2020 is behind us and while 2021 has not yet done much in way of proving itself any different than the preceding year, I do believe a fair bit of optimism is in order moving forward.
Times have been tough for us all. We’ve all had our own private struggles, to go along with a worldwide pandemic that has touched all of our lives in different, some tragic, ways. My woes are not far in comparison to everyone else’s currently. I miss my friends, I miss my family, my finances are in the garbage and the bills (and thus stress) keep piling up. To say I have had a bleak mindset in recent months would be an embarrassing understatement.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
I have severe depression and anxiety. I suffer from bouts of deep sadness and manic panic attacks, am besieged by frequent “major depressive episodes” and have contemplated suicide countless times in my life. Attempted it at least a couple, as well. It was really bad in my teenage years, but figured at the time that it was only hormones and testosterone and that every other teenager was going through the same thing and really what was so damn special about me anyway. Through the love and compassion of a small group of wonderful people I’ve met in my life, acquaintances who became friends, friends who became family, I was able to “survive” those years and was able to push that shadow back into the inner recesses of my mind. Kept it at bay.
Then five years ago, my grandfather and father passed away within months of each other.
It was like a door was unlocked, a gate unhinged and blown off of a wall, that darkness was back in a big way. I struggled for so very long before finally seeking help and being put on an antidepressant for the first time in my life, though that should have probably happened much earlier. I’ve had varying levels of success with the various pills I have been on in recent years, but with the fifth anniversary of my grandfather’s passing having just happened and the fifth anniversary of my father’s passing looming on the horizon, coupled with the aforementioned universal issues of money/loneliness/plague, I have been very unwell lately.
I spoke with my doctor, a lovely man by the name of Dr. Shelstead, and he switched me from Citalopram (on which I have been for at least a year now) to Effexor. We’ll see how this works, if I’m able to reclaim some sense of normalcy or stability in coming weeks. Today is only my second dose and so far, aside from mild nausea and a headache which may or may not have been related, so good.
I am also coming up on a full year since I fell and fractured my back. Pain is still a daily hurdle to clear, still easing back into a normal work routine. When I finally returned to work, it was under the orders of three hours a day for three days a week, but now I have the green light to work six hours a day, three days a week. It is not much, but it close to doubles my current paycheck, which will be a huge help with bills. I explained to Dr. Shelstead that I was afraid people would think I was making up my pain, in order to attain sympathy and an easy work schedule. He said he believed me, as I hadn’t been requesting hard pain relievers, just that I want the pain to stop.
I was doing so very well with my weight loss, having lost almost fifty pounds total, but given the gravity of things and old habits having a tendency to die hard, I was saddened at the clinic to learn I had gained almost all of it back.
I’m not sharing any of the above information in a cry for help or a grab for attention/pity, but rather to highlight the fact that we are not alone in any of this. I have been much better recently in reaching out to those around me for help when I feel like it’s all getting too much. I have been making every attempt possible to ignore the lies depression and anxiety are wont to tell. That I am a burden to those around me, that no one really loves me and I’m seen as a joke or a one dimensional presence in peoples lives. That I truly have no friends and no one wants to hear me complain about my life.
These are the thoughts and feelings that have almost cost me my life. If not for those select few in my life that I know I can speak to and who care about me, I probably would not be here.
With the addition of Effexor to my daily round of medications and with the promise of a vaccine (I’m on the list now, as is Danielle) and loosening public restrictions around the corner, as well as the welcome shift to warmer weather, I am hopeful that the rest of my year will be better. Dr. Shelstead and I discussed my joining a weight loss program they offer at the local clinic, but I told him to give me a month. In starting the Effexor, he wants to see me in one month to check in and see how its working anyway. Plus, with the Effexor having side effects that are beneficial to weight loss, and a renewed drive to get the number on that scale even lower than it was before, I think I can get into a much better place physically by that point. It’s really just finding a bit of calm mentally that worries me.
Nicer weather and no ice on the ground mean I can start my daily walks again. I’ve been eating a much higher volume of fruits and veggies, been watching my sodium intake and protein consumption, and have been doing my physical therapy exercises daily.
I’ll definitely post my progress here.
One thought on “State of the Soul”
Dear Rob Kaas,
Thank you for sharing some of your darkest and most challenging moments with us.
Regarding issues of wellbeing and body weight, for reasons of health and the environment, I am mostly a vegetarian and occasionally a vegan, even though I consume a little meat infrequently. In any case, I do not have a craze for meat, not to mention that eating less meat is good for the environment for many reasons.
I also keep my consumption of fat to a minimum, preferably less than 10% of food intake or energy.
Here are my general guidelines to remaining healthy and slim. I do not necessarily or invariably stick to them very strictly.
1. 20 minutes before every meal, either drink a glass of water or eat an apple.
2. Use smaller plates to hold meals.
3. Cut out all soft drinks, sugary drinks and fruit juices.
4. Cut out junk food and processed food. (I do have some high-quality biscuits and chocolates in small quantity).
5. Check food label to ensure that the sugar content is below 20%.
6. Do not add too much sugar to home-cooked food.
7. Reduce salt intake.
8. Fast for two days per week. On the fasting day, either eat only one third at every meal, or eat only one meal. Not eating for a whole day or longer is also fine.
9. Have two rather than three meals a day.
10. Restrict mealtimes to within an eight-hour period, outside of which drink only water and have no food. In other words, whether a person has one, two or three meals per day, the meal(s) should be consumed within eight hours.
1. Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) once or twice a day, or at least once every second day. Each session needs to be as intense as possible and lasting no more than 20 to 30 seconds or one minute at most, followed by one to a few minutes of rests. Repeat twice. This can be running, skipping or cycling on the spot. Running upstairs and downstairs can also help.
2. Reduce sitting time by standing to work or study. Buy something like Veridesk or make your own by improvising or using existing materials.
3. Do some skipping or jumping.
4. Whatever exercises you do, vary the intensity.
5. Doing some physically taxing house chores can be helpful too.
I would like to wish you a speedy recovery and better wellbeing.
Since spring is on its way, please kindly let me wish you a wonderful mid-March and a refreshing Springtime with the classic rendering of this very fine song, sung by Mandy Patinkin for the musical “South Pacific”:
May you feel “Younger Than Springtime” throughout the new season!
May you find the new Springtime very much to your liking and highly conducive to your writing, reading, thinking and blogging whatever topics that take your intellectual fancy!