The Bibbulmun: day thirty one – Warren -> Schafer

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Originally I was going to double through here and go straight to Northcliffe. Glad I didn’t – lots of hills plus 627000 trees to climb over/under/through. Also Shafer is really nice hut overlooking dam. Got in up to my thighs and splash washed – nice, after sweaty day. Solid poop – too solid. Where have the runs gone? (joke). Top of left foot still v sore. Not great sleep last night – new hut mate Jerry snoring like death rattle/growling animal. Then woke sweating several times. Too hot/too cold. Damn these warm nights! Where is my non-insulated mat when I need it!! Thought of two things today that I’d like to do and actually felt excited! Creative writing course and or photography course. Ideally adventure photography but doubt legit course exists for niche. (No e-courses!).

Hunger is cranked up big time. Must be losing weight again. Hunger abated after eating loads during rest day at Balingup. All day I’ve been slipping on karri bark, going downhills, and stumbling/tripping over sticks on track. SO many sticks/branches/trees on track! For last 100km. Since just north of DRV. Also, as above, hoarding my days in case I ‘need them later’? Do same with food –especially treats. Choc/Cliff bars/back country meals – will not eat/hold off on eating just in case want to eat later. Why stockpile treats and not just enjoy them on the days I planned? Scarcity mindset? Haven’t been feeling depressed, although 3 months no meds. But what would depressed look like out here? Different to what it is in a city, in a normal life? The only real task is to walk, and the only alternative is to not walk. Which leaves you exactly where you are. Feel like there is a meaningful analogy about life in there. Had a good day today, although the walking itself felt tough (or my body is tired) – overcast all morning but didn’t get rained on or wear raincoat! Best thing of the day. Just felt more upbeat in general. Didn’t listen to anything. Think the weather made a huge difference to be honest. Even a little patch of sun to warm up after dip in lake! Saw little bandicoot or similar running around near hut. Cute.

 

The Bibbulmun: day twenty six – Donnelly River Village -> Tom Road

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Nice cruisey walk into hut, around 4 hours. Feet hurt a bit – tried strapping with rock tape instead of bandages – hurt more today than bandages. Might try combo tomorrow. Meant to be showers tomorrow 🙁  then RAIN, thunderstorms and hail the next day 🙁 🙁 🙁 Felt a little anxious leaving Mum and town today – always a bit of a rip required to pull away from showers/food/comfort.

Such a gorgeous day though, sunny and warm – got sweaty for first time in couple of weeks!

My feet – have never known such a burden as that which I’ve placed on them in last 500km. They are doing well. Love you feet.

I thought I’d be spending more time writing and nutting out my life – I seem to be spending more of my hours in the huts listening to audio books and eating and chatting with people. Mr Deer and I, old bloke Phil (heading to Pemby, ‘Bucko’) and father and son duo going Pemby –> DRV. So much for solitude! Had lone male hiker at 2 nights between Balingup and DRV.

Not happy about weather forecast – was so enjoyable walking in good weather today! So enjoying being in karri tree land too. Finding when talking with other people I’m struggling to find empathy for them. Just don’t have much giving a shit for much these days. Depression? Not sure. Certainly haven’t felt depressed in last 3.5 weeks, but my mood/thoughts/behavior yesterday was pretty typical of when I’ve depressed. But now I wouldn’t say I’m depressed and yet find myself thinking/acting similarly – what does that mean? Told Linton about this conundrum and he said ‘Great! More things for you to thinking about with all your time walking.’ It is helpful to be able to head out into the bush and just have alone time, to soothe the soul. Could be hard to transition back into Real Life. I mean the luxuries are nice but the nervous system feels very settled here. Exercise, sunlight, 12 hours in bed…Noticing that sunlight hours are increasing. Even though rain is hard, I like being connected to the weather. Very easily forget it though.

The Bibbulmun: day seven – Nerang -> Gringer Creek

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

I’m back lying on my bed in camp, after fish and chips and salad (with no salad actually served) at 3ways roadhouse, North Bannister. Also got new shoes from Nick (what a bro!) so we’ll see if that helps. Had a $10 shower out the back of the roadhouse – the shower head was duct taped to the wall, door needed to be wedged closed with a broom stick, dead blowie or two on the floor of the (broken tiled) shower cubicle…but was so good. Washed my pants, shirt, sock and undies, mouthguard, mooncup, self – with hot water and soap! Amazing!

