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So far so good…so far

2 Mar

I’m pleased to report that I’m on my third consecutive ‘successful’ day this work week. It hasn’t happened in a LONG time but that’s three successful days in a row which – for better or worse, after years of trying otherwise – in my mind is a direct function of my productivity. 

Theee lessons come to mind from this week’s track record:

1. Accept Who You Are: As I’ve said before, years of trying to change it, my beliefs remain as strong as ever; that a productive day = a successful day = a happy and satisfying day. There’s a Theory X vs. Theory Y Management story here for another day. 

2. Celebrate Small Victories: Three days in a row (in a 5 day workweek) may sound like a small victory, but celebrating those is just as important as larger ones, and far more valuable than stewing over my shortcomings or missed goals. 

3. Stick to What Works…Religiously: Each day this week I stuck to a formula that seems to be working:

  • Getting up as soon as my alarm goes off and showering right away
  • Spending little to no time watching the news over morning coffee
  • Taking my meds (Vyvanse in particular)
  • Just doing instead of thinking
  • Getting out of the house and into the office as soon as I can

What do you think? Apart from exercise, what’s missing from my morning routine? And am I the only one who finds this a morning victory and not just a routine?

Being in the Right (Head) Place at the Right Time

26 Feb

How often does this happen to you?

After hours or even days of depression, procrastination and self-loathing, you finally find yourself with the energy and mood to do what you want/need to…but by then you’ve run out of time to do it. 

A couple cases in point, just from my last week:

At Work: (Not) Tackling a Mountain of Tasks

I spent one morning hungover (a story for another day) in meetings, struggling even to pay attention, let alone participate. Then a few more hours stressing over my workload, going out for smoke breaks and ruminating over my lack of productivity. 

Only when I had less than an hour left before I had to leave did I “snap out of it” and kick into the high gear I needed right after my morning meetings. In that last hour I got more done than in the previous eight…but I left with a mountain of unfinished tasks I promised myself I’d tackle over the weekend (not going well so far). 

At Home: Household Chores

Today I had the house to myself for five solid hours, and a manageable list of chores to go along with it. I spent half of it at the bar at the end of the street, and another hour watching Bill Maher, before doing the only productive thing I did all day – putting away a single hamper of already folded clothes. 

After another trip to the bar for a quick couple pints, and with 20 minutes before having to leave for my kid’s hockey game, it happened again. Only when I didn’t have the time to do it did I snap out of my rut and feel almost enthusiastic about tackling even the most onerous chores on my list. 

Sometimes it’s as if the only time I’m in the right mood to get something done is precisely when I don’t have the time to do it. 

What’s Your Secret?

I know I’m not alone so I want to hear your stories. And what I want to know just as much is, how do you align your mood with the time when you need it? 

Or…how do you end up in the right (head) place at the right time?

The power of discipline…and amphetamines 

22 Feb

Wow…what a difference a day makes. Where yesterday morning – especially anxiety-inducing following a long weekend – I felt a sense of panic, dread and gloom heading into work, today I arrived feeling…good. More than good in fact; I felt energetic, ambitious and optimistic about the day ahead. My to-do list is just as daunting, but I feel worlds better about tackling it today. 

So what changed? Not just from today but from prior experiences I can boil it down to three key things:

1. Discipline – I got up when my alarm went off. I ate breakfast. I made the kids’ lunches and got them off to school early. Before 9:00 I already felt productive which, as I’ve written on previously, I tend to equate with happiness and success (a topic for another post I’m sure). 

2. Doing Instead of Thinking – By getting up and “just doing it” I avoided my typical morning pitfall of overthinking things and getting caught up in my own mind. Most days I find myself drinking coffee (no breakfast) in front of the news and starting the vicious cycle of ruminating over my previous day’s shortfalls, feeling shitty about myself, procrastinating my start on the new day, and back again to ruminating. It’s true what they 

3. Vyvanse – It’s not a magic bullet, and it only works if I balance it with other coping mechanisms like the ones above, but this is the one drug that’s had an immediately noticeable impact on my mood. The test of whether it works for you: if it speeds things up and makes you hyper, you don’t need it, but if it actually slows things down to a manageable pace, it could be a perfect fit for you. 

Food for thought. Tomorrow…an update on what I’ve been up to for the last two years.

Self Care: The canary in the coal mine of crazy

22 Feb

I didn’t brush my teeth last night.

It’s been two days since I showered (but new underwear/socks today).

I haven’t had breakfast or lunch since Wednesday.

Why am I sharing these (some would say too) personal details?  Because one of the first things they teach you in rehab and recovery programs is to start with the basics; start taking care of yourself, really taking care of yourself – daily showers, changing clothes, eating three semi-healthy meals – and the rest will follow.

In my experience, it works.

I’ve also found a corollary to this approach; that signs of self care neglect should be seen as an early warning system, a canary in the coal mine of your mind. I’ve had my own experiences, and heard many more at church, when a harsh slide in mood – or substance relapse – follows on the heels of letting even a few self care habits slide.

At least I’m in new clothes today.  And I’m seeing a baby tomorrow so I’ve got to shower before then.

Skipping church and other signs of trouble

18 Feb

It’s been a little over 36 hours since my return from the long weekend and, as expected, it’s been a brutal, depressing and anxiety-ridden road back to my own reality. Since I’ve been back I:

…had another B2C (straight from bed to couch) day yesterday, paralyzed by anxiety and lack of confidence with even the smallest of tasks.

…feel even more overwhelmed than I expected, mainly because our water pipes froze while we were away, adding another major task to the ever growing to do list.

…skipped church (group therapy) last night, probably when I needed it most, and in itself a warning sign that I’m neglecting my own self-care (more on this topic to come).

…let my own judgemental, pessimistic outlook on my return become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The good news? I’ve been looking after my 2-year old nephew who’s home sick from daycare, so I’m out of the house and being (to my mind) productive. What’s more, I’m feeling the proven therapeutic effects of spending quality time with a toddler.

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