It has been a bit of a roller coaster over the past couple of weeks, both in regard to my health and my emotions.
I have been struggling with this nasty lingering cold for the past month. Last week, I thought I’d kicked it, but nope. A nasty cough has no reared its ugly head and I’m now back to not sleeping at all well during the night. It has been a very frustrating experience overall, especially since I am so infrequently ill. I just want to be health again. It’s been over a month now! I’ve been trying to take it easy, but I am still trying to do some things, because not having a life just sucks. This weekend though, I ended up missing something I really wanted to go to, and that was disappointing. I would be very happy if that didn’t happen again. I’ve spent a lot of time playing World of Warcraft, when it doesn’t give me a headache.
The personal emotional roller coaster of the past few weeks has been intense, but not necessarily a bad experience. It has been an interesting one at the very least! A bit over two weeks ago now, a friend of mine tagged me in a photo of the cutest kitten that was up for adoption at a rescue a couple of hours away in Toronto. I investigated further and learned that he had a brother as well, and the rescue wanted to see them adopted together. Naturally, I fell in love from their photos, being the cat lover that I am. On a whim, I filled out an application to adopt them.
Over a week later, I finally got a message on Facebook asking me to call them, and I promptly returned the call and left a message as there was no answer. I called again around noon the next day and found out they had not chosen me, sadly. Because I live two hours away and it would take time for me to get there, I was declined. But it made sense to me, and I did my best to consider that possibility logically. I was disappointed, but it is what it is. It solidified my plan to adopt a second cat, but I opted to wait a little while – until the spring. In the spring, the shelters seen to have an influx of cats that need adopting, so it seems like a prime time to actively look. Funny enough, early mid last week I found another cat with potential, this time locally. I applied for him and am waiting for a response as of this post. I am hopeful, but I am not getting my hopes up too high. I will hopefully hear back about a phone interview this week sometime.
It’s Sunday night now, and I have a massive headache thanks to this cough, and I didn’t have hot water for the better part of the day. After I finish the cup of tea I have on the go, I am going to take a much-needed shower and then curl up to read for a while before bed. I am hoping that this week will be the end of this cold and cough and I can really start working on getting things back to normal.
I’ve been publishing mainly regular life and personal posts and I’ve also been thinking it might be time to change things up a bit. I want to write a bit about self-care.
Self-care is the thing I never knew I needed until I started seeing my therapist in August 2014. With her help I learned that self-care is key to managing mental illness, especially anxiety and depression, as is my case. It’s also something I’m not very good at, or at least feel like I’m not very good at. Self-care can be as simple as taking a nice hot shower after an especially trying day, or curling up with a good book on a weekend afternoon. Simply put, it is taking the time to check-in with and look after yourself.
Some of the things I do for myself are take baths in the evening, read, play World of Warcraft, and have a regularly scheduled weekly movie night with a dear friend of mine. She struggles with her mental health as well, and the movie nights keep us both social even when we are having a hard time getting through the day. It also gives us both someone who is there and supportive. Basically, it helps us to both feel like we’re not alone and going through things on our own. The movie nights have gotten me through some pretty tough times.
The point of this post is something of a self-care exercise in itself – something outside of my ordinary realm of self care. I can across it on Pinterest, in a pin about practicing self care when things are especially tough, and I think it is a beautiful idea. The idea is to compile a list of 99 things you love. I’ve decided I am going to do this… with a slight modification just because of my own idiosyncrasies: 100 things I love.
I am going to create a list of 100 things I love. I wont share them all at once… It might get overwhelming, and it might take me awhile! I will probably share twenty or so at a time as I come up with them. The goal is to remind myself and maybe you as well, that there are great and beautiful things out there to keep us going. For those of us that live with mental illness in our daily lives, it is something important that we shouldn’t forget.
About six months or so ago, maybe more now, I was inspired by Wil Wheaton to reboot my life just as he did his. While he has been successful overall, my own reboot was dismal. I have fail pretty miserably on all but one item: using my phone more appropriately. Yay for me, I guess?
