I am sitting in a lovely Italian bistro- a glass of Argentinian Malbec at hand (hey I am in South America- of course, the wine is South American even if the food is Italian!) with my laptop open, writing. This alone feels like a miracle. I haven’t written anything outside of work stuff (and even that has been way more limited than it should be) for over a month but I have been thinking about my Mental Health.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s been an amazing month. A month of falling in love and being loved my an incredible human being. (Of course, I will be writing about that too!) I have written while falling in love before. When I was dating Roland and in the New Relationship Energy (NRE) phase of that relationship, I kept writing. I kept moving along. But in this relationship, I happily spent a lot more time hanging out with my guy, foregoing writing for connecting and amazing sex!
But, time for truth, it wasn’t the relationship that kept me from writing. In fact, it gave me so many things I could have been writing about. We didn’t even usually get together until close to 7 pm each evening, which left me PLENTY of time to write. What was stopping me was my mental health. I just didn’t feel like doing a lot of anything. Blah.
A huge contrast to right now, I am out and about. I have been here for 4 days and I have left the house every day. I have walked more than 13 miles in those 4 days! To those of you who have never struggled with feeling blah or being depressed, you don’t understand how lucky you are. The overwhelming BLAH sucks. I was in a beautiful climate, I was falling in love, I was in a place with awesome coffee shops and restaurants, and I became a Diamond Member of the delivery app so I didn’t have to leave the house. Wine and food delivered regularly. At least I could cook dinner and enjoy that intimacy with my man.
What changed? Well, someplace new? Medellin was new when I got there. But I was sad. I still had to grieve the loss of my Berlin life, the change of plans to move back to South America. I was an unhappy camper for some really good emotional reasons for a few months. But then as I came out of that emotional fog, I was still unmotivated. Still BLAH. If I am honest with myself, I even had trouble leaving the couch days at a time in Berlin. And I was truly happy in Berlin so…
BLAH is not about happy or sad. BLAH takes over everything and clouds it- colors it with grey.
I do believe some places have a better overall spiritual energy than others. I don’t know if it is true that Cuenca, Ecuador has better spiritual energy than Medellin, Colombia. I am definitely no expert on that front. But the cooler climate (average temps since I have been here are 68–71, (18–20-ish)) the higher elevations (forcing me to focus on my breathing a little more) do seem to help me. It wasn’t THAT hot in Medellin (average temps mid-80’s, (27–29)) but it felt too warm to go out and walk sometimes (ok almost all the time, who am I kidding!?)
I am one of those people who are “happily depressed.” (Yeah I made that up!) I always have a smile, I always seem to have this energy that moves and goes, and feels good when you are with me. Plus, the chances of me telling you how I feel, telling you about the BLAH are slim to none. I have told my friends how I can’t get off the couch, have no motivation. I don’t know what they think about that, but not one person has ever said to me, “Do you think you are depressed?” I think the way I present, it just doesn’t seem “typical” so it doesn’t cross people’s mind.
But, I have been thinking about my mental health for a long time. I’ve wondered if my lack of energy was more than just poor food choices, bad sleep patterns, or too much wine. (Really? Can there really be too much wine?) When I got to Medellin, one of the first things I did was go to the doctor for a regular check-up. I asked her to do all the levels, check my thyroid, check my vitamins, etc. Must be a physical reason for the malaise, right? A perfectly reasonable explanation and a thyroid pill or some veggies I could eat to make it better.
Nothing. All my levels were more or less normal. (Well, I mean my cholesterol and thyroid are close to needing some work, but better eating habits and exercise should help that.) Nothing really physical could be blamed for the lack of “get up and go.” The good thing is, I had a lovely female doctor who speaks perfect English and she was very open to just talking about what was going on. She was totally open to thinking bigger picture than just a few tests.
Finally, I just told her how I had been thinking about this for a long time, but in Germany getting to see a doctor and being prescribed meds is a serious process. (In Medellin, I sent her a WhatsApp message, made an appointment and Voila!) I told her about my lack of motivation, my inability to leave the house, and the BLAH. She didn’t bat an eyelash. She said, “Ok, let’s talk some more.” I told her I was open to, actually wanted to discuss medication at this point.
BUT it was important to me that the meds me non-addictive if possible, and they could not under ANY circumstances mess with my sex drive. Uhm- hello- I am a SEX blogger for goodness sake. Plus, I LOVE my sex drive. It is strong and powerful and sometimes all-consuming and I want that to last as long as possible! She listened. She took notes and in the end prescribed me Trazadone.
This week is week 6. She told me it would take 4–6 weeks to kick in. So, maybe this is why I feel so incredibly good here! Maybe, the meds kicked in, combined with the new adventures, and now it’s fueling my energy, making it all work.
It might have kicked in earlier. But, well, as much sex as I was having in the last weeks before I left my amazing boyfriend? There was very little sleep and a LOT of mind-blowing sex. There were a lot of late nights talking, snuggling, getting to know each other. Mornings were the same. So I was a bit sleep deprived. I might have been feeling more energy, had I actually been getting any sleep! HA!
Here in Cuenca, I am alone again. The bedroom in my Airbnb is dark, comfortable, and cool. The blankets are heavy and warm. It’s like the perfect cocoon for sleep. I am sleeping so well. I don’t set an alarm (thanks for my freelance job) and I am getting a solid 9 hours or more every night. THAT is ideal for me. So, probably, the sleep is making a difference too.
Maybe it’s just the perfect storm. Meds, new adventures, great sleep. Whatever it is. I will take it. I will leave the house. I will walk as much as my knees will allow me. I will get back in the habit of writing, regularly. I will focus more on work again. I even got up and did my meditation today! Did I mention how much better I am feeling?
Seriously! I still have super tired moments. I still feel like a nap some afternoons. But, I am eating really extra healthy and even though I bought a bottle of wine the other day, I haven’t wanted to drink. No that’s not true. I haven’t wanted to get drunk and pass out to go to sleep every night. I have enjoyed a few glasses out with dinner, but not been in need of it at home. There are a huge salad and chicken thighs in the fridge. No snacks or sweets in the house. And it all felt easy to organize. It didn’t take effort to make happen.
I am truly grateful. My mental health has suffered for a long time. I am glad I finally took some control back and that I feel so much energy and so much lightness. (Huge sigh)
Check out this other story from my blog- you might like!