Oh, No: It’s That Irritating Need to Please Everyone Again

I suffer from Approval Addiction.

In every exchange, I try to be what pleases the other person. With my children, I am an experienced adult who unconditionally loves them. With my neighbors, I aim to be the easy-going one who’s willing to provide a cup of flour or plate of cookies. With my friends, I lend a listening ear and supportive hand. With my blog, I’m the writer-of-all-trades in order to please the greatest number of followers.

I wear many, many masks. I feel I even wear masks within masks.

Unfortunately, I fail. With my children, I become the resentful, repressed, and stressed adult who makes them think they must earn my affection. With my neighbors, I bother, offend, and fail to keep up. With my friends, I …don’t really have any. With my blog, I back-post midnight thoughts and give up (yet again) on reading what others wrote.

I feel dizzy with the ride of expectations vs. reality. I start employing my old numbing tactics: little sleep, lots of junk food, and mindless apps to distract.

Round

and round

and round again.

Sometime near 2 or 3 a.m., I lift my tear-streaked face from the closet floor. “I can’t keep doing this,” I say, with a smidgen of resolve. “Something’s gotta give.” I consider what I can get rid of:

  • Kids? Probably can’t give any back now.
  • Dishes? I wishes.
  • Laundry? Housework? Bill-paying? Errand-running? Etc? No, no, no, no, and no.
  • Staring at my shoe rack from my position on the floor whilst eating chocolate? Maybe.
  • Writing?

Ah, the writing. Some part of ‘the writing’ needs to give. I started blogging because I was going to succeed at something. Maybe I’d publish a book. Perhaps I’d attract tens of thousands of people to my site. Surely, I would change the world.

Whatever happened, my quick quips and cute phrases would most definitely be circulated around Facebook instead of the banal ones I saw daily.

Yet, here I sit, the same as when I started. I have nothing to show for all the time investment into ‘the writing.’

*sigh*

Well, I don’t literally have nothing to show for it. I have all of you.

I love my blogging friends, even those who don’t come around anymore. You’ve read, complimented, lifted, encouraged, responded, sympathized, reached out, poemed, and loved me. In a world where I rarely converse with like-minded people, I need this. I don’t expect everyone to read everything I write; you all feel the same, right?

So… I wonder how you all deal with ‘the writing.’ Have you a schedule? Do you write ahead? If you write and read less frequently, how do you still have followers?

Most importantly, do you write blog posts in the closet?

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—————-

Here’s the breakdown for the week:

Wednesday, January 29: Talked about DIETING in, “The Diet: It Sucks But It Works.”

Thursday, January 30: Throwback to my Reddit story: “Customer Service.”

Friday, January 31: Posted the winner of this week’s “Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.” Congratulations to Matt Snyder.

Saturday, February 1: Announced the 57th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is LOVE. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, February 2: Shared Jules’ page of the poem we commented to create.

Monday, February 3: An inspirational quote from Nitin.

Tuesday, February 4: Poemed “An Overworked Poem About the Post,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Wednesday, February 5: Today

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo Credit: Jamesthethomas5

The Diet: It Sucks But It Works

I love food.

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I mean, I love food.

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I mean, I really, really love food.

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Like most humans, I love the wrong kinds of food. What can I say? The ‘bad’ sorts just taste better. Eating lots of the ‘bad’ sorts also tastes better, particularly as a coping mechanism for depression.

However, that is known is gluttony, and is my favorite sin.

As such, baby-making and age eventually caught up to my habit. I found myself considering something I’d never had to before: a diet.

Before Child #4 and my thirties, I’d been blissfully ignorant of the difficulties of weight loss. I walked a lot. I was actively breaking up fighting children. I worked around the house and in the yard. I cooked our meals; sometimes, from our garden. I’ve never consumed alcohol or coffee and do not drink soda pop often.

About who-knows-how-many years ago, I had to do more. Baby #4 could walk and talk …and go into preschool, so I couldn’t use his birth as an excuse for the 30 extra pounds anymore. So, I started my own variation of the no-carb diet.

Diet #1

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I cut out sugar, white flour, white rice, and white rap (we all know Mom’s spaghetti is loaded with carbs). Instead of going completely lettuce-wrapped, I replaced my grains with whole wheat and brown rice.

I lost about 10 lbs; then, reasonably, gave up.

This may have also coincided with school letting out for the summer.

Diet #2

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About a year after Diet #1 and Christmas, I implemented another diet. I focused more on not eating after a certain time (9 p.m.), drinking more water, and not eating any sweets or desserts.

