Monthly and Q3 Review: September 2017

The review is slightly different this month as it’s the end of a quarter. I believe I’m getting better at answering questions about myself and how things have gone.

Quarter 3:

I’m starting to be the woman I want to be. I’m starting to get physically and mentally healthy. I’m starting to be honest with all and standing up for myself and who I want to be.

I’ve still a long way to go.

I’ve had some good memories with my mental and physical health goals this quarter.

  • Started walking the dogs again
  • Liking the feeling after completing yoga
  • Getting the courage to ask for help when I’ve needed it

I did find my lack of motivation challenging as well as getting the courage to speak up. I found it difficult accepting I needed to go back onto anti-depressants.

I honoured my theme of the year: Cherish and my ways of being this quarter, meaningful, healthy, at ease, connected, listening. Not just on my mental and physical health goals but in general and with my other goals too. You can now see my Goal List from the menu option. 

September:

Has been a mixture of ups and downs. The hardest being my Grandma C passing away. The other downs:

  • Not going to a friends birthday celebration due to having a bad day
  • Having bad days that meant I didn’t get out of bed
  • The stress of work leading up to and around the time of my Grandma passing

The Ups:

  • I’ve spent more time with my family and friends. Cherishing the time I have with them
  • Family and friends being there to support me
  • Getting a little further with my NVQ
  • Working on The Courage Council and doing the work
  • My self-care afternoon

I’ve now started doing a “blackboard” of tasks; which has been something I’ve come across the past two years of doing The Holiday Council but not doing myself. I’ve had a blackboard for a while and I would love a bigger one. My “blackboard” of tasks is a to-do-list of sorts. It has some of my goals on there as well as things I really need to do/think about.

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Overall:

A mixed month and an on the road to being myself quarter. Here’s to the next; the last of 2017. It’s certainly going quick. My two new goals for Q4 are:

  1. Speaking up
  2. Breathing techniques

I’m going to see how much of my to-do-list I do and if I add any more. As well as working on my goal list.

How was September for you?

Has Q3 treated you well?

What would you love to happen for the final quarter of 2017?

 

A Later Morning

I usually wake early. I’ve naturally done so most of my life. Getting used to waking up at 6-7 am with an alarm. Meaning I wake up around that time on days off.

Which I did this morning. After going to the toilet, I thought I’d rest my eyes a bit longer. Possibly to wake an hour later, hearing my mother-in-law go to work.

When I woke, I heard the washing machine, expecting to hear my mother-in-law to leave for work. I woke my other half. We chatted for a bit and then got up.

At this point I was getting worried for my mother-in-law. I then looked at the time to see it was 10 a.m. I couldn’t believe it. 8:30 possibly 9 a.m has been the latest I’ve ever woken.

I was gobsmacked. My first thought was “what’s wrong with me?” I took a quick moment to pause. I begun to think “I’ve been up by 7:30 all week and an earlier morning one of the days. Even yesterday on my full day off due to taking my car to the garage. Maybe I actually needed to sleep. Surely I would have woke earlier if I needed to?”

I had two and a half hours before I had to leave the house. Pausing helped me to calm down. Usually on a Saturday morning, even if it was 8 am, I wake and tend to feel anxious about not having enough time before we have to leave to take my other half to work.

I didn’t feel that way as much. Don’t get me wrong. I did have a bit of tunnel vision when doing the things this morning. Having a list in my head of what needs doing and what I would liked to have had done. I think I did well.

We got what needed doing done. My other half was at work on time. It’s a shame I couldn’t attempt a bath but there’s always next week.

Mindfulness: Turn Off Autopilot

This morning I’ve looked at the next section within my mindfulness module. As you can see from the title of the post this section was about being on autopilot. I tend to live most of my life on autopilot. I suppose you don’t really notice it until you’ve had your day and wondered what you’ve actually done.

I have a few of them. I even can be on autopilot when driving. End up at my destination and wonder how I got there. Which is not a good thing. Turning off my autopilot is what I need to learn.

What does it actually mean when you’re running on autopilot? 

It is doing things automatically without paying attention to your experiences. You’re not focusing. Meaning the negative thoughts and worries can easily start to build a life of their own.

What does becoming aware mean?

Learning to become aware of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Being in tune with what you need and want. Hopefully, to guide your actions.

