Day 8 – What’s next?
Day 9 – How would your life be different if you were intentional about ___________?
I sat and considered, “What next?”
I was baffled and confused,
directionless and faltering.
Then, life happened
and I stopped thinking about it.
“Rolling with the punches;”
Taking life “one day at a time;”
Living “step by step,” and
“Putting one foot in front of the other,”
have been my mantras for survival.
Guess what? I have survived…my past, my life.
I’m good at surviving, but I am beyond just that.
I’m past these mantras. They’ve served me well.
They hinder me, now. They’re holding me back.
It’s time to learn new rhythms, new words.
What if I take a risk and choose to do
something more than get by?
What if I “step up and step out” and
“grab for the brass ring;”
“live each day by choice, not by chance?
How will my life be different if I
go beyond being “comfortably numb,”
adopt new mantras to live by, and
develop a, “new attitude?”
How can I affect a “change for the better?”
I can’t do this alone and, thankfully, I’m not.
The source of all life, light, and love resides in me.
What if I “seek first” to “watch, fight, and pray?”
What if I anchor myself throughout each day to
rest, walk, and hear by faith, mindful in each moment?
I will find new purpose, faith, and courage.
I will move through the self-doubt and fear.
I will head in a new direction, gaining
confidence along the way.
I will learn to “soar above the waves.”
I’ve decided I’m going to attempt a writing challenge, to “prime the pump.” My creativity and inspiration have lain dormant for awhile. They’re sputtering. A poem or three, a bit of journaling here and there, or . . . nada, nothing. One of my consciously unconscious thinking errors is that I need to be inspired in order to write. Another, is my perfectionistic mindset: everything I write must be well thought out, structured, and formed – relatively error free – the first time I share it. Neither of these are true. However, for me, it’s like exercise: If I can’t go all out each and every time I do it and do it almost daily, then what’s the point? (A MAJOR thinking error.) That’s why I keep getting injured and continue to regain lost weight . . . losing all momentum. Time to challenge that thinking. Ergo, writing challenge.
Today’s prompt: What are you most thankful for?
So many things to be thankful for:
People, places, and events galore,
Too much focus on what came before,
Left me discontent and craving more.
Suffering from all the trauma and pain,
Distorted, shaped, and wired my brain
In ways that made me seem insane.
I believed there was naught to gain.
All my life, I fought like hell,
My mythos becoming a spell
Despairing and despondent I fell,
In sorrowful darkness I came to dwell.
Thinking I had nothing left to lose,
Bitter helplessness did suffuse.
Yet, I still sought the good news,
Slowly changing my views.
In me grew a yearning
To believe what I’m learning.
From melancholy I’m turning.
Hope and faith I’m discerning.
The thing I’m most thankful of
Gives peace like a dove;
Falls like a gift from above;
Is the greatest love.
Happy is a feeling and feelings are fleeting. Happiness is a state of being and takes work.
The experience of Happiness is more challenging for some more than others and may seem impossible to achieve.
That’s because Happiness isn’t a goal or destination, but a byproduct, a side effect of the combination of our genetics, circumstances, beliefs, attitudes, and actions.
For many of us coming from lives filled with trauma and/or mental illness it will look different than it does for neurotypical people. We have to work through the trauma and confront ourselves to heal and grow. These are our prerequisites to Happiness.
There is no set formula for experiencing it. However, common and necessary elements include self-care (nutrition, activity, personal hygiene, etc.), engagement in healthy community, gratitude, service, and passionate purpose.
Pain, loss, grief, and other feelings and experiences, often considered “negative,” may suppress Happiness and cause us to lose it. But, what is lost can be found again. The negative doesn’t necessarily negate the ability to experience Happiness.
Of course, I could be way off and this is hypomania talking…but, I don’t think so.
WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers. “Wellness that works.” What finally drove me to sign up for a weight loss program after decades of self-sufficient obesity?
Not just any pain. A very particular kind of nerve pain. Specifically in my left foot. More accurately, the top of my foot…with periodic zaps of electricity pricking the sole of my foot from the inside out,
The top of my foot is so hypersensitized right now that the hem of my pant leg feels like a jagged, splintered shard of glass scraping across it.
According to the doctor it’s a rare condition called Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. Like Carpal Tunnel, but, in the foot.
