reflections

New routines. New self-care.

With my fiance all moved in, I had reminded myself to be Semper Gumby. Which I did phenomenally and now I’m happy to report that the period of flexibility seems over.

I have started a new, working routine, which is still being tweaked but it’s working.

We have to remember that our self care needs vary with time and with each passing day, so it is necessary to adjust accordingly. The same routine of 10 years ago is likely to not be as helpful today.

Hopefully, changes to your self-care don’t have to be drastic and overnight but small cumulative changes over time. However the change to your routine happens, remember to be flexible with yourself by do not give up.

reflections

Double red blood cell donation

I’m somewhat of a regular blood donor. Although 2017 was a bit of a wash with my iron levels dropping below minimum to donate. However, I went on the 16th to donate and was eligible to do a double red blood cell donation with an apheresis machine.

So basically, what happens is that it takes a little longer than a regular whole blood donation, but it’s touted as more beneficial for both the donor and recepient.

I couldn’t find much info to back this claim back, but I’ll take their word for it. I’ll assume that they have no reason to lie to me.

So this apheresis machine starts taking your blood and separates it into platelets, plasma, and red blood cells. Red blood cells are the ones that carry the proteins that make the blood a certain type, like O+ or AB-. And they’re able to take twice as much from you than with whole blood, without dehydrating you to no end, as the plasma and platelets are returned with some saline water.

The whole experience was not much different than regular blood donation, though it did leave a metallic taste in the back of my mouth. You can’t donate for 16 weeks (as opposed to 8). Which is fine by me. It gives me more time to recover between donations.

reflections

On the Occasion of My Son’s Birthday

What a long way I have come since I had my son!  While pregnant with him, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, which made it really hard to enjoy pregnancy and early motherhood.  To make matters a little harder, I couldn’t breastfeed as frequently and deliberately as I wanted, and then, when he was about 2.5 years old, he got diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.

Boy! It’s been a ride, but now we adore each other’s company and we love spending time together.  I torture myself over raising him right, and he does his best for mama.

It’s nothing but love, even though we can drive each other batty.  He is a loving, thriving boy, and even though I tortured myself over his diagnosis, it only means that neurodiversity is alive and well in our household.  I wonder sometimes if maybe I am high functioning autistic, because the stuff that he talks about that no one else seems to understand makes perfect sense to me.  Maybe I am just too in tune with him.

Either way, I hope my little boy continues to thrive and do better and better.  I have nothing but the best of wishes for him, including some hardship, so he knows how to overcome it, and some easy times, so he knows to be grateful.

He is, however, dangerously approaching his teens!  Eeek!  He has been quick to remind me about this, even though there are days he wishes he could be a baby again.  And as much as I long for that closeness that I wasn’t able to have when he was a newborn because of my depression, I wouldn’t change him for anything in the world!  We can’t turn back time, but we can make the best out of what’s in front of us.

reflections

Semper Gumby

There was a saying in the Navy when I was in (probably is still floating around) that one must be Semper Gumby, always flexible.

So my fiance has made it to me, along with all his stuff.  I’m beyond excited, but another thing that has happened is that my routines are all broken.  It was expected, as I no longer live alone with my cats.  But the Navy saying has probably never held so true as now:  I need to be flexible, because this is a fluid period.

My routines are broken, including my self-care, but I am working on it as I can.  Semper Gumby.  I got my nails done today.  I still drink my coffee religiously every morning.  Until things settle, Semper Gumby.

I try to take a few minutes here and there to take care of myself.  A little bit of deep breathing, a favorite meal, stretching my body mindfully, an exfoliating shower…

I know I sound very selfish, but if I don’t advocate for myself, the gains I have made in my recovery will be lost.  It’s not about being selfish, it’s about taking care of myself to be able to take care of others.  I can’t serve from an empty cup, so I have to make sure my cup is full.  It’s about not going backwards.  It’s about continuing to move forward.  And in order to move forward, Semper Gumby.  Until we figure out our routines, Semper Gumby.

 

reflections

What Is Your Self-Care Routine?

One of the things I hear the most often from my therapists is “what are you doing for self-care?”  Over the years, I have had different self-care routines, because they have had to be adjusted for different reasons.  Usually, because the routine wasn’t working too well, and it was time to go back to the drawing board and figure out the routine over again.

My self care routine nowadays consists of several things:  stress management, time management, symptoms and illness management, meditation (specifically mindfulness), and things that are likely to bring pleasure.  In addition, it also includes my values of creativity, spirituality, and friendship.

