December Days.

One week (plus a day) until winter’s official arrival. That’s it. Here we are.

Last year, I am pretty sure I spent December 21st crying uncontrollably. Oh, the darkness, both outdoors and in my head. It was around that date that I started researching potential therapists for myself because I just could not handle things anymore. Signs that I needed therapy? Well, other than the crying… mood swings, inability to sleep, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, feelings of doom, anxiety attacks. The crying, though. I had never cried so much in my life. So many triggers. Seemingly crying over nothing and everything.

As I started to recover from my depression early this year, there was a part of me that figured that once winter returned, I would fall right back into it. I know I wrote about it several times, even during the summer. I have lived with this fear all year. Becoming depressed again.

I thought it might happen in October, given the fact that October is the month I lost both Canelo and Miguel.

I was fine.

I thought it might happen in November, given the fact that daylight saving time would end and the sun would start setting significantly earlier than it does in the summer.

I was fine.

Now it’s December. December with all those fucking memories – SO many fucking memories – from childhood, from young adulthood, from the Dustin years, and then the horror of last year.

Thirteen days in – I am fine.

But no, wait. No, no no no no no. I have been better than fine all three months. I am happy, I am enjoying life, I have maintained the most positive outlook, I have cultivated a fantastic social life, I have been kicking ass at work, I have bonded with my family even more so than I already was (thanks in large part to my perfect newborn nephew). I am accepting every invitation, partying, dancing, living it up. I feel great about the gifts I have purchased, the thought I put into them, the fact that I did not spend a fortune. Those who appreciate minimalism will be proud.

I feel gooooood. Really good.

This is actually the most I have enjoyed the holidays in quite a while. It’s not so bad, is it?

It’s simply been easy this time around. This December, this year. I realize that there are still eighteen days left for things to completely fuck all up, but I sincerely believe that will not happen. There is still so much to look forward, more joyful times ahead.

How is this my life? 365 days later – how is this my life?

HAPPY Holidays.

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365.

It is so weird.

For months earlier this year, I dreaded this day. It’s the anniversary of the day that pushed me over the edge, into my full-blown depression. I had had episodes of anxiety in the weeks prior, since Miguel passed away, but I was managing. Then this weekend last year happened, and it was bad. Out-of-my-control bad.

The following week was better – I went to the Lady Gaga concert with my best friend Cristina and had an absolutely great time. A couple days after that, I ran a half-marathon, which made me feel strong and powerful. I felt accomplished and seeing all the other runners with their triumphant smiles made me smile as well. That was the last time I genuinely smiled, though, I would say. It was the last time I felt good and optimistic… The day of my half-marathon. A Sunday.

My mind gave me a break and allowed me to feel good for a day. Then, on Tuesday, I was triggered into my first anxiety attack, just a couple hours before I had to go to work (I was working 2pm – 11pm shifts back then). I started shaking, crying, my legs got shaky, and I began to hyperventilate. I crawled into my closet, to hide from the world, from anything that might make things worse, and called my Mom. The last time she had seen me, I was on a high from my race. So this caught her completely off guard.

Aren’t (good) mothers simply amazing? I am sure that hearing me in that state, listening to me describe what I was going through, it must have scared her. I know it must have. But she maintained her calm and talked me through the episode in a soothing way that enabled me to gather myself and make it to work. How the hell did she know how to handle this? How did she know what to say? I was a wreck! How did she pull me out of it in such a way that made me functional at least? Amazing.

I remained gathered enough to make it through each day, but I was not well. People around me started noticing that I was not myself. I was no longer the bright, positive, friendly person that everyone knew. I stopped eating, I was not sleeping well at all, I was crying every day. The things that used to make me happy no longer did. Everything was dull and dreadful. I could not find a silver lining in anything.

Just two weeks after the first anxiety attack, I went in for my first appointment with Nikki and began the process of getting better.

At my second-to-last appointment with her in June, I marveled at the fact that it had been six months since it all began. She asked how I was handling the milestone, and I responded that I was great, but I was not surprised by it. It was spring/summertime, my favorite time of year, after all.

“Ask me again in another six months, when it is fall/wintertime and the anniversary of that shitty time.”

Well, she cannot ask me again. Not unless I go see her, which I still have not done since July.

[sigh]

Here I am. Still doing and feeling great. This time… I am surprised. I suppose I anticipated being triggered again, by the memories and the time change and the colder weather. But I haven’t been. The events of last year, they are in the past. I have learned and grown from them. Toughened up and am a little more hardened, which I needed. I was so vulnerable then. How in the hell did I let myself get there?! Never again! The time change and the weather do not bother me, mainly because I have remained active and social. I have not slowed down one bit, as I tend to usually do this time of year. Nuh uh. Nope! Not this year. This year, I am not letting anything put a stop to the fun and joy.