I was taking photos this morning but it can’t capture the sunrise of a misty morning. All the water droplets falling from the trees as sun glints on them, the cute streams trickling by. So much quiet and serenity. Have been mostly walking alone but did yesterday from Mt Cooke peak to Nerang with Eddie, which was actually nice. Set off before the boys this morning but they caught up after I stopped to poop (again) (sigh). Walked the rest with them, although Eddie went ahead. Listened to some Harry* as I couldn’t stomach the boring flat walk. I’m discovering I really like big hills/peaks but don’t do well at all on the boring flat ‘easy’ parts.

I’m a bit worried about my left big toe, it’s throbbing under the nail and it feels hot. Not a good sign. Although we did 16.5km to get here this morning (in 3.5h!) and 1.3km to roadhouse and then back, chilling here all arvo feels like a rest. Have taken anti-inflammatories so hopefully it settles my toe. And achilles. I received a box of food here at the roadhouse, which Dad dropped down for me when he was on his way down to Albany after dropping me off. Now I have way too much food. Need to eat heaps and offload some.

In general I haven’t been feeling depressed so that’s cool. Maybe I just need to live in the bush? Have good internet here so I posted an instapic – then I had a tiny scroll for the first time and I was like, revulsed (?). Disgusted. Just gross. All just seemed so fake and stupid and pointless and try hard.

*Harry Potter Audiobook

Is this the end of The Mind Movement? (you tell me)

Hey there!

This note has been a long time coming, right? I haven’t written for some time. Due to a few different reasons, but there’s a couple of biggies. Namely the following:

  1. My life has changed a lot in the last 6 months. In a good way! I’ve quit my job, moved house, I’m doing new things. I’m really happy with how things are going.
  2. With this change has come a change in where my attention and curiosity are focused. I loved Elizabeth Gilberts talk on hummingbird curiosity and following these roads, so I’m rolling with that.
  3. Part of this shift in focus has meant that I’m less focused on the scientific world of exercise and mental health. Which was a big part of starting the blog.
  4. Part of the change in my life has also been a change in some of my theories/opinions on …life stuff. For example, I’m leaning away from our current western medical definition of depression as an ‘illness’ caused by brain chemical imbalance, and exploring other ways of seeing depression, such as that written about by Kelly Brogan.
  5. A big, big part of where my interest is going is into wilderness and nature. I’m very interested wilderness therapy, equine experiential learning, bushwalking/hiking, and I’m currently planning a long distance thru-hike for myself. I see all of this as very much related to mental health and wellbeing, as well as movement. But at the same time, I see it as a very different approach to the more traditional ‘gym workout three days a week for 12 weeks to see if your mood improves’ typical ‘evidence based’ exercise for mental health.
  6. I ended up being ‘depressed’ (I’m currently unsure how I want to frame that particular title) for much of last year, which left me feeling really depleted, and like I didn’t have much of anything left to offer to other people (including you lovely blog readers).
  7. I’m really, really, really over the whole online fame/instagram/marketing game at the moment. The idea of yoga poses in natural landscapes, pictures of lattes with props arranged just so and the like is just so not my game right now. (Totally fine for others to go ahead if thats what they’re into! This is not an attack!). I’m finding it difficult to fit myself in to current popular social media trends and would prefer to be a bit more dirty, gritty, swear-y and real. Not that I’ve been inauthentic in anything I’ve written, but I’ve often censored myself for fear of offending, and often feel the need to provide linked evidence whenever I state an opinion. And I’ve found myself, from time to time, trying to create posts or photos to be more like those peeps who have 1000’s of followers, coz that’s what the world says is a good thing for a blog and for a business. TBH, I’m a bit over that. I just want to write what I want to write, while giving zero fucks.

