Positivity is the best way to start any week.
Here’s your weekly dose of positivity!
Here are you’re weekly manifestations
Another weeks round up of positivity picks of the week!
You find me writing this blog from the couch that I’ve put together a few days before boxes surrounding the decorative boxes I got to put stuff away into. There are wrappers, trash, and plastic littering the living room. While I have most of the stuff built, I’m failing to put together the hanger for the hammock I got and it sits half open, along with all the other stuff.
I dusted and reorganise two different bookcases. My Winnie the Pooh watch collection now sits nearly complete, but now de fussed of the dust that covered its surface. It’s made space for two more openings on my bigger bookshelf, where I’m to decide what would be best placed where. Should I display all of my Kingdom Hearts Ultimanias or should I bring down some Funko Pops to fill in the space a little more? Incapable of deciding on its placement, I move onto to the washing.
Misty sits with me half asleep as I coax myself into putting on the washing machine for the 5th time to dry some clothes. It’s been raining for a few days straight now so it’s pointless to hang out the washing onto the line only for them to become more wet than when they left the washing machine. I tease out some near dry items and hang them on the indoor rack – space is at a premium, so the rest must go back in to try again.
I know that I’m overdue taking a shower, changing the bed and bringing all the new sheets I brought up with me upstairs. All of my fitted sheets seem to have gone missing over the last while, so I’m conscious of the fact I need them to turn up too. The lawn hasn’t been cut in months to let the garden heal from the crappy winter we had with cloud, even so much so that my neighbours commented on it recently.
I’m embarrassed to be honest, it feels like I should be able to do these things and just get on with it.
But I’m tired. Today, I’m exhausted and instead of doing what I had done for most of the day and be productive regardless of my body prompting me to be still.
I feel guilty for being still. I think a lot of us do.
I want to help change the narrative on what it means to be tired. As most of us know, it isn’t coming from a place of laziness but what is taking up our energy. This is a distinction that took me a very long time to reconcile with. I’m the person whom when anything big happens in their life, I throw myself into the opposite spectrum of working myself through my trauma.
It’s something I’m sure I picked up from childhood through my Dad as it solved nearly all the problems in my life as “you just push through it”. But every time I hit this cycle where I can go no further than I wind up resting only for the cycle to start again. At what stage do we see ourselves as enabling the cycles we go through because we know of no other way to be?
Logically, this is a resources issue. This is an issue with what goes in and what goes out. If you stopped taking breaths in, you’d not survive very long. Same way with stress and the resulting burnout. Sometimes too little goes in and too much goes out.
There are some ways that make things easier to manage your stress, some are more obvious than others and some require more introspection:
Eliminate your stressors
We can define stressors as the things that cause strain or tension. Sometimes these stressors can be obvious; like someone causing you grief at work, or worrying about your kids. Sometimes stress can be less obvious it can be who does the washing up or who puts the clothes away. What I’d like to reinforce is that there is no such thing as a stressor that is bigger or smaller – what it really comes down to is how much control you have over that stressor.
You can’t control other people or other things in your life. You can only control how you respond and what you do.
So the first thing to take stock of is with all of your stressors and write them down. How much of those are in your control?
Can you get away from Angela in work who is constantly throwing you under the bus?
Can I control it?: Not without moving jobs, no.
What can I control?: I can talk to my manager or HR about working with her on the project and be sure that if there are other resources, you can utilise to have a complex conversation.
Example 2: I’m stressed out about always having to cook after work.
Can I control it?: Yes, I could consider food prepping for the week over the weekend so that all I need to do is put things in the microwave. Or I could look into getting food packs delivered with my meals pre prepared for me so I have access to healthy meals regularly.
Something I’d like to bring up is this notion about us having to do everything and the importance of deligation. Some people may think delegating tasks around the home and in your personal life is for the privileged. Yes, this is true to a degree. It takes a certain amount of privilege to get meals ordered in for yourself or to get your clothes sent to the laundrette. But it is something I’d encourage you to look into in your area just to see what they might cost to do.
For example, I’m out in the middle of nowhere in Ireland (I mean comparatively I’ve lived in Irelands capital all my life) and for me to get my meals fully prepared and set to me a week is E48 a week. Which is just under E200 a month. Is that expensive? Yes. But does it give me the ability to not have to worry about standing over my cooker in pain and am ensured a balanced meal? So for me, it’s worth it.
Our local laundrette is an easier example. For a black bin bag – which would be a large bin bag you’d put in the trash outside. It’s E10 a bag for it to be washed and folded. That’s something that could easily be done once a month for my situation.
