Weak As A Willow, Strong As An Oak

The saga continues! Both my boys are ill and I’ve had to keep them off school today. Worst part is, now I’ve dosed them up with Calpol, they’re running around the house like happy-go-lucky lunatics. o.O I take comfort in the fact that they have disgusting, chesty coughs and that, even though they’re cheerful, they probably shouldn’t be around other kids.

However . . . I did just have to cancel my second CBT appointment. ūüė¶

It’s not the end of the world. Rational Me knows this and I’ve already spoken with my therapist to clear the rescheduling. However, I’m learning that changes to my plans, especially changes that I can’t control, throw me off balance in a significant way and often leave me raw and unsettled for at least half a week afterwards.

I knew this might be coming. I took precautions yesterday, such as planning ahead with meals and completing a 30 min run that normally would be happening now. I even figured out what my ‘treats’ would be, since my reflex to stress is still to turn to food. I feel I’ll have control and a much better chance of getting through this day unscathed.

oak tree
Credit: PolyLingua

I could have pushed on, stood rigid and tried to continue my day as I planned. I could have forced the boys to school, done my run and then cycled the two miles to my appointment. I could have stood tall, strong (like the oak) and immovable in my plans. I’m aware, however, that at any point in the day, a call from the school would have been likely, asking me to collect my miserable, ¬†lurgy-ridden sons. I consider that scenario to be the gale-force wind from the north.

In that scenario, having change forced on me, interrupting work, possibly having to cut short my CBT, I would have been pissed as hell, stressed and strung out. Like the oak against those winds, my attempts to stand tall would have ended in a big fat crack in my trunk (mind). I may even have toppled over completely.

B&W willow outline
Credit: IggyOblomov

But changing, working with the things I can’t control and working around them has allowed me to avoid breaking and stay standing. Just like the willow which bends with the high winds. It’s supple and loose, ‘weak’ and yet, not.

Heh. The willow has always been my favourite type of tree. I think I know why now.

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Run From The Pain

I’m not having a good couple of days. Okay, week.

I try to identify triggers for low mood, so I can do something about it, but the only thing I can pin point close to when this mood started is the snow last week. It hit last Friday, remember? As a result I wasn’t able to do the last run in my Couch To 5k week one and it really threw me out. In fact, it mucked up my entire day. Then over the weekend I couldn’t find time to slot the run in, so it rolled around to Monday again.

So I started over.

But also, on Monday, I finally (FINALLY!) had my first session of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I’ve been on the waiting list for this since I first got referred by my GP back in April (!!!) and I had thought I didn’t need it any more. Glad I still went in, but boy has it left me raw. And that was just an opening admin session. My therapist believes I have post natal depression (yeeeeey) and that, together, we can work on my behaviours to better cope with regular issues I’ll have day by day just through being a mum (yey – non sarcastic this time).

But I’m guessing it bothered me more than I let on. Then, come Thursday, I skipped into Slimming World expecting something amazing and came away with a measly 0.5lb loss.

aaargh text pain
Credit: dominiquechappard

Meh. A loss is a loss and I should be happy with that, but I was hoping for so much more. But if I’m truly honest with myself, I know that I’ve not been on plan as firmly as I have in previous weeks. So this shouldn’t be unexpected.

Anyway, this morning I woke feeling bleak and decided I would go for a run anyway. It’s the third one of the week which means the first podcast is now complete. I feel somewhat less bleak now, sitting here, having had the exercise. Still, the act of running can be compared to running away from pain/stress/anger/sadness, so from a mental placebo point of view, I do feel like I’ve outrun something. Not sure what though. o.O

But I’m still not myself. I can feel that. And I’m not sure what to do about it.

Unless . . .

My Slimming World Facebook group has been and continues to be super supportive even in an oblique way and many folk have been posting now and then photos. It made me think about this blog and the changes I’ve made since starting it so . . . it can’t hurt to do the same here, right? Just a quick side by side photo to see what’s changed?

Well, let’s see:

Oct 9 2015
Oct 9 2015
Me in my gym gear
Jan 9 2017

Hmm. -_- I can’t see much difference at all, but it’s my body, so that’s understandable. Maybe you can? I don’t normally ask for responses directly, but if you do look at these two pics and see a difference anywhere (beyond location! :-p) it would really help me to hear what you see.

For now, I think I’m going to head off and come up with a nice healthy lunch to take the edge off this made urge to snack I can feel creeping up on me. After all, I don’t want to unravel my knitting, right?

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Why Am I Doing This?

Given the numerous conversations I’ve had about my last blog post, I thought it might be good to talk about the why.

