Feeling Blue?

I’ve just finished a book by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, it’s a few years old, called Eating, Drinking, Overthinking. A more appropriate title would’ve been, Kelly, This Means You (with a big embedded picture of me on the cover). While not everything in it pertains to me specifically, a whole lot does. This makes me nervous. Not that I’m into outing myself with suffering from any psychological disorders (I don’t want to talk myself out of any party invitations here) but l’ve been known to go through bouts of depression and have had my midnight anxiety attacks that have landed me on medications, on a therapist couch and over the course of the last five years added 25 pounds to my frame. It all sounds so traumatic and horrible, but let me assure you, it’s all quite common in women.

Susan (since she wrote a book about me, I feel I can call her by her first name) calls it The Toxic Triangle, a vicious cycle of depression, eating & drinking. Doesn’t that sound frightening? Who wants to be caught in a Triangle? My parents used to go on vacation when I was a kid and they would fly over the Bermuda Triangle. I always thought, “Well, there they go, gonna fly over that triangle and get sucked right in!” (Gee, I wonder when my overthinking started.)

But, really Susan? Did you have to make it sound so harsh? Vicious? Toxic? There’s no cushion, just BOOM, you my lady are in a Toxic Triangle, what do you think about that? Well, not too good actually because one of those “sides” of the triangle I feared would be ignited right away. I would over think this. I’ll run it around in my head all day and night. I’ll find myself on every page of the book, then Google everything I can about it and tell myself I’m broken and in need of repair stat!

And so it begins.

What should I do? Besides relax (even I know that), but I’m not particularly good at it. My body? Yes. My mind? Nope. But, just because a person with a PH.D., (and a Yale graduate) is picking my life apart, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Right? RIGHT?!

There must be exercises I can do to rescue me from this triangle of terror. I finally found them near the back of the book and felt a bit of relief. At least I had a plan. There is a way out. Except part of the plan is meditation and we all know how well I did with that. (See last post).

Okay, maybe like the book says, I’m just over thinking everything. I take a deep breath, relax my shoulders and pour myself a glass of wine. Wait. Drinking is another side of the triangle. That’s two out of three. Oh hell, it’s one glass of wine to calm me down. What is life if you can’t have a glass of wine once in a while? Or two? I finish that glass as I contemplate this. Then I take my second glass of wine and continue reading, but suddenly I’m hungry. I put the book down and go into the kitchen, stopping to scrutinize myself in the mirror. This is the same mirror I’d past just hours before and berated my chunky reflection swearing to never touch another carb again, but now, two glasses in… I look good enough for chips.

After the chips (and some cheese and crackers), all hell breaks loose. How could I have eaten all those? Why am I having wine on a Wednesday? Then I continue to stuff myself with anything not nailed down as I clean up from dinner. But all is not lost, because I did leave one glass of wine in the bottle so I could tell myself that, “at least I didn’t drink the whole thing.”

I wipe the crumbs from my chin as I carry my bloated body up the stairs where I lay in bed thinking, “‘I’m three out of three. What if I never get out of The Toxic Triangle?”

And, I’m back to overthinking.

I think I’m starting to get it now.

How do women get into this mess? The answer is simple says Susan, The quieter problems of woman don’t bother other people nearly as much, so they aren’t dealt with properly.”

Meaning, we take everything internally. If we could just hit something like men then maybe we wouldn’t be tearing the cupboards apart looking for a year old King Dong. We don’t tell the whole story, scared to death of judgement, so doctors tend to only address one of the issues (depression) by throwing prescriptions at us and tell us to be on our way. The meds work, but they’re only a stepping stone to the underlying issue and they’re only addressing one side of the triangle. They clear our heads enough to see how we feel, think and talk about ourselves, to ourselves, so to speak, but it’s what you do with that information that’s the way out. If you just take the medication and wait, not addressing the internal problem you’re just sitting idle, stalled in your own life. Who wouldn’t want to fill their face with beers and chicken wings?

I don’t want to bore you with the statistics, but let’s just say that there are a good number of us challenged with one or more of these “sides”. The stigma associated with any type of mental illness doesn’t make it any easier. People with depression don’t walk around like Eeorye with a big cloud over their heads. They hide it well because they’re scared to be judged by their peers when chances are; their peers are hiding something of their own. Isn’t it silly?

Okay, one statistic; 1 in 4 women will suffer a severe depressive episode at least once in her lifetime; 50% experience mild symptoms of depression. Most have repeat episodes time and time again because they don’t have the tools to stop it. And they don’t have the tools because they’re too proud to seek help. And no one notices because we are women and we are trained to shut up and keep going so we don’t appear weak.

