Posted in anxiety, Depression, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health

Hard Work

Just the quickest of check-ins here, to prove that I am still alive and part of this blogging community. Life has been busy as all get out lately, and when I have had time to sit here to write something, I just have been coming up empty handed. My brain has been so awash with busy thoughts even when I am sitting still…thoughts about what is going on at work (and I NEVER think about work when I’m not working!) and what I need to do next, and next, and next.

My littlest girl starts back to school today, so it’s almost time to go wake her up and get back to the old routine. Part of me is relieved to be back on a normal schedule, part of me remembers it’s a lot of work, mothering a child in school. But the new school year is always one of my favorite fresh starts, and if you follow my blog, you must know by now how much I love clean slates and fresh starts. I am always up for the challenge of doing better than I did before. It’s what keeps me interested in life- challenging myself, and hopefully, teaching my kiddo to love a good challenge.

Work has been insane. We are implementing a new hospital-wide computer system, and we “went live” on August first, which is why we weren’t allowed any paid leave over the summer-training and all that- and now we are just working out the kinks, trying to figure out the best way to do everything. As is my nature, and loving new things the way I do, I have taken right to it. I haven’t had any problems at all, apart from the fact that I’ve had to work in an office every day rather than at home. That has been tough. I don’t do well tied to a desk in a windowless room with ten or so other people for eight hours straight. My boss commented that I worked better at this new thing than I’ve worked at the old stuff, and that she was surprised by how quiet I’ve been. Well, part of that is thanks to my ADHD- I have a new puzzle in front of me to work out, so my brain is fully engaged. But part of it is due to the fact that sitting still, trying to conform and behave is basically poisoning my soul, so…by hour five, I’m pretty miserable. She said I grew more and more pale as the day wore on. I told her it was because my spirit was dying. LOL. Thank God she loves me.

But the best thing I have to report is that I have been actively combating my creeping depression with tons of exercise (even when I really, really don’t want to), vitamins, and healthier eating, and it is WORKING. I’m not sure what is helping the most, and I don’t want to mess with it, so I’m just going to keep going. My anxiety is nearly gone, and the anxiety is what triggers the depression I’m pretty sure, so the depression has lifted, too. I haven’t eaten fast food not even once, nor have I indulged in Starbucks. I have really, really been giving it a solid go, and the results were nearly instant, and so obvious. I guess I just have to continue on this path if I want to feel good. Which, honestly, is a little bit daunting- it’s so much freaking work just for me to feel okay. But feeling okay is such a relief. Not worrying constantly about things that aren’t even logical is such a relief. So if I have to keep at it, I will. It’s so worth it.

So there you have it! I will try to check in again soon, but just know that things are looking up for me, and I hope they are looking up for you, too!

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Posted in Depression, faith, Goals, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, People, women

A Good Day

good day
picture credit: Cloudy Thurstag via Google images. What a great illustration!

Yesterday, I had a really good day. I could feel it coming, I knew I was building up to it, but…to be honest with you, I was nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve had an excellent day- I let myself slide a little too far down the path of doom and gloom, and was finding it hard to pull myself out. So I was worried that I was about to suffer another false start, take one step forward and fall ten steps back.

I swear to you, when I get all out of sorts- low spirited and glum- it feels like it takes an act of God or a very specific alignment of planets to set me back on my feet. Of course, this isn’t true, but…what it really takes is me finding the will and determination to do what makes me feel better, and sometimes that is even harder to scrounge up than a miracle. Or at least it seems that way.