The question/observation I hear most is that my honest and candidness in these posts is that I’m very ‘brave’. I suppose making oneself vulnerable is a pretty scary thing, especially on the internet where people are savage and cruel in a way they rarely are face to face. But I don’t think about that much when I write these posts, mostly because I’m fairly certain no one is reading them!

I’ve made it ‘easy’ for me to share the way I do in several ways:

Credit: Moi
Credit: Moi

1) I consider this blog a diary

This means I’m as open and honest in my words here as I am in the small, dead trees version I have open beside me on my desk right now. The blog won’t work (for me) if I don’t treat it this way, because I’m writing this for myself and, there’s little, if any point at all, in lying or being half truthful with myself.

2) I’m finding patterns that I feel¬†need¬†to be discussed

Weight management, healthy living, mental health. All things that people all over the world struggle with. People close to me. People I love. Random strangers. Famous people. Poor people. Intelligent people. Young/older¬†people.¬†Everyone¬†struggles with one, if not all of these things in their life time. And yet . . . beyond the myriad blogs/websites/books/articles promising quick fixes, ‘five incredible tips,’ ’10 amazing secrets’ and whatever else, I find very little¬†discussion¬†on what these things mean for people in a day to day context. No one talks about how hard it is to get up in the morning, or how tricky it might be to go out, ¬†knowing that there will be people around. No one talks about how they hate looking in the mirror, or that, some days, they can’t find a single thing about themselves that they are happy with. And yet, in private conversations face to face and across instant messaging, people tell me these things all the time. So¬†why don’t we talk about it?!

It would help everyone, so, so much if people felt freer to talk about how they felt. About not being okay. About needing help. And yet there seems to be this mad social taboo that prohibits people from doing so.

Facebook is the worst: it’s packed with smiling photos, chirpy status updates and inane surface stuff that often hides the wreckage underneath. Social media is a projection of how we want to be viewed, not how we actually feel. But because of that, it’s easy to believe that one’s own feelings of misery/depression/anxiety/fear/whatever are purely ours. That we are alone.

This is not the case.

So, I write this blog to do my small part to show people they are not alone.

3) I’m thinking ahead

I’ll be honest here: I’m a writer. I want to write a book about my experiences in managing my physical and mental health, weight and general happiness. I want to reach a point where I can help people, not with a ‘do this guide’, or even a ‘try it my way’ book. What I want to do is share my journey and open up a discussion about what I’ve been through and, by extension, what other people are going through. The book I have in mind will be biographical in the sense that it follows¬†me,¬†but (hopefully) helpful in the sense that I talk about things as they are, not sugar-coated by the need to appear perfect or an underlying desire to make money through promising people a solution to their problems.

So . . . that is the why.

Hmm. Feel better having that clear in my mind.

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Mental Health vs Physical Health

I watched Batman vs Superman yesterday, that may be something to do with the title of this post. But more to do with this post is what I’ve learned over the past few weeks.

You may have noticed that my posts to this blog have become sporadic. Those of you who know me personally¬†may also have noticed that I myself have been sporadic with my usual Facebook interactions, letters, texts and phone calls. In general, contact with the outside world. Even my working blog has taken a hit with far less structured and organised posts. All this is part of the ongoing battle I’m having with my moods and my ability to control/manage them.

I’m not doing very well.

I don’t say that to downplay what I have managed to do over the last month or so. Rather, I want to highlight for myself that I’m becoming more self-aware; noticing how I react to certain situations, what my triggers are and where I ‘fall down’ when it comes to weight management. Because it’s all linked.

It isn’t mental health vs physical health at all, it’s mental health AND physical health. One feeds into the other and an issue with one will, in my case, always highlight problems with the other.

Back in January I stopped running because of my ankle (my first physio appointment is this week, by the way). Because I could no longer ride my bike I also stopped going to the gym. I can confidently say that the middle of January marked the start of a downward trend in my mood, ability to think forward positively and the first wobbles in my (to that point) steady and consistent weight loss. Feelings of helplessness and impotence are not things I handle very well and I see now that losing my ability to exercise in a manner I enjoyed (or at all) had a terrible affect on everything. Now, though I can walk freely, I still can’t run and my six month membership at the council gym, curtsey of the NHS, is over. I can’t get an extension or a renewal as the waiting list is miles long. I feel like I’m stuck in limbo.

I have plans to return to a gym. Plans to return to running after I’ve spoken to whoever is in charge of my physio. Plans to get a firmer grip on my eating habits and learn to control my less than healthy urges. I also have plans to talk more about what’s going on in my head, both in this blog, in my homelife and with a mental health professional.

I can no longer deny I’ve been neglecting my health by refusing to acknowledge that I am to a degree, depressed and anxious about tonnes of different things. I hope, going forward, that by focusing on both mental and physical healthy I’ll see progress towards the person I want to be, inside and out.