I Trapped Myself

I acknowledge that I am stuck in repetitive negative thoughts. The patterns are so immersed that I believe my brain processes the obsession as my normal cognitive behavior. When I don’t “get what I need/expect” I fight for it.

Fighting for it got me into a hole I nearly didn’t get out of last year.

I fought with my boss and had to leave a job. I fought with my children and still have one relationship that needs mending. I fought with Tony until I made him despise me. Even though, at times, I knew I should stop pushing, it felt like I was wired to defeat myself.

I had trapped myself into my own bad behaviors.

I tried to convince myself that going to Mexico was a reset button for me. If I could lose the weight other things would fall in place. Again, really bad thinking on my part. I know part of it was severe depression because I didn’t want to care if I died. I thought if I could feel physically better about myself, perhaps the emotional duress would lessen.

That’s clearly not what happened. I made everything much, much worse before it even started to level out these past few weeks.

Learning to get out of these behaviors is taking a toll on me. I am doing what I can which is primarily holdings myself accountable by writing out the damaging behaviors as well as redirection and create new, healthy patterns.

I actively try to stop my obsessive thoughts by interrupting myself. My brain is so powerful it can bring me right back to the unwanted and uncomfortable thoughts and I can’t exercise it away all day and night. I have disputed my sleep pattern despite including significant activity in my day. I disrupted my eating pattern and found the old habit of not thinking what was going hand-to-mouth too easy to fall back into.

I stopped the poor eating (there was a different trigger there will talk about in a separate post). Now I am going to figure out exactly what I need to build in my brain to stop the obsessive thoughts. I need a mini activity (even a brain activity, doesn’t have to be physical) that I do each time I begin to obsess. I need a replacement thought.

As much as I currently feel like my life was ruined, I want to begin believing it is simply changed. I have the power to begin making new and different choices. Choices that are better for me. I am not alone. People have lived through heartbreak and come out stronger the other side. I can too.

I hate self talk like I hate exercise but I’ve got to try something different. I may even make a vision board.

Follow Through

Did I follow through on the most important goal I set for myself Tuesday?

Yes!

I wrote out 4 SMART stories before my call with the outplacement consultant. Her job is to help me finesse those stories into compelling statements that will say ” this is why you hire me and not someone else.” I actually asked a respected work friend if they agreed on those stories as my strongest in her memory – because I want to be sure this is how others view me as well.

I even sent out one resume and 2 emails for networking. It really isn’t a back-breaker but this morning made me realize it’s something I have to schedule in as a must do.

I was very distracted so it took me a period of 3.5 hours to do this task. The stories are not easy and required a bit of thinking, but I was avoiding them. The emails and networking was a no-brainer. I have firmly decided I am going to be sure to include a FOCUSED half hour each day to be done before 11am.

In my own crazy, cracked way – this upset my flow a little, my mind started thinking “how can we get out of exercise today?” Almost like “we’ve accomplished enough already!” Ummmm, no. That’s become a non-negotiable.

I acknowledge that my mind plays a game of trade-offs “If you do this Mads, then maybe you don’t have to do that other thing you don’t really want to do anyway.” It was fine to start that way when I was tired and broken. It’s not fine to stay there anymore. It’s March and I’ve got to get up off the floor. I’ve lost, I’ve hit rock bottom, I gave up and I gave in. I quit the game as close as possible. But, something (call it a greater power or my own willfulness) kept me around. I’m here. So I can continue to be a wasteful slug, or I can get going.

This is a psychological battle for me that I need to change. Because, seated somewhere deep within is my drive, my desire, to do more.

I can’t quite dig it out from under, my drive, but it’s like digging that never-ending hole in the sand st the beach ….. you know eventually you are going to hit water…. just a little further because you know in your gut it’s there – you can sense it.

As I’m sitting here having my second cup of coffee I realize I have the privilege of time at the moment – a luxury I’ve never had. I’ve already squandered a bunch of precious time in my healing and debilitating obsession and depression, but now that I am almost fully physically healed, I need to strengthen myself both emotionally, intellectually and physically. The only way I can continue to do this is by small changes each day or week.

