Fat, Sick and In My Happy Place

I didn’t take the time to decompress the way I needed to so that I could fully embrace being here.

Y’all, my weight gain has hit a level that I finally had to notice. And I’m still congested and occasionally coughing. But I’m in the desert, the sky is clear, the temps are cool and warm and the air is wonderfully dry. Plus every color makes me happy. There is some good energy here. And I’m not sure I’m open to it yet.

I ran around like a mad woman yesterday to get a project proposal delivered on time, then had lunch and a walk with David before I hit the airport. I didn’t take the time to decompress the way I needed to so that I could fully embrace being here. The negative stayed with me, the stress and the being sick with whatever the hell I have and the realization that I couldn’t avoid anymore, that I am feeling pretty fat.

It would be easier to enjoy rockin’ my body if I had the clothes for my larger size, but I am pushing the limits of what I own and this is not a time I want to shop for more. And it just doesn’t feel good. Not much feels good at the moment.

Ashley wrote a post-vacay post via Pressing reset (or maybe just pause) that covered it.

I didn’t take the time to get ready to vacay, so I’m spending the first part of it recognizing that and deciding what to do about it. Yes, let it go and all that, right? I have PTSD, so the fact that I am even able to think through and acknowledge all of this (I did run away, but still have to work today so am sitting in my friend’s office working away before we head out on a hike) while I still have obligations and responsibilities to fulfill.

So here’s to taking a day to figure it out, reset, reframe, clear my desk and be ready to rest tonight and enjoy the hell outta tomorrow…while seeing if I can’t maybe also enjoy the hell outta today.

Threat Level Calm Down

I would rather not want to punch someone in the throat every time I get asked a question.

There are Monday mornings that I go to therapy in my pajamas. Then there are Monday mornings that I go to therapy fully dressed and feeling good. Today was the second of those. Probably because I slept this weekend.

We agreed that my Friday night driving trigger was most likely caused by my being on high alert for the past two weeks. Imminent threat on top of elevated threat response = I went to the moon. She commented that I seemed very protective of myself today in the way I was talking. Yep. I’m a little feisty.

I did really well last week in doing yoga every day. Ten minute sessions, and I only missed Friday (busy freaking out, and whatever). Big step forward? YES. BECAUSE I DID SOMETHING FOR MYSELF EVERY DAY AND DIDN’T MAKE EXCUSES.

In working toward a balance that I can live a better life with, I’m doing as little work as possible this week so that I can prioritize my well being. Last two weeks were all the work and all the energy into other people. This week is work and energy into me, so that I can hopefully get past this lingering cough and have the energy and focus I need to trust my instincts and make some moves. It’s getting close to decision time, and I am not in a good place to make big decisions. Yet.

I don’t expect other people to change or adapt to me, and I would rather not want to punch someone in the throat every time I get asked a question, so time to do some restorative things to get my threat level down to a reasonable level and get on to the next thing.

Life is a Gift

I cried.

I got triggered while driving again last night. Two cars stopped IN A LANE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY to deal with their fender bender. No pulling off the road, no hazard lights, no brake lights…until the line of speeding cars in front of me slammed their brakes and started swerving.

It set me off…lately imminent threat throws the trigger switch. I stayed calm and breathed until we got to David’s house. Then I cried and had to lay down for a bit. I drove home rather than staying the night, and I hated every minute of that drive. Every. Minute.

This morning I’m still a little shaky, and I got maybe 5 hours of sleep last night because I got home so late and was up early for the weekly walk and talk with my business partner. He failed to wake up, however, so I grabbed some bagels for myself and my parents and ended up in a long talk with them about what’s next for me.

I’ve been given a very substantial gift, they let me know this morning. It’ll let me focus on what I want to for the next six months or so without having to worry about having to sustain myself. No strings attached, just a gift.

I cried.

I don’t understand something like this landing in my lap. I’m still trying to process this kind of generosity. It doesn’t mean I don’t have to work as hard, it just means that I have some room to fail or grow or both without it taking me out. It also means I don’t have to side hustle this weekend, so I’m taking that opportunity to rest and recover and think about what I want to do.

Grateful doesn’t even get there, but it’s a start.

I Got My Ass Kicked Again

It opened the door to the kind of thing that moves the earth on its axis a bit.

And once again, I deserved it.

Twice in the last year I have said something that I did not intend to be harmful, and have gotten called out on it by women whom I respect. They let me know how they perceived my words, I apologized and explained my position, and through civil and forgiving dialogue the relationship was restored.

