The last month has been quite a struggle for me, and the next couple months are sure to be some of the more challenging ones for me to deal with and I like to believe that I’m enough self-aware to know when I can be helpful and when I need to step back a bit.
I have been doing the best I can to turn things around, but the “spark” is just not there right now, and I’m burning through the little energy that I do have to continually try to light the fire inside.
I am going to continue with my affirmations, continue down a path where I seek out a connection with a higher power in search for a purpose. I feel this is the only direction left for me at this time.
Recently I shared the feeling of indifference that had overtaken me as I struggled to manage my goals around weight and the choices I was making. As I was having a difficult time getting back to my routine – I heard an internal voice that said “sometimes, the Devil just wins…”.
I don’t speak in terms of “God” or “The Devil”, so this really stood out to me and I was aware of how odd it seemed. It felt foreign, but as I nodded my head in defeat – I felt a weight lift. It was a calmness – albeit a somber one. I suppose this was because the battle between what I wanted and what I was fighting to get it had ended in my acceptance of giving up.
The next thoughts that I had were around further isolation, and using the coping mechanisms that I knew of to deal with the depression, anxiety, grief, guilt, shame, and self-hatred that haunts me.
Whatever makes me numb
Whatever makes me forget
Whatever makes me disconnect
Whatever makes me disappear
Thankfully, I was able to work through these thoughts, share some of them, and the same self-awareness that told me these thoughts seemed “off” has told me to question them and their source.
As I am working through these things – my negative energy is of no use to others, and for the reason, I’ve decided to pause until I’m in a better spot. I will leave the site up until it’s renewal period as the positive content about chasing goals, and the power of choice are real and things that I’ve experienced first hand. I also believe in the law of attraction and know that until my thoughts move away from such a dark place — they aren’t helpful.
Thanks for taking the time to read and I wish you all the best in your own journeys.
After attending several online meetings related to my binge eating and food addiction, I found myself struggling and had a feeling like something was off. The logical part of me couldn’t come to grips with surrendering that my eating had become out of control – but that it was then OK to eat a meal (of normal portion size) afterward. This statement within the first and second steps made me conflicted and confused. To me, the dots didn’t connect because I didn’t consider myself “in recovery” – so I was attending meetings, trying to accept my situation and give power to *something else* and then eating – with similar bad patterns. For someone with an addiction problem, abstinence is the goal – but with an eating disorder – it must be something different – since not eating isn’t an option. I suppose that it’s all about the balance and moderation, making healthy choices and avoiding the unhealthy activity (in my case – binging). My logical side – the one that had lost the significant weight before knows that there is no easy way around losing weight – it’s a method and one that required great control, persistence, determination and tenacity. The losing weight part isn’t something to me that I can let *something else* be in charge of – it’s something I need to be accountable for in the end. Through some talking – I realized and restated that I do know how to lose the weight. My issue was that when I lost the weight – the happiness I thought would be there – wasn’t. There were still other things that I hadn’t addressed that needed fixing for me to fully embrace and celebrate the change that I had worked so hard to achieve. I needed to find a combination that would offer more than that – and something that felt right for me.
I think it’s important to call out that “right for me” statement above – because this was a very similar feeling and sentiment that I had when I first found the program that I followed to lose over 200 pounds. What I want to highlight is the “feeling” – because if you’re like me – you’ll search and search until you find something that you believe will work. If it *feels* right – that indicates that you’re on the right path to *believing* it will work – which is a huge part of the battle, and one that struck me as too significant not to call out as a similarity from my first journey.
The plan that I have talked myself into is one that allows me to focus on losing the weight I have put back on. Weighing in at nearly 390 pounds has me at a state of desperation to do something that will stop the gaining and move back toward losing. Since I have had success in the past on the ultra-low calorie, low carb, high protein type plans – that is where I’ll return. It is a familiar space for me, a familiar routine, and one that I know over time (with hyper-diligence) will work without fail. I also know that it’s not long-term healthy, nor will it alone bring me to a spot where I magically find “happy”.
