Intuition

Today was rough. Anxiety was an 11 most of the day and I found myself overstimulated and overwhelmed to a significant degree. My sympathetic nervous system really had me believing a saber toothed tiger was at my heels all day.

Enter movement. I’m a dancer, yogi, Pilates enthusiast and have been for many years as well as dabbled with other fitness styles and even a Brazilian martial arts called Capoeira. My body has a lot in its repertoire to move from. For my strength training today, I offered myself only one prompt, “feel every muscle work intentionally.” A wonderful idea I shall return to again. The day did not improve but I had 32 glorious minutes of improving functional strength with only my own guidance.

My plan was to do yoga before bed. Settle down after the day, maybe choose a nice grounding soothing practice. But when I descended upon the mat, I decided to continue my exploration of intuitive movement from earlier with a new prompt of “follow where the energy goes and breathe through every sensation intentionally.”

I found myself returning to improvisation cues from dance class and integrating yogic breath work seamlessly into my movement exploration. The air coming into my lungs started to feel more nourishing and expansive. It was a bit of a Yin Yoga, restorative, pranayama, Bartenneiff, improvisation mix and it was exactly what my nervous system needed to slough off the day. Truly I feel my nervous system has just been exfoliated. I am ready for sleep and grateful for the reminder of how nourishing and nurturing intuitive movement can be.

Chasing the Next One?

I tend to develop an interest in something, learn as much as possible about it, how to be good at it, doggedly pursue it for a month or two and then fizzle. Currently it’s makeup and beauty. Over the summer it was Tik Tok. Previous years have included container gardening, essential oils, and bullet journaling. Within these hobbies always cycle Minecraft, the Sims, and Stardew Valley. It’s as if I’m addicted to new hobbies.

I just rid myself of about 25 bottles of essential oils that I never used (but were ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for me to purchase at the time). Now I do have a few that I keep and do use and I do attempt gardening every summer and have managed to continue a very minimalist style of bullet journaling but like why do I go all in with a new hobby? I often wonder if it’s a low hum of hypomania. I’m always a gamer – that never leaves – but I get on these new hobbies and they become the most incredible thing I’ve ever done.

It’s gotta be hypomania because it does meet the criteria of goal directed activities, does often come with a slight uptick in spending (albeit very thrifty – I’m a bargain gal), definitely involves flight of creativity and energy and confidence in my newfound skill (perhaps unfounded confidence?) but it doesn’t disrupt my functioning. Yep that is textbook hypomania.

The existentialist in me finds this fascinating as that means there are facets to me that are not always present or even accessible and I apparently have no choice in the matter. The anxious self worries every time a new hobby starts that it’ll end up just another collection in the corner. To both, the pragmatist will declare “at least you are continuing to learn new skills.”

The Funhouse Mirror

I referenced the mirror in a previous poem and it is with regret I admit I continue to be harassed by it. Certainly progress has been made, but I still suffer the endless committee meeting in my head discussing all the things wrong with my body.

Strangely (or perhaps not) aging while bringing its own difficulties has lessened the battle somewhat. I am nearing 40 and I have 2 teenagers. I workout 5 days a week and walk my 10000 steps everyday. I eat generally whole, clean foods with mostly balanced macros for my activity level. There’s really nothing more I can do that does not fall into eating disorder land. It is easier to accept my imperfections as I’m not supposed to look 20 anymore – not without plastic surgery anyway. So, acceptance is the answer to my problems today. Courage to accept what I cannot change.

The mental battle is fatiguing though, I will admit. I do slip into old patterns particularly when I’m very stressed but very quickly my cognitive functioning is impacted and it makes working difficult. As a therapist, I cannot be mentally tuned out during session. It’s very interesting indeed how important nutrition is to cognitive functioning. Consider that the next time you skip breakfast ☺️

For some reason it’s been easier to write poetry here than anything else. Which is quite odd because before this blog, I hadn’t written poetry in 20+ years. Amateur hour right here.

Writing painful and complex experiences through poetry is a way to distance myself from the raw vulnerability to an audience. Oh the vulnerability is there – plain to see. But the vulnerability exists as a work of art rather than I am standing naked in front of you, sharing my heart. Although both are true. Maybe it’s an illusion.

