An Update on the Road to my Recovery

I’ve been tasked at work with something creative:  (Digital) Visual (Mood) boards.  They take some time to do, but I’ve found them to be a form of therapy.  What’s more is that I got “Good work!” from my boss.

There’s often the question during an interview: “What do you value more? Money? Or recognition?”  In the few times I’ve been asked this (it’s come up in about 80% of the job interviews I’ve had), I’ve wanted to reply, “Technically, that’s three questions” but have always opted for “there’s no right or wrong answer to this question.  Both money and recognition have their merits; it depends on you as a person, your value system and how you personally measure your worth.  Sure, money can make life easier, but recognition makes a person better.  I’m on the fence really.  Some days I would love a raise, other days I’d prefer acknowledgment of a job well done.”

Whether my diplomacy has been the reason I’ve landed the jobs I’ve had, I’m not sure.  What I do know is that of late (since my relapse) hearing “You did well”, “Nice work!”, “Our agent is so impressed with the mood boards you’ve done”, “Well done on bettering your skills” is worth more than any amount of money, regardless of the currency.

I am trying hard to get back into some kind of routine which entails (in no particular order of priority):

  1. Doing something creative
  2. Doing something non-creative, but that’s still relaxing
  3. Exercising
  4. Socialising
  5. Eating & drinking water
  6. Seeing my parents
  7. Less screen-time
  8. Sleeping
  9. Setting goals
  10. Doing something for “me”

On a scale of 1-10, I’m averaging about a 7, maybe a 7.5, which isn’t bad at all considering everything that’s happened, happening and possibly going to happen [I’m not overthinking things like I used to (but I am still aware of reality)].

Creativity is important to me because I’m predominantly right-brained. I am trying to blog more (granted it’s not necessarily creative per sé, but it can be), and I am doing the mood boards for work and I’m doing the adult-colouring-in thing too.

Self-awarded grade: 6.8/10

f9505e33a4540d8ed19cb87786fe50c5Doing something non-creative, but that’s still relaxing: For the most part I’m trying to read more.  Nothing too emotional, although The Tattooist of Auschwitz is on my TBR pile.  I’m busy with Queen Mum by Kate Long at the moment and when I’m finished, I’m going to read The Woman who went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend next.  Besides the fact that the title sounds like something I sometimes feel I could do, her Adrian Mole books got me through my teenage years.  I also try to do a home-spa Sunday at least every fortnight.

Self- awarded grade: 7.3/10

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Exercising: Personal training with Steve twice a week is gruelling, but the burn is so worth it!  Last night I managed heavier weights with an additional set of reps which means I’m already a bit stronger than I was last week.  Steve told me a few times, “Well done!” which made me feel good about my achievements (as small as they are). My abs are stubborn though; they still don’t want to make an appearance, and that after I did 80 sit-ups and 80 crunches.

Self-awarded grade: 7/10

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Socialising: When I’m in remission, I’m quite the social butterfly – always up for a get-together of some sort, and no need to mentally prepare myself. Now it’s different: I have to logically consider the impact a social engagement is going to have on my energy levels, both physical and emotional, and if there is a polite exit strategy should I need to use it.  If I look back at the last six weeks, I’ve been out to various gatherings.  All of them have gone well, even those where I’ve been amongst crowds of people.

Self-awarded grade: 7/10

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Eating: The theory behind my getting back into the gym is that it would accelerate my appetite. I’m eating, but not as frequently as I should.  On the flipside, when I do eat, I opt for healthy, protein-rich foods that aid muscle recovery.  Drinking water:  It’s getting colder now, so I am consuming less water, but a lot of rooibos tea, which is loaded with antioxidants and health benefits.

Self-awarded grade:  7/10

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Seeing my parents:  I used to spend a portion of every weekend staying over at my folks, on the couch, with half my body in the kitchen and the other half in the lounge.  Since my stint in the hospital, I have been to visit them, but not stayed over.  It felt strange in the beginning to be in The Cave on a weekend, but it has proved to be good for me because I rest as and when needed.  It has also allowed for me to be able to treat my folks to some time out, even if only for a cup of tea.

Self-awarded grade:  6.5/10

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Less screen-time: Blue-light addiction is a real thing.  One of my favourite things to do is binge-watch a series on a rainy day, or a Sunday, so when the doctor told me I’d have to refrain from this pastime for a while, I was disappointed.  He explained his reasoning and medically, it makes sense.