I’m feeling worse physically than I did when I set up my original version of this. This time I desperately need to start making some massive, very drastic changes in my lifestyle. It’s time to genuinely live for myself and my health and try not to let my anxiety and depression get in the way of things like I did last time. It’s funny (funny-frustrating not funny-haha) that these are things that will help me improve my overall mental health, and yet my mental illness doesn’t want me to do these things. Mental illness, especially depression is an asshole, yo. But this is my time to win, to beat this asshole for real. I want to not only feel better, I want to BE better, and happy and healthy in my body. It was a huge eye opener for me when I realized that doing laundry was a struggle for me when it wasn’t not so long ago. I really wanted to cry about it, but didn’t and I won’t. I’m fixing it instead.
As a first step in fixing how I feel, I want to try this again. Sadly though, I’ve really been beating myself up a lot over it, and the self-loathing is hanging like a massive dark cloud over the whole project. I hope that writing about this will help me work through those feelings, I know I can’t possibly be the only one struggling with this sort of things. I’m really hopefully that writing about both the struggle and my progress will help me work through the whole larger problem – working through severe lack of motivation due to depression…anxiety…illness…feeling bad physically…etc…etc…etc…
So, let’s start with a new list of things in my life that need rebooting:
Drink less pop
In my original reboot, I had “drink less pop and coffee” on the list. I was drinking far too much of both. Caffeine in the coffee was doing bad things to me, and pop is…well, pop. It’s basically a ton of sugar and is completely detrimental to what I am trying to accomplish for myself here. Looking back, I was actually very successful in cutting back on coffee. I now only drink caffeinated coffee periodically on weekends or on especially bad mornings, while I normally drink decaf coffee most of the time I choose to have a coffee. The struggle now is cutting back on drinking pop. I drink far too much of it. I am having a can or a bottle of it two to three times a week. That is far too often. My goal is to make pop more of an occasional beverage, rather than a regular one. I intend to replace it with water and/or tea. I have started buying lemon to spice up the flavour of the water, and the majority of the teas I have are decaf and/or herbal and overall very healthy. I also intend to increase my daily intake of water to approximately 2 litres ideally. Putting less sugar into my body should have a multi-faceted result: decreased anxiety, and helping jump-start weight loss. Drinking more water should help get my metabolism going as well as decrease water retention. I struggle with swelling hands and feet periodically. The whole change should be a winning one.
This one was on the list for my original reboot as well. I’ve been trying to read more for ages, even after it was apparently my original reboot was an utter failure. It has been shockingly difficult even though reading has been one of my favourite things since I first learned how to read. Over the past months, I did start paying attention to possible reasons WHY I was reading as much as I would like. I came to a surprising realization, something I didn’t expect: I spend a lot of time in front of the TV watching/catching up on TV shows. Somehow TV had become a higher priority than reading. I’ve also developed an annoying habit of starting books and then forgetting about them. I think, to be successful with this list item, I need to focus on changing these habits. I need to and will be focusing a lot less on watching television and more on trying to read a few pages here and there when I have a free few minutes. I also plan to finish the books I’ve started and forgotten before I move on to the rest of my to-read list. I have high hopes I will be more successful with this list item since I have pinpointed the major issues that were curbing my potential success in the past. Next will just be making time regularly to pick up my book/e-reader.
I have had a bit more success with this list item relatively recently, actually. From early March to early April, I actually participated in a 30-day writing challenge. Over those 30 days I wrote at least a few lines every day and it felt great. I haven’t done quite as well as that since the challenge ended, but I have found myself putting a lot more planning and passion into posts for my blog, with some of them taking days or even weeks (like this one! I’ve been working on this post for close to a month now!) to be written to my satisfaction. I guess you could say I’ve been feeling something along the lines of “inspired”, and when it comes to writing from and about life. I also think the quality of my writing has greatly improved. With this list item, I would like to start writing at least a few lines each day, as well as publish posts to my blog on a weekly basis at least. It’s a tall order for me, but I think it is something that will be easy to keep up with once I get into a routine. I’m excited to pick things up with this because it’s another thing I love.
