Coming Out of Darkness

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It’s been one week since I posted what I consider to be my most emotional blog post yet. I was really down on myself. I still am, to an extent, but already I’ve been feeling better about myself. So I wanted to write a follow-up.

First things first, I know I am being incredibly hard on myself. It may not be the most healthy way to motivate myself, but it’s how I’ve always done it. Whether it was school, work, getting healthy, I set a high standard for myself and work hard to achieve it. Because I always put so much into everything, it can get easy for me to be complacent in other ways, including my eating habits. The difference this time was that it wasn’t the best messages I was sending to myself. Instead of “Hey, I should think of a way to get onto my bike more often” it was “You’re getting fat and you look disgusting. Get on that bike.” Big difference. So I am working on turning that around. I can’t be angry with myself. What’s done is done and I cannot dwell on it (like I tend to do). I can only change what lies ahead for me. Depression is often worrying and obsessing about the past, and anxiety is fearing the future. For the past month I found myself in that pattern of being angry at the past. My therapy has taught me to be mindful and focus on the moment, the present. Another habit to start getting back into.

Speaking of which, the Happiness Journal that I have mentioned in earlier blog posts was a habit I started falling short on. I became really lazy at writing down my happy moments each day. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my lack of enthusiasm for keeping track correlates with my downturn. The journal reminds me to be happy each day, it reminds me that no matter what happens there are always at least three moments in my day that made me smile. I do go to bed feeling happier when I write in it. I stop and pause for those moments each day. Falling off that habit meant I wasn’t paying attention to those moments. I stopped looking for happiness and was instead focusing on the negative. My perception on my day started completely changing. I wasn’t taking the time to reflect. I sat down a couple nights ago and caught myself up to July 1st. It was hard. I had to think back to what I was doing a couple of weeks ago. (I mean, how often do you remember exactly what you were doing for an entire day?) The worst part about it is I probably forgot some of the truly happy parts of my day. Like the mindfulness above, turning your attention away from the anxiety is what will defeat it in the end. Anxiety feeds on attention.

In terms of food, and eating, and that horrible word “dieting” I don’t follow any of that crap. I eat what I want. I believe in “everything in moderation” and that life is too short to say no to that cake. As much as I have spent good chunks of my life fearing disease and death, I know that one piece of cake won’t ruin my life and give me cancer. For me, I truly believe that I can’t spend my life scared of food. I don’t want be afraid to eat carbs, gluten, sugar, whatever! Food should never be something you fear, or avoid. I am trying to find the balance in my mental health, and I have found that over the past few months I lost the balance in how I eat. I was eating too much of the wrong things, and not sticking to my old habits that helped get me in shape several years ago. I am trying to get back to my smarter eating habits and just relaxing about what I consume. I can’t start obsessing about the food I eat, it’s just another form of anxiety manifesting. And that’s dangerous. Eating disorders are no laughing matter, and I think I owe it to myself to keep things from getting that serious.

I have also been better at sticking to an active routine. As I have mentioned, I need to get that energy out of my system, otherwise it builds up. I can’t have a day where I sit around and “do nothing”. It backfires on me. Take this for example – this past weekend Sean & I were in Ottawa. The drive home on Sunday took 7 hours thanks to some terrible traffic. I barely did any activities on Sunday other than some shopping. When we went to bed that night I felt anxious. It felt like I was ready to run a race. I hadn’t burned enough energy for the day. And of course, when you become less active not only will my anxiety build up but my waistline will too. Exercise for me is therapy. It’s just as important to me as seeing a therapist or taking my medication. So that’s why sometimes I’ll need to make sure I set aside time for myself. I need that time. And since I’ve started making it a priority I have felt better. It feels good to know I am at least DOING something. Have I dropped that weight yet? No. But I know if I work hard enough it will come off.

So slowly but surely I am coming out of that dark place I’ve been in. It takes time. Healing your mind isn’t always as fast as a cut, or a scrape. And the pills I take are definitely not a “fix all”. Many people assume once you’re on them you don’t have to keep working. It does help, but it isn’t a catch-all. At least not for me. Maybe I am rebounding faster because of the pills, but the pills didn’t stop me from feeling like crap. Proof that taking them isn’t the “easy way out”.

And thank you to everyone who took the time to reach out to me. So many of you shared some similar stories of battling their body images and self-worth. We are not alone, and we never will be now that we’ve shared our stories together. It was so inspiring to hear about how many of you have overcome your struggles, but also sad to see so many of my friends share the same demons. I want us all to be happy. I’ll fight for myself, and for all of you. We deserve every bit of happiness. Sometimes life is horrible, so those little moments that make us happy need to be cherished (and perhaps even written into a journal). And all of you are beautiful, wonderful, and strong people.

I am doing okay, and getting better. I hope all of you are too.

Thank you for reading, as always. Feel free to follow me on Twitter for other random musings.

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