Career Choices

Thank you so much for the kind comments I got regarding my post yesterday.

I finally went swimming again today, for about 15 min., and I feel so much better. Exercise is essential to my life! I also went on a 15 min. walk with my dog. I can’t believe I am up to 15 min. now with walking. JSometimes I can even do a little more than that.

I am just committing to swim more. Since I feel too anxious riding the bus there and going by myself, I am getting up early to either go with my husband to the gym or to have him drop me off there on his way to work. Then I just ride the bus home in that case. I am getting more used to getting up early.

I am using lots of my DBT skills again. I am in a group right now for group therapy and I shared an introductory article about DBT with my group and encouraged them to buy this workbook that I am working through. I have read it before and it’s great. I would really recommend it. I am such a big proponent of DBT. My therapist keeps telling me that I should be a therapist, but that’s not really something I’m interested in, unless I could lead DBT classes. It’s something I’m really passionate about.

Skills that I’m using right now:

  • Opposite-Action: this involves forcing you to do the opposite of your natural inclination driven by a certain emotion. For instance, when we are sad, we have a tendency to want to rest and curl up in bed, but sometimes just making yourself get up and do something such as cleaning or going for a walk will improve your mood. You can also smile! Studies have shown that the simple act of smiling actually influences your brain to be happier. This is kind of the premise of DBT. Instead of traditional cognitive behavioral therapy which tells us that changing your thoughts will change your mood and actions, DBT focuses on changing your actions first and letting your thoughts and mood improve as a result. I have been using this skill a lot. Just forcing myself to get out of bed and clean, cook, or get outside and go on a walk helps me get through the day.
  • Mindfulness: trying to stay in the present moment and take it one day at a time
  • Prayer

Upcoming things to look forward to:

  • My dad and my sister are coming to San Diego this weekend!
  • Valentine’s Day! Apparently my husband has something special planned for us
  • In March, hopefully, my youngest brother-in-law will be coming to visit
  • In early April my aunt and her family will be in San Diego. She’s my favorite aunt and she lives in Montana so I don’t get to see her very often.
  • In late April we are going to Northern California for my husband’s family’s reunion. I am very, very excited because we are going to drive up the coast and stopping in either Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo for a night!
  • In May, my other brother-in-law and some of my husband’s high school friends are coming to visit
  • In July, we will go to my in-laws annual Fourth of July party
  • In July also, my cousin is getting married in Montana so I will have my family’s reunion there

Lots of fun travels coming up! I am supposed to be taking this microbiology class online starting in March as well. The bill for it is due February 15. I’m still a little unsure about it because of the money aspect and not knowing my final career path. I might apply for a public health Master’s program this spring that would start in August. I just have this huge fear that I will enter a program and spend all this money and then still not be able to work. Because that has happened to me before, when I was pursuing a master’s degree in education. I had to drop out of school. And I still have the student loans to pay. But I guess I just have to go for it? The thought of never having a career of my own makes me very sad. I just know I want to work in healthcare again. I really want to be a nurse practitioner, but I get extremely frustrated about the competitiveness and picky prerequisites of the programs. It just seems so much easier to enter a Master’s program because they’re so much easier to get into. Like the application process is so much easier! I am just nervous about my ability to use the computer. I wish I had a diagnosis so that people would take it more seriously and view it as a disability and give me accommodations. That is the most frustrating part. I just can’t decide what to do! How many years have I been talking about these things, even on this blog?!?!

I just have to take it one day at a time, try to get well, and then just jump into something I think. Some days, like today I feel I could do it. Some days I feel terrible physically and doubt it. Doctors just throw so many things around: MS, fibromyalgia, some idiopathic nerve disorder, solely a mental health issue, etc. I am glad to have this hour-long appointment coming up with an MD. – just going to ask all my questions, and then I’m going to do what might psychiatrist said: just pursue alternative and lifestyle therapies, like nutrition and exercise, and do my best.

There are so many careers I’m interested in: high school teaching, clinical laboratory work again, nurse practitioner, public health (focused on mental health), even recently social work. I wonder what would work best for me: I think I should talk about this in therapy tomorrow and just pick something.

I’m supposed to start volunteering at the animal shelter, but the orientation is this weekend and I’m going to be out of town. I didn’t realize it was this weekend. Hopefully there will be another one in March. I am definitely feeling busier with all of these doctor appointments. I just want to sit down with someone and have them help me go through these career choices. How could I do that?

