Gratitude and mental health 

It’s been way too long since my last post. Time for some updates!

Monday, I went to my ITTP class, and we were discussing gratitude journals. I must admit, I missed last Wednesday’s class – and I didn’t know we were talking about this subject. Meanwhile, in my last post I had mentioned that I was going to be keeping a gratitude journal on my own. It’s wonderful when you get your homework done, without knowing it was homework! Side point- how come this never happened to me in high school?

It’s been hit or miss – writing down what I’m grateful for hasn’t happened every day – but thanks to the efforts of a great friend (Darla!) she has at least made me stop and think momentarily about my blessings. She’s taken it upon herself to send me snapchats or FB messages each day, telling me what she is grateful for. I promise I’m going to do a better job of replying – you’ll see!

All of this is leading into an article I discovered on psychologytoday.com – 7 Benefits of Gratitude. Now, I haven’t been actively keeping track of my gratitude for long enough to see all of the benefits personally, but every one of these makes sense. Better relationships, improved physical health, improved psychological health, enhanced empathy and reduced aggression, better sleep, improved self-esteem, and increased mental health.

Doesn’t it make sense that instead of complaining about the things you don’t have, or what you think you deserve, developing an “attitude of gratitude” is a pretty simple way to open the door to happiness in life?

CBT class again tomorrow, and I am sad to say that there aren’t that many sessions left. I have enjoyed each day I’ve been there. Sure, it cuts into my day, and the stuff I am learning is not rocket science. But I’m learning how to think through situations properly, to reason with myself, to calm myself – and I’ll be sorry when it’s all done. At the beginning, 12 sessions seemed like a short time to learn anything beneficial, also a long amount of time to commit to. Now, I wish it could continue. Just sitting there, talking, and having someone help me to get out of my own thought patterns – it’s pretty great.

Happy Tuesday night everyone, and please remember to check out my FB page !

Middle of the night, perfect for figuring out life :)

The way I start this post off may confuse you when you consider the title, but it’s just for context, I swear!

The first 9 days of January (or Crapuary, as I prefer to call it) have been just that. Crap. Oh sure – I brought a lot of it on myself: my awful weekend where I backslid. Not taking my pills. Picking fights with people close to me. Staying awake for hours on end, and feeling miserable and terrible. Then sleeping for hours on end, and feeling miserable and terrible. Finally grasping that some friends are not truly friends, and that the friendships I’ve neglected require a lot of TLC from me. Both of these make me sad. Resentment towards my ex over (yes, this!) dwelling on the fact that both times I told him I was pregnant, there was no excitement. No joy. No celebrating. In fact, the 2nd time he was pretty pissed off. 6 years later I am still so mad that I missed out on that experience. Among other things that I am angry at him for. 

Some of it has been out of my control: fighting with the freaking ridiculous government over child benefits. Trying to deal with a completely unreasonable bank. Also, a neighbors house caught fire last week, and because of a previous fire experience of my own – the smell, and panic, and utter helplessness from this has gotten to me, brought back some bad memories, and worsened my anxiety. Snow, snow, snow, for weeks. Tomorrow meanwhile, it’s supposed to rain, and therefore the snow (x’s 3, mentioned above) is likely to be water in my basement. Oh, and the amazing outburst that my ex provided today while we were meeting with a CRA rep at our local MP’s office. I mean, talk about embarrassing. And childish. Finally, we’re supposed to be signing and filing our separation agreement this Friday; that has kept me awake. I want it over with – but I know I’ll endure more awful comments from HIM. (<– no, not God) Just whatever little digs he can make, however many times he can imply that I’m stupid and try to make me feel small in order to make himself feel bigger, or that this is all my fault. He’s always been good at those comments, and I came to dread them when we were together.

All of this has led to a pretty angry Julie. I’ve been moody, on edge, uber emotional, short tempered, unable to concentrate, unproductive. It’s 3:50 in the morning and I’m still awake; so tomorrow will be a challenge. I’ll have to see people I don’t want to see, go places I’d rather not, while still looking after my family, house, work responsibilities, and getting through the day. Also, I love it, but ITTP class cuts my day in half tomorrow. 

