Giving Up

Well, that hiatus was unintentional.

Thank you to those who stuck with me through my silence. I have an issue with perseverance from time to time, it seems. The funny thing is, when I suddenly stopped writing, I actually had a complete draft ready to go about just that: perseverance. Oh, the irony.

Today, though, I want to address the opposite side of perseverance. I’m dealing with it in every aspect of my life right now, especially in my health.

If you’ve been reading for the last few months, you know that my psychiatrist put me on Abilify to bring down my manic episodes. Once I quit drinking and put my medication on a schedule, the Abilify started to work wonders. The downside is the lovely side effect of putting on weight.

Yaaaaay.

I did CrossFit a couple of years ago and completely fell in love, but got sick and stopped going. If you don’t know anything about CrossFit (or have only heard horror stories), here’s the gist: your start with simple warm ups like running 400m, doing squat jumps, inchworms, and other such things that would have normally been my entire workout. Then you move into the high intensity stuff, like burpee bar hops, box jumps, pull ups, various Olympic weightlifting techniques, and you do them all in prescribed reps or for time.

I went home hurting every day and it was the greatest feeling.

Now I’m trying to push myself on my own. No coaches, no cheerleaders, no partners. It’s me against me and I’m telling you it’s a hundred times harder than CrossFit ever was. All I want to do is give up, but I know I can’t. I have to beat this medication and shed the weight before I hit another all-time high. I got on the scales the other day: 228. I was at 195 in October before I started.

This reminds me a lot of writing my novel, because there have been times when I’ve wanted to give up. I can’t. The reward is too great. The same principle applies here, but I’ve never really achieved success through exercise before. I’ve had 13 years of pushing myself to write a novel. I’ve had comparatively no time to push through my mental barriers here. I find myself stopping when I know a coach would be pushing me on. This is bordering on being the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

What about you guys? Is there anything that you have to really push yourself so that you don’t give up?

Again, sorry for the hiatus and the semi-rambling post. I’ll do better this next month.

Hello 2017

Another year, another New Year’s post. I made a number of goals (not resolutions) last year. Let us see how those worked out:

  • Gotten all 12 years of my notes organized – done
  • Hired a literary agent – looooool, still working on this one.
  •  Leveled out on my meds – mostly
  • Changed jobs, whether that be via “demotion,” change of departments, or taking leave to finish my degree. – done
  •  Dated at least one person – we’re going to call this done, even though no official dates were had. It’s complicated.
  • Learned how to control my awful spending habits so that I have enough to hire a maid. – still working toward this
  • Received my phoenix and compass tattoos – nope

Not too shabby. This means it’s time to set up seven new goals for 2017. Let’s start with the ones I didn’t complete in 2016 and fill in the rest.

By the end of 2017, I will have:

  • Signed with a fabulous literary agent of awesome
  • Learned how to control my spending habits, which includes paying off at least 2 of my school loans and paying off my remaining credit balance. (I’m bound and determined to be debt free by the age of 30. I want to buy a house, dammit.)
  • Received my phoenix and compass tattoos
  • Completed two of my seven remaining college classes
  • Gotten my passport and Canadian visa
  • Become fluent in Spanish
  • Gotten involved in a serious relationship with someone who complements my brand of crazy

I think that sums up my plans for 2017 pretty well. It’s going to be a busy year. A good friend and I have resolved to be more involved in each other’s lives, so I’m excited for that. I’m still struggling a little with my mood and medication, but it’s so much better than it used to be (anxiety is currently high but manageable).

We’re gearing up for an interesting year, that’s for certain. Have you made any goals/resolutions for 2017? Not screaming in frustration at Trump’s Twitter feed, for instance? Let me know in the comments, and happy New Year.

Smile!

smileI read a blog a few weeks ago over at Anonymously Autistic about remembering the rules of social interaction. The author, Anna, has a written list of rules she follows to make sure she’s interacting with people correctly. Say hi. Smile. Talk a little, listen a lot.

I can relate to a number of things she listed, but the one that stood out to me was “Smile.” I smile a lot. I laugh a lot. Smiling when I first make eye contact with someone? That’s difficult, especially on a bad day.

