Valerian, the herb, not the movie

Last night it took me ages to get to sleep again. Then I woke up. Fretted. Got cross with myself. Fretted some more. Got back to sleep. I had bad dreams last night too, images I can’t shake even now. I staggered out of bed at 6:20am; bleary eyed, unbearably sad and with less than an hour to have a shower, finish lunches, get Hubs to the station, Archie to school and me on the road.

Things didn’t get done over the weekend, like Archie’s reading diary. We read every day with him, but have to justify it to his teacher by completing it. I sent him to school with three blank spaces in it, so can look forward to ‘????’ in there tonight when we get home.

I got in the car ready to whizz the wee man to school and got an alert on the dash ‘Key mechanism not working’ I only needed to get the battery changed, but it freaked me out somewhat as I’m transferring the car to my new job.

I’m tired, cranky and honestly, shell-shocked. I am not fully in my body. I have to start taking better care of myself, otherwise I’m going to fall over. I need to do some exercise to help tire me out and get me to sleep, but tonight I just need an early night. I’ve also brought some Valerian for good measure. I am making myself eat, as I have no appetite and when I do eat, I feel sick. To top it all off, my stomach is churning. Looking everything up online, so far so normal. I know it is a process I’ve got to navigate, my compass is a bit faulty.

I am so glad that I’ve got people on the end of the phone for me. I’m also grateful that Ian and I are messaging each other. Cat photos, nonsense, updates on our days and laundry. Anything and nothing. He told me off for drinking, having seen me obliterate feelings and pain before, he knows the depths I can sink to. I’ve reset my sober date to today (24 June).

At lunch time, I went to Box Hill Central – that has changed a huge amount since I last was there. I was only just pregnant with Archie, so over eight years ago. I dropped the dry cleaning in, found a pharmacy for the aforementioned herb extract. Walking round to find somewhere to get the battery changed, I got completely lost; asked for help, got misdirected out of one building and into another. Then giving up altogether, as I was heading out (in a huff) to get back to work, I walked right into the stand and got the battery replaced.

Then … I got lost coming out the car park, had to do a U-Turn on Elgar Road.

I should be able to book my flights tomorrow, Ian is off to the funeral director now. That might help, as I feel a bit lost and in limbo still.

Work in progress

Sooooo, I learned that I do not honour or am proud of being sober yesterday. We had our Book Club break-up at a wonderful private house in Camberwell. We mooched around the garden, took masses of photos and were offered lemonade, fizz and Pimms. I asked for lemonade.

I got this.

Then my glass was empty, it got refilled with fizz and I didn’t say anything.

Then I asked for a glass of Pimms, because I’d already blown the week out the window.

Sigh.

I don’t got this. Today I looked up AA meetings. I need help as this is bigger than I can handle. :/

—o0o—

In other news, a friend at aforementioned party, took a photo of me that I posted on Instagram and Facebook with the following caption:

Those of you who know me, know I struggle with what I look like. It’s rare for me to have a candid picture taken of me that I like. But I love this one!
#bodydysmorphia #mentalhealth

I’ve had some messages come through about what Body Dysmorphia means, so I’m going to try to explain it; as best I can. I was in Wiltshire when I was diagnosed, so about 2001? I have hid the diagnosis, because like many mental health issues, I was ashamed of it. Only a few close friends, and I mean close, know how much I struggle with what I look like. Some days, it’s so bad, I can only do my make-up looking in a compact mirror, because then I don’t see all my face at one time.

I’m getting ready to go to work, or on a night out and I look at me in a mirror; I take care over my appearance and think, “that ain’t bad”. Then I take a selfie, because I don’t think I look too bad, and WTF is in the camera? Or someone else will take a photo and WTF is in the camera. Some photos of me will never be on my timeline, because WTF is in the camera. So far, so normal, right?

I have also been the height I am since I was 12 years old, I towered over people at school. On my first day at high school, I was told off for not telling someone the way to a classroom, because I didn’t know it. The teacher thought I was being difficult? a bully? obnoxious? who the hell knows.

I would sit down next to girls my age and feel huge next to them. I was taller than them; sitting down on anything, my thighs were bigger; my hands were bigger, I bit my nails through nerves. I took up so much space compared to everyone else. I’m lanky, gangly, walk into things all the time, stooping to try and hide it; so now at 43, my shoulders hurt.

