1

It's been almost a month since I wrote about talking about mental illness.  I pulled a paragraph out of that post to help highlight what I'm going to write about today:

"As I mentioned earlier, I'm now transitioning from prozac to wellbutrin xl.  Having transitioned from celexa to prozac several years ago, I knew what the whole process of switching antidepressants was like, and it's not enjoyable.  For the past twelve days I've been even more tired than usual, have found myself becoming impatient easily, eating more sweets than normal, and crying (It was difficult to cry on prozac.  I had to be really upset to do so.).  It hasn't been quite as awful as being unmedicated was, but it has been difficult.  I've had to tell the people closest to me that if I start acting depressed again that this is why."

I've been on Wellbutrin XL for a whole month now.  The past four weeks have been difficult.  I cried a lot, sometimes over stupid things.  I lost almost every ounce of patience that I had.  I was extremely irritable.  The combination of no patience and irritability made me not want to be around myself; I was really glad that Jeff and Liam were camping so much with Boy Scouts so that they didn't have to be around me so much.  I was prepared for all of that though.

What I wasn't prepared for was how absolutely worn out I became each day.  Not just tired.  Worn out.  Like I'd been doing hard, physical labor for eight hours, and feeling like this by nine or ten in the morning.  And on top of feeling like this and wanting to sleep all the time, I was having more difficulty than usual falling asleep and sleeping well at night.

Two weeks ago, it got so bad that I decided that I had to make time to rest for a whole day.  Fortunately, Jeff and Liam were going to their last weekend of Scout camp and I was able to pull this off without worrying about making sure they got fed.

So I took that whole Saturday off and did what I wanted.  If I wanted to sleep, I slept.  If I wanted to watch tv, I watched tv.  If I wanted to read, I read.  I ate when I was hungry, I avoided Facebook and twitter, and spent the day making time to take care of me.

And I felt really selfish and guilty at times.  There were at least five times that my brain said, "This is stupid.  You have stuff to do around the house and errands that could be run."  When that happened, I did what my therapist has instructed me to do:  I acknowledged the thought, pushed it away, and told my brain I wasn't going to feel guilty for taking care of myself.

Because that's what rest is, ladies and gentlemen.  It's taking care of ourselves.  We work eight hours a day, then go home and take care of houses, spouses, and kids.  We use our weekends to do housework or play too hard.  We stay up too late surfing the web or watching tv.  We rely on caffeine to get us through the day instead of plenty of sleep and healthy food.  We go too fast, live too hard, and then wonder why we're tired all the time.

And those are normal circumstances.  Throw in stressful life circumstances or illnesses and our bodies eventually give out and start demanding more rest.  We become worn out, irritable, stressed, depressed, and sick.

Unfortunately, those of us living in the United States have been taught that "Idle hands are the devil's playground."  We've been taught a work ethic where we must always be busy.  Our jobs ask us to multitask, even though research has shown that multitasking is a myth.  Even when we have down time, we use it to finish little projects that use just enough brain power and energy that we're not really resting.

And God forbid that we actually rest.  If we try to do that, we get guilt from our culture, acquaintances, friends, family members, and even our own brains.  Sometimes it's just easier to keep going, no matter how tired we are, than to take the time our bodies need to rest.

I can't do that anymore.  My personality demands alone time to recharge.  My body demands rest.  My brain chemistry is crying out for me to listen to my body and stop.

So I'm making a choice to be more aware of when I'm  tired and need to be resting. That Saturday was successful.  I did it again on Sunday.  I will probably try it again on Sunday.  I may not be able to do this every week, but I'm going to do my best to make a day of rest a habit and I'm going to work on not feeling guilty about taking care of myself.

I encourage you to do the same thing.  If you are a Christian, remember that we are commanded to observe a Sabbath day.  God created the Sabbath for us, so that we can rest and recharge.

There's nothing shameful about resting.  There's nothing shameful about admitting you need to rest.  So take the time you need to rest.  Quit multitasking.  Sleep.  Go slowly.  Rest.

2

If you're like me, you feel like you have to spend as much time with your family as possible when you're visiting them, they're visiting you, or you're on a family vacation.  If you're only with them for one day, then that's understandable.

But what if you're with them for at least two days?  How does an introvert work her time to unplug into family time?  Here are some of my pro tips.

  1.  When everyone else takes a nap, stay awake.  Watch some tv, read a few more chapters in the book you brought with you (because of course you brought a book with you), take a walk, stare out the window, grab a cup of coffee and drink it while doing all these things.  Drink as much coffee as you can and enjoy the silence.  Hopefully no one's snoring.
  2. When everyone else is waking up or about to, declare that you're now ready for a nap.  Go take nap.  If you're really lucky, everyone will leave the house and you'll be alone when you wake up.  If you don't want to rely on luck, tell them to go do their fun things while you're comatose.
  3. Stay up late and write blog posts after everyone has gone to sleep for the night.  Use a load of laundry as your excuse.  "Oh, I'll come to bed as soon as I throw the laundry into the dryer."
  4. Go to the store to buy snacks.  Take at least thirty minutes to walk around the store searching for chips that may or may not exist.
  5. Drive.  When you drive, you're paying attention to the road.  It's like an automatic wall.  And if anyone gets too chatty or loud, you can say, honestly, "Hey, could you please be a little quieter?  I'm trying to concentrate on the road.  Thanks!"

And now my family knows all of my secrets...