Honestly, I almost forgot that I committed myself to posting every Wednesday (at least). I didn’t really have a set topic in mind for today. My semester technically starts tomorrow and I am already overwhelmed. I have found myself waking up at night with my chest hurting, and I need to get my sleeping schedule back on track because now it is pretty much non-existent. I recognize that this is crucial for me because if I don’t sleep well my anxiety is exponentially worse. Exercising sometimes helps me sleep better, but it is really hard for me to find the motivation and to get into a regular routine. I don’t recall a time when I actually “felt good” about myself in that way, but I have been better previously than I am now.
I have recognized a strange dynamic that I have with exercising and food, that may or may not be interrelated to anxiety for me. I know I use food as a coping strategy/comfort, though you may not automatically realize it by just looking at me. There have been times when I’ve been so overwhelmed I would allow myself to overeat just to make me fall asleep during the day because I was too freaked out to try to make a dent in my mounting to do list (I don’t recommend this). I will say that it’s hard to keep your head above water in a PhD program with classwork, a graduate assistantship, and a part time job… while trying to take better care of yourself. Usually what ends up collapsing is my self-care, which I am trying to make a priority this semester. What makes things even more comical for me is that I am in a PhD program related to mental health and I can’t seem to balance my own life. I know therapists are human and aren’t perfect and that’s ok and makes us relatable, but it’s still frustrating.
Anyway, back to exercising and food. A few years ago I did hit a groove of eating well and working out that seemed to work well for me during my master’s program, but it didn’t stick when things got stressful and I started my thesis. I try to make myself a priority, but maybe it’ll have to be okay to let go of some of my perfectionism tendencies and focus more on myself. I’m also not sure how best to describe this other dynamic I have with exercise and food, it’s almost like… if I’m healthy and I don’t have my weight/work out routine/sleep to obsess and worry about, what will I worry about then? I won’t have that excuse for why I haven’t written a novel yet, like I’ve wanted to, etc. I’ve also noticed that like, when I lose a little bit of weight (I’m usually around 140-145), but felt better under 140… when I am under 140, when I start to feel better about myself it almost scares me and is uncomfortable and I don’t know what to do or focus on. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s like body image and insecurity is a mean, but sure, old, familiar friend. I can get to feeling hyper when my weight is down, like electricity is coming out of my fingers and I can’t focus. This is not my anxiety attack, I don’t think, I’m not sure what it is. I think it has something to do with my tendency to dissociate, but, that hasn’t been a major issue for me in a long long time. For the most part, when I’m around other people, I may be uncomfortable, but I’m under control.
Plus, the winter doesn’t help. When I can spend time outside relaxing or hiking I feel more grounded and not as off balance or scared for no reason. The cold makes me just want to sleep all day so it is going to be hard to start getting myself up and going again. I really did allow myself to take a REAL break this time, unlike last year when I worked on a paper with a professor over break. I don’t regret doing that, but the timing wasn’t ideal. I did what I needed to this year. I don’t think it was long enough, but maybe I’ll just have to ease myself back into the grind as gently as possible. We’ll see how it goes.