The Power of Positivity

There is evidence based research which has emerged in the last 10 years to show the incredible benefits that positivity can have on our lives. Positivity is like a nutrient rich soil, it is the foundation for healthy growth be it for flowers or for building personal resilience.  It’s easy to maintain a positive outlook when things are going well but when unexpected changes hit is, feeling positive seems like a daunting task.

My spouse was told this week that due to re-structuring he will be losing his job of 17 years. For individuals struggling with anxiety like me, stress and change can be triggers. I spent much of the first 24 hours in a mild panic attack. Constant heart palpitations, inability to sit still or sleep  and a whole lot of fidgeting. Looking at the situation with a positive lense was completely out of the question, my brain was more interested in thinking about worst case scenarios.

After a day had passed, it provided me with some time to accept this news and to re-visit my reactions. Times of stress and change are when we need positivity the most. My feelings of anxiety were valid and appropriate but ultimately useless. Feeling anxious about a situation does not change the outcome, nor does it provide any helpful solutions. I have made a concious effort to re-frame the situation and focus on the positives.  Here are the ones I’ve come up with so far:

  • We are fortunate to have a connection to lawyers to review documentation (as luck would have it the lawyer we could connect with had a conflict because they represented the company that laid-off my spouse) so this is no longer a positive. Pretend you didn’t read this bullet point.
  • We have good friends that check in with us and support us
  • We have caring family that checks in and supports us
  • The severance will provide my spouse the opportunity to pursue work that is more meaningful to him
  • I am now the sole provider of financial stability for the family…. surely the jokes will be endless and the laundry regularly done.

Perhaps not the lengthiest of lists however one cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of finding work that provides meaning and value to our lives.

Re-framing our perspectives provides comfort and contentment to otherwise stressful situations. Change your mind, change the outcome.

Accepting that you are enough

When you suffer from depression and anxiety sometimes it feels like pursuing happiness is a fruitless labour. It feels like no matter the effort you put in, sometimes that faceless monster storms into your life and takes over. The road to hell is paved to good intentions. Hell is your bed and you’re stuck in it wishing for sleep to guide you from one day to the next in a blur of nothingness.  You don’t want that nothingness, but it’s the best you can do.

I want to be happy. I want to be productive and accomplish things. I want people to be proud of me and most of all I want to be proud of myself. When that depression monster is pinning you down your hopes and dreams become distant memories. Those distant memories fade into a fog that seems impossible to push through, but push through you must. It’s an exhausting process but pushing your way through is the only way to get out.

Some days I think I can’t make it out of bed let alone get dressed and be functional at work. Those are the days that I have to talk myself through one step at a time. I tell myself that I’ll just shower and see how it goes. From there I tell myself I’ll just get dressed and if at any point it becomes too much I can go back to bed. Next I’ll get myself to work, if I have to leave so be it.  Usually it ends up that step by step, I’ve successfully made it through another day. Did I get home and cook an amazing meal?  Probably not. Did I come home and clean the house? Yeah right. But make it through the day I did and sometimes that is all we can hope for and that is enough.

No one is happy all the time and sometimes the best we can get is simply to survive and that is okay. Rather than focusing on the things I did not accomplish that day, I choose to focus on the things that I did.

Maybe there’s a load of laundry on my bed but at least I washed it. Maybe there’s a pile of dirty dishes on the counter but at least I made a meal. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves permission to accept that we can’t do everything.  Feeling guilty about the things that weren’t accomplished will not lead to feelings of success but understanding and accepting that there are times when whatever minimal tasks we did manage to accomplish is absolutely okay will allow us to feel at peace with ourselves.

Today is survival, tomorrow is fame and fortune. Just kidding, tomorrow is simply better than today and that is enough.

Collecting moments

There are times when happiness seems like a distant dream.  A foggy memory of something you felt once upon a time.  For me that time was this week.  There were many feelings I had this week and happiness wasn’t one that stayed around for longer than a short glance and wave from across the street.