But honestly, I’ve had enough. I’ve just had enough of my own moping and whining, saying I want to feel better then doing almost anything I can think of to court my own depression- it’s like I pursue the exact thing I don’t want. How? By continuing to sit. By too much napping. By eating poorly. By refusing to exercise. By isolating myself. By not giving enough effort to my work, or to the things I love, such as writing my novel. In the midst of my little black cloud, these things seem impossibly hard, and yet…it’s still my responsibility to try. It’s my life we are talking about here. It’s kind of important. And lets be real- in the past 11 months, 3 more people that I love have left this planet forever. When I pray in the morning, the list of people I need to send love to in heaven is growing so long that I struggle to remember all the names. We don’t have infinite time here on this gorgeous little planet. We have this moment, and nothing more is guaranteed. So, for me, living unhappily seems so wasteful. And furthermore, when I am feeling shitty, I am thinking mostly about myself. It would be so nice to stop worrying about me, and start shining the light outside of myself a little bit. I think that alone would make me happier.

Well, I’m getting there. I’ve started journaling, in an effort to more accurately track my true mental and emotional state, since it’s really hard to rely on memory for such a thing. I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of keeping a journal, and it’s very encouraging. Yesterday, I woke up, and I just knew that it was the day- today was the day that I was going to check all the boxes. And I did. I did my prayer and meditation, I worked on my novel, I showered and Cam got her hair washed before daycare, and I worked really hard at my job all day. I ate three home-cooked, nutritious meals, and I didn’t snack in between, I walked my dog, I left the TV off. I wrote in my journal in the morning and before bed. I WENT TO THE GYM! This was the first time I walked through those doors in two months, and the dread I felt on my way was nearly palpable. Why? I have no idea why. The minute I jumped on the elliptical, I felt euphoric. It felt so good to be taking care of myself again!

Listen, I know that not every day will be like that one. I know there will be days when I can’t fit all the things in that I would like, or that I will be unable to hit some of my goals- there will be days when some boxes go unchecked. I know that I need to accept that, and not allow a bad day, or a string of bad days, derail me completely. Maybe I need to stop labeling them as “bad days” and “good days”. I’m hoping, through keeping a journal, that I will be able to see that every day has something good in it. I believe this to be true, and that I just have a hard time remembering that sometimes. But for now, I needed that excellent, really good day so bad! Here’s to keeping the ball rolling!

And may you have an EXCELLENT, beautiful, really good, damn near perfect day. You deserve it!

Posted in advice, anxiety, Depression, faith, health, inner peace, Life, magic, manifestation, meditation, Mental Health, mindfulness, People, spirituality, the occult

Just DO it.

just do it
Thanks, Nike.

Early, early this morning, because it was a full moon and I am not a night person in ANY way, I did a little candle ritual to get rid of this negative energy that’s been clinging to me like a second skin lately. I also saged myself and my house, and left all my crystals outside to charge in whatever glimpse they might have gotten of the moon through the thick fog that blankets the coast in the summer months. Yeah, I do all of that stuff. I’ve been listening to podcasts about magic and manifestation (they aren’t all that different, to be honest), I’ve been reading books about mindfulness and journaling. I also started taking magnesium, because I’ve heard it is effective at easing depression. I’ve seen my therapist, I’ve gone to meetings, I’ve reached out to friends. In short, I have used almost every weapon in my arsenal to yank myself out of this funk I have been in. There are two things that I haven’t done- well, one, as of yesterday- and they are these: Take TRUE action and take medication. I don’t happen to have any medication laying around to take, obviously, but I am not averse to doing such a thing- going to my doctor and saying “Hey, nothing I am doing is working. I need some help.”, but I will tell you this, it is the very last thing I ever want to do. I’ve been lucky so far and it hasn’t come to that, but rest assured, if it did, I would do what I needed to do. I would never shame someone for needing that kind of help. Depression is an endless-seeming nightmare, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Everyone I’ve spoken to about the way I’m feeling inevitably asks the same question- “Why are you depressed? What’s wrong?” And it is almost funny, but not really, because…seriously? That isn’t how depression works. And I don’t know. There’s nothing wrong, nothing has changed, I just feel awful and I can’t shake it. Trust me, I’m TRYING.

