Upswing

I’ve been on a major upswing since my last post. I’ve been working on finding what makes me happier and healthier and embracing that. I’ve made the following changes: 

With the help of my primary care physician we found the right meds for my anxiety with very little, if any, side effects for me. I saw my therapist again for a while and that was enlightening and strengthening as always.  I don’t know if anyone else feels strong after therapy but I sure do! 

I left the job that I’d been at for nearly 10 years as it had become a major source of stress and unhappiness. I no longer saw a spot for me there in the long term and I wasn’t happy with where I was at. I took a leap (and a pay-cut) to have a better work/life balance. I have my evenings, weekends, and holidays free for the first time in my 22 years of working. Since I was used to working odd shifts and days, it was a HUGE adjustment working five continuous days. It kicked my butt! I have since adapted and I LOVE it. The best part? I can see myself investing in this new company and I’m excited for what my future holds. 

I’ve deleted Facebook. Not just quit signing in, or deactivating it, I flat out permanently deleted it. Today is the day it is no longer recoverable and I feel great. I’ve wanted to get rid of it for years but was too chicken to pull the trigger. I was terrified I’d be missing out. After really considering it though, if that was the only way I had to be in touch with someone, clearly we were not that connected. The political posts, the people who had to jump down my throat when I had views different from theirs, it was a time suck and it caused me more unhappiness and annoyance than it did connection. It had to go and it did!

My younger sister, Sam, has been on her own fitness journey for some time now. I’ve mainly watched and said, “Nope, nope, nope. I love nachos, ice cream, wine, coffee, pizza, oh goodness do I love pizza! I am a professional couch potato.” I had no interest in making changes or doing the work. Then… I’ve had some reasons as of late that have inspired me to start making changes. Health concerns with people I care about, never fully feeling comfortable in my own skin because I knew I was neglecting myself, seeing Sam’s success. It was just time. 

So a month and half ago I bought a membership to Beach Body OnDemand. I started 21 Day Fix and man that first day kicked my ass so hard I was sore for a week but I kept pushing.  I finished week 1 and started week 2 before falling off. Luckily Sam and Erica ran a fitness challenge that started August 13th and I restarted my workout program then. I am proud to say that yesterday I completed day 21!!!!  This week I’m going to tackle a weeklong program called, “Clean Week,” before going back to 21 Day Fix. 

I’ve also been tracking my food intake in the Lose It app as a way of becoming accountable and aware of what I’m consuming. At first it felt hard to stay within the calories I was allowed for the day. It felt very restrictive but as time goes on, it gets easier to make healthier choices and I’m often under for the day. I do splurge though, here and there, as we have to live life and sometimes horrible for you but delicious foods or beverages are going to be a part of that. 

Changes are happening slowly. I’m seeing different muscles becoming more defined. I fit back into the dress pants I bought for my new job and quickly outgrew thanks to some weight gain. Granted, I text Sam almost every day and say something like, “I’ve tracked my food and worked out for a month. I’m putting in the work. Shouldn’t I be fit now?” She very graciously and patiently reminds me that I didn’t get to where I was overnight or in a single month nor will I get to where I want to be that quickly. Then she will continue with some encouraging or supportive messages that I just dismiss with a, “Yeah yeah. When will I be fit?” Thank god she loves me! 

I’ve been reading more which is a balm to my soul. I love reading! For the longest time though I was engaging in mindless tv watching rather than doing something I really love. I still watch tv but now, if I’m watching tv I’m engaged and purposefully watching something or I turn it off. My current reading consists of Rachel Hollis’, “Girl, Wash Your Face,” and the book “Stray: Memoir of a Runaway,” by Tanya Marquard. If anyone is looking for an amazingly inspiring, funny, and heartwarming book I highly recommend you check out “Girl, Wash Your Face.” 

SO that is where I’m at it. Taking it one step at a time, making changes, embracing successes and doing my best to celebrate LIFE. 

 

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Struggle, Anxiety, Meds

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The last several months the struggle with anxiety has been all too real. I’ve suffered from and dealt with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, and panic attacks for over half of my life at this point. I’ve been on and off medication, mostly on, since I was 23 years old. Despite the fact it helps I also hate medication. I hate the side effects. I hate being tired all of the time. I hate sweating. However, I’ve come to the conclusion, I need to be on medication.