I feel like the general consensus on this one is no one seems to get enough sleep or good quality sleep. I can definitely say I am one of those people who doesn’t get nearly enough good quality sleep. I’ve been working on that in general because sleep is super important. I’ve been trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour, and not consume any caffeine of any kind (if I do that day) after noon. I have noticed some improvement, but I feel like I still have a long way to go. I plan to try some different things to try and be successful with this list item – they include aromatherapy, and creating a bedtime routine to stick to. I am also hoping that I will be able to find a way to keep track of the quality of sleep I get. Adding these, or variations of these to my plans for better sleep will be a winning combination.
Practice better self-care
This is something I don’t do well with. I never seem to take great care of myself and it’s something that causes me a lot of problems along the way. Not practicing self-care leads to breakdowns related especially to my anxiety; it leads me to isolating myself from my friends and family when things get bad, it leads to not eating well, not sleeping well, and a boatload of other things. It’s just not pretty when I don’t practice self-care regularly. So, for this list item I will be putting more effort into self-care; doing things that are good for me, good for my body. In putting together this new collection of things to reboot in my life, I did notice an interesting overlap: all of the things I will be doing fall under the umbrella of self-care in one way or another. Adding the specific list item though, creates intention to work harder at it in the other ways that are not included in the list. I need to remember to do more things that make me feel good about myself: hair appointments are a perfect example. If I don’t love my hair, I am definitely less happy with myself. I love experimenting and trying new things with my hair, so it’s something that is important and therefore something I can’t forget to do. There are other things, but this is a very easy example. I am also going to revisit the list of self-care items I developed with my therapist, as I found it very helpful. Self-care needs to be a priority and I intend to make it happen!
Eat better foods in more reasonable portions
This exact item was on the previous list. It makes its return because I have failed this one miserably and continue to do so. Living on my own has made this one incredibly difficult because it is SO hard to find the motivation to cook for one. I’ve done tons of reading on ways to make it easier but they haven’t done a thing to motivate me. At this point, I think I have to find/develop the motivation from within. This is going to be hard. It also seems, through a bit of research (admittedly though, not a doctor diagnosis) that I may struggle with disordered eating, so this list item is two-fold: eat better by cooking more for myself, and create new healthy eating habits by overcoming this disordered eating. I don’t think this item will be easy for me at all. To help me get started though, I made myself a colourful little poster with a list of reasons why I should cook for myself at home rather than order take out. I think it is a good jumping-off point for me. The first step is to get me to stop ordering and cook for myself. I’ll admit though, this item may be one of the most difficult.
This final item was also on the previous list. It’s also another item I miserably failed at for a number of reasons. For one, I am not an athletic person. I’m much more the clumsy type. And the biggest reason: again, with the lack of motivation. I’ve done many things in many attempts to get moving more. I bought a gym membership. That was the biggest step I’ve taken toward exercising more. Turns out, I do not enjoy the gym and therefore hasn’t worked out so great so far. I am going to give it another go though, I think. Most recently though, as in within the past couple of weeks, I think I discovered the key to keep up my motivation to move. I am in a fitness group on Facebook, and not only are they very encouraging, but a large number of people in that group swear by their Fitbits. About a week ago, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I installed the Fitbit app, which can still be used with just my phone and no device linked to it. I found it to be excellent. Through my phone it was able track basic stats like steps taken (as long as I keep my phone on my person) and distance travelled. It was really neat to see. Having these stats at my fingertips seems to be the key to keeping me motivated. I also participated in my first couple of challenges. I was in a challenge last Thursday with seven other people, and WOW, all I wanted to do was move! It felt fantastic. With the success of it using my phone only, this weekend I went out and bought an actual Fitbit device. I mulled over which model to get for several days and finally settled on the Fitbit Alta. I’ve been using it since Saturday afternoon and I LOVE IT. In the short time since I’ve been using Fitbit I have already increased my average number of steps per day from 4000 to 5000. I have a long way to go to the doctor-recommended 10,000 steps per day, and I also need to start exercising and sweating much more frequently. The cool thing is Fitbit can track that too. Awesome! It seems that I have found the key to getting me to move more, and that is so important right now. It’s a great start to exercising more.
