The Spice Girls of Depression

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Last night my back pain got so bad that I may have accidentally overdosed on muscle relaxers. I was thinking my prescription allowed me to take up to 3 muscle relaxers at a time, but I was wrong, apparently it was only 2 at a time…and I took 4. I’m not sure if there is actually much danger in that, but I probably should be more careful.

Yesterday was also a horrible depression day for me. I think the combination of physical pain and the despair I feel sometimes about the seeming meaninglessness of life makes for a perfect storm. It probably didn’t help that I attended a group early in the day that talked about the sometimes apparent pointlessness of life when you are agnostic or atheist.

So, last night I was watching YouTube videos (trying to distract myself from the depression) when I watched a video about the 20th anniversary of the Spice Girls. While I was watching it, I started thinking that my depression is kind of like the extremely popular but somewhat annoying 90’s girl group. Instead of Sporty, Posh, Baby, Scary, and Ginger Spice, I have Paranoid Spice, Anxious Spice, Angry Spice, Sad Spice, and Hopeless Spice living in my head. Thinking about all these emotions personified in ridiculously dressed, cheesy girl group images did make me chuckle a bit. Imagine those dance routines!

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Back Pain Troubles

Not feeling very good today. A lot of it has to do with physical stuff. My back has been really messed up for a few days now. I’m not sure if it is the degenerative disc disease or the slipped disc causing the awful pain in my neck and back, but it is starting to take a toll on my mental health too. I find that even when you are doing fairly well mentally, that if you are in chronic pain, it is almost impossible to keep your mood high.

I did hear back from our health insurance that they approved my epidural shots for my slipped disc, but I have to pay hundreds up front for the deductible, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to afford that. I’m also quite nervous about getting the shots anyhow. Having a needle stuck into my spine is scary.

Goodbye Freelance Writing Career

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I’m at the point I think I’m going to have to make peace with the fact that my freelance writing career is over in many ways. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still plan to blog and do this kind of personal writing when able, but over the past years I also supplemented our income a bit by taking freelance writing gigs from various clients. I covered a wide variety of writing assignments: reviewing books, writing promotional materials and press releases, writing children’s books, editing and proofreading, and many other oddball writing jobs.

Now, I find I just can’t do it. Partly due to physical health conditions (particularly my back/neck pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia), but also due to my mental health conditions (depression, anxiety, bipolar type 2, etc.) Sometimes I’m not even sure which condition is really at fault. Is it the CFS making it almost impossible for me to get out of bed and function at all, or is that the depression? Is my back pain causing me anxiety, or are the panic attacks causing me to tighten up and the back pain to worsen? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Much of the time, I really don’t know. But I do know I can’t go on like this forever, and I definitely can’t take the additional stress of taking on freelance writing jobs anymore.

* Art by Maranda Russell

Physical Therapy and CFS

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Having CFS/ME really sucks sometimes. On Tuesday I went to my traction physical therapy appointment for my bulging disc in my neck and they asked me to do a few minutes of really easy, simple exercises that should have been a breeze. Instead, here I am, 35 years old, looking fairly healthy and fit, and yet, I had to constantly take breaks from even these few little stretching and postural exercises. It makes me feel like I’m really living in an 80-year-old body.

It is embarrassing as well, because I fear the judgment of those who see how little I am actually able to do. I worry they will just judge me as lazy or think I am just being difficult, which is entirely the opposite of my personality. I’m the kind of person who goes out of their way NOT to cause trouble or slow things down. I often wish other people really understood how crippling chronic fatigue syndrome can be. For instance, all my adult life I ALWAYS took a shower every single day and washed my hair. Now, I’m lucky if I can find the energy to wash my hair every other day, even though my OCD traits are going crazy at the change in my lifelong routine. Even typing these blog posts requires frequent breaks.

Sorry if this post seems a bit whiny, it just sometimes hits home over little simple things, how much my life is affected by my new physical limitations, and it is hard to accept.

