The Holidays and Mindfulness

Yesterday I had a really good therapy session. In fact, I would even go as far as to say it was great, considering that I almost skipped out on it. I’ve felt very, very depressed over the past two weeks and when I feel this bad I have a habit of wanting to do nothing. Or wanting to do a lot of everything but having such a foggy and unorganized mind that I am only capable of walking in circles and whimpering to myself. 

Therapy was very good for me though, I cried for about half of the time while talking about all the anxiety that I thought was causing such deep, sad thoughts. I told my therapist about the Christmases that have brought me to this sad place, the arguments, the disappointment in the behaviors of others, the ways I’ve felt for some time with each holiday that has passed. I kept apologizing for the tears and the crying and she told me not to be sorry and that we were going to focus on my endless need to apologize in future sessions.

After we spoke of the past she turned the session into a planning of sorts.

“How are you going to handle your feelings this year?” she asked.

I flat-out told her that because the kids would be with Huz on Christmas Eve, I was going to get drunk. She said it was funny that I already seemed to have it planned, where as on normal occasions don’t think ahead about the desire to be intoxicated, or the fact that when I do become a blubbering mess, it isn’t really a forethought, it just turns out to be.

I simply stated, “I know myself.”

She dug a little deeper and brought it out of me that I didn’t really want to get drunk, I honestly just didn’t know what else to do when I knew I was going to be alone for the holiday. She then asked me if there was something that I might be able to do that would make me feel better about myself than the alcohol would ultimately make me feel.

I thought long and hard while taling aloud coming up with a few things that would not so much be a distraction, but more of an entertainment to myself.

  • I talked about being able to enjoy wrapping the gifts and preparing for the small group that I’ve invited over the day after Christmas.
  • I talked about taking a bubble bath and giving myself a much needed manicure.
  • We talked about what movies or music might help me feel happy and she suggested that I could maybe treat myself to a latte or something special that would bring me some happiness while enjoying.

She also (most helpfully) suggested that instead of buying a huge bottle of wine, alternatively, I buy a nice (but small) bottle, plan to only have a glass if I really wanted it, and before opening the bottle use my distraction techniques (that I’ve been successful with) in effort to delay or even avoid the act of drinking.

She then dissected my plan for the day and easily brought me to my own conclusion that I don’t really want to get drunk. I know I will feel awful the next day and probably just sob alone by myself for the evening, which in turn would only make me feel bad, not good. I realised that even though I have many bad memories of Christmases past that they are behind me now and the cycle has been broken.

I CAN feel good about this year and make things good for us, in fact, I am doing just that, little bits everyday.

She also helped me make a plan for Christmas Day, a way to celebrate with new traditions for the kids and I to enjoy. I want to emphasize that our new life can be and feel special, nurturing and stable after all the years of past hostility.

After we discussed my new-found plans for surviving the holidays positively, my therapist introduced me to a new skill that I will be learning in a few weeks in group. She said she thought it would be beneficial to me and something that I could start practicing right away. It’s called Mindfulness. Basically, she explained to me, we have two frames of mind when it comes to decision-making: Emotional Mind and Reasonable Mind. 

  • The Emotional Mind is the passionate part and your thinking is controlled on your emotional state.
  • The Reasonable Mind is your rational and logical part and based only on facts.
  • The goal is ultimately satisfy both parts of the mind, to find a happy medium; this is calledWise Mind.

Immediately, I recognised that I base 95% of my decisions on my Emotional Mind.

I thought that it was 100% but she then pointed out that I would never pay my bills or do anything responsible if my Reasonable Mind was never in charge. I kind of chuckled that she thought I was capable of any reasoning but did realize she was correct – eventually, after much procrastination on “boring” things, that part of my mind does kick in.

She asked if I could think of an example of where I could use this skill and I quickly said that I had a great example.

“Last night I bought my Christmas tree and splurged more than I could afford by ignoring my budget of $30 and spending $75, on not only a humongous tree, but also two wreaths. I ended up beating myself up for it all night!”

She asked me to list what each part of my mind would have been telling me and this is what I came up with:

Emotional Mind:

  • These things will make me feel happy
  • Everything smells so good and this huge tree will look beautiful and festive in my home
  • I want it all

Reasonable Mind:

  • I can only afford $30
  • I want a small tree
  • The wreaths and tree are going to be worthless when the are dried up and trashed in a week or two

Naturally, my emotional mind “won” and before I fell asleep that night I was stressed for hours about the extra $45 which would have paid my water bill for the month. Why did I do that? I questioned myself over and over and felt horrible about the items I purchased to ironically make me feel happy.

Had I known about and applied this skill on my shopping trip I would have applied the technique by finding the common ground between the two to satisfy both my emotional and reasonable mind.

I could have purchased a smaller tree for $30 and allowed myself to buy one wreath for $10 and felt truly satisfied. I wouldn’t have beat myself up had I only gone over my budget by $10 and felt happy to have both a tree and wreath I could afford.

I think this skill is going to work wonders for me but it is going to take a lot of practice.

