How’s the diet going?
Actually, it is: I’ve been exercising everyday and already lost a few pounds. I’ve managed to achieve goals even though my mental state has been somewhat crappy. Suck it, depression! *wibbles*
This isn’t a post about Charlie Sheen, but it is about winning. It’s also about friends. It’s about the kind of awesome friends you can send an email to at one o’clock in the morning after a week of mental crappiness and know they’ll write back with a ton of affirmations, lots of advice, a few expletives and a bitch-slap. This is also a post about the importance of reaching out to those kick-ass friends when you need them. Sometimes I forget to. Sometimes I feel like I’m such a burden I shouldn’t bother anyone. This is to remind myself that thinking like that is part of the bullshit that got me into trouble in the first place. Apparently, this is also a post about expletives. Well, fuck it.. they make me feel better.
I’m not going to whine about how bad a place I was in or why; it suffices to say that I was. I’m still not out of the water, but I feel like I’m at least wearing an inflatable ring.
I want this one..
I am now in the process of actually doing what I’ve been trying to put into place for a while now: giving my days some structure by setting myself small, achievable, daily, weekly and monthly goals. I know, I know.. it’s common sense, right? But it’s common sense I’ve been ignoring for too long. There are a couple of areas that I’m focusing on but I’m also putting other little things down like ‘playing with the cats’ and ‘reading’ each day. Things that I want to do, and nearly always do anyway, but that are sometimes first out of the window when depression or agitation kicks in. Rewarding myself for achieving the little goals – even if the only reward is ticking a box – at least gives me something to look back on: today might have been awful but at least I did something positive – I’m winning the long-term fight.
The main part of my focus, however, is fitness and writing. There is only so much weight I can allow myself to keep gaining and only so many times I can say ‘I want to write‘ without putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) before it gets ridiculous. It’s also damaging; it’s keying into and reinforcing a sense of worthlessness. I know fine well the fitter I am and the more I’m writing the better I’ll feel about myself and the more defenses I’ll have against the bad days. I’m not expecting the bad days to disappear forever – hell, even normal people have bad days – but I need to stop letting them take over my life.
As I live on the internet, it’s only natural (and predictable) that I’ve managed to find a few things online to help me with my goals. I discovered a reference to Spark People in one of the vast number of sites I browse on a regular basis and I decided to check it out. It’s pretty groovy. A few years ago I used to subscribe to a paid site that was similar but not as good. Spark People lets me track nutrition and exercise as well as any other custom weekly goals I care to create. It also lets you accumulate points for achievement trophies which, given my addiction to Steam achievements, was a total selling point. There is also a strong social element to the site and I have signed up to a couple of groups including ‘UK Spark’ (the site started off as a US venture, but there’s plenty enough UK users and content to make finding the right foods easy – you can enter your own, in any case) and ‘dealing with depression’. The articles I’ve seen so far are also pretty good: motivational without being condescending and not full of pseudo-science. Did I mention it’s free? Sure, there are adverts for all of the stuff they want to sell you but they are not overly ‘in your face.’ Frankly I’m impressed so far.
I’ve decided to start out by exercising for 15mins each day – I was going to set it at 30mins but I need to make sure it’s something I know I can definitely do each day and it’s working: I’m already building on it. I’m keeping my calories under the recommended guidelines and making sure I drink eight glasses of water everyday. The last is something I often neglect despite knowing that drinking lots of water always makes me feel better; I just forget. So far, so good: even after a couple days I have more energy and I’m waking up earlier; I’ve ridden out a high and a low and I’m ok.
My current exercise-of-choice is utilising my trusty step whilst watching something on the internet (for the last three days that’s been catching up with Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy – available on 4oD or YouTube - I think perhaps you need to exercise through that..
..or drop acid) but I also intend to start cycling again soon.
For writing I’ve set a really small goal of 10mins a day. This is because I know just attempting to write can be a huge trigger for me – getting into the habit of it just not being a scary thing anymore is what I need to tackle first. There are various ‘distraction-free’ writing utilities out there but I actually typed ‘write for 10 minutes’ into Google and found this site. Once you sign up you can ‘create a new post’ and then a timer will run; when your ten minutes are up it greys out, but if you wish to continue writing you can click to do so. When you’re finished you can choose to make it a public or private post; they will be collected under your username. I have extolled the virtues of Liquid Story Binder as a tool for writing for years and I can see myself doing the same for writeforten – it’s perfect.
In addition to my if-I’m-going-to-do-anything-I’m-going-to-use-the-internet-to-help-me fanaticism (I’m also using this to make longer-term or one-off goals) I’ve also adorned the wall by my desk with a very simple tracker so that I know at a glance where I’m at with the important stuff. The blue pins are for the water I need to drink, the red and yellow to monitor my caffeine and decaff intake (I want to make sure I’m not drinking too much but I’m not giving up caffeine ever again: I did it for three months and had the worst ever headaches) and the green pins are for my three must-do daily goals: exercise, read and write.
It’s not the most attractive thing in the world (especially with the cat-attacked wallpaper) but it’s effective.
Should all of this fail, I also have a screen capture of some of my friend’s words set as my desktop background because something in them made all of this possible this week, and because sometimes I need to remind myself that I’m far from alone in all of this and that I can beat this – I can win.
J, thank you!