Think Happy Thoughts

Don’t stress over the little things.

If only my brain got the message above and below: “Don’t let the little things break your happiness.” Oh, how true it is. No matter how positive I think and how positive I project, somehow negativity peaks through. I guess it comes with the territory of life. Good things and bad things happen, and we must learn to deal with it.

So many things are happening that make one’s head spin. It is that dreaded time of the year for my mother. Winter isn’t her favorite season. I don’t mean the everchanging cooler temps in Texas, but I mean winter is the worst time for us mental health sufferers. And it’s also that time of the year where she gets her ECT treatments.

I don’t blame others that get ECT treatments and are terrified of getting them. But when you’re mental health is important as your overall health, it’s vital to get the treatment done, so it helps you stay sane. Typically, she’ll get a routine checkup and get a routine chest x-ray to be cleared to undergo her treatment. She does have fluid buildup in her heart because of an enlarged heart, and she’s obese. But cardiologists, specifically her ECT doctor require clearance before doing the procedure.

If you’ve never experienced one or know someone who gets ECT treatments, they’re not a pretty picture. Granted, the patients are sedated by local anesthesia while the procedure is being done and wake up a short time later with a mild case of amnesia. But lately, I’ve been more concerned with her memory.

I’m petrified that after six years of ECT treatments, it’s affecting her short-term memory a lot more than her long-term memory. It’s kind of getting to the point where she’s showing signs of forgetfulness and maybe a little onset of Alzheimer’s in some ways. One day, I told her about a writing class that I’m taking four weeks from now, and she said, “I don’t remember that.” And repeated the same question numerous times later that day. Again, this is how my grandmother started before her diagnosis: simple forgetfulness.

During a series of doctor’s visits and running all over town, her doctor’s warned her of her drinking habits. My mother is a self-proclaimed “Diet Dr. Pepper Addict.” That’s all she drinks. Nothing but sugar, carbs, and zero hydration for your body. She’s dehydrating herself, and that seriously affects your body including major organs. Knowing how stubborn my mother is, she refuses to give it up.

I gave soda up cold turkey last year and don’t miss it. I hydrate with water, coffee and unsweetened tea and that’s all. I crave only those now and it has helped me sleep soundly without melatonin. I don’t know how to get her to go cold turkey and ditch the diet soda, that’s her decision. I can only guide her so much, but she needs to make that change herself.

Sitting in the mental hospital today waiting to get her ECT treatments done, I sit and wonder if these treatments are helpful for the next five to ten years. Or will she have to be institutionalized forever? I don’t know. Remember, this is her last resort option because her depression and schizophrenia are so severe.

Thankfully, other patient’s families are more supportive and more understanding than others. They have the same worries about their loved ones like me. I usually don’t talk about my or my mother’s mental health because many don’t understand it. Especially at work, some do, and some don’t. My boss is quick to assume that I’m mad or shy. In reality, that’s not the case. Too many think I’m rude because I’m depressed and I’m not a happy, bubbly and perky person that they want to see on the job. I keep my attitude professional and genuine, but some look at me and think, “Well, this girl’s rude.” I think it’s rude to assume and judge me right there on the spot when they don’t even know me on a personal level. First impressions aren’t always accurate.

It’s wrong to assume anything about anyone. I remember telling a particular customer, “Why do you assume I’m rude? I’m bending over backwards to provide the utmost professional and speedy service possible, and you think I’m rude? Do you expect me to be a hyperactive giggly girl?” It’s this kind of scrutiny I get every day because most have zero clue about mental illness aka a legitimate medical condition. I get slapped in the face by unfriendly remarks daily at work. The stigma is real and will always be. Even my boss wonders if I’m OK and why I don’t chatter more often during his nonstop texts. Running a busy business is tough. I’m constantly running around and working. I don’t have time to stop and answer a million texts. My boss assumed that I was in a mood or something when in reality, I needed some space and do my job. It’s what I get paid for.

Thankfully, this is where writing or journaling comes into play. I can clear my head, relax my entire self and just write. Peaceful and with no distractions except for the occasional yipping Chihuahua that’s louder than bullhorn. I try not to let little things or big things stress me out, but sometimes they do. One’s stress levels would go through the roof if they lived with mental illness and the stress of running a busy business. It sometimes causes a little binge eating sometimes. But isn’t life is rollercoaster ride, in general? Take the good with the bad.

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