I’ve been really down lately. I don’t know exactly why, but I have some ideas. Work has been overwhelmingly stressful, and I’ve been constantly sick. I will think I’m better from one sickness and a day later I seem to have something else. Every time I get sick or I have a really hard day at work (which is often) I seem to sink a little bit lower in how I feel about myself and my abilities. I’ve been sleeping a lot, having very little energy and motivation to do anything, missing Mike, and thinking miserable thoughts. I want to be functioning like my usual self, but I just can’t seem to do it. Then that frustrates me even more that I can’t seem to pick myself up and I get even more upset and stressed with myself. It’s a hard cycle for me to break.
Last week I went from sleeping pretty much all weekend and cancelling all plans, going to work Monday to then be throwing up Monday night, to having a cold by Wednesday that is still not completely gone. I had an appointment booked with a Naturopath at the end of the week that I booked quite a long time ago. I felt like cancelling but I decided to go to see if I could somehow boost my immune system. When she asked what I wanted to discuss I explained how I’m stressed and sick and probably got off topic with details. The poor doctor was probably thinking she’s not a therapist. However, she said something that popped out to me. She said, “So what strategies do you have for handling your stress? You can’t always avoid stressful situations but what do you do to help yourself?”
That statement and question caught me off guard but in a good way. It is so true. I KNOW that. I’ve written about that previously. It was my thinking for so long after Mike died. That I couldn’t change what had happened, but I can control my reactions and how I handle it. Sometimes it’s my direct reactions and sometimes it’s something I do for myself that’s unrelated to the situation. I don’t know when or why exactly I lost that mentality. I would think that it would get easier as I moved farther away from Mike’s death to embody that thinking instead of getting harder. However, recently I got so caught up in thinking about all the things that were going wrong for me, trying to fix situations that aren’t necessarily changeable, and making myself feel like a victim. I am not. I forgot that I have the ability to choose how I want to respond, think, and I have the ability to do things for myself to make myself feel better. None of them involve changing or avoiding the stressful situations. That is not always possible and drains more of my energy for no reason.
So that’s what I’m working on. Getting back to my mentality from last year when Mike’s death was more recent. That seems odd. I don’t actually want to go back and do more of that. Maybe then it’s actually moving forward in my mentality to apply what I’ve learned to new situations and stresses. Maybe it’s using the power and strength I’ve gained from being a young widow to continue living my life in the way that I want.
Today I tried that. I am still sick. I still had multiple kids at work throw temper tantrums, refuse to work or listen. But that’s not what I’m focusing on. I still actually had a good day. I planned my day for as much success as possible and controlled my reactions. I started it with going for a walk with my dog before any people were up. I paid attention to nature and tried to be present. I spent time talking with people I care about before work. I took deep breaths when I needed to. I responded positively, calmly and firmly when kids had their difficulties. I wrote (this is it!). I exercised. I tidied up my home space. And now I’m seeing my boyfriend and then my sister. I’m thinking of what I can do to make myself happy even when everything isn’t perfect. Sometimes it’s in the moment of stress and sometimes it’s after. It’s knowing that I can’t control everything in the world around me, but I do have power over myself. And that’s kind of a lot of power.