full circle

. . .from an upward battle of struggles and emotions to a journey of healing, growth, and laughter. . .

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shopaholics anonymous

I’m in debt. Like a lot. Like I should be going to a credit counsellor. But what is he going to tell me that I don’t already know? Stop spending money.

It wasn’t always like this. When I went back to Australia for my 30th birthday, I spent $3,000 on shopping {ok, maybe it was always like this…?}. But that’s not the point of this anecdote. When I returned, I was fired from my job {that’s another story}. I had no savings and a humungo credit card bill to pay off. Hashtag panic! Hashtag anxiety! I promised myself I would never be in that type of situation ever again.

And that was when I started building my emergency fund. The famous financial experts advise you to save at least three months’ salary for your emergency fund. For me, at the time, that would have been $8,500. Also recommended by financial advisors was to set up a certain percentage of your salary to be automatically deposited into your savings account. So, that’s what I did. I started with 5% {I had found a new job within a week} and never touched that account.

It took me nearly five years, but I had managed to save $10,000. What a financial accomplishment! What a financial RELIEF! But that same year, due to an unforeseen rental apartment incident, I took all of it {and every other penny I had} and put it towards a down payment on my first condo.

And that was the beginning of the end.

I already had my birthday trip to Greece booked and didn’t take possession until three days before I left, so I had to pay my last rent and first mortgage for the same month. After that, I just couldn’t keep up with the additional expenses—my mortgage plus strata fees plus property tax was double what I had paid in rent. I could feel myself going under and was sure I would drown any day. Hashtag anxiety. Hashtag desperate.

One of my favorite books was Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the movie had just come out. The main character ends up at a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting. I thought, well, if they have it in the movie, surely, they must have one in real life? Right?

So, one night, I googled “shopaholics anonymous” and found a meeting called Debtors Anonymous. Ah! So, that’s what they’re called in real life!

I started going to the DA meetings in 2010, a few months after I moved into my new place. In the first meeting, I cried while explaining my situation. But I felt relief in being able to share the seriousness with kind people who had or were going through exactly what I was going through. I felt comfort and hope. The meetings also kept my money issues at the top of my mind, which made me reassess the need for purchases before making them. The meetings were on Friday nights in my neighbourhood, and I looked forward to connecting with the others who attended.

But then my now ex-friend started asking me to go for a drink after work every Friday. Being social was a strategic part of my life given my history with depression. On most nights, I thought I would finish in time to go to the DA meetings. But, that never happened. And eventually, I stopped going completely.

That’s when my debt got worse.

641-01517495Being unhappy at work, I decided to go back to school and take an animal welfare certificate program and a community engagement certificate program. The latter alone was nearly $5,000. And then there was my weakness for retail therapy. And then for kitty health reasons, I had to switch my four cats to very expensive vet food. I put everything on credit because I didn’t have any cash as I could barely keep up with my condo expenses—they sucked up one entire paycheque. My credit card was going to be maxed out soon. My credit line, which had helped me consolidate some previous debt, was also maxed out. So, what’s the sensible thing to do? I increased my credit card limit and got a travel credit card. I figured the travel card would help me pay for three trips planned over the next two years. But it was supposed to be pay as I go. Very quickly {how the hell did it happen?}, I started losing the battle, and the credit on that card, too, started piling up. But that’s not even the latest. Last week, I booked an expensive trip to California due to family pressure. The new card is almost maxed out.

I have wanted to go back to the DA meetings for a year. I even put it in my calendar last year, so I would be reminded to go. But I never do. I’m embarrassed. I’m sooo embarrassed. I tripled my debt in three years. I’m not even using my regular credit card—I make more than the minimum payments, but the interest piles up faster than I can make the payments.

I’m not The Girl in the Green Scarf. Cutting or freezing credit cards doesn’t work—I have the numbers memorized. I don’t have lots of fashionable clothes and accessories to sell at an auction. {Though I did sell my red microwave from my old apartment. My new one came with one, and I hadn’t used the red one in five years, so I let it go. I’m also converting all my remaining CDs into mp3s, so I can sell them on Craigslist. I am definitely asking more for them than I did when I sold my first 300 due to downsizing into a smaller place. But those will amount to only a small payment.} And I’m not a fictional character.

I need to—no, I MUST—go back to DA. There is no other option. The solution has to start (again) from within.

What’s the evil number? $43,500.

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leave my meds alone

I have a hard time taking my meds. Well, except for my (mental) life-saving drug, The Anti-Depressant. I never have a problem taking it or (generally) remembering to take it. But my drug regime is like that of an 80-year-old, and I’m only in my 30s. I hate taking pills. And while that sentiment started when I was 16 and attempted suicide, now, it’s just a matter of inconvenience.

high blood pressure
high heart rate
low thyroid

Prescription Medication Spilling From an Open Medicine BottleThe above equals eight pills plus three supplements—that’s 11 pills EVERY DAY. Not that I take them every day because that’s ELEVEN pills. How can my doctor expect me to tall all those pills every day without missing a single dose? I don’t know, but she does.

