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Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

I went away last week for 5 days of retreat time on Vancouver Island with a friend of mine.  The first two days were absolute bliss…we talked, we walked, we saw the sights together and enjoyed all that the community had to offer.

Wednesday we had a lazy start to the day then went to an open air market about an hour away for lunch and a wander around.  Lunch was great, the market was fun and then we poked our heads through a doorway and explored some more market area.  When we’d had enough wandering about we decided to head back to the car and meander back where we’d come from.

She was walking ahead of me down these long, wide stairs.  There were four of them.  I only stepped on three of them.  I missed a step and fell hard onto my face.  The bridge of my glasses was embedded into my forehead and I started to bleed.  A lot.  Caused quite a scene at this market.  The bridge of my glasses is scratched up as is one of the lenses.  I bled for quite some time.  My forehead has an abrasion on it.  As does both knees and my left hand.

The shock was incredible.  I was handed clean serviettes and told to apply pressure.  A zipper bag filled with ice was given me.  I was examined by two nurses (one of whom was traveling with me).  I was asked questions to determine how alert I was.  I think I passed them all, at this point I can’t quite remember when I heard.  What I do know is that I was embarrassed at how quickly it happened, what a scene I’d caused and what a mess my face had become.

My friend drove us to the hospital half way home.  I waited an hour in emergency as the bleeding lessened and the swelling increased.  I ended up in hospital for 3 1/2 hours and was treated very well.  The nurses were helpful, the doctors were kind.  I got a tetanus shot and got to experience skin glue.  It burned as it was being applied but has done a great job of keeping the skin together as it heals.  I’ll likely have a scar but it will be hidden by my glasses.

The good news is, nothing was broken.  The unfortunate news was my body’s reaction to the shock.  It’s now 4 days afterwards and I’m still feeling it.

I need new glasses.

The morning after the fall I woke feeling like I’d been hit by a car.  Arms and legs ached.  Face was swollen and sore.  Jaw throbbing.

I contacted one of my Wardens and she made arrangements for the two services this morning to be covered.  I slept in on a Sunday, something I haven’t done for a very, very long time.

Yesterday I went for a walk through the community.  Not as long as I’d have liked to, but as long as my body would allow me.

So the benefit of this experience was that I have incredible friends.  I have the best Wardens, Licensed Lay Ministers and congregation.  I will heal from these scars. Eventually the pain will go away.  Gravity is still not my friend.  That’s not new, but it bears repeating.

Two days after the fall I had to fly home.  I was terrified about the stairs into and out of the small airplanes on which I’d be flying.  I took my time, accepted help when it was offered and made every single step.  Yay me.  It’s the small things, you know?

The flight had three parts to it, one of which I had to change planes.  And the last leg of the flight was turbulent, but we survived it.  After we landed I was helping the lady sitting in front of me put on her cardigan and she elbowed me in the nose.  I saw stars.  She apologised and I told her she didn’t cause the injury, it was already there.  But yes, my nose hurts.

My friend collected me at the airport and I drove home.  It was good to rest in my own bed.  Bathe in my own tub.  But until the glue falls off I can’t submerge my face or wash it properly.  THAT is starting to bug me.  But the wound will heal, the scar will get smaller and life will continue.

I do want to go back where I was on retreat, but not to that open market again…and I’ll be very wary of stairs, especially cement stairs, from now on.

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All my life I’ve been an emotional eater…food was used as punishment and as reward. Over the winter my eating habits were atrocious…I would eat non-nutritional food far too often and usually I’d eat mindlessly.  This winter was a tough one because I couldn’t get out and walk, which is one of my favourite forms of self-care.

So winter finally ended and Spring is trying really hard to get to the East Kootenays and especially the Elk Valley, but we’re getting there.  I’ve discovered the trail system that links around and through the community.  During Holy Week I discovered a new trail that I hadn’t hiked before and I hiked it.  It rained and snowed, but I hiked it.

Easter Sunday I went out and hiked it again, and went a little bit farther.  Again, it rained, but I hiked it.

I’ve been out every day this week (granted it’s only Wednesday) but each day I’ve gone a bit further or tried a new path or link.

Today was a crappy day.  I had an argument with a friend and I can remember a time when I would have eaten my feelings, as much fat and salt as possible…the emptier the calories the better.  But today I didn’t do that.  I went for a walk instead and had a conversation with them (they weren’t with me, this conversation was in my head). Originally the walk was going to be around the block…and then it was to the end of the street…and then to part of the trail…and instead of turning back I kept going and walked/hiked a 5 km loop of trail and then came home again.  I was gone just over an hour.

