Spiraling up?

I went to see my therapist last night and read her yesterday’s post called “The Downward Spiral.” She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), so she wondered aloud if we could use the imagery of the spiral to think of it differently should I begin to descend into the abyss.

metal-spring-white-background-35091162-1Instead of thinking of spiralling down, she suggested, perhaps you think of using the spiral as a spring to push you up, as demonstrated in the image on the left. Using the coils, push yourself up. I like this visual and have been trying to conjure it during work today to keep me from getting angry. It’s helping me enough to get by now, although last night I was ruminating my angry thoughts, so much that I posted “I want to punch everyone!” in a private Facebook group.

Somehow I need to turn my anger into positive energy. I need to think back to earlier yesterday morning when I listened to the founder of Life is Good talk about why he founded the company. I mean, it’s called “Life is good” for peet’s sake!

I am going to work hard to ditch the anger this weekend. Getting a haircut, maybe a manicure, which should help.

And, of course, the text & emails of support I received last night as a result of yesterday’s post meant so much to me!

 

The Downward Spiral

Have you ever experienced what is referred to as the downward spiral? Urban Dictionary describes it as:

This term describes a depressive state where the person experiencing the downward spiral is getting more and more depressed, perhaps due to causes unknown. It is called a downward spiral because there is no way to stop it, it’s just going to get worse and worse… until the person crashes, and maybe finds their way back to happiness.

Today was a tough day at work – potentially enough to put me into the downward spiral. I was there last week – didn’t get out of bed except to go to the bathroom – for about 3 or 4 days. It’s hard not to blame yourself. “Snap out of it,” people used to say to me before I explained it very logically:

Think about it. If you had the choice to be depressed and in bed for 3 days, or living a meaningful happy existence, which would you choose?

I call myself a high-functioning professional living with depression. This article from Forbes articulates some of what I do to survive, including the ‘fake it until I make it’ mentality. That is one of the hardest things to do when you feel worthless. It also talks about goals, which I find helpful with therapy. Set small, attainable goals.

178336931.jpgI’m terrified I’m heading back into the spiral. I’m trying everything I can do to prevent it. I feel like I was walking along when I suddenly came across a hole in the ground. I fell into hole and now I’m hanging on with one hand, trying desperately to get my grip to pull myself back on the flat surface. The flat surface symbolizes me living my life; the whole represents the spiral. Before I lose my grip and fall into the abyss, what tools can I use to pull myself up?

  1. Talk it Out:I have a wonderful person in my life who constantly reminds me to be kinder to myself, which leads to #2…
  2. Take Other People’s Criticism with a Grain a Salt: Remember to not allow other people’s opinions of you define who you really are. I learned this the hard way at my last job, which leads to #3…
  3. Be Kind to Yourself: As humans we are full of flaws, but we are also full of wonderful qualities. Don’t beat yourself up and catastrophize things to the point where you end up on the bottom of the whole without tools – ladder, etc – to help you out.
  4. Self-Care: Do something nice for yourself. Get a manicure. Read a good book. Go to the movies. Call your mom. Write a blog post (ahem, see what I did there….)
  5. Remember, tomorrow is a new day.: Sometimes a good night’s sleep can help.

Loyal readers, wish me luck powering against the spiral.

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Good Mood

downloadI woke up this past Saturday in a good mood.

I cannot remember the last time that happened. I woke up, rest, and ready to start the day. I felt happy. As someone who has dealt with a mood disorder since her early 20s, this is almost a miracle.

Why, I asked myself? I think part of it was that my mammogram came back normal. It was the start to a long weekend. I was heading to a wedding – a happy celebration of love.

Feeling good, being in a good mood is unbelievable when you’ve been waking up feeling anxious and depressed nearly every day for the last 5 years.

I told someone the previous week that I thought I was going to die young due to all of my anxiety. I seriously thought it would kill me. Isn’t that a horrible thing to not only think but say out loud?

But I’m feeling more positive now, like I have more of a kick in my step.

At the wedding, I even made declaration that by the time my brother turned 50 (5 years), I would be in a relationship.

 

 

 

Bitching Happens Here

imagesI’ve created a category called “baggage” where I reserve the right to bitch & moan if I need to.  You can skip this section of the blog if you want only “smelling of roses moments” but I needed a place to vent. It’s the place where everyone can have a resting bitch face, and it is ok!  Feel free to make comments and complain here (as long as it isn’t about me).  Bring it on, bitches!

