Feelings of Okay-ish-ness

capable

I think this is part of the human condition, rather than a function of mental illness (or wellness, for that matter).  We try so very hard to maintain a baseline, and sometimes it floats away from us, due to circumstances not within our control.

Let’s face it…very little is within our control, and especially others’ behavior and inactions and lives — those are exquisitely beyond our control.  And that little fact can drive me a bit mad.  I have the tendency to want to loop my lasso over the horns of every bull and drag it to the ground, and this is simply insanity and I cannot sustain it over the long haul.  I can (and do) work on my own issues, but I cannot *fix* or even (in most cases) alter the path of others’ behavior.

I have been quiet for the past couple weeks, simply living life, and struggling to live it on the terms which are required of me.  There is so much suffering around me and I want to reach out and heal it, but when I do, I often leave myself with scars.  I cannot help you, without being affected myself, and I am not always in a position where I can afford to be affected by anything other than my own complicated existence.

In the past few weeks, my focus has been on living in the moment, general mindfulness, willingness, practicing opposite to emotion.  In other words, Rosa is doing some hard work right about now, and sometimes when I am doing that, I have to disappear a little bit.  Because words are hard to come by, and there have been other challenges that I haven’t wanted to put a spotlight on — very real, very concrete and physical challenges that I don’t know how to wrap my own tired mind around, nevertheless explain them to someone else.

I miss blogging when I don’t do it, but it is necessary for me to shut down, or maybe even reboot my brain every once in awhile.  I haven’t been talking about it, but in the past month I have been dealing with a new mental health diagnosis, the confirmation of a new chronic physical illness, a septic system that is no longer working, the death of an aunt, worries about family members, and with all the recent rain, a basement that is full of water and must be pumped every couple of hours (and the ruin of my HVAC system and hot water heater, with the first wave of rain).

A lot going on, yes, but I am managing because I am living in the moment and not allowing myself to think too far outside of where I am right now.  I also don’t want to feel like I am complaining, because I really do have a great deal to be thankful for.  The challenges keep pouring in on my head, but I continue to have hope and faith that things will work out for the best.  That fact, that I still have hope and faith even with the storms of drama around me, is near-miraculous, as my general tendency (once-upon-a-time) would be to catastrophize and live in panic.  I don’t want to do that anymore, and I actually refuse to do that anymore.

some days are betterwill write more about the new physical and mental health diagnoses at some point, and at another  point I might take a moment to complain about my failed septic/HVAC/basement disasters.  For today, though, I just want to be grateful for things like my LarBear, family, friends, and for my new-found sense of hope and ok-ish-ness.

 

Let Go of This Beautiful Day

I am involved in what feels like non-stop programming to address my mental health issues.  Mondays are my DBT group day, and I joyfully did my homework and filled out my diary card over the weekend, really looking forward to group today because:

  1.  It is probably my biggest form of in-person social interaction over the course of the week
  2. Last week’s group and the few before it were really interesting and fun and we are working on interpersonal skills right now, which happens to be my favorite
  3. I had several things I had wanted to share today, and was also curious to see how my peers’ weeks had shaped up.

Unfortunately, the admin for therapy services called this morning around nine to let me know that group today was cancelled, as the therapist that leads was out sick.  I caught my judgmental thoughts right as they happened — “she probably partied too hard over the weekend” — and tried to reframe it in a way that I wouldn’t feel pissed off or disappointed.  I regret to say that I let the news really spoil my mood for a few hours, but thankfully I didn’t let it wreck my day.

I hate having a schedule that is at the mercy of others’ failings and frailties.  It seems to happen once a week, or maybe every two, that something I am counting on happening (like a group or  a meeting or something similar) doesn’t happen because of something outside my area of control.  No control issue comments or ribbings, the struggle is real.  I work hard, AND need to do better at accepting things as they come, and knowing (with certainty) that things are not always going to clip along at a pace that I can appreciate.

I think the hyper-sensitivity to feeling let down by others stems from experiences over the years of being let down by important people in my life.  I’m not naming names or pinpointing specific period of time, but when I really think about it, one thing I have learned in life is that I cannot trust other people to come through CONSISTENTLY.

So yes, it may be more fair to say that there has been quite a bit of inconsistency in other people, in my life, in other’s hearts for the majority of my life.  Here’s the thing — I am fully ready to radically accept that I cannot change this quality in other people.  I am fully ready to focus on doing only what I can do to maintain my schedule, and to be flexible and fair with other people, as they come in and out of my life.

As for the events of today, my DBT class getting rescheduled and me ending up in a funk over it, I will move on.  I will not harbor any ill will toward the therapist, because, hey…shit happens.  I will take the opportunity to review my diary card and homework with someone who understands it and can provide feedback (such as at my therapy appointment on Wednesday).

