Anti-Consumerism Month Update Numero Uno

Okay so I haven’t really been on top of the whole “update” part of this anti-consumerism month thing I resigned myself to. But here’s my first update! Are you ready? It’s oh so terribly exciting. Full of withdrawal and resisting the things that I “need.” It’s exciting, I swear.

Well, not really. I just had to draw you in somehow. So far, it’s been a bit difficult. Some of the things that I’ve wanted to do haven’t been able to work out. Frequenting farmers markets right now doesn’t exactly fit into my schedule at the moment. Since it’s the off season for farmers markets in Foco, the only farmer’s market that I know of takes place on Saturday mornings, and unfortunately I work on Saturday mornings, which has forced me to still rely on King Soopers, Safeway, Sprouts, etc. However, it has made me realize that some of the foods that I really love and tend to buy frequently, are either not necessary (oh, Complete Cookies and Lara Bars, how I miss you) or just expensive (avocados and tempeh, an unfortunate sacrifice). Food shopping is hard. It’s just so easy to overspend. Eating a mostly vegan diet does help in some ways since tofu is much cheaper than meat, and not buying cheese or milk cuts out a large portion of the grocery list. I’ve kept eggs on the menu, however, so it’s not completely vegan. Apparently there’s a whole different section of vegetarian and veganism that is called “veggan” aka, not eating any animal products except eggs. It works out though and while my vegan values are telling me that eggs are bad, I’m still trying to make sure that the eggs I do buy are from hens that are ethically raised. Also I forgot how good eggs taste and I refuse to eat the dreaded “vegan egg” (some weird powder made of seaweed that Follow Your Heart puts into egg shaped containers and tastes like nothing and is extremely overpriced, and also a complete waste of packaging. I’ll put the “not buying the vegan egg” in a definite anti-consumerism category.)

But also since I’ve been cutting back on my meds (on doctor’s orders), I’ve had to be extremely cautious. Benzodiazepine withdrawal isn’t something to be taken lightly. While I’m coming off the medication slowly, it’s still risky because of the whole likelihood of seizures thing. So basically, if I wasn’t already a heavy drinker, this medication withdrawal wouldn’t be as much of a concern. But coming off a benzo and trying to cut off alcohol completely in the same month? That’s basically me walking to my grave. Like being taken off benzos, alcohol is the same way. Cutting it off completely is very risky since alcohol works on the same neurotransmitters in the brain (fun fact: benzos are a common medication prescribed to alcoholics in rehab in order to prevent withdrawal). So I think it’s pretty safe to say that I shouldn’t go cold turkey on alcohol while going through benzo withdrawal (who came up with that “cold turkey” saying anyway?) So I buy cheap wine and try to stick to only a glass or two. So far, it works out pretty well. I’m definitely spending less on alcohol and my tolerance is decreasing so I don’t have to drink as much, which is kind of nice.

The one thing that I have managed to be good about is not eating out. As much as I love pita pit and sushi really aren’t necessary when I have food at home and it does save a good amount of money. Also not going to bars or going out is just an unnecessary expense when buying a 6 pack or a bottle of wine for $10 will last me the week.

Really, the hardest part is the realizing the amount of food that I consume in a week. Since I work out almost every day and do some heavy lifting, it feels like my body constantly needs food. Trying to find healthy and cheap foods to keep me well-nournished is difficult. Buying protein bars is convenient, but not cheap. I wandered around the King Soops for almost half an hour yesterday trying to figure out what cheap and healthy snacks that aren’t chocked full of high fructose corn syrup I could buy. After staring at the cracker aisle, the nut aisle, cereal aisle, and even just the general snack aisle, I settled for a bag of apples which I figured out upon purchasing them, that granola bars were actually cheaper. Just another learning curve. Since I already know how to make granola on a budget, I can probably figure out how to make snack bars in bulk that will long term be cheaper and healthier than store-bought granola bars.

Life has been stressful, and I admit to being a stress eater. Between the stress and withdrawal anxiety, it’s been tough, which has made me need to find other ways to relieve the stress. Some days have been hours long marathons of watching Buffy. When I have adequate energy, hooping has helped a lot. Staying active has helped combat the stress and the anxiety since anxiety seems to manifest itself in me as an overabundance of energy. Instead of stress eating, I try to hoop more, do some sit ups, yoga, hiking or just working off the energy on the elliptical. The nice weather we’ve been having here has helped keep my energy up (as much as it does concern me that it’s March in Colorado and it hasn’t snowed in almost a month).

Week 1 has been tough. Hopefully it’ll get a little easier from here given the learning curve of the past week. And hopefully the klonopin withdrawal will start to ease which will help as well.

More updates on Emily’s Anti-Consumerism Month 2017 next week (and hopefully other unrelated updates throughout the week). Stay tuned to see my sanity slowly deteriorate.

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find zen in a punching bag

It’s funny to think about where I was a year ago. Actually a year ago I was in a hospital bed trying to convince the doctors I rarely saw to let me go home. But on the other hand, I was also dead set on getting out of Maryland and moving to Colorado. And now, I’m here and I’m not sure why. Funny how something you thought you were so sure about ends up being the one thing you’re completely unsure about.

I was so sure that I just wanted to be here to figure my life out and just work. Well, I am doing that but it’s not nearly as glorious as I thought it would be. I did figure out where I want to be and want to do, but in the midst of that, I realized I needed to make an even bigger decision. Should I stay, or should I go?

