Cleaning house and picking up the broken pieces

At some point in the Fall, I started to radically re-arrange and change our home.  Unfortunately this was short lived when I slipped a disc at the end of November and was off work for six weeks.  I managed a few days back at work before having an episode that landed me in the hospital that I am still recovering from.

For several cold weeks this past Winter, in an effort to ease up my back, all hours of the night and day, I paced back and forth between a lot of what was placed outside on our very large covered deck.  Most of it was either to be recycled, donated or simply gotten out of the way while I moved other things in our house around.  I cursed myself for having picked up a box just the right wrong way to lift and felt what I had done to it as I was doing it.  The full extent of the pain didn’t set in for hours and just got worse every time I would get up.  I done did it good!

I spent a good 5 weeks only being able to lay down or stand up.  There was NO sitting.  At least, no sitting without either being in excruciating pain or bending my body in an unhealthy way to try to lesson the pain just long enough to get a few bites of food in my mouth before laying back down again.  It was horrible.  Utter and shear painful hell.

My whole back injury recovery time, I cursed the boxes and furniture both outside on the deck and inside our house because I could not deal with them.  I cursed the stack of unmade bookshelves that laid on the floor in our living room for months because I couldn’t deal with them.  I cursed a lot of things.  Including letting my back get back to this point again and remembering swearing the last time this happened, that I would not let it ever happen again.  But then the Holistic Healthcare Practitioner in me started looking at it from an Eastern perspective:

(Anyone happen to know the original source for this:)

Emotional Pain ChartHow about that:

  • Spine: Represents the support of life
  • Lower Spine: Fear of money. Lack of financial support.
  • Sciatica: Being hypocritical. Fear of money and or the future.
  • Slipped Disc: Indecisive. Feeling totally unsupported by life.

While I loved being a barista, at some point, that yearning inside me to make more money started.  I know I am worth a lot more than minimum wage and had started thinking about moving on in the Spring into something more suited to my drive and skill set.  Unfortunately at the same time I went back to work, I was under a lot of stress from varying sources across my life including a lot of family stuff which I am thankful has almost completely subsided.  

A few days before I went back to work, I got subpoenaed for something that I had blocked out almost as quickly as it had happened.  I witnessed an assault that triggered something from my past.  That evening, I got violently ill and was sick for three days afterwards figuring I had either eaten something bad or had caught a flu bug.  

Being subpoenaed and remembering the assault is I feel, the straw that broke the camels back that lead me to my hospitalization in January.  I was certified for four nights and should have been in there longer but I won’t get into my experience in dealing with the severely lacking resources for mental health in the Okanagan.  I am very grateful for my psychologist being able to see me pro bono and a holistic healthcare practitioner who is seeing me at a reduced rate.

In March, on our ten year anniversary, my partner and I had a ceremony in a park, in our bare feet, in the rain.  It was beautifully perfect and relatively stress and drama free.  I could not have been happier with how our day went, followed by two nights in a hotel along the waterfront in White Rock, child free.  The bald eagle photo that shows up in the header is one that I took from our hotel room during our honeymoon.


Our honeymoon was *exactly* what I needed to help relax and spend a few days alone with my wife.  After we got home, I could finally cook again without burning things and forgetting I was cooking and I could finally focus on the computer screen again!  Both of these were huge strides forward for me.  I almost NEVER burn food and while my memory is still not that great, at least I am not forgetting (most of the time) that I am cooking.  I hardly had my computer on for two months because of the sensory overload of just looking at the screen never mind trying to focus on anything to read.

Almost five months have passed since I was certified and while I don’t feel as delicate and raw as when I was first discharged, I still feel fragile, traumatized and scared shitless of an episode like that ever happening again.  The further we get from the episode and look at what was going on in life at that time, the more confident we are that it will only ever be a one time thing and that we can just sum it up as my having had a mental breakdown.

I certainly don’t go out as often as I used to and there have been a few mornings where I can feel anxiety creeping up when I go to my favourite coffee place to work.  I think the hardest thing I have been struggling with when I leave the house (it happens at home too) is sensory overload.

This whole recovery process has been an interesting experience for me.  I have never had to deal with my mind working against me before and it can be devastating the days that I do regress.  I have had no income since my medical EI ran out and I am yet to talk to a doctor who tells me that I am going back to work anytime soon.  I find it very frustrating having that choice taken away but the alternative is putting both my mind and back at risk.

Since returning from our honeymoon, I have been putting my energy back into my web portfolio and being the stay at home parent.  The house is looking and feeling much better.  The bookshelves are together and along the back wall of the master bedroom housing my partners massive academic library.  The “office” has almost completed its transformation into the “chill lounge” which finally has my massage table setup!  The rest of the clutter around the house is almost gone!  I have even started to work outside on our yard.

While that fear of another episode happening still lingers in my mind, I have to keep pushing forward.  Sometimes my good days outnumber my bad days and when it’s the other way around, I feel devastated and fear that I might never return to the way I used to be.  This is part of the reason I decided to write about the fact that I had a mental break down.  It’s from talking to others that gives me hope that some day my bad days will be few and far between and that someday, life will go back to “normal”, whatever that was before all of this happened.

Categorical Changes

One of the things that my psychologist told me when I was seeing her was that there tends to be clearing and/or cleaning which precede life changes.  I have been doing a lot of both clearing and cleaning lately (some of which started in the Summer).  Some of these changes might seem fairly minor while others, well, you should see the state of our office this morning.

Taxonomy of an academic

Major change

Last night we started the major chore of transforming our office into space that we can heal and do hobbies in.  It has mostly been a storage room and the biggest chore is trying to categorize my partner’s library of books into boxes for interim storage until we either move and have more space for them or she has an office on campus where she wants them.

I have been talking for a while about remaking the office into something more useful and last night we got started.  Even though I know making a huge mess is part of the process of cleaning, by the time we went to bed, I had questioned what we had gotten ourselves into.  But, I am looking at the end goal of having two desks together for all three of us to be able to craft at, open windows with natural light and space for me to have my massage table (rather then it being folded up in the living room).

Minor change

I have almost never been a breakfast person.  Brunch on the weekends after I have been awake a few hours, yes, but never one to eat anything upon awaking and before I start my day.  My breakfast since starting college has consisted of coffee and for a very long time, almost always something with white flour and white sugar.

The past two years when I have gone for coffee, I look in the food case and all I can think is “white flour… white sugar….” as I look at almost each and every item in the cooler.  Two evil things I would like to cut out of my diet.  I heard something not that long ago that has really stuck with me:

White sugar is fuel for cancer.

Given the amount of cancer in my family, I would like to avoid it in any way possible.  We buy a bag of white sugar a year for canning and the rest is either maple, brown or coconut sugar.

Over the past few weeks, I have started forcing myself to eat something before I am allowed to drink my coffee.  I have started taking coffee with me to work to save money and ensure I have something healthy to eat before I start drinking it.  I am now going out less for coffee on my “days off” when I study and am wanting to reduce that even further so I can save even more money and put to use this space we are creating in our house.

More clearing and cleaning are coming.  I have a stack of recipes printed out at home that I am hoping to make up today including ones that are for the freezer to easily be pulled out and thrown in the crock pot.  

With us creating space to be able to do hobbies, I am hoping I actually get my Boxer Quilt made this Winter!