Life with People – It’s Not Easy

Sometimes, Astrid Cat has to go get into her garage. Generally, she has her head and front legs hanging out the front, but today, she was 100% tucked into the garage, as if she just really wanted a little time alone. And, I really feel that.

As an introvert, in some ways it’s not that hard to be self-quarantining at home. I’ve left the house a total of 5 times in the last six weeks. And most days, I’m not too bothered by not going anywhere. Though, I will say that, even for me this is a long time to not leave the house for more than an hour.

But, on the other hand, for an introvert this is a lot of time to be with people – twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And I can feel myself getting a little more stressed by the nearness of others as the weeks extend. I am sure they are feeling the same about me.

I’ve been looking for some ways to reduce friction. My spouse and I are both working from the house and we have very different working styles. I am not a fidgeter, and I usually don’t like music while I work, but if I do it is soft music. He is a tapper and a wiggler and he does like music while he works – kind of loud too. It would be easy for me to get fussy with him for not being still or for playing music. But that isn’t really fair if those things enable him to work more effectively. My style of working isn’t better than his. So, I’ve just made myself a little work area in the family/tv room, since usually no one is here. It’s not quite as convenient in some ways (in fact, right this minute, I’m realizing I really need to get into the office and do some paperwork at the desk tomorrow), but it works better for me and him and I can always go in the office for a while if I want to.

Historically, we always ate at the table as a family for dinner. Then I was away from home for most days of the week for about three years and they got used to all eating wherever and whenever they felt like it. And, right now, spouse and I are working many hours every day on teaching and/or research, two of the adult children are doing college classes online, and two have sleep/wake schedules somewhat different than ours. So, I could insist that we all eat at the table, but I don’t. It does tend to mean that I cook, everyone grabs food and runs, and I (or spouse and I) clean up, but it’s what seems to be least friction-producing right now, so I’ll take it.

At the end of the day, living with other adults isn’t easy. Everyone has their annoying habits – goodness knows I do. But, we have to show each other a little grace and try not to become overly focused on the parts of each other that are annoying or we’ll all just end up miserable. As I’m watching friends and neighbors lose people to COVID-19 and miss their final days, that seems more important than expressing my annoyance over someone else’s behavior, even if it means sometimes “eating” my feelings a bit (I just wash them down with carbs). I would love to be able to say that I’m 100% successful at it, but I’m not. I’ll keep trying though.

So, whoever you are spending your time with right now, I wish you patience and equanimity, or at least the ability to pretend that you are feeling those things. And whether you are able to manage that or not, I wish you good snacks!

When Chronic Illness Feels Like Depression

Am I depressed or just sick? Am I depressed because I am ill? Am I ill because I am depressed?

The National Institute of Mental Health provides the following list as signs of depression:

  • Feeling sad, irritable, or anxious;
  • Feeling empty, hopeless, guilty, or worthless;
  • Loss of pleasure in usually-enjoyed hobbies or activities, including sex;
  • Fatigue and decreased energy, feeling listless;
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions;
  • Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much. Waking too early;
  • Eating too much or not wanting to eat at all, possibly with unplanned weight gain or loss;
  • Thoughts of death, suicide or suicide attempts; and/or,
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment.

Think about that list. Most of the items, with possible exceptions of the final two, are fairly common in cases of chronic disease or illness. For the individual, this can create uncertainty regarding mental, or even physical, health. If the root cause is unclear, so too is the treatment plan.

What does this mean for the individual? I think it means that those of us dealing with chronic illness need to take it easy on ourselves when we can’t maintain a positive mental state. It doesn’t mean we should give up, but we shouldn’t feel so guilty.

What does this mean for caregivers? Patients with chronic conditions may need treatment for depression or they may need to be reassured that these feelings don’t necessarily mean clinical depression. Caregivers may need to spend more time talking to patients to get at the psychological and emotional issues, and maybe be prepared for some tears, or guilt, or anger.

What does this mean for family and friends? The person you care for may not be able to be as fun as you want, even during times when the illness seems to be under relative control. Your loved one may need you more mentally or emotionally than physically, but simultaneously may feel an abundance of shame about that. And you may, in turn, be angry or frustrated and need to find someone else to talk to about it.

The interaction between chronic illness/disease and mental wellbeing is complicated, like people are. We can’t expect it to be simple or easy, whether we are the patient or those offering support.

Splendid Spoon – The Trial

A few weeks ago, I decided to give Splendid Spoon (http://splendidspoon.com – not an affiliate link). a try. I signed up at the standard cost and plunked down my money for a week’s subscription to show up at my door.

And then I waited for my selected delivery day – Wednesday. The order arrived. Theoretically, it was food for 5 breakfasts/snacks, 5 lunches, and a day of soup fasting. They anticipate you will make something else for your dinner.

Eating 3 meals just doesn’t happen in my life, so for me, this was going to be 5 brunches and 5 dinners, and then the extras spread out into the next week since I’m typically not at this location on the weekends.

I timed it pretty well, because shortly after I got the order, I broke my foot.
Oops. That was unexpected. So, it was good to have food around that I didn’t have to really think about to get a meal in. And, living on my own Monday to Friday, it wasn’t like someone was going to make dinner for me.

The food arrives frozen and WAY packed in ice. It could sit out for quite a while and would not thaw enough to be a problem. After you receive it, you can let it thaw in the fridge and use within a week, or keep in your freezer. The soups mostly come in bowls (with a few exceptions) and the smoothies in bottles.

I’m now finishing up my second delivery from Splendid Spoon and here are my general thoughts. The soups are good. I like to add some salt or salt substitute, nutritional yeast, or hot sauce to them. They tend to be a little bit bland, but are quite filling and the ingredients don’t taste over-cooked. The broccoli still has a bit of crunch, which is nice. I haven’t run into a soup that I really didn’t like, though the beet bowl was not my favorite. While they say that you can eat them at any temperature, I find that I prefer them hot.

The smoothies are ok. I prefer my smoothies to be pretty smooth and most of these have some sort of texture that requires chewing, whether that is coconut, nuts, or seeds. Because I don’t do the soup fast, and some of those come in the smoothie containers, I’ve been a little fooled a couple of times. I tried to drink a bottle of apple and parsnip straight up and cold and then gagged on the onion flavor.

Would I recommend Splendid Spoon? Yes, with reservations. It’s not inexpensive if you are using it for 2 meals a day and then adding a third meal, plus having 1 day a week that you have to have other food for. Since I’m supplementing only with a little probiotic stuff (yogurt and sauerkraut), some apples, coffee, and other drinks, and then some food on Saturdays and Sunday mornings, it’s not so bad. I’m also only getting a shipment every 2nd or 3rd week.

But, if cooking anything interesting for yourself is a struggle, this might be a good idea. And, there is no commitment, so it’s worth it to get a week and try. You can order once and stop, or keep going but skip any weeks you are not interested in.

Have you tried a food delivery service with vegan items? What did you think?