September – three quarters review

So we’re three quarters of the way into the year and it’s been quite the rollercoaster. I started it by continuing the daily blog challenge and my resolutions as such were that I wanted to work on my physical health and visibility (although I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted that visibility to be).

Physically – I am amazed by what I have achieved. Currently 26lbs down and walking 10,000 steps most days with 3 half hourly gym sessions per week. As someone essentially idle that’s an amazing achievement and I’m so happy with it. I’ve definitely got the gym bug too. There was a possibility to work away for 3 weeks where there wasn’t a gym franchise and I really worried about what I’d do instead. Even at the beginning of the year I would never have thought this would be my life.

Visibility – if you scroll through the daily posts you’ll see I read a few books on flirting. This, at the time wasn’t with any view to fixing my love life but rather to get back into the habit of conversing with people and making myself well…visible. I’ve found my social anxiety decrease. I don’t place value on a continuing conversation but rather am I getting answers to my questions. I started with that and then built on it. Now I feel like I can chat to most people.

However, as good as some of this was, I forgot to look after my mental health and actually went backwards on this. I was struggling with money & health issues (despite the lifestyle changes) and most of my friends either had moved elsewhere or were not in a position to go out and about and do things. I ended up isolating myself and cutting myself off from people. I found my anxiety increase at the thought of spending time with certain groups of friends. Everything came to a head with a series of panic attacks after getting an all clear for my health and I started a 6 week counselling programme.

This was quite interesting in that as well as tackling what caused the issues in 2018 we looked back my childhood, and a breakdown in 1994 where I didn’t get the support. We looked at how I have a tendency to dwell on negative comments and viewpoints from a long time ago and ignore the positives that I get now. This is something that will probably be an on-going thing to work on.

It did me the world of good and over the last few weeks I’ve really started to feel my old self again. This is something else we worked on; who is my ‘old self’. I’ve talked in other blogs about the breakdowns. In 1994, having no support I stopped being myself and started being the person others thought I should be or reacting to their comments on such a thing. After 2010 I went back to being the person I wanted to be, full of wonderment and the desire to explore and not afraid to have opinions. I could be nice but I could be bitchy now and again. I wasn’t perfect but I had balance.

After the 2015 one I lost that balance. I was spending a lot of time with a spiritual crowd and did what I’d done before; I lost myself and became what I thought others expected of me, pushing away anything about me that may be negative. It’s very exhausting being good and nice all the time! You need that balance.

I think I’ve got my balance right and I’ve stopped caring if people don’t like me or my opinions. I like me and that’s the most important thing.

I’ve even embraced the idea of dating again. I joined a couple of apps. So far no dates (my choice).  I’ve been chatting and putting that conversational and flirting experience into use and I’m sure I’ll find someone that I connect with soon. I’m actually quite happy making connections and seeing where life leads me. I’m not looking for the next big romance so there’s no pressures. Whatever happens will happen. I read a Susan Jeffers book recently that said instead of thinking ‘I hope’ change it to ‘I wonder’. So instead of ‘I hope some guy likes me’, it’s ‘I wonder what will happen if we make a match’. It’s quite a liberating way to look at things.

Like I said at the beginning; life’s been a rollercoaster but it seems to have stopped doing the loop-de-loops and dives. I wonder what the rest of the year will bring.

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Listening to your inner voice

I’ve spent the last few weeks paying real close attention to myself and my anxiety. I started back with the counsellor 2 weeks ago and we’ve been working on ‘inner voices’, what mine is saying and making note of it to reflect and work on.

It’s worked really well and I’ve learnt quite a bit about myself and generally been able to discuss it and start working on letting it go. Up until yesterday my anxiety has been low and I’ve felt quite happy with my progress.

Yesterday my anxiety levels started going up and I couldn’t quite work out at first why. There didn’t seem to be a particular trigger. So I’ve been listening to my inner voice. (I really should name her)

And what my voice is telling me is I’m tired.

On Monday (it’s Thursday now) I travelled to London for an all day meeting on Tuesday. I didn’t get check into my hotel until 7 and I never sleep well in hotels. It also meant I couldn’t eat as well as I’d like. As much as I’d like to once you’ve checked into a hotel and it’s getting close to 8pm you just want to go to the first restaurant you find to eat rather than spend an hour walking around to find the best fit. My colleague will only eat in a Nando’s when she works away. I never seem to have the energy to go searching.

All of this means my diet went out of the window. It’s not the calories and weight loss but rather I’ve been eating quite cleanly and with low carbs and you just don’t know half the time what is going into the cooking. I ended up with chicken and chips and some sauce. It was a restaurant based sauce (not ketchup!) so I don’t know the ingredients and I didn’t have the energy to ask.

Tuesdays meeting was eventful as there’s been a terror related car crash that morning which was on my route to work. Then we were evacuated for over 30 minutes because of a bomb threat (I’m a civil servant and my office when in London houses many senior leaders). While I was anxious about that it does mean you have a higher level of alertness and are less likely to stroll around enjoying your day.

