Tag Archives: stress

The Missing Link

I am doing really well with getting myself moving most days. I’ve walked, run, or done yoga every day this week so far. Overall, I’m eating much better and more regularly, which is a huge struggle for me. (Last fall/winter, I was so very stressed out that I generally only ate if someone was there to see that I wasn’t eating. I developed an extreme hatred of food and dread of eating to the point that the thought of eating anything at all would make me nauseated. There was a point that I had trouble eating anything that I had to chew and subsisted on a liquid diet of coffee, smoothies, and wine. Surprisingly, that is not a recipe for optimal health, which is disappointing, because I’m pretty sure that weight loss book would’ve been a huge hit and I’d be a millionaire by now. BUT ANYWAY.)

Ahem.

Yes.

Exercise: good!

Food: mostly good!

Mindfulness: coming right along, but I have been slacking off a bit this week.

So, you ask with bated breath, on the edge of your seat, white-knuckled in anticipation, what is that missing link of which Amy speaks?

This is me, today. I’ve averaged about 5 hours/night for the last I don’t know how long. Some people may be fine with that, but I am not. I need between 6-7 hours to be fully functional.

I could probably turn off the light in my office, pull my blanket over me (it is unreasonably cold in my office) and fall asleep right now. Sadly, siesta-ing is not a thing in the US or I’d do it.

My problem is that I just don’t go to bed. I’ve had insomnia in the past, but this is not that. Once I’m in bed, I listen to my “go to sleep” meditation, and I’m out within the 12 minutes the meditation runs 95% of the time.

BUT BUT BUT! I need that time to be awake and at home and present! And since I’m going to bed too late, I’m not getting up early enough to have it in the morning.

The other problem? I really, really like my housemate. I enjoy spending time with him just existing. We watch a couple shows, chat about our days, and usually are working side-by-side on the couch on various projects (websites, blogging, writing, playing mindless games on our phones [that one might just be me]).

But this lack of sleep is really starting to take a toll.

 

I’m good at making positive changes – the last few weeks have shown that. Now I need to address this one thing that is making it harder to maintain the rest of my positive changes. I’m sans housemate for the next three nights (although the wee one will be home, but he’s usually asleep by 7:30, so I’m not too worried about him keeping me up) and I am going to go to bed (in bed, lights out, meditation playing) every night by 10:45.

I’ll report back on Monday and let you know how it went. My dream? That I did this without fail for three nights in a row and then used my newfound energy to run (Saturday), do a strength training routine (Sunday), and write about 6-8K words on The Ruby Blade.

Acceptable? If I get anywhere remotely close to success (as in, I don’t stay up until midnight watching tv and playing phone games and not writing).

Happy weekend!

 

Three Things Thursday: Health & Wellness Edition

Funny story! I’ve been having some…uhhh…issues with my lady bits for a few months now. As soon as I was re-hooked up with health insurance, the very first thing I did was make an appointment to get that checked out. It was pretty exciting! In addition to scoring my “now you’re 40” mammogram, I won a transvaginal ultrasound! (Yes, it is just as much fun as it sounds.) I also won a second doctor’s visit that came complete with a surprise bonus pelvic exam and a surprise cervical biopsy. (Nothing says Saturday afternoon fun like an unexpected Kevorkian curette all up in your business.)

ANYWAY, the diagnosis is that my endometriosis, which has been decently well-managed for the last few years, is angry and trying to kill me. In addition to being wickedly Vitamin D deficient, I’m borderline anemic because of delicate lady reasons.

The doc and I decided that the best way to deal with this is a complete hysterectomy. I’ve been trying to convince someone to cut out my baby-growing shizz for nearly 20 years, and now that I’m 40 (and sterilized), apparently I can make that decision for myself without consulting a man. (When I tried to get one when I was 23, I was told that I couldn’t because my future husband might not approve. Some random hypothetical dude’s opinion was more important than mine. Tell me about why we don’t need feminism?) However, I need to take 2-3 weeks off work for a hysterectomy, and since I’m in week 6 of my new job, not only do I not have the time built up, but it seems kinda unprofessional to disappear for almost a month. Nothing says I’m using you for your health insurance like scheduling a major surgery less than 2 months into your job.