For that reason, I am going to continue to work on the emotional and spiritual in parallel. This may be a challenge, as it will be quite a bit to focus on and will most definitely take away from other areas in my life – and may cause me additional stress. From previous posts, you know how I feel about stress, and that I believe it drains from willpower and the effort needed to make new positive choices – rather than default, autopilot ones which may not be as positive. My anxiety is at what I would call an extremely high level right now – I am fearful to leave my house for any reason and avoid it at all cost. The lawn is about two weeks overdue for cutting, but I am not able to bring myself to being in my yard to do it. I would rate my depression at a medium level – I’m open to change and forward progress – which is always good. The daily dark thoughts have moved along for the time being.
I am taking back my power – one choice at a time.
My first official day back on the plan was Monday. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to stick to the eating plan for two full days. I know the journey ahead is long and I’m going to pack my patience with each new day. I’ll be using many of the tools that I’ve posted about previously that help me in the journey, and will hopefully be able to share new ones I find along the way.
I’ve been thinking a lot about “Good” and “Evil” this past week. The concept of something outside of ourselves influencing our decisions has me thinking about Angels and Demons.
I would classify myself as a “spiritual” but not “religious” being. I do believe that there is *something else*, but I don’t put a label on it outside of that. I also have an aversion to any organized religion as I view those who choose to make themselves responsible for holding ceremonies or community outreach as a business first before anything else. I’m of the thought that I can believe in something – but I shouldn’t be pressured into paying someone else to validate that belief.
I also think that personally, I find comfort in believing that those who have passed on are still around and available to watch over those of us left behind. It’s that *something else* and the memory of the loved ones that I find myself asking for strength and guidance when I am able to ask for it.
In my last post, I mentioned that I felt that along with depression and anxiety that I feel that I may also be fighting addictive issues – most recently with my food choices. As part of my research down that path – I attended several anonymous online meetings. In one of the meetings someone mentioned that they felt quite depressed and were isolating. They talked about sabotaging themselves by ‘accidentally’ deleting all the contacts from their phone, and went on to say that “something didn’t want me to talk to them”. This statement struck me immediately as I have had that feeling of actions of sabotage that came from a spot that I find a hard time explaining. In short though – I have them often – and I would relate to this as the “evil” of my *something else*. I’ve fought the urge to leave this blog in place this week as I have had no fewer than four moments where I was about to take it down.
At this point, we get to the main topic of this post – I’ve been wondering why it seems that there is an internal struggle between doing what is good/healthy/positive vs. bad/unhealthy/negative.
I do understand the power of positivity and the concept of we are what we think. Positive thought patterns are more likely to bring positive feelings and outlook. Negative thought patterns are more likely to bring negative feelings and outlook. This leaves me scratching my head though – as to why there can be times when I’m riding the positive wave and it can crash into a brick wall of negativity that stops it dead in its tracks. Sometimes it feels that way – but others it can be a much less noticeable negative thought that can throw things off – like a crack in a railway rail lying unnoticed but able to break the integrity of a regularly strong structure resulting in what may be disastrous.
While the idealistic view of controlling and questioning thoughts makes sense, I also tend to research (and at times over-research) things. The initial reason that I started doing more searching on this topic is because psychology and what I’ve read about how this is treated when it comes to depression, anxiety and other disorders doesn’t make me feel great about it. Let’s just say I’m not ready to say that all my thoughts and feelings are wrong and that I need to question every one of them and then apply a formula of ABC’s against them to reason my way to making my thought/emotion/belief inconsequential. It, of course, is based on my experiences, what I’ve been taught and lead to believe as true. Belief is a powerful thing. I’m reminded of a John Mayer lyric – “Belief is a beautiful armor, but makes for the heaviest sword, like punching underwater, you never can hit who you’re trying for…”
One of the best descriptions of reasoning in regards to the evolution of our subconscious mind vs. conscious mind can be found here. The person who created the post asked the question, “Why is our conscious mind at odd with our subconscious mind”There is a lot of good information in the first response, but the part that stuck out to me while trying to find the reason behind the “good” and the “evil” feeling is …
“We fear our own next bad behavior will render our idea of ourself even worse than it is, and seek to cognitively control our behavior so as to maintain our present status of acceptability (however poor that status is). And in order to control our behavior, we needed to formulate concepts of what constitutes good and evil behavior. And our feeding upon this tree of the knowledge of good and evil (to help us better cognitively control our behavior), which is our species deepest and most destructive coping mechanism, set us at odds with the part of our conscious existence, our subconscious mind , which is a threat to cognitive control of our behavior.”
