Celebrate Small Wins

I just read a short but valuable article on the TED blog, titled “How to make your small wins work for you”. What Mehrnaz Bassiri says in these couple of paragraphs is so true:

“The problem, says Bassiri, doesn’t lie in the puniness of our accomplishments but in the outsized nature of our expectations. Whether in the news media or in our friends’ and family members’ social media posts, we’ve gotten habituated to seeing major successes — the video from an unknown musician that goes viral and scores them a spot on Beyonce’s tour, the unhealthy person who loses half their body weight and completes the Ironman, the company started by college students in a garage that gets sold for an eye-watering amount.

These stories “have programmed our thoughts and desires to want and expect the same kind of results in our own lives,” says Bassiri. “We’ve started to measure our progress on an oversized scale.” So instead of recognizing our small triumphs for what they are, we view them as failures.”

If we set goals for ourselves, instead of only recognizing our progress when crossing a specific point, or after a major “win” (which sometimes feels like it will never come), we should rather celebrate the small milestones we make along the way. Because it’s those small milestones or steps toward our goals or dreams that take us closer to them.

I’m most certainly one of those with super high expectations of myself, and get discouraged quickly and easily if I don’t see any major progress in a goal, project or  change I want to make. I become blind to the small bits of progress I do make, because it’s just “not good enough”, or “it doesn’t count”. But it is good enough. It does count. And I’m going to take note of all my smalls wins, as the article suggests.

I highly recommend giving this a read:
https://ideas.ted.com/how-to-make-your-small-wins-work-for-you/

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Up In The Air

Happy new year everyone. I know I’m a little late to the party but my mind has just been messed up. I’m feeling a lot of confusion over so many things, and haven’t been feeling quite like myself. I feel like I’m a different person. Me, but different somehow. Everything around me feels different. People look different. Sound different. There have been a couple of moments where I’m not even fully sure where I am, even though it’s my own room or another familiar place. It takes a few minutes for my brain to adjust and realize where I am. It’s almost similar to what I experience with dissociation but with an added element of not even recognizing the place at all, not just feeling distant from it. Like the one day, I was reading, and the next minute I was looking around my room aware of being two different ages at once, one under the surface, and panicking because I wasn’t in my room. It turns out that “my room” was the one we lived in when I was in my early teens. Thankfully, this state doesn’t last very long and has only happened a couple of times.

It could be due to stress. My dad told me that we’re going to be moving in February so I must start packing. He doesn’t know where. Just that we have to be out. They’re looking for a smaller and cheaper place (the business is still not doing well). I asked him whether I’ll still be able to have my own room and he said he doesn’t know. So it’s all just up in the air. And when I say all I mean all (work, relationships, etc). Nothing makes much sense. Nothing feels stable.

I’ve been trying to hold onto little things to feel some sense of normality and stability.

Will it end?

Want

I recently came across something I wrote years ago. This was before I started therapy, and it’s beautiful to see how things have changed. I still struggle with most of these things, but not to the extent I used to. It’s become easier to reach out and open up. To be honest about my feelings, needs, and wants. I’m still a work in progress, but then again, aren’t we all?

Want

You want to reach out. Instead, you keep it inside.
You want to know whether they care. But you don’t ask.
You want to be seen. Instead you hide.
You want to be heard. Yet you silence your voice.
You want to feel real. So you hurt yourself again.
You want to tell someone you want to die. That you can’t imagine living one more day. Instead, you smile, because you don’t want to be a burden.
You want to cry. Instead, you hide behind humour.
You want to open up. Instead, you put your shield up. Afraid you’ll be rejected and cast aside once again.

Longing For The Feeling Of Comfort

I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying for a while now, and even though I’m exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open, I feel unsettled and unable to drift off. Usually my night-time meds have me fast asleep within 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow, so this is quite unusual. I struggled with insomnia for as long as I can remember, but since being on this medication, it’s no longer been a problem.

“Experts” say that we shouldn’t expose ourselves to electronics before we go to sleep, and I did everything right prior to going to bed. I couldn’t sleep, so decided to rather get up and write. Maybe it will help.