There are solutions to problems if you can look for them. For instance, a meal in McDonalds for two people would easily be E20. If you do that twice a week you’ve made up the cost of feeding yourself for a week. This doesn’t mean that you stop having your chicken nuggets, but it means that you can use your money to work harder for you to make life easier for you in the long run.
It can also be beneficial to your nearest and dearest, too. Constantly fighting with your partner about who never “does things around the house” without being prompted is a drain and a strain on both of you. Maybe a better compromise for you both is to come up with a solution that helps you both out. In reality, I don’t think anyone enjoys nagging anyone else and equally the person on the receiving end doesn’t either.
There is a lot to be said for why these ideas might not be “good” ideas because it might enable laziness or something else entirely. But I would ask you to check in with yourself about that statement and see where it’s coming from. Is it because it was how they raised you that you either did things all the time, even when you couldn’t really deal with it and your feelings were dismissed? Often, how we judge others is how we ourselves were or are judged.
That on its own is worth observing on its own for the sake of all of your relationships you experience throughout your life.
Cultivate Social Support
Something that I would always advise people to do is to have some social network or network of support around you to help with times like these. Even more important than this though, as this bit is the lynchpin to making this work is articulating the type of support you need.
For example there are various different ways to support someone:
I’m a problem solver, a do-er. If you come to me for advice on something my support language is to provide solutions to problems and be there to walk you through what you’re going through with active listening.
However, there are various other styles of support out there:
I nearly always ask people straight up if I’m unsure of what type of support they need to be direct and ask them “What is the best way I can support you right now? Do you need me to listen and engage with you that way? Or would you like me to provide some other support?”
Yes, it might seem like an uncomfortable interjection when someone is opening up about something but ultimately, it means that I can support their needs best and therefore no one becomes frustrated when there are clear expectations set.
It also enables you when your time comes around to be aware of what needs and support you may require while you’re going through a turbulent time. This may mean that you’re upfront and clear about what you know you need.
“I’m going through a rough time a work at the minute and I could do with someone to just listen to me patiently for a bit while I just get it out of my system. Do you think you’d have time for that?”
For me, it’s always good to set boundaries about how much time you can give to someone especially if you’re feeling frazzled yourself.
So for example:
Person One: “I’m going through a rough time a work at the minute and I could do with someone to just listen to me patiently for a bit while I just get it out of my system. Do you think you’d have time for that?”
Person Two: ” For sure! Just so you know, I already have a previous arrangement made tonight, so I am pushed for time. I’m due to be out from 7pm so you have me until then and if we need to catch up again after that I’d be happy to sort out something with you then.”
There may be some pushback with this initially, especially when you’re setting these boundaries for yourself for the first time. If someone comes back to you negatively there are loving ways of responding to it.
Person One: “Oh forget about it then, you obviously don’t care about me otherwise you’d make time.”
Person Two: “I’m sorry that is how you feel, but I care about you and want to help you. I’m just trying to be honest about where I am with my own time restraints. However, if you feel like tonight would be too short of a time for what you want to talk about, we can always reschedule it to a time that suits us both better. Would you be more comfortable with that?”
It’s important to still enforce your boundaries for your own mental health and stress levels, it’s an important part of managing your overall health.
When in doubt, stretch it out. That can be harder for some people more than others depending on your levels of ability and mobility but I do believe that there is something that nearly everyone can do.
As always you can look at my other article on stretches in my 6 ways to start loving yourself the way you deserve to be loved article.
Reframe your thinking
We talk a lot about reframing your thinking in 6 ways to start loving yourself the way you deserve to be loved specifically around counseling and learning new techniques like CBT. You can get a refresher of the options available to you in the article, but it benefits us all to get a new perspective on things sometimes. Engaging with yourself to learn what are your triggers with stressors and how you deal with them will be invaluable to your tool books for helping you cope with stress and is something I highly recommend for everyone.
YEs, it is hard and often requests some financial commitment, but ultimately it is for your greater good to reframe your life.
In short, you deserve to be tired. You’re battling a lot and it is worth it to make the most of your life with what you have
Recently we covered self care ideation and how there are practical and realistic ways to love yourself beyond the keywords and SEO. Today we will talk about aversion, procrastination and habit forming when it causes some fear response or avoidance behaviour. Being able to form new habits and behaviours is complex and difficult as it requires a lot of internal rewiring. So, we will start from the beginning of the process. We’ll talk about why this happens to begin with, what causes it and strategies to change it.
Why we do what we do?
There is no correct answer to this, as depending on the severity and context of the issue it can be one of many things. However, it all breaks down to one key thing – it is something that ultimately serves you. I’m reluctant to use the word benefits, as no one has depression or anxiety because it benefits them. In saying that, your brain is smart, and it tries to adapt to the environment and the chemicals it produces to function, even in states when it is not optimal.
