Tomorrow is my second anniversary since starting this journey. I set out to lose 15 pounds. I came close, but life got in the way. I could re-commit myself to that goal. Another possibility is to acknowledge that I have achieved other things along the way. One of those things is loving my neighbors.
My first two years of marriage have been eventful. I think I have been in the emergency room about ten times, thankfully, not for myself. In the past month alone, we have had the carpet cleaners here three times.
Harmony with My Husband
Notwithstanding all of that, my husband and I are more in harmony and love than ever before. We both know how much we need each other and are fully committed to making our marriage work. My husband says, “The most valuable thing we have is each other.”
Colorado is such a hospitable place. We both love being back in Colorado after living a long time in Utah.
Since switching medications, I have struggled with a depression that told me I could no longer write my blog. Now I want to break out of that false limiting belief.
Social Interaction with Neighbors
Is there a way to prevent depression? From what I googled, the experts say no. However, it can be alleviated. My counselor says that one way to help is social interaction. I have had more of that lately. For about two hours twice a week, I have been visiting neighbors in our building. I believe the couple enjoys having me come, and they are very supportive of me. We have face-to-face interaction that you cannot get with Facebook or even the telephone.
Not just any social interaction will work. I have had negative experiences that turned me off to socialization. It is crucial to find supportive people, and yes, I do mean people. Animals can help but cannot totally replace human interaction. I am fortunate to have an understanding, intelligent couple two doors away. I did not visit them during the first few months of the pandemic because I feared possibly spreading an infection to my neighbor. She has a weak immune system due to her cancer treatments.
Any kind of infectious disease would have been dangerous, not just COVID-19. However, she said the worst part of her medical treatments is the loneliness. She said she would have been glad to have had me visit throughout the pandemic. I am so pleased she communicated that. After she told me that, I started seeing her and her husband twice a week.
The visits have not been a panacea, however. I am still struggling even now. Maybe writing my blog will help, as long as I do not get too perfectionist about my writing or agonize over my audience statistics.
What is the best way for me to resume a joyful, vibrant life? If I knew the secret, I could share it with you. Joshua Rosenthal, our instructor at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, emphasized the importance of primary food: relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. These four things have become the defining categories of this blog, along with secondary food or nutrition itself. Last night, I touched on the importance of relationships when I talked about visiting my neighbors. For years, I placed a premium on my friendships but felt kind of guilty for doing so. I thought I should succeed in a career instead. Now, I realize that I was fulfilling a need that did not go away just because I was introverted. When I read the work of Susan Cain, it became clear how to meet this need. I was more comfortable socializing one-on-one or in small groups than participating in crowds. And that is okay.
My attempts to resume my career this past decade did not bear much fruit. I worked a couple of contract jobs that my friend from Hawaii lined up for me. However, they were short-lived. Now, I realize that a career is not as important as a sense of purpose or contribution. I need to find ways I can be of service to others. This is the basis of the abundance mentality. Fortunately, my visits to the neighbors are a service themselves.
Well-Meaning But Bad Advice
Because of my bipolar disorder, I thought that I was taking rather than giving when associating with people. In the 1990s, my ecclesiastical leader admonished me for trying to find friends and visiting neighbors. He said people were too busy to associate with me. His attitude hampered my social life and did not help my mental health. Someone in the congregation thought I was a homosexual and spread that concern to him and who knows who else within the group. I do not believe I was ever able to straighten out my reputation and convince everyone of the truth.
Now, among mostly Christians who focus more on the Bible, particularly the New Testament, things are much better. Even if I was homosexual, which I am not, I would probably still be accepted. Even though the Bible speaks against homosexuality, homosexuals are still our neighbors and, therefore, worthy of love. A homophobic society puts a burden on everyone because, for one thing, many people are falsely accused of being homosexual. It is like the Salem witch trials. Many of those persecuted for being witches were not witches at all.
I could say more on the subject, but let me talk about nutrition.
Lately, I have had not controlled my eating. I have not been consistent with my intermittent fasting. I am not sure what is wrong. Maybe it is the pandemic, which has put so much stress on all of us. I know what to do and even know I can do it, but the will to do it seems missing. I simply do not seem to care. That is a symptom of depression. I have not had the will to live, let along eat properly. What can I do to start caring again?
Finding Your Purpose
For the last three days or so, I have listened to Stuart Kaplan’s Finding Your Purpose meditation in Insight Timer. That seems to be waking me up a little. My husband has lately been showing profound love and support, more than he has since the start of our marriage. Maybe, that will wake me up too. He has assured me that he wants me to live. I do want to live for him. And I want to live for myself. What can I do to care again?
