Written by Morgan Bickenbach-Davies
So, obviously it’s been a long ass time since I posted anything. A lot of updating is in order and there’s no time like the present. Cue the “ripping-off-the-Band-Aid” sound…
The reasons for my absence from cyber space can all be traced back to one thing. One dark, pernicious and ever-present thing: mental illness. In my case that means anorexia, anxiety, perfectionism, body dysmorphia and last but definitely not least, deep depression.
As I’m sure many of you know, with chronic mental illness, there are good days and there are days you wish you weren’t ever born (i.e. bad days). In a nutshell, I’ve been having a shit-tonne of bad days recently. I fell into a deep, murky mind fog complete with swirling feelings of utter failure, the fattest and most grotesque creature to crawl the earth, an absolute moron of award-winning proportions, etc., etc., etc. Negative self-talk became a daily ritual and, over time, I convinced myself that I had nothing important to contribute (in any setting, let alone my own blog). The Year of Fear started feeling like one more thing I was failing at and that only added to my overall sense of inadequacy. I felt like such a fraud, so uninspired and uninspiring. What a joke! Along with all my good intentions and life goals of the past summer, my training got flushed down the toilet. I’m not sure why it happened. It just stopped. Before, training and physical activity made me happy and excited to be alive, and then, I just couldn’t see the point anymore. I was filled with apathy. I didn’t care if I lived or died. I couldn’t get excited or motivated to do anything and that only added to how awful I felt about how far from the path to recovery I’d actually fallen. I felt—and sometimes still feel—like a lost cause. Three steps forward, two steps back; no one said the road the mental health wasn’t windy as fuck!
This month was the first time in a while that I’ve started to have some good days again and the cloud has been lifting just long enough for me to feel hope again. It’s early days, but I’m starting to venture out of my hidey hole of doom and gloom. I feel ready to get back on the horse, take better care of myself, both mentally and physically, and take my life more seriously. I don’t want to waste my life suffering under the weight of my own dark and twisty mind.
Fluffy, or, as Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson call it, my “chimp mind” will always be a part of me, but it’s not the only part. At the end of the day, my tendency towards negative self-talk, my anxiety, body dysmorphia, feelings of fatness, depression, obsession, perfectionism and so on, only take up as much mental real estate as I let them. I’m in control, not Fluffy. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is MUCH easier said than done. However, it is possible, and, more importantly, I’m not willing to give up.
Update on the Year of Fear
I will be tinkering with my original list of 52 fears. Some are outdated or just downright silly at this point. Instead of one fear per week, I will be focussing on one fear per month. Now that doesn’t mean that I’m giving myself 30-31 days to conquer one fear once. Instead, my goal will be to face that monthly fear as many times as I can within that month. Each month I will add in an additional fear so that each subsequent month with have one more fear in it than the month before. That’s probably as clear as mud so I’ll break it down: January will have one fear that I’ve assigned myself to face as many times as I can for the whole month. My January fear is to go back to the gym. My body consciousness/dysmorphia/hatred got so bad at the end of last year that I was afraid to leave the house for fear that someone would see how fat I was. So going back to the gym not only helps me get past my moderate agoraphobia but also enables me to get some much needed endorphins back in my life. Anyway, then, for the month of February, not only do I have January’s gym goal to keep up with, but I also have a new fear to incorporate for the new month. In theory, by December of this year I should have incorporated 12 fears to face throughout the month. Get it? Good!
Also, Chris has also decided to change up how he faces his fears and will be challenging himself with one new fear a month as well. Like last time, “Fear” doesn’t need to be scary. Rather, its more of a challenge to get out of the comfort bubble, switch up the routine, expand/challenge his limits, and work on discovering his most authentic self (to quote Rich Roll).
He’s going to be alternating adding something in and taking something out. The kicker is that what he changes will remain throughout the year so the changes compound. January is morning meditation month–he will be meditating and doing daily readings in the morning before his other form of prayer–his workouts. February is looking like he is going to give up protein bars as a daily snack (he’s going to struggle here but I know he can do it). March-December is TBD so let us know what he should do.
I will be writing blogs at the end of each month by way of an update/progress report on the updated Project. Feel free to follow along, or, even better, tell us about some of the fears you’ve been able to face. We love hearing back from the tribe!