02 March 2014

My personal NaNoWriMo experience.

I wanted to touch upon my personal NaNoWriMo experience thus far, because I have come quite the distance, or so I think, at 19,000 words, with only half a month remaining. True to my nonconformity nature, I decided to block out a thirty day period outside of the month of November, given that for some reason that month passed me by, yet I still wanted to engage in the challenge of attempting fifty thousand words in such a short time frame. While I set out to write 1667 words per day to get there, slowly but steadily, life got in the way. Rather, work got in the way. By work, I mean the opposite of my life's calling. In other words, my day job maxed me out throughout the week and drained me of sufficient energy to press on with my initial plan of action, to conquer the 1667 word count on a daily basis.

About two and half days went by in the first week of not putting pen to paper, because I was too tired, and then I spent last Saturday playing catch up. I ended up shortening my catch up time from 2.5 days to 1.5 days. This past week came and went and the same struggles surfaced. All did not end well, with another day or two coming and going in which I could not muster the willpower to enter my writer's den and continue on, because I was so stressed out with all of the external noise and felt it impossible to get back into the groove. I feared disappointing my characters, disappointing myself, given my lack of fervor. This fear prevented me from persevering.

With much reluctance, I did some calculations last night and determined I was quite a few more laps behind. Rather than give up, I re entered the plot and although the overall flow was a bit disjointed and I obsessed a bit too much on the word count than what my characters were trying to tell me and where they were going, I at least made up for some of the lost time and am now a mere 6,000 words off the mark, which is only a day further behind than I was last week, which isn't too shabby, considering had I not forced myself to commit to making an effort last night, I would have been berating myself even more forcefully, making it all the more difficult to begin again.

24 February 2014

The day I almost cried... or flipped out

Today was a horrific day. I almost put in my notice at work, that's how bad it's gotten. The guy next to me, one of three who surround me, who never utter a word to me -- ever -- with whom I attempted conversation, didn't really reciprocate much, which  made me feel sorry for even making an effort. I swear, every time I even try, it never amounts to anything with these coworkers. They're all dead pan and void of any emotion, I swear. Then I had to deal with said coworker's slamming of the keyboard and intermittent smacks of the left mouse button, which had me on the verge of flipping the f out. I wavered between screaming 'SHUT THE F UP,' to slamming my hands down on my desk, to telling him in as polite a manner as possible, 'would you please.... allow me to purchase you a rubber keyboard from Staples, so I won't have to stop what I'm doing and sit still, too infuriated to move, because your typing has that much of an ill effect on me.' I cannot escape the loud typers, I swear. I thought the guy I sat near before was bad, this guy is ten times worse. The previous one would merely type frenetically and at various speeds, while my present coworker not only hits the keys with what seems like intentional exaggerated force, but he'll slam the key as if in exclamation, at certain ending points, before resuming his frenetic, loud pace. The same goes with the smack of the mouse pad. It drives me crazy. Literally, makes me want to scream. I can't take. it. anymore. For real. So I then passed another coworker, no sign of recognition. In preparing food for lunch, a coworker came into the break room to fill up his water, again not a word. This is the same coworker who greeted me with cold as ice attitude before a company luncheon. They're all icing me out, and it's making me want to throw in the towel. So bad. I almost reached the threshold. Scratch that. The threshold has been breached far beyond this point. It's just a matter of time, of how much more misery I can tolerate. How many more blank stares I can receive. I have gone out of my way to be nice to them. I've tried communicating, I've handed them documents that were near the printer. In response, I get nothing but blank stares and cold hard silence. It makes me sick. There's at least one guy who is kind of goofy and is friendly toward me, but he talks at such a fast speed that it makes me dizzy, and therefore it makes communicating with him a struggle. I'm already stressed in this environment. All I need is this guy on speed to wind me up even further. Okay, so maybe I'm being harsh with him. I think it's my perfectionist self, my high standards. Even I annoy myself. How can I expect others to ever satisfy me? Take for instance, this morning, when I vowed to myself that I would not, under any circumstances, get ahead in my work, or rather, strive, by any means, but rather, I would take it nice and easy, no matter the consequences, because I realize I push myself too much to an extreme, and it's not good for my health. Well, whaddya know? As soon as I show up and have my coffee, I start rushing through everything in an effort to minimize the amount of items I must complete. It's like my brain is hardwired to plow through everything as quickly as possible. Then I start to worry about incoming calls and outstanding tasks, and that really puts my anxiety into overdrive. It sent me over the edge today and I had one panic attack after another and was rendered hopeless in my car, contacting a former psych who was there for me three years ago. Needless to say, when he didn't get back to me with immediacy, I became self critical and really wanted to crawl in a hole and just be left there alone, to mull over my own self-inflicted misery. I feel like I can't win. Nothing I do helps. I meditated last night. I took a magnesium pill. I'm still depressed and wanting to sleep all day. My job is what forces me to get up and out, but it fills me with such dread. If I just allow my negative thoughts to be, they inflict upon me the worst kind of pain. People don't know anxiety unless they've experienced it to the extreme. It feels like life is over and you might as well not do anything, because your being uptight puts a wedge in everything anyway. Take phone calls. I stood perplexed by the phone, unable to make or receive calls, because I was panicking inside at the mere thought of others hearing me. At home, I'm able to communicate in the most relaxed manner, and I try to carry that over to work, but I'm like Pavlov's dogs. Their salivating is my panic, at the mere thought of work. Being in the office environment is pure torture. I can't escape the feeling. I tried blocking it out, reading a book on anxiety last night to comfort me, and I didn't feel too bad this morning. Progressive relaxation helps, until I'm in full fledged anxiety/panic attack mode. Nothing seems to help then. I tried telling myself, you're fine, 1 hour left, you do this every day, you've done this for the past few years and survived. Nothing bad has happened. Yet I can't stop but remember getting yelled at and embarrassed by coworkers, clients, bosses. Being there is a reminder of the humiliation I felt so intensely those past occasions. The panic attacks I experienced so intently. They can't be undone. The remnants linger. The after effects subsist.

