THINGS and SITUATIONS: How to Have Healthy Relationships

This has been a difficult post to write, since most of my post are spastic and spur-of-the-moment, but this topic is very important to me.

What is your relationship with exercise? With food? With alcohol? With TV? With shopping? I doubt most people have willingly reflected on these questions.

What do you mean “what is my relationship”? I mean what are your emotional associations and habits that go with this activity or thing?

For example, I will share about my relationship with exercise. Exercise has never been a constant in my life until recently. I ran cross country and played softball in high school, but just barely tolerated the vigorous running schedule and the sprinting drills. I got to college and I did not work out. Ever. Luckily I have a fast metabolism and danced (a LOT) every time I went out. The rest of college pretty much went the same way. I felt a lot of pressure to be fit, but I could never commit to a lifestyle change or even a steady schedule. This was due to my relationship with exercise.

My relationship before August: I felt a lot of guilt whenever I thought I should be more fit or exercising. I though it was something that people forced themselves to do. I thought it would be a huge adjustment to make my life more active. Every time I went I thought I was not doing enough, or that people in the gym who were regulars were judging me. Therefore I had a terrible abusive relationship with exercise.

My progression towards a healthy relationship with exercise started when I  moved to Washington in August and was surrounded by my housemates who were all active people. We would go to the gym together, and there was no pressure from them. I also did not know anyone in my gym (it is really important for me to remain anonymous in that place because it’s a vulnerable place for me), so did not feel judged. Hell, for all they knew I was already a marathon runner :P. I adopted a new attitude. Simply showing up at the gym for me was enough. The act of going to the gym was where I derived my satisfaction, not based on how much I accomplished. BUT surprisingly, whenever I would go to they gym I really would try hard and accomplish more than I expected. This is because the only expectations I had was that I would go there and do something. I did not expect to run 20 miles a week or go to the gym everyday.

My relationship now: Tada! My relationship has evolved. I have accepted that being active is something my body needs (just like your dog needs to be taken on walks…my legs need to be taken to run/bike!). I hold myself to low standards, and my only expectation is that my life continues to be an active one. I love going to the gym….it’s a place where my mind has no place and my body takes over (which is a very welcome relief). I feel like I belong there.

Now that I have moved the relationship to a positive one; Where do I think my relationship can take me next? I think that the longer my life is an active one, the more I can elevate my standards. I can start to train for a half-marathon and be confident I will not let myself down. Even if I miss a day of training, I will be kind to myself, and be more ready to get back at it the next day.

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Happy Day!

Despite sleeping only 5 hours (not because I only needed 5…but because I was volunteering at an overnight homeless shelter)…I am happy and calm! Thank God I ran this morning…otherwise I would probably be delirious.

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Meds vs. Natural Remedies

Before I get to vegetarianism and exercise, I’ve got to fill you in on my story (or at least the most recent part…the tip of the iceberg).

I just stopped taking Wellbutrin XL 150mg last week. I was having serious paranoia and delusions. I felt like I was watching my world from the outside at some points, at others I felt like I was high because everything seemed so surreal. Several different moods/delusional states came throughout the day. Even periods of feeling normal (although short lived) occurred. I bounced between hyper focus, hyperactivity that was so intense I felt agitated, and a zombie-like state where I was completely non functional and could barely follow a normal conversation.

Of course this all started and intensified the one week my counselor was out of town. After one day of feeling helpless, terrified, feeling like I was losing it, and being completely alone in it all I stopped taking my meds. I tried to get in for an emergency appointment with a psychiatrist but this didn’t work out because it was such short notice. I then went home for the weekend and talked to my parents about what had been going on (their reaction would take up an entire post by itself) and slept a lot…..probably a reversion towards depression from stopping my meds.

After my return to home and sanity (at least life without paralyzingly paranoia), I finally had a scheduled appointment with my counselor. I had written down a lot of stuff about how I was feeling the week she was gone and I read it to her. I think we made a lot of progress…it’s hard to explain everything that’s going on when I’m in her office without something to jog my memory. I’ve also been using a mood chart. I’m stuck between depression and hypo mania and it’s very confusing. I’m having trouble getting to work before 11 (even though I’m supposed to be there at 9) because in the mornings I have thoughts that I don’t give a shit about being at work….so why the hell go? Thank God I opened up to my supervisor about my issues with depression when all this first started happening so she’s understanding. In the afternoons I’m very productive, charismatic, and seemingly normal or even great. After work this accelerates towards racing thoughts, and speaking so quickly my housemates can’t understand what I am saying. This culminates in a lot of activity at night and an inability to settle down for bed. Some nights, but not all, I also have insomnia. The thing is I only see how unstable it all is when I write it down or use a mood chart. Because up until now I thought I had a pretty great day. Well….it was great…just also very unstable.

SO the point I wanted to get at….but had to fill you in first….was that I DO NOT want to go on lithium. I did way too much research for my own good and now I think it’ll just make me boring, fat, tired, and not me. Basically I’m looking into any alternative to treat myself.

My housemates and I are vegetarians for lent and we watched the documentary Forks Over Knives this week to dive into the issue. The basic premise of the film is that eliminating all animal products from our diets can help us avoid cancer and heart failure, and can give us more energy and a longer life span.

So then I got to thinking about mental health issues and how they could possibly be helped by this diet. The U.S. has the highest percentage of bipolar disorder in the world, just like heart disease and type II diabetes. The movie claims these percentages are due to our diet….so maybe it’s also true for our mental illness epidemic.

I have decided that, instead of going back on meds, I will remain almost vegan (because I can’t live without butter) and will start going back to the gym to run on a daily basis. Running will be my “pill” that I must take everyday. Already today I ran for the first time in a few weeks and it curbed most of my nighttime hyperactivity and gave me a sense of calm.

I feel the least I can do before committing myself to a long affair with lithium is to try a natural route.