Life feels off-kilter. A lot has changed and I’m struggling. It’s not just the therapy change, but things here at home as well. My uncle who used to live with us then moved out, moved back in again. Then my step-brother who had run away to go live with his girlfriend and her uncle, also came back. So for a while it was a full house. Then last month my uncle moved back out again just when I had gotten used to having him around.

I’m back at group again, but it’s all new faces. I don’t know why this affects me so much, but it does. It also doesn’t help knowing that I can only attend a few more before I’m done with the program again. So I don’t want to become used to it. Every time I go I question whether I really should be going. It’s confusing. So many things are confusing and unsettling me these days.

Even having Jasmine back in my life feels strange. Things are different. So is she. But I know that’s normal. People change. Relationships change.

I can’t get rid of this longing for the feeling of comfort. I’ve tried all my usual self-soothing and comforting tricks, but nothing is working. Instead it just seems to be getting worse. I don’t know what more to do. I just want things to feel “normal” again. I want to feel normal.

Anyway, I’m going to try going to sleep again. I’ve been having a lot of disturbing dreams the past while, and a recurring dream from my childhood has also popped up again. I’ll write about that one sometime. In the meantime I’m hoping tonight will just be 8-9 hours of blissful nothingness.

Goodnight.

Healthier Perspectives

On Wednesday I had a therapy session with the psychologist I was seeing while an in-patient at the clinic. I’ll write more about what’s happening with my therapy once I’ve had a session with my usual therapist, who is currently on leave.

When I got to the clinic, I ran into one of my roommates (who is still there). It was lovely to see her again, and we spent a few minutes catching up before my appointment.

In our session I told the therapist everything that I had mentioned in my previous post. I was worried that I’m disconnecting myself from people. She told me that she doesn’t think that’s the case. Especially since I’m still keeping in contact with my friends and family, and have made plans with two of my closest friends for Sunday (today), which I’m looking forward to. She saw me interact with my roommate before our session, and with the OT I used to have sessions with (she walked by and I made a joke with her). When the therapist told me all this, I knew she was right. I’m not pushing people away.

Since my time in the clinic I’ve developed a healthier view of connection. It didn’t start in the clinic though. I believe it’s been happening for a while now, and the breakup with Elizabeth also played a big role towards pushing me toward that healthier perspective faster.

I’ve been feeling so strange, because I’m not used to this new way of being. Over the past few days it’s starting to feel more normal. I think I’m settling into my “new” self. I’ve been practicing mindfulness every day, and am starting Yoga tomorrow. I’m taking much better care of myself these days. I’ve been learning what my limitations are. How to listen to my body. To my mind. I’m working on myself from the inside out, and I can feel my self-compassion and confidence grow. I’m also less compromising on my boundaries.

On Friday I went for a job interview. It’s for a half-day position, which is perfect for me. The interview started off well, and I was enjoying talking with the lady who was interviewing me. Then, the general manager of the company walked in and took over the interview. I wasn’t expecting this at all. My agent told me I was only meeting with the accounts manager. It was also a last-minute interview, so I didn’t have time to prepare beforehand. His questions, and the way he asked them, threw me. I felt a panic rise up inside, and the urge to run. In that moment, I mentally took a step back and allowed myself some time before I answered one of his questions. I told myself “It’s okay. Just do the best you can. That’s enough. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get this job.” That helped calm me down enough to put on a confident face again and continue on with the interview.

I was so relieved once it was done. I had been there for almost an hour… One of the longest, most intense interviews I’d ever been for. As I was walking back to my car, the old familiar voices started coming. “You blew it.”, “You can’t even interview properly.” etc. As soon as I noticed these thoughts, I started reframing them and talking back to that critic with words of compassion and love. After the interview I was convinced it was a failure. But after some self-compassion I realize that it wasn’t a complete disaster. There were good points too. Within 10 minutes I started feeling better. I bounced back quickly, and felt pretty good the rest of the day.