29 January 2014

Routines.

Let's talk routines. Do you ever feel maddened by routines? Routines suck the life out of me. Like a vampire. Particularly those routines that surround work. You get up, maybe hit snooze a few times (if you really try to prolong the agony like me) before getting up for REAL. Then you drag yourself into the bathroom to take shower, before the mind racing and adrenaline rush sets in and takes hold. You then go downstairs, cup of water in hand, to take synthroid (skip this step if you still have a thyroid). In the remaining moments preceding your exit to the garage, you race here and there for random oddities, like... hair pins... lunch.... oh wait, there's the scramble to pack because we're just too unmotivated and lazy to do that the night before. It has to be spontaneous, never forced, this day's preparation. You then grab a few pieces of fruit, which you know you'll bring home later, but you try to save face in the health department. You contemplate fitting in a ten minute meditation session before condemning yourself for hitting that snooze button and making it now past the time when you were supposed to leave. Out the door it is to continue with the race to destination work. The most undesirable destination of all time.

10 January 2014

Moving forward with my coffee-free resolution.

I am so much better off since having given up coffee...... for good this time. Oddly, I haven't been craving it. Okay, scratch that. I did have a rather nagging craving this morning. I had smelled it and the thought that said, 'I have to have it,' surfaced and repeated itself, nagging me and begging me to go to Wawa. After all, I still have the gift cards. Fortunately, I just accepted the thoughts for what they are...... thoughts, and nothing more. Just because I have the thought that I need coffee, doesn't mean I have to act on it and get coffee. It becomes easier for me when I think of the other options available to satiate my craving for a warm drink, the most useful of which at the moment is chamomile tea and warm water. I do think the fact that I had chocolate chip cookies last night as well as the night before may have prompted the return of the caffeine cravings. Thankfully, they aren't all that overpowering.

For me, the removal of caffeine from my routine has many benefits and they far outweigh the temporary high I get from sipping on a hot cup of coffee.

I am less compulsive and am not spending an excessive amount of time on social media sites. I've only been on facebook two times today and only for a few minutes each time. When caffeine was rummaging through my veins, I had no motivation to get off the site even if I was just looking at the same pictures and there was nothing of interest or of use to me on there.

I am more restful. I can doze off easily and sleep restfully. When I am consuming caffeine, it feels as though I'm on high alert at all times and it's very much a strain to relax and decompress, even when I long for sleep.

My appetite has returned. I'm nourishing myself with healthful foods rather than constantly obsessing over when I have my next fix and focusing on coffee as my primary motivation to get through the day.