* Art by Maranda Russell

Bulging Discs, Traction, and Pain Management

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Well, I found out yesterday that as well as having degenerative disc disease throughout my cervical and thoracic spine, I also have a bulging disc that is pressing on the nerves surrounding it and likely causing most of the excruciating upper back pain I have been experiencing for several years now. The doctor wants me to do traction therapy and then see pain management for injections and other pain modalities that might help. I’m pretty bummed about it.

On one hand, I am thankful they aren’t pushing for surgery yet, but on the other hand I know the doctor isn’t ruling it out and that kind of scares me. I know for some people traction works wonders, but for others it doesn’t. I hope it helps me. Anything that keeps me from having to be eventually sliced open is a good thing in my opinion. I figured I would share this information with an old drawing I did years ago entitled “Crick in the Neck” (pictured above). I figured it fit the subject matter well, and it was always one of my favorite drawings I’ve done. If the treatments do help the pain, it would be really good for my art and my writing, as both are hard to do when my back is acting up (since the pain shoots down into my arms as well).

Moving Sale! Selling a House is a Pain in the…

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So…my husband and I are in the process of selling our home and looking for a smaller, less expensive place. We simply don’t need a big house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full basement, and lots of other room just for the two of us. I have quickly learned that getting a house ready to sell is a nightmare in some ways though! Here are a few things we are dealing with:

*This past weekend we had a moving sale. Man, that was rough! Getting stuff ready for the sale, dealing with all the people the day of the sale (two of which got in a heated exchange over a tea cart they both wanted), having people trying to wander off and take stuff from parts of the house that were NOT for sale (one even took a couple pictures off the wall), having to get the leftovers ready for charity to pick up, and throwing out my back so that now, two days later, I can barely do anything.

*My idea of clean is obviously not a realtors idea of clean. I am not an extremely dirty person, in fact, I’m normally quite organized, but I am kind of bad about dusting, washing windows, and other stuff like that I simply don’t think of much. I also tend to have to pick what tasks are most important due to my health problems, so when I do clean, obvious messes, stains and frequently used areas get first priority.

*Having four cats makes it really rough to get a house in showing shape. They constantly make messes, and get cat hair in every square inch of the house.

*Apparently, when showing a house you have to “stage” everything. I’m supposed to take a normal, lived-in home and make it look like the showcase floor of a furniture store or something. Not enough furniture = bad. Too much furniture = bad.

*I never realized there were so many things wrong with our home until seen through the eyes of a realtor! Other people often comment that our house is really nice, but after listening to the realtor, I felt a little bit like I was living in a shanty or something.

*Trying to fix the timing so that we will have a new home to move into at the same time we find a buyer for our current home is stressful. Really hoping we don’t end up having to live in a motel or something in between!

A New Look & What I’ve Been Up To Lately

“I’ve Seen Better Days” ink & colored pencil on paper. Pretty much how I’m feeling today.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably notice things look a bit different. I figured it was about time to change things up and try a new design. I hope you like it! Here are a few other things I have been up to lately:

  • Visiting the ER with my husband and then trying to be a good nurse while he recovers from another back injury. I never realize how much he does on a daily basis until I have to do it instead! That is one reason why I didn’t do any YouTube vlog videos this week, just too much else going on.
  • Getting ready to participate in the upcoming Dayton Book Expo this Saturday. I hope I get to meet lots of eager readers and share my books!
  • Reading way too much Foo Fighters fanfiction.
  • Brushing up on my art history, particularly the abstract expressionism movement. Looking at awesome art by other people always inspires me to create my own!
  • Figuring out Tumblr (which seems a lot like Pinterest to me). Feel free to follow me on there if you want!
  • Selling some artworks (woot woot), including the one pictured above which I just finished yesterday!
  • Trying to figure out how teachers are expected to pay back outrageous student loans on the pay they get!
  • Munching on Chocolatey Strawberry Pop-Tarts, which are delicious!
  • Dreaming about how cool it would be to be a medical examiner (if I could get past the smells).