Last night I felt sad for a while. That my relationship with Elizabeth didn’t work out. We shared a lot of good times together. I miss our early days, and even some of the more recent moments. I miss her touch. The way she used to look at me. I miss her. But this wasn’t an overwhelming sadness. It felt more of an acceptance type of sadness. It didn’t work out. And that’s okay. I hold no resentment or bitterness toward her. She did what was best for her, and it was also the best thing for me. She’s coming through to my place tomorrow to collect her things, and I don’t know how I’ll feel when I see her again. But I’m ready. I don’t know if we can still be friends, but I’m not making that decision yet. There’s no rush.

All in all, I’ve been well. And I’m grateful to be alive.

All Around Me

Can I see the wind?
I can see it move through the trees, but I can’t see the essence of it.
I can feel it blow across my face.
The effect is there, all around me.

Can I see my growth?
I can see it in my life, but I can’t see the essence of it.
I can feel it in my heart.
The effect is there, all around me.

Never Thought I’d Be Here – Part Two

My experience at the clinic was a positive one, excluding the Friday of course. Once I settled in, I started feeling better. Friday evening I slept straight through, as well as every night I was there. Which isn’t normal for me. Usually my first night sleeping out I barely sleep at all. What made it different this time? Maybe it’s because I felt taken care of and safe. That could be it.

The first night I got room service, since I had a lot of social anxiety, and didn’t want to be around so many strangers in the dining hall. The food there was better than I thought it would be. I lost a lot of weight last year, and from a healthy weight, I’m now underweight again. I’ve always been small built and skinny, and I hated it. I’d get mocked about it in school. While others were worried about gaining weight, I was desperately trying to pick up weight for most of my life. Four years ago, I finally achieved a perfect weight. But last year, I lost it all, and more. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to go back to that weight. I’ve started eating 4 meals a day (including a protein shake). So the 3 big meals a day and 2 snack times (and hot chocolate in the evenings) at the clinic have made a difference.

I had two awesome roommates. One of them was a lot like me … The two introverts. We’re still in contact, and she refers to me as Psychologist, which I secretly love. The other one (Roommate #2) is a complete extrovert (I’m still in contact with her too), and would drive me and Roommate #1 crazy (but she knew that and was proud of it). Being in that environment, no one judges, and no matter how ‘weird’ you are, they accept you. After all we’re in the same place together, and there for somewhat similar reasons. I liked most of the people there. So many different characters. It felt like a big family. I miss the environment and the people there. Even the nurses were great.

Then there were the groups. The groups are focused exclusively on DBT, so I went to a few of those. We also had art therapy. I miss the routine there, so I’ve been trying to stick to it at home now. Lot’s of self care, eating better, having a mug of hot chocolate before bed (strangely enough, it helps me sleep), and a host of other things. It’s bound to become habit as long as I keep sticking to it.

If I could, I would have stayed for the entire three week program. At least I know that when I really need it, I can go back again.

Here’s what I learned from my time at the clinic:

It’s okay to reach out for help, and accept it when offered. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength.

Just because I feel ashamed of doing something I never thought I’d do, like going into the clinic, doesn’t mean that I have to give in to that shame.

Support groups are valuable.

A non judgemental environment, where I’m accepted, is so important. I want to surround myself with such people, and spend more time with those who make me feel like I matter, that I’m accepted and loved just the way I am. I need to find those types of people too.

I need to keep my heart open. Because the most unlikely person, might just become someone really important. Go out and meet more people. You never know who might be going through similar challenges.

Routine is valuable and important to me.

I can’t just help and support others all the time, I must also allow others to help and support me. I can’t be responsible for everyone to the detriment of myself (thanks for this revelation Therapist).

Some people are just draining. Spending more time with those who lift me up and make me feel good, is so healing. Limit my time with people who deplete my energy. I say “limit” because I don’t want to not spend any time with them, as there’s a difference between those who drain my energy due to a difference in personality (introvert vs. extrovert), and those who are a negative force in my life.

And most important of all…
The clinic isn’t as scary as I thought it would be, hence my avoidance of them my entire life. Making assumptions and judgements about things, from other people’s accounts, or from what I see in the media, is a recipe for disaster. Everyone’s experiences are different, so why fear those things that might end up not being scary at all.