anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Better than Before

51RivppusfLOften, I get these grand ideas.  Ideas about all the wonderful things that I can and should do.  To be honest, I am not sure what exactly it is.  Excessive motivation?  Obsessed with improving my overall well-being?

I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before, twice. (https://gretchenrubin.com/books/better-than-before/about-the-book/ ) It was an informative read the first time, but the second read was even better.  I was insanely motivated to work on my habits, as many of my habits are destructive.  So, coming off reading the book, I was super charged and, in a place, where I was ready to make some changes.  The changes that I have aimed to make are below:

  1. Limit alcohol intake
  2. Implement exercise regime
  3. Improve body image
  4. Increase overall productivity
  5. Migrate from a “B” Student to an “A” student
  6. More involved parent
  7. Reduce sugar intake
  8. Decrease weight
  9. Eliminate multiple weigh ins per day
  10. Start meditation
  11. Cut back on shopping
  12. Change my attitude towards prescribed medication

 

Yeah, twelve things to change, that’s not too much, nor excessive, totally doable.  Or is it?  Have I set myself up to fail because I have made a list of modifications that I want to make that will require too much from me?  Is this the same as having twelve new year resolutions? What will my therapist think?  Am I manic?  Is this delusional behavior?

Let’s take a peak:

Limit alcohol intake

The first thing I started with was limiting the alcohol intake.  With the support of my family, this one has been successful.  I am now in a place where I promised my doctors that I would get to and now to stay there.  In the book, Gretchen spoke about how one’s will power is the weakest as the day progresses.  So, at the end of the day, we have the least amount of will power.  Ok, so knowledge is power, it will be the hardest at night.

Implement Exercise Regime

The grand idea was to take a walk around the neighborhood when I arrived home from work.  At this point, this has not happened.  Not sure why, but it hasn’t.  I have been successful in hitting my daily goal of 2,500 steps (low I know, but achievable with the fact that I have an office job).  Per my activity tracker, I participate in “exercise activity” twice a week, whether that is a hike, or pacing the parking lot while on the phone.  Improvement is needed, but there is progress in motion.

Improve Body Image

Every morning, as I get ready to get into the shower I tell myself that I am beautiful.  That my body is exactly what it is supposed to be.  I also remind myself that my body does not define me.  I have a note on my computer monitor at the office that says, “You are beautiful” and per a comment left on one of my blogs by my boyfriend, “beauty is in the eye of the behold, and I behold you as beautiful” (God, I love him so!)

Increase Overall Productivity

Yeah, this one needs some work.  I make a list every day of what I need to complete, and I strive to check off every item.  I have worked to be more engaged at work, as well as at home regarding housework, parenting, spousing, and my college education.

Migrate from a “B” Student to an “A” student

Nope.  This is not happening.  I might as well just mark it off the list.  Being a “B” student for me is just fine and dandy.  I have quite a bit on my plate, and if I were to work harder to achieve all A’s that means I would lose out on:

  1. Sleep
  2. Time with my family
  3. What little exercise that I complete
  4. Self-care

I have made the decision, that continuing to be a “B: student with a 3.0 GPA is good enough for me.  If I do happen to get an “A” that is fantabulous, but I will not lose sleep over a “B.

More Involved Parent

When I arrive home from school, I touch base with both the kids.  I ask after their day with some kind of a peculiar question that I come up with out of the very deep part of my brain, like “What was the second best part of your day?”, “What made you wrinkle up your nose today” “Did you ever think about your socks while at school today”  You know just to keep things interesting.

Reduce Sugar Intake

See item one.  Work on number one and you have success on number seven.  Nothing better than killing two pterodactyl with one boulder.

Decrease Weight

See item one and item seven.  Although I have not seen any success, and I have gained weight due to not successfully completing number two, I must set some realistic expectations.  A very wise man reminded me this weekend that yes, I have gained ten pounds, but I have also gained ten pounds of mental stability too (have I mentioned how much I love this guy?)