I sure do love my puppy!

You know what my new find is lately? Sunbutter! It’s delicious! Also, Swiss chard. I’m making that tonight. Only three weeks until this dietitian appointment.

sun

Hopefully you’re all well. How did you decide on your career?

ABC

Recent ways I have added joy:

  • Spent a lot of time last week with friends (even though we spent way too much money!)
  • After first worrying that a) I was intruding and b) I wouldn’t be a walk around very well, I decided to go to a concert at THE Greek Theater in LA with B and his brother (who was in town visiting for the weekend from Seattle). It was awesome. Awesome venue, awesome acoustics/sound. I’m so glad I didn’t pass up the opportunity to see this iconic venue.
  • And now for the more important ones: I have let myself just then I watch TV, I have written in my wife’s journal, use the ABC skill, let myself read, and let myself go to bed early. I have told myself over and over that nothing else matters except that I use my DBT skills.

What is the ABC skill?

A BC stands for Accumulate Positives, Build Mastery, Cope Ahead. It feels incredibly empowering to make small steps to set things up for yourself.

You have to remember to be patient as well, but this skill really works for me. Accumulate Positives refers to the concept of adding joy. Building mastery And finally, coping ahead is the process of setting up small steps to reach her goals and accomplish things. It can also mean setting up a plan to cope with a challenge in your future. Obviously, I kind of modify these skills regarding what they mean to me.

Examples:

  1. I am focusing one.second.at.a.time on setting up my future career. I talk about this all the time on her, and it probably seems like I change my mind all the time (imagine how B feels!), But really I am just modifying things all the time when I run into obstacles. Most of these nowadays have to do with my nerve disorder and it’s extremely frustrating. Right now I have chosen a program that I am in the process as we speak of applying to. It’s going in a totally different correction for me, and I think you and everyone else will be really surprised when I finally reveal it. The only thing holding me back rain now is being frustrated that I will have to do it online because I can’t get over to the campus and do the campus-based program like I want to. I don’t want to do it online because I want to get out of the house, but also because I am worried about my arms giving out. But I guess I can take my time, maybe look into disability resources, and take longer in the program if I need to. I just have to look at each step as using the ABC skill. I literally go crazy here some days. I just want to be somewhere, Schedule, get out of the house and escape the thoughts in my head by being absorbed and engaged in something that is fulfilling to me. This is just the first step in getting there. I am starting to accept that even if I do this program and have to do it online, I will just have to hang on until I am done with it to have a job where I get out of the house. I can also take other possible steps of maybe getting me a cheap, old car so that I can get out to the coffee shop or bookstore. Or maybe still set up a volunteer opportunity, the same one with the travelers organization that I have been looking at.
  2. I am still writing down my 1 to 3 things I need to accomplish each day. For instance, today my normal laundry, finalizing our wedding venue contract (we finally got the final one and I am sending it in tomorrow with the deposit check!), and making as much progress as I can on this application whenever I feel worthless.

Last night, I was just crying and crying in frustration. But the thing that is going to help is to turn in this application, and brainstorm a solution to set up a schedule for myself and get me out of the house. I am so glad I wrote a blog post about this today, because it is really reiterating to me how just these few simple steps are doable and vital to me. So often I have to break it down into a phrase that I can write down on a piece of paper. I have to think of just a few simple steps or my mind grows wider and wider with all of these things to think about. So all I have to think about tonight is finishing this application is much as possible, and putting away laundry. All I have to think about tomorrow is calling the volunteer place to set up a meeting. That’s it.

TOO in tune with feelings?

Guys, yesterday was a huge success for me. I stuck to my healthy living goals. I used my DBT skills. There were definitely hard thoughts I had to battle. But that’s not what constitutes a good day. Not necessarily. A good day to me is one in which no matter what hard things I have to face, I cope positively. And yesterday I did that. Coping positively means using coping skills without hurting yourself because of the hard stuff. When you take a struggle, and turn it in on yourself, that is the definition of bad day to me. That is hellish.

Do read Oprah.com? I personally love Oprah, especially her magazine. Her website has a lot of the stuff from her magazine and similar content. I wanted to share this article with you from her website. I thought it was really interesting. It’s about how in tune you are with your feelings. Of particular interest to me was the realization that one can be too in tune with one’s feelings. I did the quiz, and the answer that came up for me was spot on.