And so, there we have it: a new and improved life reboot list. I am going to keep track properly this time because I want to make real progress. I want to be happier and healthier, and it has become such an important thing for me. I’m 30 now, and if I don’t take control of things nothing is going to get better. I will continue to feel terrible, I will gain weight, my health will deteriorate… I don’t want any of these things to happen. My goal is to be the happiest and healthiest I have ever been and to develop new healthy habits to keep it going. Being successful in this, I will also be in a much better mental and emotional state than I have ever been and that is definitely something to look forward to. Here’s to my second stab at a life reboot!
Winning my heart can be easy or hard depending on how you approach it. The following list is all or nothing:
1. Liking similar things is helpful, or at least accepting me for the geeky person I am and respecting that these things I love will always be a part of my life.
2. Don’t try to change me. Like everyone else I have flaws and personal issues I have to deal with. Accept that those things are a part of me. Please please PLEASE don’t try to change them. They are a part of who I am. Also, do not tell me how to live my life, or who I can associate with.
3. Be understanding and supportive of my mental illness. It is a part of me that I don’t much like, and it is hard to deal with at times, especially on bad days. My anxiety and depression aren’t going anywhere, however unfortunate that clearly is.
4. Fall in love/become attached to my cat. Or at least make a concerted effort. We are a package deal.
5. My family is important to me. Do not disrespect them. Do not give me a hard time for wanting to spend time with them. They aren’t perfect. And no one is. But I love them and they are an important part of my life.
Last night I read an interesting article on Medium written by Wil Wheaton: “7 Things I did to Reboot my Life.” In reading it, a lot of things really hit home and I recognized in it some very real things I have been struggling with in my own life. It inspired me to make the decision to “reboot” my own life. It’s something that is much needed.
In the past three months since I’ve been on my own, I’ve found myself falling into some unhealthy habits that really aren’t helping me out right now. Since July, I’ve gained 20 pounds, spent more money than I should have, in some aspects my anxiety has shot through the roof, and I’ve been feeling incredibly low for the last while. I have also not been very active, only doing the bare minimum; what I absolutely have to do.
Seeing Wil’s article has inspired me to make the necessary changes to reboot my own life as he has rebooted his. Reading about someone else doing it, and successfully at that, makes me feel like I can do it successfully as well. I have come up with a list of my own things I need to do to reboot my life, some of them taken from Wil’s list, but some also not:
Drink less pop and coffee
Practice better self care
Eat better foods, in reasonable portions
Use my phone more appropriately
Drink less pop and coffee – Over the last several weeks I have found myself drinking pop and coffee almost solely. I haven’t been drinking nearly enough water or other healthier beverages. For someone like me, with anxiety, this is a serious problem. The increased caffeine intake does terrible things for my anxiety and how I manage it. I’m sure it has also contributed to my generally feeling poor physically and mentally, and also my weight gain. Replacing pop and coffee with water and tea will go a long way to helping me feel better I will be more properly hydrated and I will be able to take advantage of the health benefits of the many herbal teas I already have in my home. I have already started with this transition and I have high hopes I will notice positive effects in a very short time.
Read more – I read all the time for years, and then I stopped for awhile and felt kind of blah. I started again and it felt like my mind opened up for me all over again and it felt amazing. But…I have stopped again, and any creative juices that were flowing have stopped as well. It has been incredibly frustrating for me when I have had this urge or need to create and have been unable to do so. So, I want to start reading again. I want to start reading real literary material though; actual books. My reading material lately has been the likes of Buzzfeed or Facebook. It’s clearly not working for me. Currently I have about four books started that I just kind of stopped reading for no particular reason at all. I want to start by picking them up again and finishing them within a reasonable time frame. I hope that opening my mind up to actual reading again will start to open my mind back up as a whole.
