There is a slogan that was used at my recovery center that I remember well. ‘H.A.L.T’, which stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired, reminds me of the power of pausing when emotions get the better of me. Let’s face it, unhealthy food choices are more appealing when we haven’t had enough sleep and who hasn’t ever sent an angry text in the heat of the moment. So taking a moment is a great idea. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done.
Tired Of Being Tired
My main battle at the moment is tiredness. My daughter is 9 months now and I should be getting more sleep. But despite having possibly the best child in the world (she really is super chill and lovely); I struggle because she doesn’t sleep well. I have now gone almost 9 months without more than 5 hours of sleep in one stretch and almost 2 months with little more than 3 hours stretches at one time (and that is being generous with my estimations). Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture! I now know why! I am emotional, tearful, and irrational. Things seem more complex than they should be.
Sleep deprivation is challenging for my recovery on many fronts. I don’t have the energy to engage in all the healthy activities that support my recovery. Also, my hunger typically increases when I am tired (I am still breastfeeding so this is thrown in the mix too). Not being able to do all the things I expect of myself as a new mother, and as someone who is trying to change my career, has knocked my self-esteem. I haven’t been keeping my promises to myself or others. It is hard not to feel like my life is on standstill.
But what if I HALT and consider what is true rather than what is just a result of my current emotional state? What would a friend tell me to do in this situation? What is the right choice for me? What choices will move me towards health and fulfillment? Which thoughts are worth focusing on and which should be let go? What can I choose for myself today which will help me get out of this rut rather than continuing to allow it swallow me up?
Focus On The Little Things
My counseller suggested I use just some of my coping tools. Those that ARE possible at the moment. This seems so obvious. But as I said before – life seems more complicated when I am exhausted. It is like my brain is sleeping despite my body being up and running.
When I took a second to consider what I can do; the list is longer than I expected. I can write short articles that are just speaking my truth. I can let go of any notions of needing to keep up appearances of recovery if that isn’t where I am at. Not everything has to be black and white. I can write a short gratitude list when I feel bad. I can choose 5 minutes of quality time with my daughter when I feel able. Rather than worrying about how long I can keep up with her energy. She just needs my presence most of the time. Moments make memories. I can try online meetings or call a family or friend. I can read recovery blogs and books if I need some additional motivation. I can do a short yoga or breathing exercise when I get a burst of energy.
Accepting Where I Am At
I need to let go of the expectation that I should be OK ALL of the time. I can grab moments of recovery each time I HALT and make the right choice. The moments add up, whether they are consecutive or not and even if it is one step forward and two steps back sometimes, I may eventually trend forwards and back to a place of freedom from my body and food demons.
I hope to check-in again soon. I will keep moving forward because the gifts of recovery are worth every fall along the way.
Love to you all,
Aunty Pam xx
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