Gratitude

If you were to make a list of everything you love, how long would it take for you to write down yourself?

When I first read this quote it hit me hard. I don’t think I ever would have listed myself. I didn’t see myself as something, or someone, I loved. When in reality that should have been #1 on my list. I knew I had to make a change, but I wasn’t sure how. I wasn’t just going to wake up one day and love who I was, it was going to be a process.

For me, that process started by focusing much more on self-care, and doing things that made me feel good about myself. Some of these self-care/self-love moments were more extravagant, for example I’ve visited a local spa a few times for relaxation massages and facials. However others were much more low-key, like enjoying a cup of my favourite tea in my favourite mug.

Of course, some days its difficult to think of something that will make me feel good, or I’ll be too busy to find the time. On days like these I turn to my gratitude journal. If you don’t know what that is, it’s simple, it’s a list of things you’re grateful for. I started with mine on the notes app on my phone, then moved it over to an actual journal. Now my gratitude journal is full of an extensive, on-going, list of things I love as well as quotes and little doodles.

So here is a peek at my gratitude list.

  1. Coffee/Tea
  2. Heavy blankets
  3. Poetry
  4. Freckles
  5. A purring cat
  6. The ocean
  7. Baby socks
  8. A full body stretch
  9. Sunflowers
  10. Cinnamon rolls

Maybe this list will inspire you to start one of your own, or maybe you’ll return to this post one day when you’re feeling down and need to be reminded of things that make you smile.

2018

Welcome to the future, the present, and the past. This moment is all three wrapped up together. This moment is the now.

Often times we catch ourselves daydreaming about the future. Wondering what type of life we’ll be living, where we’ll be, or who we’ll be with. When we’re “living” in the future we tend to think long-term, 10, 20 years down the road, maybe more. We focus on where we want to end up and skip everything that is going to bring us there.

The past is much the same. We focus on something that has happened anywhere from yesterday, all the way back to childhood. We ruminate on past experiences that we have zero control over, memories that we will never be able to change. Scrutinizing the past has a very large impact our present emotions, and our present emotions float into our future.

I wish I could say I’m going to live completely “in the now”, that I’m not going to think about either the past or the future. However after years of failed attempts, I’ve finally realized that that might not be possible for me. What I plan on doing now is focusing on what makes the now, the now. The way I see it the present moment is actually a combination of all three; our past, present, and future.

We only exist in this present moment because we have survived our past. It’s our collection of experiences and memories that have made us who we are.

Today is yesterday’s future. We all dream of a happy-ever-after, so if we’re already living in the “future”, we need to focus on getting ourselves closer to that happy-ever-after today.

I think remembering this and trying to let it shift our mindset, allows us to better enjoy the present and appreciate it for what it is. Every second in our day is the present, past, and future. So stop looking back at yesterday, and stop waiting for tomorrow. Open your eyes to today, to the now, whatever your definition of it may be.

Once upon a time…

Our story starts in a beautiful theatre, the thick red velvet curtains are pulled open and we see a smiling woman.

She’s a seasoned actress, and has been on the same stage for 3 years. Her awards are hung meticulously on the wall, collecting dust, and there is an empty mug on very shelf. Her dressing room smells of coffee and lavender, and her door is always left open for visitors. Every day she comes in, putting on the same costume, performing the same part in the same play, just as she did the day before. She knows she’s stuck on repeat but she likes it this way, its predictable and safe.

Then one day everything changes. The director hits stop, hooks her off the stage and throws her out the side entrance. Her world is turned upside down. She spends a few days sitting among the dumpsters, breathing in the damp air, contemplating her life, trying decide which button to hit next.

Eject may sometimes feel like the only button left on the stereo. That the only option is to take out the cassette and flip it over. But regardless of how covered in dust the play button is, it will always work. Life will keep moving forward, the ribbon will keep circling through the tape.

Its a month later, she’s no longer wearing a costume and she’s no longer someone else’s puppet. For the first time in years she’s writing her own part for her own play, and her smile is not just part of a costume.

And she I will live happily ever after.

This is not the end.

Control

I hate surprises, and like always knowing what to expect. Whether it’s with work, making plans with friends, or even just my own thoughts, I like to be in control. I feel like I need to be in control. Especially when it comes to my own thoughts.

If you’ve never had intrusive thoughts, or even just had your thoughts be out-of-control, you might not know what I’m talking about, so I’ll try and explain. Intrusive thoughts are unwanted, unwarranted thoughts that usually accompany anxiety, depression, or OCD. They can come in the form of flashbacks or spontaneous thoughts, and can range anywhere from innocent to suicidal.

The best way I can explain these out-of-control thoughts is by saying it’s like putting your mind on shuffle. The next song could be Elton John, one of your favourites, or it could be U2, an album you hate that Apple chose for you. You never know what to expect, you feel like you have no control over your own mind.

This lack of control can be scary. For me, it’s very scary. I think that is why I like being in control in any area of my life that I can be. When my life is going smoothly my mind tends to be more clear. The flip side, unfortunately, also seems to be true; When I’m stressed and anxious, I have an increase of intrusive thoughts. It’s during these times that I depend on my planner, even more than usual. I use a daily planner that I absolutely love. It’s colour coded, has errand lists, to-do lists, quotes, and space for reflection. It keeps me not only organized, but grounded.

Keeping organized is my way of preventing intrusive thoughts from creeping into my mind. Some ways I cope when they do manage to sneak in are immediate affirmations, mindfulness and calming meditations, and of course, writing.

Hopefully every reader can either relate, or learn, from this post.

I’m okay, and so are you. See you next Sunday!

Hello again

After an unplanned hiatus, I’m back online. It’s been exactly 81 days since my last blogpost, and to be honest, I’m a little nervous coming back. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “Do one thing a day that scares you”, so today I’m returning to jenninix.