So there’re a few big changes, right?
What I’m questioning at this point is the following:

  1. Should I keep the blog going in its current form? Was it helping anyone? Was anyone reading it? Were people getting any meaning from it?
  2. Should I divert the focus of the blog incrementally towards the things I’m currently into (aikido, hiking, alternative ways of looking at mental health. Feminism, energy healing, horses. Sustainability. SLOW (seasonal, local, organic, whole) food. Tuning into the seasons and living accordingly.)
  3. Should I start a new blog about the non-movement related stuff I’m doing at the moment? (see above).
  4. Should I give up the blog altogether and just write things for myself? And not publish it?
  5. Should I just do what Ive been doing and avoid all these questions by not writing anything and leaving the blog sitting there?

I’d love your feedback on this, because as much as I have written this blog as place for me to record my own thoughts, I’d hate to shut it down if people were finding meaning in it. I just feel uncomfortable with it sitting here doing not much. It’s kind of like that nagging thought: Is there something I forgot? Did I leave the oven on or something?

Hope you are all making meaning in your lives and finding a way to move that works for you.

Big love,

Louise xx

Let’s get real

I’m tired of reading about people who have beaten their demons.

We get a story written about us in a newspaper or on a website?when the story is along the lines of: “how I beat depression”, followed by a saga of how shitty we used to feel, until we discovered xyz, and now look at us, we’re great! And Happy! And here’s five tips you can take away if you want to be like us.

“I used to be fat and unhappy, until I lost weight and now people want to hear my story because I finally fit the image of what society says I should look like!”

“I used to be sad and cry all the time until I started exercising and now it’s worth talking about me because I’m a well adjusted professional functioning as society says I should!”

“I used to work in a corporate soul sucking job until I started my own business and now it’s worth writing a story about me because I’m really attractive and happy and rich! I’m successful, just how society says I should be!”

The message we get from this? My story is only valid when I’ve dropped my baggage and imperfections, and achieved success.

I want to see more stories about the people in the trenches. The people who are living with being obese, and how that is for them. The people who are living with difficult emotions, and what its like trying to go through life with that. The people who are still stuck in the jobs they don’t really like, and how that affects them in their day to day.

But that wouldn’t be inspiring, would it. That wouldn’t be click bait-y enough to get published – “I used to be overweight and I still am.” “I was depressed, until for a while?I thought I wasn’t, then I realised I still was.” “I was working in a corporate, soul sucking job, until I quit and got a different, soul sucking job.”

But you know what that would be? Real. People are already commenting?on how social media presents an unrealistic image that we all compare ourselves to, by only sharing our happy photos and brag worthy status updates. But it’s not just social media. It’s all media. You are story-worthy once you’ve gotten over your shitty past, achieved something great, and shed your imperfections along the way.

I saw a story recently about a person who used to have depression, until?she ‘beat’ depression, and now she sits on various boards of influence and has started a not-for-profit to help others who are like she used to be. Which is awesome, we need more of that. But when I’m feeling down, it’s also just another way that triggers me to think that I’ve failed. That I wont be good enough until I can fix myself from being the way I am, and become something great; some Louise 2.0, which is all the great, funny, compassionate, likeable parts of me, without the tired, irritable, depressed, achey parts of me. The Louise who starts meaningful businesses with purpose, who makes a difference to peoples’ lives, who tells her story of how I ‘used to be’ and how different that is from how I am now.

But what if it’s not so different? What if I’m still dealing with a bunch of the same stuff??

A person called me the other day, wanting to work with me. She told me she resonated with what I’d written about my story, about using movement as a tool to improve my mood, about the struggle with apathy and hateful self-talk. She told me that I seem “perfect”. That I seem to have figured it out and she wants to be like me. I literally burst into laughter. And I told her that I still deal with those things, I still find myself thinking from time to time, that I’m a piece of shit. She was surprised. I told her, the thing that has changed is that I don’t necessarily believe it straight away now. I question it. (Sometimes – sometimes I fall straight back down the rabbit hole). I’m not saying that this is all there is to hope for, that one day I might be able to get to a point where I don’t ever have the thought that I’m a piece of shit anymore, but for now, I’m still right down in the shit with everyone else.

And I feel sad to think that people might read my story and think that I’ve passed through the storm, that I’ve made it to the tropical island and I live in peace and happiness. Because the reality is that I am still on the boat, and ride out storms with frustrating regularity. I’m tired of reading about other people hanging out on that island, drinking cocktails seemingly without a care in the world, because I can’t relate. I want to read more about the other people who are on a solo mission around the world, weathering storms, icebergs, ripped sails and giant whales. The other people who are feeling?the grit and the rawness of life. Who also, incidentally, get to see some pretty amazing rainbows out there on the ocean.