I'm calmer than normal. Yes, I'm still anxious and panicky as hell at work. However, outside of work, my sense of calm is much greater than it was before. My thoughts are not racing uncontrollably (on weekends). I can sit still and feel comforted by the silence of my mind.

My stomach is not as disturbed. I feel my digestive system is not as irritable as evidenced by the lack of stomach noises heard throughout the day and at night. It still acts up when I have gluten, but not in the same way as when I consume caffeine.

Thoughts of coffee are becoming less and less prominent and it's not my main priority to consume it anymore upon awakening. When I reflect on how a caffeine free existence will benefit me, I regain strength to persevere with this goal. While I won't beat myself up for a few transgressions like the chocolate chip cookies, I do realize that coffee is the ultimate downfall for me and especially at this stage in the game, since I am only five days out of the gate, it would behoove me to maintain my distance and not 'treat' myself to even a cup at this point, as it could lead to a relapse as far as resuming my habit of having it each day, in increasing quantities. Abstinence is working for me and I think it's the best way for me to beat this habit.

I feel more hydrated and better health-wise, when drinking more water. I have more thirst for water when off coffee. My dry mouth symptoms still linger, but I hope with adequate water intake, this situation will improve.

Other good habits, or at least intentions, are resurfacing. I'm reminded of certain goals I've let fall by the wayside a bit, such as working on my novel, exercising, yoga, and meditation. These are no longer taking a back seat to coffee.

Therefore, I would say, I'm continuing to make headway in terms of quitting my coffee addiction and I'm proud of having made it five days, marked by today. I'm getting closer to the one month point, day by day, and am just taking it one step at a time. Slow and steady wins the race after all, no?

06 January 2014

I quit coffee (again).

Day 1:

Yes, I have decided to quit coffee for the umpteenth freaking time. I'm a freak. Okay. I definitely am doing it this time. I almost caved though. Day one was a struggle, let me tell ya. It was torturous having to abstain. Having several Wawa gift cards in my wallet made it harder because I kept going back to the fact that essentially the coffee was free and just a short walk from my office. My willpower wore thin by early afternoon and I was thisclose to sprinting to Wawa to get my fix. I searched my phone contacts. Who to call to talk me out of this? My mom ended up being out when I called home. I tried explaining my plight to my dad and the conversation went something along these lines:
  "Should I go to Wawa to get coffee."
  "Yeah, why not?"
  "Well, today is day one of my quitting and I don't want to go there, but I have these Wawa gift cards."
  "Well what else can you buy there?"
  "Nothing. Only coffee."
  "Well isn't there something else you can get instead."
  "Well they do have soft pretzels..."
  "The problem though is I have fifty dollars in gift cards and that means I could go on fifty separate occasions to get coffee as it's only like a dollar. This is why it's so hard for me not to just go there and get it."

The thought of the soft pretzels distracted me just enough as I walked down the steps from the second floor of the office building back to my desk. After searching frantically online for reasons to continue onward with my goal to give up caffeine entirely, I came across this funny article, wherein this woman outlined her feelings throughout a thirty day period of withdrawal. Her withdrawal symptoms very closely matched mine during my three week effort in November. Her cravings went in ebbs and flows and then by the third week period, the cravings resurfaced. Then I typed 'quitting coffee' into twitter to see how others fared in their attempt to give it up and came across several posts about quitting coffee and smoking. That wasn't as inspiring as the article written about a 30 day coffee free trial period. What's funny is at the end of the thirty day period, the author gave in and didn't have just one, but three cups of coffee. Yep, sounds like me. She ended by expressing the fact that her mind was spinning from caffeine overload and she concluded that she really needed to give it up for good.

The fact that she made it thirty days and reminding myself of the fact that I did feel calmer today than I would have otherwise, helped me to persist. There were some other forum posts that I found regarding a woman being encouraged by her doctor to give up caffeine to benefit her anxiety and panic disorder. She mentioned the fact that her doctor had told her if she truly had hopes to improve her well being, she needed to cut out the caffeine. She wrote a progress update after three weeks, noting how proud she felt that she'd stuck to her goal of giving it up. It motivated me as I thought to myself, if she can do it, I can do it.