At 8:00 p.m., I am reflecting back on my day, and while it didn’t go nearly as planned, while some things fell through and my mood was not to my liking, I can look at it nonjudgmentally and say, “Rosa, today was just a day.  It wasn’t a bad day and it wasn’t a great day, but it was a day that something was learned and there were many very small victories and very few negative points.”

Let’s face it — any day that I get out of bed and brush my hair and leave my house and am upright for the majority of said day, is an okay-enough day by me.

let it go

Taking Back the Happiness Key

Keys

I’m not old by any means, but at thirty-four years of age, I have learned a few things.  Many of them have solidified here in my brain quite recently, but there is no less reason to celebrate, and no other reason to not be joyful that the lessons WERE learned.  I believe that one of the most important lessons I have learned references the above photo, and not letting others hold the key to your happiness.

I spent the majority of my life figuring this one out, and now that it is fairly stuck in my head, I have absolutely no intention on letting it slip back out again.  Not to say that I won’t have moments when I don’t misplace said key or loan it to someone that isn’t worthy, but overall, the key to my own happiness resides within me, and I can’t be any more pleased to have finally figured out this life lesson.

Part of a Rosa problem, is to let the actions (and sometimes inactions) of people around me, bring me down.  Through DBT and individual therapy, and just a whole lot of pondering, I have realized that what other people do or don’t do, is entirely up to them; it is my REACTION only that I control.  If someone acts offensively toward me, I might wonder what that had to do with me, and be very confused (or scared or upset or other negative emotion).

Here recently, I have realized that sometimes people behave badly for no reason (or, no reason to do with something I can control).  I can walk away.  AND, I can walk away with my head held high, because I have learned another lesson the hard way — this is not about me, and not everything IS about me.  I am not the center of most people’s universe, so just because they throw sticks and stones my way, doesn’t mean it is about me.

I wish I could have realized some of these lessons when I was much, much younger.  Growing up in a household where one parent often flew off the handle for (seemingly) no reason, and spending a lot of time thinking that things were my fault — much displaced guilt, shame, fear.

Being in romantic relationships where I was constantly being bullied, although I could never see a *why* in it, but just figured it was something I “had” to take — how I wish I wouldn’t have lingered in those situations so long.  Knowing that I may not have, knowing that I hold the key to my own happiness and it is my reactions to other people (and their behavior) that I am able to control…wow, if I could only have known those things then.

So where to go from here?  I have already stopped taking the bullstuff of others so personally.  When someone around me is having a bad time, I don’t always assume it is because of something I have done.  If I am feeling down or blue or sad or anxious, I have tools that I pull out to make myself feel better.

It doesn’t always work, but it seems that I have learned to better comfort myself, rather than constantly seeking comfort from another person.  Now, I still do seek comfort from others, but I am also now much more likely to do the things I know how to do to comfort myself first.  This makes for better relationships all around, especially if I am not begging someone else (generally QoB or my Dad or LarBear) to comfort me all the time.

comfort myself

via teachingliteracy.tumblr.com

 

 

 

This Week in Gratitude

I used to do a link-up that was a 10-things of thankful, and I did quite enjoy doing it every weekend.  The format has changed now, and I can’t find any linkups, so I decided that at the end of every week, I will go out on my own and do a gratitude post.  There are so many things out there to be thankful for, yet it is easy to not bring them to one’s consciousness in a mindful way.  SO, this is part DBT exercise, part because-I-wanna exercise, and mostly because I want to remember the good stuff, for when the time are NOT so good.

Without further adeiu:

  1.  This week, I am thankful for the four-cup coffee pot my mom purchased for me.  I had a huge coffeepot before, and the result was always that I would drink the entire contents every morning, which would leave me sick.  Ok, so yes, no self-control.  To remedy the situation, I gave up caffeine, but have started to miss it oh-so-much, so this is the solution.  The theory — the less coffee that is made, the less I will drink.
  2. LarBear has been a champ this week (well, every week), but especially this week, with helping me get a caffeine fix every morning even when there was no coffee pot.  I’m not sure why a large coffee at McDonald’s must cost $1.95, but it is clear we will be saving money now with brewing it at home.  Oh, and LarBear can avoid going out in 25 degree weather, all for the sake of a cup of coffee.  I think he will appreciate that!
  3. The very small mouse problem that started a couple weeks ago in my basement (this is what happens when you live in the country), is no more, after Mom’s boyfriend hooked us up with some poison.  I placed it carefully where the dogs couldn’t get to it and there has not been one sign of a mouse ever since.
  4. I am thankful that I have found it within myself to continue to work on giving second chances and third chances and fourth chances to people in my life who, well, may not deserve it (from the outside looking in).  It can be really hard to give up on someone who has been around your entire life, although not impossible.
  5. In a related thankfulness/gratitude moment, I am grateful that I can still see the good in most people, even when it is buried very deep below the surface.
  6. I am excited about Thanksgiving plans, getting to see the Big Dawg’s side of the family, and possibly going to see my maternal grandfather’s side of the family a few days after the big Turkey Day.
  7. Somewhat related, I am very grateful that I am *with it* enough to think about doing these things, and being around all of these people (that I am not used to).  Baby steps, Rosa.
  8. I am grateful basketball season is upon us, and I have already made it to two games at the local college.  Go Bods!
  9. I am thankful for interpersonal communication effectiveness skills learned in DBT, as it seems like LarBear and I get clearer with each other every day, and my other relationships continue to improve, as well.
  10. I am grateful/thankful/proud that I have cranked out almost one post every other day for over a week, and don’t feel any signs of slowing down yet.  I am grateful people still read, still comment, still like, and still listen, even after all this time.  Some of my favorite people are my online blog friends, and I am glad I didn’t mess that up too terribly with my extended absence.