It said that I am totally in tune with my feelings, but that I don’t do anything with my knowledge. This is so true about me. I have had so many therapists tell me, as a compliment, that I am so insightful. I think that they think a lot of their work is getting people to have insight on themselves. But this gets kind of frustrating after a while. I know always why I do everything, and what my feelings mean, but all too often I can’t use this knowledge to change anything. It’s actually kind of maddening. This is why I like dialectical behavior therapy so much, as opposed to the more common cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s about feeling your feelings, processing them, and then using the coping skills to change action, not just thoughts. It’s about finding out that sometimes even changing your actions first makes the more positive thinking patterns flow, even just forcing that, instead of the other way around.

Also, if you are too in tune with your feelings, then maybe all you think about is your feelings. This causes you to just dwell on things and not move forward with your life. You over-analyze everything. So overall we need to be somewhere in between, able to realize and process our feelings, but not dwell on them so much that we don’t go anywhere.

I am curious to see where you fall on the spectrum. Are you in tune with your feelings? (This in itself is a problem for some people where they aren’t at all.) Are you too in tune but stuck not changing your actions? Or are you able to be in tune and then make changes? That last part is where I want to be, yesterday was an example of me getting there.

Also, do you watch The View? I have started loving The View. Today they were talking about breast-feeding in public. Everyone on the show was of the opinion that women should be able to breast-feed in public. What do you think? I personally think that women should be able to as long as the cover up a little with a blanket. It’s ridiculous to make breast-feeding shameful and expect women to go hide in the bathroom just to feed their baby. My cousin had a baby last summer and when I went to visit her in Montana, she did it in public but with the blanket and I thought that was the perfect way to go.

*Any typos due to my dictation program. 😉

Life, the experiment

I get ideas for posts, actual ideas, of wisdom I hope to share and explore, and I don’t always end up posting them but I hope this ones makes sense because it’s a good one.

Life, the experiment.

This is something that has been TREMENDOUSLY useful to me in the past on certain days, but that I hope to cultivate as a philosophy that I hold on to for awhile right now.

I have a book that talks about treating your recovery from an eating disorder as an experiment. To explain: Say to yourself, “I’ll try this for X amount of time, and if that doesn’t work, I can always go back to what I am doing now.”

Well, that kind of thinking works for me. It follows something I was taught in my DBT group almost two years ago (wow, can’t believe it’s been that long – that group changed my life, it is how I am here today). They talked about how when you are suicidal or think you can’t go one more day, just treat life as an experiment. Say to yourself, ‘I’ll just try life for one more day. If it doesn’t work out, I still have the option of exiting this life, but I can try it for one more day.” It gives you a sense of power, because, really, you always have a choice. It helps makes things not such a big deal, if you are just trying an experiment day by day. I have used this when I didn’t want to live anymore, but I don’t think you have to be on the suicidal end of the spectrum to use it. Like now, I am using it as an experiment to give up negative coping behaviors (saying, I can give up my negative coping mechanisms for one week, and giving myself permission to use them again when that week is up). I am using it as an experiment to not take everything so seriously. To just take care of myself the best that I can and make it to the end. Sometimes when I am having a really hard time, that is comforting. Just thinking that if I make it to the end of my life, I get a reward, and I just have to try to take care of me as best as I can until I get there. Everything won’t always be great, but I have to make things as pleasurable for myself as I can (ie. in each moment, don’t hurt myself more than life itself is already hurting me, don’t beat myself up). I should enjoy as much as I can because I am here and that’s how it is.

I want to participate in life.

Why do I feel the need to do this? Ugh…disclaimer: I am not an expert on anything, although I think I am, so don’t blame me for anything.

Had a good trip to San Diego this weekend. In some ways rough, in others really awesome. The best part is that it taught me something about myself and I came back yesterday with a really good sense of what a full life we have that I CAN be present in and fully grasp. I came away with a good sense of how to grasp it to. Having this full life doesn’t mean that I won’t struggle with frustrations about my medical illness and unemployment and boredom (and that makes me sad, that that part won’t go away), but it means being PRESENT in my life, the many full and great things my life with B has in it.

