A Recipe for Disaster

No actual recipe today, I realize the title is misleading.

This weekend, I was reminded that no matter how long I have it or how much I read and watch out for myself, I will never be 100% on top of my mental illness.

Things (external) have been going well, great even. Work is awesome, the kids have been great, Wombat is actually not traveling for a few consecutive weeks (and we’ve seen him on weekdays before dark now that the time as changed). I’ve finally completed the redecorating of our formerly-neon flamingo pink powder room, made some fantastic meals (Teriyaki Tuesday is the new scene here – we’ve finally found a sauce that Meatball will eat!), seen friends and bought some incredible new yarn (my fiber friends get it). All was (seemingly) well. On Friday, I received an email from Peanut’s teacher about an incident from the previous day, and Peanut had not told me about it. I was sad, frustrated, and disappointed, and it weighed on me all weekend. All of the sudden, nothing seemed right. I didn’t want to meet a friend for lunch, I almost skipped picking up said incredible yarn, I didn’t want to knit. I gave Wombat full control of the pizza order Friday night. Full control. To someone else. About food. This is when alarm bells should have started going off for both of us.

What bothered me most is how much this bothered me. Of course it’s normal to be upset when things go a little bit south, but I couldn’t figure out why this one little setback threw me so hard. Being introverted and affected with anxiety, I stayed awake most of the past 3 nights thinking about it. So now I’m exhausted in addition to everything else, but I’m also more aware of what’s really going on. It wasn’t the email from the teacher that made everything seem so bad. Everything was already well on its way, the email was simply the proverbial last straw. This episode has been creeping up on me for a couple of weeks. I’ve been neglecting many of my necessary self-care routines; the depression itself convinced me that neglecting self-care was self-care. I’ll explain.

Eating healthful foods in reasonable portions is a huge part of taking care of my body so my body can take care of my brain. I guess about 2 weeks ago (right around that lost hour of daylight savings sleep), my eating habits went off the rails. We’re talking an entire package of cookies in 2 days off the rails, and the voice in my head that usually says “you know carrots and hummus is a better choice and will have you feeling better over the next few hours” was instead saying “cookies taste good and you are sad, cookies will make you happy right now, so you deserve them” and then later “well you’ve eaten so many cookies you might as well finish them, it doesn’t even matter anymore.” My sluggish and tired body then made me choose to consume more caffeine, which had a disastrous effect on my sleep.

Exercise is another essential piece of treating my mental illness. When I exercise hard and regularly, I feel better, I sleep better, and when I feel and sleep better, I make better choices and accomplish more things, which makes me feel and sleep better, which…. you get the idea.

Working out with an exhausted body fueled by only cookies and coffee sucks. And so my mental health house of sticks came crashing down.

I don’t blame the cookies (cookies exist for joy and it’s not their fault when we abuse them!), I had forgotten to be on guard for the apathy of depression. Depression isn’t always lying in bed crying for days, sometimes it’s just not caring at all. I took care of others. I went to work and fed the kids and folded laundry and painted the bathroom and did all the things I’d promised or felt obliged to do for other people, but I stopped checking in with and caring for myself, and it finally caught up with me on Friday evening, when I finally cracked under the accumulated apathy and negative thoughts and self-neglect.

Recently, I’ve made a conscious decision to be more open about my mental illness, but until today it has been mostly generalities and just acknowledgement of the condition. Putting all of this down is actually step 2. Step one was having müsli bread (Nigella Lawson’s Lazy Loaf from Nigella Express) for breakfast and stopping at just one cup of coffee. Step 3, in a few seconds, I’m heading to the gym. Then, I have a date with some worsted 50/50 wool/alpaca (yarn stuff).

Maybe next time we’ll talk Teriyaki Tuesday (Get a bottle of Soy Vey teriyaki sauce and you’re halfway there)!