I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 27 - 5 Challenges & 5 Small Victories

Today is day 27 and I have to write about five challenges and five small victories that have to do with my health topic.  It certainly will be easy to think about the challenges, but I am glad they asked me talk about the victories too, for it is the small victories that give us hope.

Challenges:


1.  Knowing whether I want to stay home and rest, because I am depressed and want to isolate OR if I am tired from having chronic fatigue syndrome and need to rest in order to take care of my body.  It's a tough call and I wrestle with wanting to take a nap and miss some type of event just about every day.  I tend to cut myself more slack and let myself stay home if I have been doing well at attending groups and events for several days.  I also try to weigh how important a group is for my recovery.  Right now, my DBT class is a top priority and I don't let being tired be a reason for missing it, but I certainly might miss an aftercare group if I'm really tired.  I love attending groups and events-I make friends fairly easily and I thrive off of human interaction.  When I miss a group that I usually attend, I really feel the void of not having had a certain amount of human interaction and I usually regret not having gone.  Unfortunately, it is really hard to keep that in perspective when all I can think of is how tired I am.  On the other hand, I think it is really important not to get so busy that I don't have any time for myself.  Sometimes I need a break from people, so I can calm down and recharge my batteries.  The trick is not doing it so long that I start acting out in order to get my attention fix or that I start to become depressed.

2.  Changing old thought patterns, so I can stay in the present. While depression and anxiety are biological, even taking the right medications will not completely fix the disease if I do not address my negative, old ways of thinking.  And I absolutely have to change my thinking if I am going to address my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which does not respond to medication nearly as well.  This is really hard.  Recently, I have realized just how bad and pervasive my habit of reliving past trauma is when I don't have anything to do.  My therapist and I are working to change this bad habit by helping me stay in the present.  She says that my wallowing in the past is a form of self-sabotage, because I am actively changing my mood from being really positive to really negative, which is not the goal.  Just having the awareness of what I am doing has helped me tone it down.  I also have been avoiding the angsty music that I normally love to listen to while driving, as I noticed that I tend to space out and wallow during those songs.  It's hard to stay in the present, but I am working on it.

3.  Setting boundaries - When I was in a treatment program many years ago, I was told that I had no boundaries.  I am a very open person and I have to be very careful to not tell people way more than is appropriate.  I am not the best at being assertive, although I am getting better.  My therapist and I also work on how to set appropriate boundaries with many different types of people and how to stand up for myself.  I would like to think that a decade later from when I was first told that I had no boundaries, that I now have at  least some.  The problem is I often think I have set good boundaries and then I discover that I need to set still more, so that the person will truly understand what I need, i.e. more space, not talking about certain topics, etc.  The fact that boundaries often need to be redefined frustrates me, but each time I tell myself that it is good practice.

4.  Not worrying about what other people think of me and not comparing myself to others.  This is SO hard when many times it seems as if mental illness and fibromyalgia has taken away certain stages of adulthood that many people take for granted.  I can easily look around at what other people have and feel sorry for myself, but doing this only takes away my own power.  What I have lost due to my mental illness, I have gained in empathy, compassion, and a willingness to help others.  When I worry about what other people think, I forget about my good qualities and I forget the essential truth that I am already enough.

5.  Making my health a priority.  So many people take their bodies for granted.  They use and abuse their bodies without a thought, because their bodies don't give them any trouble.  I used to be one of those people, myself.  In fact, in my eating disorder days I was proud of the fact that I barely ate anything-it was proof that I was strong and in control.  Utter bull-crap, I know now.  Now that I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and many mental disorders, I know just how sensitive my body is to what I do to it.  Instead of having pride in how I can abuse my body, I take pride in how I care for it.  It can be tricky figuring out how to eat healthy and at regular intervals when I travel so much.  I have to make sure I remember to bring a snack with me wherever I go, especially since I also have low blood sugar.  I need regular exercise to keep my joints from getting too stiff and yet there is not a lot of exercise that I can do.  I have discovered a yoga place that I love and I try to attend once a week, which isn't really enough, I know, but it's as much as I can fit into my schedule right now.  I have to make sure that I get enough sleep, which can be hard to do, since I am a night owl.  Sleep deprivation makes my mood and anxiety much worse and some scientists believe it to be one of the causes of fibromyalgia, so I really try to get at least eight hours.  I take my medications twice a day regularly, which is still a little bit of a struggle for me.  I had a really hard time taking my medications as prescribed for a long time and I still have to give myself a little pep talk in the morning and at night to convince myself to take them.

