Tag Archive: depression

Yard Work

It’s almost 3am, and I smell like smoke. I have been back at my dad’s house for almost a week now, and spent a good part of today’s afternoon doing yard work. This morning I had my first therapy session in almost two weeks and feel like I mostly rambled on pointlessly for an hour. Being back here is still comforting and familiar, but it’s so strange without dad or any pets in the house. My brain feels frazzled, and despite my therapist assuring me that I am doing well given everything I have experienced I feel like I should be doing better, and more. I am struggling with accepting that dad’s house is now my house; that everything here isn’t dad’s, it’s mine to look after. The two biggest challenges I’ve been finding are that I still want to ask him about so much that I discover here at the house (why did he keep this? what’s the story behind that?) – and looking at almost every item in this house, realizing that at one time, my dad put that item down and never picked it up again. It’s not like I’m keeping the house as some sort of untouched memorial, but these thoughts hit me almost every time I move things to try and get this place organized.

Which brings me back to smelling like smoke. I’d gone for a walk along the rivers after my therapy session, and came back to the house determined to get some work done around here. The front of the lawn is absolutely covered in mud and rocks from the winter, so I started trying to make an impact on that. 30 or so pounds worth of gravel, deer and dog shit later, I moved inside the fence. I raked up under the massive cedar shrubs lining the front edge of the lawn and pulled over half a dozen wheelbarrows worth of dead leaves away from them. I had so many memories of raking the lawn in years past; of dad burning off the dead grass every spring. I wondered if I should rake the rest of the lawn or if it was too early for it (the back yard still has about 8” of snow in a lot of places, but the front lawn is bare). The guy I’d usually ask about this stuff isn’t here anymore, so I made my own judgment call, which is I guess what he had to do a lot, and sadly what I’m learning adulting is way too often about. I brought the leaves and branches to dad’s burn barrel in the back yard, right beside the garden. I brought out the stacks of papers and ancient cardboard I’d already sorted from inside the house and started a fire.

Standing there in the back yard, the sun setting behind the trees in the distance, wearing one of dad’s oldest and rattiest jean jackets, I didn’t feel how I hoped I would. Ordinarily I’d feel happy or a moment of peacefulness while watching a campfire (not exactly camping, but I don’t know how to specify that I’m not all zen watching forest fires and whatnot. I’m tired. Leave me alone). I hoped that burning some of the private papers and unnecessary memories might somehow feel cleansing, but it didn’t – it felt like work. Work that has to be done, and that’s okay too. I stood out there for about an hour or so, sipping my coffee and tending to the fire. There’s so much to do around here, all of it completely unplanned and entirely not asked for. I might not know what to do with everything here yet, but I’ll figure it out. 

Days in bed, not as fun as I’d hoped

Happy Cat, Happy Cup, sunshine in a happy shirt. Life is good.
Happy Friday, everyone!

..At least, that’s the superhappyfuntimes bs I always choose to share on social, and those first two lines are probably all that will get read by most and that’s okay. Let those folks think all is good and I’m happy. The truth is, last weekend one of my recurring injuries from my car crash chose to act up, and I’ve been almost entirely bedridden since then. I can’t stand for longer than 5 minutes before my back starts screaming worse than I did at Oilers games. I struggle to sit up, to roll over – hell, even sitting at my desk or on the couch becomes agony after a few minutes.

Needless to say I haven’t been able to work out this week. I haven’t been able to do much at all, and yeah, I’m frustrated as hell. I’m angry, fed up and depressed – but I’m not giving up. I’m grateful that I was able to see my physiotherapist once this week and she helped reduce the pain level quite a bit. She even kindly offered to see me again after her shift today to hopefully get me at least walking this weekend. Every one of my therapists keeps saying that I am doing everything they could ask for to recover, but I still don’t feel like I’m doing enough. I push when I can, I rest when I can’t. I’ll get through this and I’ll make everything better than before.

But – right now, I’m choosing to be mindful of the moment. Happy Cat (and a lurking happy DevilCat), Happy Cup and a stubborn JT. Let’s do this.

On mental health

I check up on people I care about. A lot. Sometimes to the point that I think I may be annoying, but I’d rather annoy someone than lose them. View full article »

Blue, Christmas.

Late last night I realized this would actually be the third Christmas I’ve spent without my dad.
Two years ago he had just had his strokes and had been transferred to PG on December 20th. I woke up alone in my dad’s house on Christmas morning and was beyond grateful that Granville’s was maintaining their beautiful tradition of offering free coffee and treats on Christmas day, because I really didn’t have anywhere to go and being alone in that house was not something I could handle. I got a coffee and an extra cup for dad, sat in the table that’s been my favourite since high school, put his cup in his spot and gave him a call. 

I can’t remember what we talked about, but sitting there, having a coffee and hearing his voice was a wonderful moment. After the phone call, the kind people working gave me some bacon to give to Molly who was waiting in dad’s car for me, and we went for a drive to visit with my brother.