My feet are bigger than my husband’s. I remember so clearly at junior school, one of my favourite teachers trying to address the problem of people picking on me by standing me next to the smallest girl in the class (hello Sophie if you’re out there). Talk about exacerbating the problem. It took a full meltdown for him to understand the impact of him slipping my shoes on to take the rubbish out before he understood how fragile my f*cking feet make me feel. Feet! I am so proud of them because they’ve taken me round endless KMs of running in the past few years. I’d no sooner got rid of one duff nail when Archie trod on two more and I’m waiting for them to grow out, so I’m still trying to hide my feet.

What with being mistaken for a boy for most of my childhood and teens, the feet, the entirely too big, too tall, not girly enough, short hair because it was easier while I was in a swimming pool all the time; who I am, what I look like, got warped along the way. What I look like does not match expectations and people have told me so, all my life. It’s gotten to be so normal for me, even if in reality most people don’t care, but that’s the thing with BDD, depression or anxiety, what you tell your brain make no difference, one iota.

Because the voice in your head is so loud, it deafens out everything else.

I completed a Mental Health First Aid course today, (I am aware of the irony). But you see, I’m perfectly placed to do this, because I know people. I pick up signs when you’re not 100%, I ask questions, peer intently at them, check in on you, because when you’re hiding in plain sight – I see you. Coz, I know all the secrets about appearing normal; functioning when you can barely function or hold it together.

The alcohol thing? Self-medication, because if I’m buzzing, I ain’t feeling the weight of perception on my shoulders. Perception to be all things to all people. Perception that I’m not enough. That I’m less than. That my make-up isn’t on point, as I’ve not contoured correctly, (really? ffs). That some days I can barely move from my bed because my soul hurts. That some days only the thought of Archie means I hold it together, because I don’t want him to be the child that grows up without a parent. That I am sick of people talking over me when I’m trying to say something.

BDD goes hand in hand with everything else I’ve got. But like everything else I’ve got, it doesn’t define me. It makes me, me.

A slow awakening

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen me hop back into the @8WeeksToWow program at the beginning of this week. Walking into work on Monday morning, I said out loud, startling someone walking in with me ‘I’m done.’

  • I’m done with the self-sabotage of falling off the wagon.
  • I’m done with not being able to drink in moderation.
  • I’m done with not loving myself enough to say ‘No thank you.’
  • I’m done with thinking I’m not worthy enough of treating my body with respect and care and punishing my ‘soul-sack’ through alcohol and food.
  • I’m done with worry about what other people think of me if I don’t drink.

I understand now that I need to own this. That despite people offering me, or being surprised when I turn it down, or giving me the Spanish Inquisition as to why – I cannot drink any more.

I’m done.

It is my business; I do not need to justify this decision to you. I do not need to explain this decision to you. Neither do you need to ask me why, nor when I tell you it’s “None of your business” or to “Eff-off”, depending on how you asked me, do I need to justify my words either.

Fizzy water for the win.

Now I’ve come to this decision, and the reasons behind it, I now am ready to finish working through Russell Brand’s The Program as the first step is admitting: I am a bit f*cked.

Step one. Day three.

 

Forty-five days

I’ve been sober for 45 days, the longest in years. I only nearly buckled once, when Archie had his meltdown at a birthday party. I stood in front of the wine rack and goodness me it was so tempting. I stood with my hands to my head as the bath ran; it could have been oh so easy – but I didn’t succumb. I read The Darling Buds of May instead, with my ears under the water. Blissful silence.

I’ve dreamt about drinking a glass of red a few weeks ago, in the dream I tip some down the bathroom sink to wash away the evidence, sobbing at Hubs that I was sorry for doing it. Thank you subconscious.

Some nights I sit at a set of traffic lights in our home town, next to a Taco Bill (franchise restaurant chain), where they serve goldfish bowl sized margaritas. I’ve never had one of them, but I loved their sangria. Gordon’s Gin have a new advertising campaign out. Bus stops all over the place have carefully stylised images of spirits, wines, beers. Until I’d stopped, I didn’t really appreciate how much advertising there was for alcohol.