Again, this lasted about a month.

Diet #3

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Cue yet another year and I told myself this was it. I told myself I would drop that final 10 lbs, whether or not it was Girl Scout Cookie Time.

For some reason, I had also been exercising daily since November. For some other reason, we planned our first-ever out-of-country and longer-than-two-nights trip. The husband wanted me to get a bikini. He assumed I would be seen in public wearing one.

This final time was more difficult than the others; due to its being the last few pounds, due to my exercising, and due to my wavering conviction after a few weeks. I did smaller portion sizes. I tried to avoid refined sugar. I chewed gum, wore my retainer, and shamed myself away from late-night snacks.

But, did it I did. Lost the weight I did.

Aaaand, now I’m back to where I started. Actually, I’m back to where I started, plus a little extra in case we run out of snacks on the flight to where I started. I’ve been trying to diet again, impatiently so.

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I always forget how difficult The Diet is. Day One is the hardest. Actually; like they say in Holes, “the first hole’s the hardest;” then, “the second hole’s the hardest….” If I survive the first week without killing everyone in a hangry rage, my stomach shrinks and I make it a while longer. I’m hoping to stick with it till all the extra baby weight is gone.

I write this post to explain why I’m a little testy; why I’m somewhat unfocused. I also write it to encourage anyone working on dieting or other self-improvement. Self-improvement is difficult, but you can do it. I can do it.

We can do it, one hole at a time -er, maybe one salad at a time.

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What have been your experiences with dieting? What worked? Whom did you murder during the first week?

—————-

I wrote some stuff, too:

Wednesday, January 22: Wondered at the anti-social social world in “Real Life vs. The Blogosphere.”

Thursday, January 23: Throwback: “Herculesa.”

Friday, January 24: Posted the winner of this week’s “Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.” Congratulations to Doug.

Saturday, January 25: Announced the 56th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is an epic poem of adventure. PLEASE ENTER!

Also, “Quick Game: Edit That Book Title,” for fun.

Sunday, January 26: “The Hereafter, Aloft,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.

Monday, January 27: An inspirational quote from Charli Mills.

Tuesday, January 28ish: Poemed “Wanton Winter.”

Wednesday, January 29: Today

I also published a bit on my motherhood site. I wrote “You Might Have a New Baby If…” and “Time for Baby.”

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo Credit:
Jonathan Borba
Kavita Joshi Rai
Laura Gomez
petra cigale
Ocean Ng
STIL
Pexels
Anna Pelzer

The Cure for Depression: Get Some Sleep!

Good morning, everyone! I’ve been meaning to talk to you all about ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT topics ever besides food and sex, but I kept sitting down to do so at incriminating times -like, midnight or four a.m.ish.

Yeah, I oughta be asleep then.

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Now that I’ve pushed hypocrisy under the rug by typing at my local time of 10 a.m., let’s get into it!

Sleep is important.

Duh, right? Well, so is eating the right food, but I still ate a Pop Tart for my second breakfast. So is positive self-talk and such with CBT, but I forgot all that when my kids had a meltdown all weekend. So is talking to my counselor and doing what she says and -no, wait! I did go back on my medication because the kids had a meltdown all weekend.

Point is: we know sleep is important. However, if you’re like me, then a good sleep schedule is one of the first things to go right out the window as soon as you have a small sip of it.

So let’s remember why we need sleep:

  1. Better Mental Health
    Isn’t this our goal? My internet reading says that mental illness sufferers almost always do not get enough sleep. I think that’s often because our stupid problems don’t let us sleep; for me, however, I intentionally do not because I’m self-defeating that way.
    Sleep is CRUCIAL to better mental health, resetting emotions and releasing the happier hormones into our systems.
  2. Learning.
    Our brains HAVE TO hit all the key sleep stages in order to retain information. -You know, all that REM/NREM stuff where dreams can happen. There are a ton of articles out there about this, if you want to do a little side research.
  3. Physical Health.
    After a good night’s rest, our muscles are relaxed and ready for a new day. Skin looks better, especially around the eyes. Joints, ligaments, and nerves have time to repair. Without the stress of maintaining activity, the body as a whole can work on healing.
  4. Longer Life
    No joke: consistently cutting back on sleep affects DNA. This bad practice physically shortens one’s life. Don’t get paranoid; decide to get a better schedule.
  5. Creativity
    Despite your tortured artist soul’s ideas to the contrary, good sleep produces more creativity. I am a regular practice-er of late-night muse-calling; I often produce dark poetry detailing horrific, depressive mindsets.
    In terms of consistent artistry, though, I am much more productive when I’m regularly rested.
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  6. Lower Stress
    Yeah, you should know this one. Well-rested is the opposite of high-strung.
  7. Other Crap You May Not Have Known About
    Lack of sleep affects: testosterone (meaning you’re not going to feel like sex so much), weight control, disease immunity, and focus.

