The More Things Change…The More They Can Differ

I found out last week that I’ve got my third bout of frozen shoulder in 10 years. I can’t remember much about the first time beyond getting sent home from work after taking too many painkillers and getting the giggles (not good as I worked in a benefit office).

The 2nd time it happened I worked in Community Support. I had to adapt what I did to be able to carry on working. Within this job I was classed as a lone worker and would often have to travel by public transport lugging my (then) heavy laptop and notes. In the end I found my old flight bag which I could then use to pull everything around rather than carry. Regardless it all left me feeling very vulnerable. I had the constant fear that someone could grab the bag and run off with it and I’d be helpless to stop them as I only had one fully working arm. (As one of my colleagues had had their case stolen from them as they sat in their car I knew this was always a possibility being on foot).

I also had no support from my line manager. On bad days I could be in tears. I could do my stats from home but still had to go to work. And I often felt that I should try and get to work. My job involved helping vulnerable people who had far worse problems than me.

I’ve learnt several things since then. One that you shouldn’t compare problems. Yes these people are struggling but that shouldn’t diminish my issues. Secondly you can’t fully help someone when you aren’t at 100% yourself.

After a while gaining no support at all with management I moved jobs. I had to put myself first and practise the self-care that I preached.

Cut to now. While my job involves travel it’s mostly on train to places. I have a tablet rather than laptop and can access my emails via mobile so I can make my baggage as light as possible. If all else fails I can leave it all behind and find a hard drive somewhere to plug into. I try and go to the gym several times a week to exercise and the biggest thing I’ve noticed from the last few weeks is in the difference in people I’m surrounded by. Friends and family obviously are supportive but I’m talking those on the periphery (big word!). After a reshuffle I have a new manager and both her and the gym instructors have both used the same phrase….What can I do to help and support you?

I genuinely felt like crying when they’ve said this as it’s a complete 180 from before. Such a simple sentence and from it some simple results. I have the option to work from home where needed or come and go to work from where is the easiest on my joints. The gym has created a lightweight plan that allows me to practise movement in my arm while I wait for a physio appointment, taking into account doctor recommendations. This makes me feel more secure in myself and less vulnerable when movement is bad.

But the biggest change is in myself. I’m not afraid to ask for help and the rewards are worth it. Support is in place straight away and I feel like this time it won’t affect my mental health because both me and the people around me have awareness of what I can and can’t do and are working with me.

So it’s a reminder to people to ask for help because people do care and do want to make sure that you are ok. Asking for help is also self-care. Speaking up early this time was a kindness to myself and hopefully will mean a quicker resolve to the issues.

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Gym and year so far weight loss review

We did the gym measurements check in early as we didn’t want to skew the stats as I’ll be spending most of next week eating hotel food so after 11 weeks (or technically 10 as I had a week off) and bearing in mind I’ve eaten cake or wagon wheels every day this week I have lost since I joined 2.2 kgs and 5 3/4 inches which I’m pretty chuffed about.
Looking at my nerdy spreadsheet I didn’t start noting inches until I’d lost a stone but in 2018 I’ve lost 26 1/2 pounds (the half’s important) and a minimum of 18 1/2 inches (they included abs and arms which I didn’t). Who knows what it should be but I’m chuffed enough with these figures anyway. So next time I tell myself I’m a rubbish dieter I should probably look back at this post!

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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.

365 Day Blog challenge Day 158 The Wheel of Life #365daychallenge

Yesterday in my development course we had an exercise called the Wheel of Life. In this you have a wheel broken into 8 sections. In each section are 10 dotted lines and you have to rate each section as to where you think you are. The purpose being you can then work out which areas of your life need extra support and attention. I first did this exercise in 2015 just after an anxiety based breakdown. I’d been diagnosed with a sever anxiety disorder.

These days I’m at my happiest and I feel really good. I know I have anxiety but I believed I had it under control for the most part. I do know my social anxiety has got the bets of me a little bit but actually when I compare the two charts I can see I’ve been deluding myself a lot.

One good thing about yesterday was the chance to talk it out with people who challenged me a bit on the subject and really made me thing. This was part of the course as we had to really discuss what changes we wanted to make in our lives and how. Then we had to have honesty discussions with each other as to how likely we will stick to the actions we’d set ourselves.

Looking at my 2 charts my work score has gone up. Understandable as I was in a job that I’d lost the love for and had no support, now after a lot of hiccups along the way I enjoy my job and have a lot of support. My health score went up 5 points! That’s down to the diet and walking I’m doing, the positive results and holding myself accountable in this blog. It makes me hyper aware of what I’m doing.

Money and personal growth are the same. I’d just started the repayment plan and so I think that score will be low until it has finished and I am always looking at new ways to grow in knowledge.

The rest went down and if I look at the categories they are all things influenced by being sociable; relationships, fun, friends and so on. Again in this blog I’ve talked about my social anxiety and how sometimes I think my finances have impacted on it but it’s harsh to see no positive change in 3 years. I trust myself with my physical health now to not dwell on it too much so the mental health side must be something to focus on for the rest of the year. I don’t want to check in 12 months time never mind in 3 years and have the same feelings.

I’ve taken some strides; following on from the flirtology book I’m getting quite used to chats with strangers now. I now need to take this forward more. I finally found a book club I enjoy and feel comfortable with. There is though, so much more to do. I need to sit with pen and paper as I think better that way and come up with some actions. I’m at a point where I refuse to let this take over my life any further and in a place where my will is ready to do battle with my brain and not let it control me. Now all I need is a plan.

365 Day Blog challenge Day 116 Animal Kingdom #dietgoals #365daychallenge

This morning I stood on the scales and found out I had hit my first weight loss goal. I wrote in the Wonderland  blog that as I had a lot of weight to lose I wanted to split it into 5 sections and had given all but the last one (Wonderland) Disney park names hence reaching Animal Kingdom.

