Thought of the Week: Finding Optimism

Optimism IconFor those of you who know (and those who don’t), I am not entirely mentally stable. From depression to violent outbursts and outright nervous breakdowns, I’m honestly pretty messed up.

The good news is that, for some time now, I’ve making inroads into coping with these issues better. I’m loathe to say I’m getting better, because I don’t believe there’s any such thing; I am me, warty neurons and all. My behaviors at times are erratic and unpleasant, and I acknowledge that I can make life extremely difficult, if not downright miserable, for those I care most about. But coping – that, I feel I’m doing better with.

pictureAnd there are a few reasons why.I’ve now been regularly going to therapy since February, and as embarrassing as it is to admit, she does help me achieve some insight into myself. It’s ironic, because the techniques she uses are precisely those I use with people at work on an everyday basis, but even though I recognize it, it still helps.

For example, she helped me consider the possibility that a lot of the strain between Mrs. Satis and I might result from a mutual jealousy of the things each of us excel at (she’s really good at making sure everything gets done; I’m really good at not doing anything). She’s reassured me with my mild hypochondria that I have every mental illness under the sun (I don’t have Aspergers, though I might share some traits; I’m not bipolar, though I often have mood swings). We’ve talked about how I often feel emotionless, and helped trace it back to when I did last feel an intensity that I personally could define as “emotion”.

I’ve also been exercising (sort of). My UP band has been phenomenal in helping with this, by tracking my steps, my meals and my sleep. I’ve begun going for a 20-30 minute walk every lunch time, and using our elliptical (finally!) on my days off. I’ve reduced the amount of calories I consume, and consequently have dropped 15 pounds in the past month or so. I’ve started making sure I try to go to bed earlier, increasing my average of 5½ hours to closer to 7 hours. It’s all helping.

My weight since April. I'm over 6' tall, so don't worry - 200 lbs isn't actually that heavy!

My weight since April. I’m over 6′ tall, so don’t worry – 200 lbs isn’t actually that heavy!

And one of my favorite things I’ve discovered is an app called Optimism. It’s an incredibly flexible mood tracking app, allowing me to chart anything from my general mood and ability to cope to how guilty I feel and the number of cups of coffee I’ve had. I’ve been using it for about two months now, and the results have been…interesting, to say the least. One of the neat things is that I can record notes with each day, which helps me go back and see when I felt a particular way and the possible reasons why. Here’s what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 10.04.15 PM

Interesting, no? Look at the few weeks of wild mood swings around the start of May. Looking back, this correlates to stress at work and a number of severe fights with Mrs. Satis. Now what would be really interesting would be to have a think about what external triggers might have caused these swings, and the possibilities are endless (and perhaps all true), from changes in weather to hormonal cycles.

It’s an ongoing process, but I feel a lot better about it than I did three or four months ago. I don’t know if it’s been external changes or the very nature of tracking my mood that’s helped, but either way I’m going to continue, because each day I feel better able to cope with myself and the world.

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7 thoughts on “Thought of the Week: Finding Optimism

  1. I find being able to see physical evidence of anything helps to stablize it, whether it be a calorie chart, exercise, mood – anything. I used to have a cell phone with a pedometer on it which made me walk further every day. Anyway, keep it up! It sounds like what you’re doing is working for you. 🙂

    • It definitely helps. I use a similar app on my iPhone for tacking my steps, and I’ve started parking at the end of the parking lot at work so I can get in some extra steps each day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s working.

  2. Interesting. I’m a pretty big wreck myself. Seeing that others struggle with this stuff gives me a bit of hope about myself, in a sense that I can get better with coping with my own issues. Also seeing results from your efforts must be nice. I hope you and the Mrs. aren’t fighting too badly, too.

    • We try not to, though it’s often at my instigation. Lately hints have been better, and I’ve been on an unsettling stable high. I’m just waiting for the crash. I’m glad if I can give you a sense of hope – sometimes it’s a tiny touch that goes a long way.

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