In the past when I’ve gone off of medication I was reckless and stubborn. I went off meds before cold turkey, not once, but twice. I suffered withdrawals. I was miserable. I made my family miserable.

This time had to be different. This time, I felt like I was in a really solid place in life. Good job, house, meditating, had seen a therapist, etc. I felt ready to tackle life without medication. This time I reached out to my doctor to wean off properly and I even got the info at least a month in advance.

I weaned off, slowly and carefully as prescribed and man… I felt great. I wasn’t tired all the time. On my days off I was actually making plans to be social rather than hide in my house and nap and be lazy. I had energy! My sleep was great! The annoying and ridiculous sweating stopped. Life was lovely for maybe a month.

Slowly though, impatience started creeping in. Anger started seeping out the seams. Frustration was being aimed at my dogs and my parents and my aunt. Work has been kind of messed up since June 2017 and just kept getting worse, more overwhelming. By November I had a massive panic attack. Every day I was questioning myself if I was doing the right thing by being off of medication. I was constantly analyzing how I felt and trying to determine if I needed medication again.

By December it was abundantly clear with the never ending tension in my neck and shoulders. I reached out to my doctor and set up an appointment. Thankfully, unlike my last primary care physician, my current one listens to me. We discussed options and came up with a plan. We started me on the lowest dose of the original medication I went on years ago with the plan of increasing if needed after a week or two.

At the end of close to two weeks and there still being significant anxiety and even the intrusive thought of, “I’d rather be dead than deal with this.” I increased to the higher dosage. Slowly the medication started working in my system. Slowly things were getting more manageable.

Sadly though, it only took me so far. My doctor and I discussed the possibly of increasing the dose or changing meds and we ultimately decided to change meds. During the next couple weeks there were some ups and downs with the adjustment. I’ve also been back in therapy as well.  My physical revealed that I am very low on Vitamin D which can be a contributing factor to anxiety and depression.

While I made so much progress I also struggled in that I was beating myself up. It never took me this long to get back on track when going back on meds. I had not been so low in such a long time, if ever. I’ve been hard on myself thinking how much of a burden I’ve been to my friends and family. I’ve been analyzing every thought and feeling. Judging or grading my progress. Any time I felt even a little anxious I went into over drive, trying to figure out why and lamenting that I was still having anxiety. After all, I’m on meds, I’m on prescription strength Vitamin D, I’m in therapy, I cut out caffeine and alcohol.

I expressed this to my therapist who told me, “Stop beating yourself up. Focus on the positives. You’re stressing yourself out more and making it worse.” Well… that was a novel idea. To not focus on the struggle and instead focus on the good? Focus on all the hard fought battles I’d won? It definitely helped to shift things.

At this point, I’m still not entirely where I want to be. Sometimes interacting with others takes more energy than I have but I get through. My mind still goes into over drive here and there. But… I’m getting there. Sometimes, it’s a journey and I’m having to finally slow down and accept it for what it is.

Progress Made

It’s a funny place I find myself in, sitting comfortably in my mid-thirties, rid of all the angst of my late teens to mid-twenties. I still recall the emotional turmoil I was in, the loneliness, the anger- so much anger! Despite the ability to recall it all, in vivid detail, it also feels like a lifetime ago. The suffering definitely helped to shape who I am, but that person, that version of myself seems foreign to me now.

I remember… staying up all night, watching tv and chatting over AIM with 5 people at once and writing two pieces at a time. I remember all the pent up rage over my (perceived) inability to live a normal life. I remember the feelings of isolation, desperation, and loneliness that overwhelmed me. I remember having my first full blown panic attack one night around 1am, while watching Vanilla Sky, wondering if I should wake my parents to take me to the hospital or let them sleep and maybe find me dead on the couch in the morning. I let them sleep and hoped and prayed I wasn’t having a heart attack and dying like I thought I was, like I felt I was.

I remember… writing dark and twisted poetry about the fury, the sorrow, and romanticizing suicide. I never truly considered it but it felt like such a tempting escape from the misery I was in.

