Tag Archives: balance

Balance & Values, part II

Check out part one of this post here.

Over the last 24 hours I’ve been thinking about what my life would look like if I were where I want to be. In each area, it would look something like this:

Health (physical): exercising each day, eating three meals & snacks each day, taking iron tablets, keeping up to date with my b12 injections, having regular iron transfusions, sleeping at least 5 hours each night.

Health (mental): being motivated enough to get up each day and achieve something, be able to do what I want, when I want – without my mental health being an obstacle.

Relationships: being comfortable with others, being able to be open with friends about what is going on for me, feeling comfortable expressing (and accepting) love.

Education: attending classes, completing necessary readings and assignments, continuing into Honours and Masters in Psychology.

Employment: continuing working in the positions I’m currently in, feeling satisfied with what I am contributing to the world, earning enough money to be independent and comfortable.

Community: actively volunteering, feeling useful, feeling as though I am making a meaningful difference.

Leisure & relaxation: resuming sailing, seeing friends regularly, practicing mindfulness, baking, travelling, bushwalking.

So – that’s an indication of how things would be if they were ideal at the moment. Employment and community are pretty much the only thing I’m satisfied with at the moment. This impression is quite dissonant from how things actually are. There are quite a few things that could change within each category, but it’s not exactly realistic to attempt to entirely change my life immediately – that would just set me up to fail. So I’m going to make a couple of small, SMART goals for each area that I feel isn’t where I want it to be.

SMART goals are something I learnt about during some hospitalisation or another – they’re a framework for setting goals which we are more likely to achieve than grandiose, unrealistic ambitions. You can read more about SMART goals here, but basically they are goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

Health (physical):
– write a meal plan incorporating regular meals for the next two weeks, and do my best to follow it.
– buy syringes & do b12 injection for this fortnight.
– for for at least 4x 1hour walks each week, for the next two weeks.

Health (mental):
– journal daily to get an idea of what I’m feeling and be better able to identify patterns and triggers.
– attend psychologist appointment next week.

Relationships:
– contact (text/call/facebook/skype) at least one friend a day for the next two weeks, telling them something I love about them.
– email a friend and explain that I have been struggling.

Education:
– write a realistic daily to do list in order to catch up on lectures and readings that I have missed.
– organise notes to study for an exam I have next Wednesday.

Leisure & relaxation:
– go for a bushwalk this weekend.
– resume crocheting the blanket I abandoned.

So, that’s a start. Steps to getting myself back on track.I’m going to print off these goals and stick them on my mirror, along with a daily checklist to tick off whether I’ve accomplished what I intend to. This will be difficult – at the moment it’s an effort to get out of bed, brush my teeth or open my mouth to speak to anyone and it feels like I’m trudging through knee deep mud – but I’m not going to get anywhere by staying still. I’ll check back in after a week to see how I’m going with these goals, again in a fortnight, and then perhaps reassess and make some more goals.

Here goes.

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Balance &; Values, part I

The last couple of years I have come to realise how important it is for me to keep my life in balance. ‘Balance’ is such a subjective term. For me, it’s feeling like I’m in the right place. Like I’m headed in the right direction. It’s an imperfect mix of values, which even out to where I feel satisfied and at peace.

I find that when I’m feeling like things are off – when my mood is worse, my anxiety is skyrocketing, my eating begins to slip and I regress to not sleeping for days at a time – often it’s because somewhere, I’ve let things fall out of balance. Whether that’s by something as practical as not taking my medication or something less obvious, like not taking time out to sit and drink tea on my own, or going a few days without checking in with friends.

A few weeks ago I co-facilitated an online session for young people about living in line with your values. It should have been obvious at the time (hell, it should have been obvious four months ago when I started struggling more again) – But I think things are out of balance. So here we go – time to reassess my values, where I’m at, where I want to be, and how to get there.

First up, here are some general areas that I care about: health (physical and mental); relationships (friends and family); education; employment; community; and leisure and relaxation. There’s more to it than identifying these areas though – within these categories, what is important? What is meaningful?