My last blogpost had some negative backlash. This was the first time I’ve ever received criticism on my writing, which I realize is very lucky, but nevertheless, hurtful. It made me self-conscious about posting and for a second I thought about deleting my whole blog. Instead of making any rash decisions I went “offline” for what was supposed to be a few weeks, but quickly turned into months. I was struggling with my mental health, work and school, and time seemed to be flying past me.

Cut to almost 3 months later, I’ve seen two different therapists, made some positive changes, and I’m starting to feel better. I’ve been trying new ways of taking care of myself and actually feeling the benefits. Writing has always been a positive outlet for me, so I shouldn’t stop just because one person doesn’t like it.

A good friend of mine is always telling me to “put myself out there”, so this is me putting my thoughts back out there for the world to see. A short entry with no editing to dust the cobwebs off and shake out the nerves.

See you next Sunday!

 

48 hours.

I recently spiralled down, way down, this is how it went.

10:02 pm – Arrive at the pharmacy to pick up meds. Realize they closed at 10:00

11:00 pm – Going to sleep without one of my medications. About to spend the whole night twisting and turning.

4:30 am – Wake up soaked in sweat from a nightmare. Has to get up change clothes and bedding. Spends the next hour replaying the dream in my head.

7:15 am – Alarm goes off. I roll over and go back to sleep.

7:45 am – I wake up with a start, noticing I’ve slept in and jump out of bed to get ready for work.

8:06 am – Arrive back at the pharmacy to try and pick up my meds again. Realize they don’t open until 9:00…

8:10 am – Stop at a coffee shop to pick up breakfast. Coffee is burnt and they’re out of bagels.

8:20 am – Arrive at work.

4:30 pm – Arrive home from work. Immediately put on pyjamas and get in bed. Spend the next 5 hours napping on and off.

9:00 pm – Realize I didn’t go back to the pharmacy and now I am out of 2 different medications.

9:15 pm – Going to sleep for another stress filled night.

10:45 am – I wake up and race to meet my family for breakfast.

12:00pm – Arrive home and get back in bed. Spend the next 4 hours napping on and off.

4:30 pm – Arrive at the pharmacy to pick up both medications. Immediately takes one before driving home.

5:00 pm – Sitting in the driveway, feeling so heavy, wondering if I can make it into the house.

5:05 pm – Depression sinks in. Tears start to stream down my cheeks.

5:30 pm – I’m now sobbing and can’t figure out why. All of a sudden my mind is full of negativity.

5:45 pm – My mind starts heading back to it’s old ways, wondering where my old blade is. I start fighting with myself to stop. I start begging my mind to calm down.

6:00 pm – I fill the bathtub with hot water and climb in, hoping the water burning my skin will bring me back to the present.

6:30 pm – Still can’t calm down. As I refill the tub with hotter water my mind is flooded with negativity. I’m sobbing, my chest is heavy, it feels like my lungs are about to cave in.  When I feel like I can’t breathe anymore, I close my eyes, hold my breath and sink into the water. After what feels like an eternity my body’s natural instincts kick in and I sit up.

7:00 pm – Stumbling out of the tub, I gulp in fiery air, my lungs burning.

7:15 pm – I’m sitting in my bed focusing on my breathing, eventually it slows and I begin to write this post. Breaking down the past 48 hours into specific events, and accepting each individual event for what it was allows me to move past it and back into the now.

Cut to the next morning – I feel better. Lighter.

Sometimes it’s when you’ve been feeling the best that you hit the ground the hardest. Sometimes when you forget how horrible it feels, you forget how important your medications are to you.

Sometimes when all the happy has left your body you need to crack, so the light can find it’s way back in.

 

 

 

 

 

May 12

On April 25th, 2014 I decided to turn my life around. I decided I didn’t want to be sad anymore, and if I was going to live, I was going to live happily. Two weeks later, on May 12th, 2014 I stopped self-harming and started on the road to recovery.

The road to recovery can be very long, it can last anywhere from a week to your whole life. It isn’t a road that is easily travelled; it isn’t paved and it is all up hill. You’ll need to stop and take a rest sometimes and you might even slip backwards, however push forward because the feeling at the end is worth the struggle.

Everyone travelling on the road to recovery has a different path; Mine started with the purchase of a notebook. When I decided I was ready to stop cutting, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, I wanted to stop but I wasn’t exactly ready to let go of my blade. My therapist at the time told me to do something else to release, so I bought a notebook and sliced the pages instead of my skin. Seeing the cuts of paper fall out of the book was surprisingly satisfying. I’m not saying it “cured” me, or magically stopped my cravings, but it definitely helped because since that day I have not self-harmed once.

Along my journey I’ve found other things that have helped in my recovery. Reading, writing, yoga, strength training, and especially meditation. Meditation has been the one thing that I can always go to when I need a mental break, when I need a little push further up Recovery Road, when I needed to be reminded of the beauty in the world.

Through meditation I learned the story of the lotus. I learned that the lotus has to grow through thick mud and water before it is able to open to the sun and bloom. It was this story, as well as two quotes, that inspired me to get my latest tattoo. A lotus on my right leg, the leg I used to self-harm for the quote, “I am blooming from the wound where I once bled” by the poet, Rune Lazuli. The other being the quote featured above. It was Van Gogh who said “Normality is a paved road; It’s comfortable to walk but no flowers grow on it”. Recovery Road is not necessarily a “normal” route to take in life, but it is one that will change you. It will take you off the paved road and let you bloom.

Now I am two years clean of self-harm, with a lotus tattoo to remind me of all the mud that I have travelled through, and to remind me everyday to bloom.