PS – where did that sailing/ocean metaphor pop up from? I don’t know.

What’s the difference between self-care and self-fixing?

Today I’m feeling hopeful. It’s the first time I’ve felt hopeful in a while, so I’m pretty excited about it. So excited that I rang my boyfriend to tell him – I thought it would be a nice novelty for him to get a happy phone call from me rather than a grumpy or crying one.

 

I’ve been feeling crappy for a pretty long time now. Not 100% constantly crappy, but up and down-y, when I think back over time I mostly see it as grey, forget-about-the-happy-days kind of crappy. And when I saw a long time, I mean months, not days. When I first started feeling consistently down, as opposed to just having a bad day (or a bad week), I had so much happy-and-well-ness built up in my tank, that I was ok about feeling shit. I was almost (not quite) looking forward to the challenge of depression (again) in a sort of yay, now I can try out all of those strategies that I’ve been talking about for so long! Put it to the test! kind of way. When I felt good for a few days in a row, I had this (very, very, tiny) sense of disappointment – oh, it’s over now, I didn’t even get to let myself get to the depths so I could write some really great depressed connecting blog post about depression and it’s shitness. But oh well, to be well is better anyway.

 

But then I wasn’t really well, for a long time. The happy streak didn’t last. Even the mildly cheerful didn’t hang around. The grey kept going (keeps going). And that big tank of happy-wellness that I had carefully cultivated over the previous few years slowly dwindled, as I drew on it again and again without ever really having the opportunity or energy to refill it. And then I found myself empty of it, completely. And shit got cray. And when I saw cray, I mean, bad. Unhappy. Crying-y. Life-has-no-meaning-or-purpose-y, why-do-I-even-bother-being-alive-y. And I dragged myself onwards, in this state, for weeks. I cried every day, often multiple times a day, often triggered by almost nothing. I raged and snapped at the people I love most in the world. I avoided my friends because it was too much effort to pretend to be ok, and if I let slip that I wasn’t ok, I was going to collapse with the outpouring of despair and sadness. And on the good days, I put on my shiny face and I laughed and worked and I did life, like a more or less normal kind of person.

 

And then eventually I took some drugs that a doctor gave me because it was either that or a slow rotten death of my life and my love and my relationship and my job. But unlike in the past, the drugs didn’t help that much. They helped enough that I didn’t cry every.single.day anymore, and I avoided my friends less. But I still had recurring thoughts of what the fuck is the point of my life?

 

Interestingly though, I fell for the story that this life pondering was a meaningful, legitimate question. I thought I was searching for a purpose, like all the good entrepreneurs and life-changers and move-makers. But, all of a sudden, after reading a line in a book a few weeks ago, I realized that all this pondering of purpose and meaning and point to life, while veiled in an illusion of ‘productive action-taking to define your mission and fire up your doing-ness’ was actually a destructive thought pattern that was triggering me over and over into grey-pointless-meaningless land.

So there’s that.

You think you’re being proactive and bettering your own life and then BAM! You realize you’re bringing yourself down.

 

Then, shortly after, I admitted another hard truth to myself. Somewhere along the way in between my tank emptying and now, all the strategies and things I was doing (there were many – like: going to integrative doctors ($$$), taking buttloads of supplements, movement, reading self-help, talking about ‘it’, doing things that made me laugh, etc) somehow ninja-ed without me even noticing into something they didn’t used to be. They started off as beautiful acts of self-love, where I cared so much about my health and my wellbeing that when I saw I was down, I was offering my love to myself through actions, in the hopes that I may accept those actions of love and feel better. Along the way though, unbeknownst to me, they turned into actions of desperation. A desperate, clawing attempt to fix my broken self, to rid myself of this fucking way of being. A product of disgust, despair, and dislike about who I was as a person, and a last-ditch attempt at escaping this horrendous way of life, which as many of you know, can be quite excruciating with its discomfort.

So there was also that.

