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Week in Review: Feeling You-Know-What

It’s a popular sentiment to speak of happiness as something we can choose.

When I was in junior high, the math teacher/volleyball coach who did the announcements over the intercom every morning always ended with, “Make it a great day or not. The choice is yours.”

Or take the popular quote, ascribed to Abraham Lincoln (probably falsely), that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

It’s a nice sentiment. And I think there’s some truth to it. In a lot of cases, we have a choice whether we want to focus on the negative or positive, if we want to see the glass as “half empty or half full,” forgive or hold a grudge, stew or let go.

But friends.

This week I’ve had a rough, rough week. I have felt as though every possible thing has gone wrong at every possible turn. On top of missing keys and forgetting my lunch, spending half my checking account on student fees, and fighting with the English department about my scheduled thesis reading, I also woke up a couple of mornings and noticed that my pants, which I haven’t worn since last spring, have gotten uncomfortably tight.

dscn1957

Yes, there’s a poster of a motorcycle in my office. I didn’t put it there–don’t judge.

I really did my best to focus on the positive. I reminded myself that I believe (and I do truly believe) that gaining weight is not inherently unhealthy, and in my case, potentially even healthy, considering that I still have amenorrhea. I celebrated that the draft I submitted for workshop was greeted with enthusiasm and tried to remember that, after all, my writing is far more important to me than how my clothes fit (also true.) I felt blessed that my sweetheart was supportive and kind when I came to him about how I felt. I even tried to get excited about the opportunity to shop for new pants.

But despite all of these genuine efforts to cheer myself up, I still felt really, really you-know-what. (It starts with an ‘f,’ if you need a hint.) And I just couldn’t shake the feeling that my life was tumbling into total disaster.

It wasn’t until late this week that I remembered–I haven’t been taking my anxiety meds.

When I went to the pharmacy I couple of weeks ago, my prescription had expired. They called my doctor in Kansas to ask for a new prescription but haven’t been able to get in touch with her.

Perhaps, I thought, I’ve been so upset at least in part because my brain chemicals are off.

For the longest time, I used to think that psychiatric medicine was bunk. A lot of people agree with that sentiment. I still believe that simply prescribing someone drugs and not addressing the actual circumstances causing their anxiety or depression or talking about strategies to re-direct their thoughts is a cop out.

Yet I’ve also come to learn that we can only do so much to ‘choose’ our mood. Mental illness has been shown to have a strong genetic component and we cannot simply will it to go away.

So, yes, I’m doing my best to prioritize self-care. But I’m also looking forward to getting my meds back.

Despite the gloom and doom that’s been plaguing my posts the past week, there are lots of good things that happened this week and lots of reasons I should be proud of myself. Thanks, as always, to Meg for reminding me to remind myself of all that I achieve each and every week. Also gonna link up with Mental Health Monday over at Drops of Jules for the first time because this post just seems too pertinent not to.Week in ReviewMental Health Monday Logo 1I taught three classes (twice each, so actually six), including a lesson on clauses. With School House Rock. Because I have the maturity of a fifth grader combined with a very high nerd factor. I ❀︎ grammar.

I had a chunk of my memoir/thesis up for workshop.

I tried some delicious recipes from around the blogging world, including some Spinach Lentil Veggie Burgers (Meg again!) served up with sriracha, mayonnaise, and roasted kabocha on the sidedscn1964and some Spiced Fish Tacos with Chili Lime Corn Salad from Katalyst Health.dscn1991I posted this Vegan Blueberry Banana Breakfast Bake to the blog.vegan-blueberry-banana-breakfast-bakeI also, as you can see, started playing with Canva and designing some Pins that I hope might grab a few more readers’ attention.curry-carrot-chickpea-burgers raspberry-maple-chipotle-barbecue-sauceI can see, though, that Canva has its limits. Any suggestions for other favorite photo editing software? (Preferably free.)

Speaking of money, I replaced a component of the ignition in my car and paid my student fees. Ouch.

I attended my sweetie’s thesis defense. He passed!

I interviewed a professor for my internship.

I read several very obtuse articles for my literary translation class and met with a classmate to prepare for leading the discussion on Monday. “When I refer to a work of ‘translation,’ it is not to awaken ideas of the metaphoricity of technology but to point to how specific figures such as ‘insects’ are continuously distributed across a social field not merely as denotations of a special class of icky animals but as carriers of intensities (potentials) and models of aesthetic, political, economic and technological thought.” #gradschool

I went to the farmers’ market.dscn1981I went to two spin classes, one yoga class, and Wednesday night swing dance.

I watched two episodes of Star Trek and hung out with my sweetie.

I cut my hair.dscn1983Okay, I’m done. Hope everyone has a great week!

Have you ever taken psychiatric medications? Did you notice a difference?

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15 comments

  1. Diane Wahto says:

    Depression and other psychological problelms do seem to run in families. Drugs help. I took anti-depressants for short periods during times in my life. I’ve also discovered writing has helped me get out of my swamp of despair. Volunteering at some activity that engaged me completely also helped. However, there’s no one way to deal with it except to never give up. Mark Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut’s son, wrote a great book in which he told the story of how he dealt with his depression. I read it years ago and I don’t remember the name of it, but I figure if he could do it, most other people could. Interestingly, to me at least, is that as I’ve grown older, I’ve become more serene. I still get upset about certain things, but as long as I don’t watch TV news, I can keep my head on straight.