So here I am, the night is drawing to a close and I consider my first day a success since I resisted the ultimate temptation despite the voices inside my head urging me to give in all damn day. I do have a slight headache, but am comforted by the quietude of my mind. I can at least focus on writing this blog post and don't feel edgy, jittery, and with thoughts spinning. I'm tired but it's a good kind of tired. I'm not masking my body's natural response by giving it an artificial jolt, but rather letting it do its thing. Feels good. I'll take the temporary headache over the permanent state of hyper activity and restlessness (as well as panic, anxiety, and loss of appetite, among other negative side-effects).

My plan to stave off the craving is to keep myself busy, by exercising and by nourishing my body with nutritious foods. Sadly, I used my quitting coffee as an excuse to indulge in an entire box of pecan shortbread cookies and nearly an entire bag of kettle chips, but as long as I'm keeping my mouth away from the java, I'm making progress. If I can make it through today, I can manage the rest of the week. I'm thinking of maybe having some chamomile, so as to satisfy my desire for a sweet, soothing drink without the side effect of skyrocketing anxiety. Day one, done. Now off to take a nice warm shower to further relax me....

01 January 2014

My fifth day of being caffeine-free!

Today is my fifth day off coffee (and any caffeine -- so chocolate is off limits -- sad face). Today, while I craved it a little bit, I resisted without much issue. Then again, I overindulged on carbs, possibly to make up for the lack of satiety in terms of caffeine cravings. Do I want chocolate and coffee right in this moment? Not particularly. The most prominent effect of having gone caffeine free (aside from the headaches, which have dissipated by this point for the most part) has been the reduction in stress and anxiety level. Although I still feel more anxious than anticipated, it's different than the caffeine-induced kind of anxiety that I have experienced over the past few months when being hooked on it. My thoughts are not racing to the same extent.

When I went to work on Tuesday (which was the fourth day of withdrawal), I felt a surge in anxiety along with an overall downgrading of my overall sense of well being. I felt unwell. While I think I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms, I know work stress was another component to my not feeling great. Today, I still feel a bit groggy, but it's not as bad as yesterday. Last night, I had a natural electrolyte drink (made of lemon, honey, and sea salt), which I found helpful to improving some vertigo and headache symptoms I was experiencing.

Some benefits I have noticed from eliminating caffeine from my life in just this short time frame has been an increase in restfulness. If I'm reading, I decompress and drift off easily. I am able to nap for the first time in so long. This is the old me. Caffeine just charges me beyond normalcy and gives me an unnecessary jolt, making me feel uncomfortably restless, despite making efforts to relax, like reading. It revs me up unnaturally and puts my body on overdrive, thereby stressing my already naturally nervous tendencies. It feels so much better to be able to naturally give into my body's craving for rest. It feels like I'm doing my body good, and that is enough motivation to make me continue forward.

31 December 2013

Day 4 of Caffeine Withdrawal & More.

So today marks the fourth day off coffee. Woopie. Actually, I'm quite pleased to have made it this far. All things considered (ie. the crappiness that is my job that so conjures up images of me savoring cups upon cups of coffee to abate the misery I feel inside). I feel very much irritable and foggy, as though I have a mild headache. I also feel tired. The good news is that I have been sleeping soundly. I have been dreaming too. Having weird dreams, but still dreaming, which is a step forward, considering when I consume caffeine, I don't dream as much and am not as restful. I've been sleeping like a baby and am happy with that element of progress.

However, boy oh boy am I craving coffee and chocolate. I have never wanted coffee and/or chocolate so badddd. Maybe I have, but the craving seems so freaking intense today. I feel pretty crappy and can't stop focusing on the fact that I want it. However, I know how my body reacts to it (negatively) so I'm holding strong. It's hard, very hard though. I realize I need to just deal with whatever withdrawal symptoms may arise. The lethargy I can handle. It feels good, after all, to doze off without difficulty. It also feels nice to not need it first thing in the morning.

That doesn't mean the desire for caffeine doesn't set in a few hours later, like this morning at work. The problem is, my caffeine habit is being cued by stress that I'm experiencing in my life, mainly in regards to my job situation. This is why it's more of a struggle to resist the caffeine on work days than on weekends. Right now I'm feeling very foggy and unwell. If I can manage to move past this groggy haze, I can possibly do some sort of exercise tonight, which might assist with my overall sense of well being.

Happy New Year everyone!! Here's to starting resolutions in advance. : )