Same Old Me, Some New Feelings

It’s been nearly an entire month since my big emotional crack. I can hardly believe it’s been that long.

In some ways, I feel like absolutely nothing has changed and it was just yesterday. I feel like the same old Katie, with the same old personality and same old craziness.

In other ways, I can see an entirely new Katie evolving. After the shock of learning what had happened to me and what likely caused it, I knew that I had to make some changes, or else nothing would change and this would happen again.

Duh.

So change I did. Radically. Drastically. I lived in denial for quite a while. I ignored feelings of discontent. I buried feelings of ‘warning’. I focused on what others needed instead of what I undoubtedly needed.

Eventually, it stopped being so easy to ignore the feelings. Eventually, I had to see my life for what it was, not what it looked like through rose colored glasses.

Seeing my life for what it was was… hard. It was like sitting in the dark for hours and having someone suddenly turn on the light. Sure, it’s light. Sure, you can see. But you close your eyes because it’s so painful until you can adjust to it.

So, I’m adjusting. I’m learning a new normal now. My days are comfortably filled with a combination of work, ‘me’ time, quality time with my family and friends, and staying active. I can be honest and tell people how I’m really feeling. I’m experiencing a lot of new feelings that I haven’t felt in a long time. Some of them don’t feel so good. I’ve buried a lot of gross feelings that I haven’t wanted to feel for a while.

But some of the feelings? They’re amazing.

Connection – I’ve taken the opportunity to open up to friends and let them be there for me. I’ve let new people into my life, which is so freakin’ scary, but so great. I love being able to make a phone call, send a text, and get an instant, honest connection with someone I care about and know cares about me.

Accomplishment – I’ve lost 18 lbs. Eight. Teen. Pounds. Since I’ve been peeing like crazy, I know a lot has been water weight. But at the same time, I see a major difference in my clothes. I don’t really have a weight loss goal since losing weight isn’t really something I’m trying to do. But getting stronger comes with losing weight, so I see pounds lost as strength gained.

Endorphins – I’m always on the hunt for a workout that I actually like. Friends,  I’ve found Zumba. Oh. My. God. Amazing. I love Zumba for the first 15 minutes. For the remainder 35, I look at my classmates and we all make the faces of pure torture because Zumba is fun, but Zumba is hard. But afterward? I almost cry out of happiness. The endorphins kick in and for the next few hours, I feel incredible.

Endurance- I am a product of what has happened to me, but what has happened to me doesn’t define me. I could easily be in bed right now sleeping, taking off of work, opting out of plans with friends, and blame it on ‘going through a hard time’ and people would totally understand. I’m not doing that, though. I’m getting up every day. I’m going to work. I’m working out. I’m eating well. I’m dealing with my emotions. It’s a whole lot of work, but I know that 6 months, a year, two years from now, I’ll look back on this period of my life and remember it as a time of intense work and soul shaking realization.

Some days really suck. Sometimes I want to reach through the phone and hug my dad. I want to play an endless game of Hand and Foot with my grandmother.  I want to go back to when things were comfortable. Comfortable is great, but in a lot of ways, comfortable was in no way healthy for me and it was my own way of tricking myself into thinking I was happy.

I was quite comfortable eating horrible food. I was quite comfortable choosing to sit and watch crime dramas all day instead of getting even a little active. I was comfortable being the strong rock, and never showing weakness. I became so comfortable in being unhealthy physically and emotionally that I tricked myself into thinking I was okay.

DING DONG. WRONG.

The last month has been filled with harsh truths, tough conversations, raw emotion, and letting go. It has also been filled with self love, strengthening friendships, making new connections, and crystal clear realizations.

This is a hard journey. But I have the absolute best people in my corner, pushing me harder, not letting me give up, and reminding me of my strengths. I have no idea how people do this alone. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to ever know what it’s like to do it alone.

And it makes me feel good to hear things like this from friends:

“You earned this support. You deserve this support. I will always be there for you. I don’t care what you do, how hard you fall. Fuck, you’ve caught me thousands of times. It’s not that I was waiting for you to fall, but I’m glad I can reciprocate. That’s what love is all about. I’m sorry that you’ve had mixed experiences with this. But this is the real thing. Welcome to unconditional love. Enjoy your stay.”

