Just Maybe

I feel OK this morning.

I’m definitely not doing a happy dance, but I’m not in a pit of despair either. I was in that pit Tuesday. That was a really painful day. I managed to stay at work all day, but I was hurting bad.

I’m not hurting bad this morning. Just maybe I feel a teensy bit light. I guess it’s not hard to feel a bit light after how low I’ve been.

I even went out this morning and got a bit of exercise. I walked a mile at a very brisk pace. Speed walking is something I’ve enjoyed for years. For a long time, I walked 6 mornings every week. I haven’t walked recently, but I walked this morning. After meditation, I stood there and thought it would be a good idea to cap off that good experience of sitting and breathing by walking, so I did.

Just maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I am certain there will be more sadness, but just maybe it will be of shorter duration when it comes. Just maybe I’m healing.

If you don’t know what’s going on, you’re going to have to back up in the blog and read the events of the last 3 weeks or so.

Ritual

When I got home from work last night, my negative self-talk exploded without all the distractions of work related tasks. I simply couldn’t stop all the dark thoughts. I was in a lot of pain. I was reciting the positive things I have in my life, but it just wasn’t enough.

My best friend had what turned out to be a lifesaving idea: write them down and burn them. I got a sheet of paper and filled it front and back with all the stuff that my mind was lying to me about. I put down the darkest, most horrific thoughts that my mind was filled with.

I loosely wadded it up and put it in an old can and lit it on fire. I took a picture of it burning and texted it to my friend. It honestly felt good, and while it was burning, I got a great idea to do the same thing with all the beautiful things I could say about myself.

I did that. I filled the front and back of a sheet of paper with love about myself, with the names of people I know who love me, and with good things in my life. It felt good just to write them down. I did the same thing with this list. I burned it. I released the good energy, and I felt wonderful!

I am so grateful to have a friend who thinks so imaginatively. It was a little ritual that honestly rescued me.

xoxo

Negative Self-Talk

I had a really good session with my therapist yesterday. We were able to work through my anger I was feeling toward him. I was also able to talk more about this enormous loss. Finally, we went through the really interesting dream I had. It had a lot of hope in it.

I’m struggling this morning. My negative self-talk is really loud. I’m combating it by first coming to work. Keeping busy will give my mind less time to wander.

I’m also using a technique I learned: Catch it. Check it. Change it. The first thing to do is catch the negative thoughts. Then check their veracity, and finally to change the thoughts.

With the kind of loss I’ve suffered, my mind is telling me lies about many things. I’ve got a list of ways to counter those thoughts. I’m having to repeat those things a lot, and it’s tiring.

Recovery is tiring. I’m going to keep doing it just for today. I’ll let tomorrow worry about itself.

Opening Up

After feeling poorly last weekend because of the events when I went out, I can say that friends can work miracles. First, I was able to spend most of the day Saturday with friends, and it was so much fun! We went to a local festival and saw the sights. I had two other friends who each had booths at the festival, so I connected with them and offered my support for their work.

Then Sunday, I went to hear a local chorus give a concert. It was cabaret style. We sat at a small table, and the singers moved around the room in between the tables. The songs were all mostly very lighthearted, and the whole atmosphere was so refreshing. I felt so good after eating pizza with friends after the concert. The evening was spent relaxing at home alone.

I left work early yesterday due to lingering depression. I just didn’t feel good. I’m very lucky that where I work values mental health as much as physical health. If I had a bad cold, I would easily take off work. I was no less sick yesterday with a very low mood.

Then a friend stepped in to rescue me again. She just returned to the area after five long months away, and she wanted to watch the sunset from a beautiful spot. I had been to that spot many times in the past, but it had been many long months since I’d gone to enjoy it. I sat and watched the sun disappear behind the clouds, and we had a good conversation chatting and catching up on personal news. It felt immensely gratifying to be back in that splendid location with all the beauty surrounding me. Just sitting there, I could feel my energy growing lighter and lighter. I still feel light this morning. I am completely sure that I will go back to experience that beauty again soon.

I have a best friend who lives in another city, and we chat by text multiple times each day. He is a rock to me. He listens without judgement to whatever I have to say. Sometimes he has specific recommendations. Sometimes not. He always has virtual hugs that he expresses freely. I love him dearly and hope he gets support from me in the same way he gives it to me.

My friends are very important, and I am so grateful to have them.

Changes

A few posts ago, I mentioned there are lots of changes going on where I work. My boss retired, and there are now 3 people covering his duties. In addition, there is a reorganization of the hierarchical structure where I work, so I am getting a new boss within the structure. This only sounds like two things, but they’re huge.