But this isn’t an article about the chemical compositions of major and minor mental illnesses. It’s about habit formation, but it’s important to understand how these mental states can really affect your ability to form new habits for yourself, even if they are beneficial to you.
For instance, in my personal life I’m having a hard time keeping up with personal hygiene and other fundamental things to keep my body healthy. But my mind is so overwhelmed just existing right now that it’s just not prompting me to do things beneficial for my health. So, not showering – taking medication that involves touching myself or anything that requires an incision into my body. Even though I know – logically and emotionally that I need to take these medicines to be well.
It’s causing for me an adverse reaction. Even thinking about doing these things cause me a certain amount of physical anxiety and emotional strain. Thus, me not doing these things or thinking about them causes me to get that bit of a dopamine hit for not doing them as a reward. As far as my chemical body is concerned, it’s gotten me out of danger and therefore my body should be rewarded for running away from the reaction.
So it is now associating not taking my medicine and that running away from discomfort with a sympathetic chemical reaction.
This can work against us, chemicals in are body are impossible to reason with. They are the things that keep our body together and informs our bodies on what to do. If I continue this pattern of not taking my meds or fighting the urge to take my meds with success, it will only be harder to implement taking my meds because it’s chemically associating itself.
For me, avoidance is how these things manifest in me. For others, this can turn into something much harder to combat, which is fear or phobia. Have you ever wanted to do something so much that you ended up becoming just pure afraid of doing it or having any association with it? It doesn’t have to be anything to do with self care. It could be a fear of heights or spiders, which it is in my instance.
But what happens when you get to a stage where you are so anxious and upset around the thoughts of being in contact with things like water that you become hydrophobic? So, this makes drinking water, taking baths or showers far more complex. Fear increases the stress hormone cortisol in your system. If you have previously seen times like brushing your teeth or taking baths as something that was a relaxing activity but is now not sending those reassuring chemicals associated with calmness and relaxation and have been replaced with a stress response. This can be a challenging thing to overcome.
There are a few things you can do to change your associations around things that had been a source of relaxation and now cause you stress or anxiety.
Key among them is to be exposed to the thing you fear.
Exposure therapy in controlled situations is a well-researched tactic to combat some specific phobias. This does not mean that I’m telling you to jump into a pool to cure your hydrophobia! What you need is slow and controlled exposure in a way that you can incorporate it into your life without its existence being seen to your body and your mind as a threat.
A plan for treating hydrophobia and being able to work up to incorporate water-related activities into your life is by working on it step by step and this is something that needs to be done over months, not weeks or days. The risk of doing exposure therapy too quickly is that you end up building up that fear response instead of disarming it, which is what you want to do.
The goal is to reincorporate these instances into your life again like they have always been there are as little of a threat to you as a cushion you have on your sofa. Trust is a muscle. We build it up. It is understood or implicity given. For example, when you go to sit down on a chair you trust that the chair will support your weight and that you will not fall over because you’ve sat on chairs before and know what to expect. The same is what we’re trying to develop with building in a new habit or breaking free of something that doesn’t serve us.
In our instance with hydrophobia. For the first two weeks, all I’d want someone to do is to have a glass of water beside the fridge or bathroom. (Yes, even if you’re not cripplingly afraid of water) I’d want you to place it in a place where you go by it regularly in your day to day and you don’t have to interact with it. It can just be placed there without you really considering it and go about your days as normal.
That’s it. This is around changing the relationship of how we view something that threatens us. If we can prove to ourselves through non threatening exposure that things will not hurt us, that is the reassurance we’re giving to our mind and our bodies.
After a while, you’re not even going to notice it’s there. It will blend into the background, much like a piece of art on your wall. It’s just going to be there, and it’s all gravy.
When that happens, I want you to put another glass in another common place like your bathroom. You don’t have to interact with it; you don’t have to do anything with it. Just have it there and repeat the exercise till you feel you don’t even really notice its presence anymore.
How does this help me take a bath? You may be wondering. But much like all of this is manifesting for you didn’t just happen overnight similarly neither will the cure. You will build up your trust with a system is in place to help support you, and this should be a plan that you should curate as appropriate to your needs with the support of your personal support network.
This process has no timeline – it will take as long as it takes. But these are the foundations for changing your associations emotionally, physically and chemically to a phobia or habit that you are trying to change. Remember something key, emotion = motion.
If we can catch each other when we’re in a loop of emotions or frustration, we can change it by changing our state.