The hardest part will be allowing myself the time to really weigh out my decisions and put it to good use on a daily basis. I know I will feel empowered and stop wondering why after I make such solid decisions I almost always end up hating myself for the choices I tend to make.

I plan on testing out this new skill today when I go to Bed Bath and Beyond and Walmart to pick up a few last-minute things for the holiday.

Over the next few days I’ll put up some pictures of my big ol’ tree and some snapshots of my almost finished Chrismas decorated home, maybe I’ll share a craft or a recipe also. I guarantee you will get a laugh out of the tree, that is so large that it takes up half of my living room.

Really.

It’s $45 nice though. 😉

 

Another Step Closer

I worked on two projects last weekend; they were rather small projects but ones that are delivering big results in way of usefullness.

First up… Organize my dressers junk drawer:

Organize a drawer?? How can that be concidered a project? Well, have a look at what I removed from a very small drawer and you will see exactly how this can be a project…

I have no shame..

 This drawer hasn’t been cleaned out in a long time.

Three or four years long, but hey, I admit my flaws!

Okay, maybe not EVERY. SINGLE. THING. was in there, but you get the idea… Waaaay too much stuff for one little drawer. Nothing like a jam packed drawer filled with so much that you can’t open it, let alone find what you are looking for to create uneccasary aggravation, right?!

I was completely overwhelmed by the clutter that was on top of my dresser after I emptied the drawer that I honestly wanted to just shove it all back in there and be done with it.

Instead, I bravely took my time and delt with it properly. It seriously took a bunch of little splurts over 3 days (so I wouldn’t have an anxiety attack) to sort everything, fill up a small trash can, untangle 3,000 necklaces and organize it all.

Perhaps something so trival stressing me out is strange, but it’s true.

Luckily, I had extra drawer space since getting rid of Huz’s crap belongings to put all of my things neatly into. 🙂

Here is what all of the keepable stuff looks like now that is neatly tucked away among three drawers…

Jewery drawer.. Still need a better solution but it works for now

Make Up Drawer... Every girl should have one!

Sewing kit & Sunglasses... No sence here but it's not clutter :)

That bottom drawer is empty! Yee haw! Now I need to go buy stuff to put in it! Just Kidding!

Oooh! Did you notice that empty drawer up there?! FANCY! I haven’t decided what to do with yet, but that’s just fine by me 🙂

Naturally, I am still not satisfied and now want to put pretty scented liner in the drawers. Also, Ikea has affordable drawer organizers I’d like to get but I also want to buy shelves for another project and don’t have the funds so I am staying away from there for a while  to make the drawers even better. For now though, since it’s organized, I am satisfied and crossing it off of the list!

Moving on to the bigger, much less time consuming and stress inducing project…  Lamps for my dresser:

When I put my list together, almost a year ago, I had writen on it that I wanted to buy lamps for my dresser. I know a lot of women have a ton of lamps in their home and I always wanted to be that kind of girl, but lamps (along with curtains) have always intimidated me.

First of all, they are expensive. Like, they can be really expensive and with the way I change my mind about what I think works in a room I could never justify shelling out a ton of cash that I don’t have for something that I might not feel happy with. I also have issues commiting to something staying in one spot for a hundred years. Add to that the fact that anything breakable in this home will eventually be broken (Murphy’s Law… aka Isaac) I really didn’t want to couldn’t spend a lot of dough.

My bedroom, in the meantime, has been screaming at me desperately for better lighting. Like each of the other rooms in our home there is a ceiling light fan (I know HGTV is against these with fury but this is real life here.) I love my ceiling fans, they make life easy, simply flipping up a switch and being able to see instead of stumbling around and potentially breaking an ankle  finding a lamp to turn on is a great thing! Also, air circulation and a lovely relaxing breeze while you are sleeping are wonderful things.

While overhead lighting is always a good thing in general, when it comes to reading, mood lighting, and say.. applying makeup, ceiling lights just aren’t bright enough.

So into the world of lamps I reluctantly dove, but not without first making things a wee bit difficult. How can one turn buying lamps into a complication? With stipulations. Of course!

I have a fairly large dresser and could eaisly put two lamps on it, but I really don’t care much for clutter and two big lamps would make the dresser feel crowded plus they’d hog up the mirror and I wasn’t too interested in doing that. This brought me to check out wall scones (I believe that’s what they are called)  but because of my fear of commitment and the firewall that my dresser is up against there was no way to install hardwired lamps.

Lamps would totally clog this dresser up...

I happily discovered that they make plug in lamps for the walls and they can look nice, so my search began. Unfortunatly, the selection isn’t all that big for such. Pottery Barn certainly has a beautiful selection of these lamps but they come with a hefty price tag.

I almost splurged a few times but in the end decided that paying my electric, gas, water and cable bill for the month was the more mature gosh, I hate being an adult descision.

So, for affordable lamps I searched. And searched.