Being Comfortable Is Comfortable Until It’s Not Anymore

I’ve spent the last little bit of this year being comfortable. Coming from a girl with a history of depression and anxiety, it probably sounds like a lovely place to be — a place of comfort and questionable contentment. It’s a far cry for being in despair, turmoil, and looking for a permanent way out of pain, that’s for sure.

With this comfortable state has come some negative stuff too. Like, my health consciousness has fallen through the cracks. I’ve stopped pursuing new clients, I’ve even let some responsibilities go to bask in the comfort of not being required to do things.  I mean, my days off as of late have literally been spent laying around, taking naps, and eating horrible food. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy being a little bad and deviating away from the ‘right’ thing, but it’s taking a definite toll on my body and mind.

I began to notice that I was feeling much less proactive about things. I was more on edge, more sensitive, and feeling exponentially more needy than usual. I was looking to those who I was closest to to make me feel better. Probably not the best idea to throw up all over my friends. Especially when the key to me feeling better is inside of ME. That’s not to say that I don’t adore my core friends for the endless conversations and talking me through my mini crisis. Because, sometimes I just need someone to say “What you’re feeling is okay.” I think my favorite interaction came from my Boston Marriage Partner:

 

 

…and this is why I remain sane way more than I should be.

ANYWAY

This whole being comfortable comes with a price. Especially when you spend a few weeks, uh, okay, months, being comfortable and ignoring all of the signs of discomfort because “OMG, I’m too busy being so comfortable in my mismatched pajamas, eating greasy food, and drinking all the soda. Life is good. *BURP* *Scratch crotch*”

Any gross feelings that came up, I’d either blow ridiculously out of proportion or ignore completely. Neither of which helped address it. I’ve had this discomfort in my belly recently. Not like, THAT kind of discomfort. I’m not pregnant. I’m not constipated. But the feeling that something just isn’t right. I think they call that mess ‘intuition’ or something. I kept ignoring the feeling, swallowing it (TWSS), and waiting for it to pass. About a week ago, I spent the day sitting cross-legged on the floor, on the verge of tears because WTF WAS WRONG WITH ME? But I couldn’t cry. I wasn’t even sure what the hell I was feeling. Was I feeling anything?

I spent a few days doing something different. I felt the feeling. Like, really felt it, just as it was. I didn’t over process it. I didn’t ignore it. t let it take me over if it needed to. I felt…whatever it was I was feeling. There’s nothing more difficult than feeling something that you can’t give a name to. It’s like going to the hospital knowing something is wrong, but the quack doctor tells you that you’re nuts, and sends you home with some bullshit diagnosis that just isn’t right.

But then, last night, as I was sitting in bed, reading Sookie Stackhouse and emerging myself in the world of all things Vampires and Fairies, I realized what I’ve been feeling. I gave the feeling that’s been plaguing me a name. I knew I had identified it correctly because tears came to my eyes, and I felt like someone finally understood me. It was totally kick-ass to know that it was ME who understood ME.

What I’m feeling is a longing for the way things used to be. I miss people. I miss situations. I miss feelings. I JUST MISS THINGS! That’s it. I’m not batshit crazy, well, no more than normal. I have a legit emotion that I’m working through, and that’s okay. These feelings of missing things are still there, but now it’s easier to handle because I know what it is. DIAGNOSIS: MISSING THINGS. LONGING FOR THE PAST.

The next part, I know is that I’ll have to figure out which things are gone, which things aren’t coming back, which things are out of my control, and which things I’m just missing because I’m not doing them. Like brunch with friends. Nothing is stopping me from doing that. But missing people who are gone from my life, well, you know how that goes.

Learning to just be with my discomfort and not ignoring it is really hard. Sometimes I need to stop what I’m doing, go outside, and just breathe for a few minutes. I have tons of  back end stuff going on in life right now, but a lot of it is all about how I’m going to process it.

