Monday

It’s a crisp morning but the sun is shining. I feel a bit of a heaviness in my heart that it’s Monday already. Since I don’t actually mind my “daily grind” of the weekdays, I think this sadness is more due to anticipating loneliness than not having the free time and fun that I do on a weekend. Because I had so many important medical appointments last week and most were too far for me to drive alone, Ben took off time several days to help me. Although I would have preferred a normal week with no appointments, it was absolutely a shimmering silver lining to spend much more time together. We managed to laugh and make the most of the tough and beautiful parts of the car rides, waiting, and appointments. One of my favorite things about our relationship is the shared ability to easy the emotional suffering of the other by causing a genuine laugh.

I am seeing a gastroenterologist tomorrow, but I will do that alone because it’s close enough for me to drive. We are scheduled to go to Washington D.C. on Friday; however, this trip is now a “possibly” instead of a “definite.” I certainly hope we are able to go, but that depends on it being the right decision for us come Friday, and we have several factors that still remain unknown.

My stomach hurt a lot yesterday, so it’s especially good that I’ll be addressing those issues with the doctor tomorrow. It doesn’t feel much better now, although my tolerance for digestive issues and stomach pain is typically higher during the daytime hours than when I’m trying to sleep. I think it’s a bit worse the past couple of days because I tried adding a different vegetable into my incredibly limited diet, and that subtle change is enough to rock my sensitive system. I really hope that some sort of more workable lifestyle in terms of eating and digestion results from the various testing and doctors I’m consulting with. Except for with the few family members and friends on my inner circle, I don’t discuss the depressing intricacies of the reality of my very limited diet and my constant stomach and intestinal issues. It’s one of the hardest parts of my daily life and has been for years at this point. Food allergies, intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome, and a very sensitive stomach mandate a dietary protocol more limiting than anything I’ve seen elsewhere. Needless to say, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone and it’s undoubtedly a significant daily contributor to my depression.

I have my self-directed therapy this morning and follow-up calls to make to different doctors. I’m also in the early stages of a big work assignment, so I’ll be spending most of my day at the computer. My therapy sessions are going pretty well. I prefer the two thirty-minute blocks of time over a single forty-five-minute session. I’ve completed the free CBT anxiety workbook and today, I’ll start on the depression one. I already noticed several instances where I surprised myself with how minimally anxious I was based on my history of being extremely anxious under similar circumstances. Positive reinforcement goes such a far way in terms of motivating me to keep plugging away at all this stuff. Progress and noticeable results aren’t always as instantaneous as I’d like, but the fact that I’m already detecting improvements is honestly quite affirming and exciting. I see some of the thinking and exercises I’ve worked through so far to be like an investment as well. I might not yet reap the rewards, but I’ve planted the foundational seeds. The growth will come eventually.

I anticipate the depression side of things will be more resistant to change and require more than just restructuring my mindset and reprogramming my thought patterns. As I admitted a few weeks back when I embarked on the self-guided therapy, I truly believe my depression is rooted in a chemical imbalance as much as it is the product of depressing situations or flawed thinking and mood. As such, I don’t think it will be as easily modifiable with CBT alone; after all, I’ve been clinically depressed for most of my life since the age of ten or so, and it’s not like I haven’t seriously tried to rid myself of the terrible beast of the disease many times. That said, I haven’t done any formal CBT work before and as more pieces have come together in the past two years in terms of my identity and brain, my ability to make purposeful self-improvement gains has markedly increased. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, in my mind at least, that I could stifle my operating depression into a remission for all intents and purposes. I’ve heard of it happening. Let’s hope I join that fortunate few.

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