Tony Robbins goes into this a lot and this is because it physiologically changes what is happening in your body when you are feeling a set of emotions or doing something in a pattern.
An example I can give you is today. When I was writing up this article, I was just out of surgery and got diagnosed with another set of nasty stuff. It’s something I’m hoping to cover in another article, but I was ruminating a lot about Mark. There was a part of me that in some fairy tale imagined him being there when I woke up and that things would be ok. Then I started falling down the emotional rabbit hole of “what if he doesn’t come home” “I’m in so much pain and discomfort and I have no one here.” and I just was spiralling but at one stage I could catch myself and I stood up and at the top of my lungs I screamed NEXXXXXXT!!!!
And I felt better.
I could control and choose my state.
You can too. It doesn’t matter how able-bodied you are, whether or not you can stand. This is about changing your state, to change the chemicals in your brain from you keeping from patterning it out the way you normally do.
Mel Robbins (unrelated to Tony) deems this as pulling the emergency brake.
None of these responses are your fault, your body and brain do so much on autopilot that it has this in place for you because it’s trying to protect you from something. Or is making things as easy as possible for your daily brain to cope with it. But what is important to know is that through the right strategies and mechanisms you can control your life and make the changes you wish to see.
There are links in the article that are affilate that if used helps me keep the blog alive.
Anxiety is a condition that affects everyone at some stage in life. For some people, this is more of a chronic condition than others who only get anxiety occasionally. Having effective coping mechanisms is essential to success when you’re in this headspace. I will go through some processes and ideas that may help you cope when anxiety comes around.
While it might sound obvious – and honestly quite irritating when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack only to have a well-meaning bystander telling you to “just breathe” and to breathe with them. I don’t know about you, but it’s about as useful as someone waves a sandwich in your face when you’re hungry, wondering why you don’t have a sandwich too.
However, there are exercises that you can do to incorporate them into your exercise routine or a morning ritual for yourself when you’re making your coffee.
The most wonderful Yoga With Adrienne has the most wonderful YouTube channel where she takes you through Yoga practices for free. She has an in-depth breathing playlist to teach you various breathing techniques. Her no BS approach to Yoga encourages you to “be where you are” with your practice. If you can’t do the poses, then that’s ok. She encourages the mantra that “turning up is enough”.
You can find a link to all of her breathing exercises below :
Taking some time to write what is causing you anxiety can be a useful practice. I don’t mean for you to analyse what is going on or the things you’re worried about or things that might cause you added anxiety. Focus on getting them out of your head and onto some paper.
I recommend keeping a piece of paper or a notepad beside your bed or the toilet. Wherever you find yourself lost in your thoughts. Don’t judge your thoughts or content. This is just an exercise to help clear your mind and help you get a little of mental rest.
Like breathing. Telling people to meditate can seem like it’s such an obnoxious thing to say to someone. However, while it’s proven that meditation has positive effects with helping your mental state. There is also equally enough bias and “a way to do it” that people pontificate about.
I want to tell you that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. It is a practice of just turning up for yourself in that practice of trying to calm your mind. I use Headspace (not nearly as often as I should) and I’ve found that a lot of what makes up a good practice is less about hitting that “zen” feeling or anything like that but more attempting to turn up to the practice and to try.
The simple fact of the matter is – your mind will not be quiet the first time around. Meditating will feel uncomfortable and unnatural when we’re so programmed to doing things.
Here is one of the best things that I’ve learned from Headspace:
“Headspace Co-founder, Andy Puddicombe likens the practice of meditation to sitting by the side of a road, with instructions to watch the traffic. How do we stop ourselves from getting caught up with the thoughts? It’s a question of perspective.”
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on helping you identify patterns in your everyday life that might be triggering any anxiety or depression. It is a system that can apply to a wide number of mental health concerns, not just anxiety. Like all approaches in psychology it will depend on each person whether this approach suits people or not.
While I’ll always advise going to see a professional licenced therapist for any work – sometimes its not always an option. So here are some recommended text books that talk you through the basics as well as having worksheets to support your learning. (Pro Tip! Use a copier to work on the worksheet so you can reuse them multiple times)
Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety
Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT
In the spirit of counseling, it seems purposeful that we talk about talking. We must find the right support network for us to be supported when we’re having periods of anxiety. Sometimes, despite our friends and family’s best interests, they might not give you the support you need.
It’s unfortunately common that friends and family may, very well intentioned, tell you not to worry about it or that you’re overthinking things. That doesn’t help with calming feelings of overwhelm or anxiety.
