Everyday Headspace: Neutral Thinking

Today’s Everyday Headspace meditation was titled “Neutral Thinking”. In a world full of slogans and propaganda, learning to think neutrally can enhance one’s experience and reveal deep truths about the world around us. One can practice acceptance of what is, rather than forcing an artificial narrative.

Blessings on the journey.

The image above reads: “‘Positive thinking’ creates another story in our mind. Awareness transcends both positive and negative, allowing us to free our mind.”

#headspace #everydayheadspace #neutralthinking #mentalfreedom

Dec 31, 2019

I posted this picture to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter yesterday with the caption:

“Recent #selfie for #newyearseve. I chose this picture because it hides my turmoil and pain. It’s been a really rough year. I’m just trying to make it through.

I’m working on creating a better life in 2020. To me, that means sharing hard truths, even if I am scared & ashamed. I don’t mean to be a person who struggles. But I am, and I do.

Best wishes to all in the new year. May you and yours find and share kindness, compassion, love, empathy, and stability.”

I’m working to turn my life to a better path in 2020. Honesty is the first step.

Christmas 2019

There has to come a time I allow myself to be vulnerable. To reject the conditioning which causes me to hide myself and truths about me from the world. This is one of those times.

I am currently living in a room at an extended stay hotel with my husband and three dogs. It’s crowded but workable. It’s clean, I can cook meals, and I’m safe & secure. I am also lonely, isolated, emotional, and deeply sad.

Life has not been kind, and I am an expert at being unkind to myself. Growing up, I was always treated like something was wrong with me. Turns out, it’s true. I am broken and I probably always have been. If not always then the trauma visited upon me in my formative years scattered the pieces of my soul to the winds and I’ve never recovered.

On the subject of my brokenness, I remember my father repeatedly lamenting the “money [he] wasted on therapy” when I was a kid; the same man – a month before his own death – looked at me with disappointment in his eyes when I told him I was mentally ill and asked, “do you really believe that?”, like somehow I’d failed him, again. How could he not have known? Then again, to acknowledge what was truly wrong would have meant admitting he abused his kids and that was out of the question.

It wasn’t until I was ‘grown’ and into my 40s that it was revealed to me my paternal grandmother (father’s mother) was hospitalized every winter threatening to kill herself. Classic mental illness. Yet, it was treated like a family secret instead of a fact of family history. It carried a stigma because it was given one and then hidden away.

I know that many family members on my maternal side have died on or around Chistmas. It’s like a morbid, ugly tradition. And that’s before I get into the number of holidays ruined by my parents’ anger. My mother especially liked to pick fights before we’d even left the house, yell at us in the car for an hour, and then tell all the relatives upon our arrival what horrible children we were. As if she wasn’t the adult in the room shattering her children with a sneer on her face and words like knives. A thousand little cuts every time. Bloody children empty of anything but the contempt they were constantly shown.

And so I sit today, eating cheese & crackers and watching YouTube videos, crying frequently, and unable to escape the black hole in my chest. I dread Christmas every year and it never gets better. So much death, so much instability, so much anger all poured into a vulnerable vessel. No matter how much work I might do I can’t honestly say I’ll ever get any better. The science says it gets harder as I get even older.

I am conditioned to assume no one wants to hear about my life because I was always told & treated like 1) it didn’t matter, or 2) I was making it up. I don’t know how to “get over it” but if I’ve learned anything it’s that people who use that phrase the most are the ones who abuse the most and they just want their victims to be easier to abuse in the future.

If you’ve read this, thank you for for your time and your energy. Traumatized people do traumatizing things, and they have stories full of hurt and horror which are hard for others to digest. This is just a bit of my annual story.

I attempt gratitude sometimes. It can be hard to find when my head & my heart tell my soul to give up – that trying again is a lost cause, that I am a lost cause. Still, today I am grateful for a roof over my head, a clean room, a regular shower, food in the fridge, a vehicle that runs, three healthy dogs, and a partner who shows love and kindness when I’m in pain.

It hurts to know that in many ways I’m lucky, and it hurts even more to know there are others out in the world in much deeper anguish and pain. I do my best to cultivate loving kindness for them – especially, and for all – generally. May 2020 be a better year for everyone.

Merry Christmas.

