Friday, September 7, 2012

Slipping Down the Slope: Remember the Routines that keep you UP

It's difficult to start this post. I'm a bit ashamed of what I need to say. Not because I'm embarrassed to tell, just disappointed that there is a story to be told.

A series of complicated external and internal events have perfectly led me into my first slump of the year. A few weeks of where everything seems impossible, where I am anything but adequate, and my problems gathered up together and morphed to form a volcanic mountain of doom.

I did not mean for this to happen--definitely not one of my goals. It was not a fast nor gradual transition; I just did not see it coming. It was such a steady slope that I could hardly sense the change. But I changed.

I am back on the path to being my optimistic, strong, happy self. It may take a while to fully recover though. The one downside of being optimistic/happy in a situation, is that, once achieved, you can easily forget how hard it can be to maintain base of contentedness. Without building buffers for sudden adversity or keeping up the routines that got you there initially, it can be deceivingly easy to slip back to prior conditions. I certainly was surprised when I really looked up and saw where I was. Or, more so, a person who cared enough to slap me around, pointed out to me where I had fallen.

I wasn't keeping up. I was not chasing my demons down and beating the tar out of them before they could get to me. And I've paid for it. I have been so tired, in so much pain, feeling so defeated and frustrated, and negative, all because I slipped out of giving my routine ass-kicking to my disease and struggles. Yes, I used a bad word. I'm sorry. It seems to be the only word that accurately describes my daily brawls with this disease's efforts to torture or kill me slowly. I can not let my guard down and let one thing slide pass--otherwise, I'm back at its mercy.

The pain, the withdrawal, the inability to move, it cycles upon itself, making greater and greater impressions with each successful pass. For example, I had gotten to a point of pain where I felt unable to exercise. The pain was largely because of stress, medication changes, and mood changes. Exercise would help, but I "couldn't" do it because it hurt too much. It all makes sense in your slipped mind, why you "can't" challenge your conditions, and that's how these facets of disease win.

Well, when I realized where I was, my first reaction was to of course blame the disease, blame others, withdraw, cry, wallow in self pity, etc. etc. etc.. But, I had a stronger, slightly delayed reaction. To go to the gym and beat my pain to a pulp. It killed and it hurt, and that night I thought, "it really might win". But the next day, I got up, felt a little better, and started tackling the other demons. I kicked my feeling of inadequacy in the teeth and started sending emails to set up possible opportunities/rejections. I sucker punched my depressed mood by trying to be more considerate of the moods of others and trying to lift moods with humor and laughter. I squashed my self centered wallowing by helping care for others around me. Of course these aren't uniform victories, and I could be doing better, but it's a starting point back to the condition I was in before.

It is so easy to rationalize the importance of not facing these demons that can keep a chronically ill person in a dark and painful place. But what is really important is recognizing that 'being easy on yourself' can ultimately lead to defeat. Laying down most of the day may feel like it's helping your pain. But getting your blood flowing, moving those painful muscles, bringing fresh nutrients and energy, will help more. Not to mention, the psychological effects.

I am an individual who is especially prone to depression if I am not exercising. I don't know why. Exercise is a great depression prevention tool for anyone, but it seems to be especially important in me. Because I can turn from this irrational, hopeless case, to a rational, hopeful, and spirited fighter, in a matter of days. At least an hour a day. That's all I need. Hormones and pain drag me down and I fight that off with biking and running and swimming and dancing... I get my body to move, my brain and moods fall in line. Because apparently, that's a routine I need.

My routines help me build steps and walls to keep me in a positive, healthy, content space. A launching pad to furthering my goals and growing past what drags me down. Discover what your routines are. Sick or healthy. Figure out what can keep you in the condition you desire. Routines are you bricks that can help you build that life. They don't guarantee what you'll do with that content condition or how you'll use it to improve other facets of your world, but they will give you the stable ground and protection you need.

6 comments:

  1. We're all rooting for ye, Ash. And don't forget that you don't have to go through any of this alone. I'm sure there are plenty of folk who would be happy to take these punches with you.

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    1. You are such a good friend, thanks Dane :)

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  2. "But what is really important is recognizing that 'being easy on yourself' can ultimately lead to defeat." Wow. I needed this today. Really everything you wrote here is a good kick in the pants for me. I was just thinking today about your blog regarding "Locus of Control", which is what brought me here. This post goes along with that, I think. It really is about remembering that we must take care of ourselves and do what is best for us, even when we don't want to. Thanks for your courage and openness. You really are an inspiration. :)

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    1. I read this comment today, and it really reminded me not only how behind in my endo work I was, but how supportive my readers have been and that I should be more responsible! Because your comment was just so kind and positive, it reminded me why I started doing this site in the first place!

      A kick in the pants is what routinely keeps me from sabotaging my life ha ha. And I think you are right, that this does directly relate to that. I guess you could call those routines your 'centering' tactics :). It can't just be all 'tell yourself you're happy and you will be'--what we do factors into our thoughts big time!

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  3. I so needed this too! Thanks Ash, really appreciate your writing. I discovered your blog a few months ago during being completely bedridden for about 6 months and I had pretty well hit rock bottom, it was really comforting. I have been meaning to write for some time to say thanks! I am like you in the sense that I depend on exercise for a good level of happiness so it's really hard when you can't exercise! My favorite thing you have written i am not sure which post it is in now but it starts off 'my suffering is not meaningless. It is difficult, frustrating and sometimes unbearable...' etc, I have it copied down in a little book of positivity I keep with me to read when I'm at my worst. It is so true though, I am a better person for all of this, more motivated, patient etc, but it does drive you a bit mental sometimes so it's good to have a reminder! Anyway just wanted to say thanks and hope you are well, can't wait to hear about how you went with the insomnia thing too! Take care, Kat.

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    1. That is so great to hear you keep a positivity journal--some people think I am crazy to write down things I'm grateful for and inspirational quotes, but it really is a huge help! I am honored that something I wrote made it into yours. I hope you feel like you are emerging from rock bottom--it's a hard place to come from. For better or worse--there are lots of women who know *exactly* how you feel, and we're here for you. Also: if you are still interested in the insomnia post, I followed up with it here! http://www.bedriddenhead.com/2012/10/sleep-restriction-therapy.html

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About The BedRiddenHead

I want to be happy. And this site is about that chance. How to strive to thrive in the body I've got and maybe turn my experiences into something worthwhile.

This site aims to help educate and reach out to people all over that struggle with pain or illness. To try and make something helpful. I work as a medical research writer, my background is in neuropsychology and biology, and I want to share what I learn in a way that is easy to understand. I am not a doctor. I'm definitely not your doctor. I am just some lady who wants to make someone's (anyone's) life a little bit better. Whether you have endometriosis, a chronic injury, a struggling friend, or just want to learn something new, I hope to make a place that has what you are looking for.

Thank you for stopping by, I wish you strength in your health and happiness.