Small Victories

1.  I know what I need and will do what it takes to get it.  For the majority of my life I did not trust my instincts, but I have come to realize that I instinctively know what I need.  I know when I need to be hospitalized.  I know when I need more therapy or when I need to enter a treatment program.  I usually know when I need sleep and when I need to eat.  After many disastrous events when I listened to the  well-intentioned advice of others, I now trust my gut and it serves me well.  Because of this, I now know how to obtain help even when in the midst of a major crisis.

2.  I eat what I want, when I want it.  Because I now trust my body, I trust that my body is going to tell me what kinds of foods it needs when it needs it.  Many people when they hear me say that I eat what I want, when I want it, wrongly assume that that must mean I only eat doughnuts and ice cream, but that is not true.  I eat doughnuts and ice cream sometimes, but for the most part, only when I am truly craving them.  It has taken a lot of hard work, but I have learned how to listen to my body.  I have learned that my body really likes protein mainly in the form of eggs, beans, chicken, and Greek yogurt.  My body loves berries and frozen yogurt-preferably together!  My body likes salads, but only in moderation and they must contain more than just lettuce.  My body loves breakfast food, but does not like greasy or fried food, except for fried okra.  A cup of coffee a day keeps me regular.  My body would probably perish without granola bars and it often craves apple juice.  I am quite proud of the fact that I now feel so comfortable around food.

3.  I do not weigh myself nor do I even own a scale.  Here I must make a confession: I am still addicted to the scale.  My mother has her scale hidden away, so that I will not find it and start obsessively weighing myself.  That being said, I do not go to extremes trying to weigh myself.  Without the scale, I am a much happier person than I used to be.  My therapist does weigh me, but I get on the scale backwards.  The scale is no longer my god.

4.  I enjoy reading, writing, singing, and playing different instruments.  For a long time, I was so depressed that I stopped being able to sing or play any music.  I had to change my major from Vocal Performance to English, because every time I tried to sing I ended up crying instead.  I only wrote dark poetry and I couldn't concentrate long enough to be able to read the kinds of books that I used to enjoy.  Now I am beginning to play piano again and I have been amazed that I have been able to write as much as I have this month.  I belong to a book club now where we read the classics.  My life is fuller than it has been in a long time!

5.  I can sleep without the hall light on.  This is sort of embarrassing, but for a very long time I was afraid of the dark.  Because I've had hallucinations of dark, shadowy figures in the past, I was terrified that I might see them again if the lights were turned off.  With the help of therapy, increased self-confidence, and my cat, I no longer need a lot of light to be able to sleep.  I am no longer in the grips of horrible fear when I go to sleep and that is a relief.

Looking back on this list, I can see that these so-called "small victories" are actually huge!  And one day the things that are so challenging right now will be victories too.  Life may be hard, but truly, I am blessed.
funny dog pictures - If pigs can fly  dammit so can I
Recommended Links:

Shoutout for JMU! - In Defense of Feminism: Tips for Speaking Up


This Ain’t Livin’ – What’s So Bad About Feelings, Anyway? 
One thing I do know is that the only rational way to deal with emotions is to talk about them. Is to take the elephant in the room by the tusks and dance with it.  […]  Women are not allowed to say ‘this hurt my feelings’ or ‘I am having a terrible day’ because these are viewed as further evidence that women, as a whole, cannot deal with the world.


they aren't messed up.

anyone who went thru what they did would be reacting the same way.
would have the same fears, terrors, pain, agony, confusion.
anyone would.


so if you look at it that way.......couldn't it be seen as a healthy reaction?


if they do indeed have the split personalities, can't we see that as an amazing strength
to survive and cope?

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