Procrastination seems to be a theme of mine when it comes to writing my articles. Today though, it’s more intense because I’m about to share something that I wonder if I really should share. The reason being, I wonder what people will think – not in terms of judging me and my challenges, but more about ‘why does she feel the need to share that….in public, no less’.
Before I get into the article, I’ll tell you why I’m sharing. Mostly because I think it’s important to make our struggles and challenges less taboo. I find that with some people I have encountered, many of their deeper issues are because they don’t talk about their problems and they don’t reach out for help.
That doesn’t mean everyone should air all their dirty laundry in public but that we should at least make it normal to show what we struggle with so other people know that they are not alone.
Also I really believe that when we hold onto things, bottle them up or deny that these things that are challenging us, it prevents us from being who we truly are. It’s all part of creativity and self expression.
There are some things I won’t be sharing, but what I am sharing today is something that part of me doesn’t want to , but the other part feels I must. So, now that I’ve set this up to be something huge, I will let you know that it’s not really that big of a deal – it’s more about self awareness and taking action.
The big reveal
Over the last few months things have started changing for me. It’s only now that I look back on the smaller symptoms that I realise it actually has been happening for the last few months.
I started eating unhealthily – lots of cakes and biscuits – not really caring about what I put in my mouth as long as it stopped the feeling of hunger and was a quick and easy thing to get my hands on.
I started to drink more alcohol – not crazy amounts that anyone would be concerned about but I’ve noticed that where I might have one glass of wine, I would easily have two or three.
There was a blanket of numbness over me – a kind of bland feeling to everything….a kind of ‘meh’.
I would be patient with my kids to the point of not caring, and then there would be a tipping point and I would go from zero to a hundred in a split second – shouting at them and telling them off for misbehaving.
A deep feeling that there must be more to life than this and that I wanted to just run away or just shut out my responsibilities of being an adult.
None of these feelings were anything that made me erratic, just an overwhelming sense of blandness. It seeped into every minute of my day and I found myself really demotivated. There were moments of excitement when something out of the norm would happen but basically it felt like really weird calm waters before a storm.
It was only recently that I was aware of the calm, boring waters and the smell of a storm in the air.
I don’t believe anything has ‘triggered’ this, it’s a gradual build up of lots of choices I have made over who knows how long.
So, I thought… ‘is this depression?’. It certainly felt similar to what I went through during my crazy days of sleep deprivation four years ago. Perhaps it is. Some might say to go to the doctor. But what is the point of going to the doctor when I know deep down I have the answers.
If I want to do something about this, I can and I am.
You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand
My instinct is to first understand it.
So I started researching depression or at least the imbalance of hormones that can create stress, anxiety and other feelings like I have been experiencing. I came to the conclusion that I was lacking a good dose of ‘happy hormones’.
I remembered watching a TED talk about how to create stories that engage the audience by tapping into certain emotions by kick starting the production of certain hormones. Generally these were feelings of empathy, excitement and wellbeing which are responses to hormones and neurotransmitters like Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphins.
What I learned is that Dopamine drives the brains ‘reward system’. So to create more Dopamine naturally I need to set and achieve goals.
Serotonin is the responsible for making you feel good – you know, that warm fuzzy feeling – ways to create this naturally is to exercise (plus some healthier choices in foods).
Oxytocin is to do with life satisfaction and our feelings of connection with others, so the ways to increase this is to be kind to others, spend time with loved ones and yes, have more orgasms.
There are also other hormones like oestrogen and progesterone that helps keep a balance of moods. I’ve read that at certain ages (I’m over 40 now) production of these hormones can be a little erratic. Yoga, meditation and better sleep can help stabilise these.
So my remedy for my current feelings is to exercise, choose better foods, try to get more sleep and take the time to connect with the people I love as well as being kind and generous to others (but that has always been one of my core values so that’s not a new way of being for me).
The biggest thing I have done so far is to join a gym. I’ve also set the goal of going three times a week. This is one action I believe is going to be a big deal for me. I want to get fit and look better – there is a slight vanity aspect to it – but more than anything there are two main reasons.
1. To create more happy hormones and
2. To reclaim myself.
What I mean by reclaiming myself goes to a deeper feeling of self identity. Since having kids I feel like I have given a lot of myself up – not just for caring for them, but the actual physical act of bearing children and looking after them has taken a toll on my body. By no means am I out of shape, but I feel very unfit – my core is weak and there are certain things that child bearing does to your pelvic floor that means you can’t enjoy an hour at the trampoline centre without feeling embarrassed!
So whilst yes, I’d love to be ‘instafit’ with abs and obliques to die for, it mostly symbolises me taking care of myself and reclaiming part of my identity – becoming Sarah, rather than a distilled version of myself because of the roles I have in life.
I really don’t want this to read as a ‘woe is me, I’ve given up everything for my family’ kind of statement. That’s not true. The path I’ve taken is by free choice with no regrets, but I’m ready to focus inwards more – to become healthier and happier which inevitably will impact the people in my life.
So, if you’d like to follow my ‘instafit’ journey, you can follow me on Instagram here. I’m putting this out there as a way to hold myself accountable for taking action to feel happier but perhaps it will inspire someone else to take the action they need or at least let them know they are not alone.