I learned today that I don’t have to eat my feelings.  I can walk them.  I’m still learning to feel my feelings, but today I learned a new way to express myself.  It may not seem like a big deal to you, yet to me it’s huge.

I am strong.  I am capable.  I am in control of myself.  And my food choices today have all been healthy.  This is a good step in the right direction.  I’m proud of me…and it isn’t often I say that.

I’m learning a new way.  I’m teaching myself to listen to myself.  And that’s pretty awesome.  Yay me!

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Tomorrow is the 25th of January, Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” initiative to help quell the stigma of mental illness.  Celebrities have recorded brief interviews and have stepped up in raising awareness of depression, anxiety, OCD, Bipolar disorder, etc.

As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety the past couple of months have been scary.  I am a Canadian, and proud to be one.  Our neighbours to the south elected a new President and it seems the world has been in a tailspin since.  Every day the rhetoric increases, the attacks get more personal and social media is reaching a frenzy status on who is right and who is wrong.

What scares me is the increasing vitriolic hatred that both sides of the debate engage.  There is hurt and anger and a decided lack of respect.  There seems to be no acknowledgment of the other side as a human being.  Memes spring up everywhere and there are veritable twitter wars and Facebook battles over who is right and who is wrong.  Over who is telling the truth and who is lying.

We seem to have lost the respect of basic human dignity.  Regardless of whether you are a supporter or protester of POTUS, we need to come together in unity.  He needs to be held accountable.  We need to ensure our voices are raised in unison.  Can we please, please stop with the division and hatred.

I don’t like being told that as I woman “I must” feel a certain way or behave in a certain manner.  I don’t appreciate being told as a Christian “I must” say certain things and if I fail to do so I am a disgrace to Christianity.

I am a child of God.  So are you.  So is POTUS.  So is our Prime Minister.  So is everyone we meet.

I’m tired of the anger.  I’m tired of the hurt.  I’m tired of the hatred. I want to join the revolution of love.  I want to change the world with respect; with words of empowerment and love.  I can and will change how I view the world by looking through lenses of love and respect.

I short, I refuse to hate.

My mental health is always fragile in January…I’m not really sure why…but it is and I tend to cocoon more than usual, trying to stay warm and safe.

I am blessed in being surrounded by people who love me.  Who hold me when I cry, who bolster me when I struggle.  Who check in because I am on their mind and in their heart. I am blessed to love many of those who surround me.  And lately, I’ve begun to fall in love with myself.

I know I am not perfect.  I never will be.  And that’s okay.  In God’s eyes I am created in perfection and that’s more than good enough for me.

There is a South African word, Ubuntu, that means “I am because you are”.  In other words, I can’t be who I am without you.  It doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree and think the same.  It means we have the right and even the responsibility to disagree and hold one another accountable for our words and actions.  It means we are all in this life together.  It’s a way of living, an understanding, that is both powerful and profound.

If we embrace Ubuntu, perhaps we, together, can change this cruel world in which we live?

As always, I live in love and in hope.

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We are now in the season of Advent…a time of anticipation and preparation in the Church.  I used to get really frustrated with the Christmas craziness that surrounded me and how Advent got trampled every single year.

While I still believe this to be true, I realise there really is little I can do about it.

When I was a child I would not allow (yes, would not “allow”) any Christmas decorations up until after my birthday at the end of November.  Whether this means I have grown up or not, I have started decorating the mantle for Winter.  Eventually it will have some additions for Christmas, and for Hanukkah, but for now, it is simply a reflection of outdoors.  I bought two rustic stockings because I like things to be balanced.  Eventually I will hang them.

I have a lovely galvanized bucket that I filled with cedar branches from one of the bushes outside.  It looks lovely.  I have ribbon, burlap and some sparkly stuff to put down.  First I have to clean the mirror.  Today I hung a small wreath on the front door.

I’m decoupaging candles for the Advent wreath and I wrote a new setting for this year.  I’m meeting with colleagues on Thursday to discuss details for the Community Lessons and Carols service.  It’s going to be a great deal of fun.

I need to put the finishing details on the Advent Quiet Day happening in a couple of weeks.

My Christmas cards are ready, I need to address and mail them.  My Christmas presents are purchased or supplies ready to be crafted.  Keeping things very simple this year.  I like simple.

I’ve been working on a website for the Church and while it’s a work in progress, things a coming together nicely.