Last year I decided against going home, and I am at peace with that decision. Dad and I had been arguing quite a bit at the time and I didn’t feel like selling a kidney just to fly home and get yelled at from his hospital bed while I stayed alone at his house. I chose to spend the day by myself, for myself, and when dad called and started yelling at me within three minutes, I knew I’d made the right choice. It wasn’t really him yelling at me – the strokes had affected his brain and sometimes things didn’t make sense to him they way they should have. Still, it was nice to hear his voice but I was happy to have stayed home, and still have both kidneys.

This year, I don’t have a choice and if I did I’d sell that kidney and yours too (no offence) just to talk with him one more time, even if it was only to hear him yelling at me again. I knew this Christmas was going to be hard, and it is. I called my grandma last night to check in on her, and she told me how much she misses my dad, how much she misses the traditions we used to have. I still don’t know how to process this massive hole in my heart, but I hope that in time I’ll find a way.

There’s no fake fighting over perogies this year. No wrapping paper tube sword fights. No counting the amount of times my dad would say “what in the hell…?” while opening gifts. No going for coffee at Granville’s, no cooking Christmas dinner for grandma. No plaid jacket counts, no going for drives with Molly in the back seat, no laughs, no great big bear hugs where we’d take turns lifting each other off the ground and squeezing until the other tapped out, always with a laugh and love.

I’m grateful that I didn’t go home last year because my memory of the last Christmas I spent with my dad is an amazing one. We went for dinners and coffees, he got his idiot son drunk and listened to him finally open up and talk, he kicked my ass like always at pool and we fake fought over grandma’s perogies like we always did, and always will. That’s the memory I want, that’s the memory he deserves.

If you took the time to read this, I want you to know that I’m grateful you’re in my life, and I wish you all the best in the coming year. Take the time to reach out to your loved ones and let them know how much they matter to you. Be well and stay strong, friends.

One Year ago today.

1 Year ago today.

I thought it was a good day. I hit the gym, trained legs. Went to a client event, stayed late and had a great night. I was crushing my fitness goals, I was closer than I’d ever been to my Dream, and life was going well.

1 Year ago today, possibly right around now, my Dad turned off the food cooking on the stove and, while it was cooling, decided to take Molly for a walk. My insomnia woke me up around 3 or 4 am, and I saw that I had a missed call from a hometown phone number. Somehow, I knew it wasn’t good. I checked my voice mail. I called the hospital. My dad’s doctor repeated the news from the message he’d left – dad had had a stroke while he was out walking Molly, and I should probably get back there as soon as possible. He let me speak to my dad for a brief moment, and the voice that I heard terrified me.

I caught the first flight out a few hours later, heading straight to my dad’s side.

In this past year I have become infinitely closer to some family members that I am sorry I didn’t know better sooner – but am grateful for our connections now. Their strength and compassion helped me through moments where I didn’t know what to do.

Tonight, one year after his stroke, my dad called me from his hospital bed to have a talk. Nothing big, nothing important, nothing really to say other than to talk for a while, and it was great. We talked cars, he told me how his recovery is coming, some of his plans for when he does get out of the hospital, and he may have even let slip a little bit of good news that not many people know yet. Our phone call went on for maybe an hour, and if I closed my eyes and imagined hard enough I could ignore the background hospital sounds and think that maybe he was calling me from his house. He told me that he’s doing his best to make that happen.

In this past year, I’ve struggled. I did the best I could but I know I could and can be dealing with my dad’s situation better. I got hit by a truck, which I may have mentioned a couple times. I’m still in pain every day from that, but I’m fighting through. I yelled at my grandma for the first (and hopefully only) time in my life. One of my biggest clients, someone who told me I was “like family”, shut their doors while I was back home dealing with my dad, leaving me with many months of unpaid invoices and no answers. I didn’t go after contracts I knew I could have got, if I wasn’t dealing with post-concussion nonsense. I sacrificed a car for no good reason. Had the biggest fight of my life with my dad – even bigger than the time he kicked me out of his house at age 16. I haven’t been able to work out, or even work as much as I used to, nor as much as I’d like.

But, fuck it. There’s no complaining here. I’m still breathing, and my dad’s still kicking. We can make the best out of today, and an even better tomorrow. I realize now that maybe dealing with dad’s mental condition due to the stroke can help me as I approach my post-concussion brain fogs – when I remember it! (You know me – if I’m not joking about things, I’m probably going to punch holes in walls.)

It’s crazy how much life can change in a year, a day, or in the time it takes you to take your dog for a walk. I can promise every one of you though, that some things will never change: I’m stubborn, I’m determined, and I’ll bloody well achieve every goal I set my mind to. My goal right now? Better than I was a year ago. Better than I’ll be tomorrow. Always growing, always improving. And as for my Grumpy Dad? Well, we all know he’s a stubborn such and such – and he tells me he’s going to drive again. I told him that if he wants to do that, he’s got to get through me first, and he laughed, and said it’s on.

We’re Tomas. We’ve got this.

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