Perhaps the best part of the response though – was the conclusion…
“Your question about the nature of of the conflict between the subconscious mind and the cognitive mind is a rather significant question. I suggest we each work out this issue in our own life, and do so until we find some kind of meaningful answer to it for our own life.”
Which allows me to feel and believe that my search for the answers for my own life is worthwhile. Therefore – I’ll keep searching, develop a plan that feels right to me, and stay hopeful that I’ll find meaning in life – or at least maybe a bit of peace.
It has been another week of reflection, reaching deep inside and doing some soul searching, and although I don’t think I like the answer – I may have found an answer – or at very least – something to explore further.
My inner dialog is interesting to me, as I search out answers to what I think are problems. I’m sure that I’m not alone in my general feeling of having things that I want to change, but the tough part is when I try to understand the “why” of the conversation. There are many perspectives of “why” that come into play – the “why do you want to change that?”, “why can’t you just accept you for you?”, and the more negative “why bother?”.
I’ve been on a steady incline in the numbers on the scale and have felt quite out of control with the situation. The higher the numbers get, the more lost I feel, the more I dislike myself, the more weapons my mind seems to pick up and shred my self-esteem with vigor! It’s a nasty cycle of depression, anxiety, self-hatred, self-loathing, and learned hopelessness.
Deep, deep down – there is my logic sector. The part that reminds me that I know that everything comes down to the choices I make, and if I’m unhappy with the choices I’m making – I can change them. This sector and it’s stupid logical thinking usually frustrates me and causes me to activate another area that is more focused on emotion – it’s also the area filled with “why”. It’s a dangerous area for me because logic drowns in that area.
On this horrible one-directional roller coaster ride of weight gain that I’ve been riding lately – I’ve noticed some things and I need to be honest with myself. I’ve been binge eating. I’ve been hiding my eating, and eating the bad options when I’m alone. In a culmination of horrible decisions last weekend I overate to the point of feeling sick, and then it happened – I was sick.
After cleaning up the mess I knew that I needed to think on where I’ve brought myself to and how it is affecting me physically as well as mentally. Over lots of thought and searching, I landed on “food addiction”.
Others may have been able to get to this same conclusion earlier than I – but I’m pretty good at masking / not being *fully* honest when it’s convenient for me, so it may not be apparent to everyone around me.
I told myself that I just needed to stop with the bad food, with the binge eating, and just get back on the program that helped me lose all the weight in the first place. I listened closely for a response… and then heard a soft, meek inner voice say “I can’t”. At this moment I realized that it really may be addiction.
I gave myself some time to let these feeling soak in and didn’t immediately jump to conclusions. I was gentle with myself for the first time in a long time.
I started thinking back to the program that I was on when I lost all the weight. It was extremely restrictive and I was determined to lose the weight. I had wonderful success with it – right until the final phase. In this final phase, I was told that we could add “cheat days” back into our new healthy lifestyle. I was hesitant about this – as I had been avoiding such things with all my might for 14 months at this point.
Slowly I introduced them back in, and looking back I can clearly see that I did have a struggle with it at first. Then as weeks turned to months, I started making it two cheat days a week instead of one. Then as my stress level built and I started to see a bit of the weight come back on – I started to doubt myself and then two cheat days became three and so on. This pattern didn’t stretch (pardon the pun) to the point it has now overnight – it has been a little over a year.