So, while I’m in a place where it sometimes feels like I can’t finish any single thing, I’m in a place where things are getting finished.  My house right now is a mess because there are many things happening, but I know, eventually, they will all be finished and my house will be returned to order.

Trying to stress less and enjoy more.  To be more fully present without the necessity of a plan.  A wise friend is known to mock me when I ask “what’s the plan” and the wistful reply is “for that, you don’t need a plan…it will happen as it happens”.  Which yes, does drive me mental.  But I’m learning…and that’s something.

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As you may have figured out by now, the surgery was a success.  The pain was as expected and I ended up with a secondary infection that has since cleared.  I will be taking probiotics for the next few months to balance my stomach after two rounds of antibiotics.

So much has happened since I last wrote.  I won’t go into the details here.  After the surgery I slipped into a deep depression.  It was hard work to care for myself once I was home again, and I wanted to be home so I could be back at work…and yet I struggled to do the things I need to do to be healthy.

I slept a lot because my body needed it.  I ate when I was supposed to, but didn’t always make healthy choices.  I didn’t get out to move as much as I should have because I was sore and depressed.  Thank God that has passed and I am back to my usual goofy self.  I’ve made some decisions about myself and my life…

I have stopped colouring my hair.  I’m going to let the silver come through, or Executive Blonde as I’ve heard it called.  I have bought some new clothes and thinned through  my closet again.  I’m enjoying my body coming back to life after anaesthetic.  I’m using my yoga mat again and while it’s very slow, it’s coming back.

During post-surgical recovery I rediscovered Pinterest.  I’ve now got great ideas for how to decorate the mantle, I began an easy makeover of the laundry room/powder room and am making over my bedroom.  I’m not sure if I’m “nesting” before winter or where the burst of energy has come from, but I’m beginning to feel more like myself.  And I like that.

I’ve made a commitment and promise to myself to get outside every day and walk.  It may be for kilometers and may be for meters, but every day I will get outside.  When you live in the beautiful corner of creation where I do, how can you not get outside?

I’m working with a budgeting program to help keep my expenses in check, my budget balanced and, as of January, begin saving a little bit each month.  I’m truly feeling as though I’m gaining control again over the things I can control and that makes me very happy.

This is my first year in ministry in British Columbia.  The folks here have not seen some of what I do.  And thus far, the feedback has all been positive.  We have recognized All Saints and All Soul’s.  All Soul’s had it’s own service last Wednesday and it was well received.  On Sunday we recognized Remembrance Sunday and it was also very well received.

This week I have a Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph with one of the local schools on Thursday, a Cenotaph Service on Friday morning at 11:00, then another one following at the local Legion, a nursing home gathering at 2:00 pm and that will wrap up Remembrance Day.  Whew!

I’m loving this community and learning more about it.  Meeting people who have introduced me to the arts community, the museum, and other such wonders has been incredible.  I’m enjoying the arts community locally and in the next city over, where I have season tickets to the Symphony of the Kootenays and the Community Theatre.

My work/life balance is the best it’s ever been.  And for that I am thankful.

 

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I struggle, at times, with depression and anxiety.  Most of the time I can cope with medication, relaxation, proper diet, exercise and rest.  Lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, and it’s completely understandable why I’m feeling this way.

On Friday I’m having surgery.  For the second time in my life I will go under general anesthetic.  I’m not afraid of the surgery.  The surgeon has reassured me that he anticipates the procedure will go well.  The procedures I’m having are minor, taking 20 minutes in total.  The anesthesiologist has reassured me that all shall be well.  She asked if I was nervous and I said I wasn’t and smiled.  She asked why I was smiling and I replied “if things don’t go well, it won’t be my problem…it will be yours.  As you’ll get to tell my congregation”. And we both laughed.

What I fear is the unknown.  Which is truly a silly thing to fear.  And I participate in mental gymnastics…what if I get an infection…what if it takes me hours to come out of the anesthetic…what if something goes wrong?  All legitimate questions, all with unknown answers.  Try to explain that to my anxiety.

I’m not worried about the congregation.  My Wardens and Licensed Lay Ministers will take care of everything in the parish.  My Regional Dean will look after any pastoral emergencies.  And still my innards flutter.

So, between now and Thursday morning when I find out the actual time of the surgery I will keep myself busy, which isn’t difficult to do.  The difficult part is remembering to take time to breathe, to care for myself…to do everything I can to release the anxiety I feel.