Don’t you think this statistic could be better if we just freaking talked about it? We’re so scared to be open, to be judged or God forbid someone think we don’t have it all going on that we hold it all inside. I mean, it has to come out somehow right? I hate to bring it up again, but kind of like a fart in your pantyhose, sooner or later it has to make an exit.

We have to learn how to take better care of our mental health. Getting rid of the stigma of depression or any mental illness is high on the list. It’s like Maya Angelo said (and Oprah repeats over and over and over again), “When we know better. We do better.” And I want to do better for my children because the probability of them ever having to deal with a period of depression is high. So I want them to be prepared, be educated and not feel like they have to hide it like it’s some nasty sexual transmitted disease (another awful stigma). It’s a fact of life and if we give voice to it now, it will be easier in the future to nip it in the bud and move on before the issue even resembles a triangle.

Then again I could be just over thinking this and reserve the right to delete this post out of shame and embarrassment.

If you’re interested in the book, here is a link to Chapters online. http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Eating-Drinking-Overthinking-Toxic-Triangle-Susan-Nolen-Hoeksema/9780805077100-item.html?ikwid=eating+drinking+overthinking&ikwsec=Home

 

 

 

Ohm…

Have you ever meditated? I’ve tried on occasion, but I’ve been thinking more about it ever since I began getting a gnawing pain in my front tooth from pushing on it with my tongue. I’ve heard the trick is to stick with a regular daily routine; like yoga, it’s a practice, and that honestly is my downfall, the practice part. I start with full intentions, but then I get
caught up in other things. It’s hard for
me to just sit there doing nothing. It’s boring. Funny thing is I have no problem sitting through an hour of Grey’s Anatomy. I even hold my pee during commercials because the thought of getting up is just too much for me. But sitting there with only my thoughts for company gives me the willies. I mean, what if I don’t like my thoughts? What if I can’t control my thoughts? Where do I even begin? Is it like praying? Should I sit like a pretzel? There are too many questions and its exhausting even thinking about it, but all the “experts” swear by it and let’s face it, who has the balls to argue with the Dalai Lama? So as I was casually standing in the self-help section at Chapters book store, mingling with the other people who have no issues (the ones who just end up there out of the blue and decide to browse through the merchandise, you know, out of curiosity), I spied a CD on guided meditation through visualization to help me manifest all that I want to be.

Perfect. I buy it.

I get home and put on some comfortable pants because if I sat for 20 minutes in my jeans the only thing I would be concentrating on is my belly roll. Once I was in the perfect outfit, I sat down on the floor; legs crossed, put my ear buds in and closed my eyes.

A woman with a really soft, tiny voice begins asking me to breathe. I do, but I can’t help but smile because her voice reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit with Alec Baldwin. The one they play at Christmas when the ladies on the radio are talking (just like this lady) about their Schwetty Balls? Who remembers this? Can I get a show of hands? No? Never mind.

Trying to redirect my thoughts, I correct my posture and focus on bringing the inner manifestation into my life. I try to take deep breaths, but I have a deviated septum so I don’t feel like I get them deep enough. How deep do they have to be? I try again, but get a pain in my side. It hurts and feels heavy. I breathe again. It’s still there. I
envision a black mass blocking my air way. I breathe deeply several more times but it won’t go away. I feel my tongue pushing on my tooth.

What major organs are in that spot?  Oh God, what if it’s cancer? Okay, stop it. Breathe slowly. Relax your shoulders. Breathe slowly.

The Schwetty voice says, “Imagine you are surrounded by a warming, bright light embracing you.”

Nice. I can dig this.

“Bring your attention to your navel. Imagine a ball of light there. Now imagine a beam of light extended down your navel through the floor and deep into the earth.”

What?

“Notice it also extends back up your body, up your spine and out the top of your head to source the positive energy…”

Okay, I don’t know about anyone else, but the visual I’m getting is too breathe in the good energy and shit out the bad? I don’t think I can do this with a straight face.

 “There is a door in front of you radiating with light. It’s locked, but you have a key.”

How did I get the key? And why on earth would the door I was meant to go through be locked?

I found this part very unnerving, like she was keeping me prisoner from my own reality. Why would she do that? It’s my reality. Suddenly, I don’t like this woman.

“When you open the door you enter a sanctuary for envisioning all you would like to have. Pick a place where you have been at peace.”

And what if I don’t want to go through the door, what then? Is it still not my reality?

I pick Banff.

“Imagine now a movie screen in this space to view yourself in your new reality.”

Wait, a movie screen on the side of a mountain in Banff?  She ruined my entire visual. She really started to piss me off despite the benefits of her Schwetty voice.