Write more – I love writing. Lately, I have been quite uninspired, as I previously mentioned. I don’t necessarily write with the goal of getting published, although that would be pretty great if it happened one day… I write for myself. I do it because I love to do it and because I enjoy how it makes me feel to write something I feel good about. There is such an overlap of great feelings when I finish a piece I am proud of, both in the process and in the accomplishment of finishing it. Having felt so uninspired lately, I have written very little and it generally bothers me that I haven’t been able to write at all very recently. I want to make a concerted effort to write a lot more. My plan is to carve out a little bit of time each day to write even a few lines. I hope to eventually publish some of my work on my blog, or in another public forum, though it’s something I am quite nervous about (anxiety and all that). I hope that as I write more I will feel more inspired and in combination with actually reading I will be able to get my creative juices flowing freely again!
Sleep better/more – I find myself not sleeping the greatest these days. I’ve been having trouble falling asleep, and though I have felt like I “sleep like the dead” on a nightly basis, I’ve not felt rested upon waking up for a good long while. I feel like it may have a lot to do with my increased caffeine intake, which I’ve already made the decision to decrease significantly. In order to try and sleep better, I am creating a bedtime ritual to hopefully facilitate falling asleep more effectively, more quickly. I will set a regular bedtime and wakeup time as well. My hope is that if I am able to fall asleep more effectively, more quickly, I will start sleeping better as well. I am immensely looking forward to waking up in the mornings feeling rested!
Practice better self care – I have been seeing my therapist for over a year now, and she has given me some fantastic tools for helping me manage my anxiety and depression without medication, even though it does get very difficult at times. Over these past several months, I admit I have not been employing those tools to properly look after myself, and my mental health is suffering for it. Rather that using these tools, I have taken to shutting myself in at home, sitting in my chair in front on the TV and just being alone. I’ve been getting up and going to work, doing only what is necessary, and then I am home, back in my chair avoiding doing anything more. I stopped going to my yoga class back in June for a reason I can’t remember, and it was doing wonders for me. I also haven’t been very kind to myself in general. Long story short, I haven’t been practicing self care like I should. I need to start practicing self care regularly once more. I need to start being kinder to myself, do the things I know will help me feel better. I also intend to find a reasonably priced yoga class to attend on a regular basis, since I already know I can’t keep up the motivation to do yoga on my own. I am also going to start practicing mindfulness again, as it helped me immensely before. I think I will also give meditation a try. It’s similar to mindfulness, only more personal; something I could use. I am going to start making use of my essential oils much more regularly as I have a few blend that help me to manage my anxiety especially. Lastly, I will start regularly using my favourite self-care ritual: a hot scented bath with a good book. Time to start looking after myself for real!
Eat better foods, in more reasonable portions – Another part of the weight gain recently is my terrible eating habits of late. I’ve been eating out too often, I’ve been eating foods that don’t fall into the category of healthy choices, and I’ve been eating entirely too much. All of these things pose a major problem, not only for managing my weight, but also for my overall health. I know how to eat healthy, I just haven’t been doing it. This part is easy. I start making healthy food choices and I stop overeating. I am going to break my habit of eating emotionally and eating when I am bored. I am also going to stop eating out so often. I think this will go a very long way to making me feel better physically, and mentally as well. I had some lessons from my therapist about how to eat to promote mental health, and I will put those lessons to work as well.
Exercise more – I don’t exercise. I just don’t do it. Admittedly, I’m a pretty lazy person and I always have been. I walk to work, sometimes home from work, and climb my stairs at home and that is just about the only exercise I get on a daily basis. Even before, when I attended a yoga class regularly, that was the only other exercise I got then. With all of this being said, it won’t take much to exercise more at all. For starters, I will make a point to walk as many places as I can, not just work. Locally, I can walk just about anywhere I need to, and only take a bus when I have to go across town or bring home groceries. The yoga class I am looking into will go a long way as well. However, I will make an effort to start running or do some other kind of physical activity as well. I think more exercise will be the final piece of the puzzle in feeling better physically.
