Staying Present on Bad Days

It’s was a horrible, painful morning. And the one person I want to talk to had gone radio silent.

I wanted to eat. But, I had already eaten and my body isn’t hungry. I really wanted to go lie down. I wound up doing both. Especially the eating.

I was eating my feelings. Numbing myself with food. Hurting myself with food. I saw myself doing it. I knew what I was doing and why. I simply couldn’t, didn’t stop.

It was different than in the past. I didn’t let myself “zone out” while I was eating. With every bite, I knew what it was and accepted that the compulsion was too strong for me to resist. I didn’t criticize or judge myself. I let go of resistance and struggle.

Yes, I ate too much today. However, I didn’t eat as much as I have in past binge eating episodes. I also stayed relatively present to the emotions which were driving the eating:

  • Grief
  • Anger
  • Futility
  • Guilt

I was also in physical pain. I guess it’s easier for me to cope with the self-inflicted pain and discomfort of overeating than to deal with the other pain I was experiencing and who had inflicted it.

Don’t worry. I’m not in a Domestic Violence situation. I’m single/co-parenting a child on the higher functioning end of the Autism Spectrum (HFASD) who also has Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Sometimes we have daily and multiple times a day episodes of violent behavior from her towards me. Today was that kind of day.

Anyway, back to the mindfulness. I stayed present to the painful, ugliness. I did avoidance behaviors, but, I did them with awareness and without guilt. So, even in that, I stayed somewhat connected to what I was experiencing instead of dissociating.

I’m counting that as a win for mindfulness.

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Obsession vs Mindfulness

So, there’s this guy…

We “met” online about three weeks ago, then met in person a few days after that. He’s legitimately in the military and was visiting home, on leave. Less than 36 hours after meeting in person, he was back on base…the length of our two states away.

I can’t stop thinking about him. We message, chat, or FaceTime daily. I find myself checking the apps we communicate on, almost constantly. I have to stop myself from sending WAY too many messages. In other words, I’m obsessed. I feel consumed by this and, at the moment, I feel powerless against it.

It’s especially frustrating because I know this “relationship” isn’t going anywhere significant. It’s just for now and worth appreciating what it is, without constantly thinking about when it’s over (future focus) or why it even happened (past focus). Most “now” focus, unless we happen to be interacting, is spent worrying if my obsession is actually bleeding through and making him not want to be with me…the twisted story in my head.

I’m beginning to suspect that part of what is driving this is my favorite PTSD coping mechanism, avoidance. According to my (recently former) therapist, something else that can be making this so intense are the layers and layers of unresolved, unprocessed feelings from past experiences.

Whatever the reason, all I know is that thoughts associated with him are intrusive and are consuming my ability to focus on anything else…including my attempts at mindfulness.

I’m learning that part of mindfulness isn’t fighting the thoughts, but to observe them, acknowledge them, and come back to the present without self-judgment.

Letting go of self-judgment…how does one DO that?

At any rate, I observed myself obsessing over this guy most of the day. The exceptions were when I was in physical therapy…that demanded my complete attention…and when I was zoning out on food. But, not even my self-harm with food was completely successful in avoiding the thoughts.

I guess my mindfulness practice today was to observe the amount of time, energy, and attention this obsession is consuming.

The following graphics are the poetry spawned by this…the order is most recent to oldest:

Live in the Moment, Give Yourself the Attention You Deserve

Speaking of being present…

Nita Beshear - A Diamond Life

Sometimes we add more to our day so we don’t have to think or feel. More projects to do, more places to go, more events to attend, more people to visit. Go, go, go. Going is the grown-up version of running away.

Wait. Maybe I’m the only one that filled my days with activity to block out the fact that I was alone now. No matter, I’m sure you have your day filled too. Maybe not as an escape hatch, just full.

The problem with an over-full day is we don’t have time for us. We don’t have time to be present and enjoy what is.

Although I missed the sign-up, this month’s blog will follow the A to Z Blog challenge calendar. Which means each post Monday through Saturday, and Sunday April 1, will include a topic based on the corresponding letter in the alphabet.

Yesterday, Sunday April 1…

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Being Present

Sometimes the only way I can express my experience is through poetry:

Presence

How do I stay present?
All I want is to escape…
To evade
To avoid
My inner rage

How do I stay present?
All I want is to hide…
To cover
To conceal
The fear inside

How do I stay present?
All I want is to deny…
To refute
To curb
My hidden love

How do I stay present…
To anger?
To fear?
To love?

I must learn to remain…
To abide
To be still
In impossible peace

I must accept I am welcome…
Wanted
Beloved
By the all loving King of glory

I must remember I am given…
Provided for
Supplied with
Everything I need to live

Teach me to be present…
All I want is to be
In this moment
In the now
Present to all that is

©️2018 lem

Today was challenging. It began with parenting problems…after a sleepless night due to parenting problems. Consequently, I dozed off when I attempted a mindfulness exercise.

Have you ever fallen asleep while trying to meditate?

I was using an app that was recommended to me, Headspace. I’ll make another attempt tomorrow.

Now, I’m going to let my feelings as a frustrated mom flow through me and release them…if I can.