I’m staying with a good friend in the community where I’m having the surgery to make sure that I properly rest and don’t overdo things.  Left to my own devices I would push myself too hard and too soon.  I’m told it will be approximately 10 days before I can return to work…I’m giving myself 14 days.  And I fully anticipate returning to work at a bit slower pace then I am maintaining right now.

If you are a person who prays, I ask for your prayers for myself, and also for the doctor’s, nurses and support staff who will take care of me through the surgery.  I ask for your prayers for those who will care for me after the surgery until I am able to care for myself.

Thanks!

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I should be sleeping…in fact, I should be fast asleep in my comfortable bed.

Instead I am downstairs, puzzling over why I’m not sleeping.  I’m tired.  In fact, I’m more than tired…but here I am, wide awake and not the slightest bit pleased by it.

My brain won’t shut off…I need a dimmer switch, or a pause button so I can properly turn it off and sleep.

The past month has been a veritable roller coaster of emotions…I presided my first wedding and baptism in BC.  Both were incredible experiences.  I have my second wedding this Saturday.  I have been to the doctor to address some of my medical issues and surgery will be needed in the next while.  It’s day surgery, but recovery will be at least two weeks…likely in November.

I’ve learned I have sleep apnea and am using a CPAP machine.  It’s taking a bit of getting used to, and is meant to improve my quality of sleep, but right now I am dragging through most days.

Yesterday an empty glass bottle fell from the top of the fridge onto my right big toe.  It hurt incredibly…so much so that after a few hours I took myself to hospital and discovered that it’s not broken, but there is soft tissue injury.  The bruising is horrific, and the toe feels better, so long as I keep it elevated.  When I try to walk, it’s not a pretty scene.

I’ve become used to walking everywhere I live…and today I had to drive to a local appointment…which I knew I needed to do to get better, but it sure did bug me. I guess what it comes down to, I don’t like being less-than-abled.  And I certainly don’t like asking for or accepting help.

I have incredibly kind parishioners who have offered to help with errands, etc., and me, Miss Independent, prefer to do it myself.  Which, for now, I can do…albeit slowly.  Under doctor’s orders I have to rest my foot for a week, staying off it as much as possible.  I’m used to walking every day and not being able to do that is throwing off my much-needed routine.

Argh.

My Mam turns 80 on the 23rd of August and I am flying to Ontario on that date, spending 6 days there.  While there I will see some people, but not everyone I want to as there’s just not going to be time.  And as we plan for the celebration for my Mam, I can’t help but remember my Dad and how he made it to 79 11/12.  I’m convinced he died because he didn’t want to write his driver’s license exam.  In fact, he died of pneumonia.

I miss my Mam.  I miss my brother.  I miss my best friend.  I miss my grands.  And yes, I miss many people in Ontario.  But Fernie is home to me.  I have an incredible congregation and I’m making friends.  I have traveled the area and am learning my way around.  My sense of direction isn’t getting any better.  Every day I stop and look around.  I live in the Elk Valley and am surrounded by mountains.  Every day they change.  They are a part of me.  And I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Perhaps I’m feeling homesick for Fernie before I go back to Ontario?  Is that even possible?

After my Dad died I wanted to do something to memorialize his 80th birthday.  After a great deal of prayerful consideration and lots of research I decided to get my nostril pierced.  It would have driven him batty that I did so, and I must confess, that’s part of why I did it.  Every time I see it, I smile.

For my Mam’s 80th birthday I wanted to get another piercing to mark the occasion.  So again, after prayerful consideration and a lot of research I decided to get my daith pierced.  The daith is the thick cartilage in the ear.  Daith piercings have been used to alleviate migraines, which I’ve been getting.  And I must admit, while the initial piercing did hurt like mad, I have not had a headache since.  The ring that sits flush against my ear is barely visible, but it reminds me of my Mam.  I wonder what she’ll say when she sees it?

If I had to name one emotion right now it would be unsettled (is that an emotion)?  My pain level is higher than usual due to the healing ear and healing toe.  I know my pain will get better just as my toe and ear will heal.  I’ve realised that when it comes to personal illness, I’m not the least bit patient.  I want to be well, and I want to be well RIGHT NOW.

So I’ve journaled about my frustration, and I’ve prayed.  I tried yoga, but hyper-flexed my sore toe when I stood up…yet another brilliant move.  I’ve made a list of things I must do this week.  And a list of things that must be done before I fly out next Tuesday.

I can do the things that need to be done.  I know I can.

But first I need a good night’s sleep.

So, I’ll bid you good night and try this sleeping thing again…g’night.

 

 

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