I return to work tomorrow as the therapist. What started as a vacation ended in bereavement so I don’t feel refreshed going back. Indeed, I feel weary. It can be quite helpful, however, to “get out of your own head.” Many people use this as their number one coping skill. That friend who never talks about her life, but is always by your side while you cry – she might be avoiding her own feelings. I’m not that person. I avoid my feelings in other ways 😏 but when I am faced with the raw emotion of another, it does trigger my own particularly if my self care game is not on point. (Which was the reason for the vacation in the first place).

I am confident I will be present for my clients as the warm therapist they are used to. My confidence wanes, however when I imagine how I will feel emotionally at the end of the day. I worry I will feel depleted. It is already a rough time of year for me, now compounded by fresh grief.

Mindfulness is a good tool here and the old adage of not getting ahead of oneself. We’re going to put one foot in front of the other, moment by moment, holding steadfast to years of experience telling me everything is always eventually ok. The world will not collapse. I will be successful as a clinician and I will take extra care of me in the moments I’m not actively a therapist.

Psst. You don’t have to be a therapist to use the above tools to cope during your workday. Or your family gathering. Or your doctor’s appointment. Or your long commute. Take good care of yourself, one moment at a time. Don’t know how? Ask a friend, a mentor, or ya know.. find a therapist. ☺️

Bad Scriptwriting

Scene: 2020, year of COVID pandemic.

Lead Role: female

Co star: 365 allergies

Supporting role: anxiety

January
Lead: “Oh dang. I have a sinus headache again. Pass me the aspirin.”
Co star: “Want to try a decongestant?”
Lead: “Ok but the one that wont make me tired.”

February
Lead: “Oh I have a sinus headache again. Maybe it’s an infection.”
Co star: “Nah, take Sudafed this time.”

March
Lead, annoyed: “Who has allergies in the winter anyway, honestly?”
Support: “Maybe you have that coronavirus they’re talking about.”
Female rolls eyes.

April
Lead: “I mean, I get these headaches all the time; just sinusitis right? I’ll just take my temperature.”
Co star snickers.
Support: “But I have to take Sudafed and it makes me tired but also unable to sleep. How am I supposed to therapize under such influence?” cries

May
Support: “Maybe it’s really coronavirus. Surely one can’t feel this awful from a sinus headache.”
Co star smirks
Lead, to co workers: “No it’s just allergies, I promise. I took my temperature.”

June
Lead: “Why is my body so weird? Who gets a reprieve from allergies in the summer?”
Co star, annoyed: “I’m still here I’m just not destroying your sinuses at the moment. Use the flonase.”
Support: “Should take my temperature to be certain I don’t have coronavirus.”

July
Co star, dancing around gleefully: “Here we go.”
Support: “Oh my God, my head really hurts. Like really. It’s coronavirus, I know it.”
Lead: “I’ll take my temperature.”

August
Co star, screaming: “HAHAHAHAAA you feel like crap don’t you?”
Support: “Should I stay home from work? What if it is coronavirus this time and not allergies?”
Lead: “I took my temperature, it’s fine. I’ll just work from home again to be safe.”
Support: “Oh my God I can’t taste or smell anything!”
Lead: “This happens every time you take Sudafed. Calm down.”

September
Support: “I will never know if I have coronavirus. I should just isolate myself until the pandemic is over.”
Co star falls, laughing hysterically.
Lead: “I need a vacation.”

Anxiety

I started this blog to chronicle my journey of mental wellness and the trials along the way and those who held me up during the struggle. Of course the last two days I have woken up with an elephant on my chest. Her name is anxiety. Often there’s a specific trigger and I work it out and sometimes – like now – it is purely somatic (body related) with no specific cause. Then it becomes management, hanging on, and knowing it will pass at some point.

In the interest of transparency, it sucks. My anxiety triggers hyper self criticism. The old “I’m not good enough” and “I’m too much” have joined the party. I’ve had meetings with these two many times, it’s always the same old story – can’t you come up with something new? (No don’t – predictability is good). So at least I know the story already. And I know the ending – I’ll go on my merry little way at some point – but I don’t know when that end comes. It’s always a surprise.

One breath at a time.