Shit is hard.

But, as Jillian Michaels says to me every damn day, “When things get hard, that’s when change is happening.”

Okay, Jillian. Not only do you have a smoking bod, you’re all up in my emotions too. Clearly I’m shedding more than lbs. this month.

I win.

 

Katie’s Back – Wait, Did I Even Leave?

Monday night, I was doing a last minute jam session with my client in my office and I came up with a solution to a very minor issue. It wasn’t a cancer cure. It wasn’t a way to bring our brothers, sisters, and friends home from overseas, it wasn’t a way to sell the toy I have dubbed as ‘245’ in order to score some of my money back. Nope. None of that. It was quite literally a checkbox on a word document.

When I provided the suggestion, my client lit up, exclaimed “I love it! Katie. Is. Back!”

I 1/2 grinned, 1/2 looked at him like he was pulling a Tom Cruise on the couch type thing, and 3/4 was kind of offended.

Note: Math and I ain’t friends, yo.

I mean, things have been a little touch and go around these parts. I have fab days and bad days and some indifferent days, but isn’t that how life is. I mean, really. But was I truly absent to a point where basic solutions became fewer and farther between for me? Was I not dependable?

YIKES.

I’ve said before how awesome I am at starting things. I love new journals, clean bedrooms, a clean office, new relationships, etc. When those things start to get old, I feel like the attraction and glimmer have faded and I lose interest. As great as I am at starting things, I’m equally good at abandoning and shutting down. Character flaw, I embrace it. That doesn’t mean I like this little flaw of mine. I shutter at the thought of the missed opportunities that I’ve experienced because of letting go of something instead of holding on. There’s a time for letting go, and a time for holding on. It’s a balance, but I tend to lean to one side.

I’m trying to change that whole thing up though. Plenty of situations have presented themselves recently that are just screaming “LEAVE. STOP. DON’T GO FURTHER. DO NOT PASS GO. COLLECT THE $200 AND SPLIT.” But, contrary to my inner-voice, I’m hanging tight. I haven’t abandoned any responsibilities. I haven’t ditched anyone from my life. I’m practicing the art of going with the flow; knowing that I might be a little down, but that means that good times are coming.

It’s a different way to live life. Especially when I’ve spent so long with this “Ditch when it gets bad” method of survival. Which, truth be told, isn’t as much a method of survival as it is an intentional sabotage of all of the things I want. The fact is that even the most delicious dreams and goals require a lot of work and sweat. That whole “No one ever said it would be easy, they said it would be worth it” rings abundantly clear to me now.

Have you noticed that I’ve posted a shit-ton of times in the last week? Like, seriously. Almost every morning over coffee I’ve gotten back into the habit of writing. Sometimes it’s public stuff for all of you little lovers to see, and other times I had on over to 750 Words to throw some words down that are for my eyes only. Because, you know, sometimes I need some privacy, yo. Why did I stop writing? It’s like, the best way to get all of these cray-cray thoughts out of my head and manifesting themselves into ridiculous assumptions and self-created fears.

WHY DO I ALWAYS DO THINGS THAT SABOTAGE ME?

I guess the first step is realizing that I have an issue. Now, we move onto correcting the shiz. I’ve been doing a decent job, like I said. I have been feeling more myself recently, and I even (finally) picked up my Nook and started reading again. I’m hopelessly re-addicted to the Sookie Stackhouse Novels. I’m making my bed before I leave in the morning. I’m wearing something other than yoga pants to work every day. I wear makeup. I’m working out again (though I fell off that wagon over the last few days! EEK!).  But each day, I’m sure to do at least one thing that I know I love to do for myself. This morning it was listening to my Sookie book on my way into work and indulging in a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Cosi. I also sent Good Morning texts to some of my favorite people, and forced myself to be more social.

Getting back into the swing of things is a hard job, but I’m working through it.

Katie’s Back.

I need to start with self-pep talks EARLY.