Yay me! I have a knack for the unusual when it comes to pain and injury. A few years ago, I fell and gave myself a spiral sprain. That’s usually something athletes get, not the general population. But, that’s another story for another time.
The doctor laid out my options:
Gabapentin – an anticonvulsant sometimes used to treat a wide array of mood disorders with some extreme (but rare) side effects like agitation, increased libido, and mania…Sounds like it could trigger a manic episode and I’m already taking four different psych meds to manage the bipolar, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. No. Thank. You.
Surgery – I’m a single mom, struggling to parent my High Functioning Autistic child who also experiences ADHD. I also live upstairs. I can’t afford an extended recovery period from surgical intervention.
Weight Loss – the universal answer to whatever ails you if you carry excess fat on your body, Don’t EVEN get me started! However, it was the most viable of my three options.
Initially, I doubted I could effectively transition from a life so sedentary that my spirit animal could be mistaken as a sloth. After all, WALKING HURT! So, I decided nutrition was the key.
I have lost weight before, using activity and nutrition. As a matter of fact, I lost 20 lbs at the beginning of this year with walking and changing to a healthier diet. Then, I transitioned from my manic state to a bad depressive state, stopped moving, and switched to a fast food diet. The 20 came back and brought a few friends. Five to be exact.
So, here I was – a 49 year old, medically obese woman of 265 lbs with hypothyroidism, Type II Diabetes, high cholesterol, Bipolar II Disorder, PTSD, fibromyalgia, and, now, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.
I also have the child I’m parenting, a 25 year old daughter, who is also parenting three littles, who (whom?) has me as her primary emotional support person and occasional baby sitter, and a son turning 32 in three days.
I have a lot of healing to do and a lot to live for. Also, I’m finally reaching the point in life where I believe I’m worth taking care of, too.
I needed help.
So, I searched Weight Watchers. They still had their Labor Day Special going on. It was barely something I could financially afford.
I’m destitute. Between my youngest daughter’s issues and mine, I am not currently able to sustain employment. Her dad pays for electricity, internet, this miniature hand-held computer I use to blog aka cell phone, and pays for all she needs. I live in public housing, survive on $352/mo of SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps), and a $72/mo stipend.
I committed close to half my stipend to the first six months of my Weight Watchers lifestyle.
Since I also experience a hitherto undiagnosed Binge Eating Disorder, I decided to approach this like a recovery program and committed myself to attend 90 meetings in 90 days.
Today, November 6, 2018 is my 53rd day and I will be attending my 55th meeting.
If you’re curious about or interested in how this part of my journey has gone, you can find it on my Instagram, humaninrecovery. Start here.
Addendum: I’ve lost about 20 lbs and I have walked daily for the past several weeks and can now walk two miles at a time…sometimes in under 20 min/mile. Yes, the nerve pain is still there.
Today was the first of seven of these workshops I’ll be attending this week on my “90 meetings in 90 Days” journey. (I owe you a post to explain that. Tomorrow. Maybe.) Today’s discussion was interesting. I’m looking forward to see how it gets addressed in the other workshops.
The weekly handout suggested that being happy makes the healthy activities we do in our lives more possible and increases the experience of those things. It also acknowledged that partaking of those activities increases happiness.
The workshop’s Coach listed a formula that determines one’s happiness level:
+10% Life Circumstances
+40% Attitude, Thoughts, & Actions
My immediate reaction was to scoff at the Life Circumstances percentage. I mean, although it hasn’t been as painful and difficult as other people’s, it’s been generously peppered with a lot of trauma. Consequently, I have PTSD. Plus, I experience Depression, Bipolar 2 Disorder, fibromyalgia, and am parenting a child with regularly tells me things like she wishes I would kill myself or that I had been born dead.
Yeah. Happiness is HARD. That’s a LOT of genetics and life circumstances.
I spend a lot of time fighting tears, dealing with bureaucracy, and managing conflict. I’m skeptical that Happiness is a state of being that’s more than occasionally possible for me.
I think Acceptance and Contentedness are much more doable. I think there can be moments of happiness. I think we have to be emotionally and mentally healthy and functional to be able to experience even those moments of happiness. I simply don’t believe that Happiness is achievable as a permanent state.
All that being said, I have my own formula:
+A supportive community
+Choosing to be in positive environments