Photo by Lauren Manning via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Lauren Manning via Flickr Creative Commons

Just coming out of my first depression spiral since I started taking supplements to manage my hormones and by extension my mood.

Not sure of the cause. Never exactly sure of the cause.

Could be stress. Or that maca root was more helpful than I realized in stabilizing my mood and I need to make smoothies a couple of days a week for breakfast.

Could be that no matter what I do sometimes this will just happen.

I doubt it’s down to any one factor, but at certain times of the month I am more vulnerable to other compounding factors initiating a spiral.

I know household stress can poke at my insomnia. And I was recently alerted to some interesting research ( which suggests that a lack of REM sleep can be a short-term antidepressant and that depressive individuals have a sleep disorder which causes them to get more REM sleep than non-depressed persons.

So while I have recognized some relationship between depression and insomnia in myself, there may be more of a connection than I realized. Getting a good night’s sleep is paramount to being able to stay on top of my mental health. It’s a delicate balance between enough sleep and too much. And especially since I am a night owl, I am constantly trying to find the compromise between not setting an alarm at least a few mornings a week but also getting up before 11am so that I can have a productive day.

I can’t allow myself to stay awake much past 1am on a regular basis or I will fall into insomnia. But I am rarely tired enough to want to go to bed before midnight. When I work mornings, I have to get up between 9-9:30am, but I also do my best work after 10pm in a lot of cases.

I did find it interesting that the article suggested those with insomnia start their sleep cycle in REM sleep and the increased brain activity makes it feel as if it takes much longer for them to fall asleep than it really does. I have always felt that it takes me 30 minutes at least lying in bed to fall asleep, but now I wonder if that is really true?

I do my best to live by the mantra “You can’t change someone else’s behavior, you can only change your reaction to it.” But lately I wonder if there is an end point past where that logic holds. When there is a gap between my ability to change my reaction and the other person’s behavior, what then? Or, in certain situations, couldn’t this idea be an excuse which allows inappropriate or inexcusable behaviors to persist? Sometimes the answer is to just cut off contact with the person we cannot change, but what about situations where that is not possible?

Between two part-time jobs, still trying to make writing a priority, and taking a class, I am back to working five or six days a week instead of four or five. Especially as it gets closer to the holidays and I am picking up more shifts at the store. I feel as if I am juggling one too many elements, but there aren’t really any it is possible for me to drop right now.

I will have to keep a closer eye on my mental health until after the New Year. It’s difficult living in a small space when people are on different schedules. I enjoy having time to myself at home on weekdays, but insomnia often means I need silence in order to sleep well and that isn’t always possible when one does not live alone.

Due to the stress of reintegrating into my life after the conference, I missed yoga for two weeks. Going to class this past Saturday made me realize I cannot allow that to happen again. My ability to deal with stress is infinitely higher when I do yoga. When something has to give in my life, it is usually exercise or self-care. But I am doing my best to interrupt those patterns and to view those things as as necessary as what I do to pay the rent.

I feel like there is something broken in my stress response cycle, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I get stuck in the fight/flight/freeze mode of stress activation but have a hard time moving to release on my own. It takes something like yoga or BDSM to help me complete the cycle and deactivate. I don’t know how to fix the maladjustment at this point, but at least I know what can override it. If I don’t, then activation piles on top of activation until the whole system shuts down.

I would be interested to know what percentage of therapists get into the field in order to fix themselves. The more I delve into psychology, the more I wonder how I can use what I am learning to help myself survive and thrive. It’s not as if I have to be “fixed” completely (whatever that would even mean) in order to help others, but knowing what has worked for me would certainly provide avenues for empathy and better tools to help those in similar situations.

It seems like since I left school, about once a year or so I reach a point where I recognize that my life as it is is no longer sustainable and I go through a period of transition. First, it was realizing that I could no longer live in B-CS. Then, that I could not work at a call center. After that, it was realizing that I could not work two minimum-wage jobs, and needed at least some of my work to pay a living wage.

Now, I am realizing that while I had hoped to be able to transition to making all of my income from housecleaning, that is not the case. I had hoped to be able to charge enough to be able to clean part-time and do my other work the rest of the time. It turns out the amount which most people can pay for cleaning would force me to work at that business full-time, juggling ten regular clients at all times (more if some appointments are one-time-only or monthly). And I don’t have the time or energy to invest that much into my cleaning business because at that point I will no longer be able to pursue creative work.

If I am going to have to work 50+ hours a week at a business, it might as well be the business I want to make into my career. But I can’t really move forward with drama therapy until the New Year – after I finish my psychology course. So I am biding my time for the next two months, and hopefully making the connections which will help me sustain this new kind of work.

A lot of things are going to shift for me in the spring, and I’m not really sure what my life will look like at that point. But I’m going to try my best to live in the moment and enjoy my life now, instead of worrying about what the future might or might not hold. Uncertainty can be either exciting or terrifying (or at times both) but I am going to do my best to hold onto what is positive about these changes, and to be open to the possibility that my life will change for the better soon. Even if that is sometimes an uphill battle fighting against my brain chemistry.

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