HOW HAS IT BEEN OVER THREE MONTHS?

Wow! How has it been over three months since I last posted. It’s been something there in the back of my mind that I wanted to do, but have been feeling very resistant to this and generally engaging in anything that’s good for me.

I’ve been caught in a binge cycle for a few weeks now and the weight is piling back on so decided that I need to take some advice that I’ve been given many times before:

Don’t wait for the motivation to come for healthy behaviours. Take action and the motivation will follow.

It’s so true, yet I’ve found it easier to follow out of desperation rather then when things aren’t so bad, yet could do with improvement if I don’t want to go down the same path again.

I prove to myself time and time again that I can’t have any binge foods in the house. I tell myself that it will be ok this time, I’ll eat in moderation and just have one, yet that has never happened and each time I feel like a failure. So I need to not put myself in that situation in the first place – I wonder if I can frame that as something I can do out of kindness towards myself rather than deprivation. To plan my food shopping and meals so I don’t even need to carry my purse with me and face the temptation to buy food at work or on the way home.

I have at least starting running again. I’ve been feeling lonely and needed to be around others, and runners are such nice encouraging people – even when I’m at the back of the group regretting whatever I binged on half an hour before.

I’m probably going to end up posting a few things at the same time now,  but like I’ve said, I primarily write this blog for me, to remind myself of things I need to remember and if it helps someone else along the way, then that’s great too.

So, reminders for the next two weeks until I speak to my therapist again – it would be good to have something positive to report. I’m also having surgery in two weeks time which will mean no exercise for at least a couple of weeks so I need to break some of my unhealthy habits so they don’t become worse when running isn’t an option.

  • Wake-up at the same time everyday and get out of bed so I don’t feel like a failure before the day has even started.
  • Plan when I will exercise. As soon as I don’t exercise I draw conclusions about what it means and my other habits start to unravel.
  • Focus on one thing at a time – e.g. focus on breaking the binge cycle, not on loosing weight. That will follow naturally.
  • Put my phone away at least an hour before bed and only check the news and social media a couple of times a day.
  • Remember to ask myself if there is anything constructive I can do. If so, do it, and if not park the worry.
  • Get back to my routine asap if I slip – don’t write the whole day off.
  • Refuse to believe that it will be like this for ever. I’m in control and have the resources and support to manage it. I am and will be ok.
  • Make a plan for each week – food, exercise, admin, housework etc and stick to it.
Advertisements

Things I wish I’d told myself last week

Last week was really difficult – I was feeling hopeless, questioning everything in my life, having lots of horrible thoughts.

I’ve had the most amazing therapist for the last year who I’ve learnt so much from. So why is it so difficult to remember when I need it the most?

That’s why I write this blog, so I can look back and remind myself of the things that I’ve learnt and things that I’ve found helpful.

So last week, this is what I could have done with remembering. It would have been more useful than fantasising about how I’d cope financially if I can’t cope with my job, what I’d do if I give everything up and disappear for a year, or various ways to hurt myself and end my life.

  • Plan one thing at a time so I feel like I’ve achieved something. I don’t have to do it all.
  • Lower my expectations – when things are difficult I won’t meet my food and exercise goals for the week, but that’s ok. Give myself a break.
  • Do something creative instead of spending hours watching TV.
  • Less screen time and news – it helps me to slow down when everything feels like it’s going to fast and I’m getting overwhelmed.
  • Plan small things to look forward to.
  • Ask ‘Is there anything constructive I can do?’
  • Ask ‘What is this thinking giving me? Is it leasing anywhere constructive or useful?’
  • Can I address my worry by doing anything useful? If not, park the worry.
  • Change my environment, move around, do some art in response to negative thoughts.
  • Distress is inevitable. I need to learn how to cope with it.
  • Challenge my thoughts – I can cope. I have before and I will again.
  • Plan ahead food and exercise ahead in detail. That seems to work for me.
  • Set a date to review the bigger life changes.
  • Focus on small changes. I just need to move forward in the right direction.

Planning, ruminating and finding fulfilment

Planning

Planning things in detail seems to work for me:

  • Plan meals, when I will shop and when I will prepare food.
  • Plan exercise – what classes or groups I will go to throughout the week.
  • Plan what time I’ll go to bed and what time I’ll wake up.
  • Put the alarm clock on the other side of the room so I have to get up to turn it off.
  • Set a time to start getting ready for bed – phone away, clean teeth etc. Try doing this early in the evening when I’m not so tired then all I have to do is  to get into bad. When your depressed, why does cleaning your teeth feel like such a  mammoth and relentless task?!