I think that I’m realizing that the introduction of the cheat day was a bad thing for me, because I think (with pretty good certainty) that I’m addicted to certain “bad” foods. I also have an “all or nothing” mindset that makes it very hard to do the “all things in moderation” style of life.
So – where does this leave me? Well – I think that I have a problem that I need to make the choice to address. I know that there are options out there, and I need to battle through the feelings of anger, shame and anything else that comes up (anxiety, depression, self-hatred) that may get in the way of good progress to a better place.
I’m not certain if this will work, I’m not certain if I’ll be able to commit to the change needed to be successful. The only thing I’m certain of right now is that I’m not done… I’m not giving up just yet.
I’m a dreamer. I often set goals for myself and take action to do my best to realize these goals. I also suffer from bouts of depression that make it very difficult to feel like it is worth setting any goals let alone finding the energy to work toward accomplishing anything. As I type this blog post, I have just returned from a counselling session where it was clear that my energy and mood is at a low. Although this is not the best time for me to write out my thoughts – I had set the goal of publishing this post today and I’m going to push through and do it, because I feel that it is worth the effort for me to share my experiences in hope that you will relate or be able to take something from them. So – let’s dive in…
I believe that if you’re going to dream – why not dream big?!? Dreaming big to me is all about thinking on an idea and then growing that idea until it is just large enough to make me feel like I’m stretching the ability of what I can accomplish to the limit – and then I’ll think on it more and wonder what else is possible. I realize that statement is a bit vague – so I want to give you a real world example from my life experience.
In August 2016, I started walking in nature as an experiment to find the tie between our body and the natural environment. There have been many studies that show that spending time in nature is good for the body, the spirit and the mind. I had stumbled across a post about the David Suzuki 30×30 Nature Challenge – a challenge to spend 30 minutes a day for 30 days in nature. I thought – “why not?” and decided to give it a try.
On my first day out in the park I visited I noticed some beautiful flowers and a large observation deck that seemed quite interesting to me – so I took a picture of each. The next day, I noticed a few more interesting things and so I took pictures of those. I shared them on Facebook and by the third day I was finding things that were really beautiful (to me) that I hadn’t noticed previously. I started to feel an urge to want to share this experience and the excitement I was having with others. I had the idea of taking at least a picture a day for the 30 days that I would be out in nature and sharing them in some way with people. This is a pretty simple idea, but I thought on it a bit and thought – “what about if I created something that contained the pictures that could be shared?”. I immediately had the often present, negative voice in my head say “why?”, and “how are you going to do that?”. I held those thoughts at bay while I decided to start small – I would look to see if I had any software at my disposal that could help me with this simple project and it turned out that I did. So, I ignored the negative voice and pressed forward one small step at a time – I collected the photos each day and after 15 days of being in nature – I created and shared the item below.
I received some nice feedback about the pictures and the format. It motivated me to think on the original idea more. Each day I continued to spend in nature – I allowed myself to dream up bigger plans for sharing the beauty of this park with others. I was also collecting quite a bit more photographs to choose from, so my next “dream big” idea was selecting a subset of all of the ones taken in the 30 days and choose my 30 favorite. As weeks passed – it turned out that I had taken so many pictures that I changed the idea (grew it bigger) into 50 favorites – and I had decided stick with the “moments” theme and decided that however I shared them – I would call them “50 Moments”.
As I started to think about picking the 50 favorite photos to share – I “dreamed” bigger and thought – “what about if I found a way to frame some of the nicer photos?”. Again – my negative voice came into play – but I allowed myself the time to think on it and started small – I took a couple of my favorite shots to the local Walmart and was able to print them in a larger format 8×10 and picked up a couple frames. I hung these as inspiration for me while I continued to sort through the collection of photos, choosing the 50 that would be shared.
