Happiness is a Full-time job
It’s now well into the new year and it’s time to share. Spill the beans so to say.
I made affirmations for 2023 like most of us did. I’ve actually seen them through thus far. Since, I was dedicated, the results have been phenomenal. Being aware that everyday takes effort to change for the better I can say with certainty it’s a full time job.
You may or may not recall, but I made decisions and goals late last spring. Not easy ones. Still, changes that took discipline and courage. One of those was weaning myself off all antidepressants, ptsd medication, anxiety medication etc.
Before 2022 ended around August I weaned off my last medication. September of 2022 was firm month free of all those medications. Now, I did this under the care of a Doctor and slowly. The process began in May. As you can tell it took from Spring to early Fall.
Wow was it difficult to live in a reality where there was no medications to turn down the volume of my crazy and severity of my diagnosed medical conditions. I did everything as well as I could. I told my husband, my family, my real life “friends” and even some online ones in my gaymers guild. Nothing prepared me for life after decades being on medications to being pill free. Detox was intense. It’s a lonely journey without the right kind of support. Still, I succeeded. Even when people told me to get back on my meds. I listened to my doctor and had some good people cheer me on.
They say the first people to notice the change is those around you. They notice the character changes easier that one does. Still, I did the best I could to be mindful. I learned a lot about myself and people around me during these times. Let’s just say the most patient and genuine people remain and helped me along to the finish line.
What I didn’t expect was how sensitive I would become. Seriously, without the meds it’s like my inner neurosis’s were on a megaphone. Luckily that was pushed through and passed. I’m still very sensitive, feel things stronger, and quick to be overwhelmed. However, I’m managing it. Also I cannot describe how much my memory improved and how much more clear headed I am. I’m finding my spark!
One of the hardest things for me personally was learning to let go. Things will and have happened and they would loudly play on repeat in my head. It wasn’t just mental either but physical! My body would flood with adrenaline, muscles would manifest painful knots and tension. I’d grind my cheeks and teeth. I was constantly going to the restroom and even had what felt like electrical shocks go through my body. Don’t even get me started at the near constant shaking and trembling. Oh, and the restlessness and sleeplessness was hard to bear.
Now remember what I said about learning how to let things go? Yeah, that’s not easy. Still, it’s a full time job but I’ve made so much progress. I’m daily working towards being forgiving to myself and others. To live mindfully in the present and focus on being aware, clear minded and focused on things that are and always have been good. It’s tough but I am determined to change the narrative in my mind to one that is positive. One that is more virtuous, altruistic and at peace. More aligned with who I’d like to be. A person who’s kind, filled with empathy, compassion and settled in my own skin. Happy more often than not. I also recognize that we all have our ups and downs. I’m not going to lose focus that there have been more smiles and good moments in interactions with others than human moments that are not as pleasant. We are human. We all fall down but we can get right back up. Olive branches. I not only grow them, I offer them. Being medication free was and is hard but I’m thriving more than surviving. I’m appreciating getting to know to the imperfect but kind new me.
So let’s jump to 2023. I started letting go of things from my life that were not conducive to physical or mental health and adopting things that were. I gave up sugar, coffee, milk, carbs like pasta, crackers, or bread, cheese, rice, salt, and even gluten. I started going to the gym for cardiovascular health as well as going on walks or hikes with a neighbor for miles a week. I had also put an end to the near daily glass of wine or weekend bender with friends. Nothing wrong with having a glass or two of wine with good company but my tolerance for alcohol is very low now that the pandemic infused tribal drinking ended. Life without meds, excess alcohol, and good dieting really had amazing physical results! Guess what the result of that is? I was 189-193lbs before. Now, I’m in the 150s. People noticed it before I did. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Wow! You’ve lost weight!” It’s completely true. I’ve basically shed 30, nearing 40 pounds off. Now, some people think it was starvation that got me there. I will admit in the beginning it felt like I was starving. My body craved sugar, coffee, dairy, bread, saltines, m&ms, rice, pasta! It felt like I had given up everything that brought me joy. Still, I wasn’t starving myself. I was tracking calories, reducing my caloric intake to align with my weight loss goals, increasing my water intake, having fruits when I got a sweet craving, having vegan pea protein shakes. I was eating cleaner, being more active and exercising. It wasn’t a walk in the park. My body was very sore from gym, and I went weeks without feeling full. Now my stomach has shrunken it feels. I have smaller portions, make mindful decisions on what to do with my body and it’s been phenomenal.
Aside from learning to let go, upgrading my eating habits, and becoming more active it was time to work on engaging in things that made me happy. Oh yeah! That’s gardening regardless of it being winter. Meditating, Reading more and practicing kindness. I’m still easily overwhelmed but now it’s easier to recognize and apply a breathing technique or counting the things that are in the present moment and finding my way back to zen. Mindfulness and being kind to yourself works.
It’s only February so it’s not over. I’m not done. Nor would I even say healed. Still, I’m getting there and above all I’m in a better place. Starting an indoor plant boutique with my husband. Meditating often with friends. Enjoying meeting new and delightful people. Even leaving the house more than usual. Being more adventurous and enjoying the calm too. My husband and I even have a new rescue puppy!
Every single day it takes effort to be the best yet authentically human version of myself. To me the past is water under the bridge. There’s nothing in the past that didn’t occur for me to learn something from. So with appreciation and more for my own inner peace and happiness, I’m moving onward daily. Life is filled with more good than bad. Life at present has happiness and less suffering. I’m not enlightened but I’m making progress.
Now, everyday I remind myself that it’s a new day, a better me and hopefully a kinder way to live happy and be. There’s still plenty of thorns and leaf destroying cattepillars but I’m just optimistically aware of the roses and butterflies that come after.
Live your dreams. Change your habits if you’d like to. Don’t give up on others. Invest in yourself. Stay kind, forgive, and make an achievable goal and the good people in your life will witness you reach for the stars and hold you while you reach them to shine brighter than the sun.
Laugh, Love, and above all Live. Everyday is a journey. Make it a nice one.