Two days on and I’m still feeling over-tired, my diet hasn’t righted itself quite (I’ve gained a pound as well) and despite having completed my 10k steps a day I don’t feel like I’ve moved around and exercised enough and I’m anxious. So the anxiety this week is the inner voice coming out telling me I need to exercise, get out at lunchtime (I haven’t all week) and go for a walk and to eat better.

I’ve started this morning by making sure I’ve brought my own lunch. Originally I had back to back conference calls from 9 until 3pm (not healthy) but as the 12pm one has been cancelled I’m going to go outside and get some fresh air (even if it is raining on and off) and hopefully the anxious feelings will start to settle.

Eat well, move about more and sleep well. Simple things but sometimes we just don’t do these enough.

Stronger

Today was my second day going to the gym.

Back in 2015 I had numerous health and mental health worries (bit like this year) that resulted in issues with my left arm and unable to use it properly. Quite often I could barely carry a handbag on my left side. It took a good year before I could finally use it properly. Having depression I’ve had plenty of lows n my life but that was probably one of the worst as I knew I was strong physically.

So it’s been wonderful these past two times to rediscover that strength and power. It’s a great feeling to be able to use the machines.

Tonight I also got the details of the low sugar diet the gym uses. I know about avoiding fake sugars such as those used in cakes and sweets but I’m no good at knowing what are the worst carbs that turn to sugars.

I’ve my third induction session tomorrow then I’m let loose to use the machines myself with a review in about 6 weeks time and weekly weigh ins. I’m looking forward to it and, certainly in recent times, never thought I’d be saying that.

 

 

On The Up #mentalhealth #wellbeing

There’s been a big difference already since the last post. Now I’ve admitted (to myself as much as others) that I’ve been struggling with my mental health and taken steps to put into action some support I already feel much better.

Everyone handles their mental health issues in different ways but for me I need to be active and so on Monday I went back to work. I’m no good at sitting at home, I just brood on stuff and make it worse.

I’m a big believer in positivity and that positive thoughts breed positive actions and I’ve found that by thinking positive this week and talking to people about changes that need to be made that events have turned up to help me do just that. The universe is listening.

I had a really good chat with my manager who is turning out to be really supportive. I’m ambitious so we’ve been looking at ways to stretch myself without making myself ill.

I’m actually looking forward to my next gym session. Until Sundays induction I had never been in a gym (always done exercise classes) as I found them intimidating but this one I think will work for me. I’ve kept up my 10,000 steps in between and feel really well within my body.

And then lastly (it is only Wednesday) our sports and social club have started a ‘staycation’ event over the summer basically offering lots of little events that you can do. I’ve signed up for 3 walks around the city centre and some crafting. One is making book marks and the other is teabag paper folder. I have no clue! But they sound like fun. I’ve not done neither of these things before and it actually fits in with my 4 point plan from the occupational health consultant.

So a big turnaround from this time last week when I found it difficult to leave the house and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.

There’s been a big difference already since the last post. Now I’ve admitted (to myself as much as others) that I’ve been struggling with my mental health and taken steps to put into action some support I already feel much better.

Everyone handles their mental health issues in different ways but for me I need to be active and so on Monday I went back to work. I’m no good at sitting at home, I just brood on stuff and make it worse.

I’m a big believer in positivity and that positive thoughts breed positive actions and I’ve found that by thinking positive this week and talking to people about changes that need to be made that events have turned up to help me do just that. The universe is listening.

I had a really good chat with my manager who is turning out to be really supportive. I’m ambitious so we’ve been looking at ways to stretch myself without making myself ill.

I’m actually looking forward to my next gym session. Until Sundays induction I had never been in a gym (always done exercise classes) as I found them intimidating but this one I think will work for me. I’ve kept up my 10,000 steps in between and feel really well within my body.

And then lastly (it is only Wednesday) our sports and social club have started a ‘staycation’ event over the summer basically offering lots of little events that you can do. I’ve signed up for 3 walks around the city centre and some crafting. One is making book marks and the other is teabag paper folder. I have no clue! But they sound like fun. I’ve not done neither of these things before and it actually fits in with my 4 point plan from the occupational health consultant.

So a big turnaround from this time last week when I found it difficult to leave the house and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.

Meltdowns and gyms

It’s been a rough week. It started on Monday when, after a trip for a medical check up, I had the mother of all anxiety attacks and couldn’t then go back to work for the rest of the week. I’ve been so busy concentrating on anxiety I’d not spotted the signs that my depression was on an upswing and this week has just been the culmination of everything.

Having had a week to thing the warning signs have been there since the beginning of the year but if you read the daily blogs I was doing I’ve been so caught up in trying to work on dietary and physical needs I think I’ve not paid enough attention to the mental ones. It’s just so easy to fall back into some patterns.