This is where seeing a registered, licenced therapist comes in. They provide a safe space where you can share your thoughts and feelings in a non judgemental space. Please don’t misunderstand me, it can take a long time to find the right therapist who gets you. I have been with mine through an app called BetterHelp for the last 3 years and my therapist has been essential to my mental health.
For anyone unsure if counseling is for them, there is a weeklong trial that you can take where you’ll be matched with a therapist and you can see how you feel.
In the lengthy line of cliches about what to do to ease anxiety, going for a walk is nearly always high on the list of what they recommend. I know how bothersome this advice is first hand, as it was my father’s solution to everything that ails you. I legitimately wanted to strangle him every time he mentioned it.
In saying that, it doesn’t have to be so productive as going for a walk. It can be as simple as taking the time to stretch. Or to do some Yoga poses. When I’m feeling ungrounded, I often do a sun salutation to help me reconnect with myself.
Yoga with Adrianne 10 minute Beginner Sun Salutation Practice is just enough for me to feel stretched and calmer.
As for more traditional stretches you can find a selection of them on YouTube but some of my favourites are from Dr Joe.
I hope these suggestions will help empower you to make the most out of the times you have anxiety and to encourage you in that things get better.
2020 has been a lot.
It’s been a lot between the pandemic and how to cope with social isolation. And despite the huge upheaval of how we live our lives, it is important to take the time to acknowledge that this is a tremendous time of stress for everyone.
With that in mind, there have been a lot of articles and blogs about how to make use of this time by either forming some habit. Or even worse, pressuring people to push themselves. That if you’re not using this time to learn 15 languages and become a gourmet baker, you’ve failed to use this time to the fullest.
I’ve got another take on this entire situation. Which is: It is good enough that you are just alive.
That’s it. No hot take, no additional statement. It is enough that you are alive and continue to exist during this time.
I will give you 10 things to consider enriching yourself that should be an additive or something to consider loving yourself during this period.
Accept where you are
This can be a hard thing to do depending on your personality and outlook on life. For people who are used to making business deals face to face, or whether you’re an extrovert and now working from home or a parent caring full time for your children – it is tremendously difficult and you can’t expect yourself to cope the same way that you used to.
Things aren’t the same, and it’s ok to acknowledge that.
I had gotten a job and then lost it because I wasn’t able to keep up the pace that was accepted of me during this time. I and my spouse have had a sudden breaking in our communication, and he’s no longer living in our home. It started just after the pandemic struck.
People are responding to this in unusual, unpredictable and unprecedented ways to unprecedented levels of stress.
It’s important to see things for as they are and not what you want them to be. I do not understand why Mark left – they left me with a note on my bedside table and that’s all I’ve heard from him in months. And I have to be ok with the fact that it happened and that what’s going on means he’s in pain. That I’m not meant to walk with him down the road that he is on.
All I can do is believe that things will get better, that I will find gainful employment and that he will come home to me. In the meantime, all I can do is stop fighting the tide.
These are important skills to learn to love yourself after this period is over and this will end. Nothing lasts forever and the only things you can be sure of in life is Death and Taxes. This too will pass, but it is possible to love yourself amid it. I promise.
Accept your feelings
It is a complex time, with a lot of complex feelings and emotions surrounding everything.
Here is a list of emotions ok to feel:
- All of them
I mean it. All of them. All the pain, loneliness, anger, fear.
Maybe you’re going through periods where this has been great for you. You feel motivated and driven so you wouldn’t have experienced if you hadn’t had this time to yourself. But you feel guilty in sharing that because of everything else that is happening.
Letting your emotions flow is an important and healthy part of emotional and personal growth.
There is a lot to go through, especially if you suffer from any form of disability. There would be a lot of unresolved feelings about walking away from work because of a disability than when the pandemic happening, work moving towards working at home. There is a lot of pain and anger – particularly in the disability world, and it’s understandable. For people like us who have always been taught that there is so much that we couldn’t do from home or things that required office time that is now standard – really hurts.
So be kind to the people around you, we all deserve extra consideration and care with how we feel at the minute.
Connect with People
Connecting with people, regardless of who they are or where they’re at, is exceptionally important like this. This can be tremendously isolating and confusion. Reaching out and being supported by the people who care about you is essential to keeping yourself afloat.
I know how hard this can be, especially when you feel like the world has abandoned you. I’m minus family, a lot of my friends, and my husband during this period. It is the most socially unsupported I’ve felt during one of the hardest periods of my life.
If it hadn’t been for the community I found on Twitter and TikTok and a stellar medical team, I know that this journey would be impossible for me to undertake on my own.
If you feel like no one understands or that no one loves you, let me take the time to tell you I love you. I love you. We may never meet and I may never be an active part of your life, but I am here to tell you you have a purpose. You still have a lot to give to the world and this universe and you will find your way.
