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mental health blog

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In the past few months I’ve seen moderate weight loss, thanks to starting karate and my migraine medication that has loss of appetite as a side effect. Plus, I was eating healthier and working out on my own.

I felt good about myself, but as always, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop — it always does. My eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder) always comes back to find me. This time was no different. I let it overtake me. I stopped feeling full, I started drinking more Diet Coke, which meant less water, and my taste buds craved more sugar.

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I ate cookies, candy, bread, chips and any carb I had denied myself previously. I didn’t even want it, but I did. How many people can relate to that? Was I punishing myself? Trying to escape? Or did I just want to feel good, however temporary it was?

I’ve been avoiding the scale, which I advocate for anyway, but I check my weight occasionally for accountability. I can’t check it now. I’m too ashamed. I was doing so well. I was taking care of myself, and I was so proud of myself for being healthy — not thin or skinny or any of that. Healthy was my goal and being strong.

I was chatting with a girlfriend about it who has the same problem. We check in with ourselves because not a whole lot of people understand BED. I think it’s hard for my friends and family, especially when sometimes I’m at a lower weight. How can I have Binge Eating Disorder at 166 pounds? But just the other day one of my girlfriends said (with tears in her eyes) that she had no idea she had an eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder) until she read some of my blogs. BED is not talked a lot about, even though it negatively affects your health and decreases your quality of life – BIG TIME.

My previously mentioned friend told me she has had trouble going to the grocery store. That’s why I don’t go — I get my groceries delivered so I can’t pick up junk and suffer from impulse buys. My friend is like me: she uses food for comfort, and even though she has received help and counseling for it, it’s still very difficult to her. ME TOO. Matter of fact, she mentioned how deadly eating disorders can be. According to a 2020 article, Anorexia is named as the mental illness with the highest mortality rate. Five to 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease and 18 to 20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years. That’s shocking.

Other stats you should know:

  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men
  • One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
  • Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
  • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males (source: South Carolina State Dept of Mental Health)

I didn’t look much for stats on Binge Eating Disorder but you can look at disability from BED here. How do I say this delicately? It’s not outright deadly, but I can see how long-term it could contribute negatively to your health and subsequently your death.

I work so hard to keep my depression, anxiety and eating disorder from my kids, but let’s face it, I’m not doing a great job. The jig will be up sooner or later. They’re 5 and 7. I can’t just not eat in front of them for the rest of my life.

I’m 38 years old. It’s never going to get easier.

But I’ll keep trying. I’ll keep checking in with my friend. I’ll aim to be healthier every single day of my life. Because that’s what I do.

I can live with my kids seeing that.

If you have an eating disorder and need help, please go here. There’s a hotline and chat line you can call.

You are not alone.

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We finally got an appointment with a play therapist for Eli last week, and oh my God, he was wonderful. First, he has ADHD, too. During the first part of the appointment, he talked to my husband and I about our histories and what was going on at home. Usually, he said, he gets bored with neurotypical people, but he wasn’t bored with us. Granted, I’m not exactly neurotypical because of my depression and anxiety (and other fun mental health conditions). Then he asked, “Ok, so which one of you has ADHD?” My husband quickly answered, “Neither.” But I bit my lip. I’ve suspected I’ve had it ever since there were rumblings that Eli might have it in Pre-K. Now, my brother has it, which makes at a higher risk to have it, but I also read that having depression and anxiety puts me at a higher risk, too. There are other things as well. You might start thinking that I’m not hyperactive, but ADHD is different in older women.

But here’s the thing…Does it even matter if I have ADHD? I take Adderall anyway to help with slow days when it’s hard to get out of bed. It doesn’t change anything. I already feel like I relate to Eli because both of our brains are “unique.” But does it matter? Another acronyms on my laundry list of diagnoses? Aren’t I “unique” enough? When I write them down or divulge them when I’m speaking or presenting, it makes me feel so vulnerable.

Major Depression Disorder

People are accepting of one of two mental health condition but 6 or 7? Nah.