So… yeah. No signs of depression thus far. No bouts of anxiety, either.

Here’s hoping that this continues until spring returns in all its blossoming, lively glory!

Take good care, friends.

-D

Photos worth some words.

Friends, strangers, anyone who comes across my blog and is up for reading it:

I am doing so great. I am completely off my anti-depressants and have been for nearly a month now. I am thankful they helped me get through the tough times and that I now know that if I ever need them, they can work for me. However, there is a small amount of added freedom that comes with not having to take them every day and for this, I am even more thankful.

Over the past two months, geeze, I have been having a wonderful time! I have been enjoying life, doing what I love, accepting what this universe has to offer, and surrounding myself with all things positive. What was the worst start to a year I have ever had has turned into what is becoming the best year ever! There continue to be bumps along the road, and I am not discrediting them entirely, but for the most part… I just do not care! I am here to be happy, happiness is me. It is decided.

Here are some photos documenting the best times:

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My favorite musician, Frank Turner, crowd surfing at his show. His songs “Get Better” and “The Next Storm” truly resonated with me as I navigated through my dark times. I’m trying to get better because I haven’t been my best… we can get better because we’re not dead yet. Yes, as long as I am still breathing, I can get better. They threw me a whirlwind, and I spat back the sea. I took a battering, but I got thicker skin and the best people I know are looking out for me. Fuck yeah. I am a badass, down but never out, and the best army imaginable at my back. I don’t wanna spend the whole of my life indoors, laying low and waiting on the next storm. I don’t wanna spend the whole of my life inside. I wanna step out and face the sunshine. Pretty self explanatory. Although life may get rough again in the future, I am going to live my time unabashedly. There will be no lamenting.

Nadia and me at the Slowdive show where I danced the night away!

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Sometimes, I want to do fun stuff, but cannot imagine who would want to do them with me. I unexpectedly scored a free buddy pass for Six Flags, made a post on Facebook in search of someone to join me, and actually ended up having several folks interested! It turned out to be a perfect day because there weren’t any lines. We rode everything within two hours!

My work fam. I am so grateful for them, and ridiculously honored to be their leader and liaison. This is us at a new live music venue in town, enjoying some of my favorite music: The Beatles!

No summer is complete without pool parties! Last summer, Nicole and I were floating around my pool while she was super-pregnant. This year, Bodhi is here and joining the fun! It is crazy how much can happen in a year, and even in shorter time periods. At this time last year, I had NO idea what the next six months had in store for me. Bodhi was the constant source of light through it all. Maybe that’s why I love him so damn much.

I recently got to see another one of my favorite bands whose music also lifts me up when I need it most: The Polyphonic Spree. Hey, it’s the sun, and it makes me smile all around, all around! I could cry listening to that song. The sun is what I miss most when I go through my seasonal depression. I am so happy summer got an early start here in Texas and I hope it stays!

My best friend and I made a random trip to New Orleans! This is us on one of their famous streetcars. What a wonderful, relaxing, yet fun getaway. This is what I need to do with my life… TRAVEL!

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Here I am on Bourbon Street! Before I left on my trip, my boss told me to have a great time and drink a hurricane for him. Done and done!

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Besties on Bourbon!

Jackson Square in the French Quarter. We did so much walking, I feel like I know my way around there pretty well now!

This was from our first night in The Big Easy. We had pretty much just landed and were ready to go! It has been decided: she and I make the perfect travel buddies!

Trivia Night with new friends! They have been inviting me out for months now, but they always go to the bar that my ex frequents. I finally decided that I did not give a fuck and went anyway. There will be no holding me back anymore!

Holy Wave’s Memorial Day show in East Dallas. I am pretty sure this bicycle shop was once Service Bar, where I spent many a drunken night in my early twenties. It was a bit surreal to be back, see it transformed… and not be wasted! I have come a long way in the last decade. Back then, I was a bit on the directionless side and felt intimidated by life. The Daisy from those days would absolutely look up to the Daisy I am now.

Goat Yoga is a thing. I am more than happy to participate, although I would rather play with the goats than do yoga, let’s be real. Again, it’s important to find the joy and do what I love. I love being outdoors, being around animals, and spending time with friends. What a wonderful way to do life!

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Blurry, but cute.

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When you are in your 30s, and your friends are in serious relationships, married, having kids… You end up hanging out with a younger crowd. And that’s okay. Aren’t they pressshhhh?

Officially became a member of Krava Maga DFW’s Run Club!

Birthday hangs with this beauty! I often feel guilty for not spending enough time with all my friends. The truth is, they are my friends for a reason. They would never hold such a thing against me. We just pick up where we left off and have a great time!