With a change in where I fit in the bureaucratic structure comes a change of location. It won’t be immediate, but at some point this year, my work station will change. I’ll be driving to work instead of taking the bus.

Big changes.

All of this is causing me stress. The first evidence of the stress is reduced sleep time. I’m getting about thirty minutes less sleep on work nights. It’s not debilitating, but it’s noticeable.

Today, my thoughts are speedy. They’re not actually racing, but they are definitely faster than normal. I noticed in meditation this morning that it was hard to concentrate. I just walked down to the cathedral and meditated for a few short minutes, which helped a great deal. Sitting at my desk right now, I can tell my thoughts are speedy.

All this reminds me of hypomania. In the past, I often had a mood change when winter changed to spring right around this time of year. I’m more frightened of a depressive episode that may follow than I am the hypomania.

So here’s the plan: I am going to return to weekly therapy appointments for the time being. I’m not planning any change to my medication routine, but I will call my psychiatrist at the first hint it’s needed. I’m still getting good exercise and will continue that. I will add meditation times as able. I will do what I need to to get good sleep. I’m going to greatly restrict my sugar intake for a while.

It’s a plan. It helps me feel better knowing I have steps to take to get me through this time.

Future Forward

Today feels good. I’m thinking about the future. That’s a really good sign. Instead of ruminating about issues that I’m experiencing today, I’m dreaming about good things I hope are coming. This is a change of perception for me.

I’m not fixated on any present problem. I have hope.

I don’t think this happened overnight. I think this is the result of many years of practicing some simple ways of making each day a little better.

Those things I practice are seeing my doctor regularly and taking the medicine he prescribes, meditating on a daily basis, talking openly about all areas of my life to a therapist, eating food that is good for me, getting good sleep, and exercising regularly.

To put it simply:

Medicine.

Meditation.

Therapy.

Diet.

Sleep.

Exercise.

I’ve paid attention to these things for many years, and the result is that I have fewer days when I don’t feel good due to mental health. I had a bad day Wednesday, but in the middle of it, I concentrated on the tools, because it’s become a habit. That habit saw me through, and Thursday I felt completely better. Today I’m back to dreaming about good things in the future.

My habits started with a desire to feel better. Years ago, I was depressed and often had suicidal thoughts. I searched for ways to rise from that malaise, and that led to habits that help me feel good about myself and my life. At the time I didn’t know I was forming good habits. It just happened on its own.

It Works!

With a sigh of relief, I can say the tools for getting back into a better frame of mind work. Yesterday, I was struggling, as I wrote. It was not a good day at all. I was stressed and not dealing with it well at all. I used the tools that I know work. I meditated early and went for a good speed walk to get my self moving. I went to the cathedral down the street for a break and for my lunch break. I was able to meditate very briefly once, but the rest of the time I just sat. I made an extra appointment to see my therapist, and luckily he had an opening in the late afternoon.

Before that session, I chatted with my best friend about my turmoil. I could easily say that I understood the cause of my discontent was in me. I knew it was. I’ve been doing all this too long to try to blame it on something around me. An AA text The 12 and 12 states it correctly: whenever we are disturbed no matter what the cause, the problem lies in us.

I really was disturbed. My negative self-talk was working overtime. The voice in my head was saying I’d ruined my life and I was worthless. I was feeling really bad.

A very important tool for me is chatting with my best friend. He’s smart about these things. I was able to tell him that I knew I was the source of all the discord inside, and he invited me to look at all the good ways I was using my tools to feel better. He was absolutely right. I was doing a lot of good for myself. I was doing a good job of taking care of myself, but I couldn’t seem to say it.

My therapist has been helping me see the exact same thing, and he is now helping me change some of the things I say to myself. Instead of saying that I’m nuts, I can say I’m feeling a lot of stress. I like this a lot more than saying happy things while looking at myself in the mirror. That never worked for me. I know it works for some people, but I couldn’t get it to stick for me. So I’m going to take the reality of the situation, but instead of using words that demean me, I’m going to rephrase it into truth that is not degrading.

Last night I took an antianxiety medicine that I have for situations just like this, and I got a good night’s sleep. My meditation this morning was really good. I got some good breaths in between the wandering thoughts, and I went for a good speed walk. On the bus this morning, I was able to chat briefly with the man I’m dating, who was my ex and now is not my ex. It felt good. It wasn’t important stuff, but the connection felt good.

There are many things we can use as tools to help us through our difficult times when we feel bad about ourselves and our lives and the world around us. These are some of the things that work for me. I hope you can find little activities that work for you.