Persistant Depression Disorder

It’s really embarrassing when I go to the doctor or ER (which happens quite a bit).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It probably scares people, and maybe scares people who don’t know me that well. Surely, it doesn’t scare my friends anymore. They know they deal.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

I bet it was a shock to my parents. I’m sure they didn’t share it with the rest of my family.

Binge Eating Disorder

Especially the ones related to substance abuse.

Opioid Use Disorder – Moderate

I guess by now it shouldn’t bother me. I am recovery, but just like when I share what medications I’m on, there’s always some nurse who comments that “This is too much” like, hello, I just left one of the best psychiatric hospitals in the world.

Sedative, Hypnotic or Anxiolytic Drug Use Disorder – Moderate

I thought to ask my psychiatrist about it, but seriously, what does it matter? I can still relate to Eli, there’s no medicine change (if I do have it), it doesn’t affect my daily life, etc. And really, I don’t want the extra diagnosis. Call me vain, whatever. A girl can only handle the stares and turn red so many times.

So I guess it doesn’t matter. I guess it’s a compliment that the doctor wasn’t bored with us. Definitely not me, because I’m neurodivergent. David’s the “typical” one for a change, lol.

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    regular-and-diet-soda

I recently talked about starting back on Topamax, a migraine prevention medication that has a slew of side effects — one being that it makes carbonated beverages taste awful (flat and gross). When I first started the medication, it tasted awful. I didn’t even buy any Diet Coke for weeks, only drinking one (or less) a day, from a previous trip to the store.

Then one morning I drank one with my (healthy) homemade breakfast taco, and it tasted good again. I thought, oh my god, maybe the medicine isn’t working, but I still haven’t had a migraine in a month. And as glad as I was to welcome my old friend back onto my tastebuds and in my stomach, I was also disappointed. Here I go again, I thought, as my daily intake went up and up. Will I never be rid of this dark elixir?

OK, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but I was really hoping to get rid of this habit while on Topamax, while it taste badly and needed to drink a ton of water. I’m still drinking lots of water, but every day I seem to sneak in a little more Diet Coke. I know it’s bad for me — friends and family never let me forget — but it’s been the one of the few bad habits I haven’t seemed to have kicked.

I’ve tried quitting at least 10 times, maybe more. I tried switching to coffee (many different kinds) but to no avail. I tried tea, because I felt I needed some caffeine, but that didn’t last either. I tried going cold turkey while on Topamax multiple times before and cold turkey without. Nope and nope. I’ve tried telling myself that it will eventually kill me, but it’s to care when you *think* you’re young. Even though I’m pushing 40, it’s still hard to care. Sigh.

Medical News Today, which I read a lot, says a growing body of evidence suggests that diet soda consumption correlates with an increased risk of a wide range of medical conditions, including:

  • heart conditions, such as heart attack and high blood pressure
  • metabolic issues, including diabetes and obesity
  • brain conditions, such as dementia and stroke
  • liver problems, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Now, I don’t need an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, stroke or dementia. Really, anything they mention. I have enough health problems as it is.

MNT also says that while the precise relationship between diet soda and medical conditions is uncertain and requires more research, it is clear that people should not see diet soda as a healthful alternative to sugary drinks.

Well, OK. That doesn’t exactly help me now. I guess it’s like anything else hard in life — I just have to get through it. I really have to be committed to it and do my best, like I do with my mental illness. I don’t let myself slide on that anymore, so maybe I can’t let myself slide on this anymore.

Have you quit diet soda before? Have any tips or tricks? Leave them in the comments.

Thanks for listening. Stay in the light.

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I recently sent a meme to one of my friends that said, “I am the friend you have to explain to your other friends before they meet me.” She laughed it off, but I feel it’s so true.

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See, I have baggage. A lot of baggage. I don’t mean to bring it with me where ever I go, but sometimes it just sneaks into my daily life. For example, I have retrograde amnesia. I also have trouble with my short term memory — this is due to the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) I did for my treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. Sometimes I’ll introduce myself to the same person twice (or three times). It’s hard for me to remember things so I try to write everything down. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s annoying and sometimes I come off rude when really I just can’t remember.

