Feeling OK Today

Went to a humorous public speaking workshop today, which was good fun. Learned heaps, and decided to do a bootcamp on the topic on Monday/Tuesday. Didn’t sleep brilliantly last night, but hey, what’s new? Heading out tonight to do a little nightclubbing; I can afford to write tomorrow off. Don’t think I’ll stay overly late though. Currently feeling about 6/10, which is manageable. I felt anxious this morning, but I think a lot of that has to do with fear over my direction in life, and today’s workshop reminded me that I really do like making people laugh, and speaking. So I’m on track.

I thought I was Anxious, but actually I’m Angry!!!

I cried myself to sleep last night; the mood swings were really getting to me, and I just felt really depressed about how stuck I feel being ill much of the time. Lee’s advice yesterday to put my dreams on hold and avoid pushing on with the help of medication, while valid and helpful, sounded depressing. Who wants to have dreams on hold? I went to bed feeling like crap. I hadn’t cried in ages, so it felt good to have a bit of emotional release.

I had weird dreams all night, and woke up feeling really anxious. I have a morning class on Wednesdays, and I’ve never been a morning person. Even less so now. I headed off to class, feeling anxious and resentful. When it came time to do my activity in class, the teacher paired me up with another guy. We’re doing scripts in class this week, and the script is written for a guy and a girl; not two guys. I was in a filthy mood, and when the activity started, the guy I was working with was holding back, half-hearted, sly and manipulative. So I called him on all those things… and got angry… really angry. So much so that he was rather blown away by how forceful I was; didn’t know where it was all coming from.

At  the end of the activity, the teacher said my work was brilliant! He asked me where I had got that from, and I said “I woke up this morning feeling really anxious!”.

“Well, do that before every class then! Your work was really good. You had a breakthrough today.” my teacher replied.

I felt so so so relieved afterwards; I was beaming. It wasn’t just the positive feedback, it was also the getting-it-off-my-chest thing. I think there’s something to the idea that when a man represses his anger, it comes out somewhere else, particularly as anxiety or depression. It made me wonder whether I could run a workshop for men on anxiety, teaching the acting technique we use. It’s very simple at heart, but incredibly liberating, especially for guys like me who have a life-time’s practise at withholding anger. After class, one of the other beginners who seems quite like me asked if we could do an activity together, because I was on fire!

I came home feeling really good; and I think that’s how I’ll spend the rest of the day, thanks… taking it easy. Feeling about 7/10. And no, I haven’t had any medication today! (Just the usual vitamin regime).

Focus focus focus

Well I had a really interesting weekend at a Toastmasters district conference here in Sydney. I was particularly inspired by two world champions of public speaking who attended, and it reignited my enthusiasm for the whole public speaking thing. One of the places I feel in my element is in front of people, making them laugh and inspiring them with some sort of message, and I’d love to turn this into a career.

I feel frustrated that I’ve hit a road-block when it comes to feeling ill all the time. I don’t really feel like I can just sit here and wait for it to pass, because I have no idea how long that’s going to take. On the other hand, I get overwhelmed when I think about what I need to do in order to get where I want to go, especially when I can only head there at 50% speed. Sometimes I think a lack of focus and direction are just adding to my sense of fatigue, since it’s easier to feel depressed and hopeless when I’m not “heading somewhere”. Yeah, I know our sense of self-worth is supposed to be innate rather than based on our achievements and contributions to others; but I do feel a whole lot better when I’m making a difference in the world than when I’m not. Problem is when I push myself too hard into overwhelm, I end up resentful of the whole goddam situation and of other people – even though it’s not their fault.

I went to acting practise last night, which wasn’t a brilliant idea given that I was tired after the conference, which only ended that afternoon. But I do really enjoy it, and it did give me a lift. The weird thing about this fatigue is that it makes life very un-enjoyable on the one hand, yet imposes a limitation that reminds me just how much I do enjoy many aspects of life which are currently closed off to me. I wanna hang around so I can enjoy them again in the future, and I have to focus and prioritise which ones I can do right now since I can’t do them all.