My acts of self-care and kindness had become acts of self-loathing and fixing myself.

 

Farrrrrrout. Where does one go with these realisations? How to get back to a place where my self-care is about love and kindness and not fixing? How to fill up my tank again? How to accept myself completely as I am, and love myself through that, while simultaneously acknowledging that how I am is pretty fucking uncomfortable right now, a lot of the time? I don’t necessarily have the answers to these questions, but I am letting them marinade while I continue with life.

 

I also want to point out that I haven’t shared a lot about how I’ve been faring for months, as I really resonate with what Brene Brown writes about vulnerability. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s something along the lines of how sharing your vulnerabilities with people when you’re still hurting and healing isn’t being vulnerable, it’s over-sharing. She says, “I don’t tell stories or share vulnerabilities with the public until I’ve worked them through first” and goes on to say that sharing a vulnerable story in an attempt to meet a need for attention or care isn’t a great idea. All this to say that while I’m still going through things, as we all are, I want you to know that this isn’t a desperate cry for help, I’m doing ok. I deliberately haven’t shared it for a while, but now seems like a good time, for whatever reason. So there you go.

The one thing you need to do to be healthy (it’s not what you think)

The one thing I would suggest you do to be healthy, is stop reading articles like ‘the one thing you need to do is…’ and trying to apply them to your own life.

 

We are living in this somewhat crazy world full of social media and online marketing, and click bait is where it’s at. It’s also all about random people who have gained social-celebrity status by being attractive and flexible telling the masses how they should change their lives in order to be more healthy (skinny, happy etc). This could be by going vegan, working out in accordance to a particular guide which will whip your flabby body into a bikini-ready state (just look at all the before and after photos!) or drinking a particular bum-flavoured tea.

Can you tell this culture doesn’t sit well with me?

I was walking on the beach recently, first thing in the morning after waking up while on a solo camping trip (an aside – this is a great kind of trip for pondering life). As I strolled I was considering my own health and what I need at the moment. I came up with a few things that I’d like to change in my current lifestyle. I’m not going to tell you the nitty-gritty of the particular things I settled on, because you know what? They won’t be the same for you.

(Well, given that we’re all humans and many of us are suffering from similar afflictions of too much stress and not enough sleep etc, some of them might overlap, but you know what I mean – my prescription is not your prescription.)

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food-healthy-man-person

I really believe that people are their own experts.

I did some training recently in Recovery philosophy, which is a framework used in mental health. The philosophy is that everyone is on their own journey; that people already have what they need in order to be well; and that their recovery/wellbeing is up to them and what they want it to be, not what a mental health clinician or psychiatrist tells them it should be. I think the same philosophy should apply in the whole of health care. What you need to be healthy is best known by you, because you know yourself from the inside out. So much of the time people know what it is they need (more sleep, less stressful work, healthier eating, less drinking, the list could go on) and they don’t need someone to tell them that, they need someone to support them to make those changes. But when the decision comes from you, where you say ‘this is what I need’ the motivation is so much stronger to actually create the change.

This is not discounting the role of doctors or health professionals: what you most need, at time, might be to seek the expert opinion from a specialist or doctor or naturopath or exercise physiologist – but on your terms. Going at a time when you’re ready, when you’ve decided this is the best course of action for your own wellbeing.

What do you need to be healthy? Let me know in the comments or drop me an email instead!

How to work hard when you’re exercising

Here’s a common thing people ask me about in my work: how do I motivate myself to….?

And the answer is different, for different people and different situations. But today I wanted to talk about a particular situation with a particular client.

He is a young guy who wants to lose a little weight, get a little fitter, but mostly this: use exercise as a tool to improve his mood. As you can imagine, I am completely in support of this. Difficulty is, he’s depressed. And the nature of depression is such that it can rob you of your motivation and drive, leaving you feeling like all you want to do is sit around all day. This isn’t a case of people with depression being lazy – when someone is depressed the structure of their brain actually changes and this makes it very difficult for them to motivate themselves.