Taking TRUE action though, the other thing I hadn’t done until yesterday, I know isn’t an option for everyone who is clinically depressed. I don’t think that’s what I am, although I certainly have potential (the one instance where not living up to my potential is a good thing!). I am more like…lightly depressed. A salad with a side of depression. Still showering, still getting dressed when necessary, just really upset about having to do those things. So, for ME, I know that if I can just get myself moving, I will probably feel better. Only I don’t want to do that. I want to sit here, in my robe, with my hair in a fraying braid, eating ice cream out of the container and watching “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” with the blinds closed.

My daughter called me the day before yesterday, and I huffily paused my show to take her call. She asked how I was, and I told her the truth. This kid, she has struggled with depression off and on for years, and she had some advice for me. I told her “I just keep thinking ‘tomorrow will be better, tomorrow will be better’  but it’s the same thing!” and she goes “mom, you can’t do that- you have to just get up and make yourself do something- I even wrote it on my dry erase board-‘JUST DO IT’, and I look at it all the time. It really helps!”

Of course, I rolled my eyes (she couldn’t see me) and said “I know you’re right, I will.” with absolutely no intention of doing any such thing. Later that night I messaged a friend of mine- “I really need to get my shit together. I can’t go on like this.” I went to bed, and in the morning, I read his response: “Just do it, then.”

Hmm.

As woo-woo as I am, you won’t find it hard to imagine that I strongly believe in synchronicity, and messages from the Universe coming through in any way that they can. Just Do It. From two people who care about me, two people who couldn’t be more unlikely to have conspired behind my back to get this through to me.

Fine, then.

Yesterday, after work, instead of slipping into my couch-coma as I am wont to do, I grudgingly put my shoes on and ordered my small child and my dog into the car. I drove to the beach, and I grudgingly got out of the car, ordered my whining child and super excited dog out of the car, and trudged morosely up the hill and over the dunes. It was freezing cold and super windy, and for some reason, by the time we made it down to the water, both of us humans were smiling. The dog was smiling the entire time, of course. We didn’t go far or stay long, but that wasn’t the point. The point was just to do it. By the time we got back to the car, my ears hurt like hell from the cold wind, but I felt…alive. As if I were actually existing inside my body and life, rather than from somewhere outside of it.

We went to Petsmart, bought some dog shampoo and a big bone for Lucy, and when we got home I gave her a bath. She hasn’t had a bath in several months- the only one who hates her bath more than I do is her- but I was bound and determined to do it, and I did. She was such a good girl- she got right into her little tub and lay down, and I used a pitcher to rinse the filth off of her. When she was done, I dried her with a towel, and she pranced around, feeling pretty, the way dogs do after a bath. Five seconds before she went and rolled in the dirt out back. Goddammit.

The point here is, I did some things. And after I’d done them, I felt better. I took myself out to dinner, alone, and had a smashing time. I was in bed by nine, and that’s okay, too. So now, my job is not to lose my momentum. I’m not out of the woods yet. As soon as I hit publish on this bad boy, I’m throwing on some yoga pants and heading out for a little while- back to the beach, and then to a meeting.

Do I believe in my candle rituals and manifestation boards and crystal energy? Do I believe that my prayers are heard and that meditation helps, and that talking about what is wrong matters? YES. I believe all of that. But I also believe that we need to meet the Universe, meet God, meet whoever or whatever is out there halfway. Whether that means asking our doctor for help with our brain chemistry, or getting up and out of the house, putting away the ice cream and opening the blinds- that’s a personal decision. We can’t just wait for miracles to fall out of the sky.

So…just do it. Whatever it is. Sorry, Nike, I’m borrowing your catchphrase,

Posted in Blogging, fitness, Goals, health, housekeeping, Life, mindfulness, People, random, Weight Loss

March 31st

goodbye march

Another month in the books already? Wow! I can’t believe it’s nearly April, and then on the other hand, I can’t believe we’re only heading into the fourth month of the year. What a crazy few months it has been for me! 2018 so far has been the most intentional year I have had in recent memory. I know it has a lot to do with me blogging. This little act of sitting down here to write about my life regularly helps so much to keep me focused and on top of things. It’s like magic.

