Fighting Through the Winter

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I go through waves. Periods where I have a lot of energy and interest in writing, and periods where I can only focus on my required responsibilities. The latter time period is usually called winter. It’s hard for me to get the energy to sit down and write when it’s dark and cold. Now that spring is here I’m spending more and more time working on projects… and it’s coming just in time.

My digital marketing company is actually doing quite well. I have a few clients and it really feels like this is a viable business for me. This is a HUGE change from a year ago when I was on medical leave and not sure where I was going to turn next. Things were tight for awhile, but I’m finally making it all work. Check out my new website: warrcreativemarketing.com.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 6.23.51 PMNow that I’ve shamelessly plugged my job, here’s what else has been happening. I’ve become an Ambassador for a company called Quartet. They aim to help physicians recognize the signs of a behavioral health condition in patients, and get them the help they need. I’m a volunteer giving advice on the best way to talk about and receive help for mental illness. The other ambassadors are some of the strongest people I’ve gotten the pleasure to meet. Many of them dealing with chronic health conditions. I really feel like I’m making a difference and that’s the most important thing to me. I recently wrote a blog for Quartet for Mental Health Awareness Month. Click Here to check it out.

Many of you know I took an incredible trip to Europe. My boyfriend Austin and I made it to 6 countries in 17 days. I needed about 2 weeks just to recover. Immediately before we left I signed up to run the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. It’s a 10 mile run. The only reason I thought I might be able to do it is because most of it was flat or downhill. I wanted to challenge myself. I’ve only ever run a 5k… and not that well. But after losing two weeks of training to the Europe trip, and another week recovering from a stomach bug when I got back, I didn’t know if I’d ever cross the finish line. Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 6.37.25 PM.pngI decided no matter what I was going to do it. My mom came up from South Carolina to cheer me on which really meant the world to me. A week ago I set off from the starting line in North Philadelphia just hoping I could make it to the Navy Yard 10 miles away. Luckily I had a friend with me who is also a fairly slow runner. She was having knee problems and we vowed to take it easy. Somehow without walking any of the course, we made it across the finish line. I’m amazed and so happy I set this goal for myself and made it. and honestly it is a blast. If you’re ever interested in running a longer race. This one is the best, the fans along the way are so supportive and it’s hard to fail.

So I’m hoping this summer brings more good things. I’m still struggling with energy levels, but hopefully changing some medication soon will help with that. I just want to keep running, keep building my business and continue being a voice for others who struggle with behavioral health issues. Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!

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Rumination: How One Word Takes Over Your Life

**note: I actually dictated this post on my phone while I was driving from a friend’s back to Philly. When I didn’t have anyone to take my mind off the stress, and nowhere to go, I turned to my phone. I knew I couldn’t write so I spoke it- forgive the stream of consciousness writing. It was written a few weeks ago so any reference to time may be a little dated.

If you’ve ever dealt with depression or anxiety, doctors or psychologists will often talk about rumination- or how your thoughts ruminate to the point where you can’t let them go. While I’m making big strides in my fight against depression and anxiety this is the one thing that still constantly comes back to haunt me. These thoughts are things I can’t get out of my mind. Whether their rational or not they stick with me consume me until I’ve worked myself up into a frenzy or completely broken down.

Generally it happens when you have a lot of downtime. For me I think it happens most when I’m trying to go to sleep. I’ll be tired all day, and finally lay down in bed only to start stressing about things from the past…things that haven’t mattered in years… or completely irrational things I know aren’t even possible. Even when I tell myself it’s OK there’s nothing I can do, it’s a struggle to try and let it go.

The other time it happens a lot to me is during long car drive. While I try to occupy my mind with music or podcasts, every once in a while driving down the highway I start to feel anxious. I don’t even know what I’m anxious about. There doesn’t really have to be a reason, but I feel anxious. The scary thing is there’s not a lot I can do. I feel trapped in a small box. I can’t listen to guided meditations because I actively have to keep this car on the road. I could of course pull over if I really needed to and take a few minutes, or stop somewhere along the way to get my mind off of things, but sometimes all I want is to just be home. It seems the quickest way to get there is to just keep going.