Setting a single goal, while focusing on what attaining that goal will do for me, may work. I want to focus on my Top 5 again: Cronometer, meditation, JV Life Tracker, Achieve 50 kg, and my blog. That is a set of goals, but they all work together. I was 100% with my Top 5 from June 7, 2020, until I switched medications near the end of July. Can I do it consistently while not on that antidepressant? I am looking for a change in myself that says I can, but I cannot find it. Talking to my friend in Hawaii did not get me out of this funk. He has been able to do so in the past, but it did not work this time. Why not?
It could be the struggle I am going through taking care of my husband, who is becoming increasingly disabled. My manicurist, who comes to our condo biweekly, suggested putting him in a home. I want to avoid that as long as possible. If I were to put him in a nursing home, it would be the beginning of the end. Most people do not survive long in that type of care. That could be because they are already so run-down by the time they enter. However, the environment of a nursing home does not promote life. It is kind of a death sentence. Those people lose the will to live.
So far, the money we spend on carpet cleaning is less than what a nursing home would cost. However, things could get worse, and I may have some anxiety about that. When I am worked up day-to-day with caregiving, it is hard to focus on my Top 5 or any goal. I need to tell the right people that I need help. Fortunately, my husband paid for a maid here on Thursday. That alleviates the stress a great deal.
Somehow, I need to balance the care I am giving my husband with caring for myself. I cannot take care of him if I do not care for myself first. The most challenging thing is getting enough sleep. I have had to ask him for periods of uninterrupted time, trying to get all of his immediate needs met before taking a rest or break. He does not always think of everything and interrupts me anyway. After I take my meds at night, I want to fall asleep right away. My husband often demands my attention at that time. I have struggled, trying to figure out what to do. I cannot work the day shift and night shift too. Currently, I am not that well-rested. My neighbors saw how exhausted I was and invited me to nap in their guest room on one of my recent visits.
Bipolar Disorder Challenge
Part of the difficulty of getting enough sleep is not my husband. It is my bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder messes with circadian rhythms, making it a challenge to get adequate rest. My walks to the library help me reset my circadian clock. I have resumed them after getting out of the habit for a while. If I can resume my intermittent fasting pattern also, that will help my sleep. Getting enough sleep will improve my ability to fast. Putting the rhythm back will require some doing. Can I pull it off?
Self-hypnosis may help, that is, if I can find some uninterrupted time to do it. That might be wishful thinking right now. I have to fight for 5-20 minutes for my meditation. My husband cannot even get the TV remote for himself when he leaves it across the room. I am getting things for him night and day. Then I wonder why I am so exhausted at the end of the day. Last night, I could not even get on my nightie or brush my teeth; I was so gone. I was barely able to take my medication. Then, as I was dropping off to sleep, my husband wanted me to scratch his back. I told him I was too tired, but I did what I could for him, using every drop of my remaining strength. Then I woke up at three in the morning, unable to get back to sleep. Can this go on?
Another challenge I have is TMJ. I have some exercises for it that seem to help, but getting the focus to do them every day has been the problem. My TMJ makes it hard for me to sleep and probably contributes to my early awakenings and not getting back to sleep. At night, my medication helps me fall asleep. However, when I wake up early, I no longer have that chemical assistance. The pain of the TMJ usually keeps me from dropping off again.
Does this sound like torture? It kind of is. No wonder I have lost interest in living. I could put my TMJ exercises higher on my priority list. That would help me sleep and do my intermittent fasting. Fasting will put my weight control efforts back in place and help with sleep even more. That would help me feel better about myself and help me when I petition for my way with my husband. My TMJ exercises are not expressly in my Top 5. I could put them into my Achieve 50 kg mind map. There. I put them under Exercise.
I see what I need to do. Now, how can I get the caring attitude that will make it possible to do? Maybe something needs to be deleted out of my life. What would that be? I sometimes get carried away with YouTube videos. However, some of that is probably okay for the sake of having pleasure. My reading does not seem to be taking over my life. I now give myself five points in JV Life Tracker for reading half an hour and five more for a second half-hour. I have not been timing myself on this, so I am using my internal impression of time. I do not give myself points for additional time because I do not want reading to dominate my life. When living so close to the library, it is tempting to load up on library material. However, I keep about five items checked out most of the time, and that works okay.
What Are Your Challenges?
Do you have challenges sleeping or controlling your eating? Furthermore, do you struggle to find your life’s purpose or fulfill it? Does your spouse need you to be their arms and legs? Do you have chronic pain? Have you been told not to visit your neighbors? Whatever your challenges are, I hope this blog entry has spoken to you in one way or another. The solutions are here, but the will to do them is something else.
Your life matters. One small step at a time, we can beat depression, whether it is caused by the pandemic, the economy, or an underlying chemical imbalance. If we are fortunate, our neighbors can be part of the answer. I do not have it all figured out, but I have decided to stay in the game. If your challenge is anxiety rather than depression, the solution is much the same. Anxiety and depression are both paralyzing disorders. I have had some of both.
If you would like to join me on this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One. If you wish to download a FREE copy of my ebook (with no need to enter your name or email), click on the book below.