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I took the puppy to get his haircut today, and before I dropped him off I took him on a bit of a walk around a park, down a path, because we were a bit early. I’m trying to take him for more walks. He’s getting old and he deserves it, and I deserve that time too.

As I was walking I was thinking, as one is wont to do when in quiet nature. I thought to myself ‘why don’t I do more of this?’ Why don’t I walk more often. Why don’t I walk for longer. It gives me the opportunity to think, to breathe. And I answered myself too – I’m scared.

I’m scared of getting hurt, I’m scared of over-heating. I’m scared of looking incapable, of making things worse. I’m scared of how I look to people.

And that’s just stupid. I thought I was over that. When I was a new mom and I caught myself singing to my little girl to keep her entertained in the grocery story I though I was over getting embarrassed by what other people might thing. I am more important, and what I demonstrate to her is more important.

I even try to act completely calm around all types of spiders and insects.

And so, if I am in control, how do I continue to let myself be ruled by these beliefs about myself and what I am capable of, even though I know that the only way to change anything is to go ahead and do the things?

Why do I let my brain get in the way? And why do I let me have the same fight with myself over and over again. Perhaps more importantly, how do I slough off this thinking and move forward, accepting fear as part of the journey and walking through it?

I can accomplish.

I know that I can, especially when I have to. I just need to convince me of that.

 

I’m holding on

July 20th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Issues | Personal - (Comments Off on I’m holding on)

When  I was 17 or 18 my father turned to me after a dinner at his house and asked me, point blank: “When was the last time you thought about killing yourself?”

I was shocked into just answering, honestly. It had been about a year before.

By the time he asked I was over that particular hump, but my depression has ebbed and flowed for years. The very, very worst was when I was in my early 20s, having graduated at or near the top of my class and managed to only one job – a terrible one that I left after just a few months when the paper shut down.

I felt as though I had made all the wrong choices and it was just going to keep going that way. I would collapse in tears, sleep all day, hope that somebody could offer me a better solution that just disappearing. But I’m still ebbing and flowing. It’s been much better and at its worst.

It does not surprise me that people like Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington suffered from depression. There is a reason that I connected to their music. There is a reason that driving around with the windows down blasting Hybrid Theory and singing along made me feel better – like someone understood.

What surprises me is that they couldn’t beat it, in the end.

 

Because why me. Why could I fight back against that demon and these artists, these successful people, these respected people, couldn’t?

Does this mean that there are no answers, no solutions, no magic potion to make the darkness disappear. Does this mean that to be a great artist, you really do have to descend into that darkness? Can I never be my most creative self AND be taking the anti-depressants that keep me level?

And I drive myself crazy.

A piece of wax

June 28th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Personal - (Comments Off on A piece of wax)

There are a lot of things that I haven’t been doing enough of lately. Blogging is one. Writing in general, really. But I have been reading a lot.

I haven’t been exercising, but I did spend a lot of the last week cleaning and doing home improvement projects. To celebrate Canada Day the whole family is doing a 5k and I feel ready, and excited for how excited the kid will be at the end.

I haven’t been at my best, but I’ve been working on it. Pushing myself a little bit, and listening when I push back.

There is a lot going on.

Joe was away for a week and while he was gone the kid and I planted a garden and painted our front door. We’re building a deck – well, we’re having a deck built for us, hopefully by the end of summer. And on that deck we will put a gorgeous cedar glider being purchased for us for our 10th wedding anniversary.

I don’t know how we’ve been married almost 10 years, but then I think about our 7-year-old who is almost finished Grade 1. I think about the five years we’ve been in this house together. I think about our puppy, who turns 12 this year and remains in good health.

Family

This week I started re-reading one of my absolute favourite books of all time – The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde. It is the first of the Nextian series, which is made up of seven books (and I think he’s done). I bought the first two books at the Chapters in Belleville while I was living there for college. I’ve re-read it multiple times, now I’ve had it for 14 years.

Time doesn’t make any sense to me at all any more. It seems like we’ve been married for a minute. That our daughter is still new to us, but has still always been a part of our lives.

All of this, and I still feel like I’m a kid myself. Until I spend some time with people in their 20s.

 

Can’t wait for tomorrow

June 11th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Personal - (Comments Off on Can’t wait for tomorrow)

I’m am currently in a period of depression. I know this because everything seems hard and I get tired easily.

I want to want to clean the house but I don’t know where to start, so I haven’t.

I want to eat better, but preparing food is too much.

I want to focus on things for a long period of time without getting distracted. I want to read things and remember them.

I want to want to cook and bake and take care of my family, but instead they’re taking care of me.

There have been times when I’ve been able to push myself to do something – take the kid to the park, watch her play soccer, go out with friends. But everything is just a little bit hard and I always feel a bit tired or tentative.