 

Knowing Your Limits

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How’d your Monday go?  Mine went something like this:

  • Drive to Boston in bumper to bumper traffic, resulting in getting to your 10am appointment almost 30 minutes late.
  • Walk around Boston doing various activities like conference calls, dropping off packages at Trustees homes, you know the drill.
  • Drive to the suburbs and sit in Starbucks for several hours getting your regular 8-hours of work done in about 2 hours.  Mmmm expresso.
  • Drive back to Boston for another meeting.
  • Drive back to the suburbs – head to the library this time – and spend another 2 hours trying to get regular work done.
  • Finish workday around 6:30pm because your laptop battery is about to die.
  • Then, go do errands.  Return clothes that were too small. Grrr.Hitting the Wall
  • Eat some dinner at the creepy mall food court (though it was tasty).
  • Wander through Old Navy wondering why all shirts are either super cropped or super long.  Leave.
  • Get in car and realize that you have another 1.5 hours to go before you are supposed to be at your friend’s house to watch The Bachelor season finale.  I mean, we must know if he picks Lauren B or JoJo for peet’s sake!
  • Hit a wall.  Email your friend that you’ve hit said wall and head home.

Guess what I wanted to do most of all today?  Yep, watch the Bachelor at my friend’s house.  However, it’s the first day of daylight savings, a Monday, and I’m pooped.

Sometimes you just need to know your limits.

P.S.  Rooting for Lauren.

 

 

Shame

Recently I attended a discussion with an author, Jon Ronson, about his recent book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.  It’s a fascinating read on the use – or should I say, abuse – of social media to pounce on someone for writing a stupid or silly or even misinterpreted comment on FB, Twitter, etc.

I think about these things often. Recently someone asked me how I handle being a dating blogger and working as a professional fundraiser.  I responded that I have to be ok with anyone stumbling upon my blog.  Period.  If I am not, then I have to remove it from the internet.  But I’ve realized that as I’ve gotten older, I don’t mind being a transparent human being.  If someone wants to read this and learn more about me as a whole person, then so be it.  I can’t compartmentalize myself.  I’ve tried that in the past and I end up not seeming authentic.

At the same time, I believe there is a time and a place for everything.  Probably not a great idea to talk about a one-night-stand or a drunken evening at a staff meeting at work.  That’s more for banter with your best friend or roommate.

Read Jon’s book.  It’s fascinating.

This is NOT a sponsored post and I have not affiliation with Jon.  I just dig him.

Vulnerability

At my day job, I am a fundraiser for a super cool nonprofit that supports kids with special needs.  One of the things I love about my job is what we do a lot of reading for professional development.  Most recently, we’ve read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  I’ve been really impacted by this book and by Brown’s Ted Talk, which talks about demonstrating our vulnerability.  As a self-proclaimed “people pleaser” and having a classic case of perfectionism, I have had a hard time being vulnerable.  I like to put up walls – especially when it comes to relationships – so I don’t get hurt and stay in the power position.

But, I’ve really been trying to be more open, more vulnerable.

This happened.

DSC_0110-MI was at a local event and met the awesome health editor of Boston Magazine, so I pitched the idea of featuring my recovery from binge eating disorder.  If you recall, I recently lost my therapist, Sherifa, who helped me through the most critical part of my recovery.  I said to my current therapist, “I need to give back. I need to help people like she helped me.”  I like to help others – what can I say?  So, I looked at this article as my eulogy to Sherifa.

I seriously feel completely wide open now.  I don’t know if this comparison is appropriate, but I imagine I might feel like someone who just came out to their family.  There was this huge (pun intended) weight on me and now it is removed.

I feel like I want to soar.  I want to paint, create, write.  I want to cry with joy and pain.

I know eventually things will settle down, but for now, I will enjoy this high.

Now, readers, go out and dare greatly.

Sherifa

I don’t know what to write but I know I need to write.

On my way home from work, my current therapist called me to tell me that my previous therapist, Sherifa, who had been battling stage 4 lung cancer, passed away on Sunday.  Even before she could get the words out, I knew what she was going to say.  I’ve been feeling anxious since Monday, so it feels eerie that my psyche knew something was off.  It’s amazing how intuitive humans can be.

