Tag Archives: motivation

3 Years

Today is kind of a weird anniversary for me. I was scrolling through TimeHop this morning (people still use this app right?) when I came across a post from 3 years ago today. I left for treatment for an eating disorder/self-injury that day. I remember (vaguely, however) being terrified to go out there and have all my vices of coping and not feeling stripped away from me. I was incapable of feeling anything besides numb. There were no plans for a future in my mind, no hope of things ever not feeling as if though they weren’t going to get better. All I remember is being exhausted 24/7; emotionally and physically.

I was vulnerable to the voices in my head telling me that if I only lost a little more weight I’d be happy, I’d achieve that goal of wanting to disappear, to live a life unnoticed. Only the thing is, the more I tried to disappear the more I stood out. That’s where the lies came in. I lived a life of lying, skirting around the truth that I was slowly killing myself. My closest friends would ask what I was doing to lose the weight I had, or if I was eating. I didn’t exactly lie to them, but I wasn’t telling the whole story. I was simply working out daily and watching what I did eat (although a piece of toast with a very miniscule amount of peanut butter isn’t exactly eating). I hid my eating disorder so well and didn’t disclose information about it that my therapist I was seeing at the time didn’t even catch on to what was going on with me (which led to a lot of misdiagnoses, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder) until a month or so before I was sent to treatment.

All these memories came back when I saw those posts from TimeHop this morning. It’s still kind of mind blowing to me that it was 3 years ago, because it honestly feels like it was yesterday. I have come such a long way in my life since going to treatment.

I feel content with my life and where it’s going. I’m now a senior in undergrad with a pretty killer GPA. I’m graduating with research honors next May and hopefully will be going off to grad school after that. Yes I still struggle with my weight, appearance and eating disorder thoughts sometimes but I don’t let them consume me anymore. I have so much to offer the world (that didn’t sound conceded did it?) and after years of struggling, have a pretty good sense as to who I am. The areas of my life which I lost to my eating disorder and mental health struggles, I have either gained back or am working on gaining back. There’s relationships I’m hoping to still amend and the friends I still do have I appreciate them and no longer take them for granted.

There is so much that I have gained over the past 3 years, that it’s incredible to think about how my life has changed for the better. The road here absolutely sucked and was painful. One psychiatric hospital stay, a month in inpatient treatment and a year in outpatient treatment (which sucked more than the hospital or treatment center) are now on my track record. I hated the things that beginning recovery entailed, but if I got my life back in a better way than I could have imagined, I guess I’ll take it.

So today is the anniversary of the day I began the long journey of getting my life back. It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve last self-injured which is huge after engaging in it for 10 years. Being in recovery from an eating disorder is something I feel like I’ll always have to deal with. Every day I have to make choices and check in with myself some days to make sure I’m going down the right path because it is so easy for my emotions to take over and run the course of my life. But I genuinely love my life right now, and I’m so glad I am still alive to have these experiences.

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When You Want to Start Over

How many times have you wished there was a magical redo button for real life situations? Instead of something unexpected happening, or something you don’t want to have happened and declaring it a plot twist how do we not only accept the circumstance for what it is, but move on to create the life you know you deserve? I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and not to be motivational poster type here but it all begins when you choose to let go of the rope and free fall into the ocean. So I want to share some tips for how to reboot your life without having it be dramatic because I’ve learned dramatic moves don’t improve your life, they only temporarily mask the emotions that go along with change.

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Let Things Go. For any of us, change is hard and slightly terrifying. The things we want to let go of seem to turn into treasures we no longer wish to let go of. If you were to take the time to really examine the things or people you feel should be let go, allow those strong emotions settle before making a move. In the heat of the moment we can act opposite of what we know is beneficial to our health. If it’s a person you wish to cut ties with, wait until that hurt or whatever it is you’re feeling towards them settles and is no longer like a knife to the stomach. The process of letting go doesn’t have to be some big and dramatic spectacle or outburst. The stronger the emotions towards the other person, the stronger of a reaction you’ll receive from them and down the road you may not be able to resolve that relationship.