This weight is significant for 3 reasons

  • There’s a 30 year high school reunion in the summer. I was this weight at the last reunion 3 years ago. I remember feeling good about myself as I’d lost 7lbs, my clothes fit and I was so happy that I could get my rings on again. Then the breakdown happened and I put those 7lbs back on plus another 10lbs taking me to the heaviest I have been in my life
  • 3 years ago I had the final breakdown so it feels like getting back to the weight I have finally vanquished that period of my life. I’m back to a time before I got anxious, sad and teary. To a time when I thought I had so much to look forward to that got taken away for a short while

But thirdly, when I first put on weight in the mid 1990’s I went to a slimming club and was the same weight as I was this morning. That was the heaviest I’d ever been in my life up to that point. I was mortified I’d let myself get to such a stage. Today I’m celebrating getting back to something that once disgusted me. I’m still going to celebrate as it’s a great achievement however I need to keep that 1990’s feeling that I need to be healthier and fitter and keep going.

I’m on target with the steps challenge I set myself this week. I’m feel quite Zen and in the mood for positive change. Although my next official target (MGM studios) is about another 15lbs away I’ve some smaller ones leading up to it. 4lbs will mean I have lost a stone and a half, 5lbs will put me in the next stone weight below (in UK we tend to weigh in stones and pounds rather than just pounds)

I’ve also got some mini target rewards. Having lost 14lbs I am going to have my 2nd set of ear piercings re-opened (one is fine but one has healed over so just going to tidy it up). When I hit 21lbs (stone and a half – 4lbs away) I will have the one in my upper ear re-opened.

Once I’ve lost a further 14lbs after that I will get the 2 tattoos I’ve wanted for a while. I never see the point in saying I will treat myself to new clothes. When you lose weight you need the new clothes anyway. It becomes necessity rather than treat.

Overall I feel really good today. While I wobbled a couple of times knowing the target was coming up using this blog daily kept me on my toes and far more conscious of my behaviour than in previous diets and it was easier to pull back and re-motivate.

My step-mum asked me yesterday what diet I was doing and was a bit surprised by my answer (she has been a member of a diet club or another for nearly 40 years – for maybe 10-15 years she has been at her goal weight). I said I gave up sugary foods, quit the fizzy diet drinks and blogged about being fat. No clubs, no paying other people to weigh me and for the first time in over 20 years I’ve proven to myself that I can do it myself by just being sensible.

365 Day Blog challenge Day 113 – Getting Out #365daychallenge

Finally! I managed to get out and start joining some clubs. I wanted to do this last month but…you know…snow. And then more snow so it didn’t happen.

I’ve been trying to think of things I like so I can work out how to do them in a less solitary way and meet up with people. My world has shrunk to revolve around books and I found it really hard to write a list of what I enjoy but I’m slowly getting there.

So tonight was a crime book club. At first I was a bit worried as apart from the host everyone was a pensioner but after a few minutes a couple of people closer to my own age turned up. It’s was quite a well attended club and very chatty and noisy. As a group I really liked it and it’s great to leave my comfort zone. Everyone made me feel welcome.

I will keep going but it was predominantly older people so who I can’t see accompanying me to the local arena for some heavy metal concerts but you never know who will turn up from month to month so I wont make too many assumptions 🙂

I’ve another crime one at the local book store in a couple of weeks that I’m also looking forward to so that’s 2 new things. Woo hoo. I will spend a couple of weeks looking at making my list longer and see what else is out there.

 

365 Day Blog challenge Day 105 – Memories #365daychallenge

The last in a small themed weekend I hadn’t planned on social media and for once not me ranting about the negativity 🙂

I changed phones at the beginning of the year and while all my photo’s are saved onto dropbox they didn’t carry over onto the new phone. I was looking last night on Facebook to download some older pics of me for various reasons. I could take new selfies but I’m not yet at a stage where I can let go of the criticisms whenever I see myself on camera.

Looking through the FB ones there are very few left from pre-2010 (when I had breakdown number 2 of 3). Of those that are there I tend to ignore or swiftly move past them. Last night I went down memory lane and had a good look at them. I’m not in touch with the majority of the people in the pictures. The friendships ended badly after the breakdown and I think that’s led me to just dismiss the period of age 23-38 as lost depressive years.

But one thing I noticed on these pictures was the smiling. For a start I hate my smile these days – part of the constant self criticising inner voice and I’m sure it will go in time. On these photos where not pulling funny faces I was beaming. I looked so happy. And my over-riding thought was ‘We had some good times’.

And that’s made me think a bit. I think I’ve got stuck defining those years as the depressed years but it wasn’t all that bad. I’ve a tendency to look back and see fog but actually life was very much the cliche of roller coaster. I had foggy days and I had days of joy where there was no fog. I need to try and reconnect with some of those memories and feelings.

I block out a lot of good when I say that I was depressed to the point of actually forgetting things. By focusing on purely the bad I’ve lost sight of the fun and good times and that’s not fair on anyone even the ones no longer in my life. I unlocked some teenage memories with music – a really cathartic day of being immersed on 80’s & early 90’s tunes. The mid-years memories will involve endless movies, Chinese buffet, wrestling and late 90’s/early 00’s dance music. I can probably do the movies and Chinese but don’t fancy the others much any more.

I actually think they’ll come more with acceptance and embracing memories as they come with happiness rather than sadness. It’s a huge part of my life and one I don’t talk enough about as quite understandably the last few years after the last (and final – say it enough and I’ll achieve it) breakdown have dominated. I’d barely done my grieving and moved on from number 2 before the 3rd happened. I think, going back over the last 100 posts I’m in a good place to re-visit this time and put some ghosts to bed.