Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 29, 2016

My goal is to write for an hour a day (at least)- especially in the summer.  Yesterday I finished reading the entire book by Juliana Buhring about her bike ride around the world.  Here is her website:  My husband asked me, "When do you start school again?" when I told him about my plan to bike ride around the world.  He told me I should start riding to work first.  He has a point, I guess.

Today has been extremely serendipitous so far which is making me extremely happy.  I still feel that nervous part of my stomach which wants to take over (anxiety, depression, the space where you stare into space and tell yourself- my life is good, I'm ok- I'll be ok."  My new medication might be starting to work?  I hope so!  I was supposed to wait a week before taking one whole pill twice a day.  I couldn't wait because I felt just doing 1/2 a pill twice a day might make me wallow in depression for too much longer.  Today is the official day I should have  been taking the whole pill twice a day- so I'm a week ahead of schedule.  I'm sorry, but whatever it takes!

I have just arrived at a new coffee shop at 601 Baronne Street in the CBD called Rouler.  I'm listening to Fresh Air- Yeah Terry Gross!  I'm looking up information about the amazing Juliana Buhring and writing off and on.  What was so serendipitous you ask?  I woke up with Mario (my husband) with an hour to go before we needed to drop the kids off at zoo camp (9AM).  If you are a parent, you know how challenging this is- to get the kids ready in an hour.  We successfully got lunches packed (they packed them up themselves with a little help), water bottles, change of clothes, sunscreen, teeth brushed (maybe), hair even brushed (even Eli)!  I had my running outfit on, and I had already decided the day before.  Those of you who battle depression/anxiety know how important it is to make your decisions ahead of time!  If you manage to do that, it's much easier.  Then you can cross these things off the list as you do them.

So Mario dropped us off.  I got the kids to their zoo classes which they love.  Then I ran through Audubon Park while listening to "The Mental Illness Happy Hour", a podcast that is good and about Mental Illness.  It was a bit too dark for me today.  I felt like I have a handle on things and I want to have a fulfilling, positive life no matter what the challenges. Therefore, after running through the park, I found The West Wing podcast.  I immediately started smiling while listening to it.

I was running on St. Charles on my way back home when I ran into one of my friends who works at Tulane.  She's been doing research in Hong Kong, so I turned around and walked with her to her office so we could catch up.  What a treat!  There was also a great water fountain and bathroom for me to freshen up and keep running.  I would never be able to do all of that on a regular school day, so I was super happy to run into her.  I tried to practice mindfulness and be in the moment with her, too.  I told myself, "You are so lucky to run into a friend like that and walk to her office."  I sometimes put pressure on myself to be that person who sees her friends more, makes new friends, is in the moment, etc.  I tried to just appreciate what happened today and be happy for today in today!

My friend who I ran into does not struggle with mental illness, so I look to her like a model of how I could be socially.  She's amazing.  She had lunch/dinner with people in Hong Kong that she met through other contacts.  She stayed in an air BNB.  She took a dumpling making class while in Hong Kong.  I slightly compare this to myself when I went to NYC last year.  I did go to my classes, then to my room to lay down to get it together.  Then I forced myself to go out with other teachers and do things with them.  I didn't necessarily enjoy all of it, but I did it.  I did enjoy some of it.  I didn't just stay in my room by myself like I did when I went to DC for EQUIP.

I left Jana's office after drinking copious amount of water from the excellent water fountain right outside of her office.  If you have ever been running in New Orleans in temperatures as high as 90-100 degrees, you will understand the beauty of a good water fountain.

I walked to St Charles Avenue and started running as soon as I got to the same place I had stopped previously when I ran into my friend.  I ran for a few blocks and saw my husband pulled over on St. Charles.  By this point, I had run far enough to get the endorphins flowing which meant that I could stop and jump in the car with Mario.  His 10:00 AM appointment was cancelled, so he took me to a new coffee shop to get some coffee and a treat.  We ran into some students from my writing class from last week.  This is our second time running into them.  Again, I stopped and mentally thanked God and the universe for this.  It was wonderful to run into Mario, enjoy a few moments with him, and to see two colleagues from last week's class.  That makes four people I ran into today without plans.  It is a beautiful day.  Thank you, thank you!