 

So…in the meantime, what am I going to do to managed this horrific situation? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Endometrial ablation next week. Go ahead and click the link You know you want to. This outpatient procedure ought to eliminate/greatly reduce the worst symptom, allowing me to concentrate on managing the others.
  2. Strict AF diet & exercise regimen. The last 18 months took a toll on my physical health. Stress/divorce/job loss/working from home/moving (twice)/single momming – all of this resulted in an upwards weight creep and a downwards fitness creep. If I want to manage the symptoms, I need to be good at taking my supplements (gotta get my blood happy again and definitely need my once-a-week mega-dose of that D) and losing the weight that stress and anxiety and depression gave me. (Honestly-that’s a shit gift and there’s not even a gift receipt.) I’ve been doing better at meal planning (and following it!), and even when I didn’t have my planned meal yesterday morning and had to stop and get breakfast and lunch, other than indulging in a cold-brew, I stuck to the plan and got veg and fruit heavy items. Oh? And it was all fucking vegan. (I’m vaguely considering being an offal-tarian, wherein I’m vegan except for organ meats.) (Maybe an ovo-offaltarian? I do like eggs.) I’ve set aside time every day for a walk, and am 3/3 this week.
  3. Stress management. I have several weapons in my stress management arsenal that I’ve been working on (with varying degrees of success) implementing.
    (i) Daily meditation (nailing it!)
    (ii) In bed by 10:30 every night (needs work!)
    (iii) Therapy (holy fuck, it’s hard to get a therapist to call me back to schedule an appointment)
    (iv) Light therapy in my basement office (I am rocking this one)
    (v) Acupuncture (both for pain & stress management…this needs to be scheduled)

So there you have it! More information about my reproductive system than you knew you needed. What are your go-to strategies for stress management?

Here goes something…

I am at work. Probably. Unless I got lost and took the wrong bus and ended up in  Gresham or something.

That seems unlikely, but you never know with me. When I first moved to Portland, I would occasionally get on the wrong light rail line and not realize it until I was pretty far away from where I was trying to go.

Anyway, not the point.

I am starting a new job today. I’m a wee bit nervous. This is probably not surprising. Also not surprising? I wrote this Sunday night, because I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to blog today.

I went to the new place o’ work on Thursday and got my employee ID number, found the building in which I’ll work, and selected my office. Today, I’ll get my benefits information (oooooh! Health insurance!), my employee ID, and my transit pass (ooooh! Trimet annual pass!).

It’s weird starting a new job. I was with my last employer for 8.5 years. I was promoted twice and switched departments once, but I still knew what I was doing and where I was going.

I am unaccountably nervous about today. Last night, I prepped my coffee, made breakfast, packed a bag (including my special Doctor Who mug), made the Bean’s lunch, set my alarm, picked out my outfit (none of my work clothes fit. none. ZERO.), double-checked my alarm, had a very serious conversation with the Bean about the extra-special double importance of being a really good listener in the morning so that mama wouldn’t be late to her new job, triple-checked my alarm, laid out my jewelry, found my shoes, poured a beer, and quadruple-checked my alarm. (Which is funny, because I bet I didn’t sleep a wink last night.)

Stress makes my already less-than-spontaneous personality even less flexible. Starting a new job is not as stressful as wondering if I was going to have enough money to feed the Bean in early February, but it’s pretty damn stressful. And I need routine to survive stress.

I’m hoping that after a few days, I’ll feel a bit more comfortable–I know the work, just not the culture and specifics. I’ll develop a routine–both for my new job and for my writing/editing/working out.

It’s going to be hard at first, and I’m prepared for that. I know what I need to do to combat that.

  1. Sleep
  2. Self-care (saying no is good)
  3. Move (now that I have to leave the house most days, that should happen easily)
  4. Eat regularly. This does not mean I can eat a Kind bar every five hours and call it meals. Apparently. Or at least so I’ve been told.
  5. Read – I know that seems like an odd thing to add to my list, but when I get stressed, I stop reading much. I’m not sure why, but I will sit and play stupid games on my phone for hours, which just gives me a headache. I love reading, it’s stress-relieving, but apparently when I’m high-anxiety, I’ll do anything to avoid feeling better (including sleep, exercise, eating right, and reading).

So – I’m probably surviving, right? WHO KNOWS!? Not you. I could be lying in a ditch in Gresham, and you would think I was learning all about my different dental insurance options.

Cross your fingers that all is well with me…now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to finish up my future post and go check my alarm. Again.

Hmmm…maybe there’s one more thing I should add to the list. This is in the first-thing-in-the-morning slot now.

Three Things Thursday: (Lack of) Self Care Edition

In my further attempts to keep it real. Very little fake-booking here!

  1. I have discovered an inverse correlation between my ability to take care of myself and my stress levels. This is unfortunate because I think that if self-care increased with stress levels, stress levels might be manageable. Instead, I stop exercising, stop eating, stop meditating, stop sleeping, and catastrophize everything. For some reason, this doesn’t help.
  2. This is bad enough with regular, every day stress, but when you have super-mega-ultra stress, it’s worse. I become paralyzed from stress and end up with aural migraines (which are currently occurring at an almost daily rate) and random nausea and results of nausea (at least 3x/week).
  3. Things I know: I should eat regularly, do the things I’m procrastinating (I swear I’ll do it, Cat!), stick to a schedule, write every day, make time to exercise, go to sleep by 11, get up early, and meditate daily. Things I have done today: had two and a half very large cups of coffee, applied for several jobs, not showered, gotten dressed, or eaten even though it is after noon (or filled out any forms that I know I should do). I’ve also spent a fair amount of time staring off into space, paralyzed with anxiety.

