Developing any new routine or habit takes a considerable amount of time and patience. It doesn’t matter whether you have a mental illness and a disability or not, it’s just simply not going to instantly happen. And this is the logic I have to follow when it comes to building a new routine for myself when it comes to household cleaning tasks and cooking meals at home.
There’s a lot of preparation involved with both of these things plus finding the effort and motivation to physically complete them. But fortunately my occupational therapist Ambika has put together a rough daily schedule to put aside time to do just that. Plus I’ve also got my parents for support when it comes to which cleaning products I need to use and what ingredients I need to buy. So it’s not as daunting as it seems on the surface.
On Monday afternoon, I had an appointment with my occupational therapist Ambika from Everyday Independence. Today I had my first cooking trial and I decided to make Spaghetti Bolognese as it was one of the simplest recipes I could think of at the time. It felt like I was on a cooking segment without the producers, drama and television cameras. Luckily I had all my ingredients stocked and recipe printed out and ready to go. https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/spaghetti-bolognese/335cceba-3913-4172-8a28-44ad7a960ef4
It was helpful to have Mum in the kitchen with me as she was a good assistant and provided some wise safety tips as I was going along like: always lifting the saucepan lid away from you when it’s on the heat and using separate bowls for cut vegetables and any scraps. I think the most difficult part for me is making it a habit to cook once a week and motivating myself to actually do it. But otherwise cooking isn’t too hard for me really. https://www.reluctantgourmet.com/basics/
On Monday night, I had my first small group HIIT class of 2019 with Cinamon Guerin at CinFull Fitness. Like anything you’ve taken a break from, it’s often a struggle getting back into the swing of things but tonight there was nothing stopping this crew. It was a full house tonight and we managed to power through many reps including kettle bell squats, mountain climbers, renegade push ups, overhead presses, star jumps, bicep curls, med ball slams and V-ups.
We finished up by doing a short circuit which included Russian twists, weighted lunges and lifts, battle ropes, kettle bell swings, tricep dips, TRX rows and bicep curls and mountain climbers on synthetic grass. It was a challenging class as always (my form wasn’t the best and my legs were shaking by the end of it) but we all had a lot of fun supporting each other and getting through it together.
On Tuesday afternoon, I had a follow up appointment with my psychiatrist Dr. Ricardo Peralta at Vita Healthcare in Mount Eliza. After receiving the following text message from OPTIMIND last week (Dr. Ricardo Peralta will no longer be consulting at OPTIMIND), I started to worry about whether I’d need to seek out another psychiatrist. But fortunately the reception staff at Vita Healthcare reached out to me a few days ago and informed me that Dr. Ricardo has moved clinics and that my appointment for today was still valid. http://www.vitahealthcare.com.au/psychiatry.html
Mount Eliza is a beautiful coastal town located on the Mornington Peninsula, about 5 minutes drive from Frankston. It’s a relief to know that Dr. Ricardo hasn’t moved too far away from Patterson Lakes and it only takes me about 35-40 minutes to drive to Mount Eliza from home. It’s not very often that I drive down there and it’s always nice to explore a different area once in a while. https://www.travelvictoria.com.au/mounteliza/
Getting to the clinic on time was a stressful endeavour as I ended up cutting through the back streets of Frankston and then had to navigate unfamiliar territory in the heart of Mount Eliza. But I made it there and that’s the main thing. When I arrived, I noticed that both receptionists were super busy taking phone calls but eventually I got their attention. The waiting room was very comfortable with the walls lined with plush two-seater sofas.
I usually get really anxious leading up to the appointment itself but once I’m in that consultation room, I immediately feel more at ease. Today was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been with Dr. Ricardo, discussing things like increasing my antidepressant medication from 10mg to 15 or 20mg (Escitalopram / Lexapro) and my stress/emotional triggers at work, the times when I get the most overwhelmed and anxious while working in a busy retail environment and still waking up around 3-4am most nights.
It also helped that he met me halfway, literally sitting across from me in one of the armchairs. This is certainly a noticeable difference compared to most doctors who would refuse to sit in anything but an office chair behind a desk. That image of authority; I’m the doctor and you’re the patient. And his mannerisms showed that he had a down to earth, human side to him rather than the cold and clinical stereotypes often associated with psychiatrists.
It’s amazing to think that in just a few months I’ve begun to really trust and open up to Dr. Ricardo and I feel thankful that he ended up being my psychiatrist. He is very reasonable, understanding and compassionate to my needs. And he was more than happy to increase the dosage of my medication, especially in order to cope and better manage my symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia. 10mg just isn’t quite cutting it.
On Wednesday morning, I made the mistake of increasing my antidepressant medication way too quickly. Within an hour, I was already experiencing some strong side effects such as feeling flustered and feverish in the face, light headedness and blurred vision. Luckily Mum and I were nearby First Health Medical Centre at Casey Central Shopping Centre so I could get checked out.