So. Because I am so tired of my ups and downs  (and if I am, I can only guess how everyone else feels!) I had to come up with a plan. And it goes like this:

  •  First I need to be firm and stop going back on my decisions. I’m so not good at follow through, but I make these decisions in the first place because I know they’re what is best for me. Now it’s time to stick with them, no matter how tough. 34 years old, and just learning to do this. Old dog, new tricks… something like that!
  • No more drinking. I have a good support system in place, and people who are prepared to be tough on me, when I find it hard to do. 
  • Don’t dwell on the crap. It’s there, sure. And it sucks! But it can be acknowledged, and then left alone. What can’t be helped doesn’t deserve excessive worry, and what can be fixed, I’ll work on actually fixing- instead of obsessing over. It doesn’t get to take up excessive amounts of my brain time, and sabotage my happiness. Not anymore. 
  • Dear person who matters NO MORE: I have come to love not dealing with your mental abuse EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. The fact that you still think you can talk to me like that infuriates me. Move on, already. In case you don’t understand: You don’t own me, you never have. I do not need your approval to live my life. I do not require your permission. Your opinion matters not a bitand you can’t control me with it anymore. (That was somewhat theraputic, and I’ll likely read it constantly.)
  • Work on those friendships!!! Those good ones, who have been there for a long time, and I have neglected. It’ll take time, but it will be so worth it. 
  • Alllllll of the exercises from my ITTP classes- I need to practise one or two each day. Make them habit. Change your actions, change your thoughts, change your life.
  • Find time each day for grateful thoughts. Jennifer Aniston has talked about listing what she is grateful each day. Hey, if it’s good for her…
  • Make a goal, for the end of each month. Make little, attainable, measurable goals for the days and weeks leading up to it. Celebrate reaching that goal. 
  • For the love of pete: put the phone down and walk away. Turn off the TV. 
  • Shut my mouth on those negative comments. I’ll never be able to harness my sarcasm – it’s a huge part of me. Still, when that sarcasm gets hurtful and mean, it’s not fun for anyone, myself included. 

Sure… for some people these things might come easily. For me, it’s going to require a lot of determimation. Some are short term, some will take longer. However, just figuring it out and knowing my gameplan, imagining it all going well – makes me feel pretty great. Even at 4:25 in the morning! Hmmm…. maybe I should add to the list: don’t make goals in the middle of the night; and work on a somewhat normal sleep schedule…..

Sometimes things don’t go as planned

Well, world- how was your weekend? 

I missed mine. I was awake for 2 hours Saturday morning, and now all of a sudden, it’s Sunday night. Oh, I was awake here and there over the last 2 days. But I wasn’t present. 

I lost a collective 36 hours while attempting to numb my mind in the most effective way I know – I was just trying to silence an inner monologue that won’t SHUT UP. On top of that, other than Friday, I have missed enough pills this week to mess me up. When those two scenarios happen, like a perfect storm in my brain – things can quickly go south for me. My ability to make good decisions quickly evaporates. 

I have always had something at the ready to dull my pain. I don’t even mean bad things- just something; coping on my own has never been a skill of mine.

Well… it’s been a while since I let it happen like this weekend.  And I feel awful. Not even physically (altho I don’t feel great, that’s for sure) but the thoughts I muted for a while, they’re still there.  I still have the feelings that made me do this in the first place. I still have the constant brain chatter, only now it’s also mad at me and the decisions I make. I still need to pull myself together and get back on track. 

It would have been easier if I hadn’t let it get so bad. It’s as if I have to be at my absolute worst before getting better feels like an improvement. 

So… new week, new opportunity to start again, again. ITTP and CBT class tomorrow. I missed a session last week and I really want to get back into that good mind frame that comes from those classes. In the meantime, I’ll take any good vibes and happy thoughts you can send my way, as it’s a long (and frustrating) way back to mental happiness. 

It’s January… do you know what that means?

