The way we think is a choice. I'm writing myself a pep talk today (well last week I started, but am getting back to it today) about positive thinking and how perspective can change our self perception. Do you struggle with your mind and drive yourself crazy at times?
I do. Sometimes mental health issues take us beyond the point of reason, to a point where we feel helpless and lost and resigned to riding the downward spiral. I've been there and I'm not talking about that this time. I don't think I have bipolar disorder, not that I'm sure, but from what I've read I don't think I'm that extreme. Still, times like this are scary, and I feel for friends who share this challenge, whatever form or depth it takes. I don't want my struggle to sound bigger than it is, knowing so many people face so much harder challenges, life threatening illness, natural disasters, major losses etc. And please don't think I'm oversimplifying these issues ... I'm just sharing a small glimpse into my recent rollercoaster rides.
The ups are exhilerating, I'm soaring and energetically zinging through the universe doing great things. The world is my oyster. I have so much to offer and can't wait to get into it ... all at once! Balance is out the window, but I can forget that for a while. I brush off suggestions to slow down and can't understand why everyone else is moving at a snail's pace. But as long as I can get on with my quests, that's fine!
My down times are infuriating ... days of being hardly able to get dressed before lunch, don't know what to feed the children. I feel like a homeschool failure. A parenting and marriage failure. I feel sorry for my family, having to put up with me. It's hard to start anything, let alone finish. I try to smile, keep up appearances when I have to, but being awake is stressful. Jobs pile up. Even on 'good' bad days I waste time and get lost in my own world. I'm glad to be alive but wish I was asleep. The Lord and my family are my lights in the distance, encouraging me to step, towards the end of the dark tunnel.
Perhaps contributing to all of this are our recent trials with death, family illness and parenting challenges (which I haven't much written about). And I've been physically unwell and hate to acknowledge that and give it any place in my life. I don't plan to stay sick. Still, at times it's hard to deny, and last week I actually answered honestly when people asked how I was. Winter coughs and sinus left me feeling like I had broken ribs for months (perhaps I did), but that's improving now that Spring is here. My doctor is also investigating the cause of some long term women's problems, and it comes as no surprise my iron levels are low, but we also found my thyroid is out of whack. Though I'm yet to see her to find out what it means, but this new clue gives me hope that I won't need more tests and various cures which sounds worse than the problem. Thyroid problems can cause hormonal problems. I'm reading a book by Sandra Cabot to learn how diet can help.
My advice to myself (and anyone else feeling less than competent and confident at the moment):
* baby steps ... break goals down into small tasks. If I'm not up to making the whole house shine all at once (who ever is?) at least I can clean a window or tidy one shelf.
* momentum ... if I can just start something, before I know it I'm on a roll and have done more than I would have if I'd thought, worried and procrastinated.
* ask for help ... I find this really hard. Like I said I don't want to acknowledge there's a problem. I can ask the Lord, and read the Bible to remind myself He's promised to help me in so many ways. If I tell my husband, mum or friends I'm struggling, that's being humble, honest and genuine, rather than my unkind self-perception that this is weak, burdensome and ugly ... I wouldn't think that of a friend who asked for help, so why judge myself so harshly?
* likewise, accept that I'm not perfect. Not that I won't try and be better. But I will try things even if I risk failure or imperfection.
* write in my journal to figure out what's out of sync ... what, within my control, can I do to fix this imbalance? This time, my reflections have revealed that I need to get organised, redirect my mental energy into a new challenge, and grow up in terms of being disciplined with my housework, home ed. and other responsibilities.
* recognise that I have choices. I can't choose when my hormones or tiredness might try to sabotage my energy or mood, but I CAN choose to eat well, pray, sleep enough and make it a habit to think positively and trust the Lord. I can choose to learn and find ways around my limitations. I can choose to live and love, and to grow through this.
* learn, imagine and dream. Believe that anything is possible. Enjoy life and look forward to heaven.
Today I'm pretty level headed. I accept the highs and lows, though I believe God wants me to be moderate and sober ... for the record, since some of you don't know me, I should say I don't drink, smoke or use any drugs ... unless you count books and an occasional coffee or chocolate or smelling the citrus trees in bloom!
That's it. I'm just sharing part of my journey of trying to live my best life. I know other people struggle too, for a time or throughout their lives. Maybe my openness will help someone.