It sounds like a lot, and some days, it really is a lot.  There are days in which managing the self-care routine manages to be the task of the day.  But with practice, as with anything, it becomes a part of daily life.  Thankfully, stress management is closely related to meditation and mindfulness.  Time management is a task in and of itself, especially for someone as disorganized and unfocused as me, but with the help of calendars and to-do lists, and bouncing off my fiance helps a lot.  Structure and routine make things like time management more manageable (was that a mouthful?).  Friendship is instrumental, as isolating is usually not a good thing, and it is something that is likely to bring me pleasure.  My value of creativity is part of what fuels my blogging, sewing, and beading, which are things that are likely to bring me pleasure, too.  And of course, spirituality:  A biggie for me, as you can tell from my posts.  Not only is my spirituality good for the soul, it is also good for my mind.

My meditation practices revolve around biblical reflections and prayer.  And my mindfulness takes several forms, but usually it involves exercises that are helpful in keeping my mind in the here and now.  One of my favorite exercises is to take a shower with an exfoliating soap.  The scrubbing with the bumpy soap doesn’t let me forget that I am just taking a shower, and well, a good exfoliation is not bad for you, right?

In terms of friendship, I make sure that I cultivate the friendships I do have by keeping up with them with messages, phone calls, and the occasional coffee date or dinner out.  And sometimes, even creating bags and jewelry with them.

So, while self-care may seem like a big chore, incorporating daily exercises dealing with self care every day and in every little action possible, it is possible to make it a routine.

 

 

 

 

reflections

Self-Care

According to what I see on my Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, self-care is kind of the new buzz word, but what does it entail?  It is about taking proper care of yourself, for you, by you, because you have individual needs that only you can address best.  Self care, as the word implies, is care of yourself.  What makes you happy and recharges your batteries?  That’s self care.  And once you have figured out what recharges your batteries, coming up with the plan on how to do so.

One of the most important points of self-care is that it works for you, in accordance with your values.  Value, in this case, is a way of defining what matters to you.  Your personal values will vary a lot from person to person, even within the same group of people who generally share the same philosophies.  For example, I value creativity, therefore, a creative outlet is very important to me and my self-care.

So, for self-care to be effective, you must figure out your personal values.  Do you value spending time with family?  Do you value spending time outdoors?  If you’re not sure, it’s okay to try what other people are doing and see if it works for you.  For example, I tried drawing, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea.  I don’t draw and I don’t get pleasure from drawing, so while it may be a really good outlet for others, it certainly wasn’t for me.  But I tried, and I am happy I did, because now I know it doesn’t cut it for me.  On the same vein, I did realize that coloring is indeed anxiety-reducing for me, so it is in my self-care arsenal.

Sometimes, however, self-care can be as simple as taking a nice, long, warm shower, or drinking a cup of tea slowly, mindfully, even.

It is important to add a self-care item or two to our daily routines, and it is also important to schedule time for more involved self-care.  For example, to add an item of self-care to our daily routine, we can try to drink our morning coffee mindfully, every day.  Another way to add something to the daily routine would be to spend 5 minutes in prayer and/or meditation prior to going to sleep.  (It seems the best times for me to add some self-care to the routine is either first thing in the day, or last order of business).  I also like to schedule time on the weekends to do some coloring, journaling, or something crafty.

 

 

 

reflections

Focus and Organization

Sometimes, my largest obstacle to becoming more organized is my lack of focus.  I find something and I get completely derailed from my mission: impossible, I mean, mission:  organization.  While I have been somewhat successful at organizing, I definitely don’t have the organization of thoughts and concentration that probably needs to occur when you’re going to organize.

Well, that sounded like a tongue-twister.  But it’s true.  There is a certain level of concentration that needs to occur in order to organize a house.  The truth is, the more I research and try to deal with organization, the more I realize that I don’t know anything about organizing.

As of late, since my concentration is pretty null, I have been trying to do it only in 10 minute intervals, since it seems I can only concentrate for about 8 – 10 minutes at a time.  Cue the book: 10-Minute Declutter: The Stress-Free Habit for Simplifying Your Home.

I really enjoyed reading the book and taking notes, and even implementing the ideas it suggests.  However, the problem for me, comes when I need to plan for organization.  You can’t just throw stuff away and put stuff in drawers and cabinets, unless you have a plan to deal with it in the long-term.  And really, the only solution to clutter should be long-term oriented, or you will end up with a mountain of stuff on the dining room table all over again.

I am curious to read Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking, by the same authors (SJ Scott and Barrie Davenport).  I wonder, if there is a link between worrying and anxiety with actually having a cluttered home.  (I will report on this later, I promise, but I am trying to stay on topic.)  I do feel, that the more grateful and the more joyful I feel, the easier it is to organize.