Eliminate multiple weigh ins per day

Have not started on this one yet.  But set a small goal to reduce weigh ins to three a day.  And decrease one weigh in per week that goes by.

Start meditation

I signed up for a Mindfulness class that will begin the first week of May.  I count this as a win because the money has been paid, therefore the line is drawn in the fast-drying cement.  I will attend and hopefully I will learn how to quiet this brain of mine.

Cut back on shopping

Define “cut back”.  Weight gain has caused a delay in implementing this initiative.  I will never again get rid of clothes that I outgrow as I always end up either gaining or losing weight and needing to buy more clothes.  When will I learn?

Change my attitude towards prescribed medication

Every time I have a smile on my face, I remind myself that my smile is brought to me by Lithium, Vraylar, Lexapro and Hormone Pellets.  That if it were not for my prescribed medication, I would either be stuck in bed, or up on the roof dancing a jig.

 

My number four goal of being more productive is apparently in full swing, I’ve made more progress than I thought.  Thanks for reading this as it helped me see that I am kind of kicking ass, which makes me smile, and that makes me be more thankful for my medication, which causes weight gain, thus providing motivation for exercising during the time that is permitted due to being ok with being a “B: student, but not sacrificing time away from my family.  You are the best!!

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

The Unquiet Mind

gong-meditation_grandeThis weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Gong Meditation at my local yoga studio.  I had never been to such a class, but was intrigued by the summary that was included on the email that I received:

“In this 75-minute meditation we will use sound to regenerate the neurons & their interconnections, create deep relaxation, clear the mind reduce stress related issues such as: depression, fatigue, anger, hostility, fear and loneliness, stimulate the glandular system to a higher level of functioning, & strengthen the immune system.”

 

So, I thought, “clearing the mind from depression, fatigue, anger, hostility, fear and loneliness” all while I am laying on a mat listening to a gong, this def sounds like something I need to attend!  I am all about getting additional benefits from doing simple exercises.

Upon arriving at the class, it was packed… the room is on the smaller size and there was about 30 people squeezed into the room.  I felt like one of many sardines trying to fit into their assigned space in the little tin can.  I knew no one and I was unsure if I was supposed to talk to my neighbors or just be quiet.  I was alone and felt alone.  I thought everyone was staring at me.  I thought that the room was closing in on me.  I wanted to grab my phone and text my partner to let him know what it was like.  Like a lifeline to someone I knew because if I could reach out then I would feel less awkward.  But no, I did no such thing.  I sat there, and I started to participate in deep breathing.

Not long after this little panic attack the session started and yup, we did more deep breathing.  Being in a room where all the occupants were participating in deep breathing was an amazing experience.  It sounded like hundred of bees buzzing.  The room started to warm up just based on the presence of so many people.  I began to calm down.

After the breathing exercises, the main event started.  I laid on my mat and struggled to get comfortable.  I ended up laying half on my stomach with my right side of my face to the ground in a sort of fetal position.  And the gong started…

The instructor started speaking in a different language.  I was at first taken aback as earlier in the month when I was manic, I heard the instructors speak in a different language, but it was a hallucination and not actually happening.  But I was for sure that this time the instructor was speaking in another language and this go around it did not make me paranoid, but relaxed.

With the gong started, I was scared.  It was a loud, heavy sound.  I felt it pressing me down into the floor.  I felt fear and anxiety and I wanted to leave.  I was completely overwhelmed by what was happening.  But, the rules of this studio are once you enter, you remain in the room.  So, I laid there.  With my eyes closed I saw the colors of white and black vibrating before my eyelids and they were clashing into each other in rhythm with the sounds of the gong.  I thought I was tripping out on some major psychedelic drugs!