Some pictures from the weekend:

downtown San Diego

Coronado bridge

Naval shipyard

view of downtown from the harbor cruise

Okay, so as ya’ll may or may not know from last summer, I have been to San Diego many times because my grandparents have property there, but we went on a harbor cruise of San Diego harbor and it was awesome. I hadn’t done one since I was about 13 and we usually just go to the beach when I am there with my family so I had never been downtown or anything. The cruise was gorgeous. We were out for an hour and saw the south part of the bay (Coronado island, the naval shipyard, etc). You could do two hours and see Point Loma and some more scenic stuff on the north side as well.

PS – Watch this! It’s awesome… makes me wish I had read the books first…I never watch something before I read the books but DVR is awesome and I am trying to let myself watch more TV (seriously) and I got hooked on this show.

HBO.com

Does anyone else watch? Fantasy isn’t my normal genre, but yeah, it’s good.

In the Moment

Having bad body image issues about my stomach lately.

But I keep trying to ask myself…

Am I happy, enjoying life again? Yes.

Am I healthy…okay, healthier? Yes.

It’s like this perspective keeps hitting me lately that is very far from the way I usually think. My mind just opens up for brief flashes. It keeps saying, “Does it really matter? Why is this such a big deal? I deserve to just enjoy life. Why do people really even think about these things?” Sometimes I just think of us as animals – our function is to LIVE and to BE.

In general, I am living in the moment more. I don’t know how this happened. I guess a general decrease in anxiety and depression? It’s wonderful though. I am noticing that I am just being more. Not thinking about the future and doing things every second as much.

Plan for today: just went swimming, cleaning, trying to do a little writing and practice my dictation program.

I just finished planting my herbs. I have started with basil, thyme, and cilantro. I also got a verbena plant just for the flowers. I hope I prove to have the green thumb of my parents! My dad has a huge vegetable and herb garden, and my mom has a beautiful flower garden. I hope to have both one day when I have a yard!

Basil...smells so good!

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Cilantro

Thyme

Most herbs, these included, like the heat, and like 6+ hours of sunlight. When the plants are small, you usually have to water them every day.

Do you have a garden, or do you want to have one someday? What would you grow? I want to grow tomatoes, peas, lots of herbs, green beans, and beets!

Giving Back and Adulthood

I have been reflecting a lot on giving back. To clarify this, I mean giving back to people in my life that give so much to me.

I have spent a lot of time in my life being bitter and resentful towards other people in my life. I wouldn’t say I have been unappreciative, just that I took things out on other people and often didn’t think of making an effort to take care of them in any direct or indirect way.

This particularly applies to my parents. I have been very resentful of them for a long time for having me. I still maintain that it is selfish to have children, not that people who choose to have children are bad people, but I think that having children is for YOU, because you want to, not because the child wants to be born. You don’t know what their life will be like. However, I have come to realize that my parents didn’t think about this before I was born. Most people don’t. So it is not their fault. I am here now, and they have been amazing parents to me my ENTIRE life.

And I know I have been really crabby with them a lot when I lived with them. I think this was because their mere presence reminded me that I had to live there, that I didn’t have my own place, that I was stuck there, that I had no independence, etc.

I realize more than ever, being home and living here officially for this last week, how GOOD my parents are to me. I know I have realized this before, always, but now I realize something else: that I want to be good back to them.

I want to not just appreciate their support and love for me, but give this love back through my ACTIONS.

I don’t want to take things out on them. I want to work hard to relieve them of many worries and financial burdens revolving around me. I just want to be more kind and positive.

I used to get bitter about doing those above things, angry that I HAD to do things for someone else. Now, I see it a different way. I CHOOSE to give back, I don’t HAVE to just because they are my parents, I CHOOSE to. I WANT to. I want to be a good person, and be proud of myself for having integrity. I also want to take care of them because they are good people.

This is hard to explain because the other goal I have is to leave my worries about my family worrying about me BEHIND. To just live my own life. But somehow, I can do both of these things: be good to them, and put myself first at the same time. Doing the second one translates around to the first one. They are both about slightly different things. Right now, I just want to give back to my parents by being kind to them and thankful to them. Additionally, I am going to put myself first by not worrying about what they think of me or what I am doing. Interesting contradiction that somehow works in my mind right now. I can do all this by radically accepting that I am an adult now, and acting like one. Also, by telling myself that I CAN BE an adult, I can do it.