Breaking the Cycle

It seems like my life is this cycle. Though, to be completely fair, everyone’s life is a cycle. *Cue: Elton John’s Circle of Life playing softly in the background* — I mean, a little mood music is good stuff, right? Now that I’m more conscious of my feelings and emotions I’ve noticed patterns. You’d think I’d have noticed this before, since I can trace this cycling back at least 6 years, but no. New revelation.

It would be awesome if I could pinpoint the exact moment when I realized that I’ve been living a life in a pattern. But I can’t. I just know that until now, I never realized that this pattern was happening. I’d spend my bad days wondering if good days would ever come again. I’d spend my good days waiting for the bad days to return. The middle days would be spent spreading myself incredibly thin amongst tons of projects. Then, when I couldn’t complete the projects (because no matter how many hours I want in a day, there are only 24. And some of them need to be used for other things. Like sleep. And food. And stuff), I’d beat myself up, assume I couldn’t do anything, convince myself that I was a big liar and I was leading a life of lies and I wasn’t capable of being successful.

No fucking wonder I struggled with loving myself.

As much as I want to report that I’ve broken this cycle and my days are spent Pooping Rainbows and skipping merrily down the streets of Philadelphia, this isn’t the case. I’m stuck in the cycle again. I know I am. I’m somewhere on the upswing after beating myself up for not completing projects and saying “Yes” to too many things. Nicole really nailed this topic in one of her recent posts and I totally got what she was saying.

Through my trip through self discovery and allowing others in to my life, I’ve learned a lot. Unfortunately, my lessons are usually short lived and I go back to my old habits. I mean, we all fall off of the wagon sometimes. The important part is that we hop back on. We cheat on diets, skip a day of running, forget to call someone on the phone…it’s just life. The problem comes when we use our most recent mistake as a determining factor of who you are as a person. Cheating on a diet one day doesn’t make you a disgusting pig. Skipping a day of running doesn’t make you failure. Not calling your friend on the phone doesn’t make you a horrible person who is undeserving of anything good in life. But habit makes me think that way sometimes.

I’ve found myself wearing a ton of hats recently. One of them is being a supportive friend. Another is being a caring daughter. One more is attempting to be there for my family during a tough time. Then there are my usual clients, projects, consulting gigs.  I think I’m someone’s girlfriend at this point too. So there’s a lot of internal hats that come with that as well. Somewhere amongst all of these things which are uber high on my priority scale, I’ve forgotten about one huge, mega, important thing.

Me. Katie Colihan. HELLO?!

I’ve been eating terribly for a week and my body hates me. I’ve gained 5 lbs back. I’ve been meaning to get my eyebrows waxed for three days. I cancelled my facial and massage. I haven’t written in weeks. I’m having a problem with feeling guilty about being there for myself. When I do take the time out for me, I feel like I’m being a horrible friend, daughter, employee, significant other, etc.

This is where I catch the cycling that I’m doing and nip it. I know I need some “Me” time right now. It needs to be a priority – a guiltless priority. I need to feel as good about being there for myself as I do when I’m there for others. Right now, my support system is going through their own life issues, and I respect that. But that means I need to be a little nicer to myself and remind myself that I’m worth a massage and an eyebrow wax. Oh, and a dance party in my basement.

So, yeah. As I quickly approach my 28th birthday next week, I’m dedicating a large amount of my time during the next week to myself and doing things for myself that make me feel good.

I need me right now.

 

Doctor Google PhD Says I Need Lithium. I think I Might Be Normal. Or Not.

When I feel even a small twinge of pain, I flip my shit. Pain means something is wrong somewhere, and I need to know what it is. And since, I don’t have medical insurance until Obama gives me his care or makes me get it (I really don’t understand this policy or politics in general), I go to the best doctor I know and he’s free.

Dr. Google, PhD.

9 times out of 10, Google sends me right to a WebMD page that says I’m dying or all of my teeth are falling out and of course I flip my shit. Again.

I’ve learned that you should probably ignore the first one or two results that Google gives you because I think they’re given to you in order to make you scared so you’ll Google even more.