“Imagine yourself fully being you and being happy. What is your full self expression? “

But, that’s what I’m here for, to find out who I am. How can I envision something I don’t know? I wouldn’t have to do this if I knew.

And why am I suddenly imagining myself on a horse? Do I want to be in a Tampax commercial?

“Now let’s move on to love and romance. If presently in the relationship, imagine total fulfillment, imagine giving more and receiving more.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about, finally something I can envision! Although to be honest, I envisioned more on the “receiving” side.

Sidebar: The dog is licking my hand now. I try to shoo her away, but she insists I pay attention to her and starts throwing her toys in my lap. I’m finding it very hard to
concentrate.

“Or, if you like, you can manifest a new relationship…”

All of a sudden I’ve traded my husband in for Ryan Reynolds and the horse for a ride on the back of his Harley. I don’t think this is good for my marriage, but it’s the most focused I’ve been since I began.

“Next, we move on to your social life, your family and friends and other social interactions. Envision new connections, deeper connections…”

…And I’m back to Ryan.

“All that you would like to have in your present relationships with family and friends and other social interactions.”

Now all the petty things come up…I want everyone to love me, no exceptions. I’m the female equivalent to George Costanza. If you don’t like me, I need to know why.

Now I’m thinking about Seinfeld.

“Create imagines of your ideal work. See your work or creative expression in the ideal. If you could do anything what might you be doing?”

Gym. Tan. Laundry.  Don’t ask me why I even thought of this. I don’t even watch Jersey Shore, but you can only hear something so many times before it sticks with you.

Okay, stop it, moving on.

Is that the phone ringing? Should I get it? What if it’s the school?

Picture what you want as a whole, spirituality, personally, even material possessions.”

Did she have to throw in material possessions? Now all I can think about is a cottage in Muskoka. And I feel guilty. Shouldn’t I be thinking of world peace or something?

“Now, on the movie screen, imagine living your life’s sole purpose…”

What? I have no idea what this is. That’s why I’m here!

“Share your light with others.”

Does she mean the one coming out of my ass? I don’t think anyone wants it. I don’t know if my sole goes that deep. I’m pretty one dimensional…in fact sometimes I’m pretty much a man (although I’m pretty sure my husband would disagree). Oh God, now I’m thinking of Chaz Bono.

“Envision all that you have created so far and see yourself as the whole.”

So now I have to put it all together? Okay, so I’m on a horse with my period but it doesn’t matter because I’m dating Ryan Reynolds (or possibly, unhealthily stalking him), have a cottage in Muskoka, apparently have no kids because I never thought of them once and have a rare medical condition where I have a beam of light coming from my ass.

“Now take your new self and make it a symbol in your mind. Imagine a bird coming and taking your symbol out to the universe so it can fulfill all of your desires.”

A symbol? What should my symbol be? Should it be a Dove? No, because it’s a bird taking it and that would be weird having a bird carrying a bird .What symbol speaks to me?…I give up.

“Turn to face the bridge before you and cross it back into your reality.”

I don’t remember crossing a bridge in the beginning. Am I going back into my reality or someone else’s? Is there a panic button in meditation?

And then it’s over and I feel completely exhausted. I don’t even know if I missed anything important because I’m pretty sure I did a few head bobs in there somewhere.

I have no idea why, but I’m going to try it again. Next time I’ll be more prepared. I’ll at least know what’s coming and can be ready. Even if it doesn’t work at least I’ll get 20 minutes a day to dream. It’s either keep trying or ask the management at Chapters for my own personal chair in the section that everybody goes to but no one talks about.

Procrastination…

Okay, so this is my first post. So exciting and so appropriately named. It has taken me forever to write this because every time I sit down to do it, my mind goes blank and I have nothing to say. Nothing! Can you believe it? It’s so unlike me. I’m fully aware if I want to be a writer, I
must write, but things just keep coming up that have to get done or so I like to tell myself. My procrastination is much like an addiction really, I get angry, ashamed and swear never to do it again and the next thing I know, I’m cleaning toilets because evidently I would rather scrub fecal matter then throw a few sentences together. I’ve also made going to the gym everyday a priority,
clearly choosing physical pain over my fear of failure. That ladies and gentlemen is the ultimate procrastination and I am a master.

Well, no more! Because a few days ago I decided enough was enough so I packed up my writing stuff, blanket and snack and headed to the pier on the lake.  It was a beautiful day. Sunshine was what I needed.  A little Zen in my life, to quiet my mind and let the creative juices flow.

On my ride over, I felt the sun baking into my skin, my sprits lifting, envisioning how peaceful it would be; no distractions, no heaps of scattered laundry screaming at me from my bedroom floor. The quiet, the water, the sun, breeze and people gathered peacefully eating their lunches…everyone needs this once in a while. I deserved it.