This time I had said a few negative observations about someone at church and her boyfriend (she’s dating the roommate of this guy), and I had said them to people who did not take them for what they were and move on. My comments turned to gossip, word got around to her through three people, and she asked me to meet her for coffee.

I’ll call her Linda because that works well for an idea I have that I’ll write about in a later post.

I don’t know Linda very well, but she has come across as cold, detached and not willing to invest in the group. That has not sat well with a few people, and some group dynamics have not been very receptive to her perceived attitude. I certainly have not been receptive to it. For her to ask me to coffee was weird. Not thanks, I don’t like you.

But this is church, and I didn’t want to be starting something by declining, so I figured I’d better hear her out, even if she was also going to lay into me for who I choose to date (or anti-date, as the case may be).

She blew me away.

She said she had heard that I had said some unkind things about her, and wanted to know first if that was true, and if so, had she done something to upset me? I was sitting across from a woman ten years younger, being schooled on maturity and kindness. I didn’t think I’d said what she had heard, so I told her that I had made some negative observations, that without knowing who said exactly what it was hard for me to know if the gossip was true but that didn’t matter, because I was sorry I had hurt her and I had no business talking about her, especially since I didn’t know her well. She graciously accepted my apology, then the magic of authenticity happened.

She asked if she had heard correctly that I have PTSD. Yes, I’m open about the car wreck aspect of my diagnosis, and have found that sharing that connects me to people who do not feel as comfortable talking about what their experience is. There can be so much shame with PTSD. I have a platform for talking about it that doesn’t have to get into the years of abuse, and I use that. She doesn’t have that cover, which I quickly understood as we spoke. She’s were I was, experiencing the after-effects of trauma without knowing what to do. As we shared our experiences and I told her that it’s more than a car wreck for me, she bravely told me her story, one that I related to, and one I understood.

When you have PTSD and you meet someone who understands and lets you know that they will give you only acceptance and not judgement, it is freeing. It’s a big step toward getting out of the prison. I have had people open the door to freedom for me, and I had the chance to open the door for her. It was wonderful, and I am kind of glad I got called out for gossip, because it opened the door to the kind of thing that moves the earth on its axis a bit.

That kind of experience also drains me, and I had a panic attack later that evening because I was too tired to manage anxiety. I ended up stonewalling (new term for me, I’m learning so much this week!) David, and shutting down, then texting him an hour later to try to explain what had happened. I had been triggered by something that connected to past abuse, and it took me a while to track it in my brain. I keep stumbling into these triggers and it’s exhausting.

This whole week has been exhausting. I have put so much energy and work into relationships and into myself. I’m back to work so I’m having to balance some tense dynamics there, and heading into the weekend I’ll be working with my grandma on her end of life directives. I may just stay home on Sunday and hide!

The work is worth it, and I’m so grateful for what I’m seeing happen from acting with kindness, honesty and acceptance.

 

Restoring Through Energy Balance

After months in an anxiety hole, this feels so good.

I was on high speed New Year’s Day.

I went to bed NYE finishing off a bottle of Proseco and a grilled cheese sandwich, I woke up feeling a bit hungover and chugged a quart of water while I scrolled around on my phone. My usual Earl Grey with half and half later and I was full of energy and purpose.

I can’t even remember the last time I had energy and purpose.

Either the Proseco had some magic in it, or all of the work, the thought and the decisions I had been making over the previous week converged into some amazing results. I’m also nearly two weeks into tapering off the antidepressant, and I am finding that my energy, creativity and motivation are WAY UP. I had no idea. Anxiety is also up, but I am recognizing and addressing it in ways that I have not been motivated to do before now.

Cool, right?

It was too cold out for this kid (I am a hot weather girl), and as much as I had the energy to go run around outside, I decided to channel that energy into inside stuff. Into clearing some of my spaces, making small changes that made me a little happier, following through on the meditation intention I had to release hatefulness, which you can read on my post Restoring Through Releasing Others’ Hatefulness, pulling out my little notebook to start writing down thoughts and experiences, and generally doing things that made me happier and feel more accomplished.

After months in an anxiety hole, this feels so good.

Before I started paying more attention to caring for myself, I would have run around on high speed all day, done all the things, worked myself up and crashed in the evening with a panic attack. Now that I’m beginning to understand the concept of balance a bit better, I worked at the things I wanted to do until I reached a point of satisfaction, then I stopped, sat down and read for a bit. I moved from high energy to low intentionally so that I didn’t crash later. Enough was good enough. Maybe sometimes balance is also stopping to appreciate your hard work. I like this so much better.

