Uncertain Times

These are uncertain and scary times right now. The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 that is sweeping the planet is really frightening to a lot of people. If you are afraid, know that your feelings are completely normal. It’s absolutely acceptable to feel fear and anxiety.

If you are feeling those, you are not alone. Many people are scared right now.

There are some good ways to help yourself work through the fear. First, try some deep breathing. Breathe in through your nose really deep. Fill your chest and your belly with air, and then exhale through your mouth with force. Repeat this as many times as necessary to feel like you’ve cleaned all the air in your body.

There’s a technique that Tibetan monks use that I learned. When I first learned it, I thought it was backwards, but it honestly helps sometimes. Sit and relax as best you can. Then breathe in deep. While breathing in, say “fear.” Then exhale, and say “peace” or “calm.” What you’re doing is breathing in your anxiety and transforming it into calmness and releasing that back into the world to share. It really works.

Meditation really helps me. Sit, relax, and breathe. My post immediately before this one gives a good explanation of it. If you want to play some music while you try to meditate, I suggest something like the music made by Constance Demby. She’s really good. Give her a listen.

Music is also a great way to feel better. Put on whatever kind of music you like. I like a lot of different kinds of music. I listen to classical a lot. It really lifts my spirits. Erik Satie is one of my favorite composers.

You can do a Google search for releasing anxiety. You’ll get many articles you can read with lots of ideas to help.

In these scary times, we’ve all got to do our part to help us each feel better.

Staying Sane in a Pandemic

Everyone is aware that we are in a time of a pandemic due to a novel coronavirus (COVID-19). I have had anxiety related to the illness. For the most part, I’m remaining calm. I attribute this to my morning meditation. It’s only twenty minutes every morning, but its effects last throughout the day. The best part is that I can do a short meditation any time during the day to renew the effect.

If you want to try meditation, please set aside your preconceived notions first. It’s not as hard as we imagine it to be.

  1. Sit in a good chair with a comfortable seat that has a straight back.
  2. Relax. Do this in any way that works for you.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Take three deep breaths exhaling long and completely each time.
  5. Breathe normally, and concentrate on the feeling you get in your nose from the breath. You may feel the breath right where the air enters your nostrils, or you may feel it higher up in the nasal channel.
  6. Your mind is going to wander. Don’t get upset. This is your mind’s job. Simply recognize that your mind is wandering, and gently return your concentration to that feeling of the air entering your nose.
  7. Your mind is going to wander again. Once more, don’t get upset. This is completely normal. Once more, return your concentration to the feeling of the air in your nose.
  8. Do this over and over again for an amount of time that you decide is right for you. My meditations are about twenty minutes long.

This is all meditation is. It’s so simple. I promise that it gets easier over time. In the beginning, I struggled not getting upset that my mind wandered. It really is not a problem that your mind is wandering. Recognize it, and return your thoughts to your breath.

Give it a try. It works.

The Plan

I had a session with my psychologist after work yesterday, and it was obviously timely. I needed it badly. Anyone who read yesterday’s post will understand I was not in a good mood.

He helped me formulate a simple plan to silence The Voice that I wrote about yesterday. It is very loud, and it lies to me telling me many evil things about me and my self-worth. The grand plan is to stop The Voice and tell it to “Shut the f*ck up!” in no uncertain terms.

The Voice was put inside my head by parents who don’t love me and by a society that really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about how I’m faring in life. It only rears its ugly head when I’m stressed or feeling low due to other matters. January was not a good month for me: my parents disowned me and a reorganization at work is causing me great pain. Those were tremendous stressors, and my grief in the face of the tumult was completely understandable. Yesterday, I experienced a renewed wave of the grief.

That wave has passed. I am confident The Plan will work.

I will continue to use my tools. I slept well last night, one of my tools. My meditation this morning was a good one. I had lots of interfering wandering thoughts, but I was able to get some good breathing in. My psychologist liked hearing that I’m using the medicine I get from my psychiatrist. He said to keep it up. My diet is the same healthy food that I’ve been eating for years.

And to top it off, I went for a brisk walk this morning before work. There it was. I had an extra thirty minutes this morning with nothing really that needed to be done, so I tied on my walking shoes and went out the door. I probably walked a mile and a half, and I went at a much slower pace than I’ve done in the past, but who gives a rip? I have my fingers crossed that I’ll keep up the exercise.

Tools: medication, meditation, therapy, diet, sleep, and exercise. These things keep me on an even keel. I’ve done them today. We’ll let tomorrow take care of itself.

Now, where is that elusive boyfriend?

Turning the Corner

I had a great therapy session yesterday, and I slept nine hours last night. I feel great!

I worked through some important points in therapy yesterday. I’ve been working through them for a long time, but the anger I had yesterday was the catalyst I needed to complete the work.

I have been obsessed with finding a boyfriend. To hell with that! I’m going to date and just leave it up to the Universe. I’m just going to have fun. The boyfriend will happen when it happens. I have released the obsession.

I am worried about the reorganization that is happening where I work. It’s causing me problems directly in the form of compensation. You know what? I’ll figure it out. I do not know what’s going to happen, but I’ve decided I can’t worry about it right now. Somehow it will work out.

I am fabulous! Fuck anybody who disagrees!

Heaviness

My heart is heavy. I had two real traumas in January. The first was when my dad called to disown me. The second came much later in the month, and it had to do with my job.

The agency where I work is being reorganized. As part of that reorganization, my job is being reclassified, and the little office I run is being made part of a new office. The result is that my salary is being slashed by a lot. The reorganization takes place July 1. At that time, the new office will come into effect. It will have a new office manager, and I will be eligible to apply for it, but there is no way to know in advance if I will be successful.

I spent much of last week reeling with this news. There were days my anxiety was so high I had to take sick leave at work. The slash to my income is too high for me to manage. If my application for the new management position is unsuccessful, I will have to take a roommate to afford my rent. I have analyzed my budget, and I can’t make ends meet by simply cutting expenses.

I have done several things to prepare. I have immediately slashed spending. I still have a number of months to go at my current salary. I will save every stray penny that I can.

I just feel very heavy.

Through it all, I realize that I’m quite strong. I have weathered two real traumas, but I’m still standing. I haven’t isolated. I’ve been out on two dates. One man came to my house, and I made him a cup of very good coffee. I met another man for coffee. I was able to tell both about my troubles and demonstrate that I’m resilient.

I’ve been seeing my therapist weekly.

I’ve been sleeping a lot, which can be a sign of depression, but sleep is one of my recovery tools, so I take this as a good sign. I say “a lot,” but it really just is a healthy amount. It’s not too much.

I’m taking all my medications as prescribed, and I have made an extra appointment with my psychiatrist to tell him what’s going on. He needs to know about these things to help me monitor myself for signs of debilitating relapse into depression or hypomania.

I’m meditating as much as I can. I’ve started walking down to the cathedral during work breaks and getting some even breathing in that time.

My diet is unchanged. I eat healthy food. I don’t drink soda. The only thing that is close to junk food I’m eating these days is trail mix, which is mostly nuts and raisins with a few M&Ms.

I’m going to AA meetings when I can. That’s about two or three times each week. It’s good to be around other people working on improving themselves.

One thing I’m not doing is exercising. I’m just not doing it, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

Despite two real traumas, I’m going to be OK. Right now, I’m allowing myself to feel heavy. This is grief.

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