While on my most recent trip to Home Depot I finally lucked out and found the perfect plug in wall lamp sconey things for my budget. They matched my new celing fan and switch plates that I had installed two months ago and they were affordable so I scooped up a pair. I even felt confident enough with my “savings” that I bought an area rug for my room and a runner for the hallway and still spend less than if I had splurged on the Pottery Barn lamps!

Hanging the lamps up weren’t all that difficult. I used my Better Homes and Gardens “New Decorating Book” to determine the placement of the lamps and measured and marked the walls with a tape measurer and a level with confidence.  In the spirit of how my projects go, of course, getting the fasteners in the wall turned a bit disasterous for a few moments but in the end the lamps are even (and I think secure) on either side of my dressers mirror.

Finished projects

Let there be light! It’s so great to be able to put on makeup without traveling from mirror to mirror in search of good light! Yippee! I think they look pretty nice and for the price of $50 each I love them!

My room is still far from being finished but that’s okay, it will get there and it gives me things to look forward to! 

 

A Writer Who Doesn’t Write

I’ve been active in therapy for a little over a month now and I have to say it has taken much more out of me than I would ever expecct it to. I know that it is good for me, in fact I can FEEL it being good for me in little ways already, but at the same time it’s really made such a mess in my head.

For years now I knew I would benefit by talking to someone, in fact, I’d say that my mental health has been in need of rescue for over ten years, but I always just figured I was depressed. About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with depression by my family doctor, given some meds and told to speak with a proffesional. I was full of fear when it came to talking to someone though, so I just took my meds and when I felt better stopped taking them and believed myself to be cured. I actually did well for a few years that way and learned to cope with feeling depressed as if it were just a normal part of me. After this last year though, it got to the point that every doctor I saw was telling me to seek counciling and I felt so depressed that death started to occupy my mind daily. I knew I needed help and finally made that first phone call to get help.

It took about two months before I actually started therapy from the day I made that first phone call because of a long waiting list and the various evaluation tests I needed to take during a long intake evaluation. During those two months I honestly couldn’t tell you if I was coming or going. My mind was so foggy with emotion and confusion I thought for sure it was going to totally fail on me. I did a lot of research on mental health during the last three weeks of waiting for an actual appointment and became well aware of the fact that it wasn’t just depression I was dealing with.

I had mentioned a few posts back that I was suffering from a eating disorder, at the time when I wrote that my thinking was just along the lines that I had recognized it and all would be well and I’d change it. That’s not how it works though. I really do have an eating disorder and I am activly working on getting it under control. It’s hard to “fix”; believe it or not. Much harder to change than it was to just admit there was something wrong. In fact, every behavior (there are quite a few) that I have been working on changing is much harder than I thought it would be.

During this past month I feel as if my mind has been quite crippled. I’ve had an extremely hard time making much sence of anything that has been going on and admit that I’ve felt extremely overwhelmed by not only the thoughts that are jumbled in my head but with life in general. I had a few weeks where I just kept beating myself up for being so “crazy” and for the fact that I need such intense counceling that I’ve almost let it bcome a crutch of sorts. My mental state has become an excuse for why I hadn’t been getting things done that I normally love to do (writing, projects, styling) and seemed to be feeding my irrational additude towards life.

After talking with my therapist this week and being reassured by her that I’m not “insane” and while a majority of my actions don’t always makes sense to me when looking back, they do, in fact, serve a purpose. Changing the way that I’ve dealt with things and responded to people with past behaviors are eventually going to be replaced with more positive and meaningful behaviors.

Now that after a month of therapy has gone by I feel like I’ve allowed myself to feel crazy and out of control. I’ve given myself the okay to not be so well and have taken a mental “vacation” just to come to terms with everything I have finally understood about my mind. I was feeling helpless and scared but I do understand now that my illness does not need to define who I am. I am a strong woman and the patterns I taken on over the years did serve a purpose, they allowed me to survive through many difficult events but they are no longer useful to me and I am learning a whole new way to deal with life.

I am receivivng Dialectical behavior therapy, in individual sessions and soon in a group setting as well. This type of therapy is aimed to help people control their emotions and destructive behaviors. From what I’ve read this therapy has been very successful in helping people regain control of their lives. I am not taking any medications to get me through this and I feel great about that.

Is it scary to have a mental illness? You bet. Am I worried that I won’t recover, well maybe a little, but the goal is to recover and all I can really do at this point is try my hardest.

I suppose this post has really been holding me back from writing. I mean, I really wanted to talk about what I’ve been going through but I didn’t really know what people would think. I wanted to be able to help people who might also be going through a rough mental state, but I know at this point I am the blind. I really wanted to get this out though because it is a huge part of who I am and I’ve always tried to be an honest writer. I am not going to edit this because I fell like I will only delete it and then never get it out and maybe not write anymore so forgive me if this doesn’t make perfect sence or has a lot of errors. I need to move forward though and the best way to do that is to start.

I hope this post will help me get past this block I’ve been suffering through and I hope that I won’t loose readers now that I’ve openly talked about the issues I am working on. Though I have only really talked about my therapy in this post I think I might be able to talk more about what disorder I am dealing with in future posts.

This was really hard to write but I do feel better for getting it out.