21.9.05

A Paper I Wrote For A Health Psychology Class On My Overall Wellness

I feel:: accomplished
What song is on a loop in my head right now:: some John Legend song

Wellness?

According to the Wellness Wheel, I scored highest on "Self Responsibility and Love", which is surprising to me because although I knew I was pretty responsible (barring any wild hairs that might crop up), I don't think that I love myself enough. Maybe I should just say that I don't love myself in appropriate ways. I don't reward myself in appropriate ways. If I decide to go shopping as a reward for a good semester or a month of consistent exercise and proper eating, I don't just shop; I pull out my Super Shopper cape and throw money around like I'm the Queen of Sheba. That's not very responsible since I don't have a lot of incoming money. I am working on finding more appropriate ways to reward myself. For instance, I take someone with me when I go shopping now to keep me in check; to tell me that I don't really need everything I think I want. Another thing, I don't engage in drunkenness often, but when I do, I go out feeling like I've earned the right to drink myself into a stupor. What kind of messed up thinking is that? The next day, while my whole body shakes so from low blood sugar that my bed constantly vibrates, I rue the day that I ever thought getting drunk was a reward for anything. It's more like a punishment. There are some good things that are good about me in this section. For instance, I belong to a church and I pray with more than three people more than once a week. So, I guess I'm pretty social in that regard. I'm not very political, although I can recognize useless political rhetoric when I hear it. I've been told that I have a good B.S. Meter. I think that's a fair estimate. I know more than three of my neighbors. The couple next door, on our left, has 2 dogs: a boxer and a boxer-ish-looking one. The husband's name is Quaid. He just got his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. The couple across the street has two children. Their mother, who is my age and a homemaker, makes cookies for my dad and has her son and daughter bring them over. The children make him little crayon cards with things like, "We love you Mister Bob!" I never thought I would live in Leave It to Beaver-land.

The second section "Breathing" I scored only 2.3, though that is not my lowest score on the Wellness Wheel. Breathing is not really something I think about unless I can't breathe, which does happen sometimes. I have terrible allergies and when I inhale certain things, like pollen, my lungs close up. It's scary and terrible. I also get awful respiratory infections which sometimes turn into bronchitis. I guess I should pay more attention to how I breathe on a moment-to-moment basis. I would probably have a lot more energy if I didn't breathe so lazily and shallowly. One thing that occasionally inhibits my breathing is my corset if I lace it up in the wrong position. If it's too high, then it compresses my rib cage, then I have trouble even breathing shallowly. There was a time when I wore it daily and only removed it to bathe. When my two best girlfriends started noticing and telling me that my lips were sort of purplish; I stopped wearing it every day. Now I only wear it when I go out, which is not that often. I also learned how to lace it so that my rib cage is not constricted, which makes it a lot more fun to wear, not to mention a lot more comfortable. My stress level gets high sometimes, as I suppose is normal and understandable since I am a human and I do live on this Earth, but the ways I deal with my stress are not exactly healthy. If my stress is on a prolonged high level, I vacillate between anxious and angry. I can be depressed for half an hour and then, all of the sudden, be angry about something that happened in 1976. It's hard sometimes for me to deal with what is at hand. I've gotten a lot better though. I've learned to take one thing at a time and to admit that I have limitations. I can now admit that I can only do my best and no more. I'm not going to kill myself to help someone move when I've already got a full plate with school and work. In short, I've learned to say, "No." I've also been experimenting with more effective ways to manage my stress. I've been exercising consistently for the last four months at least three to four times per week. I do water aerobics, treadmill walking, yoga and swimming. I particularly enjoy the water aerobics and swimming. There is something about being in the water that calms me. I also love hearing the sound of water and have thought seriously about buying one of those white noise machines that have surf sounds to play when I am asleep. I think it would take me to a good place dream-wise. There are short moments when I feel at peace with myself and that everything will be okay. Like I am exactly where I need to be and doing exactly what I need to be doing. Those are fleeting. Most of the time, I feel like I hope I'm doing the right thing; I think I'm in the right place and everything will most definitely not be okay. I want and strive to be more of the former and less of the latter.

In the section called "Sensing", I scored low also. The things that stand out to me most on the question sheet are the ones about being comfortable being touched by someone or reaching out to touch someone myself. I'm not a very touchy-feely type of person. I have a feeling that I would have been had my childhood not been so nightmarish. I love to give and receive hugs, but only from people that I feel are not threatening or intimidating to me. This means that the people I come in physical contact with the most are my friends who are mostly girls, although I do have some guy friends, and the children of my friends. I love children. I guess it's because I feel like I never was one. Mainly, I keep my personal bubble quite wide. An example of this is a couple of semesters ago a guy, with whom I was acquainted, came up behind me unbeknownst to me and goosed me in the ribs while I was walking to class. I had a panic attack. I don't know how to get over this not wanting to be touched feeling. I have been recently trying to tell those I love that I love them more often than I have in the past. I say, "I love you" to at least four people a day. When I was growing up, the only time those words were ever uttered to me was after the "I'm-sorry-I-just-beat-you-with-my-stilleto-heel-I-promise-I-will-never-do-it-again" statement or the "I'm-sorry-I-pointed-my-loaded-.357-at-you-but-you-shouldn't-have-been-standing-in-front-of-it" statement. At that point "I love you" just seems really hollow and pointless.

