Lots of reflection happening in my life right now. I am turning 39 this week. Settling into life without being in treatment has been exhausting but good. I am grateful for access to really amazing aftercare supports that have helped me settle into recovery post treatment. Some of the hardest work I’ve had to continue doing (outside of mechanical eating) has been taking on my Core Beliefs and Trauma Stuck Points, both of which served a function, but neither of which kept me well or safe. Recovery has brought me many gifts. It has brought me the ability to sit and be present with my family; to enjoy their company and be less afraid of the future. It has also helped me ride the waves of distressing emotions, making them feel less like an internal hurricane. I will readily acknowledge that there has been a lot of painful, awful, and traumatic stuff that has impacted me over the years, but none of it has been as destructive as the walls of protection I put up for myself in response to these things. I am so grateful for the time I get to have with my family, it is invaluable to me. I have loved being present for and with them. I am able to prioritize spending time doing activities with my boys in ways I never had the benefit of experiencing. I haven’t had much energy for anything else outside of family and recovery these days. I know this will change eventually because I value spending energy on my friends, extended family, employment/volunteer work, community and school, but these things have had to take a back seat while I uprooted a shit-ton of weeds in my brain. So here I am, almost 39 and sharing my journey with the World Wide Web. I do it partly because it’s cathartic, partly because I don’t want to explain myself too many times, and all in hopes that by sharing, I am helping make it more normal to admit when we need help. I may not be able to give my kids a childhood they don’t need to recover from, but I’m going to make damn sure they know they don’t need to hide when they are struggling and they can always get help if they need it.
Today’s photo is an awful representation of a skill called HALF-SMILE WILLING HANDS (HS/WH). This tool, as shared by M. Linehan, is one of many distress tolerance skills that can help our body/mind be willing to accept our reality instead of avoiding/numbing out to deal with any strong negative feelings we may be experiencing. Those I was in ED treatment with at Homewood can vouch for how much I used this skill when I could not escape distressing situations that lead me to want to bash my head against the wall (🤦🏼♀️🥗🥞🥇🤯🤬). HALF-SMILE: Is done by relaxing the muscles in your entire face. If this is difficult, try tensing up your face in a cringy/clenched way like my photo, followed by relaxing your face muscles. I like doing the cringy smile first because it allows me to feel the physical difference between holding the tension in my face and relaxing. The corners of your mouth only go up slightly, using as little energy as possible. A serene and relaxed face communicates with your brain, helping your mind be open to accepting reality with your body. WARNING: If done in the presence of others it might produce contagious laughter. WILLING HANDS: Is when you allow your clenched fists to relax and open, facing your palms to the sky while resting them on your lap or beside you. The thing about HS/WH is that you can pretty much use it anywhere and both are meant to send a message to your brain that you are willing to accept your present reality instead of numbing out. EXAMPLES WHEN TO USE IT: When you are trying to get through an urge to smoke, drink, get high, run away, or engage in ED behaviours. When you have to attend an event with family/friends/colleagues that is causing you anxiety. At a funeral when you don’t feel like you can make it through one more minute. When you are with someone that keeps spewing ridiculousness or when you are stuck doing something that is causing you to experience strong feelings of frustration or anger. I’m certain you all can come up with other examples when this tool can be used. While HS/WH will not cure you from experiencing strong emotions, it can help you to ride through and notice them instead of avoiding them.
April snowfalls brings May ????
Puppy Louie vs. Baby chick. Louie 1- Chick 0.
As @iron_buddha pointed out, our marriage is a teenager today. Nine more months from today we will have an actual teenager in our family lol. Happy Anniversary babe. We have taken on the universe and survived. I can’t imagine going through a Zombie apocalypse without you.
The oldest and I took a trip to @jacobstrading on Regent Ave in WPG. Soooo cool. You can pay 5 bucks to select and crush your own geode.
This kid’s energy and enthusiasm amazes me. His group at MTYP ended their spring break camp off with an adaptation of Giraffes can’t dance. 😆
Snuggling with this hilarious creature. I ❤️ dog sitting.
Early morning breakfast with the fam @clementine.winnipeg
It is my first day out of ED treatment. I have a whole lot more skills to deal with life, and a much better understanding of myself and what happened in my life to contribute to where things ended up last year. For today’s skills I have chosen a photo of me walking across a bridge on my last day of treatment to capture the DBT skills Turning the Mind & Willingness (skills by Marsha M. Linehan). Six months ago I was very wilful as a way of keeping myself safe. I got to the place where I could not tolerate the distress of tough situations. I exchanged feelings of helplessness for hopelessness. I tried to fix/control things around me, including myself, in hopes of managing my distress. Clearly this did not work well, but it eventually felt like the only things I had to protect myself. This was me at my most willful. TURNING THE MIND: In treatment I was challenged to OBSERVE what I was not accepting, make an INNER COMMITMENT to accept my reality without judgement OVER AND OVER again, and to DEVELOP A PLAN to call myself out every time I started to not accept my reality for what it was. When we turn the mind we challenge our beliefs about our experiences. Instead of ‘shoulding’ on myself, my new mantra became ‘it is what it is.’ Bad things happen and sometimes we make choices that we cannot go back and prevent/fix. When we are able to turn our mind we can move from wilful to willing. Knowing that there is nothing we can do to change the past takes an element of radical acceptance in order to be present in today’s challenges. WILLINGNESS: Is the shift that happens that allows us to respond with readiness to do just what is needed in all situations- and to do this minimum wholeheartedly. It means letting go of the need to numb the pain and deciding not to give up. It’s accepting that we cannot control everything (nor should we), and letting go of pain that keeps us from seeing the world around us. When things are really tough, it can mean questioning potential threats that are keeping us from letting down our guards and stepping into the present. In the coming weeks I will share some more skills that can help us tolerate distress and keep us willing to change.
Every-body is different. Every-body is beautiful.
This kid cracks me up. His 6 am pre-breakfast snack consists of sitting on the coffee table and eating leftover sushi with a dollar store lamp to light the way.
I am working on being body positive. I hear it is much easier to live in your body no matter its form, size, or appearance if you can accept yourself in a positive way that isn’t defined by society’s skinny and fit obsessed standards. I am challenging the core beliefs I have about myself that make up the internal prison I have kept myself in for a really long time. I may have started feeling like I couldn’t measure up as a child, but I’m a big girl now and it’s time to stop treating my imperfections as the enemy. I seriously believe my best chance of shifting my thoughts and emotions about my body is by changing my behaviours. #cbt
This is what our attempt at a family photo looks like. LMAO.
Art Therapy. This is my eating disorder when things felt at their worst. I’m glad to have another week added to my time at the EDP here in Winnipeg. Eating disorders aren’t really about food and recovery isn’t just about eating. I’m also grateful to spend time reflecting on my recovery and struggle through art.
Sorry for the hiatus on skills yo. I’ve been busy with family, treatment, homework and dates. I will resume once I’ve had a good night sleep. ❤️