What are you grateful for this week?  Making these lists may seem a bit mundane now, but they are very helpful to look back on in the future when things might not be so rosy.  I know they have helped me tremendously!

Late Night Musings with Rosa 12.20

Perhaps my favorite video of Tom Petty singing my favorite acoustic version of “Walls.”  This has been a weekend so far, of thinking.  Good things have happened, bad things have happened, and I need time to reflect.

Right now I am taking things in, because I notice that I have not been noticing life around me as I should.  I have not been being mindful and I have not been introspective.  I have been selfish with my needs and wants, yet overly helpful to those around me — often reaching out further than I really should, and perhaps what they needed me to.

This little thing called life that is going on right now, this piece of the puzzle, this particular scratch in the record — it will pass.  It must.  It must.  It must.  What lies over the horizon I can’t even begin to predict, and I know that is part of what is killing me bit by bit.  I am a planner and an organizer and I want to know what is going to happen when and with who and (sometimes) the why or how of it.

All of this uncertainty, from things as small (ha!) as what do for Christmas as to if I will still miss DSB and not want to get my heart broken again in the new year to what my nephew will be like as he grows from a baby into a toddler to if I will ever be able to lose the weight I want to lose.

And when?  And how?  And why?

It occurs to me now, as I sit typing this, how I have once again slipped into willfulness and am not letting mindfulness and patience and simple observation take me down the path I was meant to be on.  I am trying to control things that I have no control over, I am trying to change things that cannot or will not change, I am beating my head against a brick wall and wondering why I have a headache.

When I feel really bad, as I have for the last while (but not so much anymore), I tend to stop doing all of the things that make me feel better and that make me the Rosa that people like to be around.  I don’t particularly think that I am that Rosa right now to all people, but I know I am really enjoying my dad and my sister.

I fully admit that I can be hard to be around, that I can be too intense or too sad or anxious or too demanding.  Not everyone sees it that way, however; I can think of two people right off the top of my head that I intrinsically know don’t feel that way, that want my company.

But does that ever happen to you?  That important people in your life seem to want to take a break from you?  Does this mean that the love or friendship or whatever it is, is not there unconditionally?  Or does it mean that this is just people being human?  Or does it mean that you have overstepped your bounds somewhere, and this is all your fault?

I think the answers to all of this are:  “who knows” and “all you can do is improve yourself and change for the better.”  Goddess of Mindfulness has a funny idea about all of this, that she has been sharing with me since I was a teenager.  It is often the people that are messed up AND seeking help who are the most balanced, the most introspective, the most thoughtful, the most likely to change ill habits.

So here I am, “the crazy one” in a sea of “normal people” and I am by far acting the most sane.  That’s just how it is here in Topeka, Kansas.  App;arently I haven’t been drinking the water, because I don’t currently have the crazy.  But that doesn’t mean I am not actively every day seeking to improve and feel better and be more stable and independent.

The hardest thing for me to see is a person I care about suffering, who will not utilize the help that is available to them.  People have to really REALLY want to change in order to change almost every behavior or circumstance, and I am baffled when peop;le who are adamant with me that I seek help, won’t seek it themselves.  Because “that’s different.”  Well, no, it’s really not.

In closing, you do not need to be mentally ill to seek assistance and ask your friends/relations/neighbors/;pastor/anyone for help; in getting through what you need to get through.

I would like to remind that while this post is written as a general musing, it can easily be directed at many in my life.  I am purposely not calling anyone out on the rug, but I want people to think.

If you need help, ask for it.  It will almost always be given, in some form or another.  You do not have to suffer alone and in silence.

 

 

 

Does Better Mental Health Equal an Easier Quit?