2. You Don’t Have To Move. So many times when people think about starting over in life it involves a move to a new city where nobody knows them. Trust me, I’ve wanted to do this so many times throughout my life. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: your shit goes with you wherever you are. It’s not like a bag you can “accidentally” leave in baggage claim once you’ve arrived at your new home. I wish it were true, but even if the new area seems to have lifted your negative feelings don’t you fret, they’ll show up soon like an old friend. Sure moving may actually help some people but let’s face it, not all of us have the financial means to pick up and go somewhere else and so that leaves us having to face our shit where we are. You can still reboot your life in the same town and place you are now.

3. It Takes Time. If you really want to live a new and authentic life it won’t happen the next morning. This shit takes time, effort and a lot of discomfort. It’s all about baby steps, because as the saying goes: Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to adjust and make the changes you deem needed. You don’t go to a car dealership without test driving a car and make up your mind to buy it right? When changing your life to better yourself, it will take many a try to find what fits you. What works for others won’t necessarily work for your life and what you need to be happy and mentally healthy. There’s not one formula that is universal, like a lot of things it’s subjective and individualized to each person.

and lastly….

4. Not Everyone Will Understand. I think for most this is the hardest part. We have people in our lives who like us and who we fit in with because our schemas are similar. So when you try and start to change it, they won’t exactly be on board, or if they are they won’t really understand who you are becoming. It’s part of establishing boundaries and to some, making new boundaries with them can be viewed as deviant. After all, you’re deviating away from who you were in your social group to better yourself and really focus on who you are, what you really want out of life and what will give you that feeling of living an authentic and successful life. Maybe who you spend time with now have all of those things and you’ve been feeling like you’ve been living vicariously through your social circles. Don’t worry, it’s ok to spread your wings and fly in the direction you want to go. If your social group doesn’t understand it, they’ll let you know it I’m sure, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If they truly support you and care about you, the end of the conversation doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship. It can be hard and even scary to people when the people in their lives start questioning why they’re doing something different, but let it be affirmation that you’re headed in the right direction.

Ok so now that I’ve been all motivational speaker-ish, I hope this has helped even just a little bit. I may not know everything about this, but these are the little nuggets of wisdom I have and wanted to share.

Prochaska’s Stages of Change & How it’s Relevant to Recovery

As a psychology major I have been loving research papers of studies done by others. For a while now, before I even entered into Research Methods & Statistics courses I have had a favorite study that has been of great interest for me: Stages of Change and Decisional Balance for 12 Problem Behaviors. I found this study after being suggested I read it by the person who is in charge of the IOP program I was in; it came about because I wrote a research paper on the differences of outcomes between residential treatment & an Intensive Outpatient Program for my English 105 course when I first went back to school last year.

Mainly because I have so much respect for the woman I interviewed and because it was so relevant to what the paper would be discussing, I took to the interwebs & found said research article. Reading the work of Prochaska made so much sense to me and was so relevant at that time in my life, and still is today.

Basically Prochaska says that when one is stopping an addictive behavior they go about it through stages (which isn’t all that shocking as a lot of psychologists have theories of stages in their works); yet with Prochaska those stages are more concrete instead of abstract. His seem to be (in my opinion) more measurable or observable.

Precontemplation

Contemplation

Preparation

Action

Maintenance

Over the past year or so I have heard those stages be discussed numerous times in psychotherapy group and I always struggled with pin pointing where exactly I was at that time. It was until recently that it really became clear to me that recovery & the motivation to do so really does “ebb & flow”. What does that mean? Think of a wave in the ocean as motivation. When you’re riding high on motivation it’s incredible, yet something can happen & you lose the motivation, thus crashing down into the ocean at the bottom of the wave you were once on top of. But rest assured, there will always be a new wave & your motivation will come back.

Since starting outpatient I don’t know if I ever was in precontemplation. I feel like I entered into the program in the preparation stage (seriously considering choosing recovery in a short time), but as we said time & time again in that program, “life happened” and I would find myself back in contemplation (considering making a change, but still holding off on said change). Prochaska’s 2nd & 3rd stages were the main ones I stuck to for the first 6 months or so I was in the program. It’s easy to dream of change, but when push comes to shove, I wasn’t all too open to experiencing that discomfort & anxiety.