Ruminating

Things I can do when I’m ruminating on things that aren’t helpful – like how bad things were and my time in hospital. I think some of the reason that comes back up though is because I haven’t really spoken to anyone about it properly – there are things that I need to say, that weren’t said or seen then. I will write about it here one day soon. In the meantime here’s what I need to try:

  • Meditate.
  • Practice moving my attention around my body or the room.
  • Get up and move – change the environment.
  • Play some music.
  • Get outside.
  • Exercise.

Finding fulfilment

I seem to constantly struggle with the meaning of life – what it’s all about, why I am here, what am I doing with my life?

  • Deal with it practically – thinking about these big questions on a daily basis won’t help.
  • Think of it like a flow chart – do I have the money to do the things I want to do? If the answer is no, then I can either accept that and make the most of what I have, look for meaning in other ways etc or I can decide to save and make plans for a point in time when I will have the resources.
  • Plan to check-in at a particular time frame e.g. in six months or one year. Postpone the worrying. Ask myself – am I happy? Am I fulfilled? What am I missing?
  • Keep planning regular treats and rewards – don’t give them up to start saving – need balance and compromise.

I like the idea of postponing things until a more useful time – it works well for me with anxiety. Sometimes a thought pops-up and I can decide not to give it any attention right not but to park it for a specific time – it seems to work!

The main thing to remember when I am stuck and ruminating is to focus on the small changes that I can make right now – sleep, food, exercise and routine.

Dealing with overwhelm

I’m feeling a bit calmer after my mini-meltdown on Wednesday evening. I was able to take Friday off work and spend the day being a tourist in London with two of my best friends. It’s amazing what a difference time with the girls can make sometimes, although it’s not always easy to coordinate as we live in different towns and countries! I was also able appreciate London and what a beautiful city it is to explore, rather than rushing in and out for work once a week like I usually do.

I saw my therapist on Thursday which helped too. I’d spent the night before trying to work out if I could cope financially working less hours, even though I don’t think for one minute that work would let me do that anyway. I was just feeling like I couldn’t cope, and that I’ll never be able to cope, that I’m too sensitive and not cut out for this life.

I wanted to write this post to remind me of some of the strategies we talked about to implement when I start feeling overwhelmed.  Start by asking myself this question:

Is there anything constructive I can do?

Can I ask for support at work?  Can I ask my mum for help staying on top of things at home like cleaning and washing? Can I start with small steps towards healthier eating again like buying some ready made salads rather than feeling like I need to cook lots of healthy veggie food? Look at recipe books and the inspiration to cook again might come.

Can I accept the food and home situation as being good enough rather than having to be perfect? The same applies to work.

Know that the  cravings for sweet things will pass after a few days of eating healthier foods and it will become more habitual. Can I leave my cards at home so stopping to buy unhealthy food isn’t an option?

Remind myself of the sense of achievement I feel after exercising. I was so good at going to the gym five days a week whether I felt like it or not. I packed my bag and it became part of my routine. It made me feel better about myself and I was loosing weight so I need to get back into that mindset.

What is this thinking give me?

I like to ask myself this question too. Is this train of thought or worrying going to lead anywhere useful? If not then it serves no purpose.

Plan things to look forward to

I know that working more than three months without taking some holiday isn’t good for me. I’ve done it before and end up feeling like this. I’ve been working on a project with a tight deadline though so my boss won’t let me take time off until after it. Last week I was feeling quite angry and resentful that everyone else I work with is on holidays at the moment and I’m not. However I do have some time-off in August to go camping and spend a few days with friends.

Having things to look forward to is really important – I feel like I live from one holiday to the next! I spoke to a friend who was open to the idea of going on holiday together in September so that’s really cheered me up. I also want to spend some time with my Lonely Planet India book. It’s my absolute favourite place on earth and there are so many more places there that I want to explore.

If I can’t take time off I also need to make the most of the weekends. It’s been difficult recently because I’ve had to work some of them which definitely contributed to how I’m feeling at the moment. Plan day trips for the weekends so I get a change of scene and sense of adventure.

Slow down

Make time to meditate and read. Switch off the phone and TV. Look back over things I’ve written and notes from therapy sessions. Don’t over commit – if I need to decline some social invitations and do a bit less for a while, that’s fine.

Be creative

Make time to write, paint, dance.

Look ahead

Look at other ways of making income in the long-term. Research possibilities.

Remember that I can cope and that I am doing this

This is just a normal response to stress. It’s not depression. Lots of people feel like this when pressure builds up and need to find ways to release it. Because of my past experiences I fear that I’ll go back to being like that again and it petrifies me.