It was around this time that I had seen an ad for a local market that was happening at the Visitor Centre in town. This building also doubles as the “arts” centre – and displays local artists work each month. By now – you know where my mind went – “hmm. I wonder if I could put a few of my photos on display here?”. I’ve learned that it never hurts to ask – so I did just that. I collected the artist submission information and I filled out an application to have a part of a table at an upcoming exhibition dedicated to the work that would come out of the “50 Moments” idea. To my surprise – my application was approved and I had secured a spot. Within two weeks of that notification – I received another email letting me know that the other artist that was doing the full exhibition where my photos would be featured wasn’t going to be able to do it – so I was offered the full exhibition space for the month of March 2017.
Most people would have been scared to death at the thought of doing a full photo exhibition – I know that I was… but I gave myself permission to think on the idea and to dream big. What an opportunity this could be – I’ve never done a photo exhibition – heck I hadn’t really done too much in the way of framing my photos – but since I had just challenged myself and done that – “why not?” try this and do the best I can – one small step at a time.
It was October 2016 and I knew that I had several months to prepare for the exhibition – so I started small. I finished selecting my 50 favorite photos. I decided to work on taking my absolute favorite top ten and framing them as large 11×14 prints. By this time I was also starting to get better at manipulating and preparing the photos for print. I was learning new things along the way.
I knew I would need a lot more than just this to fill a full exhibition – so I started dreaming again – and I thought about the idea of creating a photo book with the 50 photos and perhaps some postcards of the top ten that people coming to the exhibition to look at and take as a souvenir. I let my mind roam again and thought about creating some additional content, a pamphlet, that talked about the other benefits I experienced while spending time out in nature. I started small – with things that I had access to – and where I didn’t have access – I looked for resources close to me that might allow me to use resources – like the local library. I was diligent in the think big, start small steps along the way and in February 2017 I self-published my photo book “50 Moments in August”. In March – I was able to fill a small room with a variety of framed photos, postcard photos, large format framed photos, information pamphlets, flyers and even a 3 x 4 foot canvas print of one of the photos. The exhibit was so well received that I was invited to submit another application for a future project.
If I were to stop here – I think you would agree that the story illustrates how a simple idea (taking a picture and sharing it for the enjoyment of others) can grow if you allow your mind to dream big. Here are just a few more things that came out of this idea as I continue to allow it to grow.
The exhibition was seen by a few people – one of them a local librarian – who asked me to be the featured artist in the month of August 2017.
I was invited to speak at the library and put together a full PowerPoint presentation filled with research that tie together the benefits of nature with the inspiration to create. People showed up and engaged in conversation with me for almost an hour. This was way outside of my comfort zone – but an amazing experience.
I launched a project for those participating in the 30×30 Nature Challenge to extend their experience and to create something to be shared with others. The project is called “50 Moments Creative Challenge”
The exhibition was seen by an artist group that led me to create a contact with another non-local artist group that was advertising and looking for stories about nature – I submitted a story and was published in their online magazine.
This is just one example of many that I have – and trust me when I say that I know that it’s not easy to fight through life’s struggles to set goals. For me – it comes in waves – there are days when the smallest step forward is going to consume all of my energy. There are others when I’m able to make progress and feel like I’m getting somewhere. Also – I hesitated to share photos / links – but I forced myself to as I think it adds a level of authenticity to let you know that I’m not making it up, but please know – I’m not trying to sell you anything.
This is what I hope you’ll take from this post –
Be Naive and Curious – Ask questions, Instead of “why” – think “why not?”
Don’t wait for someone (or worse yet – ourselves) to tell you that you can’t do something. I beg to differ – I think you can do anything you feel is worthy of doing. Explore – just because I hadn’t framed pictures I didn’t let that stop me from dreaming up the thought and belief that I could do a photo exhibit.
Be Authentic and Courageous – if you want something ask for it.
You’d be surprised how many people are happy to help you reach your goal. There are many people that have talent / knowledge that you might not know about that could help you in reaching your goal – but they can’t if you aren’t brave enough to let others know about it. This includes me – if you’re thinking of doing some project, dream or goal – let me know about it – I’m interested in your journey and how I can be supportive of it.
