Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reflections of the Last Year and Preparing for the New Year

It's been one of those years. You know what I mean, where it seems like one thing after another occurs, and you just can't seem to catch your breath between incidents.

Let's recap 2015, physically and mentally. I started out the year with ECT treatments for medication resistant depression and then a psychiatric hospitalization.

Then, I had a series of low back pain injections, due to a continuing low back problem. I had a major fatigue illness that kept me from doing much of anything, including walking my dog for months. I even had a series of IV infusions that were supposed to help me regain my strength. That did help, after awhile.

I knew I couldn't keep up the rate of work I'd been doing before with running several businesses, giving writing workshops, participating on the Board of Directors for Florida Writers Association, blogging, editing and proofreading others work, and freelance writing. Along with taking classes to become certified to teach journal therapy, I was stretched mentally and physically. This could have led to the energy collapse.

So, I chose to concentrate on getting myself well. I resigned from the FWA board of directors, closed my businesses, and stopped freelance writing. I stopped taking journal therapy classes and the weight of it all felt great. I knew my priorities had changed and I now wanted to not only concentrate on getting myself well, but helping others in a more one on one capacity with their writing and with opening up about mental issues. I wanted and did become an advocate for Mental Health.

I even wrote a book titled, "Writing Heals" that gives others an opportunity to discover traumatic issues that had been holding them back, learning to accept them, cope with them, and using writing to overcome them and live a life of joy.

This gave me the strength I needed to schedule my yearly trip to see my kids and grandkids, without fear of flying or travel, or leaving my home. I'd become my own version of my book.

I did have a wonderful time visiting my kids and grandkids in Arizona. My husband even went, giving us some wonderful quality time with everyone.

Then, coming back, I got the news from my Optometrist that I needed immediate Cataract surgery, after a year's determination that my eyes had deteriorated to the point that corrective lenses were no longer available. Going through Cataract surgery for both eyes and then discovering that the healing process brought on Posterior Capsulotomy (a film grew over my new lenses, causing a cloudy view, blurring, halos, etc.) The eye surgeon, Dr. Newsom, said that it sometimes occurs in "younger" patients, when they heal too quickly. So, I then had to have 2 more procedures on my eyes,  to remove that issue.

In the mean time, I was having major GI issues, that ended up with me in the ER, then admitted into the hospital for a series of tests that resulted in a diagnosis of Colitis and Diverticulitis. The Colitis continues to flare up and is not under control yet. While I went through that, I had a black out while walking on the sidewalk behind my husband, that resulted in another trip to the ER to discover that there wasn't anything apparent to cause the blackout but resulted in various bumps, bruises, a chipped tooth, sprained wrist, and broken elbow.


And, the year wasn't over yet. I couldn't keep the incidents straight, they were happening so fast. The next thing I know, I'm in the ER again, with muscle spasms in my low back, so severe I couldn't walk, stand, sit, nothing. The pain was so severe, I called my neighbor to take me to the hospital, where after seven hours they sent me home with medication for muscle spasms and pain and an order for a week of bed rest. This meant I was in bed through the week before and during Christmas. I couldn't even decorate for Christmas, which actually ended up as a good thing, which I'll describe below.

Some of the good things that resulted were helping my husband fulfill his life long dream of getting a pilot's license. He'd been a remote control airplane and helicopter enthusiast his entire life. He'd longed to actually fly airplanes, eventually flying helicopters. So, I decided to help my husband by putting all our efforts toward this goal, including giving up a lot of of our free time with him.

One of the best things that happened was in June, when I opened up to my husband, myself, and my doctors about a 50 year old secret that I'd been keeping. I had an eating disorder. A binge eating disorder. I started seeing a new therapist who brought old insecurities and past traumas to light that helped me understand that by keeping the secret I was actually harming myself more. By, facing it, facing old life traumas, and understanding guilt ridden ideologies, I actually found myself letting go of past control issues and taking charge of my life choices, I finally understood that no one had control of my food issues. Only I could make the choices that resulted in a new pattern of lifestyle thoughts and choices that made me feel better about myself and let go of the guilt I had for so long.

I was able to apply my faith and love of God and His word to help me get through. I was able to let go of the obsessive control I had let others have and discover that I could leave the stigma of weight and food to others and not let them affect me.

I now have a more positive attitude toward food, myself, health and now have an even healthier relationship with nutrition and my body.

I now know that weight loss does not equal healthy eating or recovering from Binge Eating Disorder, and being thin does not equal happiness or health.

I am taking it one day at a time.

Best of all, I've learned better coping skills for Bipolar Disorder, Social Anxiety, General Anxiety, OCD, and PTSD. Skills that don't require psychotropic medications. My psychiatrist was in full support and helped me drop one medication after another.

Because of this, I've found that after eighteen years in the same house, where at one time I was so agoraphobic I couldn't leave my own home, I'm ready to move onto a new path in my life. A life that surrounds my husband's desire to fly and live in a community further away from the city and has its own airport. So, we are. We are moving to a community with its own airport and each house has its own hanger for an airplane.

I'm not even freaking out about it. I think the move will be a wonderful way to start 2016.

Although, when my husband and I thought about moving from our current home, we thought we'd be downsizing and thinning out our possessions. This new home is bigger than the one we have, it's on more land, and if you add the hanger space, three car garage space, and home space, it's more than three times of living space than we have now.

So, that's been my life this past year. Good and bad. Each event led me to a revelation about myself and my life's priorities.

And, my first commitment to myself is to give myself permission to change the direction of the memoir I'd struggled to write for the past year or so, and write with a passion for helping others. That makes me very happy.

I'm also going to make a commitment to increase my physical activity, as the community we are moving to gives Jack (my American Eskimo dog) and me more areas to walk, without getting near a major road.

I'll continue my therapy work on Binge Eating Disorder, reinforcing new techniques to help me be more mindful of my eating habits and choices.

And, I'll work with other writers, giving them of my time and knowledge, to help them become the best writer they can be and help them achieve their writing goals.

I have a wedding to look forward to, as my son is getting married to the love of his life and that could mean more grandchildren on the horizon. (yay!)

Finally, I'll continue my work learning as much as I can about the Bible and Christian History so that I can not only answer my questions, but give me a further perspective about my relationship with God.

The best thing is, with my progress with Bipolar Disorder and other mental issues, I am going to help as a Mental Health Advocate by reducing stigma and increasing knowledge for those who want to learn.

That's it. That's been my 2015 life, and my feelings about my future for 2016. Am I going to make a resolution? Doubtful. I don't think they are necessary and I'd rather work on improving myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and personally with positive affirmations, thoughts, and actions.

I hope that you had an enlightened 2015 and that you can look forward to 2016 without making unnecessary or unachievable resolutions.

Be kind to yourself and to others. Follow Jesus' commandments to love God and one another.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things. -- Philippians 4:8

Turn your thoughts to positive things, as urged by Paul. Make a conscious effort to think gentler, more noble thoughts. Replace all of your bad thoughts with kinder, love-filled thoughts, reducing stress and increasing your peace. Before long, you'll re-train your brain to naturally turn to truth, purity and excellence.

Happy New Year!


P.S. I hope you are enjoying my series on Mental Health. If you have any suggestions for a topic, please let me know.