I think back to all the crazy that I attracted to my life during that time. The drama filled people who seemed to find me like I was a magnet and truth be told, I probably was. It seemed like one friend after another was in crisis. My friendship circle consisted of self-harmers, pill poppers, and the like. It was also filled with people who had been dealt some really shitty hands in life but year after year they continued to be the victim rather than become the heroine of their own life. I remember one often repeating, “I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve all of this.”

I remember… finding solace in the darkness of depression, the depression that anxiety drove me into. Misery does love company and I found my tribe. I remember feeling so liberated being able to share the chaos and storms that were swirling within me. I was no longer alone in my looney tribe of misfits. We were all wounded in our own ways and suffering but we had each other and that made it less lonely.

I remember… the clouds starting to lift in my life. The poetry dried up and I feared I was losing my creativity. I remember that the down moments came less frequently, the mood swings not as severe. I remember feeling at odds with myself because I didn’t recognize myself anymore without turmoil. Sometimes, even now, a little part of me misses it. For the creativity that is. There is something about angst and writing that go hand in hand, at least in my twisted mind.

Yet, I wouldn’t go back to it. I like being in a happy place now. That’s not to say my life is perfect but I am more appreciative now. I understand my anxiety better and have a better handle on it. I’m thankful for my struggles because there are somethings one cannot fully understand without experiencing them, mental health issues being one of them. Yes, I remember my battle and I’m grateful for it but I am so content to be exactly where I am right now. 100_0291_2.jpg

Education

I have long known that when it comes to our government and politics I am, to say the least uneducated. I don’t really have a good concept of how things are supposed to work. I know there are ‘checks and balances,’ that involve our three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial). I know that one major premise of our government involves the separation of church and state (which a certain party seems to conveniently forget). I know there was a cartoon when I was a kid that talked about how bills are made into laws… Even as I write this I know how woefully ignorant I am…

Considering the current situation our country is in and my general distaste for not knowing things, I’m seeking out an education on the basics. I’m researching,  starting to study the Constitution, Bill of Rights, learn more about civics etc. I’m reading up on other political parties and what their stances are to find what truly reflects my values and belief in what a government should be. I’ve been following what our legislative branch has been voting on and who is voting what. I’ve called more senators in the last week than I have my entire life. I’m done sitting on the sidelines. I’m done being the person that complains but does nothing. We are supposed to be a government for the people, by the people. Sadly, too many of us have sat back on the sidelines allowing corporations, lobbyists, and the like to take over.

Our government, as it stands, does not serve the best interests of the people. The only way that will change is if the people make it change. I’m not telling anyone what party to support, who to vote for in different elections, etc. What I am saying is, if you’re unhappy about the way things are do something about it!shutterstock_252537448.jpg

Mourning and Moving Forward


shutterstock_558143062.jpgI am sure it comes as no shock but I’ve been in a bit of mourning with the current political climate. I don’t know that it is even so much the results of the election but the sheer ugliness and divisiveness being expressed towards anyone that has different views. Being totally transparent, yes I was disappointed by the results of the election. However I know that we are not always going to get our way, you win some and you lose some. I’ve done a good job of sort of blocking it out since then but with the inauguration a whole new wave of ugliness has crept in, not to mention I have no choice but to face reality.

I’m not writing this post to rail against our current officials or trash talk his supporters. That sort of thing plays out on Facebook day in and day out. I’m tired of it. I’m writing this because I need to find a way to move on. I need to find a way to use my voice to share some positivity and tolerance. Many of us are disappointed as of late. Regardless of who had won the election, many of us wonder how anyone could vote for XYZ candidate. However that does not solve anything. Accusations and cruelness only serve to breed more contempt and anger. I’m looking for a higher road. If you’re happy or unhappy do something about it. Use your voice!!!

A couple things I have discovered in the last couple of days:

Countable (website and app)

https://www.countable.us

Helps you to identify your representatives, keep you abreast of current issues, and provides an easy platform to get your voice heard.

Petitions on WhiteHouse.gov

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/#signapetition

You can sign or create a petition that, with enough signatures, will illicit a response from the White House.

