I think I’m dying

What’s enough sleep?

No, I don’t want hours and minutes and statistics according to studies, I mean, WHAT IS enough sleep? I don’t even remember what it feels like.

I say that a lot. That I don’t remember what it feels like… But I don’t. I really really don’t. What I do remember the feeling of is feet like lead, knees like seized gears and a head that feels like silly putty that’s been dropped in sand – what a mess.

I like to think I’m getting better at looking after myself and saying no, and stopping when I need to rest… But after 2 nightmares and an almost comically appropriate tarot reading this weekend; maybe I’m not as good at self care as I thought…

I think my main issue is that I don’t take into account bad sleeps, short sleeps or big days. I continue to set my alarm for 6.00 or 6.30 even when I have nothing specific to get up for (Or could easily fit everything in with a 7.30 wakeup)… Now, when I’ve made it through a night without being woken by cats scratching in the litter tray or my partner giggling like a kid next to me at Top Gear episodes or crinkling chocolate wrappers in my ear (or on the other side of the king bed… but whatever, at 2 am everything sounds like it’s right in my ear); a 6am wakeup is splendid. But without enough sleep… They can be physically painful, and no amount of caffeine or berocca can numb that pain. The only cure is sleep…
I love mornings, I love feeding the horses while the birds are waking up, I love sitting on the verandah with a cuppa, watching them finish breakfast while I get licked on the face by any or all of the dogs. I love the shift in energy as the nocturnal animals retire and the rest of the world arises.

But I think I have become almost addicted to that feeling so that if I miss it – by sleeping in for an hour – I tell myself that I’ve wasted the best part of the day…

So where do I find balance between resting enough and having my favourite and most energising and soul-replenishing time of the day?

I just got disturbed from writing this and came back to my computer surprised to see a blog entry even open… So I’m sorry if this is not making sense… My brain is starting to melt a little.

I’ve posted about self-care before.

I know I have. It’s such a struggle for me. How do I look after myself and still get all my stuff done? Why do I eagerly take up more hours at work when I’m already too tired? Because working more earns me more, and earning more takes some pressure off me week to week in affording the things I need to live… And affording the things I need to live means that I can treat myself to massages or new nail polish or new riding gear and that makes me happy and etc.

But where’s the balance?! 

Why do I feel that I need to sacrifice something in order to sleep? That something needs to give? That I need to be awake as much as possible so I don’t miss anything or not get enough done?

I don’t have the answer to that one… Certainly not today. Perhaps (hopefully) a 7pm curfew for me tonight will help a little…

A panic attack in prose

Last week I had a pretty severe panic attack… One that made me question whether I had a hold on my anxiety or whether it had a hold on me, even though I knew logically and rationally that I’ve been doing awesome with it…

I was at placement… during a staff development/student free day and after pulling on a facade of calm, I sat quietly at the back and wrote…
I intended to share it immediately after, but lacked the courage to be that vulnerable… Now, as I prepare to transcribe it from pen and paper to interwebs, I’m left wondering if it will even seem half as dramatic as it felt at the time…
The point of me sharing it is that while it might not feel like it at the time, panic attacks, anxiety, ocd, depression etc are nothing to be ashamed of. They happen. Sometimes you can calm yourself through symptoms, sometimes you can’t. But they do not define you and they absolutely do not make you a less valuable human.

——

“I’m writing to try to take my mind off a panic attack.

I feel so watched.

This one has been long
3 hours
I’m already exhausted as if I’ve done a 16 hour day… In 3 hours…

Everyone is a familiar stranger.
I know everyone but no-one’s name…

I’m trying to pay attention.
Met with conflicting emotions about a Christian Sermon.

What we think about God shapes everything that we do”

Well that’s not untrue, I guess…

So contrived… A mask… A costume… A gang colour…

I moved my chair to a secluded place but now I’m surrounded.
I can feel everyone’s buzz pushing on me…

I’m just exhausted.

3 hours. “Good work will naturally serve others” 

I’m starting to blank out now.

I spent my drive here not hearing the radio.

I split myself in two but it wasn’t even.
7/8ths silently screaming for help, for peace, for stillness.
1/8th tiredly saying to breathe, to pull over and recite numbers, to recentre heart and mind, to clear chakras.

How far is a 7:1 fight? It’s not.
Never
How am I ever supposed to believe that that is going to end favourably for the calm, rational side? The panic is so powerful. So relentless, so unforgiving. SO convincing.

