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, March 27, 2016

Magical Thinking Does Not Work

 "Teenage girls engage in emotional reasoning, which is the belief that if you feel something is true, it must be true. If a teenager feels like a nerd, she is a nerd....There is a limited ability to sort facts from feelings. Thinking is still magical in the sense that thinking something makes it so." Author: Mary Pipher
Just because I feel something is true does not mean it is true.
 
Just because I want something to be true also does not make it true.

wanted for respite to completely reset my energy and so enable me to continue to stay at my job full time. I also knew that this probably wouldn't happen, as I had nothing in place for that energy to stay with me upon return.  

Unfortunately, I was right.      

Magical thinking does not work.  
There are more clinical definitions of magical thinking, but I define it as thinking that life will dramatically change for the better without doing anything different to cause that effect to actually happen.


It is true that life always changes.
  
It is also true that life seldom changes in the way we want without some action on our part.  If my goal is to have more energy but I change nothing in the long term, then I will continue to charge towards burnout.

In fact, respite seemed to accelerate my burnout upon returning to work because respite had given me such clarity about how much I desperately needed to simplify my life and without making the necessary changes quickly, I began to experience alarming symptoms on a grand scale.

Panic attacks multiple times a day.  Nightmares.  Neediness.  Forgetfulness.  Depression.  Doom and gloom thinking.  Sensory overload. Isolating when not at work. Headaches, stomach aches. Emotional instability.  Intrusive thoughts.  Impulsivity..... 

The symptoms were quickly becoming alarming, worrisome, and dangerous.  I was able to hide them from peers but the people who know me best were seeing the signs of a potential downfall.    

SO.... I am returning to part-time.

Miraculously, I should be able to stay at the thirty hours I was at before, even though I am still on disability, as long as I get the proper documentation to prove that I need extra money for my medications and other mental health services, which I do.

There was a time when I would have felt like a failure for not being to stay at full-time but not anymore.  I am not called to be normal, average, or non-disabled - I am called to be myself.  Myself, like all selves, has limits that need to be honored in order to be well. Apparently, that limit is to work around thirty hours a week and that is certainly more than the amount I used to be able to do.
  
I am not called to be more than I am.
   
I am enough.
     
(And so are you too)   
      (I painted this during my respite in Cleveland, GA.  I promise I will post more about it soon!)  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mindfully Getting Away

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. (Amit Ray, from Om Chanting and Meditation)
Living in the moment can be so hard when one is feeling anxious and overwhelmed.  I went on vacation - more on that later - and I was hoping that I would return feeling back to myself, but when I returned to work, it was busy as usual and so I am still struggling with feeling overwhelmed.  I do not like being as busy as I am and it is easy to spin out when thinking about everything I have to do.  But that is why practicing mindfulness is so important!  Being in the moment, taking things one at a time, just doing the next right thing, really does help ease my anxiety.  

 How to do that though? 

 Sometimes I need to get away.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed, sometimes I need to escape, even if just for a few minutes.  Right now, I usually put Pandora on some relaxing classical music and read for about fifteen minutes.  It takes me away from where I currently am and puts me in another world. I made a graphic for an activity I do on mindfulness at the center on the second Wednesday of the month.
I took peers to a nearby park with a creek and we listened to the water bubbling as it played with the rocks.  We looked up at the clouds.  We talked about the sounds and sensations that soothe us, like rain on a tin roof or the birds overhead.  I felt back to myself in that moment.  Silence, introspection, relaxation, meditation, mindfulness are so important and so undervalued in this world.  I need to set  aside more intentional quiet time for myself every day, for I have come to believe that the way I will get back to myself is to listen deeply to myself in quiet.