My module gave me two exercises to try to help me become more mindful; The Raisin Exercise and The Body Scan.

The Raisin Exercise

This exercise you really do need to embrace the silliness of it. As you’ll see from my reflections on the exercise, I felt silly doing it. It’s called the raisin exercise but if you don’t have any or don’t like them (like me) then use another food. I chose grapes.

This exercise is to show you how it feels to be fully present in the here and now. If I felt silly during this exercise does this mean I feel silly when it comes to being in the here and now? 

You have to focus your attention on eating the raisin (or food choice). Involving being aware of the smells, images, sounds, feelings or tastes. Most of all try experience without the judgement. If your mind wanders, just bring it back.

The module gave seven steps to complete this exercise. I’m not going to detail them all. I’m just giving each step the title. It’s self-explanatory really. Just focus on that part of the food at the time of you completing the step.

  1. Find a spot
  2. Hold
  3. Smell
  4. Hear
  5. Taste
  6. Eat
  7. Swallow

I’m not gonna be mindful if I don’t put in the work, am I?

Here’s my reflection from completing this exercise:

  • I could feel the weight of the grape in my hand
  • I could smell the sweet smell of the grape
  • I noticed saliva in my mouth
  • I could hear my stomach grumbling
  • As I swallowed the grape I could feel it move down my throat

Where you able to be open to the experience and not be judgemental?

No

Did you allow yourself to be curious during the exercise?

Yes

How you found the exercise overall?

I felt silly about doing the exercise. I sat in my room where it is quieter. It got me to eat the grapes only (I don’t like raisins). I tend to eat while doing something else. When I smelt the grapes I always thought of wine. When I listened I heard what was going on around me. The washing machine going, my mum getting herself a snack and drink and a plane going over. Tasting I felt strange holding it in my mouth before I chewed it. When I swallowed, I realised I don’t think about that part before. As I continued to eat my grapes I tended to miss out steps 2 and 3. I did listen to what was going on around me. I slowed my eating down instead of rushing to eat the grapes. I think when eating I need to be more present. I may find I can enjoy food that way. Hoping it can encourage me to eat better again.

The Body Scan

This helps you experience thoughts, feelings and physical sensations as they are. Being aware what happens in your body, without trying to change anything. By focusing on each part of your body, you become in tune with your whole body.

Your body can give you loads of information. Whether you’re mindful of it or not. When I was asked which information do you remember your body giving you, I was like what you on about. Thankfully there was an example. Here is mine:

  • When I have a headache, it’s often because I’m stressed
  • When my chest hurts, it’s often because I’m anxious
  • When my shoulders hurt it’s because I’m feeling tense
  • When my stomach is noisy, it’s because I’m hungry
  • When my eyes start to feel heavy, it’s because I’m tired

To complete the body scan I listened to the audio that was about 15 minutes. To sum it up you find a spot you won’t be disturbed, even if it’s for 5 minutes. Lie down, be comfortable. Just try not to fall asleep. Be open to the experience and not be judgemental. Focus on one part of your body at a time, going from your toes to the top of your head, slowly.

My reflection:

What did you notice?

That parts of my body were tense and others ached. I found it nice to be laying there not doing something taxing with my mind.

What went well?

I really liked having the audio there. It made me go back to doing what I needed if I did get distracted. But I did find that I was being distracted less.

What was difficult?

Unsure if there was actually something I found difficult. Yes, I got distracted but because of the audio, I was able to go straight back. I have saved it to listen to it again at a later date when I’m completing a body scan.

Coming to the end of the module. It gave me homework. I felt I was back at school. My homework is this:

  • Pick one daily activity that you will complete with total awareness. (Try a simple activity) > I’ll choose brushing my teeth
  • Pay special attention to the 1st bite of your dinner
  • Practice the body scan at least 4x a week
  • Fill in your mindfulness diary each time you practice

I was gonna see how many sections I could get done today. But now that I know I have homework and I should be taking everything slowly. I will do a section a week on my mindfulness day.

Then in between, I can carry out my homework. Putting the work in to be mindful.

 

Confidence

I started week one of The Courage Council today. The first five-minute task were prompts about believing in yourself. I wrote things down but I struggled to answer.

That realisation of not believing in myself or knowing what I’m proud of about myself. It’s disheartening to me. That positivity and strength, Molly was talking about. I lack within myself.