Mother’s Day with the best crew imaginable. They are the greatest people I know and I am fortunate enough to know them since the day I was born! If we could pick families, I would pick them. They are more than I could ever ask for.

I won free tickets to a music festival and lucky for me, my lovely cousin joined me!

Running a 5K to benefit the place where I got my career started: The SPCA of Texas! My, how it has grown! It will always hold a special place in my heart, as will the animals and people I met while working there!

Love this baby and this pup as if they were my own!

Me and my Bodhi!

This was my first time at Six Flags in YEARS. I am definitely happy that I bought a season pass!

Six Flags just reminds me to have fun and be a kid again! That’s all I need sometimes.

Do you have a job that introduces you to people you know will be lifelong friends? I do!

My chicas.

When I was feeling lost, my mind was lying to me, telling me that I did not have a purpose in life. This is what I do, though, this is my purpose, this is why I am here. I am an activist, constantly working to make this country and world a better place for both my fellow human beings and the rest of my fellow earthlings, the animals.

A fun night with friends inspired me to get creative again. Yet another thing that was missing from my life. That freedom and inspiration to create! I have found it again, and love it!

The last time I wore a jacket this season!

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Although I have met him several times before, this was my first time seeing him since my depression struck. I got to thank him for his music and he was as sweet as ever. Frank Turner, ladies and gentlemen.

It’s a good thing I am an extrovert and able to make friends easily. I showed up to volunteer for the Beto O’Rourke campaign and quickly grouped up with these wonderful women. As we walked through South Dallas to canvass, it became apparent that we are all natural-born leaders and problem-solvers, which made for a very successful day!

I want to do all I can to ensure that this man becomes our senator. I am currently organizing my own event for next month and truly looking forward to being a leader in this campaign!

All smiles. I reunited with the lady who was having a rough time on Valentine’s Day. I wrote about her in a previous entry. It was so good to see her thriving, and she was thrilled to see me doing great as well! The bad times can’t hold us down!

KMDFWRC!!!

Kayaking! It bears repeating: I love being outdoors. Siobhain is awesome and is more than willing to join me on my adventures. I grew up just a couple of miles from White Rock Lake, which is truly a gem in the center of the city. I was happy to show my New York friend around!

What a wonderful group of empowered women, ready to take charge and take their safety into their own hands!

It is always wonderful to meet people who will be complete goobers like you. Life is short, goof around, and have some fun!!!

I am smiling just re-living it all. I knew it, that spring would be my savior and drag me out of the awful funk I was in. Now summer is officially around the corner and I am absolutely thrilled. Soon, my birthday will also arrive and the wishes I receive on that day are always so sweet and moving.

I said it a few months back and I will say it again now: FORWARD AND ONWARD, LADY!

You can’t spell monumental without mental.

Today was monumental for me.

I’m laying on my couch, my freshly shampooed hair in a wrap, I’m wearing my super soft bathrobe, tucked underneath my favorite, most cozy blanket. I currently have three conversations going, via text messaging. This makes me feel good.

I had plans for today. Exciting plans. They had to be scratched thanks to the awful, terrible, no-good weather we are having, though. Booooo! Thunderstorms, incessant rain, and temperatures hovering around freezing all day. I woke up, got dressed, and headed to my parents’ to visit my pup and go shopping.

By the way, you know my incredible parents? The ones I mention every now and then? They have been keeping my dog at their place and taking care of him for me all month! In my completely biased opinion, they are the closest thing to angels and to saints that exist.

Early this month, when I talked to my doctor about how much trouble I was having with sleep, she told me to pay attention to all the little things that kept and/or woke me up. Noises, lights, the temperature, distractions, whatever.

I was sad to realize that more than anything else, my dog was affecting my sleep. From wanting to look out the window at night, and thus messing with the blinds [noisy]; to making himself comfortable on my bed, which leaves me with little space to get comfortable myself; to keeping me up late or waking me up early because he needs to go outside… All of this impedes me from getting a good night’s rest.

I had to do something. I live in a studio apartment, so keeping him in another room isn’t an option. I suppose I could crate him, but he’s eleven years old and has never been crated in his life [I assume this because he was an outdoor, junkyard dog until I adopted him last year]. I had to improve my sleep, though. I knew it was a key to me getting better.

And so, my parents continue to be my heroes. Parents don’t stop being parents when their kids turn eighteen and are out of the house. Not the good ones, at least. Here I am, age thirty-three, at my most desperate hour, and my parents are once again at my rescue. I asked if Bruiser could stay with them as I work to become healthy again, and without hesitation, they agreed to it.

I do not feel guilty about it because he’s in great hands. He is getting more attention than he does here alone all day, waiting for me to get home. And I simply have to get better. It will be to his benefit, too, to have a healthy momma who will take him on long walks, short runs, and trips to the dog park.