Good early morning followers and visitors alike. I apologize for the hiatus in my posts; between working the holidays, having 2 kids home with me and enduring a wicked cold – I haven’t felt to inspired to sit and write. At least, nothing positive – and I daresay we’ve had enough negative posts on here to last a while!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holidays and got into 2018 without too much of a hangover… I for one spent it alone, asleep early because I had to work at 6am yesterday. (My choice!)

I don’t celebrate christmas or any other holiday this time of year but still feel like there is a huge letdown once everything is done and over with.  There are of course tons of articles about how to get through this time, when basically we just need time to go faster and be on to the next event in life. I feel like we live for yearly celebrations and events, and if these were taken from our lives, some folks wouldn’t know what to do with themselves.

Here’s an event that I’m looking forward to, coming up this month, on the 31st:

It’s Bell Let’s Talk day!! This is an amazing program that was started in 2010, the goal of which is to encourage talking about mental health, de-stigmatizing it, and supporting research towards it. Through social media and phone calls on a specific day of the year, when we ‘Spread the word’ about mental health using the ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ posts or phrase, Bell will donate 5 cents for each share/post. Do you know what this means in dollars? Take a look at this quote from their website:

Bell contributed 5 cents towards mental health initiatives by counting every text, call, tweet, Instagram post, Facebook video view, and Snapchat geofilter. Your actions resulted in Bell committing $6,585,250 more for mental health.

I have been participating in this event almost every year: tweeting, sharing FB posts, posting articles, etc., and I love the big reveal at the end- when we find out how much money has been raised from all of our hard work that day! Plus… on the Lets Talk website, you can see exactly where your money is helping throughout Canada. I am proud to have been a part of this initiative for many years now, and that so many of my friends on social media get involved too.

It’s the one time a year I feel completely comfortable flooding peoples timelines with posts. It’s so important to spread the word and help people to understand that it’s ok to talk, and if you’re the person being talked to: that it’s ok to listen, and how you can do that. If you are interested, there is a great toolkit you can download and use for incentives at work, activities at school, or wherever you feel inspired to get the conversation going.

I’ll be doing my share at my FB page Julie and the Beast (come over and check it out for other content not available on my blog) and I hope thay you will join me on January 31st in this amazing program too!

So- happy January everyone. Except for the 3 feet of snow outside my window, the -32 arctic chill and the death cold that I have, this year is off to a good start, and I personally have a hopeful outlook for 2018.

Stick a fork in me, I’m done!

We are in the home stretch people! The god awful year of 2017 is almost done, and I promise not to think about it fondly. Guaranteed I’ll think about it, because I can’t stop the anger that most of 2017 has provided me- but some day, I hope I’ll be able to put it behind me and forget all the nonsense and drama that seems to impact me greatly.

Like I did in 2002.

Like I did in 2006.

Like I did in 2015.

I’ll get over this too, and eventually, the memories of the year will be pretty blurry. Thank goodness for that.

In the meantime, the last week of the year promises to go out with a bang and lately I feel like I am taunting the universe saying “Hey, watch this – hold my beer”… tempting everything and anything to just pelt me with all they’ve got.

My step daughter is in town for her winter break visit. Not with me and MY kids (her half brother and sister) no, instead they are with my ex’s new girlfriend. For most of the days. I’m not even sure the kids will get to see her over the break. But, Old El Spouse-o doesn’t care about his kids. His game plan has always been to inconvenience people, to give himself an illusion of power by being mean, and he can do that all he wants. Someday, he’ll realize that his kids don’t respect him for this type of behavior, and that his chances with them were wasted. I can’t wait for that day.

He’s also being super shady lately. He’s always been a liar, and has never been the type of person to think far enough ahead in his lies that he can’t easily be found out. I was due to work on X-mas and he was supposed to watch our kids. He stood them up, and I had to make other arrangements. An hour after he was supposed to start work, he called me, angry (the nerve) and demanded to know where I was, why I hadn’t left the kids at the house for him, (Alone? Really? At 5:30am?) and then used that fun tone of voice he always uses when he is being condescending – trying to make me feel stupid for making a decision he forced me into. Unfortunately for him, I don’t roll over for that crap anymore. I called him out on a few things and he got flustered. Story of our relationship. This time however, I stood my ground. Oh well, that’s his new woman’s problem now. Good luck hunnie, you’ll start seeing the light soon enough.