Use my phone more appropriately – Anyone who knows me knows that my phone is an extension of my hand. I use it all the time, and if you send me a message of any kind you will get an answer almost instantly. I also spend a lot of time on social media on my phone. All in all, I probably spend far too much time on my phone. Unfortunately, it has gotten my into some trouble in recent months at work. My phone, especially in the past several months has become a sort of escape: from feeling things, from boredom, from places I didn’t want to be… It has become an inappropriate and ineffective means of escape at that. So this my cue to start changing that, and use my phone only at appropriate times, and especially NOT at work when I should be working. It may be tricky to accomplish this one, but I will!
And so that is my list of things I need to do to reboot my life. It’s kind of a long list, but I think it is all perfectly manageable and will do me wonders! I can’t wait to make these changes to my lifestyle and come out at the end feeling healthier and happier and more confident. This reboot is going to be amazing, and I can’t wait to write about the changes! Nobody ever said adulting wasn’t hard…
I have been SUPER dropping the ball on the blog of late.
I’ve been dealing with a whole lot of life-things lately and the blog, unfortunately, just hasn’t been a priority. I even visited the idea of going on a hiatus from blogging for awhile, but have decided against it. Though it has kind of happened anyway, I guess. I am hoping to get back on board with blogging more regularly over the next little while. I am also entertaining making a few changes in how I run things around the blog as well. I’m not exactly sure what this means just yet, but there will definitely be some significant changes.
I have a lot of blog post ideas floating around in my head these days and I am hoping to be at it again regularly very soon.
I’m sitting here tucked in on my ratty but cozy couch looking outside upon what has become a winter wonderland right outside my window. The Christmas tree is up and the lights are sparkling and all seems well with the world.
This past year has been a trying year in more ways than one. There have been financial woes, health problems, family emergencies… All of which we have gotten through little worse for wear. BUT good things have happened too: birthdays, family milestones and just love all around. The result of which is I think we are better people for it.
For a lot of this past year I lost sight of those little things that make life better. I was only focusing on the negative things we were dealing with. Over the last couple weeks it feels like I have come back into myself and my past optimism is returning. I’m remembering other things. Good things. Sure, life isn’t easy. It has its struggles, but we can’t focus on those all the time otherwise, what’s the point of life if not to enjoy the little things that make it worth living. In my case, things like:
1) my cats and their unconditional love
2) our family being there for us and vice versa
3) amazing friends who help me see the good when I seem to be missing it
4) nights in with Jay – relaxing, great food, great company, watching football or whatever
5) the little local events we attend together
6) my perfect little home – it may not be big or fancy, but I look forward to walking in the site at the end if each day
7) the city I live in – there is always something to do, and it’s kind of pretty too
8) my blog – even though it has kind of fallen to the wayside lately. That will be fixed and I hope to evolve the blog a bit this year.
9) I have my own little bit of nature in my backyard in the form of a woodlot – great for photos!
10) there is an end of sight to the current struggles! I just need to be patient.
I’ve learned over the past several weeks that there are much better things to be concerned with than worrying about the bad and not so good things that have happened, may happen or are happening. Why not think of the positive things? I have a few things I can think of this moment including the fact I am finally taking control of my health, and Jay is as well. There is also the fact that Jay is no longer working his “fly-in fly-out” job 13+ hours away, and will be home from here on out. And too, I have my best friend to remind me of all of this on the rough days as I do for her as well. 14 years will do that I guess!
As I continue to sit here and enjoy and appreciate the snow, our holiday decorations and our home. I know it had been a tough year, and a right holiday season as well. BUT I have my home, family and friends to make life great, and I know next year will be better than this one.
With that, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year as well.