Now I am at the new coffee shop where I ran into a fifth person, one of my students' parents where I actually originally found out about this coffee shop.  I am also down the street from my husband's office.  He may come by later if he has some time.  For all of this, I am thankful.  I think of myself like one of the characters in Walker Percy's The MovieGoer.  I am a little fragile.  I need help from around my city, from across the universe.  Here I get it.  It is so common to run into someone in New Orleans and have a nice conversation with them.  We stop, we talk, we engage in each others lives for a moment.  It reminds me of my time in The Republic of Congo.  When you would run into someone, you stop, you talk to them, you have a 20 minute conversation.  The conversations here are a little shorter than the ones in Congo, but much better than other places in the United States.

One of my colleagues might meet me here in an hour.  Then I pick up the kids an hour after that.  I drop them off with the folks, then I go home and straighten up.  Then I go out and visit a friend who is in walking distance from the house.  He will be at a restaurant and bar down the street doing a meet up.  All is well.

Love, Katy

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 28, 2016

Families, I'm reading a book about families right now.  It is intense, a true story of a brother with manic depression with psychotic features.  His older brother is trying to have some type of a reckoning with the situation since his younger one (George A) has died.  It is Barefoot to Avalon by David Payne.

It reminds me of the themes: family, siblings, mental illness.  It's good though I skip around for the parts I like.  I tend to do that sometimes.  For some reason, and I blame my depression/anxiety for this, it's hard for me to fully succumb to something I read.  I prefer nonfiction (which this book is).  I don't understand the point in reading fiction any more.  This makes absolutely no sense, and I understand that.But try explaining that to my brain.  It doesn't work.

It is summer.  My kids are at zoo camp this week.  My husband thought that would be a good idea so that I could get the house together, etc.  I have been doing ok, reasonably ok considering.  When I have too long to think without a required activity, it is hard for me.  I am avoiding the house and all of its implication.  It is so difficult for me to do the small things right now.  If I don't make the house look perfect, if I don't have a cute nook and cranny for studying, for playing games, to make our lives meaningful, our children's lives meaningful, I have failed.  My mom called this morning to try to schedule a time to help me with the house.  I couldn't commit to anything, and I told her some of my fears surrounding this.  I feel a little bit better since I explained this to her.  It makes my days more fluid.  It keeps me available to write, to read, to be productive in other ways?  To help my mental illness dissipate somewhat?!  I don't know if that's possible.  I have just changed medication regimens slightly, and I hope that it will help.  I think  it has helped somewhat.  I only slept about 10 hours instead of my usual 12 or more last night.  That is a great improvement.  I slept only about 8 the night before which is a miracle.  That is my goal.  I think I feel better and more normal when I do that.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 4, 2016

I want to introduce myself.  I'm Katy, currently a 43 year old mom, wife, and teacher. I have a wonderful husband who does all of the cooking (I know, I'm lucky).  I have two children, a girl who is 9 and a boy who is 7.  I live in a city that I love, and I know I could never live anywhere else.  That amazing city is New Orleans.  My parents and brother literally live blocks away from me, so I have a lot of help with my kids. 

I also have a history of depression and anxiety that runs in both sides of my family.  I am very strong willed and I work very hard to live the best life I can despite this depression.  I also take antidepressants every day which help, and I try to run as much as I can.  This helps me as much as the medication!  I need both of these things to help me do the best I can.  I think writing this blog will help me deal with some of my challenges that depression and anxiety bring to my life.  I also want more people to know that depression and anxiety is an illness that is out there.  When I keep it a secret, it has more power on me.  I want to be honest about what it is like living with depression.  This honesty, I hope, will help me continue to fight, and fight, and fight.