"Eating" is interesting because my eating habits go in phases from pretty healthy to downright dangerous. Needless to say, I scored low on that one too. I have occasional binges, though not as much now as last year. I never really purged. I used laxatives on occasion, but that was just too gross, so instead, I would fast for long periods after a binge and exercise compulsively. I don't like water, unless it's flavored, and I love soda, which means I'm probably partially dehydrated most of the time. I have been recently trying to drink soda only on the weekends and tea, juice or water for the rest of the time. I've been semi-faithful with that. I do recognize that I have more energy when I drink less soda and more stamina when I intake less caffeine. I am hyper vigilant about the foods that I eat, even if I choose to binge I know exactly how many calories I've ingested and how long it will take me to exercise them away. Lately, I have been making a concerted effort not to look at the calorie content of what I eat and just choose healthier things, like wheat bread over white and to control my portions. I also made a decision that I am not going to feel guilty ever again for eating something that I like. The guilt triggers fasting and binge eating. For instance, tonight I had chocolate cake. I don't feel badly about myself for eating it. I just ate it because I was having a bad day (My childhood friend died yesterday and I found out today.), I was with one of my best girlfriends and we dug into the cake together and had a good time being giggly on the sugar high. It took me a long time to figure out the difference between eating a little of what I really like and binging on what I really like, although once I binge on something I usually don't like it after that. I think it has something to do with my mental vision of all that food rotting in my stomach. I haven't binged for at least a year. I haven't relapsed into anorexia for two years. It's always there, though, like a brooding death specter to pull me down into despair.

I scored about the same in the section called "Moving" as I did in the "Eating" section. I would like to point out how proud I am of myself for exercising consistently for the last four months. Before this, my usual pattern was to start off exercising really hard for a couple of weeks and then quit when I exhausted my energy and health. It seems like I have a hard time finding the "middle way" as one of my Buddhist friends would say. I have trouble doing anything moderately. I'm either at full throttle or nothing. This has been a great challenge to me to be consistently moderate with my exercise. I have had to consciously be aware of my heart rate during exercise and how my body is feeling. I learned through my water aerobics class over the summer what it feels like to exercise at the right and optimum heart rate for me. What's funny to me is that it turns out that the best heart rate for me is when I'm not exercising that hard. I don't have to push myself to my ultimate limit and feel like I should pass out when I'm done. I can actually enjoy myself now when I work out. I remember just the other day telling myself how good it felt to be using my muscles and it really did. I wasn't lying to myself.

"Feeling" is one of the sections where I scored the lowest. I have problems experiencing some emotions. On a normal day, I go from irritated and exhausted, to feeling sort of happy, and back to irritated again with a healthy dose of exhaustion and anger thrown in. I do experience some happiness. Being with my best girlfriends makes me happy. We laugh a lot when we are together. It seems that everything becomes funny then. Also, children make me happy. I know they can be a pain sometimes, but I honestly don't mind that. When I get a big hug or an "I love you" I put away the tantrums and back talking and focus on that moment. I can't really explain how much I love children.

I scored fairly high on the "Thinking" section, which doesn't really surprise me. I think about things a lot. That's quite a change from about fifteen years ago when I was merely a spectator of my own life. I have done a lot of taking responsibility for my thought patterns and actions. I have also actively tried to speak to others in a way that I would like them to speak to me. I don't always, however, use this awareness to my advantage. I'm very prone to brooding. I'm comfortable in that place because it is so familiar to me. The only thing that pulls me out of the cavern of my thoughts is when I think about God. When I pray, I focus on the needs of other people and people that I love. That usually yanks me back to reality and out of pity pot sitting.

I don't play enough. I find that when I have time to play, I waste it watching television or being on the computer. I should be doing something like practicing the Hula Hoop in the back yard or working with my fractals or playing my guitar. I really wish that I had a tree big enough in my back yard to hold a tree swing. I think I would play on that a lot. I like to indulge my inner child, but the problem comes when I chastise myself for being too childish. I'm not sure of the line between what's just fun and what is reverting or escapism. For instance, when I was a little girl I loved Hello Kitty. I still love Hello Kitty. One of my best friends works at Books-A-Million and they have a whole aisle of Hello Kitty things in the children's section. I find myself getting lost in it whenever I go there. Is this appropriate for a woman of thirty-five? I'm not sure, but I indulge myself anyway.