Health (physical): fitness, nutritional balance, looking after my iron and b12 deficiencies, getting enough sleep.

Health (mental): regular mood, controlling anxiety, developing and utilising coping strategies, practicing mindfulness,

Relationships: connecting regularly with others, maintaining positive relationships, showing people how much I appreciate and care for them, feeling valued and loved.

Education: performing well at university, attending classes, potentially furthering my studies beyond this degree, training in areas that I am interested in continuing in.

Employment: working in a job I enjoy, doing my best, providing a service to people, connecting with individuals, earning money, being independent.

Community: giving back to my world, doing what I can in areas that I am passionate about, making a difference.

Leisure & relaxation: keeping myself calm, doing things that I enjoy, taking time out for myself, being creative.

Now – is my life at the moment actually reflecting any of these things? I guess it’s painfully obvious to everyone around me, but it’s taken me a while to catch on. It’s not. I’m nowhere near where I want to be. It’s hard to face up to… And it’s not something that I can look at, and look away. Something (many things) need to change.

* I’ll continue this post later tonight or tomorrow – thinking further into where I am versus where I want to be, what my ideals look like and starting to develop some steps and goals to get me there.

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Balance

I feel as though I am in a very strange place. In five days I will be leaving to travel for three months. Nine months ago, I booked these plane tickets with the intention of disappearing into some unknown hostel somewhere in Europe and killing myself. But so much has happened since then. I’m no longer planning on following through with that – which I’m infinitely grateful for.

This year has been strange – there has been so much death, pain, relapse and darkness. Yet at the same time I feel as though I have grown so much. For the first time to this date, the darkness and light have begun to even one another out – and it’s with this strange realisation that I’ve come to recognise that it’s not just me: the whole world exists in dichotomy. No dark without light. Two opposites, constantly vying with each other to take hold.

Tomorrow marks one year since I was last discharged from hospital (other than emergency, which I’m not counting) – the longest break between admissions since I was fourteen. ‘Between admissions’ isn’t entirely adequate there, because I have no intention of ever being shut in one of those rooms again in my lifetime. A year out of hospital isn’t much of an achievement in the eyes of many people, but for me it’s pretty huge. It’s about independence, manageability and freedom. But somehow I still feel stuck.

I’m hoping that as I travel, somehow layers will strip away. That the scales which are tentatively see-sawing back and forth will find their balance. I’m not sure that I’m ready to get to the depths of what is within me – but I want enough simplicity that I feel more in touch with my values, needs and capacities. The last month has been riddled with re-emerging anxieties: around people, places, food, sleep. Afraid to sleep, but afraid to leave my bedroom. Can’t eat, showering upwards of fifteen times a day, bleeding hands from being washed too often. It feels something like being sixteen again. Nightmares – sleeping and waking, overwhelming everything I attempt to do. Lists upon lists: I get nervous, so I write a list of things that make me happy, a list of things that make me sad, a list of things I want to do, a list of music that calms me, a list of places to go, a list of people I love – and still I feel nervous.

I realise there are textbook reasons for this happening now. I’m about to take a huge step in travelling the world solo. I’m constantly worrying about what I want to do with my life and what I need to do to get there – and freaking out that I can’t just make everything okay, right now. I’m stressed about friends and their circumstances, and that while travelling I won’t be a text or a short walk away. And the single most terrifying thing I’m thinking about at the moment is that I’ve tentatively decided that when I return from overseas I will begin trauma processing. I’m not entirely sure what that process will involve, but I’m certain that it will stretch me to my absolute limits. I haven’t spoken the ‘r’ word aloud for over two years. I can’t write about it without losing time, and I continue to sleep in half hour intervals to avoid dreaming. It will be difficult, that’s for sure.

I feel in between so many extremes, unsure of which way the balance will (should?) tip. Maybe it’s incredibly naive of me, but I’m hoping that I can leave all this. That the moment I step onto that first plane, all of this ‘stuff’ will remain behind. That I can balance holding on, and letting go.

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