Throughout my mental health journey, I’ve repeatedly run into an obstacle, which I will loosely dub ‘I’m not sick enough to deserve help’.
Whenever I would think about getting therapy or talking to anyone about what was going on, I’d say, ‘Well, I’m still going to uni and getting my assignments done. I don’t take drugs. I can leave my house. I might be depressed, and having panic attacks every other day, but I can sort it out. I just need to stop being lazy.’
I think a lot of us take that perspective on our mental health. But let’s flip it so we’re talking about physical health, instead:
‘I hurt my leg a few years ago, but I can still crawl around to places. It’s not ideal because I have to drag this dead weight around with me, and I can’t put weight on that side. Still, it can’t be that bad, because I can use the other leg. I’m not gonna bother getting it checked out until I lose function in both legs. I’m just lazy and need to work harder.’
Sounds dumb right? Granted, lots of us do ignore our physical health for too long, but I don’t think it’s as normalised in our society.
Last week my ex emailed me – the one I mentioned in this post. My relationship with this person and our subsequent breakup unearthed a range of mental health issues, new and old. It was an intense relationship considering I was dating my best friend at the time, and I spent the better part of a year rebounding from it while in therapy, and then almost a year and a half (up to now) being single so I could heal from it properly.
So, I did the challenge, but failed at doing regular updates. Whoops. In any case, here’s what went down:
- I had coke twice – once on day 5 which I posted about, and another time I accidentally ordered a coke with a takeaway. I went a few days before drinking it, and found it crazy sweet.
- I was extremely busy during April, and ended up eating out a lot for lunch, and – well, this is probably where things went wrong. I still craved a carbonated drink, or some kind of sugary drink, so oftentimes I’d buy flavoured water and stuff. It’s not terrible, but I wasn’t exactly trying to prioritise water instead.
- I definitely ate worse overall, mitigating any impact of the soda stuff.
- I’ve had a few since the challenge ended but not really enjoyed it. Part of that is because I’ve had a really bad cold this week.
As you can see, it’s a little dubious whether I can say I succeeded or not. I stuck within my rules that I set out, but I’m not sure how I did within the ‘spirit’ of the challenge.
And that’s fine! It’s been pointed out to me that going cold turkey like this isn’t sustainable for habit building and honestly, I agree. I don’t expect long term change to come from these challenges.
Instead, I like doing these month long challenges to understand myself a bit better. If I’ve got into a habit and I want to change it, which parts do I find easy or hard to change? What things trigger the habit, such as going out to lunch? What helps me stop?
Doing this for a month, you start to notice what excuses you’re likely to make, what mental gymnastics you do to get something. I clearly did a lot of them this month because what I really wanted was the carbonation – so I can think of ways around that. In short, it brings a particular area of my life into focus and I can troubleshoot habit building around those compulsions and/or addictions.
In any case, I just think it’s fun to change stuff up sometimes 🙂
I don’t have any challenge plans for May so next one will probably be June
So… I accidentally drank a glass of coke yesterday without even thinking!!
It was hilariously automatic. I went for lunch with my colleague in the middle of some research in a shopping mall, and only halfway through did I remember. It’s mostly because I don’t eat at restaurants very frequently, so I remembered all my usual triggers but not that one. D’oh.
Oh well. I can’t undo it, so I’ll just have to carry on and remember to get water in future 🙂 …
When I started 2019 I had wanted to spend every month work on a new challenge or habit. During January I worked on ‘Saying yes’ (no blog post) and was really successful (never done karaoke before…) . In March I didn’t have a particular challenge, but I did work on consistently doing exercise I found fun… Like dancing – badly 🙂
This April I’m cutting out all carbonated drinks! Ironically this become a bit of a problem during my no takeaway challenge back at the end of last year, which just shows how your dependencies can shift onto something else.
1. No carbonated drinks, at all.
2. Juice or a pint or two if I’m out with friends.
3. Drink more water! I just bought a new bottle — nothing fancy, it was super cheap — and hoping to use it at work.
That’s it! I can’t imagine this being extremely hard past the first week or so — I mostly get cravings when I buy a meal deal or something like that, as I would typically get a coke or something with it. I mostly want to cut that out, and rehydrate 🙂
Will update more this week!