Then there’s my anxiety. When I start to feel I’m not in control, I become irritable and I snipe at people. On a good note, my anxiety makes me show up early every where I go. It makes me plan ahead, and I feel like I’m always prepared. But there are times where my depression takes over and I can’t get those things done. Then am I note only irritable, I’m overly emotional and feel very out of control. I hate feeling like that.

My diagnoses include:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Migraine disorder

I feel like I’m missing some, but you get the point. I’m more than my diagnoses, but my behavior is hard to explain when someone doesn’t know what I’m going through.

More recently I started a new med for my migraine disorder. It’s called Topamax, and it has helped immensely. I haven’t had a migraine since I started three or four weeks ago. BUT it has the weirdest side effects and when I explain them to people I feel like a “crazy” person.

  • It makes carbonated beverages taste gross
  • It leaves a weird taste in your mouth
  • I’m not able to sweat when I’m exercising so I have to drink tons of water when my body temp rises
  • I have to drink tons of water, period
  • It causes indigestion
  • It causes memory loss (just what I need)
  • Constant eye twitching
  • And it causes brain fog – I’ve literally forgotten words while I’m talking

There’s so much more.

Because I take a karate class, I had to explain to the instructor about the body temperature thing, and boy did I feel crazy. I’m sure he’s never heard that before. Like when I explain to people I have retrograde amnesia from “shock therapy.” It sounds unbelievable.

I shouldn’t care what people think, and normally I don’t, but sometimes I can’t help think I’m making excuses listing off my limitations — are they really limitations?

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I started a new preventive migraine medication about a week and a half ago (Topamax), and it has not gone smoothly. It’s an older pill, with a lot of side effects. I’ve been on it quite a few times before but have never experienced this many effects.

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First, there’s how carbonated beverages tasting like crap. Fine, who really cares? Then there’s indigestion – another slight annoyance. Then my eye constantly twitching. Also, I can’t sweat when my body temperature rises (say, when I’m doing karate) so I have to take lots of breaks and drink A LOT of water. More annoying. There’s major fatigue and tiredness (I took five naps in one day). Brain fog. Memory loss. My thinking is very slowed. Diarrhea. Oh, and there’s a weird taste in my mouth. Fine.

None of this would matter to me if I hadn’t just have started karate. I started training because I thought it was cool watching my kids. I wanted it for me. I was pumped. I wanted to be physically fit. Then I had to switch to this medicine. I lost my confidence. How was I supposed to tell my instructors — hey I can’t sweat so I have to leave the floor to suck down water every five seconds on top of hey I have retrograde amnesia and also I can’t retain a lot of new information so I need to do private lessons, too. I got issues. And those issues are only mine, I’m sure. But I’ve always hated having them. Some of of exclusion keeping me from being like the others. Keeping me from being healthy — that’s what it is. I’ve always hated hearing, “OMG, you’re so unhealthy. You take too many pills. You’re too young to be this way, etc. “

Cringe.

But I tried to keep my instructors up to date. I tried explaining the best I could. I tried to hang in there until I couldn’t possible go any more. I took my water breaks then got back in there. I wanted to more, yes. But I did enough, and sometimes, that’s what it takes.

That’s what it took yesterday when I earned my first stripe on my white belt. It was not given. It was earned, and I truly feel that way. I have loved getting every bruise on my body. I’ve loved every self-defense move. I’ve loved practicing every round kick (which I’ll continue to do). This is for me. And even though my kids were there (supposed) to be watching me, this was for me. I’m proud of me. But tell you the truth, I could have done without them saying, “Mommy is soooo slow.” or “Mommy is not doing that right.”

I did it the way I was taught and I did it to the best of my abilities. And I could totally kick both their asses, should it come to that. Totally kidding.

Another cool thing is that I see and feel my body changing. I’m getting stronger. I’m trying to condition every day — not to lose weight — but to make my training easier. It’s just going to get harder from here. I like the way it’s changing….how I’m changing. Physically and mentally.

If I can do all that I’m doing plus get a stripe while taking the medication from hell, my depressed, anxious, column-writing, retrograde amnesiac, migraine-having, no-sweating, no-Diet Coke-tasting ass can do anything.