Next on the list – my parents went to Cuba, and a day into their trip, my mom slipped in the shower, cut her head open, and fractured a rib. What a crappy vacation. They’re home now, and she has stepped in to help with my childcare situation (fractures and all!) like a trooper. I cannot thank her and my dad enough for being an extra set of parents to my kids.

NEXT. The Government has attempted another blow by reassessing my taxes for the years that they feel my marital status was a lie. (I say separated, and they think that he still lives here with me.) Canada has recently had a LOT of news stories about single/separated moms who are locked in a battle over Child Benefits. I am now one of them. Not only are the requirements to prove that I am separated outdated, but the fact that they require me to interact with a man who mentally, emotionally and physically hurt me, is shameful. They don’t care however, and even when I finally obtain all the documents they want, they will reject it and decide that I am STILL technically married.

So fine. I contacted my local MP in the wee hours of this morning, and I said that there is no way I can fight a government whose mind is made up. I had a reply within 8 hours, and that was really something. First of all, the staff in the office is off on holidays; and the email I received back was truly encouraging. It wasn’t generic, it reassured me, and it made me feel like I have someone in my corner who is going to help me fight this. Like really fight it.

Still.. there are a few more things I dread doing in the coming weeks. Court. Paperwork. Mediation. Lawyers. I dread it, but I want it done and over with so badly. I don’t want to start 2018 on a bad note. The negativity that exists in my life, needs to go. The hurts that I can’t wrap my mind around – they need to stop. For me and the kids. I don’t want another year filled with animosity, regret, anger, hate, and bottled up rage – just waiting to explode.

So… 4 days left. Hopefully uneventful…. fingers crossed. We’ll see!

 

I’d rather… 

You don’t see me cry like this, and so I don’t tell you how I really feel. I would rather that this night just pass on, and I’ll gain the strength tomorrow to pretend it doesn’t bother me. I would rather that the things you say, that feel like warm hugs to my soul, were a slap in the face- because it would be easier to deal with that. You don’t know how hard it is when you say something, and yet the follow-through is absolutely not there. That’s what breaks my soul into hundreds of pieces. That’s what shatters my confidence. That’s what makes me cry. That’s what makes me want to stop talking. You don’t seem to realize that you push me to make these choices.. You think that your actions only affect you and you’re wrong…..

💔

Good riddance, 2017

I realize my blog title is a bit ahead of its time, as there are still 10 days to go from the worst year ever. 

I can’t wait for 2018! For so many reasons:

Top of my list: I’ll soon be divorced. Now, for anyone who knows me outside of this blog and may have an opinion of this (I KNOW you’re out there) I’d just LOVE to hear from you. Then I’d love to set the record straight for you. On the other hand, I don’t need to explain myself to you; the people who need to know, do know. They also support me, so that should tell you something. Therefore, you can be enlightened, or not. Either way, it’s not going to affect me anymore. 

Next, I have so many plans for me and my kids. We already have chosen some exciting places to travel, some museums to visit, family to go see, and we’re going to make some amazing memories. Even if it’s just reading together regularly, making cookies, finger painting, the beach, whatever! This is the year of me and my children. Less overtime, more family time.

Bye bye debt. Need I say more?

NEW THINGS. This is the year of me learning some new ways to have fun. To being able to function independantly if needed. I don’t need to rely on someone else to make me happy, and I shouldn’t ever feel like I can’t function without.

Finally, possibly….. school this fall. I’m still undecided, but if I don’t – it’ll be my decision. If i do- it’ll be because I want to. It’ll be something that turns my mind on. I won’t be doing it for anyone else, and the normal things I constantly worry about -(no jobs. Can women do this type of work? Will I need to move for employment?) I’m going to decimate those thoughts. 

So, its a short post tonight, but I’m exhausted -even after sleeping most of the day- and I had to write something positive to get me through the next few days. I hope everyone reading also has a good last few days of 2017… and has plans for a bigger and better 2018.