I woke up feeling a bit wrecked this morning; maybe a 4/10. I took some Sudafed and that should get me up to about 6/10, which ought to be enough for me to head to this afternoon’s class. Anything about about a 5 is relatively functional.

I want to pursue a career as a communicator/comedian/writer, but it’s going to take time. Of course I want it now now now. Since starting the Gupta programme I’d been thinking “I’ll put that off until I’m better”; but I’m not so sure that’s a good idea since it leaves me feeling even more stuck and I have no idea when that’s going to be. It’s a matter of balancing the stress I feel from “not going anywhere” against the stress I feel from pushing myself too hard when I’m ill.

I’m going to drop one of the acting classes I’m doing next term, and take up a camera class instead, so I can get comfortable in front of a lens. It should also allow me to restructure my week so that I have time to prepare some speeches for Toastmasters too, which will get me back on track with the public speaking. Meanwhile, I think I’ll be living on Sudafed for the time being…

Feeling positive today

I’m feeling pretty positive today. I had a call this morning from a good friend of mine from acting class, who told me she has scored herself a part in a new comedy series being produced for SBS. She’s gonna be a screen star! I’m very excited because she’s a really unique person and I totally want her to succeed. I also wrote another chapter for my book, and I’m resting up for a Toastmasters conference this weekend. I want to finish reading The Sedona Method this afternoon; it’s already overdue at the library!

The usual pleghmy throat and cough is there, but it’s not particularly sore. I feel about a 7/10 physically.

If you need some inspiration, I recommend this video on achieving your childhood dreams:

Getting Some Holistic Healing

Last week I decided to visit a holistic healer who I met when I attended a workshop he ran on Men, Power and Sex. I was attracted to him because he’s a guy, but unlike some of the male healer/counsellor/therapists I’ve met, he seemed particularly in touch with his masculinity. Growing up in a family dominated by strong, emotionally unavailable women who seemed keener to suppress, rather than relish the men in their lives has left me feeling rather disempowered, and out of touch with how I feel. I had been working on this even before coming down with my physical symptoms of chronic fatigue; now I have even more impetus to get to the bottom of it.

I find that the anxiety I feel around feeling fatigued, and about my direction in life in general, is probably the biggest thing that causes me to suffer and feel overwhelmed by it all, and that’s what I want to work on with this healer guy. Today we did a shamanic healing process regarding anger towards my mother, who has always felt cold, distant, and threatening to me. I was in a good mood, so I didn’t really get into the resentment I feel towards her very easily; and I’ve done this kind of work before, so perhaps there’s not much left to do there.

The healer suggested I keep a journal about how I’m going, so I’m going to keep doing that here, at least while I’m seeing him. I have reservations because I generally feel better when I’m distracted by other things and getting on with life, rather than focusing on how I feel, but we’ll see how it goes.

Today, I have a mild cough and a slightly stuffy head. Physically I feel about 7 out of 10, and I feel pretty happy. I wrote a new chapter on dealing with your inner critic for my book today, and I’m looking forward to the Toastmasters conference that I’ll be attending on the next 3 days. I think it will help inspire me to keep on track towards my dream goal of being an inspiring speaker/comedian/entertainer/communicator. It may even help clarify my way forward, which would help me feel less anxious about such a diverse and uncertain career path.

Anxiety Discussion on SBS

I’ve just watched a fascinating discussion about anxiety on TV. I have found anxiety to be one of the most disturbing aspects of chronic fatigue. And when I look back on the disturbing events of my life prior to becoming physically ill, anxiety is generally at the core of most of them.