I’m an action orientated gal though and once I spot a problem I’m good at working out what to do to fix it. The civil service gets a bad rap for many things (and often rightly so) but they do have an excellent benefits package which includes a consultation with an Occupational Therapist and 6 free counselling sessions.

I’ve had a meeting with an occupational therapist who gave me the green light to work  and am just waiting for the start date for the counselling. I also have a 4 point plan that looks after the physical, dietary and mental sides of life.

One of those is exercise. This is a funny one. I was good at it at school (although admittedly lazy) and as an adult I’ve done plenty of zumba, aerobics and aqua aerobics lessons. The aqua one is great for building up biceps – I had some cracking looking arms with that one. But with all things when the depression kicks in it’s easy to stop doing it.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently and this scare has given me the kick up the arse to sort something out. So today was my gym induction. This is a newer one for me as I’ve always done classes before. The interesting thing for me was remembering I’m actually quite strong. Way back when I was young my dad wanted me to learn judo with him and my brother as did his tutors because I am a lot tougher and stronger than I look. However I was a young tween and more interested in music and boys so that didn’t happen.

A couple of years ago I tried boxercise and that’s another thing that’s been rattling around my head for the past few weeks so once the gym side is up and running I think I might look into going back to that. I’ve got strength; I should work out how to use it to my advantage.

I was so fired up after the induction I walked the 2 miles home. For some reason I changed out of my leggings into jeans before doing it so obviously my brain isn’t still quite working properly but hey ho.

So the week started horrendously but I’ve ended it with a 4 point plan to get better and the desire to do what it asks of me. Lets hope for a better week next week.

Budgeting Success

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know I have debt issues and am trying to work out the best way to budget for myself.  I have a debt repayment plan and my household bills and food budget is always covered but I rarely make it from one month to the next without having to borrow  or swap money around.

I tried keeping all my spare cash in a tub and just taking as i needed it – didn’t work.

I tried dividing into weeks and only using a weekly allowance – didn’t work.

So this month I tried in days. I had so much per day and that had to cover treats like a cafe drink plus the usual bread and milk. Anything left at the end of the day went in the tub. If needed I could use the tub money and mostly I did. It went on food.

And yesterday at the end of the month I had £1 left over. One whole pound. If you’ve never had money problems you may not understand how proud I am of that little pound. I’d had 2 birthdays (mine and my sons) I’d had a week off work and a trip to NOrth Yorkshire. I even went to the cinema. And I never had to borrow. I didn’t have to juggle money at the end of the month.

I made conscious decisions every day. On my week off I rounded the money into the whole week with the thought that I’d need more on the day trip but less whilst at home. The rest of the time I asked myself constantly if I needed to spend. That £1 is now in a savings tin. I have one of those where the only way to open it is with a can opener.

It stops me taking cash out and overspending. This is what I used to do when I had depressive days and how I ended up in trouble. I tried it last year with just loose change and the result was £90 saved in 2017. However because I was still struggling with the budgeting it didn’t last long. I intend to leave as long as possible this time and either use it for Xmas gifts or if I can avoid that save for something nice.

I can’t say it’s a perfect plan as it’s only been one month. I’m going to try it again and see what successes I can achieve in July

Loving yourself in style

I’ve just finished a book called Loving Yourself in Style by Shabana Feroze. It’s made me think yet again how depression, anxiety and debt have taken away a lot of what used to make me…me and leave a bit of a shell in it’s place.

There’s quite a bit of information despite being a small book. One section in there is about style. I used to have quite defined style; as a teenager it was all about the bands that I loved and being a rock chick with a bit of 1950’s thrown in. Then as I aged it became a mix of rock chick with 1940’s and 50’s. I love those eras; the music and the styles.

I lost a lot of this when I had my breakdown in 2010. I put on loads of weight and didn’t feel the confidence to wear the clothes I loved. Instead I ended up wearing smart work clothes and jeans/Tee’s day wear. Casual, comfortable and reeking of invisibility.

When reading the book my first thoughts were to shout ‘But I can’t afford it’, my life is on hold until 2020 when the debts are cleared and my money is my own again.

Are you tired of seeing posts where I say this? I’m annoying myself with it. A later chapter though talks about money and starting small. Ok I can’t go out and buy a whole new wardrobe or pay for events to meet like minded people. However I can try and put a few pounds away each month to be able to afford something form ebay or a vintage shop. I can still listen to the music which I have been doing all weekend). I also found a cafe nearby that is based around 50’s rock n’roll that put on special nights for £3. These are things I can do while I work towards my debt free goal.

I was speaking to a friend about restarting her life this week as a series of baby steps and it’s something I need to take on board myself. We discovered one cinema has halved it’s ticket prices and with a 2 for 1 offer on Wednesdays we can see movies for £2.50 each. Another way to have a little bit of a life for little costs.

The answers are out there if you fight the negative brain talk and look around to see what is out there. So I’m going to try and embrace life (within it’s financial constraints) and remember how to have  little fun and rediscover a style that makes my heart sing