A lot of things in my life feel like they’re getting so much better. My panic attacks happen much less frequently and more days are good days, but this loss of control over what I think about is painful. More than the thoughts themselves, the anxiety comes from knowing I can’t shake it off. It’s something I’m working on fighting but it really takes a lot of my energy.

I’ve been so happy to work for some really great people who understand that work-life balance is incredibly important. I’m also happy that my schedule is so flexible. If I have a bad day I can take time for myself, and that helps the recovery.

But between trying to pay the bills and getting better one major thing has slipped through the cracks: this blog. I’m OK with putting it on the back burner while I try and get myself together but I really wanted to try and create a safe space for others may be going through something similar. I wanted to create recipes so that other people who also struggle with an eating disorder can maybe feel better about their relationship with food, but while the recipes are stacking up I’m either too busy or too exhausted to post. I tell myself it’s OK, and my therapist tells me it’s OK, but it still bothers me.

I know I’m not the only one who has to choose to prioritize how to spend their days. Many people struggle with the exhaustion and the rumination much worse than I do.We’re not lazy because we can’t work in an office every day and we’re not lazy because we take lots of naps, we do it because we have to.

This week has been especially hard because I’ve been very sick. My body doesn’t quite know how to shake it, and because I can’t be as active it feels like some of my symptoms of anxiety are getting worse. It’s funny that something as simple as a cold can feel like it’s derailed a lot of your personal growth. It’s weeks like this that remind me I still have a long way to go. And that might be an expensive journey considering Obamacare doesn’t have the best co-pays for outpatient mental health, but that’s a whole different blog post. (Trust me after I got my 2017 quote, I’m definitely writing one.)

For now I’ll just say that even when you think you’re doing so much better (and you are!) it doesn’t mean it’s over. It’s a much longer journey than any of us ever expect whether it’s extremely mild or severe it’s a long battle.

So for all of us suffering from some sort of mental illness- thank you to all of those people in our lives who are patient while we continue to improve. It means the world to have people who understand it’s not an overnight fix. And as for me I’m working on different methods to combat my ruminating thoughts this blog post was one of them. I can honestly say now that I’ve reached the end of it, that writing it (or dictating it rather) really did help.

The Struggle

I find most diet and weight loss articles frustrating. Not because of their information, but because they make it seem like it’s such an easy process! “Just drink more water,” “cut out simple carbs,” and “use smaller plates to trick your brain about portion sizes” are just some of the common phrases and bits of advice you come across. But for so many people (like myself) KNOWING WHAT TO DO isn’t the issue. Many people know stress or our work environment can cause overeating, but it’s not like I can just quit my job or wish the doughnut shop in our building away. (Seriously we have a Dunkin Donuts in our building. It’s awesome and awful at the same time.)

The television, internet blogs and social media flood our senses with how easy it is to lose weight. (see: #transformationtuesday) But for me it’s not easy. I’m writing this blog, and having really great progress.. but I can honestly say the last week has been a struggle. I’ve been under a lot of stress, and as a result, my diet has suffered. I know I shouldn’t be eating the things I have been, but some days I can’t quite stop myself.

Sometimes relapses happen. Sometimes we have stretches where we don’t eat what we should. I don’t want anyone to feel bad because they don’t have the perfect before/after photo in two weeks. I know having a bad day can make you feel like a failure. Becoming healthier is a journey, and what’s important is how you bounce back.

I’m not going to give up. I’ve hit a road bump, but part of finding out what works for you… is finding out what DOESN’T work for you. Maybe this whole post seems cheesy. I was personally struggling with eating well, and wanted other people to know that even for someone writing about healthy food, it isn’t easy.

So keep up the good work! I know I will.

Kara