I love him so much. It was good to spend most of the day with him. The awful, terrible, no-good weather called for naps, so we lounged in my parents’ living room and dozed off for over an hour. Sleep is sleep and I was grateful to get it!

Mom made me lunch when I woke up, delicious as always. I often say she is the best cook I know, and I mean it. She is so creative, and pays such close attention to detail. She also cooks with her heart. She expresses love to others my feeding them, and I am convinced this is why everything she makes is simply amazing. I ate until I was full, which is another huge step for me.

We went shopping. 🙂

I got home a little after five, tidied up a bit, worked out (!!!!!!!), and showered.

Then… That sinking feeling of loneliness started creeping, about an hour ago. Why? Why would it? I literally spent all day with my favorite person, and with my pup, but loneliness still prevailed. It makes no sense.

As my mind started to spin out of control, I remembered that my therapist and I decided to skip our session this week. That’s how well I was doing when she and I last spoke! Today is Wednesday. I would’ve gone today, but I didn’t.

I SKIPPED A WEEK.

Maybe I shouldn’t have? Maybe I should text her? What would she tell me to do?

I thought about calling my usuals – Cristina, Sarah, Cent, Cheryl, Julie – but I stopped myself, told myself to snap out of it, to appreciate the solitude. Breathe, Daisy.

The solitude did not last long. Cheryl texted me. Then I texted Nadia. Then Bri texted me as well. And just like that, I remembered that I am NOT alone. People do need me, just like I need them. What a wonderful reminder.

Monumental:

  • I slept/napped.
  • I ate very well.
  • I exercised.
  • I skipped therapy.
  • I helped my friends.

Deep breath. I like where this is going. You’ll be home soon, Bruiser Boy.

Gratitude and goals.

I am so thankful I’m not going through this alone. In the last two weeks or so, I have opened up to an additional six people, all of whom have been incredibly supportive and caring.

At a previous session, my therapist told me that the fact that I have so many people willing to be there for me and help, talk, check in on me… It speaks volumes of the kind of person that I am. She said it reflects on me. The quality of my friends indicates that I myself am a wonderful person.

Last week, Jocelyn took me out on a hike. She packed small healthy snacks for me, knowing that I had not been eating well. Monday night, she showed up at my job with a bouquet of daisies and even more healthy snacks.

Lindsey and Jacob have been texting to check on me and offer words of encouragement.

Tonight, Sarah will be joining me at my next therapy session. Cristina will be flying in to Dallas and staying at my place with me for the night.

Mom, though? She has been my rock. Driving me everywhere, making sure I eat (albeit not very much – I’m trying), comforting me when I cry, listening to me, staying with me, cleaning my apartment, watching my dog for me. She’s amazing.

Everyone is amazing.

I know that some people with mental illness close themselves off from others, they don’t want anyone to know, they’re ashamed, or they don’t want to bring others down. I have been open, I have known from the very beginning, when the darkness first started creeping in, that there was no way in hell I’d be able to get through this on my own. And while I do feel guilty for constantly having to reach out, everyone assures me that they are glad they can be there for me.

Thank you all.

My goal is to continue to think of all I have to be grateful for. Other goals include:

  • Eating. It has become such a daunting task. I’ve lost ten pounds (that I didn’t really need to lose) in the last two months. Yesterday, I decided to wear something other than scrubs or sweatpants, to maybe boost my spirit. I was in awe when I looked at myself in the mirror. My clothes are probably three sizes too big for me now. I looked like I’m wasting away. I feel the lack of energy as well.
  • Sleeping. I can’t sleep because I’m stressed and I’m stressed because I can’t sleep. It’s an awful cycle that is leaving me exhausted. I live in fear that my lack of rest will start to affect my performance at work, especially now that I’m in a leadership role. I went to my physician early this week to ask for sleep aid. She instead prescribed an antidepressant in order to treat the root of the problem. Unfortunately, it can take weeks to kick in. In the meantime, I have a weighted blanket, eye mask, ear plugs, and a relaxation routine (taught to me by my therapist) that I rely on, although they haven’t been much help yet.
  • Controlling my thoughts. There is so much negativity and fear that I need to let go of. It’s only drowning me more. I’m trying to remind myself that this is only a season, that we are (as of today!) halfway through the winter, and spring will arrive again! I can’t bloom year round, and that’s okay. This winter was the harshest I have ever experienced, but my hope is that I will survive it and be better prepared for future years.
  • Being patient. I need to give myself time. I want to be better now, I really do. I want to go back to being my old self, I miss her. But I need to trust this journey. My meds will kick in at some point too, right?

Thank you all for reading. If you have any words for me, please share. I would appreciate them.