At work I sit on the Health and Wellbeing Committee, our annual survey results are in. Nearly 70% of the people who responded said that they didn’t want assistance to reduce their drinking at this time, we don’t know if that is the same 70% that said they drunk at least one or two times a week. But we do know 45% of respondents said they drank more than five drinks on a single occasion. Talking about this yesterday, we were shocked it was so high, but at the same time around the table we acknowledged that a drinking culture in Australia is so all pervading, it is hard work to say you don’t or aren’t drinking.

Back in the UK if I said that I didn’t want to drink on a night out, it was pretty much left at ‘OK’ and that was it; here you can get the Spanish Inquisition and nth degree on why not. I’m still not sure on what to say about it yet, not that we’ve been anywhere really, but keep repeating ‘No thank you’ in my head for practice. At Book Club last month, I arrived with a bottle of sparkling mineral water, despite our penchant for vino, no one was bothered if I drank or not.

I can’t say I won’t ever drink again, I’m just not having one today, like I didn’t yesterday or the 44 days before that.

I’ve given up weighing myself. Excuse me here, but FUCK ME it’s frustrating. I got so excited about the number on the scales the other day, then within two days, 5kg appeared out of nowhere. Had I done anything differently? Had I buffalo. Hal Elrod and Jon Berghoff talk in this podcast about “trusting the process” when all else fails and nothing seems to be happening. Taking that into consideration, I’m now looking at my average KM speed when I run. This number has come down from 9.59 min/km at the beginning of January to 8.11 min/km.

I’m feeling stronger every time I go out, three times this week so far, and probably again tomorrow lunchtime, with a longer one on the weekend. Hills still exacerbate my asthma, but I run what I can, walk the rest, run again and each time it’s getting easier. As I puff my way back home, I come down a hill to the flat of the road we live on. By the time I get there, I feel on top of the world. As I said in a little video today on Instagram, if I could bottle this feeling and share it with you, I would.

I finished an awesome book this week, How To Break Up With Your Phone, ironically on my kindle as it’s not coming out as a print edition here in Oz. Before, during and after reading it I have done the following:

  • Taken the email and Twitter apps off
  • Taken Facebook app off, and changed my settings so I have to sign in every. single. time. I want to use it. I’ve also taken my phone number off, so now it’s yelling at me to put it back on. Limited my past posts, tightened up my security and would dearly like to tell it to take a long walk off a short pier.
  • Brought an alarm clock
  • I now charge my phone overnight in the kitchen, the alarm still goes off on my phone, (the clock is only if I need to know the time), but now I wake  up walk to the phone and switch it off. et voila, I’m out of bed.

In four days, I’m sleeping better, using my phone less and generally feel less angst and frazzlement. I still use it for my podcasts, music and if we’re out and I have a query, I’ll still search for the answer. But I am not mindlessly scrolling away because I have nothing better to do; it now lives in the kitchen, not in my hand.

I’m also working on the #MillionaireMorning by Mel Robbins, which is more aligned to me than the #MiracleMorning I like getting up and sitting in silence to let my mind wake up and ease into the day.

I’ve also (re)written a chapter of my book too. Here’s a piece of advice for you, if you’ve got notes, jottings or scribbles of book ideas. Put them into the cloud now. I had half a book on the Mac that got stolen, am now trying to find it again. *sad face*

We’re also working on limiting Archie’s screen time, he dug out Monopoly this morning. Not sure that he’s ready for the arguments that game always brings, I left for work this morning with him and his Dad playing Connect 4. Hubs has been signed off work with a chest infection, stayed home on Tuesday and has moved from couch to bed and back again. I can feel my chest tightening, and am coughing a bit when I get up, one of the reasons I ran today, in case I’m not up for it in a couple of days.

 

 

I’ll think of a title later

Since 2005 I have struggled with sleeping, it can take me hours to get to sleep. Then I’ll keep waking up. Then can’t get back off again. So far, so insomnia.

I tried sleeping tablets, but hated the horrible taste in my mouth the morning after. To be honest; they also didn’t help any – I just felt dopey – as well as wondering why my food tasted revolting. I limit my caffeine; for all my jesting about coffee, I only have one or two a day, everything else is I drink is decaf or water.

