Month: February 2014

No feelings at all

W Quote

A short post from me  today as life got busy as it tends to do but I’ve been thinking a bit about feelings. I am searching myself and wondering how I feel today but there’s nothing – I’m not particularly happy nor am I feeling down … it really is that I am feeling nothing.  Is this worse than feeling down?  Of course not but now that I think about it, most of my life is really more like this.  Sometimes the downs are low but usually I just feel nothing. And well, I don’t really know how I feel about that, hehe.  Perhaps it’s just a normal way of existing and my expectation that I need to be feeling something all the time is misguided. I really don’t know.  But it’s just come to my attention so am going to sit with this and contemplate it further. See if it gets me anywhere.

I also started my daily gratitude project this year but the last week has been challenging as I haven’t easilly found anything to be grateful for. It’s been a whole week of blah & meh. Even my yoga sessions have left me feeling nothing except maybe confused. Usually yoga elicits a state of bliss and at the very least,  I come out feeling good. But this last week, nada.

Time to dig deeper and write more and try to understand it.

Do you ever feel this way? Does the above quote hold true or is it naive?

With love,

Tipxo

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Self-sabotage & Self-awareness

So I wrote a post last week about the things that help me manage my depression … the goal being to share what helps me, in the hope that it helps you recognise or even just start to pay some attention to what helps you.  Self awareness, I think, is a big step towards managing that constant companion that some of us carry around in life.  It got me thinking about self-sabotage … something I am rather good at, even if I do say so myself! I absolutely know what helps me feel better but I seem to avoid doing those things – it’s a bit like keeping away from the sugar when I’m trying to lose a few kilos … it seems so much harder to avoid when I’m focused on avoiding it. But why? Why do I seemingly sabotage my own efforts to be happy {or insert pretty much anything good for me here}?

No, I don’t have the answer(s).  Not yet (if ever), but I have started observing my patterns and trying to change, mainly because the strain of little kids has had a negative effect on my mood swings (which have been progressively getting worse) and mainly because I want to figure this out for my kids.  Not only so that they have a (mostly) “happy” mummy but also so that I don’t make the same mistakes my mother did – the things that she did moulded me into the person that I was, which I am still trying to undo, 20+ years of self work later …

So, back to the question, why self-sabotage?

Food / weight is a big one for me so let’s look at that.  Why do I continue to put things in my mouth that aren’t good for me?  Is it the positive associations of being soothed as a child by “sweet treats”? * Is it my fear that when I’m slim (aka in my head “beautiful”) and my life remains the same that I’ll have nothing left to blame it on? Or is it my husband’s theory that I like to have a safety cushion (in the form of a nice fat outer shell) in case the world tries to hurt me? (I not sure about this but it is an interesting observation on his part and one to consider.) I have yet to figure this out entirely, but what I have done is try to stop myself when I reach for things to understand what it is I really need. I consequently drink a lot more water and take a lot more naps these days in place of eating just by stopping and asking myself if I’m thirsty or tired. Simple observation and self-awareness has helped my relationship with food a great deal, as well as my body image and the self-sabotage occurs less often.

Besides the food thing, there are other ways that I self-sabotage (most of which have to do with my self-confidence) – after many years of introspection, I can safely say that some of it has to do with my childhood, where I often felt alone and simply never good enough for my mother’s love – one of the first things she still says whenever she sees me is that I’m fat.  I read somewhere once that the “voice” we often hear in our heads are usually our parent(s) and I have no doubt that my negative self-love had a lot to do with what I heard as a child. From this I have decided to try to give my children the gift of confidence in themselves, their voice and their abilities.  I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the last two decades or so and have gotten to a point where I am generally comfortable with the woman I am and have really understood what I have to offer.  Where my skills lay and where they don’t.  I’ve stopped trying to make my mother happy (I’ve realised that it’s an impossible and pointless task – we can’t make other people happy, it’s entirely up to them) and focus more on making myself happy. Doing the things that make me smile, regardless of what other people think.  I have tried to simply find my tribe, as it were, of people who love who I am and what I do and leave the critics behind. I realised, at one point, that I kept making the same mistakes over and over again – trying to gain the respect and “love” from all the wrong people.  All the people who were never going to give it, who were never satisfied with me – these people were simply a representative of my mother’s love that I kept chasing, for years. When they ignored me or criticised me, it just fed my self-hatred and self-sabotage kicked in.  It was a viscous circle that I finally stepped out of a few years ago but still occasionally find myself repeating. When I catch myself, I look around me – at the people who love me, my family and friends, at my successes (rather than focusing on the bad things) and try to look outward (as it helps me remember how lucky a life I lead compared to many others in the world around me) and most importantly, try to get back in touch with my inner voice.  The one that is truly mine (not my mothers) and it reminds me that there is one person that absolutely adores everything about me and loves everything that I love, and that person is me.  While other people can bring me happiness, it really is up to me – I am in charge of my happiness and loving myself is the biggest step towards that. And it’s also the biggest step away from the self-sabotage that creeps in.