Truth is, times are pretty tough. This whole “starting a new life” thing kind of has ended up being financial suicide, which is pretty untimely now that I’ve decided to go back to school. I keep wondering to myself, why didn’t I figure this all out BEFORE I decided to move here? Well, I guess I was just a bit naive. And that’s okay. Sometimes learning things the hard way is the only way. I followed my heart instead of my mind. In doing so, while this whole concept is incredibly freeing, it is incredibly terrifying as well. Staying out here is what my heart is telling me because I am free and I am afraid. My mind tells me to go back to Maryland because I might find myself out on the streets trying to teach my pet rats to do tricks to earn money if I stay here. But the fear and freedom I’ve found in being here in Colorado and finally figuring out what I want to do with my life has made me realize I’ve finally begun to think with my heart instead of my head. As irrational as the heart can be, I now feel free. Decisions are hard. I decided to follow my heart.

And I did make a few decisions. First, I made the decision that it really is time to get off of my meds and handle my anxiety in more holistic ways through meditation, tai chi, yoga, acupuncture, and of course the biggie: limiting alcohol. After dealing with this bitchy psychiatrist that I decided I never wanted to deal with again, I went to my primary care doctor who ACTUALLY LISTENED TO ME. He was completely on board with my decision and after telling him that I’m applying to acupuncture school, he was in complete support of me using acupuncture as an alternative treatment to my anxiety. Coolest doc ever, right? Doctors who actually support the lifestyle that you think is best for you is what every doctor should be, unless your lifestyle is hurting you, of course. He’s also the first doctor who hasn’t tried to scrutinize me for eating a mostly vegan diet by pushing me to take supplements and get my blood tested to make sure I’m healthy etc. etc.

Basically, I decided to take control of my life for the first time. Getting off of benzodiazepines is really tough, I won’t lie. There’s the physical withdrawal in which sleeping seems impossible because you feel like you’re heart is going to thump thump thump its way out of your chest because it’s beating so hard, and then waking up feeling hungover every morning even if you didn’t even have a sip of alcohol the night before. And there’s the mental withdrawal. Always on edge. Always afraid. Finding your anxiety worse than you can ever remember it being. It sucks, but I know that this too shall pass because I now know how to control it. I will be free.

Earlier this week, I had made plans to go hiking with a couple friends. Today, I woke up to get ready for the hike and I felt awful. Racing heartbeat, suddenly not wanting to go out, and still feeling hungover even though I didn’t drink last night (unless I’m getting Buffy hangovers, maybe I’m binging too much, possible?) Still, I wasn’t going to back out on plans because I wasn’t going to give into my anxiety. Once I got outside and we were on the trail and I’m 15 minutes into the hike and dying and hating myself (see JP Sears’ video about Boulder: The Consciousness Capital of the World, which also sums up what Boulder, CO really is like. Goddamn trustifarians, aka rich hippies), I looked out at the mountains and breathed in the fresh air and felt an immediate sense of peace. Sometimes it really is that simple, sometimes not. For me, getting outside and feeling the sun hit my face and breathing the fresh, clean air of the mountains reminds me to just be here, now. Sometimes it isn’t that simple. Sometimes you have to go Buffy on a punching bag until your knuckles are bruised and blistered and your mom yells at you that you’re going to get arthritis to get out that nervous energy. Because that’s all anxiety is for me: pent of energy. I guess also slowly dying on a beautiful hike uses up a lot of the anxious energy too. But hey, the mountains are still beautiful even if you’re surrounded by an entire forest that was completely burned away in a fire about 5 years ago. Deciding to live with my anxiety is freeing, while also being ultimately terrifying.

The other decision I made is that I still want to be here. For a few months, I had convinced myself that nothing was ever going to work out here. The job market out here is horrific and I’ve found myself losing money instead of making money. Finding friends that I actually like in a town full of college kids is pretty hard too, especially when you don’t like people your age. But when I see the red light shining through my window in the morning as the sun rises, and seeing the sun set over Horsetooth Rock after a snow storm, I feel peace and I remember why I wanted to be here so badly in the first place. Maybe not being here in Fort Collins, necessarily, but being in a different place where I’m surrounded by mountains and being away from the place that I had grown too comfortable with is enough. I’m trying so hard to give myself reasons to stay because it is freeing and terrifying and I don’t want my head to make me go crying back to my mom in Maryland because everything out here isn’t working out.

How did I decide that applying for a graduate program in acupuncture here in Colorado was the right decision? Well, I felt freedom and fear. Freedom in the sense that I finally figured out who I really want to be and what I want to do, and the fear of everything that goes along with applying to grad school when you’re pretty low on funds and looking at a $60,000 program.

Here I am now, a year later. This time last year, the only future I saw ahead of me was my delusional relationship with Blob, feeling sorry for myself, not knowing who I was or what I was doing, but only knowing that I wanted to run away, and so I decided to do that. Now, I’m away from everything. Free from my past life, mostly, ambitious to follow my heart and take the next big step in my life and willing to take control of my anxiety instead of hiding it under medications.

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One year ago

I found peace on a mountain top. I found it letting loose on a punching bag. It can be found even when everything seems dark and scary. 23 years later, I am free.

*Most people know JP Sears as that guy who appears on your newsfeed once in a while sarcastically talking about veganism or how to be gluten intolerant. I found out the other day that he’s actually a certified holistic health coach who specializes in self-empowerment. See his video How to Follow Your Head (not your heart).

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Today. Grateful. Free. At peace.