Taking action on my health – intermittent fasting edition

Four months of committed, tracked intermittent fasting has led to weight loss, body recomposition, the reduction of medication, the cessation of medication, the end of my GERD (reflux) problem, better bloodwork results, clearer thinking, fewer food cravings, getting full faster while eating less food, an end to my after dinner eating, and an appreciation for more nutritious food.

To put this in perspective, I had an A1C measurement of 10.1% when I was diagnosed with diabetes some years back. My most recent measurement was 6.3%. Anything under 6% is generally considered non-diabetic.

I’m proud and happy of what I’ve accomplished for myself. I need healthy habits I can rely on when other things in life get tough. Especially when my head & heart work against me, sometimes.

I wish the best for everyone, and I pray for loving kindness to all.

Real bad shape

So last Friday I fucked up the time for my first counseling appointment in years. I was in such bad shape that the receptionist went hunting for an available provider of her own volition. Truth be told, she probably saved my life.

The counselor who took me in “wasn’t even supposed to be there” that day. She was annoyed but worked with me anyway. Because of her diligence and a serendipitous knock at her door I was able to see a new psychiatrist that same afternoon.

Turns out, the new psychiatrist was taking all the patients of my old psychiatrist, who had left a month before. He took a deep dive on Borderline and/or Bipolar with me to review my diagnosis – at my request, listened to my concerns about CPTSD & ADHD, and discussed future options with me – including new medication. I asked for the weekend to research the three medications we discussed, and he was comfortable with that.

I don’t know how my weekend would have gone without the kindness and hard work of other people. No one had to do me any favors. I am so grateful to all of these human beings. Because of them I found some hope again and I’m going to do my best to keep that little fire lit.

10 Year Anniversary for Quitting Smoking

September 8, 2009, a.k.a. 9-8-9, is the date I quit smoking. I’d been a smoker for more than half the days of my life and I set out to reverse that trend. One of my early goals was to gain more days “under my belt” as a non-smoker so I’d tip the balance of my life in a different direction. And I did.

I quit using nicotine gums & lozenges. My strategy involved a lot of not-buying-cigarettes, too. It wasn’t particularly proactive.

My then-boyfriend, now-husband, quit at the same time. To encourage interpersonal support, we created a list of “Reasons to Quit”. Any time one of us struggled with a craving or frustration that person could ask the other, “Please tell me the ‘Reasons’ for quitting”, and the other would rattle off as many as could be remembered on the fly.

In the 10 years since quitting: I moved three times (once interstate), going from a condo to a house to an apartment to a home on the road; I got engaged and then married; I loved and lost several cats, adopted three dogs, and fostered a fourth; I was diagnosed with a list of initialisms – MDD, GAD, PTSD, etc.; I participated in ending my relationship with my mother; I nursed my father through his end-of-life journey; I renewed my relationship with my brother; I became a late-in-life marijuana user with great interest in the healing power of psychedelics; and I found new hobbies like geocaching and hibernating for very long periods.

I’m grateful to be here today, still breathing, heart beating, senses working.

As of today, September 8, 2019, these are my quit stats according to QuitNet.com:

  • Life Saved:  1 Year, 6 Months (that’s two pregnancies)
  • Money Saved: $23, 738 (that’s not accounting for inflation)
  • Cigarettes Not Smoked: 73,040 (that many pennies weighs ~402 lbs*)

*If all pennies are post-1982 minting, at 2.5g/penny

If I have advice then it’s this: start a mindfulness practice, a journaling practice, and know your own Reasons for doing anything.

Thanks for reading.

43, or, “Begin, Again”

Unhealthy, unhappy, alone, and collapsed

Operationally homeless, busted motorhome out back

Partner in a mental health facility

He went voluntarily

My brain is a fog

Overwhelmed with three dogs

Last pair of clean underwear

It’s past time to cut my hair

Don’t remember my last shower

Or sometimes the last hour

I’m empty inside

It’s why I always hide

Shame and guilt take

Everything I try to make

Letters for me

MDD, GAD, and BPD

Then there’s the family

PTSD and C-PTSD

My executive function is gone

My blood sugar’s up

Today I put CBD in my coffee cup

I’m hoping I find the way to my mat

Some Headspace would help

Andy’s voice can calm me down, stat

After I’ve prepped the space

Playing sounds of a garden oase

I can dim the lights and settle upon

My blueberry blue zafu and zabuton

I’ll take a deep breath, or ten

And in the voice of a loving friend

I’ll tell myself kindly

“Begin, Again”