I’ve had social phobia as long as I can remember, and suffered panic attacks in my 30s. Worry over what other people think is still at the core of my most frustrating inhibitions. So I found the discussion on Insight about anxiety fascinating. The bottom line is that the most effective treatment for anxiety is to change the way we think about the things that we fear, and to face them in a controlled manner which ensures a positive outcome. Then repeat as often as necessary. I guess you could see this as a form of amygdala retraining, which implies that treatments which work on anxiety might help chronic fatigue too. Or at the very least, they’d take away the nagging worry that keeps us from enjoying what we can still do within the boundaries imposed by the illness.

Taking It Easy And Feeling OK

I’ve been taking things a little easier lately, and generally feeling better for it. I cut my acting practise back to two nights a week (instead of four), so I can accommodate the pick-up course I’m doing on two other nights a week. I get overwhelmed when I think how far I have to go with my emotional expression, and when I look at the amount of stuff I want to learn about conversation, dating and seduction skills… but I just keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time. And my relationships with women are steadily improving as a result. You might wonder what relevance that has to chronic fatigue, but I find that when I’m under stress my symptoms are much worse. And not having the relationships that I want is a source of stress in itself. As Daniel Goleman says in his book Social Intelligence, all stress is social. I’ve always been mildly socially phobic, so I’m putting a lot of effort into getting this area of my life handled to reduce my social stress.

I find that when I’m stressed out, I feel overwhelmed and anxious, and my symptoms get worse. But if I keep it under a certain threshold, I don’t feel too bad. My term as Toastmasters club president ends at the end of June, and I’ll be relieved to offload the responsibility to someone else. I was thinking of quitting Toastmasters altogether, but I still have a dream of being a motivational speaker/teacher to help other people once I’ve sorted my own stuff out. I feel like this is on hold at the moment while I’m ill, so in the mean time I’m busy learning everything I can about public speaking, self-confidence, emotional mastery, dealing with anxiety, and social dynamics. I can’t wait to get there; but then I remind myself to take one step at a time. I’m really looking forward to hearing Darren LaCriox speak at the upcoming district conference, as he appears to be doing what I’d love to do. One of the other members of my Toastmasters club was telling me about her 5 year plan to become a speaker in her area of expertise; 5 years sounds like a loooong time to me… but at least she has a plan! It’s hard to plan when I don’t know how long it will be before I can really put energy into anything full-time without hitting the fatigue wall. Perhaps the purpose of chronic fatigue is to teach me a lesson in patience.

I started seeing a new holistic healer last week. I was really surprised how emotional I felt when he asked me what was going on in my life when I became ill. I told him the story of how I went on a motorcycle road trip to Brisbane to hang out with my father’s family for a bit, and the conversations I had with my aunty Edith about my father. She’s a sensitive soul, and we connected pretty well while I was there. Wow, it bought up a lot of emotion for me; which seemed odd since I’ve talked about it before. I think the big deal there was about feeling like there’s nobody else in my immediate family that I really connect with on an emotional level, and how hard that’s been for me. I think the emotional stuff around chronic fatigue is huge, so I’m going to keep seeing this guy for a while. I was drawn to him because while he’s respectful of emotions, he’s also a pretty masculine blokey kinda guy. He has that masculine energy that David Deida talks about in his book The Way Of The Superior Man, which my father and most of the other men in my family seem to lack.

If I can maintain things the way I’m currently going, I feel reasonably happy most of the time. Not quite so many extreme lows, and I haven’t spent a whole day in bed for a while. I still feel rather anxious about where I’m heading in life, but for the time being I’m in learning mode and we’ll worry about where it’s all heading later. My biggest hassle lately has been insomnia, which seems to hit me in waves every now and then. I had been sleeping till mid-afternoon on days that I didn’t have anything on, and that makes it hard to get to sleep at night; so I’m going to try and stop doing that. I’m following the advice in Timothy Sharp’s The Happiness Handbook on sleep, and taking Valerian each night at bed-time.

I wake up every morning now and declare that it’s going to be a great day. And I celebrate my successes. Life is good, it’s a sunny day, and I’m grateful for being alive.