Do you self-sabotage? How so? Do you do anything to try to keep it at bay?

With love,

Tipxo

* My mother used to do this – I realise now, as a mother myself, that she didn’t have the tools to soothe me herself – she never learned about this growing up and did what she could.  I no longer blame her, which in itself is a huge step forward. I’ve also learned not to make the same mistake with my kids.

The big black dog (OR things that really help)

Another video for you today – I hadn’t intended on two videos in a row but well, I really liked this one I saw the other day.  It reminded me of the things I know (and often do, when I remember) that really help my depression.  I suspect that you also know the things that help you, even if its only deep down in the back of your brain, but I hope that this encourages you to bring them back to the front and perhaps put them in place when you’re feeling the “black dog” get bigger again.

I was lying in bed thinking about this and well, I guess I should preface all this by saying that while I am anti happy pills, I am not trying to discourage anyone from taking the steps that help them. I just prefer to manage and have been using a natural approach for many many years.  If it’s all new to you then take your time to figure out what helps you best.

So, some of the things that help me:

1. SLEEP!!!  Tiredness makes everything worse.  ALWAYS.  I’m a former insomniac but I’ve stopped resisting sleep and now embrace it in a big way (having little kids definitely helps you appreciate any sleep you can get!). I could go on (there’s probably a whole blog post worth of sleep tips I could share) but simply put – aim to get enough QUALITY sleep every night. Enough depends on you but listen to your body and just do it (for me, if it’s a quality sleep then I’m good with around 6 hours but if it’s a restless night then 8 or more is what I need!)

2. EXERCISE!!! Ugh. I hate the word. BUT some form of physical activity will help…even if you just go outside for a walk for a few minutes (preferaby in the sunlight – more on this later).   WHY?  Nature’s own happy pills, that’s why, in the form of a seratonin (and other good stuff – very technical I am) boost. Actually, if you’re having trouble sleeping, exercise usually helps with that – at least I know that it helps me sleep better! 10 0r 15 minutes is usually enough.  I’m sure you could squeeze that into your daily routine – just make it a priority for feeling good. (Before you say anything, I know that this is HARD.  Who wants to exercise when depressed, right? I know all about that – I’m just at a point at my life now where I schedule it in and also have the ability to listen to my body.  It, in no uncertain terms, tells me that I’ve been neglecting myself and I go do the things I know I MUST to make it better.  Mind over depression, as it were.)

3. Get some SUNLIGHT – I know, it’s hard, especially in the winter months (hence my recent daylight lamp purchase) but sunlight also boosts your seratonin.  No excuses here, get yourself some form of sunlight, stat. (Besides which, our bodies need it to produce Vitamin D – necessary for many things but it also boosts your immune system so if you get sick often then sunlight is the key.  Or eating more fish for Vitamin D – I’ve been observing those Scandinavians and they know all about this stuff but I digress.)

4. Remembering the good stuff.  Things that really make you smile.  If this is hard, take a moment to sit down and write some of these down.  Dig deep and look for them.  Truly happy events.  I’m lucky – I have some pretty BIG ones in the form of the birth of my two kids…just writing this takes me back there and the joy is indescribable.  My wedding day is also pretty high up there and I’ve been lucky to have had two wonderful loves of my life BUT if I go further back before these things happened there are still happy memories.  Like the day I got my dog for my 12th birthday…he was so tiny he fit on the palm of my hand…it was such a beautiful moment.  Go back to your childhood if you have to, before all of “this” started (I don’t know about you but I was always very happy until puberty hit) and find some happy memories to pull up when you need them.