I got a great parking spot and headed down to the water. I immediately felt something wasn’t right, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  My favourite spot with the clear view of Toronto was empty and as I arranged my blanket I realized it was louder than
usually, like a lot louder.  I looked out to the water at the glorious sail boats gliding along the pier heading out onto the lake and then dipping out of sight behind the cranes.

Wait…cranes?  Yup, cranes. Two massive ugly cranes.

They were digging rocks out of the water and let me tell you, steel against rock does not a peaceful soundtrack make.

But, I soldiered on, sat on my blanket and arranged my things all around me thinking I could get past the noise. A writer has to get used to some distractions, right?  I
checked my Blackberry, Facebook, Twitter, SMS…you get the picture. Eventually
so did I. I put the phone away, took a drink of water, contemplated my apple, then
finally took a deep breath and mentally kicked myself in the ass.

I begin to write, well, doodle really, until a high pitched, shrill scream surpassed the already deafening screeching of the heavy equipment. At first I thought someone was in
trouble, so I turned along with everyone else in the park in the sounds general
direction and immediately understood it wasn’t a scream, but a squeal of
delight coming from a grown woman who undeterred by the attention, continued to
shriek and giggle.

I mean who actually sounds like that? It’s not normal.

Not only was she loud and distracting but she was carrying on with this nonsense while perched on top of a balding, middle aged man’s lap. (I don’t know why I needed to tell you he was bald. I guess it gives a better visual. You really need to understand I’m very uncomfortable with public displays of affection in any way shape or form and when the people involved aren’t exactly stunners, you’ve got to admit it just somehow makes the whole thing a bit worse to watch..just sayin’).

You know what else would have been a little less offensive? If she wasn’t totally straddling the guy. I can understand a little lap sitting on a nice day at the park (not really) but she was facing him head on, her stilettos stuck through the slots of the bench
and she was basically dry humping her partner in crime.  And believe me it was a crime. Her face was an inch from his; her lips were on him like a fat kid on a smartie.  It was a whole lot of gross.

I tried to concentrate on what I went there to do and ignore the soft porn with the not so attractive/young people before me. I turned in another direction, but there were distractions everywhere, like a woman who was on the phone the entire time filling everyone in on what a stressful day she had with her nanny…Really lady? Really?

Thirty minutes later I still hadn’t written a thing. But I ask you, who could with all this business going on? And besides I was starting to get concerned for the man. I mean she was no lightweight (not that there is anything wrong with that, just a fact) and he was well past middle age for God sake! She could have cut off his circulation.

Finally, out of the corner of my eye, I see them make a move to get up. Now I’m caught in a dilemma, because something inside me wants to see how she intends on gracefully unravelling her legs and her shoes from out of the bench and from around the waist
of this man. I mean, because of them I had accomplished zero on this little
trip, so one good public fall could, in fact, make my day at this point.  I felt I deserved some sort of redemption.  On the other hand, it occurred to me this woman had been caressing this man for a good long while, which meant he could really be packing some heat when he stood up and that was something I definitely did not want to see. So I looked away. Damn. When they left, I swear I heard a collective sigh over the park, even the lady with the nanny problems put her phone away.

Knowing I was now past the point of no return creatively, I pulled out a magazine and read until the sun’s glare hit me in the corner of the eye and I looked up and followed it to an Oldsmobile coming toward me. The elderly driver and his (who I assumed to be) wife were casually taking a nice drive, clearly enjoying the day, which would have been really sweet except they were driving down a bike path. No shit. Everyone watched them two slowly approaching us as they gazed out to the water, while bikes, strollers and dogs had to move out of their way. It was hilarious! They were oblivious. It was so bizarre, but so cute that no one said anything to them and eventually when he came to a dead end, he just calmly turned the car around and drove back to the road.

So, clearly my day at the lake was done. I mean what could top it? I got nothing down on paper, but I had a whole lot of things in my head. Sometimes things just write themselves. As I walked back to the car I saw this old Asian woman doing Thai Chi and I stopped to watch her. At that moment I realized, despite the distractions I now felt pretty relaxed.  I was reassured that maybe things would come together. Let the writing write itself. It could be the start of a new beginning, the first day of the rest of my life and all of that.

With my car windshield in clear view, I was also reminded of the irony that is my life and why I will never run out of things to talk about. Because that day I witnessed in public (and in broad daylight, I might add) the possible molestation of a grown man and a significant driving infraction down a bike path, but  I’m the one out of all those people at the park that day who ended up with a parking ticket.