    It sounds like you’re doing great things with your writing. As for me, I got an e-mail telling me I won an award or two in Kansas Authors Club contest. Yahoo! The convention is in a couple of weeks in Lawrence. I’ll be staying with your mom and dad. Wish you could be there.

    1. Joyce says:

      Congrats on your KAC award! Have a wonderful time in Lawrence.

  2. There is so much I want to comment on in this post, I’m gonna break it out list form:

    1) Yes happiness is a choice but when brain chemistry has gone awry, you can’t simply think it different. I am a firm believer in being proactive when it comes to your health and using a combined approach of talking to someone and taking meds if necessary. I am in the latter group these days since getting diagnosed with PPD and I’m so grateful for the medication. #noshameinmygame

    2) I’m thrilled you made the veggie burgers. I hope you liked them. They’re little powerhouses of nutrition.

    3) PicMonkey is a free photo editing software. It’s super user friendly and what I use for all my pictures.

    4) I’m envious of your exercise. I miss spinning.

    Happy Monday and thanks for linking up.

    1. Joyce says:

      Love the list! I’ve actually played with PicMonkey some as well for my internship. Hope you get an opportunity to get back to spinning eventually, although I totally think it’s okay to focus on mommy stuff when you’ve got a little one at home. No shame in that game either. Congrats on your two jogs this week, btw!

  3. Juli says:

    I completely agree that happiness is a choice. I will argue that this also entails choosing to take medication if necessary. Positive thoughts are essential, too. I think both goes best hand in hand. Hope you feel better soon!

    I love Star Trek! I went to see the newest movie with my mum in July. I haven’t watched it much the last years. It’s a shame. When I still lived at home my mum and I always did that together.

    I second Meg on picmonkey. It’s the best you can get for free in my eyes. If you still like canva, why not combine both. Edit in picmonkey and design your pin in canva.

    1. Joyce says:

      I have to confess, I was a little disappointed by the last Star Trek movie. But I think the truth about being a Star Trek fan is that you love it even though it’s really cheesy sometimes. πŸ˜‰

  4. Evangeline says:

    I’m loving the haircut. You are such a beautiful person inside and out πŸ™‚
    I’m a firm supporter of utilizing every option for maintaining mental health. You absolutely have to do what’s best for you. I have a close friend who just started taking medication, and it has definitely had positive results.
    I can relate to trying to have a positive outlook on things when you’re just not feeling so great. It’s hard, friend. Sometimes, I just throw all the metaphorical crap out the window and wallow on my couch for a few hours. It helps a little. Chocolate helps too, and if you’re into The Office, definite smile inducer. It makes me laugh every. single. time. I watch it.

    1. Joyce says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Evangeline. Star Trek does tend to have that effect on me. πŸ™‚

  5. Cora says:

    I have so much I could say – much on the same page as the last two ladies.

    I truly feel like our “paths” have been very similar (I was not aware you had amenorrhea… me too). I have never been a huge supporter of medication – especially if I feel like it is just covering up the real problem that needs to be addressed – BUT – I am also a strong supporter of anxiety and depression meds when they are needed. We simply cannot do the work that we need to do – which involves thinking clearly to make the right food and health choices for ourselves – if our hormones are simply out of whack. We can’t do the work we need to do if we are depressed – it is too dark of a hole to get ourselves out of. And we can’t fix physical, hormonal imbalance with simply “kind thoughts.” Sometimes we need that nudge to get us to a closer place of balance so that we can, then, be able to think more clearly and do the work we need to do. It is by no means a cop out. It is just a starting place. I also believe that sometimes you just don’t want to friggen “choose to be happy.” And that that is okay. Just as long as you have someone waiting patiently by you and supporting you through it. Sorry that was so long.

    I use pic monkey. I actually have been wanting to use Canva because I like what people have been able to do with it (yours look awesome), but I’ve never been able to figure it out!? Maybe we can swap our tips. Congrats on interviewing that professor – that must have felt pretty “grown up.” Oh, and I also made those veggie burgers last week! Total yum.

  6. I agree happiness is a choice, but yes there are many of us who need medication in order to help those balances. Depression and anxiety are so so real. On a happy note your canva pics look great! Canva has come a long way and can be difficult to get used to, but all blogging websites suggest sticking to one theme with your pinable images. I have also used the free Basic Pic Monkey to edit images.

  7. Yes, i really like that you brought up this point. I know that happiness can be a choice but i can definitely relate to what youre saying with the mental illness struggles. I struggle with anxiety and cant simply choose to “calm down” its something that people dont talk about enough.
    Cant wait to try out that banana baked oatmeal! Looks yummy. Hope your week looks up for you. You are a lovely person inside and out and i am glad to have found your blog!
    I use Picmonkey for photos!

    1. Joyce says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Heather! I agree that perhaps we need to be more sensitive to mental illness–that our feelings aren’t always a choice. I remember seeing a cartoon of someone with a broken arm in the hospital and someone coming to visit him and saying, “I think you need to change your attitude.” It was pretty funny.

  8. This reminded me of a friend telling me that if you actually smile while running it makes it easier. I thought she was just trying to make me look like an idiot but she was RIGHT! Crazy.

    Also, try PicMonkey. It’s all I use!

    1. Joyce says:

      I have tried PicMonkey a couple of times–my question is whether you can design pins and add text to photos, since I couldn’t see any way to do that.

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