A couple last thoughts:

“We have far more in common than that divides us.” Jo Cox.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi (though I’ve heard he wasn’t the one who said this)

Lonely

Lately I’ve been feeling a little lonely, sort of wishing I had a partner in crime. Some would assume the feelings of loneliness are being brought on by the fact my one sister is recently married and another is recently engaged. Maybe that is the culprit but maybe it isn’t. Most of my adult life I have gone back and forth between loving my total independence and the single life and being lonely, wanting someone to share my journey with, someone more than my family and amazing girlfriends.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I definitely wanted a relationship, desperately. Except I would still hold men I was interested in at a comfortable distance. Eventually they would tire of not getting anywhere, me closing them out, and things would fizzle. Go figure. I even went through a phase around the age of 21 or 22 where I had decided I wanted nothing more than to get married, have kids, and be a stay at home mom.

When I was 26 I feel in love for the first (and only) time. I was all in for the first time in my life, probably to a terrifying degree for the guy. To be fair he was the first one to bring up the idea of marriage or kids but I was the one who ran with it. I remember writing him letters when he was in Iraq to discuss parenting styles. Oh Lord, I was hopeless. I figured if that was the track we were on, we needed to communicate and make sure we were on the same page with major issues.

Anyway that train imploded and sometime after that I decided I was good on my own. I had experienced love and I loved it but then I experienced heartbreak and disappointment and that sucked. If I could not go through the disappointment and heartbreak and hurt feelings again I would be quite happy. A slew of horrible dating experiences later and I was definitely content with the idea of single for life.

As time has gone on there’s been a few guys that I’ve left my guard down for. A few different men that I could see myself having a relationship with. Ultimately none of them worked out. There was the teacher with two first names that I really clicked with. We could talk and laugh and joke in person and via text. I was attracted to him. He was an animal lover. Seemed perfect right? Until I found out he was into threesomes. I would rather have an open relationship over group sex any day. Only 2 people in the bedroom please and thank you.

shutterstock_337991192Then there was the older guy that came out of nowhere. He was totally unexpected but somehow he got past all of my walls. We would talk every day on the phone, for hours, about everything. So despite our age difference, despite the fact he had 2 kids from a previous marriage, I was open to seeing where it went. He would say the most amazing things to me. Like rom-com amazing things. Until he said one of the most awful things a man has ever said to me… “I don’t see you being a forever thing, I’m sorry.” Well damn. That hurt!

Next there was what seemed to be an online dating success, MM. We met through OkCupid and we were seeing each other loosely, for 6 months. Yet our dates were spread out to maybe 1 or 2 a month. We never got to the point of defining what we were or whether or not we were exclusive.  Then one day he ghosted.

Why am I writing about the dating failures and hurts? They have been haunting me. My ex, appears in my dreams, snapshots of happier times. I know that what I miss is not reality by far. I miss the idea of who he was or what he represented. I miss the other few guys that I let in as well. I am feeling the sting of being let down or hurt. I’m feeling the pangs of loneliness, and yet, I still celebrate the freedom that my single life affords me. When I imagine my life, my future, there are things I feel like having a relationship would hinder. I never want to be that woman who has to check in with her man before making plans. I don’t want to be that person who puts her man above everyone else in a gross way.  I don’t want a man talking down to me or patronizing me.

Yet… Sometimes… I don’t want to be alone. Sometimes I want that person to share inside jokes with, tender moments, laughter, silliness. I want that person who has my back in tough times, and to celebrate the good times with. I want to experience an actual, healthy relationship.

What’s a gal to do?

Processing

IMG_1047I’ve been processing a lot lately. I’ve been evaluating myself, my life, my relationships.  I’ve been looking at what brings me stress and what brings me joy. I’ve been focusing on my motivation and gratitude. I’ve made tough choices, I’ve made changes, I’m leaving myself vulnerable in ways I haven’t in a long time. It’s been scary and difficult and painful but I am moving in the right direction.  I couldn’t have done it without my support system, my family, my close friends.

I still have a long ways to go. I’m realizing that this world and all its ugliness is leaving my soul tired. It’s depressing and makes my heart hurt. It makes me want to run away, buy an island (like I have money for that), and never interact with the world at large again. Instead I need to be a force of change. I can’t run, I can’t hide. I can only do what I can to make the world a better place.

I have to let go of what I can’t fix because in truth, I want to fix anything and everything that brings me sorrow. I am accepting my limitations rather than dwelling on what I cannot change. I’m letting go and opening up at the same time. It’s hard, I don’t like to let go, but it’s a process and one I’m committed to.