I’ve committed to adding the half hour work focus at least 3 times a week (I don’t even need 5 days) and believe it’s totally doable to add in before I start my exercise routine.

In order to convince myself, I did find a trade-off I can make, temporarily. If I want a break, a time-out, a pity party or whatever we want to call it – I’m going to take it. But I can’t do it more than once a week. Consider it like looking towards a weekend food or drink binge after a hard weeks work. My brain and body still feel like I’m pushing them too far and too hard and they like to revolt every chance they get – so I’m gonna let them revolt, on a sort of schedule. I’m in the midst of analyzing my last 4 full weeks of effort (I am 26 straight days and refuse to do less than a 30 day streak) and come up with a plan of attack of how I can exercise, work, be lazy, and do life stuff (like any normally human does – but I’m not quite back to normal). I think getting a schedule together after this month is a good idea to begin thinking about how I spend my time and use that time more wisely.

I’ve agreed with myself that a pity party cannot include eliminating the gains I’ve made in exercise. I’ve studied up on active recovery days and that’s how I can use my “lazy day”. I get to shut off my mind and veg if I want, but I’ve got to get in a minimum amount of activity.

I got this.

March Goals (and those niggling carry-overs from Jan/Feb)

Honestly, I didn’t even get to all my January goals, but I got to most. I set a few new goals for February so I could catch up.

Now we are into March and there’s a bit of financial panic setting in, but strangely enough not to light a bonfire under my ass. I am still disconnected. And there’s a part of me saying this is still ok, I’m not fully ready to function in the real world.

Then there’s the part of me that’s saying “get your ass in gear and stop being lazy.”

Let’s see what I did accomplish in February : (J) means it was a January goal, (F) February and so on…

Work

(J) Review and edit my resume and social profiles: complete

(J) Make a list of contacts and actively begin a search: have not started

(J) Utilize outplacement website and webinars: have completed 3, did not not schedule the 2 I said I would.  I need to pay attention.

(J) Ensure all job search sites are set up properly for my searches: have not completed, needs fine tuning – remains the same

(F) Commit to Mindfulness and set a clear intent: I took a bulletproof confidence webinar AND I won a free 1:1 consulting session based on my participation.  This is something to look forward to! Not started.

(M) Create a Personal Value Proposition (PVP) for interview storytelling – something the outplacement advisor has given me to do for OVER a month.  I keep postponing our TB.  I am determined to knock this out on Tuesday March 5.  Period.

*Not a good track record, really.  WTF.

 

Personal

(J) Choose an exercise to stick with and develop a routine: I set up my screen sharing, turned on the Peloton service, bought a small weight set and set the room up for success. Now, just to actually exercise. Done! 22 days straight of healthy, sweaty fitness!

(J) Learn yoga or meditation: I need to keep reminding myself this is good for me. Done! Started a little of both and still in the practice stage but incorporate into my routine each week.

(J) Migrate addresses and birthdays to phone: started, not completed. No movement.

(F) Fine tune Keto eating by logging and watching macros – I was consuming too many calories. Done! Most of my carb cravings are done. There’s some emotional craving when I see bread, pizza and pasta but not a physical craving anymore.

*Big win here!  Hooray!  Go me!  I am making a new habit.

Finance

(F) Remember unemployment Monday’s. Missed one but otherwise on track.

(F) Follow up on Bond processing. Done! It’s in the treasury hands and complete, just waiting on processing.

(F) Sort out parents trust and accounts. Started with their largest accounts, about halfway there.

(M) Taxes: Did Dad, next is mine.

(M) Determine finances for potential 3 month unemployment ahead: yikes.

*Can I avoid this list altogether?

 

 

Home

(J) Deep clean: bathroom floors/grout: still haven’t given this a second thought. Nope.

(J) Put away Christmas decor: some things were still lingering but got this done yesterday. There are 2 things lingering.  I will get to this before the end of this week.  Period.

(J) Help son re-arrange bedroom: when he’s ready, otherwise, I am not pushing. Nope.

(J) Purchase rug for basement and mop floors: haven’t given this a second thought either. Mopped and bleached the floors! Now for a rug.

(F) Deep clean couch in living room. Done! This felt so good.

(F) Purchase new washer and dryer. Done! They come this week.