Restoring Through Nutrition

My anxiety brain loves carbs and cheese and fat.

I was raised with the command that I clean my plate or else.

I get it, my grandparents lived with a lot of scarcity and wasting food was a big no in my house growing up. I’m sure that contributes heavily to me having issues with food, but not in a way that makes me want to try to open that up and explore it. I think I’ll just toss it in the pile of Things My Parents Didn’t Get Right And I Won’t Repeat.

Having said that, I’ll move to the more present issue at hand in my process of restoring, which is how I eat. I have gained a considerable amount of weight since I was prescribed an antidepressant a little over two years ago, and I can’t reasonably attribute that to eating alone. I am curious to see over the next month as I transition off the drug what my body does. I’ve held off on any intention toward slimming down until I’m fully off the meds. It’s been counter-productive so far.

But it isn’t really about slimming down if I want to do the best thing for me, is it? Maybe my body likes to be fat. And really that’s fine, because my default mode is to think I look good. What I want to get to, and the process I want to engage in is good nutrition practices – feeding my body what it needs to be healthy.

My anxiety brain loves carbs and cheese and fat. It loves them the most, and it loves all three together. If I am even slightly anxious, the impulses kick in and I need all the gooey, carb-y comfort I can get my hands on. I think it must be the trade-off for not being an alcoholic or drug addict. I think I’ve needed some kind of substance to abuse over the years, and I chose food, for better or worse. It’s the one thing you can’t stop, though…

As I’ve been working a lot on myself (mostly my brain) and planning for what will make me better, I’ve intentionally let my brain tell me what it wants to eat. I’m disrupting a few things right now, and changing how I eat and drink is not something I wanted to tackle until I started on other things. I have a tendency to overload, and this time I wanted a slower, more intentional process of transition. I think it’s been a good thing, even if it did mean more Fritos and ranch than was “necessary”.

My intention is to spend some weeks focusing on what I consume and how it affects my mind and body. I would like to consume things that will:

  • Reduce inflamation
  • Improve my gut health
  • Not contribute to anxiety spikes
  • Help me achieve calm
  • Not cause bloating or fatigue
  • Help me build strength
  • Keep my energy up
  • Not disrupt my sleep

Not the typical diet plan, but I’m not looking to diet, I’m looking to take better care of myself, restore my mind and body and address some real health concerns.

For a take on how we fuel our health (or lack thereof) that got me thinking about a different approach to nutrition than I was previously familiar with, I found Brain Maker by David Perlmutter to be thought-provoking and helpful. No affiliate links, just sharing info.

Restoring Through Making Decisions

I didn’t even realize I was frozen. I didn’t realize that I was stuck, but I was STUCK.

I have been sitting on a lot of decisions, I realized this week. As I’ve started taking a hard look at the anxiety hole I’ve been wallowing in and making plans to do some work to restore myself to a more positive human, a person who does things (I am a doer, for sure), I have needed to pull my head out of the sand, as it were, and make some play calls.

I didn’t even realize I was frozen. I didn’t realize that I was stuck, but I was STUCK, and I think I have David to thank for the realization, because as he was describing someone else who was stuck, I was taking in those comments and starting to think, “Wow, that’s me.”

I don’t want to be stuck. I like to do things, and I haven’t been doing things, I’ve been letting life happen. There are a lot of reasons why, the primary reason being that my family experienced severe trauma through my youngest brother’s accident earlier this year. It has taken me months to recover and get to a new path of healing The path I had been on is no longer available to me, and it has taken 7 months for me to see that. I kept trying to get “back on track”, but that track is gone, so time to find a new one. Enter this process of restoring. It has been a way for me to find that new path toward healing from my current circumstances, not my previous or imagined circumstances. No doubt I’ll have to do it again, but that’s for when it happens.

With my substantial insurance and mental health care cost increase that starts tomorrow, I’ve had a lot of anxiety about cash flow and getting my bills paid while we ramp up contract work in the new year. A lot of my work is long-lead on invoicing, and we just went through the annual slowdown plus delay on decisions from the tax reform uncertainty. I like to plan ahead, not wait till I hit an emergency to make a move, but I’ve been worrying without taking steps to reduce my worry. That ended this week when I teed up some options and scheduled some time to see exactly what my options look like so I can make that play call. Even if none of it works out, I made the effort, and I don’t fear failure of attempt so much as failure to act.

I’m going into the New Year already on a path to restoring, and already having made some decisions to push me off high center. Happy New Year!

XOXO,

Ashley