The Damaging Effects of Stress

1 Oct

It’s October 1st – the first day in my Swaptober campaign to exchange damaging memories linked to this time of year for new and uplifting emotional triggers. Sadly, my brain and body are seemingly conflicted about my desire for change. If anyone out there still doubts the harmful effects of stress and thinks it’s all paranoid mumbo-jumbo spouted by emotional cripples, consider this:

● I went to bed in a happy mood last night, only to dream of my tormentor and former lover, The Forgiven One, humiliating me in public once again and branding me as worthless. It’s almost two years to the day since that actually happened… what a horrible way for my brain to acknowledge the start of dreaded October.
● I awoke from the aforementioned nightmare to find my bed clothes and undergarments soaked in a sickening pool of thick, cloying blood: my Endometriosis (supposed to be under control by powerful medication) kicked in with a vengeance during my troubled sleep, resulting in pain and abnormal bleeding. I haven’t had an episode this severe in months and the bleeding only seems to happen during extreme bouts of stress. Hello, October! Thanks for the bloody reminder that you’ve rolled around again and you’re the month in which I was backstabbed and left for dead.
● I spent all morning flooded with overwhelming guilt for something others would deem ridiculous: it’s The Forgiven One’s birthday on Saturday and I won’t be making contact to wish him well. He won’t even notice – unless it’s to rejoice in my absence from his life and to make nasty jibes about me to his girlfriend or peers. Why then, do I suddenly feel like a terrible person? After last night’s awful dream, I should be reminded of the need to move onwards and upwards. Instead, I feel horribly guilty that I have sunk to cruel lows and will be perceived as callous. It’s irrational but I have spent hours weeping about my lack of grace, humility and compassion in choosing to ignore someone on their birthday who was once so treasured. Why does October have to be his birthday month on top of everything else? Is there not enough on my plate already?
● The tooth which has been troubling me ever since I was backstabbed (thanks to the stress-related grinding of my teeth) resulted in the need for another emergency visit to the dentist today. I’m still in pain and uncomfortable. Forget “pinch, punch… first of the month”; October’s arrival is more like “mutilate, humiliate… October brings a terrible fate”.

I’m still determined to rebrand this month, despite the obvious resistance to my efforts. Admittedly, I may look, feel and, unfortunately, chew like crap throughout the next 30 days, but I will somehow emerge a victor. By the end of Swaptober, I will be fitter, slimmer, stronger and wiser. I’m more determined than ever!

I have learnt something useful from today’s dramas, in spite of my pain and grief: I am a vulnerable, sensitive and ultimately too trusting woman who needs to stop punishing herself for past mistakes. I loved and cherished a man. So what? That’s nothing for which I should feel ashamed. It’s not October’s fault that this man happened to be a black-hearted Judas who treated me as a worthless tool. He was secretly ridiculing and humiliating me for years before I discovered the truth. I was branded as expendable long before October 2012 – I just didn’t know it.

I need to rebrand this month not only for my health and wellbeing, but also because it deserves my empathy: we have both been unfairly labelled and criticised for too long. October is not my enemy; it’s a kindred spirit in dire need of love, compassion and praise.

Introducing… Swaptober

29 Sep

My mission to “rebrand October” is officially underway. I vowed to offload the debilitating emotional anchors dragging down the month and I have hatched a plan to achieve my goal.

Introducing… Swaptober!

Swaptober shall see me exchange hibernation and self-doubt for positive actions and emotional reward. I have already swapped old habits for new, pulling together a weekly routine to improve my health and fitness.

I attended my first ever yoga class yesterday; a regular fixture in my schedule over the next five weeks (longer if means will allow). I have also enrolled in outdoor and indoor fitness sessions – strict bootcamps run by former military trainers. I need to lose weight, tone up, get fit, improve my balance and strengthen my damaged ankle. A drill sergeant should whip me into shape in no time!

If all goes to plan, Swaptober will become a milestone month for new beginnings. Since 2012, the tenth month of the calendar has marked the hideous anniversary of being backstabbed, branded as worthless and left for dead by The Forgiven One. He will celebrate his birthday in a few days – another painful October memory – and this is the first year in which I shall allow it to pass unacknowledged. I will inwardly wish him well, of course, but I am leaving behind the past and doing what’s best for both of us. I still miss his company but his friendship was never genuine and unless he proves himself to be a drastically changed man (a lobotomy, perhaps?), there is no point in allowing him to occupy a place within my life (even if he still holds a place within my thoughts each day). You see, Swaptober doesn’t allow for weakness – only strength, optimism, hope and tenacity.

I am committed to changing my life for the better and Swaptober will help to redefine my being as something worthwhile. My strategy hinges upon the creation of new associations for a month that is typically frought with grief. I hope to look back and think of October not as the worst month of my life but the end of my obesity, fatigue, depression and grief. Yes, there will be low moments during the month (there’s no quick fix for past hurts) but there will also be several highs to look forward to during the coming weeks. I anticipate pride and achievement, potential weight loss, increased endorphins, an improved diet, serenity and relaxation, greater physical and emotional strength, and a much-needed sense of self-worth.

