Depression Check-up: Learning to HALT for PIES
Hi y’all! You may have noticed that I’ve been starting a lot of new series lately about being a Boy Mom and why I love my boy and so on. I have talked a lot about my depression and anxiety in the past and I always get a good response. So, I figured I would throw in a depression series and let you all know where I am and how I’m doing on a weekly basis. This will be mostly about my struggle with depression and anxiety, but I may throw in a family story from time to time to let you know what’s going on in the family. Since I write in a way that I’m thinking about what to write as I write it, this will not only give you a snapshot into my mind, but will also help me process the information. Heck, you may even be able to tell when I’m heading down the road to depression again before I do!
Okay, the last time I wrote about my depression, I was in the middle of changing medications and had taken leave from work because my marriage was in trouble and my depression, and especially my anxiety, was getting out of control. My house was a mess and there was no real light at the end of the tunnel. I was crying and angry and just couldn’t function normally on a consistent basis. Guess what? Things are improving!
I am officially completely off Effexor XR for the first time in ten years. I am taking 80mg of Fetzima and 10mg of Abilify. My happy times are coming more frequently and I am more engaged in my family life at home and with extended family. My sister and her partner say that even they have noticed that I talk more and I seem happier. My anxiety and anger are decreasing, although they are still not as low as I would like, but apparently I have a lot to work through from my childhood and my adult life so my therapist says that I’m at a good level, all things considered.
This week, Howard went into the hospital for a heart cath and my anxiety was definitely tested. I didn’t feel like I could tell him about my concerns and worries because I didn’t want to upset him further. He is a “worst case scenario” type of person so he was secretly figuring he would go in for the simple procedure and never come out. I say secretly, but I know how his mind works so I pretty much knew what he was thinking. I had my own concerns about him needing further treatment, getting stints put in or something worse, and I just didn’t feel like I needed to vent that to him. On the morning of the heart cath, I held it together. They took him back and after 10 minutes they were done. The doctor came out to tell me that they found no blockages (YAY!) and I held it together. We were told he needed to stay in the hospital for at least 6 hours to ensure he wouldn’t start bleeding from the entry point and I held it together. Howard was not as excited about the no stints news as I was because he reminded me that he STILL has a weak heart for some reason so that just means that we have more testing and possible procedures to endure to get him healthy again.
At some point during the day, I decided that he was relaxing and watching TV so I could go get my nails done. Well, the lady rushed on my nails and I came out to look at them and realized they looked a little crappy. At that point, I had a headache, was tired, and now my nails looked bad. I went back to sit with Howard a little longer and then it happened…I lost it. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I was embarrassed to be crying over my nails so I tried to stop, which really only made things worse. I was a mess and Howard was just looking at me like he wanted to do something, but he couldn’t because he had to keep laying there.
Thankfully, I was able to pull myself together and my nails really aren’t that bad. I just know not to go to that girl in my salon again. I also had a therapy appointment the following day so I was able to process through it all again. My therapist gave me two tools to use and I’ll try to explain them here.
This tool is typically called HALT, but my therapist added an S. To help avoid my depressed and anxious moments, I have to avoid getting too:
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or Stressed
If I get to a point where I’m crying over my nails (or something similar), I need to assess where I am on this scale. On Monday, I was probably Angry (at the situation), Tired (from worrying the night before), and Stressed (because of the situation we were facing). There’s a chance I was even Hungry (because of the whole trying to lose weight challenge). Do you find that you are more depressed or anxious when you are facing one or more of these challenges?
This tool is not as situation-based, but more of an overall, all the time, type of tool. If one of these things is low (or just out of whack) then I can become more depressed and it pulls down on all of the others. The acronym stands for:
Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual
I know that when I’m stressed over emotional “crap” (my word for it) then my spiritual being is usually not in the right place. If I’m being lazy and not taking care of my physical self, I am also more likely to be low emotionally or not want to work and suffer intellectually. Do you notice that about your depression as well?
This week, I am supposed to be tracking myself on these two scales and taking stock of how I’m doing. Tuesday morning I yelled and cursed at my son because he wouldn’t get out of the shower fast enough and we were running late. So, today I got up a little earlier so he would have time to take him time and move slowly (which is his way of doing everything). I still ended up spanking him twice, once for moving slow (even though I had allowed for that) and another for continually doing something I told him not to while I was trying to take my medicine and grabbing my medicine bottle from my box.
Sigh…I have a long way to go…but I’m not giving up.