EXAMPLE:

Google: Stuffy nose, sore throat, lump in throat, red eyes, coughing mucus

RESULT 1: CANCER

RESULT 2:  TRANSPLANT

RESULT 3: Calm down, you have a cold. Take Nyquil and CHILL THE HELL OUT.

A few months back you might remember my daring attempt at cutting all chemicals from my daily routine. Since I’ve been on some sort of anti-anxiety medication since 2004 sometime, I figured my body needed a break. I’ve done it. Mostly. I’m completely off daily anti-anxiety medications, haven’t taken anything for months. I have reached for a Xanax on a few occasions in which I’ve felt Panic Attacks coming on. But I don’t take them daily anymore.

Also, did you know that a large amount of the general population is on Xanax? Like, I’ve talked to a few people about my little moodiness thing I’m going through and they’re all “Yeah, I’m on Xanax!”

That suddenly explains the behavior of all of the stupid people. I just tell myself they took an extra Xanax. Or, maybe they ran out of Xanax and are getting their Rx filled today.

ANYWAY.

Since I’ve been off of the medications, I’ve been overly aware of my moods. I know when I’m feeling good and I take note of what makes me feel that way. The same with anger, fear, and ALL THE EMOTIONS. It would make sense for me to start a Mood Journal, but I mostly do it in my head. I fear leaving my Mood Journal around the house and having one of my housemates see it opened, and read “July 9th, 2012 – Want to kill everyone. Bought new Rachael Ray knives. Feel better now!” So I haven’t done that yet.

What I have noticed is that I’m doing a lot of Rapid Mood Cycling. I feel super great fantastic for a few minutes or an hour, an then I crash and feel horrible. I stoke myself up for social situations with family or friends, but get there and almost instantly feel anxious and want to go home. If I don’t have a way home, as in, I didn’t drive myself and my “ride” isn’t there, I inevitably have to try and ward off an anxiety attack.

This weekend I was very excited for the annual family 4th of July Barbecue. I made my famous Jell-o Shots (Which really, I just pour sugar, add a lot of booze, and chill), and was ready for a fun day of drinking and swimming and playing with the little ones. Within 30 minutes of arriving, I was freaking out on the inside, wanting to leave, missing home, wanting to go into a quiet room, etc. Just as difficult as having those feelings is hiding those feelings. I had the normal conversations with the normal people and didn’t even hint once that I was feeling so anxious that I might go fetal position at any moment.

But I’m not crazy, I don’t think, at least. I get up everyday. I do work. I date. I do social events. I’m cool.

It’s almost as if half of me is telling myself that everything is fine, there’s nothing to worry about, and the other side is telling me all of the things that could possibly go wrong. I’ve read this as a symptom of Bipolar, however my GREAT VS OMFG-THIS SUCKS moods aren’t months at a time. Typically people cycle at mania levels for a few weeks, then slip into depression. My sad times are more prominent, but my happy times come too. They just turn off really quickly. Hell, I wish I had happiness or depression that lasted 3 weeks at a time, dude. I can’t keep up with these hour to hour mood changes some days.

And it’s not the SAD depression, really. It’s more like an irritability or lack of motivation. Kind of ilke a case of the Mondays. Every other hour.

I can go weeks with being fine, with normalcy, but then I go through a few months where the mood cycling is just nuts!

Dr. Google, PhD says I have:

1. Cancer

2. Extreme BiPolar that needs Lithium as treatment

3. Some kind of General Anxiety Disorder.

If this is the case, medication might be the right thing here. The key will be the RIGHT medication, and not just the easiest thing. Plus, getting back in the habit of therapy, too.

I don’t consider this a failure at cutting chemicals out of my body. Not at all. If I have a true chemical imbalance, then medication may be required.  I’m going to my Primary Doctor tomorrow to get her opinion of it all. Maybe I’ll walk out with an Rx.

Or maybe I just need to eat more Omega-3 and work at the beach so I get some natural Vitamin-D.

Either way, bring it. I can take this shit on.

Of course, there’s always the slight possibility that I’m normal, and this is just what life is about — a series of emotions and learning to ride the waves.

WHO EFFING KNOWS?

BRB. ASKING GOOGLE PhD!