I think the 4th stage, the action stage, tends to scare the shit out of a ton of people. It’s then where you actually have to do the terrifying, uncomfortable, anxiety inducing work that is mandatory if a real & valid change is going to occur. It’s in the action stage where a lot of us with eating disorders struggle with the voices telling us we can’t do it. I know personally, the action stage has sent my motivation for change in my eating disorder in a fucking tailspin so many times I lost count. I always seemed to get to a certain point & I would give a big middle finger to the treatment team & recovery process & quit. Where did that get me? Abso-fucking-lutely nowhere my friends. In fact, weaving back & forth between action & contemplation only made my stay in the program months longer than it had to be.

The maintenance stage is something I find hard to identify if I am in or not. For Prochaska, maintenance was defined as a period of 6 months or so after action is 1st taken & requires a continuation of change. Maybe it’s just because I am harder on myself than need be, but I’m not perfect & recently I’ve been slipping a lot. So does that negate all of the work I am doing & thus as a result places me back into the action stage? I don’t know.

But I do know that the very idea of being in the stage Prochaska would consider to be maintenance scares the ever living life out of me. I can’t imagine at this point in time being 100% symptom free for longer than 6 months. That’s a lot of skeletons in my closet I’d have to let go of, a lot of lying I’d need to come clean about and the biggest variable holding me back: a lot of fluctuation in weight that I am proving I cannot handle.

So yeah, maintenance stage is fucking terrifying. But taking this back to Prochaska, his theory makes so much sense. I have witnessed it time & time again, this ebb & flow of these stages, in not only myself but in the lives of my friends I am going through recovery with.

Spark of Hope (January 31st)

“Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you”

-Unknown

 

There’s a term I learned in my thanatology (study of death, dying & bereavement) class in undergraduate school called Social Exchange Theory, and in short it says we as humans act or help others in exchange for that person to return the favor. Makes sense right? I’ve found, however, that when I go out of my way to help someone or simply do something nice for someone who I know is not able to return the “favor”, I walk away with a greater sense of accomplishment or what have you. I love the “Pay it Forward” initiative you hear on the news or internet, but what if it wasn’t so stressful to continue that pattern? Instead of guilt, or a feeling of debt, why not do it because you want to?

 

Goal: seek out opportunities to help others who can’t return the favor. Donate clothes to the homeless, work at a soup kitchen, read to the elderly at a nursing home. Get outside of yourself for a moment and try giving back to the community without expecting a parade of praise or cheer.

To Those Who Told Me I Should Settle

So after receiving my grades for this semester and looking over my transcripts thus far, I have to say I’m pretty thrilled. I know it’s contradictory to the post I wrote a few days ago but the more I thought about it and talked about it with people (yes I even spent some of my time in therapy discussing it as well as my future plans) I’ve come to realize that although I didn’t get grades I know I am capable of, I’m still kicking ass as a clinical/counseling psychology major.

I have known for a while now where this feeling of inadequacy towards school came from: my high school guidance counselor. When I was a junior in high school I met with her to discuss my future. Yes I wasn’t the best student at the time, I could care less about academics in high school, but I still wanted to go to college and get a degree. I would be the first grandchild on my moms side to even graduate high school, let alone go on to college. It motivated me to want to go, even though being 17 I had no idea what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. So, I walked into her office that afternoon with the expectation of being encouraged to apply to the few undergraduate colleges I was looking at at the time. Well, needless to say, after she finished reviewing my grades on my transcript she turned to me and flat out told me I wasn’t good enough to get into the schools I was hoping to apply to and that I should settle for a community college. I don’t think I ever felt more like shit about my future as I did when I walked out of her office when that meeting finished.

Needless to say, I let those words from someone whose job was to guide me to bettering my future and point me towards college, guide my life into a place where for the next 3 years I would work several almost minimum wage jobs. One day my mind changed and I ended up enrolling into the one place I was trying to avoid: community college.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to do well at all, still grappling with the thoughts that she was right and I would never be good enough for college. But she was wrong. I was getting rather good marks in classes and was getting motivation to transfer to a 4 year college. I think that’s what changed the course of my life, that motivation to excel in school & prove her wrong.