Self Care – and not the cheesy kind!
While self-care can come as face masks and manicures, I want to talk about the more practical side of self-care. Self-care is defined as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” if you are on the preserving side of that self-care side – that is ok.
Here are some practical self-care methods and practices you can take:
- Getting out of bed. I’m serious, it is a colossal achievement.
- Bonus points if you can move downstairs or to an alternative place.
- Bonus points if you can put on some deodorant or other nice smelling products!
- Brushing your teeth
- Bonus points if you can floss or use mouthwash.
- Eating a piece of fruit
- Bonus points if you can do that more than once
- Stepping outside. I mean literally sticking your head out of a window or stepping outside your front door.
- Bonus points if you can walk down your road and back.
- Cuddle a pet
- If you don’t have a pet – self soothe, that’s comforting to you hugging a teddy, wrapping yourself in a blanket.
These are all things you can do to soothe your senses or preserve your health where you are at the moment, doing this – even one of them. These are all forms of self-care and you should be proud of the steps you can take to take care of yourself.
No one wants to see my house at the moment, and I mean nobody. I’ve painted my walls many colours, it’s not well blended, I’ve written profanities on the walls. All in the name of creative expression.
I’m serious. The first thing you see on my wall are the words:
“ Do not ask me if I’m gay, straight or whatever. I identify as a fucking threat.” – @lightboxgnome (https://www.tiktok.com/@lightboxgnome/video/6802270158644579590)
While it might not be possible for you to paint your walls or write profanities on your walls, it is still very important to have an outlet. It’s also important that for this process you create a space devoid of judgement.
Now, isn’t that a thing that is easier said than done right?!
I spent a lot of my time trying to create my art and things, but being too crippled by fear allowing myself the space to make mistakes. But I’ve incorporated art into my life in a way where I’m not creating art, but I’m experiencing it.
I have switched my focus from perfectionism and outcome to one of mindfulness. How will feel about how this paintbrush feels in my hands, how does the paint feel when I touch it, what does the wall feel like? Is it hot or cold? What colour do I want? What will it feel like when I put it on the wall, will it feel different?
Journaling is such a loaded term in the self-care community, isn’t it? It’s sometimes described as a cure-all to what ails you. Well, while I can’t promise that it will be a cure to what you’re going through, what I can say to you is that it can provide perspective.
There is no wrong way to journal.
You can use a guided journal that has prompts in it; such as our Pain Journal for pain management or The Happiness Planner that have more guided walkthroughs of what to expect. Paperchase also has a variety of reflecting journals available to go through depending on what you wish to focus on.
But it could be as easy as grabbing an unused notebook or journal to write in. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be an old school notebook or a spiral-bound jotter pad. The most important thing to do is to get down your thoughts about your day in the best and easiest way to do so. That feels right for you.
That is ultimately the most fundamental thing in all of this, is to get to a stage where things fit into place and you can love yourself the way you need to be loved. There is no time limit on it, just keep doing what you can in the most authentic way you know how to.
I’m not sure how much of a surprise this would be to longtime readers of this blog, but I lost my fight to keep my uterus and my reproductive organs in January 2019.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to sit down to write about this and how I’m feeling now that I’m 6 months in recovery. I will say that it has been a genuine life improvement since before and after the surgery, there was a deep relief of not having to be subjected to the pain and mental anguish that I was suffering from while I still was menstruating.
The visual difference is startling. I look healthier, more alive because of the surgery. There is something that shifted in between the time the surgery happened before and after the recovery. I can’t help but feel like there has been an exchange of problems. They are lesser, by all means, but as my dear friend Juan said to me – this will be a complete change of life for me and that it will take longer than 6 months to realise or even understand what my new life might look like – let alone feel.
I didn’t understand the wisdom in that until I arrived at it.
They’re a lot of things you don’t get told about the recovery process – that you will have a good 8 weeks of not being able to move because of true, utter fatigue. I don’t mean the fatigue of having the flu or even from running a good race and feeling tired from it. I mean the fatigue where you are walking and then you’re on your bum Harvest Moon Style from exhaustion cause you will pass out. Waiting on the ground on shop floors waiting for your spouse or friends to come to you with a wheelchair.
I’m still not 100% sure that even after 6 months that I’m not past that stage yet. I still have days where I feel like I legitimately cannot go far when I walk or need to take breaks when walking because I’m not able to do a lot at one time. It’s easily one of the most frustrating things about the process as I’m an ambitious person by nature and keeping moving, focusing on what’s ahead is usually the thing that drives me the most into progress and success.