Did you know that I haven’t had a dirty dish in my sink in well over a week? My landlady finally came over yesterday, and she thought the house and yard looked good- all of that stress and worry, for what? In the end, I pulled it together, like I needed to. And it’s not just the sink that’s stayed clean- I’ve devoted some time every day to picking things up and doing tasks that need to be done, and the end result is a home I am much more comfortable living in. Should someone drop by, I wouldn’t be mortified, or suddenly aware of how messy my house is. I would be proud of my home- something that is definitely new for me. One down side to all this neatness, though, is how crazy I get when Cam drops wrappers casually on the floor, or leaves her clothes in a puddle in the bathroom. Suddenly, these things make me very angry- “Don’t you see how hard I’ve been working around here?” I’ll snap, “Go pick that stuff up!” Poor thing. She’s never learned any good habits because I never showed her the way. I need to be patient, not one of my inherent qualities. Eh, I’ll get there. We both will.

As exciting as me droning on about my housekeeping habits probably is for you, I’d like to move on to something else now. As you may have gathered from other posts, I really like to be working on things in my life- the way I live, the way I am, the way I operate. It keeps me interested, and it keeps me motivated. Today is the last day of my (mostly) meatless March, and I don’t have any idea if I will go back to eating meat or not. It was REALLY easy, for the most part, not to eat meat. And to be honest with you, the thought of eating it now kinda grosses me out. I can’t even believe I am saying that, but it’s the truth. I did eat refried beans twice, forgetting that they are made with lard, and that baked potato dip with bacon bits in it (I didn’t realize it until I had already eaten half and then ate the other half anyway). Either way, going without meat was not hard, but I learned you can still eat pretty terribly without any meat at all. Which brings me to my goal for the next month:

Move Your Ass April! I have gone to the gym only TWO times in March. Not only does that mean I will have to pay full price for my March gym membership (if I go ten times per month, my work pays half of my fees) but to be honest, I don’t feel that great. I don’t know about you, but the less I exercise, the less I want to exercise, and the slower and more sluggish I begin to feel. So, for the month of April, I am committing to my original goal of going to the gym 3 times per week, and hitting my step goal 6 out of 7 days per week. I would say every day, but there is inevitably one day where I just can’t do it. I am also going to concentrate on eating sensibly, since I majorly fell off that wagon this month, and keeping track of my calories. Do I want to lose weight? Yeah, of course I do. But more than that, I want to feel good about myself. My house being neat makes me feel good. Exercise and eating right, both make me feel good. To be honest with you, everything I do is an effort to feel good. It’s kind of my favorite thing.

In closing, I will say this- I know for sure that nothing like perfect balance is ever going to happen. Not in my life, or in anyone’s life. That just isn’t a thing. The best we all can do is strive to do the best we can on any given day. Despite all the struggles and ups and downs I so readily admit to, my life is good. And it’s good because I never stop working on it, no matter how hard it might be at the time, no matter how ill prepared I might feel. This is the only life I have, and I’ve decided that I want to get the most out of it that I can. Starting exactly where I am at.

 

Posted in Addiction, Depression, Goals, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, recovery

The Upswing

the upswing
Picture found via google images- I wish I knew who to credit!

Last week, I struggled through some uncomfortable and unwelcome feelings. I wrote about them, the way I write about everything, and I said I knew that what I was going through was just part of life, and that I would feel better soon, the way I always do. But the truth is, every single time I go through those down times, I worry that I am going to get stuck there and that I will feel that way for a long time. Maybe forever. I don’t know why I think that however I am feeling at any given moment is how I always feel, and will always feel, but I do tend to believe this on a certain level. It’s weird. I think I should know myself better by now, but I do need to remember that I am not quite three in recovery years, so I am still figuring out how to operate this life and this person.