(F) Call the handyman for a few necessary repairs. Need to do and have hesitated due to money.

(M) Choose 2 cabinets, drawers or closets a week and clean and purge: have started this and it feels great!

*Ok, half done.  I am going to get to the grout because I realize its really good exercise and counts to my daily activity!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wow! After assessing my list I actually accomplished so much more than I thought I did! I feel relief and a little bit of pride!

The true stress of the situation is the job search. I need to now incorporate 30 minutes every day for actively searching.  At least an active 30 minutes if not an hour.

I also need to think about a couple more significant  March goals that I should set  (taxes get me so stressed I didn’t think about much else).

How to Become a Morning Person?

How many of you are Morning people?

God knows, I’m not and never have been. I remember when my kids were small fighting through the cries to sleep a little longer, then ignoring the tugging at the side of the bed and making them crawl in with me. I created another generation of late sleepers and these boys of mine can sleep later than anyone I know!

My kids literally do not want to speak in the mornings. They want zero attention and need to be left alone. If they are awake at the same time, they will eat in different rooms with varying light patterns. One likes it dark and warm, the other likes the morning light from a soft couch and a bit cooler. When I say “Good Morning!” I get grunts of acknowledgement and I’ve learned not to push.

I hate waking up early. Anything before 8 am feels like death to me. And most years of my life I have had to be up somewhere between 530am – 630am. My favorite work years were when I could sleep til 730am and take an 830am commute. Yes, I was late every day but my industry gets a late start.

730am feels like a magic number for me, not too early and manageable. I’ve been taking my youngest to school every day just to get this habit going again. I’ve been tracking along my sleep cycles on Fitbit.

I’ve been reading a lot about habits and how the most effective people in this world have very specific patterns. One of them is the 5am wake up call. The thought of that literally makes me gag. But, no matter how many articles I read, one of the core foundations of successful people is early rising.

Ugh.

I’m just starting to work on healthy habits – any healthy habit that I feel I can build and STICK with.

So back to that morning thing…it’s been about just about 2 months that I’ve woken up with the kid and got him to school on time. I feel less internal argument with myself to rise now that I’ve convinced myself it’s a “mom at home” requirement. My older son appreciates that he doesn’t need to drive his brother to school anymore (he did it for 3 months while I was sick) and will do it as a favor for me when I can’t without any arguments. This habit has clicked over to automatic thinking. I read something that said adjust habits slowly, so now I set the alarm clock back 10 minutes. I don’t need the 10 minutes BUT my goal is to eventually train myself for a normal work routine again so I don’t find it overwhelming when the time comes (because EVERYTHING still feels overwhelming to me). So far, so good. The small adjustment hasn’t affected me and the same article mentioned I shouldn’t change my go-to-sleep time, only my wake-time.

I fear I may never be a morning person, but I do believe if I were just to grab an hour or two more in the morning, I could develop a better work/life balance once work kicks back into gear. I’m afraid that the good habits I’m developing now would disappear as I have the ability to basically craft my entire day around my exercise.

Let’s see how the small steps go!

First Real Signs of Strength = Small Wins

I do not know where it came from, but it’s very welcome.

I think it started with Maggie’s idea to get dressed in workout clothes first thing. And then just one small thing (I charged my Fitbit). Piled on top of Ann’s suggestion to read the book about Habits.

I have a whole day, every day to myself. I could be filling it with many things, but I don’t. The worst usurper of my time is digital. The TV is now relegated to post 6pm only. I’ve had small, barely noticeable tinges of regret for wasting this much time. The feeling is fleeting. The heaviness of emptiness is pervasive. I still feel dark and empty on the inside.

But there is a very small, yet immensely strong soul inside me that refuses to give up. Yea, she’s the same one who never gave up on Tony, too so she’s delusional but when put to good use she is mighty.

I noticed on the first day I convinced myself to exercise it was because I talked myself into sleeping the rest of the day away. I didn’t do that, but the self-talk convinced me I could, should I want to. Based on that inkling of promise, I reframed the amount of time I have to myself and I was able to make some positive steps forward.