After a few minutes, my mind decided that it was going to go into overdrive.  I was thinking about what my family might be doing, what was I going to make for dinner, did I do all my homework, is anyone looking at me while I am laying in this weird position.  I kept telling my brain to focus, and focus, to go back to the radiating colors of white and black, feel the emotions, feel the sounds, let my body release.  But it was a tremendous struggle.  It did not help that there was a person snoring a few mats over and that was totally distracting me.  I was deciding whether I should refer them to my sleep doctor, so they can get assistance with their obstructed sleep issues and potential sleep apnea.

I laid there thinking about the mindfulness class that I am scheduled to take in May and how am I going to be able to release my mind, so I can learn the techniques that are part of the cirriculum.  I was thinking why does my brain constantly have to go, go, go?  I also reverted to the Gretchen Rubin book, Better than Before, that I am reading about habits and breaking of habits.  I was thinking about which habits I want to break and how am I going to go about it and most importantly when?

Before I knew it, the class was over.

It was quite an experience, one that I am still mentally processing.  I am not sure what physical changes I experienced since taking the class, although I am not sure I feel better, I know I do not feel worse.  I plan to take the class again when offered next.  I hope that I will be able to disconnect and go to an emptier space in my head (if there is one) the next time that I attend a class.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://gongs-unlimited.com/

Bipolar Disorder

Check Engine Light

CR-Cars-Hero-What-Does-Check-Engine-Light-Mean-04-16Wouldn’t it be nice if our bodies had check engine lights in the same fashion that our cars do?  If we would be notified when something is wrong, perhaps that our fluids are running low or we are slightly unbalanced?  With a “check engine light” we would be better able to get to a doctor proactively, hook us up to an obd2 scanner and we would be told exactly what was wrong with us.

I imagine that there is such a device, but that most people are not able to afford access to such amazing tools.  But goodness, if we did, how amazing would that tool be?  I bet people would be as excited about it as they were when the mercury thermometer was first invented in 1714.

I have a feeling that although we do not have a light that comes on in our body, we are given clues when something is not functioning as optimally as it could be.  For instance, for three days now my right eye has been twitching.  A WebMD search indicated that a twitching eye is referred to as blepharospasm.  Doctors don’t know what causes this, but they believe that it can be linked to fatigue, stress and caffeine.

My eye is telling me that I am tired (which I have been), that I am stressed (which I am) and perhaps I am ingesting too much caffeine because of me being fatigued due to stress?  Well, isn’t that a dirty peach?  My body is telling me I need to make some changes.  Over the last month, I have worked more and had more stress at work due to the holidays and co-workers taking much needed time off work.  Thank goodness, I finished up my fall semester the beginning of December before everything started to go balls to the wall at work.  When I am stressed, I don’t sleep as well at night because the stress increases my anxiety and when my anxiety is heightened my brain races and I think all sorts of wonderous, glorious, disturbing and intrusive thoughts eluding sleep.  With the change in sleep, I drink more coffee (morning and afternoon) to try and make it through the day.  With the increase in stress, lack of sleep, increase of caffeine and problematic anxiety, I must increase my Lexapro which in turn bumps me higher and I tip toe into mania.  It’s like a whole domino effect.

Our bodies do tell us when something is off or wrong, we just need to listen.  My body is telling me that I need to reduce my stress, rebalance my sleep and cut back on caffeine.  The increase in anxiety attacks and this damn twitching of my eye are clearly trying to reach out to me to tell me something’s gotta give.

Over the last week I have started back on a work out regime.  In addition, I have enrolled in a class to become certified in meditation and mindfulness.  Reducing responsibilities at work, the addition of exercise and modest changes to my diet should help to naturally relieve the symptoms that I have been experiencing.  Maintaining a positive mindset and focusing on positivity will be the icing on the cake.

I am amazed at how our bodies do reach out to us and let us know when we need to make a modification to what we are doing so we can function more optimally.  I encourage you to listen to your body, analyze what it is saying and make the appropriate changes to better your life.

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