Once I’m in the cycle, it’s hard to break out of it…I tell myself that “once xx happens,” all will be well, but depending on a future hypothetical to make a tolerable present is so far not working.

 

Fearless Friday (Navel Gazing Edition)

Bear with me as I use the internet as my free-ish therapist.

But First

An amusing anecdote

I don’t often use a thesaurus. When I do, it’s because the word I want is in my brain but not materializing, so I’ll use the thesaurus to try to suss out what I’m intending to say. I do love when other people use a thesaurus, though. Especially when they are obviously choosing words that they’re not entirely sure of. Today, I was using a thesaurus without having a specific word in mind because I wanted to be alliterative. I absolutely adore alliteration. ANYWAY. I wanted a synonym for “change” or “transformation” that started with “F.”

The only thing that came up was “fluctuation.” And that just made me laugh. Because fluctuating is not my goal. Fluctuating is my current state.

And Now for Something Completely Different

The last few years I’ve become a fearful person. I’ve lost a lot of the confidence I used to have. Part of that is being stuck in an employment situation where the feedback fluctuated (ha! used it!) between over-the-top praise and ridiculous, unfounded, mean-spirited criticism.

Part of that was being stuck in friend-lationships that weren’t healthy, because I glommed onto the first friendly folks when I moved to Portland and wasn’t as discerning as I should’ve been with my friend love.

Part of that was spending a lot of time worrying about saying or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and upsetting the delicate ego balance that I tiptoed around starting in 2008.

Part of that is my natural state of being. I’ve been diagnosed with all sorts of fun (and sometimes contradictory) brain malfunctions. The older and more experienced I get, though, the more I realize that the one defining characteristic of everything my brain has ever done wrong is the overwhelming anxiety disorder.

I am good with routine. When I was working, my routine was

  1. Wake up early
  2. Make coffee
  3. Shower (or workout)
  4. Write with all the coffee
  5. Breakfast (and shower if there was working out)
  6. Work
  7. Pick up the Bean
  8. Make Dinner
  9. Put Bean to bed
  10. Read
  11. Bed
  12. Repeat

It was a good routine.

When I left the architect, my routine was disrupted. I was staying up later, not eating on days when no one was around to see if I was eating or not, I didn’t have Bean every day to keep my days steady, but I was still doing many of those things…just later. And working out fell by the wayside. I was staying up too late to get up early to write and workout. But it was no big deal. On nights I didn’t have the kid, I did the writing. It kind of worked.

When my job ended, everything just went tits up. I spent a lot of September and October alone in my house doing nothing. Not working out. Not writing. Not editing. I had all the time to make things happen, but I was too overwhelmed to get started.

Now we all know that to some degree I got over that, because my book was published this week, but I’ve still never gotten back to that routine. Every time I think I’m getting close, something happens to fuck it all up again.

It’s been a hard week. Releasing a book is stressful, even though it was the culmination of a lifetime of dreams. Having a child in a co-parenting situation is stressful, because I am not in control 50% of the time and I really like to be in control. Dealing with my recent rental situation is stressful because there were rats and the landlord and I disagree on a few financial things. Not having a job is stressful. Because money is awesome and I would like some of that stuff.

Do you know what helps my stress levels? Working out. Working hard. Being a little bit sore most of the time.

Getting to bed before eleven.

Getting up before six.

With my current mental state (fragile, in case you’re looking for another f-word), that isn’t happening. I need to find the switch to flip.

Self-care and self-love have fallen by the wayside in my attempt to throw all my energy into caring for my son and fighting all the battles that continually show up.

I just bought BexLife’s new book (at the recommendation of my PSM) in an attempt to find that spark that will help me reconnect with me. I signed up for Weight Watchers (something I’ve used to great effect in the past) as a way to be accountable for what I’m putting (or so very often, not putting) in my body. I have packed my swim bag and intend to drag my anxiety-ridden ass back to the pool (that is less than 3 blocks from my new digs) next week. I will take the boxes of work detritus out of the back of my car so I feel safe parking at a trail head and running in Forest Park. I have the tools I need.

I’m 40. There’s never going to be a better time to make my life everything I want it to be, and there’s no one who’s ever going to be able to make those changes for me.

(Except you. Each and every one of you. If you could all commit to buying my book once/day…that’d be cool. I mean really…what’s $2.99/day? That’s less than a coffee at Starbucks! *cue sad music and a montage of hungry, cold Amy who can’t even turn on the space heater in her office without tripping the surge protector*)