Exercise and Depression: an update.

•October 21, 2007 • 1 Comment

ExerciseIn this post, I talked about my plan of action, specifically, going to the local leisure centre and signing up for a membership.

Well, I have to admit: that didn’t happen.

However, having said that, that doesn’t mean that I have completely given up on the idea.  I simply didn’t feel comfortable spending that money when I knew we’d be struggling for cash in a few weeks.  (And it’s a good thing, too, as we’ve had to delve into the rent money today just to put some money on our gas and electric.)

Instead, I ordered one of these.  I have an account with Marshall Ward, so I was able to order it but pay for it in installments – much more affordable!  I’ve had it for almost 2 weeks, and in that time I’ve used it all but 4 days.  And I have noticed a difference.  I started out doing 30 repetitions of each exercise – but I would have to stop and catch my breath after 10.  The last few days, I’ve been able to do the full 30 without a problem.

And both my 10 year old daughter and my husband have said that I look like I’ve lost weight.  I haven’t actually weighed myself in over a week, so I have no idea.  But it helps to know that my efforts aren’t being wasted.

And on Friday, I walked my a$$ into town to do the shopping, and walked back.  It helps that I have an “old lady trolley,” though.  I bought it specifically so that I COULD do the shopping without having to take a taxi home – at the time it was to save money, but it helps with my exercise efforts as well.  (And I managed to get into town, do my shopping, and make it home within 2 hours, too!!!)

I still want to join the gym – I really want to use the weight machines.  But I’m seriously considering doing more stuff “on my own” and only using the gym sparingly – mainly to save on money.  We have enough to get by – but JUST enough.  And we’re usually flat broke the last week of the month.  But we live within walking distance of THREE parks.  I can easily go out for a walk after I take the kids to school and I’ll still have the majority of the day to do whatever I need/want to do.  My biggest problem will be the weather – we live in the north, and we get more rain than most areas of the country.  But on the other hand, it doesn’t get as cold as a lot of areas in the country, because we live on the coast as well.  So if I can handle the rain, it won’t be a problem.  Shoot, it was quite cold on Friday, but because I was wearing my winter jacket and walking so much, by the time I got home, I was sweating.

So I’m not giving up on my exercise plan… I’m just tweaking it a little, to adjust to the realities of my life.  Obviously, if we were to win the lottery tomorrow, I’d readjust that plan… and sign up for the all-inclusive gym membership.  And I’d probably go to the gym every day. As I said in the other post, if I pay for something, I’m damned well sure going to get my money’s worth.  I actually did belong to a gym back in the states, and because I was paying for it, I went every single day.  (Until I got pregnant, that is.)

Of course, if we won the lottery, then I’d be able to join the gym, lose all my weight, and then have the plastic surgery to fix the rest of my body, too.  😉

Hey… a girl can dream, right?

Edited to add: writing about this prompted me to go into the hobby room and use my ab roller… I did my 30 reps each, and even added a new exercise to my routine, too.  I’m so proud of myself…. yay me! 😛

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Silent Screams

•October 15, 2007 • 1 Comment

Written a couple of months ago….

I hear a pounding drum
And then I realize
It’s not a drum I hear
But my own pounding heart 

Fear
Like bile
Rises in my throat
And my stomach muscles clench 

Loneliness
And Desperation
Have become second nature
Just like breathing 

Silent screams
Echo in my brain
But I never dare
To let them out 

But then it gets too much
Too much to bear
And I crumble
Under the weight 

Sometimes I think
It’s going to kill me
Sometimes I wish
It truly would 

For if you don’t love me
And you don’t care
Then what worth
Does this life have?

A little insight…

•October 13, 2007 • 2 Comments

 

I’ve spent a big part of the day “blog surfing.”  I’ve not done much else today (although I did get “his” room [the computer/storage room – we call it “his” because he spends most of his time in here] pretty well cleaned; the kids keep coming in here trying to do somersaults on the floor because there’s room now!). Partly because of the fact that Hub’s not here – he’s off on another hiking trip.  But also because I’m feeling really drained today.  Part of that is the fact that I didn’t get much sleep last night (I always have a hard time sleeping when he’s away), and the other part is that I’ve been fighting something off the last few days, although I don’t know what.  I wake up with a sore throat and stuffy nose, but as the day goes on I seem to get better… only to have it all start again in the morning.

So I find this blog.  I start browsing around, doing searches for clarification (she seems to be real big on other people’s privacy and either uses initials or made-up names), and I came across something that hit me like a ton of bricks.