Bring it.

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Limitations

by Heather Loeb

Before I realized I was out of survival mode and truly in recovery, I would always say to myself, “I have limitations.” And it was true, and maybe still is, but in the past few days I’ve noticed that I have moved past certain “limitations.” Some of physical barriers.

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For instance, I had a private karate lesson with my karate instructor on Friday. We have a test for a stripe next week, and I wasn’t feeling confident. It’s hard for me to keep up in class because there are so many people in there — beginners and advanced — and I just wanted to make sure I had everything down. I practiced my kicks and the mitt drills. I felt strong, and I’m truly looking forward to the test.

When I got home, I practiced my kicks on my punching bag, but it’s a little awkward because of it’s shape. I really have to pull my kicks high to strike. I digress. After that I wanted to work on my push-ups. I have very little upper body strength, only able to do push-ups on my knees. And barely able to do that. So I did that. And I did some against the wall. I figure I need to be doing push-ups every single day until I can do them on my toes.

The old, depressed Heather would never have cared about that, never would’ve challenged herself in anyway. So after the wall push-ups, I did some light weight lifting.

I then worked on my abs. Lately my abs have been on fire. I put my hands under my back and bottom and lifted my legs, I did the Superman pose, and finally, I wanted to try a sit up. I stalled awhile before attempting it because it has been years since I’d even tried. It was a daunting task. And I have limitations, right?

I tucked my feet under the couch and breathed in. I exhaled, pulled my ab muscles in, coming all the way up to my knees.

I DID IT!

I tried to do it again, but no dice. That’s okay. You gotta start somewhere. Really, you just gotta start. And that’s what I have done. I’m super excited to see where this takes me.

I love karate, and I feel stronger every class. Actually, I felt beat down after the last class, and I have the bruises to prove it, but I’m better than the class before.

I hate to quote Kanye, but I’m really harder, better, faster, stronger. One sit up, one lap, one round kick at a time.

Limitations can’t hold you back if you don’t let them.

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Just last week I was saying I realized I wasn’t in a depressive episode anymore. That I’ll always have major depressive disorder, but for the moment I’m not depressed. It’s been this way for awhile, I just didn’t notice. I’m always wary that an episode can pop up, and I’m always on guard.

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But, instead of depression, my migraines have started to occupy my thoughts. I was actually hospitalized two weeks ago because I had an intractable migraine for an entire week. This week I’ve had one almost every day. I even had to leave early from Isla’s field trip because I had forgot to bring my medications.

I feel like I miss so much after a migraine. Some are easy and go away fast, but lately they’ve been holding on for dear life. It’s hours and days that I can’t get back. I can only sit in a cool, dark room praying that I find relief.

And as much as I hate to think about it this way, it’s just not fair. It’s unfair that I’m plagued by so many illnesses and disorders. Right now, depression seems easy, and that’s saying a whole hell of a lot. Both are debilitating and time is lost. Precious time.

I don’t mean to throw myself a pity party. I’m just frustrated that I can’t participate in the life that I have built post depression episode. I’ve done so much to be present with my family, get involved with NAMI GCC, write for the Caller-Times, and blog. And start karate. I couldn’t have done that before, and I’m proud of the life I’m living. For once in my life I’m so happy and resolute in knowing I’m where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. So the migraines are really getting in the way of that, damnit.

But I did start a new medication today for migraine prevention. It’s not new actually — I’ve been on and off it for about 20 years. It’s called Topamax, and it’s an anticonvulsant drug also used for migraine prevention. It’s got some weird side effects. One being that it makes carbonated beverages taste horrible. You may think “so what?” but that means I will no longer be able to drink my beloved Diet Cokes. I’m very sad about that. Very sad. But not sad enough not to take the pills. I have to get rid of these damn migraines. And I guess it’ll force me to drink more water. Although last time I was on it, I just switched to Diet Pepsi because it didn’t taste awful like it usually does, lol. I know, I’m hopeless.

If you’re into sending good thoughts, vibes or prayers, please send them my way. I don’t want to live inside my bedroom writhing in pain.