In all honesty, I am already part-way there: I have laughed and danced my way through several days in the latter half of September. I haven’t been this cheerful and optimistic since early 2011. I feel a renewed sense of self. In short, I feel like my old self; the confident me who used to chase her dreams before being ill-treated and labelled “worthless” and “expendable”. Prior to this cruelty, I used to be celebrated as a “go-getter” and “resourceful”: values which are thankfully re-emerging and will, hopefully, illuminate the return of other positive attributes.

I have certainly been forced to explore beyond the limits of resourcefulness during prolonged unemployment and I have further extended my range in the lead to Swaptober. Each of my yoga and exercise bookings costs less than a cup of coffee thanks to carefully researched discount deals and special offers, and I’ve been looking at cheap options for my Bucket List of things to do before I die.

Swaptober is the first month of the rest of my life and I’m determined to make it count.

Baking & the Blues

20 Sep

After less than three hours sleep, I awoke today to wish my sister a Happy Birthday. Her husband and children have taken her out for the day, keen to spoil her and show their love. I feel deeply grateful and happy that she is blessed with such a thoughtful and loving family.

She deserves to be spoiled and I cannot wait to see them all tomorrow afternoon. I am looking forward to presenting her with the layered cake I am baking in her honour.

My mother, in spite of her troubled health, has already planned and started preparing for a glorious birthday feast. There are few meals to rival my mother’s cooking – she is renowned for her culinary expertise – and many have fought for dinner invitations to our home over the years. Ours was never a quiet home – until my breakdown commenced in October 2012 and my father’s illness set in. My mother’s Cancer battle has further emptied the halls: we now live in a lonely shell, both physically and emotionally.

I am happy that my sister and my parents have been blessed with children and romantic love: I could never resent their joy. That said, I feel acutely lonely. Admittedly, I feel a bit weepy and lost today – yet I am still making the most of my time by keeping busy and baking.

I have accepted the full force of wasting my 30s on a best friend and lover who turned out to be a liar for the entire duration. It was a cold, hard slap in the face and I still can’t quite believe my own stupidity: I was so naive but there’s no point in looking back.

I will never have a husband and children to shower me with love on my birthday. There will never be any romantic brunches nor family celebrations in my honour. This is all there is; it’s all there ever will be. I have to learn to take it, own it and find a way to fill the void of loneliness.

That should be enough – it has to be as there is no other option – but I still feel so lost. It also doesn’t help that October 7th is looming – the dreaded anniversary of the day my world crumbled, back in 2012. Thank God I am in a better place, emotionally if not physically, but I have to take positive action to beat the blues. I don’t relish the thought of having a loveless and childless future but I chose life over death because I love my family more than I will ever love myself. I have vowed to find the good in the world and make the most of my time on Earth.

I must begin by changing the negative anchor weighing down my emotions over winter: October needs to be re-defined as a happy, exciting and positive month. I have been trying to think of ways to do that and I have yet to conceive an appropriate action to re-brand the month. I still have time to crack this conundrum so I refuse to give in to depression. I cannot waste the positivity I have experienced in recent weeks and I am determined to keep my mental setting above “Depressed” and permanently in “Optimistic”. I want to fulfil all the remaining dreams that succeed motherhood and true love. It’s time to take back my world and control of my own destiny.

Explaining Your Feelings to Someone is Never Easy

20 Sep

I came upon a social media post earlier which stated: “Explaining your feelings to someone is never easy”. I concur. Yet, I do feel that those who truly care if you understand or not will endeavour to do all they can to convey their sentiments.

I am starting to accept what others have been trying to drill into my thick skull during recent months: only those who truly care about my wellbeing will ever think I am worth any positive action, explanation, conversation and kindness. I grieve the lost years I had to scarifice to learn this particular lesson but I am grateful nonetheless to have finally taken heed of its importance.

Resilience

19 Sep

I am exhausted from lack of sleep and possibly by the side-effects of prolonged stress but I am still finding reasons to be positive. I feel very humbled by the kind actions of others – particularly my mother’s friends, who have been so overwhelmingly supportive over recent months. We are all very lucky and grateful for our blessings – they are far greater than we ever realised.

9 Ways Stress Affects More Than Just Your Nerves | Thinking About Health

18 Sep

That horrifying moment when you realise that you’re reading a description of yourself, written by a total stranger: http://thinkingabouthealth.com/health-hazards/9-ways-stress-affects-more-than-just-your-nerves/

Sleeping With The Enemy

17 Sep

I am exhausted. I was still awake well into the early hours of this morning, unwilling to risk falling asleep. Most people feel safe in their beds; I only feel fear. I am scared of closing my eyes only to be plagued by demonic visions of The Forgiven One and his callous deeds. I cannot wait for the day when my mind is free from torment. I have been coping so well of late, feeling positive and hopeful during the day, yet at night I am forced to yield beneath the hand of Grief. I lie trapped, sleeping with the enemy, unable to break free.

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