Throughout this week of anxiety, stress and uncertainty I forced myself to find joy in the moments in time that were meaningful.  When thoughts are honed in on the positives it’s easier to re-frame the overall outlook. Retrospectively throughout the week I have actually amassed quite a collection of lovely moments that brought me joy. In reality no one is happy all the time and it is the special connections we share that can bring us happiness.  Sometimes it can be helpful to take time to remember those moments and fully appreciate them.  Here are some of mine:

  • Getting a text from my spouse to say that he had bought dog food. This was a pleasant surprise which meant I didn’t have to go that evening after work.
  • Hearing a friend regale a story of accidentally seeing her next door neighbours having sex. This is not the first time this has happened and her describing what she saw made me laugh.
  • Getting an avocado pit from a friend to grow into a tree. Now that tree will forever remind me of her and will be connected to us both.
  • Putting on my Lana Del Rey vinyl, pouring a glass of whiskey and just sitting down to enjoy them both.
  • Talking about challenging work changes with friends.  The amazing part about that moment wasn’t the work changes but the knowledge that I am fortunate enough to work with a few people with whom over the years I have forged such strong friendships.

Now that they’ve been written out, it honestly doesn’t seem so bad. Those moments were special to me and I am grateful for all of them. Now feast your eyes on my pit in it’s pre-tree faze.

September 25, 2015: sex thoughts

This post is not about my thoughts on sex, this post is about the thoughts that come into my head while having sex. Unfortunately for me my brain is overactive all of the time. This is why I have difficulty sleeping and paying attention during long meetings. It is also a factor in why I have a hard time reaching organ.Thanks anxiety! You’re the best!  Well, here are tonight’s highlights:

  1. He’s doing this because he feels guilty about not knowing me well enough to buy the right snacks.
  2. I could crush his skull with my thighs right now. He’d probably stop though so I better not.
  3. I could box his head with my feet like one of those small hanging punching bags. Hehe.
  4. I should have shaved my legs this morning. 
  5. I shouldn’t have had that lemonade before bed. My stomach is making sloshing noises. Shit it’s loud. He doesn’t seem to care. 
  6. Do I have to fart? Maybe the sloshing will mask the sound if one sneaks out.
  7. He doesn’t know I have a melatonin under my tongue. I hope we’re not having sex for so long that I start to fall asleep.
  8. Must block his tongue from my mouth, he might get some melatonin on him and fall asleep. That’s stupid and impossible.
  9. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on a bed, it’s always going to make noise during sex.
  10. It feels like his penis is poking through my stomach. 
  11. Where is my t-shirt? I don’t want to get cum on the carpet. Again.
  12. Fluffy carpets are so ugly but they feel so much nicer.
  13. I should write about this in my blog. *process of recapping and embedding all the above thoughts into my memory begins.
  14. It’s cold in here, we’re going to have to turn the heat on soon.
  15. I’m sloshing again.
  16. (*hair pulling) that’s good.
  17. I’m having a hard time thinking of anything else now. I must really like that since it’s all I can focus on.

And there we have it, the summarized version of what it’s like having sex with anxiety. It’s much like the live version of the show Herman’s Head without the comedy writers and fantastic 90’s theme song. 

  

August 14, 2015: go to a yoga rave 

I had planned months ago to attend a yoga rave with a mutually anxiety ridden friend. Basically our plans only ever come to fruition 50% of the time because usually one of us backs out. We have  an understanding that we can back out without the other person being upset. It’s a lovely arrangement although we rarely see each other. I feel like my anxiety is in remission and overall it’s quite under control. I wish I could tell me from 7 years ago that things would get better.

What is a yoga rave you ask? Well it’s a facilitated yoga class held under black lights with the participants wearing glow body paint, glo-sticks and a DJ spinning house music mixes.

As the event grew closer my friend was becoming increasingly anxious about it and in the end was unable to attend because of the stress. That of course gave me an out…. The class was far away and I wouldn’t know anyone. I quite like doing things on my own, dinner, movies, galleries etc. but those are all things that don’t involve making conversation. I go to yoga alone as well but this one would be different. In the end what got me to go was the knowledge that if I didn’t, I would be disappointed in myself. I know me and I didnt want to be on the receiving end of my loathing.