Be Generous and Compassionate – Work hard to Give More than you Get
It’s a cycle – if you are fortunate enough to receive – work hard to pass something on to the next person that you can help. By doing so, you’ll end up receiving more than you could imagine.
Here’s what I’m taking from pushing myself to create this post –
Even though I’m in a low spot in terms of mood and energy – I’m pushing forward with one small step at a time and I’m going to do my best to keep dreaming big.
Depression is a beast. The worst part of depression as I know it is that it sticks around – hanging out at the back of the room, listening in on conversations, making mental notes to bring up at times of weakness. It seems to come in cycles / waves for me. I have to fight through the lows and do my best to take advantage of the highs.
Allow me to do my best to describe a recent low period and see if any of this resonates with anything that you’ve experienced:
When I’m in a low, my negative self-talk is at an all-time high. I dislike everything about myself, and most everything that is presented to me. I go through phases of extreme self-loathing and have feelings of social isolation. I find that I can’t relate to anyone or anything and it frustrates me and makes me angry. I’ll even start to start to hold disdain for others – being envious of their “perceived” happiness and normalcy.
Mainly mental, but at times physical – I won’t want to do anything. I won’t be open to new thoughts or advice, I will flip anything given on it’s head and find the reason that it won’t work for me. I will have thoughts of doing something – and almost immediately that thought will be replaced with a “who cares” or “why bother” thought – causing me to stew in the negativity and find more reasons to be frustrated or angry that I won’t do the thing that I “just know” that others are able to do – which circles right back around into more self-hatred / bashing.
Loss Of Hope
When I’m deep in my depression – my mind and heart hold little hope for anything. It’s a dark place where I do everything I can not to give up. Days or weeks can become a blur as time just passing with little to no meaning or purpose. It’s very hard to see a way out, or even believe that there is one.
When It Gets Really Dark
There are times when it gets really dark and thoughts turn to ones that are not safe. I’ve been there and if you’re there and you’re reading this – please search out help. Ask anyone that you’re comfortable with asking. There are national, local and online resources that can help. I’m not a doctor and how each person deals with these tough times is specifically unique to each of us. Two things that have worked for me in the past are – searching for gratitude in earnest. I will do all that I can to stop my thoughts long enough to think of one thing in my life that I’m thankful for and one person that has been there for me in a way that has affected my life in a positive way. I’ll use all of my energy to focus on those for a moment. Another thing that I’ll try and do is to search out a way to help someone else in need. I’ve often found that I can lose track of my own concerns by finding ways to help others. This distraction is, at times, just what I need to shift my thoughts.
The ways that I cope with my depression is to acknowledge it and to force myself to believe that it is cyclical in nature. I have to realize that there will be good days and there will be bad days. I work hard to be active and mindful of my energy level and tolerance for accepting and embracing change. When the times feel right – I work extra hard to take action. Some days I’ll be able to make great strides forward to my goal, others not as much – but as long as I don’t slide backwards – in the end – I’ll eventually reach it.
Allowing A Change Of Plans / Practicing Kindness
I also give myself the room to change plans and be flexible in how I move toward the goal. As mentioned above – there are times when I have great days and times that I don’t. I test my attitude each morning through my daily affirmations. If I’m feeling committed and locked in on my goals – I ride that wave and work to have the best day possible. If I’m not feeling it – I do the best I can that day and remind myself to live that day for just that day. No matter what – I start the day with my affirmations – and then I trust my gut on how I’m feeling. I practice patience with myself and allow myself room to breathe and change plans, if needed. I use the phrase – “Give myself today by forgiving myself today”. I say this to myself because I know that I’m not perfect and I need to be OK with that – while I’m doing my best to be the best I can be.
Depression can strongly affect our ability to love ourselves and to plan for the future. I want to end this post with these words:
You may not be ready to hear it… but you ARE good enough. You may not be ready to feel it… but you ARE worthy. You may not be ready to accept it… but I BELIEVE in you.