However, there is no rushing this process. There are no shortcuts. There are no tips or tricks or loopholes. There is only learning how to listen
Learning to Listen
Most people would tell you I’m a very good listener; I can judge between listening cathartically to someone who’s going through a hard time and someone who needs advice. I’m good at listening to the words unspoken by lovers and friends alike. Body language, the sense of space, voice tone I can pick these out regularly in the people I love. Even if it’s through text.
I cannot say the same for listening to myself.
I have never been the sort to claim that I have a true sense of myself – well, unless you count that time when I was 23 when I thought I had a decent handle on things. You only really know how little you know when life throws things at you-you are unprepared for. I would have told you I have a good sense of my body – I’d know when I would bleed. I knew when cramps were coming; I knew when my mental state was fading and what to do to combat it.
I have no baseline for that anymore. I have no ques or learned patterns for what to expect and how to respond when things go awry. One of the side effects (if you can call it that) of having a radical hysterectomy is the fact that your bladder notifications go awry. So you’ll wet yourself for a good chunk of your recovery because you will just wee yourself. There is no sugarcoating it. None of this has been in any way glamourous or for those who are faint of heart.
Same goes for hot flushes and other symptoms that come with menopause – it’s a natural thing that happens when women get older and stop naturally menstruating. Not in one big whack of a menopausal stick.
Which I feel like it has beaten me with.
It’s lead to it being nearly impossible to listen to my body when it needs things or when it doesn’t. Another thing that people don’t tell you about having a radical hysterectomy is the weight gain. I have stretch marks from my arms to my knees because my weight has ballooned since the operation. I was 82kg before I had my operation. I know that I’m closer to 113kg now (and that’s probably me being generous).
Physicians have repeatedly told me it is my body is out of whack completely with hormones and that it will get to a stage where things will settle down again. Friends who have gone through similar and others who are dealing with their own body positivity have confirmed the same. That it’s happened to them too.
There is so much happening and I’m feeling so much that it’s hard to know what to listen to and when. This has led to anxiety and panic attacks I’m not used to feeling. Heart rate spikes of 120’s sitting down when my smart watch is poking me being like “hey you’re not exercising at this second and your heart rate is stupid high – lets take some deep breaths yeah?”
Learning to Trust
A very handsome personal trainer once had a serious philosophical conversation with me once about how I didn’t trust myself very much over my attempts of leaning onto a bench without feeling like I will fall. I left the session embarrassed at my clear failure to squat onto a bench without freaking out that I’d fall. He told me that trusting myself was something that he couldn’t teach me, he could tell me all day long that the bench is there but unless I will trust my body to the process, I could never do it.
It’s something that I have been thinking about for years since that day. Did I really not trust myself at all? After everything that I’ve gone through with myself; did I really not trust myself after all of that? For sure, I lean on people where it’s appropriate where I can’t help myself. But I know that when push comes to shove, I’d do what I’d always do and keep myself safe.
Isn’t that trust?
The truth is more complex than that. They’re both two very different things for me. I trust to keep myself safe – that is true. But I’ve learned it’s more akin to hitting the emergency brake rather than slowing the car down in time to learn how to stop.
Learning how to stop takes time – anyone who’s ever ridden a bike or driven a car or had a skateboard will tell you that. It’s easy to go fast – it’s easier to keep going. It’s harder to predict when to stop or how to stop. You could keep jumping out of your car or bike or skateboard when it gets too fast and get yourself to safety. But you’ll never really learn how to stop correctly if you keep doing that, you’ll never understand when it is the right time to stop and when is good to continue if you keep thinking everything that crosses your field of view is out to damage you.
There could be other things that could go wrong. You could focus on driving and stopping that you run out of fuel or you burst a tire. These are all things that can happen to you that are unrelated to your ability to break, but it won’t stop your brain from going to that place. Thinking jumping out of the way is always the solution when in reality – all you need to do is change your tire.
Myself and Splintor moved into our first home recently, and it’s required me to learn a lot of trust. We got a new addition to our family in terms of a Newfoundland puppy called Cloud and a tortoise called Hubert. So I’ve spent a lot of time out in the back garden where we have a step and that is where I play with Cloud.
I’ve been learning to use my legs to lift myself straight up from sitting to standing. No using my hands or anything else as support – just my legs. It’s been a process, the step is very low and there is a lot going on in my head when I try to do this. I spend a lot of time worrying about the action rather than doing it, and when I do it successfully, I’m rarely met with kind words from my mind. My brain would like me to believe that it is a fluke or that I’ll just fall over again and what is the point of it all other people can do it.