And this bloke I was working with wasn’t just sitting around all day, he was making a solid effort to get moving. He was on the treadmill for 10 – 15 minutes a day, walking. He wanted to start increasing his intensity, so we began with adding in a few short intervals of higher intensity (slow jog for 30 seconds or so). This was going well. We had another session, and he talked about wanting to increase the treadmill walking to 20 minutes – he identified that he wanted to get to the point of being able to go for a steady jog, and I reckoned he was on track with what he wanted to do. The following week he came back and told me he’d tried to go to 20, but gotten to around the 15 minute mark, felt really tired and couldn’t do anymore. He said “I think I need to do more, but I just get to that point and it feels hard, and then I stop. How do I motivate myself to do it?”

And honestly, I wish I had the magic pill to say “Oh, all you need to do is *** and you’ll be motivated as larry!” but unfortunately that’s not the case. So instead I asked him if he thought his body was legitimately exhausted at the 15 minute mark or if he thought it was more of a psychological thing. He reckoned psychological – so we tested it out. He jumped on the treadmill in the session and got going. At the 10 minute mark he looked and asked, “Should I stop?” and I responded with “No way buddy!” with a smile on his face, he kept going. He finished the 20 minutes with a huge grin, and feeling pretty happy. He said, “Now I know I can do it, I think I can do it at home”. The next week? He’d done 20 minutes daily.

Then he stumbled at increasing it to 30 minutes. He said, “It feels tiring”. We then talked about one of my favourite learnings (it’s a word, alright?) from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – that just because you think something, doesn’t mean it’s true. We spoke about how even though he might be having the thought “This is too hard, I can’t do anymore” it didn’t necessarily mean he actually couldn’t. That perhaps it was just a thought going around because he was working hard.

This is not to be confused with direct messages from your body about working too hard and needing a rest. I asked him if he was willing to do the following: try it out. Try aiming for the 30 minutes and see what happens. When he got to that point where the thoughts start coming of “I’m tired now, I want to stop” – just question them. He didn’t’ need to decide whether they were ‘true’ or not – but just question their validity, in the context of his goal of staying on the treadmill for 30 minutes. If he decided that yep, it’s a direct message from my body and I actually do need to stop, that was totally cool. But if he decided that nah, this one is just a thought coz I’m working hard, then he could choose to keep going.

He was keen to try this. And yeah, to cut a 30 minute story short, he made the 30. He worked hard, he built up a sweat – but he also built up a pretty big grin. His plan is to now do 30 minutes a day. Now he knows he can do it.

The goal isn’t to ignore all the thoughts we have, and stop trusting our intuition and the messages we receive. But when it comes to changing long held habits or pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, sometimes it can be helpful to question our automatic thoughts and assumptions about our capacity. This is where it can be helpful to have external support to help challenge us – but you can also do this yourself. Keeping in mind your values, how you want to life your life and what you’re working towards, and getting some distance from passing thoughts, can be a powerful motivator.

 

Do you have a different way you motivate yourself to keep going when it feels hard? Let me know in the comments below.

Why I’m writing my own prescription (and why you can too)

I often prefer to call myself a coach when I’m working one-on-one with people who want to make positive changes to become healthier.

Rather than being a health professional who tells someone what to do, I’m allowing people to tap into their own intuitive wisdom about what they really need to be healthy. Because while I know what works for me personally (or at least, I’m learning!) and I know what the Australian healthy guidelines are for topics such as eating and exercise, every human is an individual with unique needs, and they know themselves best. A football coach doesn’t think he could play the game better than the players themselves right? In the same way, I don’t think I know your health better than you do.

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 They already know what they need

Most of the people I work with have received at least somewhat of an education and have usually done their own reading and research into various topics, so they already know what it is they need, they are just having trouble doing it. Think about it. Is there an area of your life (moving your body, eating, work/vocation, finances, sexual health, spirituality) where you know intuitively that there is something that if you went about it differently, you’d have better health? I’m sure there is. So, it’s not a lack of knowledge that is missing. It’s a lack of motivation, understanding, action or knowing how to change that holds people back.

And that’s where I come in.

Often, people are looking for someone to be accountable to, someone to celebrate wins with and talk though challenges, rather than someone to tell them what to do. Of course, in my role as a health professional, if someone is really stuck, or asks me for advice on a specific topic, I am able to offer suggestions and ideas that they might want to try. But I don’t go in shouting ‘here’s an eight week plan I’ve made for you, off you go!’. It’s about sitting with people, helping them uncover their own desires, intuitive wisdom, and facilitate a deeper understanding of and communication with themselves. It’s quite a humbling experience for me, and one I’m grateful to be able to practice.

