Step-by-step

evolving

When I first revamped this blog, I called it The Chad Moffett Project.  It seemed a little too serious and self involved.  But I am certainly approaching it, and perhaps my life, as a project.  I want to get going again and to feel “unstuck.”  In addressing my anxiety, I came to understand that some of the areas in my life are unfulfilling; this left me with a sense of defeat.   I wrote, and then deleted, many blog posts.  I thought they were too personal, revealing too much about me to others.  I have since come to the conclusion that I need to write about my recovery as much for myself as for others that may find hope and healing in my journey.  So, personal it will be!  Last night’s walk with Chester Lee frames my thoughts this Sunday.

In fact Sundays were always the worst day of the week for me.  It signaled back to work on Monday.  Despite my successes in my life and career advancement, my “job” has always been a source of anxiety – whether it was when my job was being a restaurant manager, a university student, or my current position.  I think in some way, I resisted changing because I was afraid of what it would reveal.  Change is hard.

Is this it?

Now that I have started making some positive changes, I find that I was unprepared for the drab feeling I am left with in the absence of the anxiety.  At first it was a like a familiar friend had gone missing.  Sure, I still get the pangs of an anxiety attack and periods of intense worry, but I am able to better work through them and place these feelings within context.  Talk myself down off the ledge to to speak.  Still, the rush that anxiety produced was physically addictive.  That was the first change that I had to become comfortable with – comfort in my discomfort.

Building blocks

A couple years on now, it has taken a while to fully alter and be flexible in my outlook and priorities and realize that anxiety does not define who I am.  I don’t need to be ashamed and to put on happy face.  I also don’t need to over analyze everything in my life looking for problems to solve, things to fix, and deadlined to impose.

Exercise had helped out a great deal.  in recent years, I also went on a 2.5 year bout of alcohol-free living – a “cleanse.”  It was a wonderful time and I am committed to returning back to this practice.  I am also committed to reducing poor diet choices.  I have found an extended version of The Whole 30 diet is a great baseline to work with to keep processed foods out of my diet.  It is a challenge, but one that has great benefits.

Practice

If you watched the video clip of our walk with Chester Lee last night, you will know that we are know working to establish a morning and night routine of walks.  This is an apt analogy.  At first, Chester was quite simply overwhelmed by all the new noises and activities outside the safety of our home.  He would walk a few steps and sit down.  He was spooked by the barking of a backyard dog, load exhaust of a sports car, or the passerby on the sidewalk.  Slowly he has come to process these new sights and sounds and normal and non-threatening.  Each walk features a new experience.

As I show Chester a new bright and shinny world, he is helping me realize my choices are similar: the journey is the goal, take it step by step, seek encouragement, and approach the world with curiosity and joy.

Downtime

patience

Over the past many days, and even longer, I have been working to be more relaxed.  Relaxed is really not the right word or term.  I have actually been working to transform myself from a tense and anxious person to a being patient and content.  “Being in the moment” is the current buzz word.  It’s not easy. It is a journey.  This is what I have learned so far.

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Ignorance is not bliss

For a long time, I didn’t even know that I was anxious – that I had a anxiety disorder.  Anxiety was detracting from my quality of life.  I just grew up with it and didn’t really know anything different.  It was not until in college that I came to realize what I felt was more than I could deal with at times.  I sought out help and received counseling.  At the time, I had recently came out to friends and family as gay, so I was placed in a group of gay men dealing with depression.  Certainly depression and anxiety co-exist for me, as I think they do for many people that have anxiety.  But I focused on the coming out process that presented its own highs and lows.  I developed some tools – mostly cognitive behavior therapy techniques – that I used when I felt overwhelmed.  But unless I felt overwhelmed, I neither worked on exploring the root cause(s) of my anxiety, nor did I consistently apply the tools I had learned.  I know now that, for me, feeling good and taking care of my mental well-being takes plenty of practice and constant attention.

Self compassion is a skill

Several years ago, I had a real set back and really had a particularly bad period.  It lasted longer than in the past and was more intense.  It was then that I decided that I had be become serious about feeling good.  In the process, I learned about the negative self talk that goes on my mind.  Outwardly I may appear self confident and driven, but down deep I suffered from the imposter syndrome.  I never thought I was good enough or smart enough; that I was somehow lucky and sliding through based on my looks and affability.  It took talking about my past and adolescent experiences to realize I didn’t have much self compassion.  In fact when I had a particularly bad bout of anxiety, I felt like I lost my drive and confidence.  Especially professionally, since this is where much of my deep seated anxieties seemed to stem.  Balancing self compassion with keeping myself a challenged and out of “the comfort zone” is a challenge.

It’s all about relationships

If have always been a person who knows lots of people very little, and a few people a lot.  Maybe that is how I will always be, maybe not.  I would describe myself as a gregarious nerd – I like my intellectual downtime; time to read and think.  Quite time to reflect and let the emotions escape.  Writing in particular is a slow, personal, and iterative process for me.  Really slow.  Super iterative.  As the anxiety grew in my life, I channeled it through my work, which consists mostly of writing.  This only served to enhance my sense of anxiety, negative self talk (why can’t I write faster? why can’t I write more focused?).  In the process, I lost sight of the qualities that had lead to my successes and made me happy; instead, I tried to improve upon qualities that would take every ounce of concentration to change just a little bit.  Throughout this cycle, I would recoil from others and did a very poor job of fostering my relationships for family and friends.

It’s never too late

I’m making significant progress in moving the dials in my life to healthier settings!  I feel better than almost anytime in the past and I am working hard to keep the change coming and the momentum going.

Almost 4 years ago I bought this laptop because I wanted to confront my anxieties of writing and start to blog about my feeling and my journey.  It’s taken a while, but I think I’m finally here and want to keep it up.  If I can inspire someone else to confront and may be overcome their anxiety I will have made more of a difference than I can imagine.

In the meantime, I am always surprised how many people say “me too” when I confide in them my anxiety and lately people ask what I have done to feel better.

Now I have something to say!

In a rush to flush

a little follow up maybe?

So I am on day five after the (minor) surgery that I had. In general it was no big deal, very little pain or discomfort. In fact I had more issues with the pain medication than the procedure itself – turns out that opioids keep me up and night. So the first three days were quite long.

On day three, I started to wonder about what I should be doing to heal. There’s no dressing to change, but there is “packing” that is self-dissolving. Still, it seems that I should be doing something – or avoiding somethings (like sneezing?). But here’s the thing: my post-op instructions were very brief and vague…

…and nor very helpful. This is really pretty much the extent of what they sent me home with. Hmmm, let’s see – rest, check; don’t operate machinery, check. I mean what the hell? What about that blood that is slowly dripping from my nose, hey?

So I call my doctor’s office and say that I am confused and would like more information on my post-op do’s and don’ts. Just now, almost 2 days later, I get a call back.

Turns out I can be flushing twice a day and needed to schedule a follow up visit for 2 weeks after the surgery. So now that’s all scheduled and I am thinking about a nasal flush (personally I hate those things, so I will reluctantly do it).

I am now very much looking forward to fully healing so that I can begin to run trails, breath clearly, and continue training for the upcoming run in April. Just exercise in general – I miss it.