I know I’ve been a bit quiet around here recently – that’s the trouble with living your truth. Sometimes it means battening down the hatches and focusing on yourself and your wellbeing. But I’ve been thinking about you all a bit, and I hope I’m able to return to my regular blogging schedule, or something like it soon!
Today I want to share with you two things I’ve been working on that have helped me immensely in tackling life’s challenges, and the best part is, they’re both free! It all comes down to perspective.
Two weeks ago I had another scheduled period/menstrual bleed (I think I’ve mentioned this before, but technically these aren’t periods – a period happens when you’ve ovulated, and if you’re on the pill, like me, you don’t ovulate. So its just menstrual bleeding!), and again, more progress was made. Less pain, less blood loss, I felt much less ‘unwell’ for the duration of it. It was headache free, I didn’t have any massive dizzy or faint patches, and by the Friday, I was back at work for most of the day. What a change! 12 months ago, I was much more unwell – unable to stand up from the effects of massive blood loss, cranky, plagued by headaches and seriously nutrient deprived (its pretty hard to keep hold of whatever goodness you’re eating if its rushing out the other end!). So I’ve had some massive health wins in the last year. There is no doubt that my medications, both eastern and western play a role in this, and that the way I eat, and easy off on any kind of physical exertion has made a difference.
But I have to say, that the biggest benefit has been through changing my mindset. For almost the entire time I’ve been menstruating, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, I’ve felt out of control, like its something that happens to me. I’m just the passenger, the torture victim, and every second I’m well is just biding time until the next onslaught. Maybe this is familiar to you – whether through your own rare illness, or maybe there’s a task you hate doing, a relationship that drains you, or your least favourite (and your trainer’s most favourite) suicide runs. Ever since completing the Barrecode challenge, and especially since starting my meditation practice, this isn’t something I now feel is part of my life. I don’t feel so powerless, or victimised. The process of injury or bleed, healing, recovery and re-occurrence isn’t something that happens to me, it is me. As a rationalist, and a realist, I strongly believe that while there are two parts to us, a physical self and another bit, a soul/spirit/higher being, they exist in the same space. I am not me without my emotions, dreams or wishes, just like I’m not me without my VWD, the scar on my knee from when I fell over a rogue soccer ball in primary school, or my thick, brunette hair.
How do you change your mindset about your shadow? (toldya I’m a Spirited junkie!) Well, it ain’t easy, as I’m sure everyone reading this can attest to. Whether your shadow is an illness, a fear, an old story you’re attached to or a relationship, it firstly requires one very important thing – the will to change. For me, the commitment, the desire to make things different, to change for the better is required in every cell in my body. I must be convinced first, that something has to change, even if I can’t quite place my finger on what it is called. This is exactly how I felt last April after suffering through 4 months of uncontrolled menstrual bleeds. Something had to change, because clearly the method I’d been using to maintain my health wasn’t cutting it. That lead me to my Dr of TCM, and all the amazing health changes I’ve undergone in the last 12 months.
In a practical sense, the greatest tool I’ve encountered to assist with changing my mindset and perspective is meditation. A lot of people I read and learn from say that meditation gets you out of your mind and into your heart, where you can make decisions from a place of love and your true self. For me, I’d tweak this a bit – meditation gets me out of my ego (that voice that whispers doubts, fears and holds you back) and yes, into my true self, which for me is my mind! It empowers my reasoning, my logic, and definitely my intuition (this INTJ feels intuition is a ‘thinking’ kind of a power – it is the thing that guides you to logical decisions based on facts and previous experiences sitting outside of the conscious mind. But that’s just for this writer, who is definitely a thinker rather than an emote-er!). The first gift meditation gave me was to ground me in my body, to reconnect me with the thing I’d tried to avoid, that I felt ashamed of for its lack of normal functioning, that I’d preferred not to talk about. I think regardless of health status, this is something we all need a bit more of. When you feel at home in your body, like its your favourite place, and a safe, comforting spot for you to live, everything flows much easier. My body is operating more healthily now because I’m more in tune with it. Its not that I don’t have VWD related issues, or not experience side effects from fatigue or foods I react to, I can now just hear the gentle reminders it sends me instead of it getting to the point its screaming at me.
I mentioned there were two things I’d been working on, right? Well the second is from a bigger perspective, more about general life stress management, I guess you’d call it! I used to be a hard-core stressor. One of the many things my VWD gave me a leg up in, but I think it also was amplified by my introversion – due to the tendency to think and over think situations, I could go from a little problem, or something even smaller than a problem, and turn it into the end of the world within a minute. Like misplacing my phone in the morning before work, or a minor injury: “Oh god, I could’ve sworn I’d put my phone in my bag, but its not there, its also not in my bedroom, or on the coffee table. Crap, I’m going to have to get a new phone, and I really can’t afford that now. Oh no, what if I need a new number? All my doctors have this one, not to mention all the other people I’ll have to update. CRAP!!!!”. In fact, I did misplace my phone this morning! But while my ego tried to get that spiel going, I took a breathe, then asked R to call my phone so I could find it. 10 seconds and ‘crisis’ averted. The more significant the problem, though, the bigger the stress and the ego-ranting – the worst of the problems have come to me when I’ve been out of work (the joys of graduating from university during the GFC!), last year when I was experiencing the worst of my returned bleeds, definitely when I was younger and my parents separated then divorced. You can get stuck, paralysed by the fear and doubt that all the ‘worst case scenario’-ing going on inside your head brings up. It can make it hard to breathe, and you can feel like the world is caving in. Pre-panic attack, if you will. Or maybe it manifests into a full-blown attack.
For me, that ego-ranting and problem-extrapolating comes from not being present. By, as my mentor Tara says, ‘taking the size out of it’ and focusing on the problem at hand this morning, I was able to solve the problem, stress free. Even though I’ve had a slight re-spike in bleeding after my period the other week and my body and mind are under a bit of stress. Even for the big things, you can take the size out – maybe you’re about to lose your job, or your car just got smashed up. Think back to the last time this (or something like it happened), and think deep and hard about it. Did the world end? Or did you, in all your resourceful, courageous wonderfulness, find a way to cope? Find a solution to your problem? I bet it probably wasn’t even the ‘right way to do things’ was it, but did it work? Yes, dear reader, it did – because you’re sitting here now. This is something I now use to bring myself back to reality and out of the ego-rant when it happens –
I am strong and resourceful, and I always find a way through
I’ve had the fortunate experience of using this recently. I’ve had some big challenges come my way which are going to change my life in some big ways (I hope to share these with you soon), and previously they would have seemed impossible to surpass. I would have been paralysed with fear, and unable to see them as amazing opportunities. Simply by being present and open to what was happening in the moment, I’ve been able to see some new, creative ways of solving the ‘problem’ aspects of these events. Its made it so much easier to be present and grounded too – just as the ego rant can spiral out of control, the cycle of calm, present problem solving can engender more clear thinking and calm.
To bring this post full circle, listening to my body and being present to calm my ego and avoid stress has meant my blogging has taken a bit of a back seat. I’ve needed time to rest, nap, read, and connect with people in person, and that has meant my time hasn’t been as free to write here. But I’m very much ok with that – it means I’m not just telling you all about the ‘right’ things to do, I’m dealing with them, trying techniques out, struggling a bit then getting back on top of things. And that’s much more interesting to read, no?