I am ready to become an ADULT. I am ready to move into the next stage of my life. B said that to do what’s best for us, for our relationship, I have to do that and stop worrying about what my family thinks about everything, stop worrying about if THEY think I am doing the right things with my mental health and treatment, etc. Because worrying about that impedes me in every way.

Finding this balance is essential to my life. Acting kindly towards my parents is part of being an adult in itself. I no longer want to act like a petulant teenager at 25 years old.

Since I left home for college at the age of 18, I have had a hard time “growing up”. I have realized this before, but now, I am ready to do this. I am ready to force myself to grow up, be confident, just DO things, start my adult life with B, stop worrying about what my family thinks about me. I realize this will take some repititions of radical acceptance, but I am ready to take that leap. Sometimes I still won’t feel ready, and I will have to work on it, but I finally FEEL and SEE the importance of this…for me, for my life with B, even for my parents.

Did you ever have to make a conscious choice to be an adult or start acting like an adult? Or did it just fall into place for you?

Brief Emotion Process: FEAR

Things I am thinking about today – struggles and things worth noting…

Quick (I hope) run-down and process of emotions:

FEAR:

  • Fear is, as always, REALLY getting to me. I am trying to process WHY. I realized today that I just carry fear in my heart about LIFE and also just carry about with me a fear of MYSELF. I am often not even afraid of any specific thing that I can pin-point. I think fear and anxiety have been the dominant emotions for me my whole life. My earliest memories are of staying up all night being afraid that a ‘robber’ would steal my blue blankie! This is odd because nothing acutely traumatic has ever happened to me. I had a great childhood. I have just always had this fear that is such a part of me.
  • The specific fears I CAN think of right now involve worrying so much that other people won’t think I will do well with moving. But the thing is, I don’t really think that things could get worse, and overall they ARE better than before, even though behaviors still happening. I need to just become an adult, but I am scared. I am afraid of doing things on my own, but also recognize that that is the only way to really get anywhere. Still, though, I NEED other people to believe in me, my family and B too, and not be afraid, so that I can have hope and not be afraid. I am trying to just have faith though, and know that God is always with me. I have become a lot more spiritual lately.
  • I hate when I am scared of myself, when I get so confused about what the RIGHT thing is. THAT is the main thing that is getting me right now. That is IT.

To clarify this last part. I want to stop analyzing every little thing to see if it is right or what I should do. I especially reference eating when I am talking about this. I feel guilty when I am hungry or when I am not hungry, which is a lot for the latter. I have always been a naturally thin person, but I sometimes wonder if there is some medical reason for my lack of appetite. Or if this is just me and I shouldn’t care about it. I don’t want to be doing anything wrong on purpose. I don’t want to feel guilty for what I look like, as I have my whole life. That is one of the main reason my eating disorder STARTED, ironically, I felt guilty I didn’t HAVE to worry about what I ate like everyone else, so I started worrying about what I ate. To assuage my guilt. And I was afraid that if I had something ‘lucky’ going for me, it would get taken away from me. (Major theme of fear in my life – I am always afraid that if I have something others don’t, that it isn’t fair, and at some point the universe will realize that and take it from me.)

This kind of thinking impacts my life SO much. The more I feel guilt about what I look like or worry that I am doing something wrong all the time with eating, the more my appetite goes away because I feel so afraid. I don’t know how to fix that?

I know I need to start looking at the positive, and I am SO HAPPY in so many ways. But I almost feel guilt or fear about being happy, like I don’t deserve it because I still struggle with some things, and like feeling happy means I am in denial or selfish somehow.

I know that my family gets so scared about me because I almost died of a potassium deficiency caused my a very low weight due to anorexia nervosa when I was 16 years old. And they aren’t privy to my thoughts and hard work now. But I still wonder how much I NEED to worry about myself. And then at the same time, I know that I can’t EVER move on without giving up worrying about them worrying about me and if I am doing everything perfectly with all of that.

I am not making any sense; these are just my struggles today.

+: BEAUTIFUL WEATHER AGAIN HERE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!

I really think it will help when I get a DOG! 😉 I have my eye on this corgi puppy at the pound, but I am so worried that it won’t be here after I go home for a week this weekend…?! I want her so much!