Operation Heal Chelby’s Brain In Time For Her To Fight Zombies

zombie

Crowdfunding/Skill-Sharing/Crowdsourcing/Call for Social Support for 2018

TRIGGER WARNING: If you really can’t deal with a super heavy read right now exploring mental illness, suicide, loneliness, financial struggles, and aging don’t read this right now.

So I am writing to ask for help.

If you follow my blog or my social media you probably already know that I came close to completing suicide in July and had to leave the job that provided me with my main source of income in September.

So I find myself needing help to implement my plan for recovery aka “healing my brain”.

The reality is, for a mental illness like mine, it is more about management than cure, but  there are things I can do to try to minimize the serious impact my illness is currently having on my ability to work and just do basic things like take care of myself.

If I don’t do this, things will just get much much worse….and that’s not just my depression, anxiety and complex PTSD talking, that’s facts.

What’s with the Zombie metaphor?

The Zombie metaphor is how I want to describe the fight I am in against mental illness’ impact on my cognitive ability and executive function, the physical health impacts of coping with loneliness & social isolation, and how all of this is getting amplified as I hit middle age.

For the reality is that my chances of completing suicide are actually going to INCREASE as I age.

Yep, in Canada, it is folks in their 40s and 50s who have some of the highest rates of suicide. If you are single, it is even more likely. These are STATS CAN FACTS FOLKS.

So again, it’s pretty scary, with no clear way through unless I can fight back.

So, I thought the Zombie Apocalypse was a good metaphor for all of this. I use it for a lot of things see: Loneliness & Zombies.

Feeling depressed just reading this?

Well, I’m living it. But today and frankly since I decided not to complete suicide in July, I have been able to see this Doomsday scenario as a problem to try to solve, something to defy, something to be angry about but not in a “I’m angry so I’m just going to give up” sort of way but in a “I’m angry so I going to kick its ass” sort of way.

But I can’t do this on my own.

Ok, So What’s The Plan?

Operation Heal Chelby’s Brain is basically a one year project where I basically do a bunch of stuff to get my brain back into a shape where it can handle actual work and the basics of life.

Counselling: I am very fortunate to have the support of services at the Civic Hospital including a psychiatrist, supports that unfortunately and unacceptably many people in Ottawa who are struggling with mental illness don’t have. So I am totally grateful.  My psychiatrist has recommended that I also start weekly counselling to work on a particularly problem I have stemming from childhood trauma that is causing a lot of problems at Saint Paul University which I plan to begin in 2018. Inshallah (hopefully), it this helps, it will go a long way to helping fix my brain.

Math: What? Well actually, I have to say that a starting noticing a swift worsening of the cognitive impacts of my mental illness after I stopped studying math. Just a coincidence. Science says maybe not.

According to researchers at Duke University, “Memory-based math problems stimulate a region of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which has already been linked to depression and anxiety. Studies have found, for example, that higher activity in this area is associated with fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. A well-established psychological treatment called cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches individuals how to re-think negative situations, has also been seen to boost activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.”

It’s not clear whether doing more math will help but it’s worth a try.

So, I am going to retake all of high school math at St. Nicholas Adult High School. It is good because they have a flexible model combing online learning and in class support that will work with someone with my health issues.

Retaking math will also help as I would like to return to tutoring as a source of income when my health is better so relearning all levels of high school math has a practical application as well.

Languages:  I used to have a knack for learning new languages. I won two regional and one provincial German Language contest, beating out students who had actually had more years of German Language education then I did. But I haven’t formally studied languages since my first year of university. I actually think my language studies may have been a big part of why I actually survived my first year and kept my scholarship. When I didn’t take any languages the next year, I didn’t finish more than the first semester. I never managed to finish my post-secondary education. Actually I think the only university course I completed after that was a special class doing a reading in the original German of Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.

I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

So, I want to start working towards a dream I’ve had since high school. Completing the Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française (DELF) for French (I can work towards this in Ottawa at the Alliance Francaise), the Goethe-Zertifikat for German (I can do this at Goethe Institut) and the Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE) for Spanish (I will need to figure out where to study but I can do the exam at the University of Ottawa).

I will probably never be well enough to return to post-secondary education but I really like the idea of going to class achieving something so many language studies towards exams like this are something I can achieve, thus boosting my self-esteem and maybe helping to fix my brain in the process.

These courses all cost money though. My plan is to do my own directed self-study until about April and then see which level I quality to enter studies at.

Improv: So, as some of you already know, I have being studying Improv at The Improv Embassy. It is really the only thing I can do to turn my mind off. Unfortunately, because of my health I haven’t been able to finish full classes but I plan to start attending the weekly $5 drop in class on Thursdays until I am well enough to take a full course. I did succeed it doing my first stand-up performance on my birthday this month at The Improv Embassy and I hope to continue with that as well.

I have always wanted to do stand-up and write comedy since I was a kid, mainly inspired by comedians like Margaret Cho, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle.

But now, I really just enjoy doing Improv Classes because it is so far the only thing I have found that helps me do “Mindfulness” as someone who has an serious anxiety disorder and copes with a lot of intrusive thoughts due to depression.

I am not a Yoga & Meditation type of girl…..frankly it worrying about doing the moves wrong makes me anxious and if you ask me to think about my breathing I will literally stop breathing and forget how I used to normally breathe!!!!

