrounded by the gorgeous fall foliage. And I was so proud of my mom, who fears both water and heights... she got 1/6 of the way across before having to turn back... good for her! After we got home, Dad and I did our traditional round of mini-golf. He beat me the first time, but I managed to come back in the second round!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, brother and sister-in-law and aunt and uncle, before my mom goes to work in the evening. My best friend and I are getting together tomorrow night for our last hurrah, and then I have Tuesday to get myself ready to fly home first thing Wednesday morning. It's been wonderful - but I can't believe it's all over! Thank goodness I have so many wonderful people to fly back to, or I would be too sad missing my family!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Running Around

I'm off for a week of running around to visit family and friends. I am really grateful for everyone who is going out of their way to chauffeur me around from one place to the next - especially my best friend and my parents. In Coquitlam, I can pretty much walk everywhere I need to or catch a bus for the occasional longer trip, but here, you really need to know how to drive... or have fabulous friends and family! I am excited to see my cousins, who I missed last year because of a family health crisis; to explore Minister's Island with my parents on Sunday; to visit my best friend and celebrate her daughter's 4th birthday next week; to hang out with my aunt, who loves books and movies as much as I do; and to see my wonderful friends who are driving down from Peticodiac. I am so blessed with so many loved ones, and I am so grateful for this time I get to spend with them... but I will be glad to get back and see my "family" and friends in Coquitlam too!