The receptionist was quick to put me onto the first available doctor who was Dr. David Tai Kie. I only had to wait around 5 minutes or so before he saw me. After explaining that my psychiatrist recommended the dosage increase after starting the 10mg for around 1-2 months, I wasn’t prepared for all the side effects jumping straight to 20mg. Dr. Tai Kie recommended that I alternate the doses between 10mg and 20mg over the next week to allow my body to adjust to it. https://www.healthline.com/health/escitalopram-oral-tablet
The receptionist was also very helpful when it came to getting my medical records transferred from Narregate Medical Centre to First Health, as well as informing me what hours Dr. Tai Kie works should I want to see him again. Considering how average I was feeling through all of this, I couldn’t have been happier with the level of service I received especially from my first visit. Highly recommend this clinic and Dr. David Tai Kie. https://www.firsthealth.net.au/our-clinics/narre-warren-south-clinic/
On Thursday morning, Mum and I visited the Wilson Botanic Park Berwick. Today I was determined to not let anything ruin my visit here so I had no appointments on and any phone calls and messages from people would have to wait (Sorry, NOT sorry). It was a beautiful partly cloudy 23 degree day so perfect conditions for a walk around. We decided to walk around the Basalt Lake track featuring a boardwalk, large volcanic rocks and a bird hide.
We managed to spot a few turtles and birds around the edges of the lake as well as on the rock deposits and tall grass. We only spent about an hour at the park but that was more than enough for both of us. They had a train ride making regular trips around the lakeside trails with many children and parents on board. I always seem to feel very peaceful and relaxed whenever I’m here, so long as my phone doesn’t become a huge distraction!
On Thursday night, I went to an RPM class with Nicky at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. I was feeling so tired this afternoon that I literally dozed off in bed and then freaked myself out a little when I woke up and saw that the time was 4:50 PM. I had to put the air conditioner on high in my car just to keep myself alert driving to Casey RACE. Luckily I managed to arrive there safely and on time for my class. https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/gym/group-fitness
Our instructor Nicky was certainly interesting to say the least. From her dreadful, croaky singing voice to her wild yelling and crazy, infectious enthusiasm, she was far from boring and made the class more exciting. She selected a diverse mixture of older tracks including: Good Time by Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen (RPM 58), Ugly Heart by G.R.L. (RPM 66), Kings and Queens by Thirty Seconds To Mars (RPM 53) and Kick Start My Heart by Motley Crue (RPM 39). http://www.totallylesmills.com/site/rpm
Considering how sleepy and exhausted I’ve been feeling today, I still managed to put in a decent effort today with my workout, hitting an average range of 60-70 RPM and a maximum of 128 RPM. I burned around 348 calories and cycled a total distance of around 18.5 km. https://lesmills.com.au/rpm
On Friday morning, I had an appointment with my Speech Pathologist Amon from Everyday Independence. Once again, I was getting myself really nervous and worked up for no reason at all. I turned the radio on because dealing with dead pan silence is absolutely excruciating and uncomfortable for me. Plus having background music tends to put my nerves at ease. I guess it’s just that feeling of “not knowing” that gets me so worked up because I like to be prepared.
Today we worked on some strategies that can be used to achieve my goals: making new friendships, feeling more confident in social situations and spending more time hanging out with friends. A lot of it was quite hypothetical which is something I find challenging, thinking on my feet and without structure. But it felt good knowing that I came up with a plan going forward with conversation starters, how to interact with other people, what to say and making conversations flow better.
On Friday night, I did my first Restorative/Yin yoga class with Dani Iacovelli at Soul Flame Yoga in Beaconsfield. I think one of my biggest challenges from last year was my reluctance to embrace change and it’s the reason why I quickly turned away from Soul Flame Yoga. After practicing yoga at this studio under the name “Just Be Yoga & Meditation” for over 8 years, it came as a rude shock when the studio name suddenly got changed. I couldn’t handle it. It wasn’t the same for me. And that “fight or flight” reaction took over me. I fled as fast as possible.
But now that I’ve had several months to process this, I’m willing to give the studio another shot this year. To be fair, something keeps drawing me back there whether it be the location in Beaconsfield, the yoga teachers and students or the studio space itself, which has recently been renovated and redecorated over the last 12 months or so. The colour scheme now includes a soft pale grey, stone grey, khaki green and eucalyptus green whilst still retaining elements of the original design such as the props area and wall unit in the reception area for personal belongings. https://www.facebook.com/pg/soulflameyoga/
Dani was very warm in her approach and immediately set me at ease. She offered the yoga class for free as technically this was my first time at Soul Flame but I was still grateful for the gesture. I have to admit that I was a little rusty on the mat tonight as it’s been a few weeks since my last proper yoga class but I quickly got into the rhythm again.
Dani gave us lots of options tonight and I decided to take many of the prop-assisted variations given how tight and inflexible my joints and muscles were feeling tonight. The poses and movements were did in tonight’s class include: Frog pose, Pigeon pose, Low Lunge, Downward Facing Dog, Lizard pose and Reclined Bound Ankle pose.
I didn’t stick around for the 45 minute meditation afterwards as I was really tired already and felt like I did enough today. I think the most important thing that I gained from tonight is that my fears and anxieties have gently evaporated. I still have a sense of belonging here which is something I’ve been wanting for years, particularly in a yoga studio. It’s often tough finding a place that you feel connected at but Soul Flame Yoga could indeed be the one. https://www.soulflameyoga.com.au/our-story/
“All this running around. Trying to cover my shadow. An ocean growing inside. All the others seem shallow. All this running around. Bearing down on my shoulders. I can hear an alarm. Must be morning. I heard about a whirlwind that’s coming ’round. It’s gonna carry off all that isn’t bound.” Tame Impala – Let It Happen (2015)
“I was raging, it was late. In the world my demons cultivate. I felt the strangest emotion but it wasn’t hate, for once. Yes I’m changing, yes I’m gone. Yes I’m older, yes I’m moving on… They say people never change, but that’s bullshit, they do.” Tame Impala – Yes I’m Changing (2015)