My mom was shocked to learn that I struggle with smiling at people. I was raised to make eye contact, be polite, etc. I think my mother’s insistence that I make eye contact is the only reason I manage to do it now. So what about smiling? That comes with practice–practice I can do every day, a few times a day, even if I’m 100% alone.

A few years ago, probably around the time I started working at Denny’s, I made it a habit to smile whenever I saw a face. It did not have to be a real face. I have a pillow of Mitt Romney’s head (which I adoringly call Romney-Face), and even though it’s definitely cartoon-y, I still smile at it. That habit expanded to . . . the bathroom; specifically, the mirror. I made it a habit to smile any time I looked at myself in the mirror, which did great things for my self-esteem and for my ability to smile at people when I make eye contact.

What about on bad days? Same thing. It’s a legitimate habit. If I make eye contact with someone, I smile just as bright as I would on a good day. I still smile at the mirror. It helps a little. I do still have really bad days, on which I will actually avoid looking in the mirror because I don’t feel like smiling. Weird, right?

What about you? Any social rules you have to consciously follow? Do you do well with making eye contact and smiling at people?

Anxiously Bored

Almost exactly two years ago, I had a professor at Arizona State suggest to me that the best way to handle boredom is to do nothing. Don’t scroll through Facebook. Don’t flip through television channels. Don’t try to draw or find music. Don’t. Do. Anything.

It’s amazing what not doing anything can do.

I’ve dealt with some pretty serious boredom recently and the hardest thing to do is nothing. I find myself wanting to find some creative activity to fill the time. Instead, I’m taking my professor’s advice and I made a realization: boredom is my mind’s answer to being overwhelmed.

Now, there are people who legitimately have nothing to do and are basically wasting away by being bored. I’m not one of those. There’s always something to do; it’s a matter of if I want to do it or not. I actively avoid things that stress me out, so writing has been on my “avoid” list. There are a few things at work I’m avoiding. The question becomes: what do you do when you don’t want to do what you’re supposed to?

That’s where my boredom comes from, so now I’m taking time to just be still. It’s doing wonders for the anxiety. Saturday was bad, so I sat and stared at a wall for close to an hour before I figured out what I really wanted to do. Sunday was hella productive. Today is more like Saturday. I don’t really want to do much because the thought of everything I need to do makes me want to curl into a ball and hide under my desk. Combating that desire by sitting still takes more strength than I thought it would.

I’m pretty sure this is 90% just rambling, but I’m curious–why do you guys get bored? Is it really that you don’t have enough to do, or do you actually have too much and you need to disconnect? Does it tie into anxiety for you?

Mental Health Monday

I’m playing around with the idea of having themed days of the week: Mental Health Monday, Writer Wednesday, Physical Friday; you know, basic catchy alliterative crap. It would mean I have to commit to a dedicated schedule again, which would be great for my personal growth as a writer and for my readers. I always feel awkward when someone comes here expecting a mental health conversation and they get inundated with information about my novel characters. Likewise, people who read me for my writerly stuff generally don’t seem to care for my mental health posts. Separating those might be a good idea. We’ll see what happens.

Onto the mental health updates. As many of you know, I’m Bipolar II. I’m on Lamictal and Abilify. Something you may not know is that I’ve scored extremely high on autism questionnaires in the past, but have not been diagnosed as autistic since my social skills tend to be top notch (it depends on the day). I’m hardly a fount of scientific information relating to mental health issues, so I can only speak, and often do, from personal experiences.

I recently had to stop drinking in order to allow the Abilify to work. I’m bummed because I’m actually a bit of a beer snob and love trying new ones when I go to dinner. I might also be the kind of person who has a few gin and tonics on board game night. However, all of those things were impeding the Abilify, so I had to cut back. So lame.

Roses

Everything’s coming up roses.

On the positive side of things, I can see where it’s starting to kick in again. I had to call a customer three times, which would normally send waves of anxiety rolling through my body. Not today. Without even thinking, I picked up the phone and called. No anxiety, no qualms, no anything. It was freeing.

If this is what it takes to become okay, here’s to not drinking.