I know that there is a pervasive sadness in me these days, like a chill that won’t leave your bones in winter.    I know that it is loneliness, a multi-faceted kind … not just the lack of a romantic partner, but friends, professional purpose, unconditional support.

It hit me… that’s it!  That, right there, is a big part of my depression.

Despite the fact that I was a lonely, sad, depressed child, I always had friends.  Even while growing up in my hometown, where most of the kids in town saw me as the village idiot, I still had friends.  Maybe not a lot, but a few really good ones (one of which I’m still in contact with, believe it or not).  When I got older and “Mom” sent me to the group home (I might have to do a story-style post on that one for it to make sense), and I went to a totally different school, I somehow managed to find more friends than I’d ever had before.  It made me think, at the time, that maybe I wasn’t so bad after all.  How could I be making so many friends if I were really the monster other people said I was?

From then on, everywhere I went, I managed to make friends.  I remember the first job I had after having my oldest child.  I was only 19 and had almost nothing in the way of experience or skills, so I got a job as a dishwasher at a fast-food chicken restaurant.  My first night on the job, the other guys (I was the only female that worked there, period) were all going to one particular guy’s house to stage a boxing match between two of them, and they invited me to come as well.  They’d only known me for 4 hours and already they were saying “Hey! We’re going out… wanna come?”

My best friend – whom I miss desperately – was someone I’d met at work.  Funnily enough, she thought I was a b!tch when she first saw me.  Why?  Because I didn’t talk to her.  I didn’t talk to her because 1) she didn’t talk to me first (if she had, I would have certainly answered back – I’m not rude, after all) and 2) I didn’t know her.  Once I got introduced (we had a mutual office friend), I didn’t have a problem talking to her, and started inviting her to take her break with me.  We got to talking, and within weeks we were inseparable.

But here, I’ve only got one friend.  One friend in the whole world.  One who has enough problems of her own.  She also happens to be my next-door-neighbor.  And she was when we lived in our old house, too.  It’s because of her that we moved to this house – her boyfriend works for our landlord. 

M – that’s what I’ll call her – also has 4 children.  But they’re all pretty much grown – her youngest is 16, the oldest 21.  Being older doesn’t mean less work, though – they’re always putting her through the wringer.  Her oldest was constantly getting arrested for shoplifting when we first met – she even had MY youngest with her once (she had a long road building up my trust again, I can tell you that!).  The next one got pregnant at 16 and just had her second baby (by a different guy)a few days before moving into their new house.  She’s still bouncing between the two guys, even though the father of her older child is living with her right now.  The one and only boy seems to be the one that actually gives her the least trouble – except for the fact that he’s pretty much a leech.  He has a learning disability that has prevented him from being able to read.  But that doesn’t mean he’s stupid – actually, he’s far from it.  But it has sapped his confidence to such a level that he won’t even bother looking for a job – or even applying for benefits – because he can’t read.  He figures nobody will hire him because he can’t read, so why bother?  So he does nothing to really help his mother, except vacuum a few times a week.  But other than that, he’s not that much trouble.  (Oh, and he also has a child, but that baby is in care, so he doesn’t see his son much anymore – they used to have him every weekend, though.)  Her youngest keeps signing up to and dropping out of college – and it’s only October!  She’s only been IN college for 2 months!  A side ramification of this, though, is that it’s messing up M’s benefit money, and she owes so many people from borrowing for months that she can’t even think about asking anybody for help. 

She owes me £120, and I’m the one she owes the LEAST to.  I didn’t have a problem lending it to her, though – a few years ago, when our benefits were all messed up, I was constantly having to borrow money off of her in order to get through an entire month.  But I always paid her back immediately – the day our money went into the bank, I was knocking on her door, cash in hand.  For one thing, she was my friend, and if I’m going to borrow money from a friend I want to make sure I pay it back a.s.a.p., so as to not cause problems in the friendship.  For another, it’s just the way we are – whenever we (and by we, I mean Hub and I) have borrowed money off of anybody, we pay it back the very first chance we get.  We hate having to borrow money.  We like being self-sufficient.  But we have kids to think of, so if needs be, we’ll do it.

On top of all this, she has spiteful, trouble-causing sisters (not all of them, but a couple of them are real pieces of work); a very elderly (81) mother and stepfather who are in and out of the hospital (at one point she was going to her parents’ house 3 times a week to get her stepfather ready to go to the hospital for dialysis), and she’s the ONLY one who runs to help whenever one of them need something – her sisters don’t lift a finger.  She has a boyfriend who works his a$$ off to provide for them, but because of what he does (he hand-delivers menus to people’s doors), it’s never enough.  And when he comes home, he goes straight to their bedroom and doesn’t come out again ’till morning (unless he needs the toilet, of course).  She even delivers all of his meals and drinks to the bedroom for him.  I complain that my hubby isn’t much help around the house, but M’s boyfriend doesn’t even pretend to be available for help.