I wish I could go back to my high school and show her how well I’m doing. I would show her my grades from the university I am attending now, those all A’s from my 1st semester there, and the A’s & B’s from this semester. I want her to know how she hurt me and discouraged me. I want her to know that her shitty job at counseling me in that meeting led me to gaining motivation to prove her wrong. I want her to know that because of her I stress myself out every semester to attain the grades I have earned and that I am fully planning on one day getting my PhD in clinical psychology.

Mrs. D told me to settle, and those words that reinforced the belief I have that I am not good enough in turn made me motivated to be the best student I can and gave me motivation to go for a PhD.

National Suicide Prevention Week

2014nspwgraphicinstaSo this post is going to be a little different than the majority of how I do posts on here.

As the title suggests, this week is suicide prevention week. I feel like the topic of suicide is still highly under the radar on the social issues topic lists. The truth is that suicide (whether successful, attempted or seriously contemplated) effects more people than anyone would probably guess it to.

Because reports are lagging in time, the last estimated suicide data is from 2011 (which is insane if you think about it). Research shows that as of 2011 there was a reported 39,518 suicides.

The AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) had this to say:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects data about mortality in the U.S., including deaths by suicide. In 2011 (the most recent year for which data are available), 39,518 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans (Figure 1). In that year, someone in the country died by suicide every 13.3 minutes (http://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures).

With statistics like those, is it any wonder weeks like this exist? It’s weeks like this where attention to issues such as this is brought out in social media. So instead of reading posts about Jimmy dumping Sue and how she will be “#foreveralone” because no one will ever fill that hole in her 16 year old heart; how Ramona hates her parents because she received a samsung galaxy tablet instead of the iPad; how Anastasia is having “the worst week ever” or is “sick yet again.. ugh!”, the opportunity to post something meaningful that could help someone out there gets to happen.

I guess the whole point of this post is to give information and a message. I already gave brief information so here’s the message to those reading this who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, not just this week but every day you are alive.

I know a level of your pain that consumes your every day life. I know what it’s like to not want to get out of bed in the morning. I know the demon voices inside your head screaming their taunts, showing you the evil of the world instead of the good. I know that even these words seem so pointless to you who are trapped in that ever consuming darkness called depression/ hopelessness. I know that I’m just a stranger behind a key board typing out words to a world that I will never meet the majority of; but I care about lives. 

I care about those who feel like the only way out is to leave. I care about those who see friends or family who try and help, as enemies. 

If you’re reading this and feeling any of these things, know this: 

It gets better. It takes time. It takes faith that the sun will rise sooner than we believe it will. The voice taunting you with these thoughts are lying. People love you, you just need to let them. What you want to end your life over is not your fault. They say time heals all wounds, and I’ve been finding it to be true in the long run; and believe it or not but you have so much more to offer in your life than you can see right now, you just have to fight. 

That’s Life: Labels

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare

We as humans seem to need everything we know compartmentalized into tiny little boxes in which we can keep everything in their right places. On the daily we use labels, but when it comes to labeling others or ourselves even we dive into dangerous territory.

Labels come along with an annotation that people too belong in specific categories. We see it come into play, especially in places like high school and even college. I believe it’s part of our learning process as our frontal lobe continues to mature and develop until we hit the sweet old age of 25 (did my psych nerd show there?). Placing labels on people is problematic, especially when that label of an acquaintance differs from the label placed on you.

We becomes cliques, which unfortunately in most high schools (and depending on the maturity of co-workers) our work environment can turn from something meant to bring people together or at least to meet new people, into an isolating and even toxic place.

Nerd (I’m self-classified and proud!)/Geek
Loner
Weirdo
Redneck/Hick
Jock
Outcast
Goth/Punk/Emo… etc.
Prep/Beauty Queen/High Maintenance

There’s so many more labels I’m sure are out there but my mind is coming up short (thanks college!). Then there’s the labels we put on ourselves, which can come as a result as the societal labels placed on us.

Not good enough
Worthless
Failure
Average
Outcast
Alone

Again, that list could go on and on as well.

