Self-improvement under a dark cloud of eternal doom

Remember: there is always beauty after the storm...

Remember: there is always beauty after the storm...

A lot of you have been following my journey on the flab-loss thing (see here), and that's great. I meant this post, and the few accountability mini-posts that have followed on Facebook, to be mostly that - a way for me to make sure I stayed on track. But I'm delighted to hear from women who say it's giving them the kick in the pants they needed to set their own goals and work towards achieving them. It was all going splendidly, until late last week.

For some reason, I got hit by a massive dose of bitchiness followed by intense depression. Yes, I blame the hormones. I don't typically suffer too badly from PMS and other perimenopausal challenges, especially since I cut down my sugar intake. (I swear it helps.) But somehow last week my bitchiness levels went through the freaking roof, and I don't mean a little.

I do try very hard not to blow up when the crankiness hits. I tell the kids, warning them that my buttons are showing and it's probably best if they try to avoid pushing them. I give them more freedom to play and do crafts and watch documentaries (anything to keep them out of my hair, really). Normally this keeps us all reasonably happy, but last week it didn't work. I blew up for the stupidest of reasons because *everything everyone did was unbearably aggravating*.

If you're a human of the female persuasion you may have some idea what I mean. On top of that I started retaining water like a miserable sponge, which made me feel heavy and even crankier.

Don't forget your self-improvement goals, girl!

Yeah, right. Does it start with red wine, again?

I did what I could, but what with one thing and another I wound up about 1.5 pounds heavier on the scale. Probably a third of it due to water retention alone - so I tried not to worry too much. It's not about the scale anyway, remember? Keep plugging away; stay off the carbs, eat small portions, exercise, and sleep. This too shall pass.

That was late Monday. My period started, and instead of improving things went straight to hell.

Normally I don't suffer too much from that either. I get cramps the first day or two, but a regular dose of normal pain killer usually takes care of that. This week though, wow. The pain lasted through Tuesday and Wednesday, at some point requiring a triple dose of extra-strength aspirin (I don't recommend it; my head started buzzing - but it did eventually kill the cramps). And you know what else happened this time?

Depression. The cessation of caring. The big black cloud of intense doom. That f&^&cker sat on my head this week and wouldn't relent. I didn't care about anything - not about my work, not about my family, not about nothing. Doom, gloom, unhappiness all around.

This doesn't happen to me very much. I mean, I get variable moods like everyone else, and I've been known to cry for no reason at particularly vulnerable times. But this week it was something else: at some point someone talked to me about something they'd had to say to one of my kids who'd misbehaved and for the life of me I couldn't tell you what it was. I wasn't listening because I didn't care. I didn't care that she'd misbehaved, I didn't care how other people tried to discipline her... I'd completely lost interest.

Now that's pretty bad. Again, not something I normally experience, thank goodness. And I'm happy to report that it's a bit better this morning - I'm still meh but not nearly as hopeless as I was earlier this week.

What I am, though, is exhausted. Struggling to keep myself going on the path I know I must stay on regardless of what happens inside my head took its toll, to put it gently. And it may have led to a few bits of self-medication by way of food. (I'm looking at you, delicious dark chocolate with raspberries in it). I'm at the lake right now and I don't have a scale here so I can't tell you where things are - we'll see about that tomorrow. When I dearly hope my mood is back to abnormal because this is getting to be a bit much.

I did, however, find out something important about myself and about the goals I set out for the better version of me I struggle to become: when everything goes dark, there is only one thing that matters - to tell yourself (shout if you have to) to stay the course no matter what. That giving up when you're at your worst will not help you feel better, quite the reverse. That once the cloud goes away you'll be doubly proud of yourself for having held on, even if it was only by the tips of your fingernails.

That's why I'm sharing all this unpleasant stuff. So you, too, can find a way to cling to your goals even when Mother Nature (or life, or relatives, or stupid bosses) makes it incredibly hard not to quit.

Remember why you set those goals for yourself, and keep repeating to yourself that once you're on the other side of whatever cloud plagues you, you'll be able to see it clearly again.

Why the Finnish model of education works

See good things on the inside