Using a Tool

Every day, I feel discomfort because of events. Something will come along in my day that is stressful, and it causes me to have negative emotions. I have a tool I use in these situations that helps me release the stress and anxiety.

I sit and close my eyes and relax. Next, I try to figure out where in my body the stress or anxiety is being stored. Sometimes it’s in my stomach, sometimes my chest, and sometimes my head. I ask myself what color it is and what shape it is. I try to get a good image of the thing.

After I’ve got a good image of it, I very gently reach inside and slowly remove it. I am gentle about this part of the process. Sometimes it comes out easily, and sometimes it’s got hooks attached to my insides. I’m always gentle, and it always comes out eventually.

Then I give the thing to the Universe, and I always say, “Please recycle this into the laughter of children.” It’s just a little ritual. It’s energy that I’m releasing, and energy never disappears, so I like to think it could be recycled into something joyful.

If that seems like it might work for you, give it a try.

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Enduring Difficult News

The news is full of difficulty these days, and it’s unlikely to become easier in the very near future.

In good times and in bad times, my first priority is my recovery. In difficult times, I must concentrate on the steps I take to maintain my stability.

  • I take my meds as prescribed, because they work for me.
  • I have increased the frequency of my visits to my therapist to weekly. Talking to my therapist is a valuable tool for me to use to keep my mind clear.
  • My meditation has become more important than ever. I use it to clear negativity, and I meditate multiple times each day.
  • I exercise. I speed walk 2.5 miles a minimum of 3 times each week. I am convinced exercise helps me stay stable.
  • I eat food that is good for me. A year ago, I drastically cut the amount of processed sugar I eat on a daily basis. It has made a wonderful change in my mood, and I’ve lost 45 pounds (20 kg). I eat a lot of vegetables.
  • Finally, I do my best to get good sleep. It’s the only time my whole body is shut down in order to refresh itself.

When the news is full of difficulty, my most important response is to maintain my own recovery. I cannot be an effective advocate for my mental health peers if I’m out of sorts. I am my #1 priority.

Nineteen Years

Today, I celebrate nineteen years of sobriety. A friend reminded me that’s a long time. At first I thought about the fact that it’s only a string of single days all put together, but you know what? It is indeed a long time, and it’s a big deal.

It’s easy to live through the single successive days and lose sight of the larger picture. In that string of single days, I’ve built up a lot of really good stuff. A lot has happened that was truly good. There was some bad, too. I remember the bad, but today, I feel the good more.

The best is that I healed. I drank because I was broken. Sobriety helped me know how important it was to reach out and get the help I needed to heal. I did that, and it worked. Read some of the past posts on this blog to understand how I’ve used therapy, medication, meditation, exercise, and sleep in my recovery from mental illness and substance abuse.

And today I celebrate nineteen years! Hooray!

Using Tools

For about the past 4 or 5 days, I was feeling really good. I was having to concentrate hard on staying “in the now,” but it was working. I could meditate and concentrate on walking through my day until I would have another chance to meditate and refresh. At that next meditation, I could do the same thing.

Yesterday, I woke up agitated. I was not in the mood to allow life to flow. I wanted answers to my questions. I wanted to know the outcomes of present situations. I wanted. I needed.

I was not in a good mind space.

My strength is that I recognized it. I knew I needed help, so I reached out for it. I called my therapist, and he happened to have an opening. I jumped on it. I saw him late in the afternoon after work, and I was able to talk about what was going on.

There are a lot of changes happening in my life. I’m dating as I’ve written about here, and it’s the first time I’ve been dating in an extremely long time. There’s lots of new energy surging through my life. All this affects my equilibrium, and I know how important it is for me to stay on an even keel.

I am so grateful for the tools I have as part of my recovery. Yesterday, I recognized I was off balance, and I used a tool to help me regain it. It worked. I left the psychologist’s office much calmer.

My life is changing. Normally, that’s scary. Right now, I’m walking through it.

Rule of One

I only have to do one thing.

I don’t have to feel completely better all at once.

I don’t have to completely heal all at once.

I can take just one small step toward feeling better and healing.

I don’t have to be cheerful and bubbly if I don’t feel like it.

I can choose to smile for just one second. I can choose to feel that smile on my face for just one second.

This morning I get to take one step forward.

Just one. That’s all I have to do right now. Just one.

Living with Ambiguity

Life is full of times when we don’t know exactly what to expect. Many times it’s simple things like how much mayonnaise the deli clerk will put on a sandwich. Will it be too much or just right? Sometimes the ambiguity will be about major topics like finances.

The weather can be a source of ambiguity. Will tomorrow by sunny as predicted? Will it rain this afternoon?

People can bring ambiguity into our lives, and our relationships can be a source of it.

I have not been good with ambiguity in my life. I feel great stress by having so many unknown things going on. I want certainty. I want to remove the guesswork. The result has been that I have felt great stress at so many things.

I have transferred my stress at ambiguous situations to other areas in order to imagine I was creating certainty. I have used shopping as one means to cope with ambiguity. It’s simple. I can decide some item will add value to my life. I search for the item. I find it. I search for the best price, and then I buy it. The whole process is a means to control this one aspect of my life while so much of my life is unknown.

I also use other means to cope with ambiguity. I want to remove the uncertainty.

Today, I can recognize when I’m trying to cope with my dislike of ambiguity. I can talk about these things in therapy, which relieves a lot of the stress. I can also meditate and release my need to control. I used to walk, but I have plantar fasciitis in my right heel preventing me from getting that kind of exercise to relieve myself.

I am grateful I can recognize when I’m uneasy today and take steps to help myself feel better.