My point being that if we’re not careful, the labels we place on either ourselves or peers as naive kids or adolescents can have lasting effects on the psychological processes we could possibly face as adults. I mean, you see it all the time in regards to bullying (something I touched upon in a previous entry.. you can read it here: https://jessicasteinbach.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/maybe-its-just-me-sticks-stones/ 

I don’t mean to be all soap box preacher for this post, yet I know how labels can suck the life out of someone. They’re believable and unfortunately the most believable ones in our minds tend to be the negative ones.

But what about the positive ones? I wish I could take my own advise here when I say that it’s about time (no matter your age) to start putting more faith in the positive labels instead of focusing on the negative ones. It sounds cheesy but I have cards on my bedroom mirror with some inspirational labels. Some may call them affirmation cards, others may not. No matter the preferred name, I have found that when I take the time to really stop and let the words soak in, I feel a little less crumby about myself in times where I may be struggling emotionally.

Try it out if you want, and I hope you remember the importance of positive labels, as well as the effects negative ones have.

Maybe It’s Just Me: Regrets

Psychologist Erik Erikson is famous for his model of stages of psycho-social development; he believed that everyone goes through 8 stages of development: Trust v. Mistrust, Autonomy v Shame & Doubt, Initiative v Guilt, Industry v Inferiority, Identity v Role Confusion, Intimacy v Isolation, Generativity v Stagnation and finally Integrity v Despair.

I fear getting to the 8th stage at the end of my life and realizing I have more regrets (despair) than I do feelings of accomplishment (integrity).

We all have regrets in life. Maybe we regret not applying to that college, letting someone we love get away, not listening to our heart enough, not spending enough time with our family while we still have the chance to. Whatever it is we regret, we somehow find ourselves so inside our own heads reliving the moment(s) we wish we could take back or do differently.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how my life would be different if I only did X over or differently. It’s hard to accept sometimes that our past is set in stone, that there’s no taking it back. These are the things I fear I will look back on at the end of my life and have those moments overpower all the positive things I’ve done with my life. It seems as if focusing on the past failures and mistakes gives us more of an identity and defines our self-worth than all the accomplishments and success we have over the course of time.

Currently, I’m learning to embrace the small things and that everything happens for a reason. Sure, we’ll have regrets throughout life, but what I’m trying to say is that they shouldn’t define the over all quality of our life. Easier said than done right?

Do what you want to do, do what makes you happy, cherish the people in your life, don’t shy away from chasing a dream, care less about making mistakes and live your life to the fullest potential.

 

 

 

 

That’s Life: Fear

I feel like the majority of time the biggest thing that gets in our way of doing something we want is ourselves. Everything in us knows we are capable of doing what it is we desire or need to do, yet that small voice inside our heads that turns from a whisper into a scream tells us that if we do this we will: fail, look stupid, not do good enough, mess something up, etc.

I believe fear is a natural response to have as a human being. It’s unfortunate however, because this response (whether justified or irrational) can hold us back from so much in this life.

It’s easier to be afraid of something, but what we need is a little courage and faith. Faith that even if we do this, it won’t turn out as bad as we believe it could and that if it does end failing it doesn’t make us a failure and that a negative result does not reflect who we are. I know for myself 9 times out of 10 I catastrophize the end result without really knowing that it will even happen. You see, we can’t predict the future and if we are filled with a fear of the unknown we may never get to realize we have more potential and talent than we once thought.

I remember the very first time I played guitar in front of a crowd. The whole drive there I was literally trembling with fear. I wanted to turn around the instant my car drove into the parking lot, but I didn’t. I was terrified and you could literally watch my knees trembling as I stood on stage plugging in to my amplifier and getting set up. I wasn’t trusting in my talent in this moment; the fear of making a mistake and being laughed at by people was greater than my confidence in my talent of playing electric guitar.

Looking back now,I am so glad I showed up that morning, that I at least attempted it. That one morning turned into me playing for the next 6 years. If I turned the car around that morning I believe I would have missed out on pursuing my passion of music.

Fear of the unknown can be crippling, but as I said before, until we run after what we’re afraid of we can’t possibly know that the thought our fear give us are even true.

One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.
Henry Ford