However, I know better than most just what an asshole my brain can be with the little victories that I should take to heart rather than the shoulds and coulds. That is an exercise all in its own about learning what to trust and what to listen to when you’re lost at sea.
Sometimes it’s trusting that the Sun will still rise to meet you and the stars will shine to greet you – whatever the path you’re on or where the road may take you.
For now, I think that’s the only thing that I can trust enough – and for now; I know it’s enough.
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It’s been about seven months since my last womb update. That’s because it’s been mostly uneventful since I started taking the GnRH analogue, all of my symptoms got replaced with menopausal ones. Hot sweats, mood swings (not bad ones mind you), all of that good stuff. It’s been rather quiet and blissful since it all happened. I had a few blips here and there – mainly in the beginning of myself, and my body came to terms with the changes that were going on in my body. But, we adjusted and got on well. For a time I was even able to take on full-time work.
I knew that this wasn’t going to be an entirely permanent solution, and today I committed to that fact. I decided I would get my coil removed and came off the GnRH. Go back to square one and start over. This is to establish a couple of things.
- To check what state my periods are now; if there has been any resets with my period and if they’re going to be “normal” now.
- To give my body a chance to display more physical symptoms – as the GnRH analogue is an Endometriosis treatment (and it’s worked so well) my consultant wants to see it for herself.
So this will mean a hysterectomy will come January/February.
So, I decided to be brave about it and trust that I’ll survive the next few months. If I have done 15 + years of it, six months shouldn’t be too bad. (Famous. Last. Words.) Either way, I have to try. I have to know if there is anything physically there that is causing all of this pain and excess bleeding. The only way I’m going to be able to do that is if I put myself in this situation again.
Don’t get me wrong; it feels stupid. It feels silly that I’m doing this. Especially since I got the coil out today and it. Got. stuck. *STUCK* so my consultant had to like rip it out of me. I screamed. Splintor even said afterwards – he’s seen me non-scream with pain (doubled down – unable to scream) but not a real scream from my lungs. The pain and just the sheer feeling of being distressed made me have my doubts immediately. But I know I need to be strong.
It’s hard being strong when there is so much that happened in the last three weeks. I had to get a lump from my breast removed, and that was pretty scary. I’m still waiting for the results from that because they didn’t think they’d have to send that away but they did. So, we’ll wait and see. I’m not super worried about it if I’m honest, the results of it anyway.
I think everything has happened a bit too fast for me to process things. Even Splintor said, particularly about the coil today, that I hadn’t spoken to him about it before the visit. Usually, I would. Usually, I would have told someone. But, my brain isn’t doing consulting with other humans right now. Right now I think it’s barely keeping me functioning and trying not to overload itself.
I feel the emotion weight of the news looming in my mind over the last few weeks. It’s like a sensation of someone looking at you from behind. But, there is a disconnect to my head wanting just not to acknowledge or tell the rest of us what it’s thinking instead of just doing. I’d like my head to stop doing. All of its doing is causing me a lot of sleeplessnesses, and I’d like to get my head to go to sleep. Just to stop just for a little while because everything is going to be okay. Endometritis or Cancer. We’ll be okay.
We always are.
My modeling journey has taken me many places, and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. Though, I’m happy to announce that I’ve signed a contract with Andrea Roche Modeling last week.
The day of the signing started with a shoot where we all gathered; people of various shapes, sizes and demographics. The atmosphere was relaxed but energised. The photographer was professional and encouraging throughout my time with her and I was able to put into practice a lot of the tips and tricks that I had learned from my previous bootcamp.
After the shots were taken, I was introduced to Jackie and Andrea. Jackie works with the commerical elements of the business and she would be my point of contact for any work that I get approached to do. We talked about my interests and what I like to do. So, I appreciate the fact that they look for people with all sorts of interests and backgrounds to take from.
I’m looking forward to seeing where my journey will take me with them.
Just finished week 3 day 2 of #C25K® on #Android with @c25kfree! #everymomentcounts #run #running #health #fitness #workout
Today was a super day. I’m so proud of myself I made every sprint without faltering and my time is an average 10:02 so I’m so close to getting it under 10 minutes. I’m so excited about my progress even though I’ve gained a good 2kg in the process. I’m not sure how or why considering I’m exercising and under my calorie count? Oh Well, I’m sure it’ll all work out.
I haven’t managed to get any exercise in since Friday. This is between rain, family commitments and having a head cold thing that is messing with my breathing a little bit. So I don’t want to run (ha, run get it?) The risk of making myself super sick or having an asthma attack while I’m on my own for a run. So I’m waiting to see when I feel better how I’m fixed for finishing off my final day of week 3!