Have you ever had someone in your life that you can safely say forever changed you?  That was Sherifa.  In 2010, I entered an intensive outpatient program – IOP – at a local eating disorder center.  You know those “aha” moments in life when you’re all fuzzy about something and then it hits you like a ton of bricks?  Well, that was my “hit by a bolt of lightning” moment when I sat at the clinic, talking to the on site therapist, when I realized that I wasn’t “yo-yo dieting” for 15 years, but rather, my struggle with weight and food had a name – binge eating disorder.  For the next two months – three nights a week – I quietly left my office and drove to Cambridge to spend several hours in a comfortable space learning why I had an eating disorder and gaining the tools (and confidence) to overcome it.  Suddenly, one night while at the clinic, I realized I had gotten all that I could out of it.  I told the on site therapist that I was ready to “graduate.”  In order to leave the program, I had to have a nutritionist and therapist lined up. In came Sherifa.

Sherifa was about 10 years older than me, divorced, and had a great fashion sense.  I was always admiring her shoes – which she always said were just as comfy as they were cute.  She possessed a warmth that very few people can claim. We quickly bonded and, while I’d like to think I was her favorite client, I have a sense she made everyone who worked with her feel that way – that they were special, unique, and, most importantly, her priority.  While Sherifa shared some aspects of her personal life – I knew she was using online dating, had two wonderful kids, etc – she was very careful to keep the professional balance with us.  When she told me she had started dating someone seriously, I was so happy for her.  She said he was an incredible man.  During her bought with cancer, she told me that he was a support for her, and I was relieved to know she had someone special in her life to comfort her when she needed it.

The truth is, she saved my life.  She helped me overcome some of my worst demons and luckily, lived to see much of my recovery from my eating disorder.  She also helped me get my finances on track, supported me as I bought my first home, and helped support me overcome endless other major and minor life battles.

She also helped me see the grey in life.  Many people who suffer from eating disorders have perfectionist personalities and only see the world as “good vs bad” or “black and white.”  Sherifa helped me understand that not everything had to be all or nothing.  I use what she taught me every day in my life and often quote her at work as I channel her wisdom. “I have to see the grey in this situation,” I hear myself saying.  She’s an angel now (even though we were both Jewish!) I carry on my shoulder every day.

When I had my housewarming party in December 2012 – after I became a first time home buyer on my own (!) – I invited Sherifa. I told her she could think about it but I wanted to share with her this milestone in my life.  I had overcome so many obstacles in my life and frankly, I told her that she needed to share in this glory because she was such an integral part of my success story.  She gave it a lot of thought and told me she was going to come to support me.  I personally think she wanted to see how cutely I had decorated!  And she came.  She met my parents and my close friends, but mostly, she stood back and observed me in this new world that she had helped me create.  I still remember proudly showing her how I had organized my linen closet (which remains just as organized!).  I hope she looked back at that moment as a career milestone.  And, Sherifa, I can tell you now that two years later, I’m still thriving in my own home.  As a housewarming gift, Sherifa brought me incense and a pretty holder.  About a year later, I told her that I had used it up and was buying more.  “You used it?  I thought you might like aroma therapy!”  To this day, I light incense in my home almost every night.

During my last meeting with Sherifa, we met at Starbucks and then headed over to a session on healthy body image at MEDA.  She had incredible back pain and couldn’t sit carefully.  A few weeks later she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she later called me to share her news. We continued to talk sporadically on the phone, and then, I would just send her text messages to let her know I was thinking of her.  The last time I spoke with Sherifa I told her that she did not have to worry about me, that “I was ok,” and she could safely know that she forever changed my life.

Sherifa, I am so happy you came into my life when you did.  I needed you more than I ever realized and am incredibly grateful that you shared yourself and your expertise with me.  I will never forget you and will always remember your smile and guidance with the utmost admiration.

The world lost a great human being far too soon.  I’m sad she won’t be able to help other people the way she helped me, but for those who knew her, you should know that my life is forever changed for knowing her.

Sherifa, us Jews are a little fuzzy on this whole heaven thing, but I’d like to imagine you in a field full of beautiful flowers with your hair blowing while wearing an endless smile.

Thank you for touching my life.

What goes up: Remembering Sept 11

Last year’s post…..

ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROAM

I don’t want to say I jinxed myself in my last post, but let’s just say that over the past weekend, I was not running around in the sun, but rather, hugging the porcelain throne.  Apparently, I’m not as recovered as I thought.  So, it’s back to the bland diet and taking it easy.

In other news, today is Sept 11.  If you live under a rock, you may not know that today marks the anniversary of when two airplanes flew into the World Trade Center, one plane flew into the Pentagon, and a final plan, heading for DC, crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.  Everyone has a story and remembers where they were on that tragic day.  I was living and working in Washington, DC.  Not surprising, I was running late that day and decided to drive to work instead of taking the bus.  I recall sitting in my…

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