Pin cushion

I tried acupuncture, three times now, and I have mixed feelings. My initial feeling was “I feel like this might be total B.S.” Still, there is plenty of science suggesting it can work for various ailments, and I’ve started reading the famous book about back pain (Healing Back Pain) to help me see the mind body connection that could be impacting my inability to stay awake.

The first time I went, I left feeling invigorated, but the second two times it seemed to have lost it’s novelty already, and I’ve still been tired.

There must be a way to understand and fix this fatigue.

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Define by moments

I am very good at listing off personal identifiers, aspects of my identity that I strongly connect to. I realize, though, that I have a negative or neutral relationships with most of the things that I list. Most days, if asked, “someone who suffers from anxiety” would top the list.

This isn’t the case in the moments when I am out of my own mind: helping others, planning something new, cooking, reading something I care about, listening to someone else’s life, understanding new things, etc.

Last night, I was helping my S.O. with flashcards for some material she is hoping to learn. I was making up tricks to memorizing the real estate terms she would be tested on, and I felt strangely alive. My mind was working, thinking creatively, applying itself to a real and concrete problem that I wanted to solve.

Maybe the problem isn’t my anxiety or whatever else I could identify abstractly. Maybe the problem is that, in the moments where I define myself that way, I don’t try to find moments to bring my mind to life. My brain is working overtime trying to function, so my mind sits aside, watching, wishing, and then falling asleep. Maybe I just need to be more aware of this in daily moments, both good and bad.

That person I actually like

I’ve been spending a lot of time in a state of at least partial self-loathing. Not generally a total meltdown, but a twinge of “I’m not good enough” or “this is awful” seems to stain everything that I do.

Last night, while my S.O. (significant other) filled out some stressful paperwork, she asked me a few questions about what they were looking for. I answered, was supportive, and was her cheerleader, while I considered trying to make a budget. Suddenly, I noticed a totally different feeling. I was the version of myself that I actually like, one that I think I actually embody quite often, but that I completely shun and forget about when I am feeling down.

I am capable. I am an adult in a complex world with a complex personality, but I am still capable of surviving day to day, of supporting others in a productive way, and of being the person that I actually like.

Progress or something

Today, though it’s only 3:30 PM and I might be jinxing myself, will hopefully be the first day in weeks that I didn’t nap. I started the day by going to the gym, followed by some coffee (which I’ve decided is a totally acceptable crutch), followed by various other plans. I’m yawning, but I haven’t totally shut down and I’m considering that a mega success.

I’m realizing that, while I tend to perseverate over the issues I’m having, stress about holding them in my brain, and fail to act on them, this is the opposite of what I should be doing. I need to take action: see doctors, go to the gym, read articles, etc. I don’t need to vent and stress and think and draw giant conclusions (i.e. I will never feel healthy).

I’ve been feeling very out of control lately. My mind is always taking the reigns and making me stress about things I can’t control, or things I can control but spend more time thinking about than acting on. My body has so many small health issues that seem to just drain me. My life has so much change, not all positive, and so much I can’t seem to catch up on.

How do you deal with that feeling when you can’t even sort your thoughts?

Not surprising

Not surprising at all, but I haven’t looked at those goals even ONCE since posting them. It’s almost impressive, I would say, the lack of follow through. Still, I want to keep this going. Time might force it to stick.

Lately I have been experiencing such severe fatigue, and I think I should start listening to doctors and the Pinterest-world about the many things one can do for fatigue. When I really think about it, it relates to my goals.

BE MORE SPONTANEOUS
When I’m tired, I’m not able to say “yes” to anything. By putting the effort into bettering my mental and physical health, I am working towards the ability to be spontaneous and enjoy life.

BE HEALTHIER
Fatigue is often related to health, so I’m looking forward to feeling the difference as I eat healthier, more “real” meals, and cut the coffee again. I cut it a few months ago for many weeks and felt more awake. Then, fatigue caught up with me and, instead of pushing through, I turned back to coffee. The process of giving up coffee isn’t easy, but last time I used caffeinated tea to help me make the transition.

I also need to drink more water. As someone who drinks maybe one glass of water a day, I want to become one of “those people” who carry a water bottle.

BE MORE PATIENT AND KIND
I still need to give the benefit of the doubt. While I can feel the realness of my fatigue, I need to also understand and respect the fact that it is inconvenient and unpleasant for those around me.

BE MORE WILLING
By finishing tasks, including getting healthy and keeping my home organized, I can really bring these goals into a possible reality.

BE MORE CONSISTENT
None of these things will work if I do them once a week. Let’s all hope I can do this consistently and change my life style.

Mascara at a wedding

I never really wear makeup. I could pretend it’s because I love myself just the way I am or because of some principle I hold dear, but I’m actually just lazy. When I do get dressed up for things, I manage to do some blush and mascara. I always think it’s funny, as someone who cries at weddings the moment I see the couple’s tears start, that I even bother with mascara, but these days mascara is so waterproof you essentially can’t remove it.

When my fiancé and I go to weddings, I cry tears of joy at the life of happiness and the celebration of togetherness that we are all there to be a part of. Still, almost always, I later shed a selfish tear or two at the fact that I’ll never have a typical bride-and-groom wedding. There are so many little details and traditions that I will have to alter or, at the very least, consider. I’m coming from a place of immense privilege that these are the things I worry about, but they are very real concerns for me as I think about my own future.