When you’re in the throes of a panic you start to question whether you’re ever calm, whether you were ever on top of your anxiety or if you were just kidding yourself.
It’s always there.
But it’s always surprising when it hits you again.
And I’m not going to pretend it’s a gentle knock on the door and a polite request to enter your life again…
It’s a tank. Armed. Unstoppable. Unreadable and destructive.
Devastatingly destructive sometimes…

That moment- because it IS a moment, in the scheme of things- it feels like it’s all over, and you’ll never get a grip again…
And it’s tempting to throw hands in the air and give in to the dragon that is my anxiety
But in the calm wreckage that’s left after a panic attack- I realise that I’m ok…
I’m doing good.
They’re fewer and further between. I’m better at acknowledging them
And believe it or not, I’m getting better at managing them…”

——

Fake tan, periods and chocolate slice

What a week.

I embarked on an ever-cliched “health kick” last week. Starting Monday. It’s now Monday again and a week of calorie counting highlighted a severe weakness for me. Sure, I know I snack… lots… but that my snacks each day are ALWAYS more calories than any single meal (Even huge roast dinners) means that something needs to change. I need to be nurturing my body, not abusing it. It has carried me so powerfully through so many good times and bad… It was time to reassess.

Then there was the change rooms…  Change rooms are rarely anyone’s friends really, with the lighting and the stifled space and the contrived atmosphere… But for some reason I struggled more with them last week than I have in years.
Getting undressed and having a panic attack? What was that about? I was loving my body, not hating it… What was happening? Why the sudden self-loathing? That made me panic even more; was I failing at loving myself? Had I been pretending too much and when faced with the “truth” (change rooms are never the truth. NEVER. EVER) about my body?
I worked my way through this one quite quickly, thanks to friends and mum and breathing… and sushi… and several coffees… and Typo retail therapy… and by the evening I was doing fine… Determined to remain focused on improving my health and getting more energy and more life. While in the shopping centre, I opnely admitted to mum that I’d fallen apart in the change room and proceeded to actively seek out something to lift my spirits. I love buying things. I love stationary. I went to Typo. Where it doesn’t matter what I look like; so I could remind myself of that very fact.
When I got home, I tanned myself, I always feel better tanned. Not for anyone else to view me as tanned, but for me to see myself as sunkissed and energetic. Tans to me are childhood (I was quite the olive skinned youth) and summers well spent getting things done and living my life the way it should be lived: Outside.
So a little bit of colour helped, and some wines and dinner with mum, my partner and his best mate helped…
I did the things that I needed… I exercised self-care. I’m getting better at it.

The next day I was tired, I wrote an essay for uni, I had a nap, I got a massage, I had another nap… Why so tired?!

Then I got my period. And suddenly everything from the last few days made sense!
Now, I’ve worked hard to embrace my monthly visitor, we’ve had a turbulent past. Cysts, endometriosis, agonising pain, endless cycles etc. But I read somewhere that we should learn to embrace them as we embrace our femininity and womanhood. We are strong and powerful and can carry on functioning as if our period pain were a tiny scratch from a kitten if need be. Our monthly cycle is an opportunity to start afresh, it’s out with the old and in with the new. Like a full moon, each month it starts again… What’s not to love about that?!

In recent years, my period arriving has often signaled the “ah ha” moment for a whole week of unexplained emotions, self-loathing and extra kilos on the scales (which shouldn’t bother me, because I KNOW that the number on the scale doesn’t define me, but it’s so ingrained by society, that sometimes, nonchalantness eludes me…).

The more this happened and the more regular my periods became (medications for endometriosis meant that I was period free for 5 years, so I had to get back into the swing of it), the more welcome my periods were. I started associating periods with chocolate. When I got my period, I got chocolate. That first chocolate of my period is never added to any calorie counting and is consumed 100% guilt free. It’s simple conditioning; but it works. So now my period says; “HELLO! I’M HERE!”, my brain says; “Oh thank heavens, I thought I was going mad” and my heart says; “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS CHOCOLATE!!”
All this combines to make getting my period a pretty sweet deal.

So, after all that babble; What did I learn through this week? What can we take away from it?

I’m getting far better at loving myself. A brief moment of disillusion does not spell the beginning of a downward spiral for me into self-loathing and disgust. This is a huge leap forward.

I’m still learning about my body. 31 years on and I still fail to confidently recognise period symptoms before the event… And that’s perfectly ok!

My support network is vast, strong and understanding. I would have flailed significantly longer had I not had such powerful and immediate support.

Anxiety might not go away, you just get better at dealing with it.

And finally; Love is a whole bunch of tiny little acceptances and realisations. Not grand gestures and big events. Whether loving yourself or someone else. It’s the little pieces that add up.