I write all of this not to gossip about my one and only friend, but to make it clear that this is a woman with a lot on her plate.  This is not just me saying “oh, I didn’t want to bother you.”  This really is a woman who is being pulled in a million directions at once and I truly don’t want to add to her burden.

But it’s those last two words in the quote that I’m so desperately missing.  “Unconditional support.”  I don’t have that.  I’m not sure my Hub is capable of it, and besides, when I need it, he takes things the wrong way.  For example, shortly after the affair, he and his sister were invited to the engagement party of an old school friend.  He asked me if it was okay for him to go, and I said to him “to be perfectly honest, I’d rather you didn’t.”  He immediately got angry – he actually thought I was trying to tell him he couldn’t go.  Which was totally not what I was saying.  I was simply being honest about my feelings – I said exactly what I meant.  I would have rathered he didn’t go, because then I wouldn’t have to worry about what he might be getting up to without me around.  But I wasn’t in any way, shape, or form trying to tell him he couldn’t go.  All he had to do was validate my feelings, and give me some words of reassurance.  But instead he got angry.  I did eventually calm him down and explain myself, and he did end up going to the party with his sister, but things would have been so much easier if he had just taken my words at face-value instead of trying to read my meaning into it. But — and I hate to say this — that happens a lot.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to explain myself to him, because he takes it the wrong way or reads something into it that’s not there.

I say what I mean and mean what I say, but he’s always looking for the “hidden meaning” behind my words.  Only there isn’t any.  After years of taking things the wrong way from people who actually meant well, I learned to stop reading into what they said and started taking what they say at face value.  And I figured that if I’m going to do that, then I’d better really mean what I say, otherwise somebody’s going to misunderstand me.  That’s a double-edged sword, though.  If I’m going to say that “I mean what I say,” then I’d better not say something purely out of anger, because most likely I’m not going to really mean it, it’s just going to be the anger talking.  Which is why I try to be so careful of what I say.  It all goes back to the words thing.

But regardless, I don’t have any sort of unconditional support system.  I used to, though, and I think that’s why it’s been bothering me so much.  I’ve never been so isolated in my life.  He doesn’t realize just how lonely I am, and that I really need companionship.  But on the other hand, I realize that I can’t rely on him for my every emotional need.  However, having said that, there isn’t anybody else around.  So I’m either putting too much pressure on him to be what I need him to be, or I’m bottling it all up inside.  Neither way is good, and both contribute to the severity of my depression.

The thing is, I knew I was lonely and I knew why I was lonely, but it’s one of those things that you don’t truly realize the full meaning of until somebody else points it out – or, as in my case, until you read somebody else write what you yourself are really feeling, only you don’t know exactly how to put it into words. 

How to make someone understand?

•October 7, 2007 • 1 Comment

I’ve been grappling with this quite a lot lately.  Hubby just doesn’t understand.  Ironic, really, when you consider that he, too, has suffered with depression (and even a suicide attempt).  But in all fairness, as real as his depression was, it was simply different.  His was caused by a hit-and-run incident (he was hit, and the other guy ran) and months upon months of constant pain.

Mine’s different.  To be honest, there are times when I feel like my depression is just as much a part of me as the fact that I have blue eyes, or that I was born with blond hair (I have purple hair now, but that’s just ‘cuz I’m weird).  I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t depressed.  As a child, I constantly heard friends ask me “what’s wrong?” even when it seemed nothing was.  At least nothing specific.  I always answered back “nothing,” because I couldn’t think of the ‘right’ answer.  There wasn’t anything specific, I just felt down.  I always felt down.  I knew I was different because of it, but I also didn’t know any other way to be.  To be ME was to be down.

But how does one explain oneself and one’s depression to someone who just simply doesn’t get it?

How do you explain what it’s like to have a voice in your head that’s worse than any abuser you’ve ever known in your life?  I was able to get away from my father, and my grandmother, and all the bullies at school who seemed to thrive on taunting me. I even got away from my ex, who thought I was supposed to be his personal punching bag.  But I can’t get away from the voice in my head that says worse things to me than any of the aforementioned people ever did.  Nothing I ever do is good enough for her.  She notices and remarks upon every single thing I ever do wrong.  She’s the worst thing possible for my self-esteem, and yet I can’t make her go away.  The worst part about it is that I can’t shut her up.  The only way I know to shut her up is to smoke a joint.  And I don’t always have any!  (Right now, I’m completely out, so I think that’s one of the reasons she’s so vocal.)