One thing I have learned is that I do need to wallow a little bit when I am down. I think everyone probably needs to honor themselves in this way- rather than just power through and act like everything is peachy, go ahead and lay around for a day or two. Spend an entire day watching movies On-Demand, refuse to participate in anything taxing- be that a trip to the beach or a trip to the bathtub, you decide what works for you. Just treat yourself like the unwell creature you are, why not? It might not be the flu, but it’s still a valid thing, that mental bullshit we go through. But I do encourage you to put a timer on this wallowing. We cannot wallow for too long, or it can turn into something else. Something bigger and uglier and much harder to control- at least, that is my fear. I have been legitimately depressed a time or two, and I have a healthy fear of it. I’m pretty sure that if depression were coming for me, there wouldn’t be much I could do to avoid it- it’s a chemical imbalance, obviously, and it happens to people who are doing all the right things, all the time. For me, however, a person who lives entirely too much in her head, I know that my attitude has a lot to do with how I feel. So, I allow myself a brief reprieve, and then I mobilize.

Once I have thoroughly assessed my situation via the wallow, I go into my Handling Business mode. This phase is not the easiest to prod myself into, but once I get started, it’s on like Donkey Kong (do people even say that anymore?). Friday, I decided that it was time to get my shit together, and yesterday was Handling Business day. I went to the gym. I got my eyebrows done (they look amazing, by the way. Seriously, I took a picture of them to show the next girl who does them because I want them to always look this good.) and went grocery shopping, stocking up on healthy foods for the week. I did three loads of laundry, including folding and putting away. I cleaned my kitchen, and my living room, and still managed to take a nice, long, hot bath…I even shaved my legs. That may not sound like a lot to you, but you would think differently if you had seen my kitchen. The stove top alone needed like 30 minutes of attention with a Magic Eraser.

During the wallow, I realized that in just a few short months, I will be turning 43 years old. This past year has been one of my personal best. I have stayed clean, and done so much work on myself. In the past three years, I have gone from total chaos and dysfunction to mostly-pretty-normal with occasional bouts of low grade chaos. I count that as a win. But there is always more to strive for, and I enjoy re-assessing my situation and figuring out where I want to go next. I have my writing habits pretty dialed in at this point, and I plan to keep on going with that. My fitness goals kind of got swallowed up (pun unintentional) over the past month, though, and I am going to get back to that. I’ve decided I want to see a significant change in my habits (honestly, I’d like to see a significant change in my body, but I want to keep the focus on my health) by the time 43 rolls around.

So there you have it- Wallow over, Upswing initiated. There will be moments of both in the months ahead, but I have my eye on the prize. Now, I am off to find some blogs about fitness and eating healthy. I’m sure I’ll find one or two. 🙂

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, fun, health, humor, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, recovery, spirit, twelve step

Laughter

laughter

 

I gave up laughter for years.

I mean the good kind, the kind that rolls out of you uncontrollably, the kind that makes you double up, the kind that makes you cross your legs so you don’t pee your pants. The best kind- the laughter that comes out so hard that it makes no sound, just your big open mouth, your shaking shoulders. I can’t even think about that kind of laughter without smiling.

I gave it up, and I didn’t even realize it. Which is weird, because I love to laugh so much! I didn’t stop making other people laugh- I have always been really good at that, and it is an excellent way to distract people from what is wrong. When you can make people laugh, it’s easy for them to assume that you are okay, that you are happy, right? Happy people make other people laugh. I don’t think that is true at all. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I adore making people laugh, but…it’s a show you put on. A friendlier way than my other go-to of crazy anger to keep people at arms length. To keep them from asking too many questions, or seeing me too clearly. Deflect, distract, confuse. Another tool in my arsenal.

I don’t remember doing too much laughing myself. At least, not the good kind. The sad fact is, when you are deep in addiction, you don’t have much to laugh about. It’s not fun. It’s a life in survival mode, just barely keeping your head above water.Then, if you are lucky, and if you work really hard at it, you get clean and shit gets REALLY real. If you are doing step work and working with a sponsor, things come up. Feelings you didn’t feel ten years ago clamor to be felt. You deal with anxiety, remorse, shame, regret, depression, elation, joy, love, relief, exhaustion and peace. But what you might find little room for in your life, while dealing with all this other stuff, is silliness. And silliness is a big ingredient in laughter.

