I feel good at the moment, and I’m really focusing on enjoying that feeling because I know how fleeting my moods can be. I’ve also been pondering why I feel good now. What is it that’s working at the moment? Am I doing something differently than I was before, or did I stop doing something? Can I keep doing something to improve my chances of continuing to feel good?
Well, after mulling it over for a bit, I think there are a few things. Since the new year, I have been working out. Admittedly only on my cross trainer, which apparently is the worst machine going for cardio, but it was the most cost effective and small-space friendly item I could get at the time. When I realised, years ago that my money ended up being the only thing that went to the gym, I cancelled my membership, and didn’t work out for a few years. I’ve had the cross trainer for about four years, and I can honestly say I’ve never used it so much as I am doing now. I’m not really worried that it’s an unnatural exercise, and I’m not training my body for any actual activity (such as running on a treadmill, or cycling on an exercise bike). I already own it, it fits in with my routine, and it seems to be working for me. Sometimes I don’t have time for it, and sometimes I just don’t feel like it – in which case I either make myself do it anyway (75% of the time) or I don’t do it (25% of the don’t-feel-like-it times). I think it has helped in improving my mood. I feel fitter, and better about myself. So that goes on the list of thinks I’ll keep doing.
At new year we also bought a juicer. I forget whether I mentioned it before, but we watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead again, with Joe Cross, and Hungry for Change, over Christmas. Something must have struck a chord, and buying a juicer seemed like the right thing to do. I haven’t done a juice fast, where you don’t eat solids, but have four or five juices a day. But I have had a green juice most days. I’ve heard several criticisms of juicing since, for example, the machines supposedly breed nasty germs because of the hard to clean areas. Also, juices are full of sugar, so you should just eat the fruit instead. Not sure about the first point, but I put mainly veg in the green juice, and A LOT goes into one juice. I just wouldn’t sit down and eat that many vegetables. And I know that by juicing, you’re missing out on a lot of fibre, but that’s not what I’m after, really, it’s the nutrients. And I drink the juice straight away, so the nutrients won’t just dissipate because it’s sitting in the fridge for 24 hours. I’ve gone all round the houses there, but basically, I do think that the green juices help with my energy levels throughout the day, even though I have just one in the afternoon. And I’m basing that on not having any for about three or four days last week, when two snow days completely disrupted our routine, and I ended up not working out, or drinking juices. So juicing also goes on the ‘keep doing’ list!
I’m enjoying my interests again. Before my current job, I spent ten years working in a shop. I enjoyed the first couple of years, but it really went downhill after that. Partly due to my drinking, partly due to the whole atmosphere of the place changing, my role changing, and then eventually, I was forced to change to a position that I hated. I had virtually no choice, and me doing that job was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I ended up off sick with depression, it was that bad. The point I’m getting to is that fact that for the vast majority of my time – outside and inside work – throughout all this, I felt I should be looking for other work, applying for jobs, re-writing my CV. I would go through phases of this, and then become despondent, comparing myself to others who earned more than me, or who had ‘proper’ jobs. I felt like a failure, and I barely ever let my guard down, by which I mean that I never let myself enjoy my life. There were moments, obviously – especially when I met my Husband – when I forgot to beat myself up all the time, and let go enough to have fun and enjoy myself. But a lot of the time this nagging feeling was at the back of my mind – ‘you’ve no right to relax, you don’t deserve it, you failure’.
I think it’s a combination of me actually succeeding at getting a job I love (school science technician) and reaching a point in sobriety where I’m starting to feel more at ease with myself, that means I can finally let myself spend the time on things I enjoy. For example, working out would fall in this category (win:win 😉 ) and so would anything crafty – currently it’s sewing. Mr W bought me a full sized machine for Christmas, so now I’m raring to go. Oh, and Great British Sewing Bee starts on Thursday – more inspiration!! Also: Chemistry homework. Self assigned. Revision of A-level. I love it. I did Biochemistry at uni, which I also loved. But going back to straight Chemistry is brilliant. It will hopefully come in useful in this job, plus in the future, should I ever be lucky enough to be a technician at a university or similar.
Next: I’m starting to notice my thought patterns, and really explore and question them if I think they might be lying to me. I notice that if I start to feel a certain way, it can and will begin to dictate my thought processes, and change my mood. It’s true, we do create our thoughts with our feelings. And I’m working on determining whether what I’ve come up with in my head is a true representation of the world around me, or whether I’m actually just making it up, as part of my self-destructive tendencies. I’m not blaming myself for doing that, I just want to get to the bottom of where this stuff comes from, and can I change it for the better instead of letting these thoughts run wild and consume me.
Occasionally I’ve been furiously thinking away (that’s exactly what it feels like) about someone or other thinking a certain thing about me, or putting myself down for whatever reason, and I’ve spoken up. To my husband, who perhaps isn’t always the best choice of sounding board, but he can be very supportive in the right frame of mind, and luckily this was indeed his reaction when I told him what was on my mind. I’ve just listened to the Bubble Hour podcast on PAWS, and they talked about this in relation to coping with the symptoms of PAWS. Do I have an underlying depression and anxiety going on or are my issues PAWS? I don’t know, and in any case, I think there is probably some overlap to these things. But what they said on the programme was that the important part of sharing these feelings, in order to diminish their power over us, is speaking the words. As if the thought/feeling is transformed into something less powerful by the words we use to describe it. In our minds, it can go on and on indefinitely, causing havoc and controlling us. But say the words (even though it can be hard – sometimes I feel sort of like I don’t even want to put the words out there, as though they’re dirty words) and it stops there. Gone. Maybe not forever, but out of your head at least for now. So that will keep on happening!
Lastly, I am trying to stop berating myself for not doing a thing ‘properly’. The all-or-nothing mentality is something I don’t even think I was aware affected me, until I found the sober blogging world and heard people talk about perfectionism. ‘There’s no way I suffer from that’, I thought, ‘I never do anything perfectly anyway!’. But that feeling of not being able, for whatever reason, to do something the way it is supposed to be, and therefore not bother at all – well, yes I get that! So, having spotted it, I’m trying not to let it get in the way. I try to tell myself it isn’t pointless to have a go. It doesn’t matter if I don’t complete something, or maybe I’m not an expert straight off. More often than not, I will get something out of it, whatever it may be. Plus, nobody is perfect, so my idea of how something should be done might not be possible under normal conditions anyway.
This has been a long post – thanks for reading if you’re still with me!
I’m just happy to be happy, a high on a long rollercoaster of ups and downs. I’m more than familiar with the downs, and if I forget what ‘up’ looks like, I can always come back here 😉