Last night I celebrated the beautiful marriage of my friend Jeff and his now husband. It was the first wedding I’ve been to since being engaged, and it was my first ever same-sex marriage. What an experience. I cried because I can absolutely have a dream wedding that focuses on my love and not on the fact that I am gay. All the small details and considerations aside, the wedding doesn’t need to be a series of loopholes bringing it as close as possible to a “normal” wedding. Wishing them a lifetime of happiness!

Goals on goals on goals

I’ve never liked New Year’s Resolutions. Well, that’s not actually true, but ever since I had mental health issues, I saw Resolutions as a way to fail, I saw goals as opportunities for disappointment, and I found both vague and concrete plans to be stressors.

I’ve decided to try coming up with a list of changes I could make living my life. They aren’t concrete goals, but they are things that can always be worked towards. Maybe they are more like mantras? I’m not sure, but I do wonder if reading through the list as I go about my day could improve things. Here is my list:

BE MORE SPONTANEOUS
Say “yes” to more
Be okay with having no plan

BE HEALTHIER
Focus on green foods, even when I’m not logging
Be active, even in small ways

BE MORE PATIENT AND KIND
Give the benefit of the doubt
Think about the other side

BE MORE WILLING
Do things without being asked
Finish tasks, even when it doesn’t seem necessary

BE MORE CONSISTENT
Try to think about this list daily
Actively find ways to meet my goals

When it’s 92 degrees out

I am a strong believer in all weather being 68 F and partially sunny, with a very light breeze. Yet, today Massachusetts has decided to deal us a 92 F day with bright sun and no air flow. This isn’t crazy for mid-June, but considering the spring was so cool, it took me by surprise!

I tried to take the opportunity, walking my two dogs in the sweltering ICK, to be mindful. I could trudge through the muggy day, feel the exhaustion mount, and collapse onto the couch upon returning inside. I usually would. Instead, I talked in my peppy-dog voice to my pups, waved to neighbors, and experienced the heat as the effect of the beautiful sun beaming down.

I felt the beads of sweat and realized it was my body’s visceral survival response, and the heat on my face was like a perfect day at the beach. I noted the heat rising off the street, like a mini science experiment, and I felt the randomized pulls from the two dogs and thought of their spirit and spunk.

Flower Image
Flowers by my door. Thank you photosynthesis!

So, instead of coming inside and collapsing onto the couch, I sat down and decided to write. I write to remember the moments that are hardest to grasp when emotions get in the way. I write because sometimes bad things feel better when you see them as concrete, and sometimes you don’t realize how good things are until you get them down on paper. I don’t think I realized how successfully mindful I was on that walk until I listed all I had felt, all I had noticed, all I had minded. But, don’t take my word for it. Take a walk!

A poem by Mark Strand

I have always loved poetry, more writing than reading. Reading made me feel pressure to feel something specific, and it was already hard enough to feel something besides numb. One day, I read Mark Strand’s “Keeping Things Whole” and, for me, something clicked. I don’t know what, though. I still don’t know what I feel, but I know I feel something besides numb when I read this.

Maybe I move through moments, mindfully, in order to keep whole the part of me that isn’t affected by anxiety. Too long in a moment and I risk losing that grounded piece, too.

 

Keeping Things Whole
In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

What am I doing here?

Don’t actually ask yourself that question. It is scary as f***. The answer, for me, is usually “OMG I DON’T KNOW” followed by a mild mental breakdown.

I just want to be clear that, through this blog, I am not hoping to make light of mental illness. As someone who can’t seem to escape the spiral of anxiety, depression, and more, I am hoping to ground my own thoughts. Often, people say “anxious” or “mental breakdown” when they really mean “stressed” or “bad day”. I promise to only use this medical terminology when I mean it literally. So, when I say I’ve had three panic attacks this week, I mean just that.

I named my blog “Hey, Don’t Mind Me” for two reasons. First is because I’m clever and it relates to mindfulness. Get it? I know. Second is because I don’t intend to become an internet sensation (though, I must admit, that would be kind of cool). I intend to use this for my own, selfish purpose of processing my own hopes and dreams of being more mindful.

I know everyone “has their stuff”, there is no “normal”, etc. Still, I don’t think that everyone having issues really makes a person with mental illness feel better. I have tried to use that to make me feel less disconnected from those around me, but I don’t think that having problems in life is the same as having problems processing life. 

There! I found it! The difference I can never seem to put into words.

Yes, all people struggle with concrete problems and concerns. They get frustrated or sad, and they may even fall into a true state of depression. Still, without mental illness, they can generally process the thoughts to at least understand why they are frustrated, sad, mad, angry, stressed, etc. I still face daily problems, but my neurons hate me and can’t seem to process why I’m experiencing the emotions that are swirling in my mind.

My hope is that mindfulness can bring me a step closer to “normal”, which in this case refers to the ability to process my own problems. Right now I am stressed. I am stressed because of problems at my job that will mean finding a new job. I am stressed because my adorable rescue dogs keep pooping on the floor. I am stressed because I have been having panic attacks. Ironically, or not so ironically, panic attacks cause more distress. When will the next one come? Do I truly know why it happened? Did I do my best throughout and after the panic attack?

Anyway, that is my answer, without getting all meta and overwhelmed, to the question. That’s what I’m doing here.