For me, at least, it was a long, long time before I stopped being so tense. I had been so on my guard for so long, so careful in the way that I lived my life out of fear of being found out, that it was a long while before I trusted myself to keep going. Believe me when I say that I am not some paragon of ease- I can’t see that ever happening. I am a little tightly wound, as friends and family will attest. Lately, though, I have found myself able to breathe. To be in the moment, to let go, to have fun.

And I have been laughing so much. So much that it has caught my attention several times over the past few weeks. My little daughter, the one I am with the most, has noticed too. She’s the one I’ve been cracking up with the most, and it’s like some kind of medicine, I swear. We laughed our way through Target the other night, being silly as hell, and causing people to stare at us as we giggled and swerved our cart through the aisles. I am not lying when I say that several children looked at us with longing, wishing they were having as much fun as we were.

We’ve been laughing in the car, and laughing in our house, laughing in the morning when I wake her up, and laughing while we brush our teeth. We almost died laughing during a dance off we had in the living room the other night.

I’ve been laughing at work, and laughing in meetings. Last night, at my critique group, it felt great to laugh with my writer friends about writer stuff. And yesterday, when I was complaining about my sudden acne outbreak and my friend asked me why I thought I was breaking out, I pointed to my face and said “Hemorrhoids” when what I meant to say, in fact, was “Hormones”. I literally almost peed my pants. Come on, that’s freaking hilarious.

I missed laughing so much. If you are just starting out on this journey, I promise you, the day will come when your heart and spirit have healed enough to let your guard down. You will trust yourself again, and you will find, without even realizing that it’s happened, you are whole. You will find that you can breathe again, you will find it easy to smile, and I promise you, you will laugh.

The good kind of laugh.

Posted in Blogging, family, Goals, health, kids, Life, reading

Three Things (it’s still Thursday, right?)

three beetles

I know, I know- I’m super late with this post today. Heck, it’s almost my bedtime, decrepit old thing that I am. But seriously, I am in a HEATED Fitbit challenge right now, currently holding the lead, by a hair, in two very serious battles. Well, actually, I am 14,000 steps ahead in one, so that one is pretty much in the bag, but the other one is anyone’s guess. Which is pretty bad considering I am giving it everything I’ve got and barely winning. Anyway, forgive me, I digress. I am tired as hell.

Alright, let’s get on with this, shall we?

  1. Mommy confession: I freaking hate homework. I’m so glad my first grader only gets one page a night, but to be honest, even that is a bit much for me at times. “For you?” you may be saying to yourself, “But isn’t it your child’s homework?” To which I would answer “Do you have or even know any children?” Homework is a family disease. And furthermore, I think it is mean spirited and cruel to send a child home with more work to do…if my boss asked me to take work home after hours, I would laugh and laugh…and then say “Hell NO.” And perhaps add, more quietly, “I don’t have time. I have math to do. Cam does, I mean.”
  2. I have had a really productive, good week. Some time opened up for me unexpectedly yesterday and today- meaning the plans I had fell through, and I couldn’t be happier. I got the house picked up, making it easier to exist in, and I got to sit down and play Uno with Cam last night, and we read together. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me feel like my life is actually working. Running around every night like a chicken with my head cut off is (please forgive me for the terrible pun that is coming) for the birds. I’m a little punchy this evening.
  3. I want to share with you guys how I am entertaining myself lately (besides the bad jokes, I mean) First of all, I have been binge listening to a podcast called Jim Harold’s Campfire, and it’s a wide range of really interesting ghost stories, visitations from the other side, cryptid’s, and odd happenings, told by the people they happened to. I am really enjoying it. I have been watching “The Last Man on Earth” On Hulu, and it is laugh out loud funny. And I have been reading the Throne of Glass series for months now…such great world building and beautiful writing. I highly recommend all three.

That might have been longer than 15 minutes today. I forgot to look. Oh well. Have a great night!