The Real Threat of a Relapse

I am really doing my best with what I have, most of the time. Still, there are exceptionally difficult months or weeks where a highly stressful situation can threaten to grab hold of all the progress I have made with my health in the last 6 months and throw it all out of the window.

Such a situation happened last weekend. It culminated after weeks of non-stop exposure to highly stressful scenarios. It’s not even about work. (To be frank, I’d very much rather focus on writing 10 pages per day of output than deal with something like this in my family.)

I have been taking it slow this week because I am trying not to relapse back into a state of ill health. One of the good things about acknowledging your health limitations is that you actually know when to stop and when to slow down. It reaches a point where you know your personal breakdown triggers and you know that you must make the difficult choice of not exposing yourself to these triggers as much as possible.

It takes years to master that skill of stepping out of unnecessarily stressful situations.

For anyone with a health condition, wielding that skill at opportune moments spells the difference between life and death, between stupor and productivity. And like many difficult experiences, there are lessons to be learned.

Lesson #1 in the face of a relapse threat: You may do a lot of things out of love for other people, but it must be NEVER be at the expense of your own wellness or health. Sometimes the people we love and care about do not really mean to harm us or hurt us, but they do so tremendously with their actions.

We must not be afraid to call them out, we must not be afraid to even cut them off and limit our interactions to them, if necessary. Eventually these actions (no matter how they often say that they did not mean to do it) can become habitual to them, and absorbing them further is suddenly a blow to your sanity. And when you lose your sanity, you lose everything.

In my life, I had to cut off a lot of people. They weren’t necessarily people I do not care for. In fact, I care about them very deeply. But I had to cut them out of my life because they are not helping me at all to become a better person. 

Last weekend, my husband finally put his foot down and helped make that tough decision for me in the face of our recent setback. He first watched me as I managed the buildup week in and week out. Deep inside, I was also checking my inner pulse to see if I can still have the threshold to handle the unnecessary stressors from the people I love. Eventually, all my reserves of strength ran out.

My husband lovingly assisted me from a distance. Not a word of complaint, just pure support for which I am most grateful. But when I finally told him last weekend that I am slowly approaching a danger zone with my health, he stepped in by speaking out honestly and from the heart.

In truth, he was just as traumatized as I was with what happened. But we maintain the optimism that we will survive this. We both dealt with it together. As a team. Like equals. Like partners. No flinching. Pure adulting.

More than doing things for each other, we are now also making decisions and tough calls in our dealings with people to protect our baby, the tiny passenger in my tummy who can now hear our voices and can feel my feelings of distress or sadness. That’s a definite game changer for any woman.

Before, when I choose to take care of myself and my health, I am doing it mainly so I won’t harm other people. Now, when I make the decision to take care of myself first, I am not just doing it for myself. I am also doing it for that tiny person inside me that needs to have a better chance at life. This tiny person deserve the most stable and reliable set of parents this world can offer, and I am not going to let anyone or anything sabotage that dream I have for my child. 

Lesson #2 in the face of a threatened relapse: It’s not really selfish if you want to pursue good health for yourself. In fact, you are doing the world a favor if you sharpen your body to be the best possible version of yourself. That sometimes, you have to stay in the bench or in the sidelines temporarily so that you can bounce back with your A game for the bigger battles of life.

It’s not always sound to face all battles. Because not all battles are worth fighting at all. These days, I am no longer afraid to speak up and say “I am sitting this one out because I need to recover.” I actually say it and then I decide to seriously sit it out even when I am itching to take action.

And finally, there is Lesson #3: By default, we always have to do our best to be in a position of supporting and helping other people become the best version of themselves to the maximum extent that we are able, no matter who they are and what they have done. Value relationships over resources, at any given time. 

And mind you, that’s not exactly just about helping and personally getting involved in that person’s life.

Sometimes, this act of helping out means saying no, ignoring messages that do not contribute to your well-being, or even deciding to stay out of another person’s life for good if he or she won’t stop in his or her self-destructive behavior. For example, a person may be abusing your kindness and turning your chat window into a garbage can of feelings. Instead of dealing with his or her issues with other people, they just choose to dump all the stress on you and expect you to cuddle them and comfort them non-stop while they do nothing to improve their situation.

Here is one useful question: Will it do good to other people and that needy person if you absorb all that negativity? Always strictly promote only what helps the person and what keeps you sane.

