For the past two weeks I’ve had to deal with some pretty difficult shit.
This is meant to be a post that will fit into the neat category of mindfulness, I began the past two weeks with some bad news and high hopes, I thought nah, that’s fine I can deal with that, come on turn it around. I am an optimist at the end of the day, however the week became so horrendous that this post deserves a category of it’s own and I believe I would title that Life can be Shit. That’s the reality isn’t it? Sometimes you just have one of those weeks (or two) that feels like it will never end, you just cannot process the absolute ridiculous kamikaze that has been your life.
I think these two weeks hit me so hard as for the past month I have been doing really well. I was happy with my health and lifestyle, work was ticking along and my relationships were improving, I really had nothing to complain about. It is easy to preach about mindfulness in those times, “oh yea just take a breath”, “count to 10”, “put on a smile”. But let’s be honest when we have had a terrible week we just look at those people and say “bullshit”. Sometimes there is nothing that will help you through apart from a blanket, some chocolate and a shitty program. This is the kind of week I’ve had, and this is my realistic approach to dealing with the times when life transforms into a relentless bitch.
*WARNING, these are the ways I deal with my mental health, it works for me, this is not a simple guide to dealing with life, but if it helps great.*
Step one: I allowed myself to wallow
I have learnt from past experiences that when I allow things to build up this horrible pit-of-the-stomach feeling will linger. Therefore, I allowed myself to react and deal in the moment.
Last week I couldn’t really come to terms with what was going on and I turned on autopilot, I let everything slip past me and allowed the week to run it’s course. This meant that I ate horrendously, sat and watched tv from the time I got home from work until I went to bed, and barely did any exercise, because “who could be arsed?” I wallowed in the chaos and understood that at this point there was nothing I could do but let it run it’s course. Breathing space was not an option I just had to make it to the weekend.
Step two: Talking to the (wo)man in the mirror
Once the weekend arrived I felt like I could breathe again, I didn’t have any responsibilities and I could really look at what was going on. To be short, there was close family medical emergencies, work related bullshit, guilt about not training for the 10k and an overall I’m done attitude. First things first, I looked at myself in the mirror and said run. It was the first thing I had to do, I did not feel like going but I put on my big girl pants and went anyway because I made a commitment. It helped.
Step three: Ask yourself are you ready to sort your shit?
Once I got the run out of the way I felt like I was ready to address everything else. The guilt had been lifted and I smashed my run, I was able to skip a few days training and get myself back on track. The next thing I needed to do was ask myself are you ready to sort your shit? If I was not ready, it was not going to work, I had to look at the problems, identify them and actually deal with them. The acknowledgement that they will not go away with me ignoring them resulted in my buried productive attitude returning. I had to just get on with it, if I didn’t I would end up feeling this way for a very long time, which any average Joe can tell you is not good for your mental health.
Step four: Gather the information
I found that when I have all the information the problem doesn’t seem so big anymore, I can break it down and sort it out. Which is exactly what I did. I went and had those conversations, I talked to my line manager about what I could do better, took on the criticism and went forward not taking it personally. I called my family and asked for an update rather than letting myself presume the worst and I did something that made me happy. Once I understood what was going on I was able to stop overthinking things and get over the fear of the unknown. It was manageable and I did what any type A personality would do, I made a To Do list and started checking off my boxes.
Step five: Perspective and Purpose
As much as I love lists (they do help me visualize a solution to my problems), I also need to get out and live. I need to do something I have never done before and break the mundane cycle. In true Graceless fashion it was go big or go home, this time I tried gardening and it helped. It helped me focus all of the guilt and anger of the past two weeks into weeding and cutting hedges, by the end I was sound asleep in my bed with something to show for it. I worked through those emotions and spent time outside. The act of physically planting something, knowing that I needed to care and nurture something helped. What I got was perspective and purpose.
Step six: Forgive yourself
Finally after all was said and done and I didn’t want to return to step one, I needed to forgive myself. It was ok that I ate shit food and didn’t run because my mental health is as important as my physical health. It’s ok that I spent time in front of the tv and cried a little, because everything I did from the moment things began to go wrong helped me rebuild and carry on. The most important thing to remember is to keep taking steps, don’t allow yourself stay at step one, keep moving through and then move on.
Until next time.