Like water and breathable air, humans have to have sleep. The next question, then, is how do we go about sleeping?

  1. Make a sleeping place
    Yep, like a bed. Maybe you’re literally more comfortable in a recliner, though. Wherever you do your business, make it only for sleeping and sexing. Make it comfortable, dark, and free from distractions.
  2. Make a sleeping time
    Ideally (in a fiction novel), you’d get to bed around 9 or 10 p.m. every night of your life. I find that aiming for a reasonable time gets me close to it, plus trains my body to expect that.
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  3. Have a relaxing routine
    Once your time’s set, prepare for it about an hour in advance. We’re talking: showering if you do it before bed, reading a book or your phone on the couch, reconnecting with your loved one(s), getting a drink, bathrooming, etc.
    DO NOT EAT an hour before bed. If you are positively famished, I’d recommend light foods at least two hours before for metabolism and heartburn reasons.
  4. Stay in bed, but don’t stress yourself
    Occasionally when I wake in the middle of the night, I toss about and decide I’d be more productive getting up. Then I’m a zombie all day. Instead, I’ll choose to make myself more comfortable by repeating my relaxing routine and possibly adjusting the house/bed temperature. Then, I’ll go back to bed and just rest.
  5. Sleep aids and medications
    I’m not going to pretend some people don’t need medicine to rest. The elephant’s in the room (and now, in the bed), right? If you’ve tried a bunch of stuff listed above and have serious trouble sleeping, get your doctor on board to prescribe something to help.
  6. Cut out the crappy stuff like smoking, drinking, recreational drugging and caffeinating
    Tricky, of course, but so so so so so so so helpful for your body in so so so so so so many ways -especially sleep.
    If you gotta do it, keep booze and coffee to healthy times: alcohol in small amounts after an earlier dinner and caffeine in the morning after food.

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The other side of excellent sleep habits is your waking ones. Early to bed and early to rise isn’t just a great poem; it’s a blueprint for most people and a healthy lifestyle.

After a good night’s rest, a consistent, early waking time is equally vital.

In my crash-course study on this topic over the past few days, I learned that waking at the same time each morning trains your body. Our smart little brains start increasing key protein levels (PER) just before the anticipated wakeup. Some people don’t even need an alarm clock because their body has been set.

You, too, can be a living alarm clock.

Resolve today to make sleep a higher priority. Make your bedroom cozy, cut out stimulants of all varieties in the evening, wake early, be consistent, but -most of all- RELAX!

Sleep feels great; get some and you’ll see.

Thank you for joining me on Consider not Depressing. Tune in next time, when I discuss the next item that cures depression.

 

Maeghan Smulders
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Kristina Flour
Kinga Cichewicz

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Eat Healthy

Good morning/afternoon/evening/midnight/snacktime everyone! I am ready to very professionally talk to you about one of my favorite subjects: food.

Fruit smoothies in glasses topped with pieces of fruit and marigold flowers

I just spent ten luxurious minutes searching for food pictures, and now I’m hungry. There are so many pictures of food! WHY are there so many?

Duh. Food is life.

That, and it’s delicious. During one of my no-sugar diets, I sagely told a friend, “I’ve decided the problem with chocolate is that it tastes good.” I hope I come up with better quotes when I’m not dieting.

So…. why bother monitoring what we stuff in our faces? This is one of those answers that we all know, like how we ought to be getting outside more, or exercising. We know that eating well is better for our health.

Anyone with food issues like me also knows that an entire bag of Snicker’s ‘fun’ size is really appealing at depressive moments. As appetizing as a picture of odd fruits with flowers (why flowers?) is, I’m apt to choose something meatier and fattier and baddier.

Oooh yeah. People don’t believe me when I tell them I like meat and have issues in general, because I periodically diet and usually exercise. And if random good behavior keeps me looking passable, then you have my personal assurances that such a plan will work for you.

First, let’s list why eating well is such a great idea:

  1. Vitamins, minerals, nutrients, madeupwordients are ESSENTIAL for complex creatures such as us. They’re our fuel.
  2. Eating the right things really helps to not get sick often.
  3. A balanced diet definitely helps with mental illness. Seriously, Google found me so much proof -like on a Harvard Health blog.