April 2018: A mindful month

Happy Easter for those who celebrate it…Happy April Fool’s Day to the rest.

Last week, I met with the therapist I’ve seen for the past two years for the last time. No, it wasn’t a milestone for my healing and recovery from PTSD & Depression or a sign I’ve got this Bipolar thing under control. I wish. She’s moving away. 😔

The good news is she helped me get back in with my original therapist – I’d transitioned when she had to take a leave of absence. Since I saw her the two years prior to moving over to my other therapist, it’s really good to go back to her. I don’t have to start over with a brand new person. YAY! 😃

Unfortunately, I can’t get in to see her until April 20th.

Considering all the life issues I’m dealing with, in addition to the mental health issues, this isn’t a good thing.

One positive thing is that I got the parent-child therapy started for me and my youngest – she’s on the high end of the Autism Spectrum and was recently identified with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). We get to see that therapist weekly. We’re going to work on attachment issues and the signs of depression the therapist saw in my daughter during our initial visit.

Now, I have 2/3 of the month of April without access to a therapist of my own. Considering I just came out of a two and a half month period of mania because I mismanaged my meds, I need something to keep me grounded and my newly stabilized sanity intact.

My therapist and I recognize that avoidance is a MAJOR issue of mine. Specifically avoidance of facing and processing emotions triggered by and/or triggering to the past trauma.

My primary tool of avoidance is self distraction and self-harm with food.

During the first two months of the manic episode the distraction was sex and risk-taking. The past two weeks, it’s been food and obsessive focus on a certain guy.

I’ve gotten my meds under control again…mostly. So, sanity is returning as I stabilize.

Typically, after a manic or hypomanic episode I’ll experience a short period of stability on my way down into a depressive episode. I can already hear that particular demon knocking on the door.

My therapist suggested mindfulness as a way to stay present to my emotions…allow all the big, scary, overwhelming feels to flow through me. To acknowledge them, without judging them. I need to give myself permission to experience my feeling and to stop running from them.

So, this month, I’m going to be accountable here to actually putting mindfulness into action. Anyone reading is invited to participate in the accountability…just be gentle, please.

In tonight’s mindful moment, I notice tension in my body, my breathing feels shallow, but isn’t, and I am experiencing achiness and pain in my legs and feet. As I lie (lay? – I always confuse those two) here I notice my thoughts wandering all over the place: frustration, exhaustion, thinking about the guy.

Anyway, it seems motherhood is calling and disrupting this moment of mindfulness.

I’ll check in tomorrow.

Keep Moving: When you’re going through hell

This journey toward health encompasses so many things in my life. Basically, it’s connected to everything – my emotions, relationships, mental health, life circumstances… It’s all tied together. Especially when I’m falling apart.

As some have noted from reading my other posts this month, my plate is full.

There are many moments on many days when I feel the full weight of it all. All I want to do is eat my anger, fear, frustration, resentment, uncertainty, and a myriad of other emotions triggered by the situations and circumstances of my life.

Numbing myself with food has been my pattern since adolescence.

After years of chaotic living and trauma, my mother’s undiagnosed, unacknowledged mental illness took her life via suicide. I was 12 years old and under her brother’s guardianship.

I was dissociated from my emotions by then and didn’t realize or acknowledge the effects it had on me. There was no discussion, no Memorial Service, and no grief counseling.

Just. Move. On.

I disappeared into books…and eating even more than I’d already been overeating.

Fast forward nearly 37 years later and here I am. Working hard to get healthy in the midst of trigger after trigger for eating my feelings.

I have been doing a phenomenal job, if I do say so myself, of staying conscious and present of my eating. Using the app to keep a record of my food and staying with the recommended guidelines has felt good, but also made me make better choices, because I didn’t want to see bad ones.

Last night I lost the battle.

True confession: Two Wendy’s chicken tenders w/honey mustard, small fry, & “small” coke.

Emotions: frustration, anger

Outcome: feeling bloated & sick

😑

The win that I’m taking away from this is that I caught myself almost immediately and didn’t shove the rest of the food into my face. I faced my feelings. Most importantly, I’m being honest with myself…and you.

I’m continuing to advance. I’m going to keep moving.


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1/14/18, Open Letter

Some questions to consider and respond to on her blog:
What was the best thing that happened to you this week?
What was the worst thing that happened to you this week?
My favorite ice breaker (don’t ask why…. or ask, I’ll answer 🙂 ): how do you eat your bagels? Do you eat each side separately, or do you eat it like a sandwich with cream cheese in the middle?

Handmade Hearts

Hey everyone!

Happy Sunday and welcome back to my blog for another open letter! A lot of things- both good and not so good, happened over this last week! I’ll talk about the good things first, because there are more of those.

I was really proud of myself for being productive this week- one of the best things that I did (in my opinion) was create an email list for my blog! If you visit my website now, there is a pop-up that allows you to sign up for email updates, and you can sign up on Facebook too! But in the future, I’m planning on sending out weekly emails regarding my blog, hopefully Birthday emails too!

My open letters on this blog are a great way for me to keep in touch with all my letters, but using email systems is a way to get even closer. Getting…

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