I’m having to push myself to do more and more things – like shower in the morning, or leave the house to get a meal. Sometimes even picking a TV show to watch is so much harder than just sitting in the quiet.

Of course, when I do push myself and get outside, take my daughter to play, sit in the sun and the breeze, it’s glorious and much-needed.

But it can be so hard to remember what feels good – and also that I deserve to.

The marathon

June 2nd, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Personal - (Comments Off on The marathon)

I am struggling. I’m am struggling to focus. I’m struggling to eat well. I’m struggling to deal with the knowledge that my struggles with confidence are probably related to my depression. I am struggling to give myself permission to do what I need.

The house is a bit of a mess, despite the fact that I’m home now and if I need a focus break from work I can and should do some tidying. I haven’t been exercising, despite the fact that I can go for walks around the neighbourhood with the dog when he needs to go out, up to the coffee shop with my laptop, or even on the treadmill where Joe set up a little desk for me. Hell, I could take my lunch hour at the gym, but I don’t.

I don’t remember the last time I did something fun and creative.

I’m biting my nails again. I’m not eating right.

Maybe it’s a reaction to finishing The West Wing and not having CJ’s support anymore. Maybe it’s an incredible fear of failing and being a disappointment.

I’m spending too much time scared. And waiting to start. I need to find my routine again. When I worked downtown in an office on the hill I had such a good routine. I have no recollection of developing that routine, I just knew what needed to get done first, and what would be good to do next, and then how the rest of my day should do.

I need to figure that out again. Except instead I’m floundering, unfocused, bouncing from one thing to the next.

But I have been doing one thing right: I have been taking my daughter to the park. I have been walking with her to the local splash pad. I have been surprising her with play. I have been inviting her friends along. That is one thing I have been doing well. We have been together. We danced in the rain.

There is that.

Persisting

May 31st, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Parenting - (Comments Off on Persisting)

I had a panic attack last Saturday. I couldn’t stop the tears. I was filled with fear.

I had just returned from a work trip to Toronto, I was tired, things had been moving rapidly and I was full of doubt. I signed up for a 5k race that I was not prepared for, but I couldn’t just not go. I’ve done that before – panicked and not let myself try. But I’ve done this before. I had to at least try.

But then getting downtown in time to get my race kit – first getting dropped off at the wrong place and having to walk up to a totally different location, fast as my shin splints could carry me, to make sure I got there on time, rocked my confidence.

If it hurt to walk for 10 minutes as fast as I could, how could I possibly make it through a 5k. Why was I stupid enough to not only sign up, but advertise the fact that I was doing this?

I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to quit, but what if I hurt myself?

And then my little girl wrote me a note. She wrote a note that said, quite simply: You can do it, I believe in you.

I swear, I don’t know what I did to deserve her. To have her there, not only assuring me that I was capable, but cheering me on when I did, in fact, cross that finish line, that was something.

And I crossed that finish line. I turned up my music, I pumped myself up, and I walked – with a bit of jogging – and I finished that race in less time than the last one. Not only did it take less time, but it also felt a lot better. So the next one – now scheduled for July 1 – will be even better.

 

What’s Next?

April 28th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Personal - (Comments Off on What’s Next?)

I can only describe my current mental state as the calm before the storm. I feel very mellow. It’s almost like I can’t really believe that next week I’m going to be starting a job that’s just about perfect. There is an underlying fear.

There is an underlying fear to almost everything right now. A very ‘what comes next’ attitude. The waiting is the hardest part. Wondering whether I will actually get started making other changes now that I’m getting going on this one part.

I’ve been reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I thought it was just a parody, but it’s an actually book of advice. The author, Mark Manson, talks about what struggle means, really, and that the things that really matter to you are the things you’re willing to struggle for. And now I’m thinking about the things that I have always wanted and the things I am willing to struggle for.

And I’m not going to let it bother me that those last two sentences both ended with for, which is bad English.

I have also been watching a lot of reality television, and seeing people who are in complete denial about their problems and also about what they have to do to fix them. They are afraid of failure, they are afraid of change and they are afraid of pain.

I can’t be afraid any more. I’m tired of it. There will be failure, there will be change, there will be pain. It’s unavoidable.

And so I shall do my best to dive in and swim.

Itchy, scratchy, wheezy

March 13th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Personal - (Comments Off on Itchy, scratchy, wheezy)

Many moons ago when I was a kid I had a horrible rash on my arms. The doctor gave me a special lotion but it was so itchy all the time, and I was experiencing constant colds. My GP sent me to an allergist.

I have never forgotten sitting in the exam room with hives growing on my arm, waiting for the doctor to tell me which allergens they were linked to. I wasn’t allowed to scratch, I could not think of anything else.

I have never forgotten being forced to blow into a tube that was attached to a computer. The nurse stood beside me telling me to ‘keep blowing’ even when I had nothing left. I hated every moment.