That’s all for now. Stay in the light, my friends.

And Happy Passover/Easter.

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I don’t know if it’s the motion of repetitive chewing or the first delectable bites that set my taste buds on fire. Sometimes it starts with, “I deserve a treat,” even when I’ve indulged myself multiple times throughout that day. Sometimes it happens because I’m alone (rare), which in my eyes, is always a time to celebrate. Maybe I just need comfort…but at every meal?

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I don’t understand my binge eating. I mean, I do to an extent. I know it’s a behavior I learned that once served a purpose but doesn’t necessarily work for me now. One book I read said that the binge urges come from your “primitive brain,” meaning the lower brain, my limbic system. That part of the brain is supposed to warn you of danger — the part of the brain that would kick off your flight, fight or freeze responses.

Except I’m not being preyed on. But I am in danger. I always am when I binge.

I keep thinking what I need comfort from. My life is good, so good. I still struggle with depression, anxiety, and of course with binge eating. But I have no complaints about the life I’m living. Just the other day I realized how far I’ve come since being hospitalized in 2019. I went to a karate class, for heaven’s sake, when just a few years ago I couldn’t get out of bed or shower.

So what is my problem? Is it habit? I’ve read all kinds of books on bingeing, but I couldn’t tell you one thing I really learned because of my bad memory.

I started karate because I thought it would be fun, that I would learn self-discipline and honor my body by making it stronger. Maybe I should start asking myself before I eat if what I’m eating honors my body? But will that work? I seem to lack rationale before a binge, so will I even care if it doesn’t honor my body in the moment?

I hate the way I feel after a binge. My body is so heavy, my belly so full. I’m sluggish, and then the guilt comes in, followed by shame. I watch the numbers go up on the scale, then quickly turn away from the results it shows. I shove that pain down and go about my day then daydream about what I’m going to eat the next couple of meals. Actually, I’m always thinking about what I’m going to eat. I think nonstop of food, which I know isn’t normal. One of my best friends told me she never thinks of food, it’s just fuel to her body. Why can’t I think like that?

I’m hoping that karate will push me to the edge and make me jump far away from binge eating and overeating. I have to be in shape. I can’t keep gaining the same 30 pounds. I want to be strong, for my body to be strong. I want to be example to my kids.

Throwing away the “bad” food in the house isn’t enough. It has to come from inside. But it has to be now — I’m not doing my body any favors by doing this. I don’t want to die young. I want to lead a healthy life.

I want to lead a healthy life.

Looks like I’ll be digging deep with my therapist next week. There’s some reason I’m doing this. If it’s not my depression, it’s my anxiety. If it’s not my anxiety, it’s my eating disorder. Now that I have depression and anxiety taken care of (for the most part), my eating is out of control. I picture myself on a large ship on the sea (for some reason it looks like the ship in The Little Mermaid) and there are multiple holes in the wood. Big, round holes. When I plug one, the others gush, and I’m constantly patching them all day, every day.

I have work to do. It’s daunting, but I can do hard things.

I can do this.

I can be healthy.

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Last week my husband and I took a trip to Turks and Caicos to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. It was totally amazing; I can’t wait to go back. It was definitely hard to readjust to our routine and structure today, but we did it.

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But I can’t stop thinking about the vacation. I’m not trying to relive it; I’m just going over how different I was there. I packed a different dress to wear ever day, heels and sandals. I did my hair and my makeup, something I rarely do in every day life. I was put together, chic, and most importantly, I was confident. So confident. I wore a different swimsuit every day, too. Including a two-piece. I didn’t use a coverup either, something I always do around pools/beaches.

I just felt so fantastic. I even drank a few daiquiris, something that rarely happens also. I remember telling David that Vacation Heather was fun, confident and relaxed. He replied that he loved Vacation Heather.

So I’ve been wondering — why can’t I be that version of myself here at home? Surely there’s a way to merge the two. I realize that it can’t be exactly the same. After all, I’m taking care of two children and volunteering for NAMI Greater Corpus Christi. I don’t get paid, but it IS work. Then there’s bills, taking the kids to karate and waking up at 5 a.m. just to list a few.