I don’t notice any physical symptoms from not taking them, but I get my blood tested every three months, and that’s when it’s noticeable. And then I try and get back on track. But the in-between time, i.e. NOW, is freaking hard. I thought going vegan and losing some weight would help the diabetes, but my glucose level actually went up .7 points instead of down (it’s really high now and needs to go down 4 points). So, that means work even harder. But eating better and going to the gym is the easy part. The hardest part, which ironically should be the easiest, is taking the pills. Why can’t I do it?


huffing and puffing like a dragon

When T and I broke up seven years ago, I gained 57 lbs over three years. I had been 110-120 lbs my whole life, so I didn’t have any concept of the numbers 1, 7, 7 being part of my weight. It was the heaviest I had ever been, and it pushed me further into my depression. I am still trying to get back to a healthier weight, but the good news is that I’m about 145-147 lbs now. I haven’t been 145 lbs in years!

Last year, I went vegan (that’s another story) and lost 10 lbs just by eliminating murdered animals from my diet. A few weeks ago, we started another round of “sticker goals” at work. Picture yourself as a child—when you achieved something at school, you got a gold star. When you did your chores at home, you got a sticker. Now, imagine the same concept, but add 40 years to your age. The idea is to select a weekly personal goal to achieve for 10 weeks. You put $15 in the pot and get a sticker for every week you achieve your goal. If you have at least eight stickers, you get your $15 back and go for a team lunch.

My goal is to go to the gym twice a week (not having gone for a year, I needed to be realistic). Needing to ease back into it, I walk on the treadmill for no less than 45 minutes (the first time, I did 65 minutes!). The plan is to incorporate running as I build my stamina.

Today, my legs wanted to go faster right away and did a 40-minute walk at 3.4 mph (previously, I was only at 3 mph). Five minutes before my workout ended, I felt ready to run. I amped up the speed and started running. And it felt good! I had missed it! But, a minute in, I was huffing and puffing like a dragon. I had wanted to do five minutes, but I could do only three minutes. But it was the best three minutes ever.

During my last successful attempt at losing weight (25 lbs back in 2009), I was able to run 45 minutes without stopping. I will get there again one day. But for now, I will aim for five minutes during my next workout . . . which, hmm, is tomorrow.


yah, so…

yah, so . . . i still suck at blogging. this year has been exciting. i bought a condo and went to greece. i’m doing volunteer work with the rescue association where i got my kitties from and am now fostering six abandoned kittens.

today, i went to run some errands, and i saw two old friends walking by. they knew me when i was thin. they didn’t see me, but i felt so fat and am so depressed now. i have gained even more weight and now weigh around 175 lbs. that is definitely the heaviest i have ever been, and it’s going to be really hard to lose it. my ideal weight is 110-115 lbs. how funny that when i was 120 lbs, i felt fat.

i went to the doctor this week for my usual follow up. i am still on my meds, which are great (don’t ever take them away from me), but my blood pressure has been on the high side for the last year, so i had to get complete bloodwork and ECG, so she can determine whether i need high blood pressure pills. at 35.

so much for improving my health this year. it seems as my emotional health has improved, my physical health has deteriorated.

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accidental fading

i’ve had a lot to say but not much energy to say it. the last few weeks have been a blur. nothing bad per se, just lots going on. saw my doc and was pleased to tell her my allergies to the kitties have been minimal. unfortunately, i’d been eating a shitload of junk food, and my blood pressure is a bit high now. i’m supposed to cut out the salt/junk food (which i have started to do) and exercise (not yet {sigh}) to lower it in the coming weeks before my next appointment. yah, i have to get on it. the good news is that last month, i didn’t have any bad headaches and didn’t have to take any naproxen. that’s the first time in two years or more, so i was quite pleased about that, too. i went on the scale a couple of weeks ago and was nearing my heaviest. i’ve probably surpassed that now, so i’m too scared to get on the scale again. it’s shitty to be fat during winter because none of my coats fit, so i look even fatter. ugh. good thing my feet haven’t gotten fatter – i bought a pair of mini-stilettos and two pairs of boots today. that was an accident – i was actually on my way to my hair appointment, and the shoe store was next door, and i was a few minutes early, and. . . well. . . 😉

i’ve had some sad moods at times – partly to do with my friend in australia and his lack of understanding and compassion {we are talking again, but it hasn’t been the same}, and partly to do with T. the longer time passes, the more content i become with being alone, i.e. being without him, but the more my hope fades. some may say that’s a good thing, but i don’t want it to fade. in my heart, i still love him. and no one could ever take his place.

my fur kids are my treasures. aside from the occasional sadness, i don’t feel as depressed as i did in the summer. i have a few days off this week (making up for last month when i was called into work on my vacation. . . twice), and we’ve all been spending quality time together. oreo allows me to hold him now (albeit for only 30 seconds, but that’s still a big improvement). clea is still naughty, but when she crawls into bed with me in the mornings and sets her head on the pillow next to mine so she can have a cuddle, i forget about her naughtiness. tomorrow is my last day off, and i can’t wait to wake up with her next to me. =)

i keep my camera handy – there is always something cute or funny that they are doing. it’s hard to pick a few favorites to display here, but i narrowed it down to 25 (lol), or you can see all of the pix here and videos here.