But I start trying to explain it to him, using terms like “voice in my head,” and he looks at me like I’ve suddenly started claiming that God’s talking to me through the teakettle.

I’m not talking about a voice like I think somebody else is talking to me.  I know it’s part of my own psyche.  Not a very good part, not a part I’d like to keep, but it’s part of me.  But the best way to explain it is to say that it’s a voice in my head.  Because that’s what it’s like.  It’s LIKE I have another person living inside my head, a person who hates me and doesn’t want me to ever be happy.  I’m not saying I DO have another person in my head.  That is the crucial, if subtle, difference.  I’m not schizo or anything.  And I’m not trying to pretend that I am.  It’s just the best way to describe it.

But if I even try to go there, he looks at me like he’s going to call the men in the white coats to come and take me away to the little pretty pink padded room.

So how the hell am I supposed to explain it to him in terms he’s going to understand without getting scared… of ME?

Exercise and Depression: my plan of action.

•October 7, 2007 • 1 Comment

Okay, so there is a lot of information out there that says that exercise can help relieve the symptoms of depression.

And, let’s face it: my weight affects my depression.  If I weren’t overweight, that would be one less thing to be depressed ABOUT.  (Granted, it wouldn’t make my depression go away, but at this point, every little bit is going to help.)

And since we’ve moved, we’re very close (we’re talking a 5-minute walk) to the Raich Carter Sport Centre.  I had noticed a poster on the wall at the kids’ school, where it said something about yearly memberships being only £11.  What?!  Yearly memberships for the leisure centre in town are wayyyy more than that!

So on Friday morning, I stopped over there to get a little more information.  It turns out that since we live in the area, yearly memberships are actually £FREE!!!  Now that does mean that I would have to pay to use the gym every time I come in, but it’s at a reduced rate.  I could pay more (£26 a month) and not have to pay every time I went in there, but to be honest, I’m not really sure that we can afford that right now.   But to use the gym it’s only £2.70 each time.  And I really would only want to use the weight machines.  If I want some cardio, I can just walk over to one of the 3 parks in the area and walk around.  Or, hell, just walk down the street.  I used to do that, years ago, when I was trying to lose weight before (then I got pregnant, and that idea went right out the friggin’ window).  And it worked.  The problem is motivation.

But I think I got my motivation on Thursday afternoon.  I went to the local pharmacy because I needed to pick up a few things, and they have a scale that only costs 5p to use.  So I dug out a 5p piece.

I really wish I hadn’t.

I hadn’t thought I’d gained weight, but obviously I have.  I don’t want to say exactly how much, but let’s just say it’s the most I’ve weighed in 8 years.  And even then, I’d gained 30 lbs. after Hub first came to the U.S. (going out to eat EVERY SINGLE DAY will do that to ya).  Needless to say, I was on the verge of tears for the rest of the day.  Hell, if I’m honest, just writing about it now makes me want to cry.  I really don’t know how I gained this weight.  I had actually thought that moving into this house would make me lose weight – hell, having to walk up 4 flights of stairs several times a day??  I thought it was a sure-fire way to make me lose some more weight.  But I guess I was wrong.

The really upsetting part?  I hardly eat.  I don’t eat breakfast or lunch most days, and I really try to make healthy meals for dinner – at least as healthy as our budget will allow.  The sad fact is that the UNhealthy food fits into our budget better than the HEALTHY food.  And every single time I try to buy myself some healthy food so that I have something good (as in good for me) to eat in the house, the kids go and take it.  So I really don’t understand how I gained all this weight.  But I can’t deny that I have – the evidence was staring me in the face on Thursday afternoon.

So sometime either Tuesday or Wednesday (it all depends on how much time I have on Tuesday, because I need to do a ton of shopping that day – it’s one of our bi-monthly paydays), I’m going over to Raich Carter armed with all the info I need to sign up for my membership.  The one thing I do have to pay for is an induction (where they show you around and stuff), but again, because we live in the area, instead of paying the £30 they usually charge, I’ll only have to pay £10.

I really wish we could win the lottery.  I’d be over at that gym every single day if we did.  I’m the kind of person where, if I pay for something, I’m damned well sure going to get my money’s worth.  I used to belong to a gym back in the U.S., and I went every single day after work… until I got pregnant.  I would have kept going, but they wouldn’t let me without a doctor’s note, and it took me a good 3 months to be able to get in to see the doctor (busy doc), and by that time I was like “forget it.”