My husband also mentioned that when he comes home, I’m already in my sweats and he doesn’t get to see me in “real clothes.” I have to admit, that’s my favorite time of day: coming home after picking up the kids/going to karate and putting on my comfortable PJs or lounge wear. I have to balance this love with David’s need to see me in real clothes. I don’t want that to sound like he’s bossing me around or anything. I think it’s good that he sees me in nice clothes; I certainly like him when he dresses nicely.

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So today I wore a yellow blouse, jeans and nice sandals. I put a beautiful headband on, and I feel good…confident. But adding Vacation Heather is more than wearing makeup and dresses everyday — I need to alter my attitude. I need to relax, especially when it comes to the kids. I want to yell less and be more laid back. My depression and anxiety don’t make that easy, but there’s room to loosen the reins on everything, I think.

I will make an effort to look nice. I’ll put on a dress because it makes me feel light and sexy. I have to remember that I’m a human being, not just a mom in the trenches of parenthood. I’m more than sweatpants and PJs. I deserve to feel good about myself and to show off my personality. I’m more than my depression and anxiety. Sometimes I feel like I eat, breathe and sleep mental health and I get caught up in my conditions, treating them like a ball and chain I’m lugging around, but that has to stop.

From now on, I’m going to be me — the real me who celebrates herself, no matter if she’s on a tropical island or in Corpus Christi.

And I can’t wait to see it.

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This morning was slow. I took the kids to school, worked on a couple things for NAMI and made #MentalHealthMonday videos. Now that I’m typing that, it doesn’t seem like such a slow morning.

After I did all that I turned on the TV and thought I’d enjoy some chill time before my noon meeting. Except I couldn’t enjoy it. I keep thinking that I was squandering my time, and there were things for me to do that I didn’t realize. A blanket of anxiety came over me, and I started to get that uncomfortable feeling in my chest that tags along with anxiety. I kept checking my phone, then Facebook, then back to my email.

I tried exploring the emotions that popped up. Why do I feel anxious? What would help me right now? That’s about as far as I got because then the word “squander” came to mine. Ouch. I hate that word. I’ve been accused of squandering in the past: money, time, energy, etc., so I was sensitive to it.

But was I really squandering time if I have all my “work” completed. Now, I shouldn’t have put work in quotations, but I’ll deal with that later. What’s wrong with watching a little TV and enjoying the silence that blooms once the kids are at school. Later today I’ll have a noon meeting, I’ll pick up my son at 1:45 p.m., then my daughter at 3 p.m. Then it’s karate class at 4 p.m. Mondays are always big days, so why not take a break now while I can get it?

Why must we keep ourselves busy? Most of the time I don’t like to be busy, although I admit it (sometimes) can help when I’m anxious and depressed.

I guess a lot of us measure our worth, our days, by productivity. It’s hundreds of years in the making, but the belief that you are success based on productivity is crap, especially if you have a mental health condition.

Depression and anxiety often dictate my schedule and how my dad will go. Sometimes I want to stay in bed or don’t have the energy to be around people, no matter who they are. And that’s okay. Successful days to me look like taking a shower, brushing my teeth and not yelling at the kids. Sometimes that’s a lot. Hell, sometimes I can’t even do that. For anyone with a serious mental illness, things that are seen as simple tasks can look daunting, like climbing a mountain. We don’t control it— we can manage it, but there’s no cure, and we’re definitely not doing it on purpose.

When I was a lot sicker, just a few years ago, taking a shower and brushing my teeth seemed like monumental acts of greatness that I just couldn’t manage. I’m doing better now, but I still struggle with it sometimes.

Can’t we measure our days by something else? Presence, self-care, being kind to ourselves and taking breaks? I realize there are a lot of people who don’t agree with that, but that’s old school thinking. Our generation is more gentle, I think. The stigma of mental illness, while presence, isn’t as strong as it was with our parents and their parents.

We can define our days how we want.

If all you did today was roll out of bed, that’s something. You are more than your productivity.” You are worthy and more.

And so am I.

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