When I got there, the body paint was self-administered so being friendless I painted my own damn self. I then befriended two other single riders at the event. I love engaging in conversations with people and then knowing that you’ll never have to see them again. Ever. It fulfills my joy of human interaction without any kind of comitment. 

I was overzealous with snapping my glo-stick into action and it exploded on me. The glowing green splatters looked incredible until the burning skin pain started. It took significant efforts to remove it and the effected skin turned white. I am pleased to report no lasting skin damage or pain ensued. 

The event was open to all, beginners included. Those poor beginners, fuck it was a tough and sweaty class. It moved a lot faster than a regular class given the DJ and all his unce unce unce beats. 

I spent 80% of the time watching the girl in front of me. Her poses, like her ass were tiiiiight. And dayum those tiny shorts.  Girl your ass is finer than my grandmas China. I digress. Although it might seem insignificant to many, I am proud of myself for going out and having a good time on my own. Plus: asses. 

April 26th, tell off a neighbour

I can be assertive when I need to be but I am not particularly fond of confrontation. When I saved my neighbours dog from running into the street AGAIN I was pissed. It’s a Jack Russell and it is constantly escaping from their yard and running amok. I’m surprised it hasn’t been killed. After putting it on a leash I walked it back home and the owner was driving around looking for it. She stopped, laughed and said “I should put you on my payroll.” I said something like “shut the fuck up bitch and start talking care of your goddamned dog.” Thats paraphrased of course, that’s not exactly what I said, but she knew I wasn’t pleased. The good part is she lives far enough away that I won’t see her again until next time if have to return that fucking wiry little dog. 

In other news, I believe I have finally determined the amount of alcoholic beverages I can consume without waking up in the middle of the night in a full blown panic and that number is three. Any more than three drinks and I need some drugs to calm me the fuck down. It’s been a fun/terrifying question to solve. Science!! Science? Maybe not science, but still.

I’ve also recently discovered a concrete way to measure progress in my mental health and that is by comparing my work absences from year to year. By this time last year I had been sick 16 days, this year, one day and that one day was because I was in terrible withdrawal from my anti-depressants. Although I can acknowledge that many of my depressive episodes last year were due to my situation at the time, it reinforces for me that going off my anti-depressants was the right choice for me. I know that they are the answer for many people and that’s okay, but for me, they were a big factor in my depression, suicidal thoughts and attempt. 

I’m slowly learning to accept the fact that I was a little bit of fun Bobby. Now that I don’t drink much and am relatively sane, I’m pretty fucking boring. I’m embracing my inner boring person and am enjoying that flat monotonous ride. 

  

March 10, 2015: spend Friday night hearing an environmental scientist speak 

That is perhaps not most people’s usual social activity of choice for a Friday, but it was mine. My city is currently in the process of having a company court it for a waste gasification plant located on the waterfront. There are many issues with this from an environntal, economic, tourist and social standpoint and I wanted to learn more about it. The group that put on the event was an environmental one and so the evening took on a one sided view from a passionate scientist. It was informative and was helpful given the audience. Of particular interest to me was his zero waste solution which was ripe with social enterprise ideas. 

It was lovely way to spend an evening with a friend feeling connected with our community and home by 9:30! 

I wish I could say that my anxiety attacks have stopped but they haven’t. I seem to be stuck in a sort of vortex of daily panic. I was doing so well for so long and it only took three days of triggers to put me on a repeat cycle. This mornings panic set in early. 5am early when I was woken up by the fucking birds that think everyone wants to hear their sweet spring song. Well you’re wrong birds, I want you to shut the fuck up so I can sleep later than 5am on a Saturday morning. Then of course being awake gave me opportunity to think about something occurring tomorrow (it’s a long and uninteresting story) that is causing me stress and then I could also feel shin splints from my 45 min steep decline walk to work yesterday. And bam, perfect storm. Curl up in a ball and breathe through it time. Next time I’m just going to run outside naked and yell at all the birds.