I just hope we can afford for me to go at least a few times a week.  I know myself, and if I can keep going, I WILL keep going.  I’m like a ball rolling down the hill.  Once I get the momentum going, there’s no stopping me.  It’s just the getting started I have trouble with.

Boing! Goes the yo-yo.

•October 3, 2007 • Leave a Comment

It’s strange how I (and anybody else suffering from depression, for that matter) can bounce from being okay (well… as okay as one can be when they’re suffering from depression) to falling down a bottomless pit in a matter of minutes.

What triggered it this time?

In a word: clothes shopping.  (Okay, yeah, that’s two words.  So sue me.)

The Hubby and I went out for brunch on Friday after I took the kids to school and he went to a meeting at the Job Centre.  I mentioned to him that I really needed a new winter coat.  I have one that’s still wearable, but it’s about 6 sizes too big.  I bought it years ago, back in the U.S., and it was too big for me when I bought it, but I have a problem: I tend to hide in my clothes.  I’m actually a size 20, but I’ve had a habit for years of buying clothes that are a size 24, 26, and even 28.  I can’t remember what size this coat actually is, but it’s huge. 

He suggested I look online.  There’s a particular catalogue that I’ve had some relative success finding decent clothes from.  So after we went home from brunch, I logged on to their website (I needed to pay some money off my account anyway).  I was shocked to discover that they’d raised my credit limit from £150 to £350.  (I suspect that it’s partly due to the way I’ve been paying my bill – I pay my monthly payment plus whatever interest they’ve charged, and then 2 weeks later I pay the same amount again.  Last month, for example, my monthly payment was £7, and they charged me $5.20 in interest.  I rounded that up to £6; so my payment was £13.  I paid that twice, for a total of £26.  When you consider the only amount I HAD to pay was the £7… I think that’s pretty good.)

So when I saw that, the stereotypical woman inside my head screamed out “SHOPPING!!!”  So not only did I order my coat, but I also ordered a skirt, a top, a pair of shoes (trainers – I desperately needed a new pair), a new wardrobe for Hub & I, and also a wardrobe for the Terror Twins (my 2 youngest – I call them that because whenever one of them starts trouble, the other one gets right in with them).  That’s one big complaint I have about the houses out here in the UK – there’s no such thing as a closet.  Even if you find what could ostensibly be called a closet, it’s either filled with shelves or it’s just empty.  If you want to hang up your clothes, you have to buy a wardrobe – or get creative.  In our old house, we fixed hanging rails to the walls because we couldn’t afford to buy wardrobes at the time.

That was Friday.  Most of my order (with the exception of the wardrobe I’d ordered for Hub and I) arrived yesterday.  So I tried on the clothes.

And dissolved into tears.

See, I’d ordered the skirt in a 20.  Strangely enough, it’s actually quite loose.  Not so loose as to be technically considered too big, but there’s definitely some give in there.  But I ordered the top in a 24.  I wanted to make sure it was long enough to cover my monstrosity of a belly (God’s punishment for having 4 kids??).  Not only is it NOT long enough to cover my stomach, but it’s so tight in the arms that it’s damned near cutting off my circulation.

WTF???

Skirt – size 20 = LOOSE.  Top – size 24 = TIGHT????

How the f*ck does that work???

I’m just so frustrated.  I HATE clothes shopping.  I didn’t used to hate it – actually, I rather enjoyed it.  But then, for some reason, sizes in the U.S. actually fit the size on the label.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve picked up an item that SAYS it’s a size 20 but there’s no way in hell it’s any bigger than a 14.

I’m just so frustrated.  As I said to Hub today, when things like this happen, it makes me literally want to stay in the house and never leave it.  I mean EVER.

He doesn’t understand why I say I feel like a freak.  When a skirt in a size 20 is too loose and a top in a size 24 is too tight, how can he NOT understand why I feel like a freak?

Let’s face it.  I AM a f*cking freak.

Drowning in a Sea of Black

•September 30, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The darkness has enveloped me.

Like some medieval monster, it has grown to epic proportions and has risen up to swallow me whole.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel; it is just a vast expanse of blackness.  I can’t see where I’m going — so I can’t see a way out of here.  No matter where I turn, it’s just black.  I have but one person who could even try to pull me out, and he won’t even bother, so I guess I’ll end up spending the rest of my days in this black hole.

I’d probably be better off dead.  But, let’s face it, I’m too much of a coward to go that route.  At this point I’d consider myself lucky if I got hit by a car.