5. Massage.  Or anything else that pampers you.  I like getting a massage.  For some reason it makes me happy.  Literally. Go get one. you deserve it after all that exercise!!!

6. Eat right.  Another blog post I think about the effects of food on my mood.  But simply put, step away from the sugar (including those white carbs) & stimulants to “help” you.  They don’t.  It’s a viscious circle.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my morning coffee and never say no to chocolate but it’s about moderation rather than extremism.  Too much of anything can be a bad thing.  So, be aware of what you’re putting in your mouth. Keep a food/mood diary for a while where you log what you eat and how you feel – the results just might surprise you!  (Like, I have observed that I am a b*tch when I have my post sugar dip – truly awful…”keep away people” type of nasty!  Eek.)

7. A meditative practice.  No, I don’t mean that you need to ohm your way to happiness or anything, what I really mean is stopping to look inward and listen to what your body is telling you. This has helped me recognise early when my depression starts to take hold (it happens in waves for me and comes and goes) so I can put in place all the things that I know help minimise it.  It has also helped me separate my depression from me.  I am not depressed, I just have a chemical imbalance that makes me feel depressed. I have chosen yoga because I like it, it helps me center my thoughts and it’s exercise and kind of a form of massage (I like to be efficient and it ticks a few boxes!), but this really could be anything…art, baking etc … find something you can focus on that centers you.

8. Last, but definitely not least, cuddles.  Yes, that’s right, cuddles.  I’m blessed to have to little cuddlers at my disposal on a daily basis.  Even if they don’t hug me, I generally steal  a few cuddles every day.  I have become quite a hugger and every friend I meet gets one on meeting and one on departure.  Do not underestimate the benefit of a hug. Physical contact helps. I also used to find that patting my dog helped me feel better – perhaps cuddling your pet might also help, now that I think about it.  But, try to get a hug or two into your day. I think it’s OK to say “I’m feeling a bit down today, may I have a hug?”.  The thing is, most people secretly love hugs and are likely to give you one (I’m not suggesting that you ask strangers or anything – let’s just start with folk you know first!) – for some reason we’ve just all got a bit weird about it. And when you hug them, close your eyes and really experience it.

I know you’re probably laughing right now but hey, that’s also a good thing, right?!

Well, I think I have waffled on enough this morning.

Are there any things that you do to help lift your mood and make the big black dog smaller?

With love,

Tipxo

2014. My year of GRATITUDE.

Well, I’ve just joined #oneword365 with my word of the year, which fits in nicely with my #365daysofgratitude2014 picture project I started over on Instagram. Funnily enough, I hadn’t heard of one word prior to today (even though it started in 2009!) but it’s something I seem to do each year – set an intention using one word, so joining them and perhaps finding my “tribe” seemed like an apt thing to do.  This one word a year thing actually all started when I joined Susannah Conway’s Unravelling course a couple of years ago, but I digress …

So, why have I chosen gratitude this year? Because I have decided to kick this depression to the curb (as they say) and finally get on top of it in a more structured way AND I saw the video below that seems to confirm that an attitude of gratitude could possibly help my cause. I’ll try anything that works (except going down the route of prescription drugs – more on that later), so here I am. Let’s see how this experiment pans out.

 

Reflecting back on my word for last year, simplify, I can honestly say that it does help to set some sort of intention for the year ahead. I’ve never been great at keeping resolutions (I mean, is anyone, really?) but one word – well, THAT I can do. Mostly. And my 2013 was filled with simplifying. My home, my life committments and mostly, the stuff swilling about in my brain. It’s helped me feel much lighter and led to a great deal more happy days so this year’s word is all about taking that momentum and moving forward with it headlong into positivity! I’ve always been good at being thankful and reflecting on the many blessings in my life (hey, you don’t get through 30 years of depression without remembering the good things) but this is about conscious gratitude…and also, saying thank you to the folk around me that have lived with and loved me through both the good and bad times.

Time to stop my babbling for a while and go snuggle in bed with the hubs but I leave you with the question:

If you had to pick one word to set your intention for 2014 – what would it be?

With love,

Tipxo

PS I also finally bought one of those lights that are supposed to help with S.A.D – told you I was getting serious about this! 🙂