The second highest scoring section for me was "Communicating". I have worked hard on my communication skills and, although they are still lacking in some areas, I believe that I have made great progress. In particular, I am much more likely now to take into consideration another person's point of view. I may not always agree with them, but I am able, now, to agree to disagree. Several years ago, my attitude was, "I'm right. You're wrong. I know what's best for you. Don't question me." How arrogant that was. Through life circumstances, I have been brought down the proverbial ladder rungs, whereas before, I was a bit too big for my britches, so to speak. I can't say that my life has not been painful, it has, but I think now I am in a better place mentally and emotionally because I was put in positions that I never thought I would be in; done things I never thought I would do; and said things I never thought I would say. There's nothing like actually being in someone else's shoes to make one appreciate their situation.

When I saw that there was a section on sex, I knew that I would score low on it and I did. It was my lowest score on the Wellness Wheel. Let me first say that this does not surprise me one bit. Sex is scary because there is nothing else you can do with your body to get so close to someone. Being that close and that vulnerable is scary. I have never liked intromission. I find it painful. I bleed sometimes after or during intromission, which also scares me. My sexual history is not pretty. I have experienced childhood sexual abuse in the form of incest that lasted ten years and I have been raped four times. So, I guess it's no wonder that I don't like intromission, but I do like most of the other stuff. If I am inclined to allow it, I enjoy nearly everything except that. I go through phases of sexual activity in my life which range from promiscuity to total abstinence. The only thing I can say to explain my past promiscuity is that I was looking for something. I'm not really sure what. Was I seeking love? That seems a poor way to go about it. Was I seeking affirmation of my physical beauty? Possibly, but it's so fleeting when I go about it that way because the affirmation doesn't come from within me. I have to rely on someone else to give it to me and that puts me in a position of powerlessness. I don't like the way I look most of the time. I hate looking at myself nude in the mirror, so I only do it occasionally. I actually have very few mirrors in my house. The largest one I have is on my dresser in my bedroom, but I've covered up all but a sliver of it by putting a television, a PS2, games and videotapes in front of it. The mirror in my bathroom is the only other mirror and it is totally unobstructed. When I get out of the shower, I am forced to see myself in all my un-gloriousness. I look only for a minute, just long enough to adjust my towel, and then I leave the bathroom for my bedroom. I don't know what to do about this. I have thought about getting one of those pens that writes on mirrors and writing myself affirming statements every day on the top of my bathroom mirror like, "LOOK AT ME!" or "I AM PRETTY!". My mother does something similar to her bathroom mirror, only she writes several sentences and gets into philosophizing about life, which winds up covering the entire mirror. I think she's missing the point.

I scored my third lowest score on the "Finding Meaning" section. Ever since I became a Christian, I have believed that the only way to find meaning in life was to seek God. God is the meaning of and the reason for life. I still think that, but now, I'm more inclined to believe that God gave me the ability to think and to reason and I should use those gifts to the best of my ability, instead of waiting for God to magically appear to me from a burning bush and throw some magic beans so that I can climb the beanstalk to heaven and find out what the meaning of life is. I used to lie in my bed at night and wish to die so that I would be in heaven with God, but at the same time, feel guilty for not having the stomach to take my own life. I was just hanging on by a frayed string waiting and yearning for Jesus to come back and take me. I don't live my life like that anymore. I think now that that was a cop out. I was just too scared to face the world, but more than that, to face my past and what that represented. I still can't wait to be with God on the final day, but I have learned the hard way that I need to go about my life and try to enjoy myself. I see life more now as a gift than a curse, although I do still have my moments of desperation and wanting to die. I can remember wanting to die from a very young age, so I imagine that those tapes will be with me for the rest of my life and it will be up to me as to whether I allow them entry into my life or not.

In the last section, "Transcending", I scored pretty high. I firmly believe in a supernatural world that operates all the time that I can't see. I feel it sometimes and it enters into my dreams also. Mostly, I respect it and fear it. I believe in God and I know that there are angels. I also know that the Devil is real and that demons are real. At one time in my Christian life, I was a "devil behind every door person", which means that I attributed everything that went wrong to something demons did. Talk about being paranoid. I now know that the Devil is not the opposite of God, but his creation; a fallen angel. He is powerful, but not all-powerful. God is the only all-powerful being. I believe that I am a spiritual being and that my spirit will continue to exist indefinitely after my fleshly body has died. I believe that it is my spirit that is God-given that makes me alive and makes me who I am. I rely on God for instruction on how to deal with the spiritual world. In my opinion, to do otherwise would just be foolish and dangerous. I don't always do the right thing when it comes to dealing with the spiritual realm, but I keep trying to recognize it in my daily life and in the lives of others.

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