Do not tolerate immature, entitled episodes from those you love. Do not enable their horrible habits that make their lives permanently take a turn for the worse. Provide to the extent you are able, but take no more part if that person habitually decides to self-destruct. It’s painful, but if that person decides to always harm himself or herself after your numerous attempts to help out, you need to stay out of it. You provide help. But you are not a perpetual rescue hotline for people who do not help themselves. 

You can be charitable without becoming a masochist. You can be charitable without being heavily attached to the favors you dole out. You can be charitable, but strictly in a way that empowers and enables you and the other person to become the best versions of yourselves.

It’s really a phase of life where I have to make difficult choices. And today, I choose both CHARITY AND WELLNESS.

 

 

 

 

INFPnesssss and the Digital Cavewoman Life

A friend made me panic after she tested INFJ two days ago from an online website, so I decided to test myself again this week. According to my friend, she tested ENTJ two years ago!!! Anomalous, right? What if I became an E or something? So I quizzed myself again. Still an INFP. Yay and occasionally nay.

The last time I was employed in corporate, I was an INFJ. I noticed that the J was very useful in meeting deadlines. It was very helpful that I was able to develop that while working in the traditional sense of things. But even when I can socialize with some people, I really remained an introvert in the deepest corners of my heart.

For the last few years, I usually just swing between P and J, really. So it’s good to know that it’s back to my natural P-dominance and I did not become someone else in the last few months that I have been living in a cave.

I did feel some changes, but it was more of a restorative type of change than an ugly, degenerative one. It’s like I am getting my balance back but it’s stronger and it’s longer and even when circumstances are harder now, life is more beautiful and people are more lovable and I am in a good place.

Sometimes this positive mindset will be challenged so I am logging one of the good days for safekeeping — I log so that I will be reminded of how far I have come in managing the swings of life and how I ought to keep on doing so until my last breath.

It did help that I cut out some unhealthy relationships and I focused on quality than quantity. That circle of trust is quite small but I am happy with the ones I have left in there. I managed to let go of two toxic relationships this year– one last February and one just this month. It’s one of the best decisions I have made this year. Those two demanded a lot and drained me completely. Immediately after I let go of these toxicities, I started feeling happiness and lightness in my being. Sometimes you hold on to the wrong sorts of people and they keep you from pursuing what you are supposed to become. I had that moment of epiphany after I made the decision and I saw good things started pouring in after I let them go. And that was not the only thing I had to cut loose this year.

This year was really life-changing.

Ever had that experience where you did not plan any of the things thrown your way and you were led to an unknown situation and it turned out to be the best for you? I had that this year. Totally not what I expected of my life. But what I thought was hell at first turned out to be a very good place.

It’s a threshing floor that separated the chaff and the wheat to make all my efforts more fruitful.

Last year, I was really hell-bent and I planned my life to a science for the next 4-5 years and despite my “foolproof” strategies and tools, NONE OF THE PLANS worked.

It was like, literally, the doors started shutting on my face one by one as I tried to implement those plans. Then one day in February, the biggest door slammed and I had nothing. I really had to basically start from scratch.

(For a few weeks, I wanted to bang my head and raise my fist to the sky, but seriously, what good would that do?)

I am addicted to task lists and I really struggled with the overhaul. So what did I do after relinquishing my compulsive need to control all aspects of my life? I TOOK NEW RISKS. I MADE NEW TASK LISTS but I no longer beat myself up when plans fail or things do not go as planned.

For some sense of structure, I partially planned my life again and continued to fight despite the unpredictable things. But this time, I learned to only create task lists for around 3-5 hours of my day and not from waking time to sleeping time. 

I leave the rest of the ‘unplanned’ time to figure out and breathe and relax and just heal and LET LIFE HAPPEN.

And I allowed me to be comfortable with saying no. I said NO a lot this year. The things I said no to is not a popular choice for some people. Happily, I do note that those same people won’t be there to pick me up when I am broken, overbooked, broke, or completely bonkers.

I have to learn how to choose how I spend this time, an irreversible and non-renewable resource. I took command of my life again and it’s a liberating experience.

I was initially afraid that I’d be a worthless bum with my new groove but it was wrong to live life with such a fear. I was quite happy to discover that even in a small bedroom, I can make my own tiny happy paradise of productivity. I did not trust myself enough that I will be able to make it. But I did. And that’s my biggest realization this year: I don’t need external things to fuel me to pursue something of value.

I worked but with a lighter routine. I relaxed. I gave myself the pampering that I have denied my entire being for almost 2-3 years now.

I found myself a cozy, quiet, little, happy corner that all INFPs will love to mentally frolic in. I found a place where I can just quietly rest and think of my pet projects (you know, those impractical dreams of childhood that did not make sense to anyone else but makes so much sense to me).