A couple of years ago I noticed both my allergies and my asthma getting worse. The asthma had all but disappeared when I was a teenager, only to rear its ugly head again in my 30s – made worse by cold air, which we have in abundance here in Ottawa.

So my doctor gave me a prescription for an inhaler, and then another one after I got a bit of pneumonia and then bronchitis. And then a prescription for an antihistamine when the over-the-counter version just wasn’t cutting it any more, and then a referral to an allergist.

While I am anxiously anticipating the two hours of sitting, waiting for the hives and not allowed to scratch, the worse part so far has been the ban on meds for 48 hours prior.

Itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, itchy, irritated skin. All the things the commercials tell you. I’ve been waiting a year for this appointment, and the revelation that I had to go without meds for 48 hours nearly made me cancel.

But if they find out I’m allergic to my puppy, I’m just going to have to live with it. That’s my boy.

Ask.

January 29th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health - (Comments Off on Ask.)

When I was 17 my sister and I went over to my father’s house for dinner – as we often did in those days – and as we sat in the living room my father turned to me and said “when was the last time you thought about suicide?”

And I was so stunned by the question that I answered truthfully. It had been the year before.

When I was 16 I decided that I would kill myself, but I wanted to see the Ottawa 67’s win a Memorial Cup first.

To this day I don’t know how he knew. Maybe he had talked to my mother, maybe he had dealt with students and saw in me what he saw in them. I don’t know how he knew, but he asked, and I answered, and he made me tell me mother and then I had to tell my family doctor and then I got medicated.

And by the time the 67’s did win the Memorial Cup when I was 18 I didn’t want to die any more. (If you wonder why I have a Hockey Canada logo tattooed on my back, it’s because hockey meant a lot in my life. It saved my life).

I have, however, wanted to die since. I’d guess three or four times in the ensuing 18 years. Stressors, being on the wrong medication, other triggers.

I remember vividly when I started dating Joe I was not on anti-depressants. We went out one night, he dropped me at home, and as I closed the door the annoying, lying voice in my head said to me ‘Well, that’s the last time I’ll ever see him.’

And so I went back on the medication, and then I told him, crying, assuming that he’d cut and run because I am so screwed up. But he didn’t.

(Surprise – he never has. Not even when I tried to give him back his engagement ring so he could lead a happier life without me. Not even when I had such bad PPD that I was scared to leave the house with the baby).

Right now I am in a bad place. Things have not been going smoothly recently and my mental health has suffered. I have slipped. But I don’t want to die. Not even a little. You see, I have this amazing little girl and she’s going to grow up and be great and I want to see that.

The good news is that in the second half of my life I have learned all of my signs and symbols that tell me I’m going down a bad road. And since I learned them, Joe knows them too. I can list them off, he can see them. Right now they’re waving at me from across the street.

But I can’t stay in bed all day, the kid has to get to the school bus and there’s work to be done. People are counting on me. I can’t not eat, Joe cooks dinner and sits me down at the table. And at the beginning and end of everyday there is this little girl who smiles and hugs me and tells me she loves me, and I would do anything for her. Even if that’s just pushing through the muck.

Am I still here because one night at dinner my father decided to ask me when was the last time I had considered suicide? I don’t know. But maybe.

Ladies and gentlemen…

January 28th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Personal - (Comments Off on Ladies and gentlemen…)

For the past few years I’ve been doing the whole three word thing at the end of December or beginning of January to get myself ready for the new year ahead. I chosen three words and then rarely, if ever, looked back at them. Because you make plans and God laughs, as the saying goes. Life swoops the rug out from under me and who I am at the beginning of the year has little to do with who I am at the end.

This year I didn’t. I thought about it. I tried to figure out what those words would be. What means something? What am I striving for? But the ideas didn’t come. There are so many things that I want for myself. So many things I want from myself.

So I skipped it.

But now I know.

Now I know what this year is going to be about. In the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, this year I will Rise Up.

I will face my challenges head on. I will face the world and fight the good fit. I will Rise Up like the nasty woman that I am. Because there is no sitting down.

I’m going to stop throwing away my shot, as it were. Since I really want to belabour the point.

This seems like a good year to Rise Up, doesn’t it. And not just because we’re going to see Hamilton in May. There is a lot at stake and I’m willing to throw my hat in – if you need me to march, sign, subscribe, donate I’ll do what I can.

And when you need self care, I have an adorable puppy:

You see, I turn 36 this year, and the older I get the more I realize: fuck this shit. Seriously. I’m looking out for me and the people I care about (and also fundamental human rights).

All of this to say, we had a mental health presentation at work today and I learned that there are ‘zones’ of health and I am currently full on red zone. This means that things can only improve from here. Except that is actually up to me.

So I’m taking steps, and I shall rise again. Oh, I shall.

More self care: Adorable child, giant pom poms

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