After a while, I ended up resigning myself to feeling sluggish and tired all the time. My mind would whirr away; replaying things over and over, or creating new things for me to be anxious about. I eventually found a solution that worked for me though, I would listen to audiobooks and “write” the words out in my mind with visualisation. Listening to and “writing” would let me fall asleep simply because my monkey mind wouldn’t get an opportunity to chatter at me. If I woke up in the night, I’d rearrange the headphones under my pillow and do the same thing all over again.

Last week I had a bit of a breakthrough. Monday night was awful, as Hubs was snoring like a train, and the cat stank. I don’t know what had happened, but Chief Brody was shoved outside for the night, Tuesday morning I cut fur off around his bum and we’ll leave it at that #bleee

On Tuesday night I decided ‘Enough’, I lay in bed and concentrated on my breathing and drifted off, waking to my alarm on Wednesday morning. Also, Buddhify have updated their app and have some new meditations. That night I listened to a five minute version of near enough the same thing I’d done the day before; it asks you to concentrate on the lower half of your body, hand on your belly to feel it rise and fall with your breath. I woke up before my alarm and lay in bed listening to the birds going crazy in the tree outside our house. I was so excited, it was ridiculous.

On Tuesday night this week, I slept so well I actually wondered what happened. Right through to wake up to the birds again.

9adff455bd3091ff7dba5be7278653acI’m now at day eleven of not drinking. Using the Jerry Seinfeld method of keeping going, I’m marking crosses off on my wall planner. Now having got ten in an albeit wonky column, I don’t want to break the chain. There are several reasons for this, to say a few things have collided. This article for one thing with this quote:

“In my head, I was a moderate drinker, but after I’d had a drink, I wasn’t. The more I drank, the more I wanted to drink. Drinking increased my thirst. I wanted the second drink more than the first, and I wanted the fifth more than I’d wanted the fourth.”

The first article on this edition of Woman’s Hour, (seriously , if you’re not subscribed to this podcast, why not?) the two ladies that are talking were speaking my language. I have to admit that I am done, I can’t do half-hearted any more. I can’t do moderate, because as soon as I’ve had one drink, I want another. As you can imagine, this decision has not been made easily. But also realise that I will be sleeping better with no alcohol in my system.

I’m listening to (and reading) Russell Brand’s Recovery: Freedom from our addictions and working my way through his thirteen step program. I’m not sure about going to AA to get some physical (as in people) support, I’m not convinced I could do the god bit without grinding my teeth. Higher power is one thing, but naming it?? There are several secular meetings near me, if I need it – I know they’re there.

Picture credit.

30 Days to Healthy Living – day six

I would kill for a coffee. A proper one, not a decaf one. Curling my hands round my mug, inhaling the aroma of the beans, closing my eyes in anticipation for that first taste.

coffee

Instead I’m sitting at my desk listening to a program simulating coffee shop sounds with a decaf in my mug and climbing the walls.

Considering we’re on Thursday, I started on Saturday, getting to the ratty stage now ain’t bad. This will be the third? fourth? time I’ve given up proper coffee, and will be the last time. I canNOT go through this again. I’m still having the odd bit of caffeine insofar Fizz Sticks have a smidge at 45.5mg, but compared to my three shot Americano…

However, I’m not missing alcohol, yay.

In terms of the rest of the items I’m tracking through the 30 Days, I’m doing well. I have only missed one morning meditation, I am using changing into my PJs as my cue / trigger to stretch, use my foam roller and do my plank-a-day. I then hop into bed, do my gratitude journal and set up my evening meditation which sends me off to sleep nicely.

I feel lighter in myself, but not on the scale alas; wrong time of the month for that. My weight can vary as much as >2-4kg with water retention and bloating, it’s maddening. I do know that I am not the number on scale, I am more than that.

Hang on, that did not come out right.

I do need to blow my trumpet here, yesterday I went for a run with one of the guys from work. Running to Plenty Road is something that a lot of the more serious runners do on a regular basis, at least once a week. I’ve never managed it. It was always too big, too far, too too. But yesterday, I DID IT! I was so frickin proud of myself. My legs felt strong, and once I’d warmed up, I felt I could run for ages. It was my lungs that were slowing me down, what with it being a cold day and still getting used to exercising. But every time I go out, it gets easier. 9.1km. Get in.

I can also report back, that I did not waddle round the office today either. *nods*