I’ve been in a funk for nearly three weeks now. You may recall that I started last week’s blog by announcing I had gained 10 pounds in two weeks. Well, that’s now up to about 12 pounds. I’m not panicking (yet) because I’ve been here before. And for those of us who have been challenged most of our lives with extreme obesity (more than 100 pounds overweight), periodic funks and frustrations are part of the landscape. The challenge is finding our way out and continuing on the path to health and wellness.
I entered this latest funk shortly after completing the writing portion of my book – the one everyone is eagerly anticipating buying, right??? It seemed odd at the time. I felt a great sense of accomplishment at finally having completed it. I sent it off to two friends to review, confident they would love it, and anticipating constructive feedback to make it even better before it goes to print.
The next day I sat and looked at my computer screen. Now what? I knew there were many logistics I needed to deal with while the book was off being reviewed. I needed to figure out specs for self-publishing, figure out which publisher to use, think about how to set up pre-orders, look into the possibility of creating an audiobook, work with the graphic designer on a cover, figure out how to transform the Word file to whatever format was needed for publication…and probably a dozen or more other things I could bore you with that were racing through my mind.
I was overwhelmed. I was also feeling an increasing sense of dread that no one would want to buy it and that hundreds of hours of effort would all be for naught.
On top of this stress and sense of pending dread, my wife and I are facing a couple of major decisions that are not easy.
When I’m stressed and overwhelmed, I isolate, and I eat. I descend into funkdom.
I imagine many of you out there can relate. Speaking from my own experience and the experiences of many others I’ve talked to over the years, this response to stress, anger, pain (insert difficult emotion here…) is common for those of us who are heavy, especially those of us who are VERY heavy.
So, what do we do when we find ourselves in this situation?
I’m not an expert, counselor, or psychiatrist, so I can only tell you what works for me. And, I want to be very clear that when I say “works,” I don’t mean it’s an instantaneous cure. Sometimes it takes some time in the dumps to find a way out, and that’s OK. Case in point – I’m now three weeks in and still haven’t fully emerged.
The first thing I’ve discovered is that I must acknowledge the problem and not deny it. Denial is a secondary coping mechanism and is so easy to fall into. Owning our problems isn’t easy, but I think it’s a necessary part of dealing with them. In my case, the current problem is feeling overwhelmed and fearful no one will buy my book.
Second, I need to share my struggle with someone. Spouse, friend, counselor, pastor, confidant…we are all different. It needs to be someone you trust will be compassionate and walk with you as you work your way out of the funk and not simply say, “Just pray about it, and everything will be fine.” My wife, bless her heart, was the first to know about this latest funk, mostly because she lives with me and it quickly became apparent! She gave me some space for a few days, and eventually I told her what was going on. I also shared my problem with an accountability partner I have for times such as these. And, I’m considering going to see a counselor to talk through what happened to see if there are some methods I can use to lessen or prevent it from happening again.
Third, get enough rest and be kind to yourself. This is easier for some than others, based on your life situation. But there’s all sorts of evidence about how exhaustion contributes to weight issues and myriad other problems. Make time and space for rest. And don’t beat yourself up about it. Be kind to yourself. You’re human. You have faults. So does everyone. Remind yourself of your awesomeness, and make a list of your awesome characteristics and put it somewhere you will see it.
Fourth, give yourself time. I always want the problem to be fixed immediately, but sometimes I need to be patient while my mind processes, heals, and then my habits and body come back into alignment. I’m currently impatient with myself but realize I am feeling better each day. I’m also working through that list I wrote a few paragraphs ago of all the things I need to do to get my book to publication. Each item I complete brings a sense of relief and renewed energy.
Last, if possible, exercise. I know, I know, it’s the LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO! Believe me, I get it. But if you force yourself to comply in this one area, it will likely be one of the most important keys to getting back on track. Why? Well, there’s quite a bit of evidence of the positive psychological impact of exercise, but I’m just going to speak from my experience here and say, I don’t know why it works, but it does. I can be the grumpiest grump full of negativity and thoughts of self-hatred, but if I push through and get out there and walk, I’m almost always in an entirely different (i.e. better) place when I finish.
Funks and frustrations are part of the journey. Temporary derailments are almost guaranteed. What we do with them is the most important thing. Acknowledge, share, rest, be kind to yourself, take time, exercise, and don’t lose hope.