I learned to dream again and I got back to the basics of being a human being, and that is to be of a sound and quieted mind.

 

At first, I found it difficult to relinquish control but eventually I just gave in to the inevitable and I was surprised to find– a unique flavor of STRENGTH plus a certain, unexplainable but pervasive sense of peace that you cannot buy anywhere. CLARITY was back. I was not moving hastily and without knowing what the move meant. It was slow, fluid, and clearer than the sparkling waters of a clean ocean.

My concerns these days are so different from last year’s. I am just thankful that this is where everything led to. I really thought that I am done for after February. I thought that my life is over. But no.

As it turns out, it was only just the beginning.

 

 

Cool as a Cucumber

Somebody once told me that I needed more tenacity. Also, I have personally noticed that as a fairly emotional person (and such emotions fuel my compulsion to write with so much passion), there are many things that I need to consider. I write not about my numerous foot-in-mouth moments. I will write today about a tiny victory or success that I had in employing more tenacity and self-control. This a real-life lesson in the work world that I think will be useful for a lifetime.

It was late evening and I was working really late. For one, the sets were cluttered and my machine was failing on me. For some reason, a very terrible incident brought mostly by circumstances had me in a tough spot. But I was not allowed to retaliate or explain my side. I did my best to keep quiet about it. It was so hard, considering how I usually justify myself if I know that I am not at fault. But I somehow did it. Some saint in heaven who magnified patience must have lent me some. I did not cry or buckle, although I really felt like doing so. I just continued working and I gracefully proceeded to find a solution to a two-day old problem which could have taken half a day if it weren’t the set of circumstances I was handed that time.

As it turns out, maintaining a state of calmness (even if it’s just outward and you’re paddling hard underneath) is a good thing. I read an article that it warrants good health and it also avoids numerous unnecessary conflicts. Young as I am in the work force, relatively, this is a tough pill to swallow. I grew up in a school where people easily fights for their rights violently if need be when it is being violated.

As it turns out in the real world, sometimes you have to somehow accept having your human rights violated temporarily if it comes with a good cause or if there is a greater good involved. To balance, it is not an everyday thing but an occasional spat or taking one for the team, so to speak.

A tiny victory showed me that I am in fact capable of handling myself in this manner despite the common stigma of my diagnosis. Few people would know how difficult that exercise was for me, because mood disorders usually have that thing going where they cannot always control their thinking and behavior. I guess in some way, I must be doing something right because I sense some improvement and this tiny victory is a proof  that I can actually stay on and practice without causing too much detriment to others or myself.

As a child, I had escapist tendencies and I used the world of books to shield me from the pains I did not want to deal with. Now, I still love reading books but I think slowly, I am becoming aware of how I should never escape when I can find solutions to problems. It’s a good trait to develop. I have seen people who are good living examples, and I am in a fairly nurturing environment (save for moments when a difficult client is in tow and is putting all his or her weight to conduct some power-tripping with their intelligence, position, or mental brilliance as an excuse). I just think that if all intelligent people throw their weight around, nothing will get done because everybody will just be busy enforcing their brilliance and intelligence to the point of not cooperating or giving way for far more important things like accomplishing a common goal that has some significance to the world.

The world has so many problems to solve, and honestly, an individuals rough attitude is super small compared to those big world-scale problems.

I guess it helps to control the ego that comes with being an individual when you know yourself and where you stand. It is not just knowing on a superficial level. But KNOWING really who you are, your place in the grand scheme, and its implications is something that ANCHORS you no matter what the circumstance.

Even if difficult people will tell you that you are worth nothing, you can’t do it, or that you are not meant to be in a certain place, if you know within your soul who you really are, it will not be a stumbling block to success. The world’s most insecure people are the world’s most difficult people, in my humble experience over the last few years of work life. It is because they are always on the run with their mind, always feeling morbidly insecure or lethargic about their existence. And it is this lethargy that they spread out to other people because they cannot give the happiness and good vibes that they do not have. The only question for a person who receives crap unfairly is this: Am I going to join the misery bandwagon? Or am I just going to stay cool as a cucumber.

That one time in a sea of foot-in-mouth moments, I actually did the latter. And I feel fulfilled and accomplished in a way that medals cannot really affirm, but this affirmation I gained is far greater and sinks deeper than accolades that we all like to hang on walls. I just know, deep down, that I’ve done the right thing and it was difficult exercise that was worth my while.