Hmmm… I probably should have put #3 first. I blame not eating breakfast yet.

“Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood” (Harvard Health Blog).

Oops. I’m just gonna hide this bag of …Snicker’s. *crinkle* *crinkle* Hey, look at this beautiful picture of a salad!

Right-o. We know that good food is good. Most of us know that, from our childhood years of basic nutrition education. If not -hey! I taught you something new!

The tricky part is application. Take one little tiny baby step with me here:

You don’t have to starve yourself and only eat rabbit food.

In fact, if weight loss alone is your goal, you can eat only McDonald’s and still shed pounds. McDonald’s, even the salad, is NOT healthy; just so’s you know. Processed foods tend to not be. And, you have to put up with only Mickey D’s for six months which would be hell for me.

I likes my variety, and you can too!

Rambling point: Small Step #1 is to eat less* overall. You can feed your OCD tendencies if you have them and write down how many calories if you wish. Use a website or app to estimate what your daily calorie burn is, then eat less of that each day. Eat a little less; we’re not encouraging any anorexia here.

*Eating less than what you burn leads to weight loss. Ignore this advice if you are already at a good weight. In that case, eat close to what you burn in order to maintain.

Small Step 2 is when you eat. Your body will burn calories or hang onto them differently at different times of day and different times of year. Generally, avoid eating after 8:00 p.m. and/or two hours before sleeping. Eating later not only helps the food stick around, it makes you less comfortable and more depressed.

On the same page, make sure you are stuffing your face at regular mealtimes. I also need to eat between meals, like a hobbit. I keep the calorie count low (see Step 1), but don’t starve.

Step 3 is what you eat. If you consider lettuce a food fit for hopping creatures, that’s totally cool. I especially understand if you only ever eat iceberg lettuce; that crap is just water. Get yourself the more green and leafy varieties like Romaine, wrap your protein in it, and salt and pepper the thing.

Everyone has some foods he/she likes that he/she knows are healthy. If not, buy some of your friend’s favorites and sneakily eat them in your closet. I won’t tell. At the end of such an experiment, you will have a few that you can stomach.

Use the old internet for searches like “low-calorie recipes,” “healthy snacks,” and “edible and appetizing ways to prepare kale.” -Okay, that last one was a joke.

I recommend AGAINST anal counting of minerals and vitamins and whatnot because it’s a very tricky process that is probably not entirely accurate. Fresh foods have a different value than ones that have been canned, dried, frozen, or covered in chocolate to actually make them taste good.

The advice I follow myself is to lower sugars and white flours and rices, keep the calories low, and include a treat in that count. If you’re following my earlier advice to exercise, you’ll need the extra calories.

A good Step 4 is to cut out stimulants and booze. Ya know, like coffee and alcohol. I think this is a great step, but I don’t touch the stuff myself and therefore wouldn’t presume to lecture you on how to do so. There are plenty of internet and local areas to help, however. (Like, the addiction national helpline, if it’s that serious: 1-800-662-HELP [4357].)

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy, but I thought the same thing when my paid friend told me she hadn’t consumed sugar since 2003. She still has valid ideas in many other categories, so I’ll probably keep seeing her.

As a final note, I don’t even have to be an expert to mention a vital consumable related to eating well: drinking well. As a human, you need water.

Water is life, more so than food even.

I live in a desert environment, and even I skimp on the “recommended amount.” That’s because I don’t like using the bathroom all day. I’ve been told that regular, consistent drinking of water should make that problem disappear.

Wherever you live, make sure you drink water. It improves skin, helps organ function, helps singers sound better, and keeps you from dying.

So, class, let’s get started today. Keep your diet tasty, consistent, and manageable. Drink your water. These simple steps will help you be better able to fight those depressive tendencies.

This has been a part of our Cure for Depression series. Tune in next time, and we’ll talk about joy.

 

Photo Credits:
Brooke Lark
Haseeb Jamil
Vitchakorn Koonyosying
Lacey Williams
Yasuo Takeuchi

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

A Romantic Tanka to My Clothestyle

In celebration of an upcoming commercial holiday and to help inspire others to enter The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, I will write a love poem every day this week.

As morning became afternoon became evening and I hadn’t a topic to soliloquize, I finally settled on dedicating the following Tanka to black clothing:

Winter’s unkind touch

Paints my flabby skin folds on

Turning smiles down.

When, uplifted, my heart joys

Once clothed in slimming blackness.

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Photo Credit:

Mohammad Metri