Is it possible to organize 10 minutes at a time?  I don’t know, but I am able to do laundry 10 minutes at a time, so why not?  Here goes to hoping I can get it right!

reflections

Finding Motivation with Prayer.

You know, when you struggle with depression, it is hard to find motivation to do the smallest things.  Things that normally would get done, don’t get done.  What are normally simple tasks appear monumental.  Getting out of bed, for example.  Taking a shower, preparing breakfast, making coffee…  But there’s something I can still manage to do, and that is prayer.

I don’t have to pray a whole Rosary.  I don’t have to even complete a Hail Mary.  All I have to do is summon God and ask for his graces to just get motivated enough to get done the bare bones minimum, to ignore the Inner Mean Voice that tells me I am a failure, to get out of bed and see how my son is doing, brave my face in front of the mirror and brush my teeth.

This small prayer:  “Lord, grant me motivation to get going.” is normally good enough.  I force myself to get out of bed, and drag my feet around the house.  I keep repeating the prayer as a mantra throughout the day.  Until I find that even though I might have been dragging my feet, and skipped a few steps in the daily routine, I got things done.  And at the end of the day, the realization that the motivation to get going got granted, and humility to be thankful for it.

It is easy to take things for granted, but when it comes to being grateful, even the smallest of things is something to be thankful about.  Sometimes, just being grateful for breathing is enough to be grateful about, and it’s okay.  I have noticed that on days that I wake up thanking God for breathing, I am set in a better mindset to deal with the day than when I wake up and complain about how hard life is with depression.  Turns out gratitude is a good thing to have when you are struggling.

What are you thankful for today?

 

reflections

Forgiving Oneself and Being Forgiven

We all do some pretty bad things from time to time.  It is in our imperfect nature that we mess up.  And sometimes, we do something that we deem so terrible that we just can’t forgive ourselves.  Yes, I bet even some saints in Heaven have been there, too.  It’s all too human.

As Catholics, we have a great gift in the Holy Sacrament of Confession.  Sometimes, this guilt of having messed up, is eased by telling someone about the horrible thing we did, but it always feels better after it has been absolved by a priest (who sits in persona Christi).  Sometimes, however, even after the repentance, absolution and penitence, we still can’t seem to shake off the guilt.  I think this is because we haven’t forgiven ourselves.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the guilt – a tool that the devil sometimes uses to keep us away from Confession and from feeling better.  But we have to remember that no matter how awful our mishap/mistake/sin was, we have to forgive ourselves.  Obviously, we have the guilt because we feel bad about it, and that’s a good sign that we repent.  However, when this guilt doesn’t go away, we need to work on forgiving ourselves.  This can be hard, but the beauty of Confession is that you can bring up this pain, this guilt, as many times as needed until you process what happened.

Wallowing in the guilt is not going to make things better.  Keeping the sin to ourselves is not going to forgive it.  So, I highly encourage you to go to Confession to be forgiven and to forgive yourself.

reflections

The Inner Voice that Abuses You

We all have that inner voice that whispers “Keep going” when the going gets tough.  Unfortunately, for some of us, this voice also whispers horrible things to us throughout the day.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before.  It is that voice that tells you “ugly” when you look at the mirror.  It is that voice that tells you “you’re a failure” when you make a mistake.  We all have it, and it abuses you in different ways, at different levels, during different circumstances.

This Inner Abusive Voice keeps us depressed and anxious.  And who wouldn’t?  If you were constantly told that you’re ugly, fat, a failure, and/or unlovable, wouldn’t you feel sad? Yet, most of us have an inner abusive voice that is ready to constantly put us down.

I don’t have an answer as to how to silence these inner voices, as I am working on that in therapy, but I do have a little bit of an insight.

If Jesus is able to love us with all He is, and with his infinite compassion, why can’t we try to imitate him and love ourselves with such infinite love?  He did tell us to love one another as He has loved us.  It was His commandment.  We know we can’t love others if we don’t love ourselves, so why not start by loving ourselves a little more, so we can love our neighbor a little more, more Christlike?

We can start by having compassion for ourselves.  Maybe next time you make a mistake and you hear that snarl of your inner abusive voice saying you’re a failure, show yourself some compassion and correct that voice.  “I am not a failure, I am only human, and, as such, prone to mistakes.  Nobody is perfect, and neither am I.”  Maybe, next time that little voice is saying that you are ugly, you can correct it and say, “I am beautiful as I am, for I am made to the image and liking of God.”

These corrections are actually much better than the abusive alternative!  Maybe something to work on…