It also allows for more time to read, take a walk or do something else that’s relaxing.  I also no longer have my phone next to my bed at night.  I often used to wake up during the night, to “check the time” on my phone and end up scrolling through Facebook, reading a Kindle book, chatting to one of my night-owl friends or playing some mindless game for hours.

My phone is still close, in the kitchen, and only set for certain important people to be able to get hold of me during the night in case of an emergency.  I’m pleased to report that what I though was going to be one of the most difficult tasks on the list is the one I’ve fared most well at.

Self-awarded grade:  8.5/10

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Sleeping: One of the signs of depression is either sleeping too much, or not sleeping at all.  Before my episode I suffered both these afflictions.  About a month before I finally cracked, I spent as much time as I was able to be awake during the day, asleep and vice versa.

I told Elena one evening while having my nails done that I’d turned into the proverbial dormouse and she said, “It’s not healthy. And you’re getting so thin. Something is wrong.”  I knew there was truth to what she’d said, but rather than admit something was amiss, I waved my hand and said, “It’s nothing, I’m just tired.  This too shall pass.”

I’ve learned that there is nothing wrong in admitting that I’m not strong all the time.  I’m sleeping a lot better – at least 8 hours a night.  Granted, the sleep meds help, but I am slowly weaning myself off them, because less screen-time, more exercise, healthier eating habits and relaxation hobbies are aiding rest too.

Self-awarded grade: 8.2/10

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Setting goals: This is one thing I’ve always abhorred, because I feel like I’ve failed if I don’t reach a goal by the deadline I’ve set.

Sure, I got my Internationally Accredited Qualification in International Trade, but it took me 12 years to finish a course that should have taken only three.

I had a goal to be driving a Mercedes or a Lexus by my fortieth birthday, so unless something miraculous happens, that will be another thing that will be on the “crashed” list.

I had a goal that by the time I was thirty I’d have travelled to London (because I have a weird fascination with the Union flag – and before anyone stones me, it’s only the Union Jack when hoisted at sea (Thank you Dr Who!).

The Steel Magnolia and I also had a goal to go to Verona in Italy before she turned sixty.  Neither of these goals has been reached because life happened.  I’ve become so used to virtually everything not going as planned, that setting goals is something I try to avoid as far as possible.

Therapy dictates though that I must set goals, so I have a list of daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual ones.  I feel disappointed in myself when I don’t achieve the really short-term ones, but I have to look at the bigger picture.

It’s easily said, but it’s a struggle, so I decided to do a digital visual “goal” board.  I’ll post it when it’s finished – that way I’ll be accountable to not only myself and my doctor, but to you, my loyal followers as well.

Self-awarded goal:  6/10

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Doing something for “me”: I’ve always joked that I’m high maintenance.  I’m probably one of the most low-maintenance women God ever created.  I’m not big on make-up, my hair is long, but hardly ever gets close to a hairdryer, not to mention a straightener, and I wear whatever I feel comfortable in.  Some days it’s a dress, some days it’s shorts, some days it’s sweats and sneakers.

Part of it stems from having never been seen as pretty.  This is something that I’ve finally admitted with the help of therapy; that I attach my worth to how people have seen me in the past.

As an elementary school child, I always wore my hair short and I hated wearing a dress.  As a teenager I had bad skin (so much so that Shayla-Rae bought me acne concealer cream for my 16th birthday) and the worst overbite imaginable which earned me the horrible name of Cliffhanger.  I was brainy too, which didn’t help matters.  Suffice to say, nerdy, pockmarked, haasbekke are not popular. I will say this though, when I do have to “clean up”, I do it well and I am a right stunner, but part of me feels a little false.

Again, this is something that will be dealt with in detail as psychoanalysis continues.

Forgive me, my brain went off the rails for a while there…

Something I do for “me”:  Every fortnight I have my nails done, and twice a year I have my hair properly tinted, highlighted and trimmed.  On the odd occasion I treat myself to peanut butter in some form or another.  And cheesecake.  And ice-cream.  And every year, I buy a book.  I don’t necessarily read it, but I will – one day!  Maybe I should put the title of a book on my goals list, and set a date to have finished reading it?  Yes, I think I’ll do that 😊

Self-awarded goal:  7.8/10

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