But Improv I can do. Improv requires you to really be in the “present” while also teaching you great cooperation and collaboration skills. I highly recommend if you’re like me.

Skills-Sharing: I am going to try to develop some key skills to help me with the work I want to do. Also, learning new things and mastering them is just good for my self-esteem.

What Help Do I Need?

Financial Support

I read about Anne Thériault, a Canadian writer, crowdfunding to support herself through a mental health crisis. So that’s where I got the idea from. She’s written one of the best pieces I have ever read that captures a lot of what I go through each day living with suicidal ideation.

I previously successful crowdfunded in 2012 to go see my father in Nigeria and it worked. So let’s see. It can’t hurt to ask…although I will probably get a lot of trolls for this but nothing they can say is worse than what I say to myself when really depressed (I am my own worst troll).

I am having a lot of anxiety applying for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).  I was raised on social assistance and see having been able to figure out how to support myself as an important achievement given my circumstances. I fear that trying to go on ODSP, which my mother lived on, is just going to trigger and churn up a whole bunch of things I honestly can’t really handle right now if I am going to recover. I have already put off applying for two months now because I just have a panic attack every time I have to go to the office to do the interview. I also might not even qualify because I am able to work my one job. So, I would really prefer to find an alternative until it is my last resort.

I am currently not earning enough with the one source of income I have left to support myself for 2018. I am short by about $1000/a month.

I have ideas of how I can make up this shortfall on my own but I will only be capable of doing that when I am better so only in about a year from now if my Operation Heal My Brain Project works out inshallah (hopefully).

If you are interested/able to help feel free to send support to me via my Crowdfunding Campaign on LaunchGood here

I doubt I will be able to manage just via crowdfunding but might as well ask and see.

Crowd-Sourcing/Skill-Sharing

I need to learn skills. This will help keep my brain active but will also help me in terms of future work options

What skills do I want to learn that maybe you could help me with?

  1. Podcasting (I have a good audio recorder, I want to learn how to edit my files and put them online)
  2. Graphic Design (I want to be able to edit photos and do some basic graphic design to make posters etc)
  3. Infographics (I want to know how to make infographics!)
  4. Facilitation Skills (I would love to learn more cool facilitation skills, exercises, tools, and techniques)
  5. Writing/Blogging (I want to write better for multiple audiences)
  6. Any good online resources that could help with some of the issues I am struggling with Executive dysfunction, cognitive deficits due to depression, excessive guilt related to depression etc. Another person’s crowdsourcing helped me find this awesome Self-Care tool for folks with issues with executive dysfunction like me.

Also, if you have the ability to share some of the software or equipment needed to do some of the above, that would be great.

Social Support

I live alone and am coping with loneliness. Also, because of my anxiety and increasing chronic pain (fibromyalgia) I often can’t really leave the house.

But I’m actually an extrovert and I really enjoy going out and seeing friends and meeting new people.

Transportation: When I was working I took cabs everywhere as it was the best way to get around given my anxiety and chronic pain. But now I definitely can’t afford that.  So, I need help with things like getting groceries. Also, if there is an event you think I may be interested in and you are able to help with my transportation to and from there (going to is often much harder for me then going from unless it is late) then please.

Conversations: People who know me know I like to talk a lot. I like learning things in conversation. I am very inquisitive. But generally speaking most of discussions with me are serious…not necessarily depression but ya, I kind of take everything seriously and analyse everything. It can be annoying for some folks but for me, it keeps my brain active. So, if you are open to hanging out and discussing things while treating me to a Chai Latte, then please reach out. Note: It sometimes will take a while for me to get back to you depending on my mental health at the time.

Trivia Nights: Does anyone do Trivia Nights? I did this once and really enjoyed it and it was great for my brain! So, if you do these and would like me to join your team let me know.

Watching Netflix: I like watching and rewatching shows and movies with people and discussing them afterwards. It sounds simple but it is a real treat for me to just watch stuff with people and then discuss it with them.  I seldom get to do it.

Spiritual Growth: I am currently trying to follow courses online with Seekers Hub Global but I just know that I would do better if I could connect and discuss the content with other people in real life. I am not currently interested in attending halaqas or courses in mosques etc as unfortunately these are not often the most spiritually and intellectually safe spaces for someone with my lived experience and personality type (ENTP) but generally I fell safe enough with certain teachers with Seekers Hub so I feel comfortable following their courses.  So, if you are also following the same courses, it would be great to connect inshallah (hopefully).

What Will Success by 2019 Look Like?

It would like the following:

  1. I will be able to leave the house for at least 5 hours a day (currently I often can’t leave the house for more than 30 mins)
  2. I sleep for just a normal 8 hours a day (Now, I sleep for at least 15 hours a day, usually as a way of coping with my anxiety and pain)
  3. I can go back to reading a least one book a week (I used to be able to read at least 200 pages a week. Now I am lucky if I can complete a 200 page book a year. I can’t focus, too many intrusive thoughts).
  4. I will be able to write, transcribe, and do work related tasks that I actually enjoy and seem simple and straightforward enough with less overwhelming feelings of anxiety and out and out panic.

This probably seems pretty simple but it’s not. It is going to take a lot of work and a lot of help. But If I could get to this point, I would probably be able to go back to supporting myself financially.

Inshallah (hopefully).

Even if there is no way you can help, please keep me in your prayers and/or wish me the best. It helps too.

Thanks.

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