This needs to change!

The next task to write down the doubts I carry. Well, that wasn’t hard. I even kept going over time.

The doubts need to change to beliefs!

Again I found the same thing during the slices of life task. I was able to fill in my destroy and weakness boxes. The build and strength ones on the other hand only had one or two in or nothing at all.

I may have already started this work but I’ve already noticed something I need to improve upon.


I’ve always struggled with confidence but I thought I had belief in myself. I find simple things hard to do. Just like a moment ago for instance. I needed my neighbour to move her car to enable me to move mine, in order for my stepdad to get his van on the drive once he got home.

I went straight to panic mode. Even asked my mum if she’d do it. I knew the answer was gonna be no. I took a deep breath, put a big jumper on and went round.

My neighbour was lovely with it. Happy to move her car. Said she was even watching out for my stepdad to get home.

I don’t know why but I find speaking up, asking for what I want scary.

Let’s make a goal.

Goal: Do the things that scare me

It’s quite a broad goal but right now a lot of things scare me. I have a fear of baths remember. Big or small. I need to do them.

 

My Vicious Cycle

For the past 6 weeks, I’ve been going to counselling sessions called Positive Steps. I haven’t felt any different by going. Especially lately as I’ve felt I’ve been going backwards. I am to blame because I haven’t been doing the work.

That has changed.

I’ve started going through my booklet. Doing the work. So far I’ve read what stress is, why we get stressed, symptoms, low moods and anxiety.

It makes sense to me. I can relate to it.

I have completed the first task which is the vicious cycle. I’ve focused on mine on generalised stress, mood and anxiety. Life basically. This is the biggest impact to me, I believe. Which then impacts my other areas of life. This is what I want to look at throughout the course.

Where I want to. I’ll share too. I’ve decided I’d like to share my vicious cycle. Here it is:

Vicious CycleThen week one continues by giving quick tips and introduces mindfulness. Which is the separate online module. The one I started last week. I need to continue that as well.

I need to remember there is only so much I can do at once. I’m on a high and have the motivation to get things done. I don’t wanna jeopardise my healing progress. Is healing process the best way to put it? I dunno. I’ll leave it to you to think of your version.

As I’ve done session one. I’m gonna stop and so some another day. I had my mindfulness module and my courage council work up. That’s gonna be too much. I’m already feeling tired. I’ve been working all day. I think it’s time to relax and switch off for a bit before bed.

I’ve decided to put some music on, do some of my jigsaw puzzle and possibly read before bed. Meaning today would be a none telly day. Woo!

What is there to be down about?

Feeling in a low mood.

Should have a reason to be.

But there is none.


When I feel this way, it stresses me out. Making me worse. A part of me thinks you’re in a low mood, so why? What is there to be down about?

Because I can’t think or figure out why. I struggle to get my head around it even more. I read somewhere, I can’t remember who said it.

Own what your feeling. If your in a low mood and want to get in bed. Then do so. Once you’ve done it. You’ll feel better. Or at least better enough to do something else.

I suppose this has worked for me. I know I should be doing something on my to do list. My mood takes over. I curl up and watch films. There are times I have stopped part way through a film and thought “What am I doing? I need to be doing something”.

Kicking me into gear to do something I need to do. Other times I have to force myself. Something I’ve had to do today. To take in my repeat prescription. To fill up my windscreen wash that has been empty for days. Exercise. Walk the dogs.

I have a list of things to do. As they have no deadlines they don’t get done. Just because I’m in a low mood. Just because I’m struggling to cope with parts of like others find easy and don’t think about.

I’m not wrong to feel this way. There has to be a specific reason for the cause. There are multiple things, all happening at the same time. Whether I fully understand my mental or physical reactions. Or able to answer what is there to be down about or not is irrelevant.

I need to take things slowly. Step by step. Deal with what’s in front of me at the time. Talk about it. Write each evening is something I need to do. All this was inside me and I didn’t know it until I got here.

Whether my mind makes sense or not. I’m on the road to recovery. Slowly but surely. My blog is called My Mind Medicine after all.

Some Words I Put Together

Mind racing

Thoughts a blur

Full of expectations

Heartbreak pending.

Close your eyes

Take deep breaths

Fuel the fire

Feel the roar.

Calm the mind

Listen to thoughts

Lower expectations

Fix your heart.