Go to bed by 10pm, period. Get up 7:30am consistently to get the kid off to school. Get dressed in workout gear before leaving bedroom (put it out night before so no excuses). Wear the Fitbit (no monitoring steps yet) Then, come home and enjoy a quiet morning scrolling media or reading with my coffee. Finally, Peloton workout. 30 mins is the requirement.

If I can change this one thing, getting dressed and then committing to some exercise for 30 minutes daily, I will not require myself to do more during that day unless necessary.

Nice deal I made with myself, right?

I can do this well before 11am. And, so far when I do, I see the energy to do other important tasks such as work related or finance related items. I won’t force myself to do more, I just seem to be more restless doing nothing after the workout. It’s a bit harder to sit still when I created good energy.

I also know the absolute best way to manage my food intake and stick to my keto macros is to log my food. I have been doing this on and off since surgery but I’m paying more attention now. I have an app that I can scan the UPC code and it makes it super easy to keep track. I’ve also knocked almost all my sugar cravings and have found the right kind of food substitutes. It helps that I don’t go out drinking and eating as often as well!

I realize this isn’t a big commitment. But it’s a start to getting my head screwed back onto my shoulders. I’ve been off the rails for close to a year. By the end of April last year I began to lose the will to live, so time slipped right through my fingers. I don’t think I will be remembering my 51st year with any fondness.

I’ve learned to avoid making morning commitments so I can adhere to my small routine. I still overwhelm easily which is worrisome considering how much I’ve been able to shoulder in the past. I still feel like part of my mind (as well as my soul) is broken and disconnected.

My small win this week has been rewarding. Every day I remind myself I’m doing this for me. I had surgery and lost a ton of weight, no reason I can’t tone up and be strong also. I want to be strong again. So while I’m fragile emotionally, the least I can do for myself is begin to make my body stronger. I’ve misused my body, mind and soul this past year but only I can recover what I’ve given away.

By the time this posts, I will have completed and entire week of routine. Good eating, good sleeping and exercise. Other than pure physical recovery (which was no small feat based on my surgeries) this is the most I’ve accomplished since surgery. I am happy it’s a start.

I’ll take it.

Finding My Way Out of the Dark

Most days are still painstakingly absent of light for me. Even when I find my moments of activity or happiness, I actively look for the next down period. I’ve been reading self-help like a fiend, trying to find alternatives to pull myself out of this pit I’m in, but I cannot find the strength. I know one of the keys is going to be routine and getting back into an established routine, but I break routine as fast as I make them.

I have to talk myself out of bed each morning to drive my youngest to school. Most days I succeed. I get up, brush teeth and hair, cover up (not always getting out of PJs) put on the coffee and empty the dishwasher. Get the boy to school. Some days I even get a bra on. This week I resolved I would set the alarm for earlier than I need to get up so that I made sure I also got dressed.

I can go days without taking a shower, and a week without washing hair. Since I don’t move or do much, it’s not hard to forget I should do it. It’s fallen out of my routine. I don’t shower for myself, I shower if I need to be presentable.

I don’t truly understand how I have motivated myself in the past to move forward from difficulty. Either I thought or believed there was something better on the horizon, or felt I had no alternative but acceptance.

I do not have either of those two feelings right now.

This morning I woke about an hour early and started to obsess over Tony. I tried mind control “if you keep thinking about this, you should get up and exercise instead!” I cannot even actively control my obsessive thoughts.

Strangely enough, I don’t generally nap. But, if I could, I sleep a straight 10-12 hours before feeling actually rested. Is it possible anyone really needs this much sleep?

I’m a seesaw. One moment moving up and feeling the air on my face and a (very small) burst of positivity or energy, and the next moment not just coming down but literally crashing into the ground hard. As if the weight of the world is on my shoulders and I cannot lift, or even try to lift.

My son had his pull up bar out the other night and I jokingly gave it a shot. The way I feel each day is similar to approaching and attempting that pull up bar – I raise my arms, pull myself up, and I am dead weight. No strength, no movement, just nothing.  I literally could not even try, my weight was just too much, my muscles evaporated.

I have seen other people motivate themselves forward and I understand the concept of changing a small, yet important, thing to add up to bigger changes – but I don’t do it.

If there was such a thing as manic-depressive by the hour, I feel like that’s me.