You know, when you get ready to quit smoking, you can find some of the most unbelievable “facts” and opinions on the Internet.  Everything from “the only way to quit and stay quit is xyz” to “blood pressure returns to normal within 24 hours” to “the first few weeks are the hardest.”

Well, it might end up, further into my journey, that I call the first few weeks the hardest, but that just isn’t how its going for me right now.  I am on Day 12 and counting, and I am finding it to be so much easier than any of the other times I tried to quit, and much more similar to the last time I quit for an extended period of time (1.5 years).  It just feels easy, it just feels right.

Maybe it is because my mental health is in such a place, that I’m learning once again to focus on the moment, to not dwell on negativity, and to do the things that I know keep me well.  Although over the past month, things have been hit or miss with my mood, I have had several straight solid days, where I felt great, happy even.  Not manic, mind you, just centered and at peace with things, in general, in my life.

I owe a lot of that to be open, willing, mindful, and completing meditation practice every day.  It is amazing how much all of that opens you up to a more beautiful world than you see when feeling poorly.  It feels like the sun is shining down into my brain, my heart, and like any problem I am having right now, is a problem that can be put away, worked through, or I can be made to realize it isn’t as important as I thought it was.

I know I have quit smoking, temporarily before, and I realize I am at 12 days only, and while I will obviously be much more comfortable when I am months or even years from my quit date, I can’t help but feel super confident that this will last.  I have had so many new “revelations” since I quit, so much has already changed, and I just keep waiting for the next surprise to come up.

Before quitting, I was always (no exaggeration) very out of breath.  Even just sitting, I had a wheezy pant going.  Walking across a parking lot was difficult, and walking around a grocery store or any store for that matter, was next to impossible.  I barely moved at home, sitting for long periods of time and neglecting daily chores.  Of course, it didn’t help that I have been sick for the longest time, but I’m talking the most extreme inactivity.

I had forgotten how bad certain things smelled, and now my sense of smell is coming back.  Burnt popcorn smell all throughout the house, stinky fish smell coming from garbage, the smell of smoke steeped into the whole house from years of smoking inside.  It’s all really terrible and, while I am grateful that I can smell these things now so that I can address them before they become a real problem, it’s really kind of gross right now and has been making me quite nauseous  here in the last couple of days.

When I find myself wanting a cigarette, usually after a meal or when driving, I tell myself to wait five minutes, and if after those five minutes are up, I still want a cigarette, I can go buy a pack and have one.  And quite honestly, usually by 2 or 3 minutes, I can’t believe that I was actually entertaining the idea of having one.  Mindfulness really helps with cravings as well, along with deep breathing or rhythmic breathing.

Feeling all that clean air push through my lungs, the irritating cough I have right now while getting all that stuff out my chest, and the ability to smell both good smells and bad smells — well, all in all, I’m loving it.  It is that immediate positive reinforcement for breaking bad behavior that works so well, and I know I would be able to do any of this if my mental health were in poor shape, and for that I thank DBT, mindfulness, and Loving-Kindness.

 

The Beauty of the Loving-Kindness Meditation

I have some good, and perhaps unexpected news tonight.  I, Rosa, have had a GOOD day here this 19th day of September.  Really an all-around good day.  Physically, I woke up feeling relatively fine and only had issues with some crazy awful nausea during the day.  I find that if I sit very very still, this helps.

In the not-too-distant future, I can see myself functioning again.  I can see it and I can believe it and I have taken that photograph with me in my mind’s eye, so that I can keep referring back.  When I meditated this morning, it was a sort-of loving-kindness meditation that I had adapted to do what I wanted it to (my favorite kind).

My words for myself were:

May my body heal.

May my soul straighten.

May my mind be free from other’s drama.

May I live my life today, easy and carefree.

My words for others were:

May you be at ease with your  pain and suffering

May a great joy come to you today.

May you realize I always forgive you.

May you be free from the pain of life, if just for a moment

 

You can really make a meditation into anything you want it to, save that it is helpful to you and/or someone else.  I like the loving-kindness meditations, because “to self” words always soothe.  You must pick them out as particular to you.  These words you are putting into the world, they find people and knock them down and pick them back up again and set everything on course because, well, you are using these words to express love to yourself, which will set everything else afire.

The “to others” words can be particularly strong and powerful, to someone else and to YOU.  The best thing I like to do when starting “to others” words, is to picture a person I don’t much care for, or, even better, one who has caused me pain.  You say these words over and over, to a flawed but perhaps, deep inside, tortured person.  Your words may never mean anything to them, but the words help you to see this person in a different light.

My apologies for interrupting the status update with a little note on mindfulness, meditation, and loving-kindness meditation.  I still have quite the fog circling my brain, but I think I am coming through it.