My New Year’s resolution for 2013 consists of two words: get better. The most freeing part of making such a broad sweeping statement like that is that there are so many different ways to accomplish it. I’m not resolving to lose 15 pounds in the next three months, although I’d be delighted if I could pull that one off. Get better is a resolution I can still be working on in 11 months time – with actual successes under my belt and still room for growth. So here are 13 ways I am going to try to get better in 2013.
- Don’t let pain be the boss of me. Until the last few months, I always said how grateful I was that my CFS was almost all about the tiredness and little about the pain. Then it crept up on me. My legs are screaming with soreness by the time I have to carefully make my way up all 14 stairs to my bedroom each night. I have constant pain in my neck and shoulders. My joints are now rebelling against me, variously deciding to make my knees, ankles, wrists, or knuckles hurt at random times unexplained by the day’s activities. Tom got me a new chair for my desk for Christmas, and I hope that will help with my back, neck, and shoulder pain. And now, I may smell like Wint-O-Green Lifesavers all the time, but I’m going to try to start each day by massaging pain relieving creme onto whatever hurts, and see if I can ease the pains away over time.
- Find a new doctor. My primary care physician is a perfectly nice woman, and she’s helped me with many things over the year. But her office made it very clear that they don’t even want to discuss my chronic fatigue syndrome because there’s no clear way to diagnose or treat it. I need a doc who will help me manage my condition. But you can’t just look up “CFS doctor” in the insurance listings – believe me, I’ve tried – or on Google. I do, however, have several friends with fibromyalgia, and I believe a doctor who can help their patients manage FM can also help me manage my CFS. So I’m going to see who they recommend. Or maybe I don’t have to switch… Just found that Dr. Richard Herbold, DC on the “good doc” list for CFS providers. I’ve never been to a chiropractor, but one woman with CFIDS claims she was sleeping 16.5 hours a day before, and now says she feels 90% better.
- Move more. Exercise is rough for me. Most of the time, I feel too tired or too sore to do much. When I do feel good enough, I inevitably overdo it with more than 5 minutes of activity, and then the tiredness and soreness rebound with a vengeance, and I feel like I can’t move for several days after that. For now, I’m going to focus on gentle stretching and the occasional super-low-impact of “It’s a Small World” on Just Dance: Disney Party. Then we’ll go from there.
- Find a happy place with food. I’m an emotional eater, and my prescriptions certainly aren’t helping me watch what I eat. I need to find the balance where I can still have all the snacky foods I love…without overdoing it. Maybe finding smarter versions of them, too.
- Find a happy place with my appearance. I have gained more weight than I’m comfortable with in the last year or two, even over the last few months. I’m not happy with the way my clothes don’t fit me anymore. I cannot afford a whole new wardrobe in a larger size. Hopefully some of the other things I’m working on above will help me lose the weight I need to lose to fit back into my clothes. Or heck, maybe I’ll find some amazing sponsor to give me a makeover and provide me with a fabulous new wardrobe to fit my “probably not size 8 ever again, now in size 10, maybe pushing size 12 soon” body. Anything to make me not feel so much bigger.
- Market my novel. Finishing up the first draft of my novel in November was totally liberating. I’ve started many great works of fiction that have never been finished. This one is done and in revisions. By 2014, I want to have found myself an agent who has reached out to publishing houses for me. If I can’t find a publisher who wants my manuscript (though I’m optimistic about it) I will self-publish through Amazon. It’s something I need to do. I will do it.
- Write something every day. I’m a writer, so I should write. But other aspects of work often do not involve the writing part. As a matter of fact, I have a team of writers who handle most of my client work, and I serve as the editor. If I’m not writing for clients, I should be writing for my blog. If I have nothing worth writing about on my blog, I should write something creative for myself. A poem, a short story, ideas for a new book… anything. Because writing is a positive use of my mental energy. Which means, at least while I’m writing, I won’t be focusing my mental energy on negative things like anxieties or depressive thoughts.
- Don’t slack on my chores. Because of all of my physical issues, I don’t have a lot of chores I am responsible for. My husband does most of the work around the house, for which I am eternally grateful. Therefore, I need to stop letting the laundry pile up to scalable mountain size, and even if grocery shopping itself exhausts me so I have to rest when we get home, I should put the food away within a day or two so it’s not still sitting in bags the next time I go shopping. This only leads to me feeling guilty about not helping out and feeling lazy even though I have legitimate physical issues. There are times when I am feeling well enough to do these small things, so I need to use that time properly.
- Enjoy my family more. I sit in this chair all day long. My desk is in the living room. I don’t need to move when TJ or Tom gets home because this is where every hangs out. But I have my back to them most of the time, and that’s not cool. I need to remember to spin myself around to talk to them, instead of talking over my shoulder. Go snuggle on the couch with them when the mood strikes. Continue spending quality time with both of them during TJ’s nightly bedtime routine. Enjoy the quiet time I have Tom, and not just play World of Warcraft together while sitting 10 feet away from each other.
- Put music back in my life. I started singing in the school chorus as soon as I was allowed to in the fourth grade. I auditioned for and was accepted into my middle school select chorus (the Kodachromes) and the high school show choir (the Choraliers). A small group of my friends rehearsed together to perform Christmas carols at the local nursing home when we were in high school. I continued to sing in my college music groups, and I remember shocking my newspaper friends during a cabaret-like performance where I sang, appropriately, “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret. Performing was terrifying, but I loved singing so much. I haven’t performed since I graduated. But I did have a good time participating in the Clever Girls Collective virtual a cappella chorus, in which we sang “Winter Wonderland.” I’d love to participate in this type of thing again. And even if I don’t “perform” for anyone, I should start singing along with the radio in the car again or something. Singing makes me feel good.
- Laugh more. Endorphins make you feel good. Antidepressants only get you so far. I want to make a more conscious effort to feel better in the emotional sense by finding more things that bring me joy. I took some painful but necessary steps to remove a lot of negativity from my life last year, but now I need to actively seek positivity. Writing and singing will be a part of this effort. And time with my family. But there are a lot of hours I spend alone during the week, and I need more that I can do to keep my work brain recharged instead of getting stuck in the depressed “I can’t do anything” mode I’ve found myself in before.
- Diversify. Finances caused a ridiculous amount of stress last year, which fed both my anxiety and depression, which in turn fed the chronic fatigue syndrome cycle. I need to diversify my income sources to protect our household finances. (I have great clients, but losing any of them right now would be devastating. They are “big” clients, but they are few in number.) If I can find someone to publish my novel, that will be another source of income. Until then, I need to reach out and find more clients…either for the writing and editing services I already provide, or perhaps some sort of consulting work.
- Stop sabotaging myself. I do things that I shouldn’t do that undermine my own happiness and healthiness. Some of it’s the depression, some of it’s my physical health, and some of it…some of it, my psychiatrist and I still haven’t figured out why I do some of the more destructive things. We all make bad choices, but some are worse than others. I need to work harder at identifying when I’m about to do something like this…and stop myself from doing it. Whether it’s my 7th cookie or turning down a new client project because I’m not confident in my ability to do a good job.
What are you going to try to do to get better this year?
Tags: Asperger Syndrome, depression, food, health