 I do this as well.

I’ve also been writing my own plan for living a meaningful life alongside depression. Writing this sort of plan for yourself requires some experience, knowledge and understanding of yourself. It’s necessary to spend time – days, weeks, months (years!) observing yourself and your habits. It also does take some discipline – sometimes the things we know are good for us are hard to do (stop watching TV, anyone?). However, the beauty of writing your own prescription is that you get to say what’s best for you. Because really, you’ve been around for your whole life – who else knows you better? Certainly not a health professional you’ve just met.

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 Doctors are still good, too!

There is no doubt that modern medicine has offered us many life improvements and saved many thousands of lives. Only last week I ended up with tonsillitis and was pretty happy about the existence of antibiotics. I’m not AT ALL saying that you should stop seeing health practitioners. If you have a complex or acute illness or injury, you need to get yo’self to a health professional, stat. What I am saying, is that you can start to take responsibility for your own health, and making movements towards changing it. You don’t need a doctor to tell you that you should exercise more before you start moving your body. You don’t need to wait until you are in the early stages of diabetes before you start making changes to your dietary habits. You can tune in to yourself now, and let your intuition guide to as to what you really need to be well. And if your intuition tells you that part of your prescription involves working with a health professional, whether a supportive coach or someone that offers specific treatment, then that’s awesome. Because that’s you, feeling empowered to do what feels right for your health and your body.

Do you ever have a hunch that you know just what you need to be well, but have trouble actually taking the action or making the change? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

Goodbyes are so hard (or, why I’m saying see ya later to TV)

I’m currently working on something that’s been years in the making.

That thing is: not being on anti-depressant medication. I have to say, it’s been pretty tough the last few months. Part of how I’m going about it is writing my own prescription for what I need to live a meaningful life. This involves a number of things, which I’m planning to write about soon in an up-coming blog post (stay tuned!).

One of the factors of my plan? Less TV.

This comes about because I’ve noticed a recurring pattern of action and response. The action is : watching TV, whether episodes in a series or a movie, usually with dinner (or lunch!), and may be anywhere from one twenty minute episode to three movies in a single day (yep, Oceans 11, 12 and 13 one after the other! Yes, it was epic).

I don’t have a belief that watching TV is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, rather, I’ve noticed that for me personally, when I switch it off after finishing, most often I feel a bit crappy. Either tired, or bored, or just kind of empty and frustrated. Which tells me: TV is not filling my cup or meeting my needs.

I’m also noticing that increasingly, while the TV is on, I’m picking up my phone and just casually checking in on instagram or something similar. Which tells me: I’m not fully engaged in the TV watching.

The hard part though?

I have the thought ‘All I want to do is lay on the couch and watch TV’ multiple times a day. It’s a really tricky part of depression, (and also everyday life!) where our thoughts really aren’t true, or helpful. In the case of this thought, I have tried appeasing it, and going ahead and watching the TV, and I’ve also tried opposing it, by going to work or going for a run, or doing anything else. As I mentioned, when I’ve been appeasing the thought, I’m mostly ending up feeling crappy. When I’ve been opposing it? I usually end up feeling better.

So I’ve decided to make a call – this thought is no longer helpful, and therefore I’m going to let it be there without letting it run my life. My more in-tune self knows that I feel better when I do something that isn’t watching TV, so that’s what I’m going to do.

goodbyes-are-so-hardThe problem remains, I’m still going to have the thought that I want to watch it. How do I deal with that?

Three things:

  1. Practice ACT principles of making space for the thought through mindfulness and breathing practices, allowing it to be there, and make a choice to act based on my values, and
  2. Prepare alternatives for those times when I want to watch it.
  3. Not go cold turkey. I’m allowing myself TV nights on Friday and Sunday.

The alternative activities I’ve come up with so far are:

  • have a bath
  • read a book
  • do some colouring in
  • do some writing
  • do some cooking

Have you got any other ideas about what to do in the evening that doesn’t involve a screen? Do you want to watch less TV too?