As I sat in deep contemplation on the last day of 2017, I was struck by the stark contrast between the early years of my adult life and now. I remember the excitement and apprehension of the night to come, with little care of the impending agony of tomorrows hangover! I would sip wine with friends as we applied makeup, styled hair and slipped into something decidedly less comfortable! We would talk sadly of our unfortunate pals ‘stuck at home’ for whatever reason and promised that we would never become so boring! I couldn’t understand how that ‘sensible’ sort of life could possibly be any fun! Don’t get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoy getting dolled up and going out with friends, its just that now, 90% of the time the ‘boring sensible option’ is far more appealing. Indeed, in those early days of motherhood I felt a little sorry for myself when I had to miss a birthday/ party/ gig etc… But now, I cannot explain well enough the beautifully warm and content emotions triggered by the giggles and snuggles with my children. To look into their eyes and see my love reflected back at me, is one of the most incredible things perceivable!
So, snuggled up in bed at 9pm on new years eve, with my boys tiny little arms around me and their heads resting on my chest for story time, I was exactly where I wanted to be. In fact, compared to this right now, nothing could make me happier! Waking hangover and regret free is an unmistakeable bonus of course!
So now I have begun thinking about new years resolutions. There is something so optimistic and rejuvenating about the start of a new year. Leaving behind bad feelings and bad habits and starting fresh. Its important to stay realistic of course. Unrealistic expectations lead to feelings of failure better off avoided!
I have to admit that the oh so familiar feelings of post natal depression and anxiety have been creeping back into my life. I have again begun waking with the icy fingers of irrational fear tightening around my heart. The overwhelming bouts of tiredness coupled with the guilt of not being the mom my kids deserve is horrendous! Armed with the cognitive behavioural therapy exercises from the last time postnatal depression had me, I am certainly more confident that only I can really effect change. However I know I really need to start swimming to avoid those depths.
As a daughter of a US Marine, I was raised with sayings such as “there is no such thing as ‘cant’!” He is the most amazing man I have ever known and have always tried to make him proud. So you can imagine how it felt when I realised that I had hit a wall and couldn’t find a way through by will alone. I have always thought the idea of tough love regarding depression and anxiety as often well meaning, but ultimately destructive and not a useful tool. Family or friends inferring that depression is a self imposed state of mind that can be snapped out of if the want is great enough is infuriating. Depression and anxiety are often deep rooted and multifaceted conditions requiring a multidisciplinary approach of medication, therapy and hard work.
I am going to attempt change the things I can change. Its going to be tough, but my family deserves it. I deserve it.
I’ve decided this year to focus on improving my health, both physical and mental and my productivity. None of these goals are mutually exclusive and I expect as I work on various aspects, other aspects will become easier too. For example if I am eating better I should have more energy, thus increasing my ability to exercise and also increasing productivity! I figure that through working on these goals I can be a more productive person, a better wife and mother and a better role model for my kids.
RESOLUTION 1: WORK ON PHYSICAL HEALTH
So I’m not the fittest person in the world and to say I haven’t got time for the gym is an understatement! I don’t plan on running a marathon any time soon but I plan to get at least 30 minutes of walking in every day. Its not a lot and the minimum I would have to spend walking to go to a park and back. No more excuses about the rain! We live in Ireland for goodness sake! We all have raincoats and there’s a cover for the buggy! No more excuses!
As regards my diet, I plan on striving for a super, healthy plant diet.
I WILL AVOID:
. Meat and animal products (for the most part)
. Cigarettes, alcohol and tea/coffee (thankfully I’ve addressed these demons fairly well already!)
. Refined sugar (including chocolate….Eek! this is probably the hardest one!!!)
I watched a documentary recently on NETFLIX called ‘What the health’ that I can honestly say completely changed my views about food! It explains how processed meat has been classified by the world health organisation at a type 1 carcinogen! That puts it in the same category as plutonium and cigarettes!!!!!! Unprocessed meat is a type 2 carcinogen. I can’t in good conscience feed this to my family anymore. I mean, I don’t even allow someone to hold my baby if they’ve just had a cigarette, so I’m not going to have him regularly ingesting substances which cause cancer (not to mention the links with heart disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia!!!!). A predominantly plant based diet has been proven time and time again, to prevent these diseases and even cure them!
As a sufferer of depression, studies about the link between the link between diet and depression are of particular interest to me! In the ‘SMILES trial’ , a link between diet and level of depression is shown. Broadly defined, participants had to report a poor (low) intake of dietary fibre, lean proteins and fruit and vegetables, and a high intake of sweets, processed meats and salty snacks. The result clearly show that an improvement in diet directly correlates with an improvement in mental health.
RESOLUTION 2: BECOME MORE PRODUCTIVE
HOW? GET UP EARLIER IN THE MORNING
So, one of the most difficult things I find is getting up an dressed and going in the morning! I know/ hope if I could get up a bit earlier, and get myself going in the quiet, calm hours of the morning I could get more done and start my day off with a sense of achievement. In my college days I would get up at 5am to study as this was my most productive time of the day. I hope to get that back. Experts say that it takes 21 days to change a habit… hopefully that also means I can reinstate an old habit in this time!
I’m exited to improve myself and already feel a little buzz about having a plan!
I’ll post again soon about my progress!
As always, thanks for reading!