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.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Coping Skills for S.A.D. & Fall Anxiety

One of my many diagnoses is seasonal affective disorder or S.A.D., which just means that darker weather tends to negatively affect my mood.  Of course, we start to experience more darker days in a row during the fall and so seasonally I become more depressed in the fall and winter months.  This month I have really noticed a change in me, as I have become more anxious, which I think is also because I have been busier than usual too.  To remind myself of how to keep my disorders in check and to perhaps help you too, I present:

My Fall List of Coping skills for S.A.D. & Anxiety

1. Use a Light Box Every Morning! (I forgot last year-won't do that again.) A lightbox is an electronic box that emits 10,000 lux, which fools your brain into thinking that you are underneath the sun.  You use it for at least fifteen minutes a day.  I have a small one that sits on my kitchen table and I simply turn it on while I eat breakfast and read in the morning.  I know it may sound a little weird, but it does boost my energy level, motivation, and mood quite a bit.  The one I use is called, "Lightphoria," and I got it for about fifty dollars.  My only caution is that if you have bipolar disorder, you do not want to use it more than forty-five minutes a day, because than you could become too happy and may end up manic.
2.  When It Is Sunny, Be Outside!  Fall and Spring are the two best times of year for people with bad joints, like me, to walk.  Hot weather makes joints swell and painful, but cooler weather makes walking much more pleasant.  I find that I enjoy walking so much more in the Fall than I do in the Summer and I can usually walk longer and more strenuous trails too, which is exciting.  I noticed this just last Monday when I went to Oconee Forest Park with a friend.  The weather was perfect and I had an easier time walking than I had had in a while.  Here are some pictures:

Aren't those pictures gorgeous?  I recommend checking out Oconee Forest Park-it's connected to UGA, in Athens, Georgia.  The people were friendly, the trails were mainly level, the grounds were lovely, and it even had a dog park.  It could have used better signage, but it's a small detail. 

3. Mindfully Appreciate Fall Beauty.  Today as I was driving I wondered at an amazing sunset and wished I could have taken a picture.  The trees have not yet started changing colors down here in Georgia, but they will soon.  The changing leaves, dancing flames in a bonfire, the harvest moon are all a part of fall that are especially beautiful and can be calming if I take the time to notice and fully appreciate them.
 (These leaves were found on the Lilburn Greenway last year.)

4.  Self Soothe by Drinking Seasonal Hot Teas & Lattes.  Fall is pumpkin spice latte season at Starbucks and Celestial Seasonings Herbal cinnamon apple spice tea at home for me.  Tea and coffee make me feel so comforted.  Take a sip and then a long, deep breath-you will feel so relaxed.  What I like about the cinnamon apple spice tea is that it smells of cinnamon, so it has an extra sensory experience that really helps you settle down.
5.  Mindfully Cook Seasonal Food.  While you are sipping on your hot tea, get out your seasonal vegetables and prepare a simple crock pot meal or a soup.  Besides nourishing my body with good food, I actually feel relaxed while cooking because I put my whole mind into the activity.  But then, I already enjoy cooking.  If cooking stresses you out, you can skip this one. 

  • Apples
  • Bok Choy
  • Brussel Sprouts (starting in November)
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Collard Greens
  • Grapes (through October)
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Okra (through October)
  • Spinach
  • Winter Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes (through October)
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini (through October)
Here are some of my favorite fall recipes:


6.  Look Forward to & Plan a Holiday.  Holidays can seem boring if you do them the same way year after year, but having something to look forward to can help bring excitement and pleasure.  I am looking forward to attending the Little Five Points Halloween Parade for the first time and to attending a friend's costume party.  What's your favorite holiday?  Mine is Christmas.

(I watch the movie Nightmare Before Christmas every year.)

So those are my Fall coping skills-do you have any to add?  I hope my suggestions help you as much as they help me!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Virgin Islands Vacation Day 6 - Perspective in Art and Sexuality

I bet you never thought I'd never get back to telling you about my Virgin Islands vacation!  Sadly, I keep on running out of spoons to write, because I am so busy!  Busy day, resting day, that's how it goes with fibromyalgia....

But today I write.

Day six was maybe my favorite day - we went to Drunk Bay.  You walk down a short trail and then are greeted by the ocean and a rocky shore.
Beautiful!  But then you turn your head and slowly you realize that you are not alone-hundreds of rock people are lying about, staring at you!
 
Are they creepy or are they whimsical?
I thought they were creepy.  Still do.  I would love to send these pictures to Steven King in the hopes that he would write a book about them, but I am sure hat he gets similar requests from people all the time and does not want to get bothered with my story ideas.
I was entranced and spooked-I kept on imagining ghostly stories about the rock people! 
I made two of my own and of course, I went for the creep factor: 
#1
#2
However, my dad saw them as whimsical, which just shows you how different our perspectives are, BUT some of them really were quite cute.  


 

If you ever go to the Virgin Islands, go to Drunk Bay on St. John's.  Like me, you may come away feeling chilled to the bone or like my dad, you may come away feeling silly.  Either way, you'll want to explore and see every statue.  It will inspire you to be creative and to play with the rocks to create your own little person.  You will then daydream the rest of the day about the first person to create a piece of art there, perhaps never knowing that it would spawn hundreds of other creations.

Months later, I am working on my perspective to try to turn to one that is a little more positive in the subject of love.  As you may have noticed, I tend to turn toward the creepy and dark faster than most. 

  I am frustrated.  I am bisexual, but I lean more towards women.  I have dated mostly men in the past.  I am ready to date women.  I feel in my heart/gut that this is just the period in my life when I need to explore being with women.  I value my times with men, but it's just not what I'm feeling right now.  I need to honor that.  It's hard to remember that when I make a connection with a man.  It's hard to remember that when it seems like every single man that I meet falls in love with me at first sight.  (I think I'm going to start a tumblr account called Fat Heartbreaker.)  Where I need to shift my perspective is that I worry that every time I say, "no" to a man that I am losing out on something wonderful and I will be alone for the rest of my life, but this is not true and deep down I know it.  What is really true is that every recent male relationship leads me back to thinking about women and so I am already losing out on something wonderful, because I am not fully invested in the straight relationship.  Furthermore, I will only be alone for the rest of my life romantically speaking if I continue in this way.  I need to look at my saying no to men as an opportunity to say yes to women.  

Saying no to men is an opportunity to say yes to women!

I am not putting men down by thinking this way-in fact, I am protecting them and myself.  

I don't write about my sexuality often, but I am writing about my frustrations here, because no one I have talked has really been able to relate specifically with what I am going through, but I figure someone out there is and maybe this post can be of some help.