Sunday, 1 February 2015

A monthly look around.

It's about a month since I started this blog, which means it's about a month since I really plucked up my whatevers to take more of a running jump at recovery. 

So I'm going to take a look at where I am.  And work out where I go next.

I'm certainly better than I was a month ago. 

I've successfully introduced to and stuck to two new behaviours. I meditate and exercise every day. 

I've made a huge change in my daily and work routines. Generally rising much earlier. Not looking at social media or news sites during the day. I've taken on two new jobs and I'm doing better at them. In general I'm much busier, to the point where I'm concerned that I'll have no time or energy for anything else. 

I've spent my first night home alone without cannabis. There is none in the house now and I don't want to buy any more. I'm not 100% positive I will achieve this, but my intentions are currently good and strong. 

I've made several attempts to stop smoking and not yet managed a complete farewell to tobacco. I have cut down the amount I smoke though. I'm currently trying again, using an e-cigarette. 

I've sworn off internet porn which was the secret shame and massive bane of my life. I really want to do this and I've taken action to help me. Putting up more than one layer of technological support and joining an online support site. I've planned alternative activities - juggling, guitar practice, cycling on an exercise bike - for when the urge strikes.

In general, I'm happier and healthier than I have been for quite a while. Probably since last spring, when I was sober for three months before trying a few "planned relapses". I'm certainly fitter than I've been for many years. 

I'm still anxious. I can very easily hide myself away, turning away from the world and towards an online one that I find easier to cope with. It's hard to judge whether I'm improved or not - when anxiety strikes it feels very all-encompassing and it's hard to get an objective view of it. 

I would think that I am. I am doing the right things. I'm going to try to continue to challenge anxiety by expanding my activities, but I don't yet intend to set any challenges in this area. 

My mood is certainly better. Depression feels quite distant. When I get down it is less intense, the downs are not so deep and I recover more quickly. I no longer wake every morning in a foul mood. This is great. 

What next 

So where do I go from here. I'm buying into the idea from Happier that a new habit takes around about a month to turn into a routine. Not taking on too much at once is also advised. My two new behaviours in January seem to suggest that as a good limit.

I'm furiously trying to not do two things - porn and smoking - but should I be challenging myself more? I'm not sure. With so much work on I'm struggling to manage my current schedule. This week I have an appointment on Tuesday and will lose most of Friday to meeting my brother. 

I have two possible new habits. One is to return to my tai chi class. The other is to go to the gym in the evening. 

Tai chi is something I enjoyed when I first tried it. It's also a valuable social contact and a possible source of more sober pals. The classes I go to are quite demanding and very challenging to my anxiety. Most classes demand physical touching. This terrifies me. To the extent that anticipatory dread of it was a major reason for me quitting the class or not regularly attending last time, particularly if I had anything like a flare up of my eczema. 

The gym is also enjoyed when I first tried it. It takes me on a walk to an area that also challenges my anxiety. Once there the whole setting further challenges my fears. I'll confess my original enthusiasm wore off quite quickly. It's not a very welcoming or pleasant environment; it's very municipal. The exercise was doing me good, but I feel that my current routine of repeating my circuit class at home each evening is one that I am very comfortable with. 

Is comfortable enough? I had hoped by the time I wrote this that I would know what my decision on challenges was to be. Now I come here I'm not sure. 

If I were pushing myself to make a challenge I would say that in the next month I would like to have given tai chi another try. I would also like to have made an attempt to find a way I can work out at the gym in a way that I am comfortable with. That may mean joining a new gym; it may mean challenging my night-time fears and beating them at my current one. 

I think that both of these are achievable. They both have very big and very tangible benefits. There is little to lose. 

I won't challenge myself with behaviours then. My two negative efforts will count for that. It's almost certain that I'll start to expand my meditation this month - it feels the right time to push that a little. 

If you spent it thank you for your time. Leave a comment after the tone.