I've been feeling pretty depressed over the past couple of days.
My first thought is: Uh-oh.
I don't want to go back to where I was last winter. I was just congratulating myself last week on how great it feels to not be depressed like I was last year.
So what happened?
Well, partly it's state of the world: refugee crises, mass shootings, the Canadian election. With my return to unlimited high-speed internet, I've been spending too much time focusing my thoughts on things I'm not happy about and feel mostly helpless to change.
But there's another factor: this week, I cut way back on the amount of sugar I eat.
My personality would probably be described by many people (not everyone, mind you) as bright and sunny, energetic and giving.
I like being that way. But I think I've been achieving that result artificially.
Yes, that's right, I believe my personality is artificially sweetened — and has been for most of my life.
On a typical day, I consume somewhere between 20 and 80 grams of sugar.
That's FIVE to TWENTY TEASPOONS of sugar.
Imagine eating 20 teaspoonfuls of sugar.
Even 5 teaspoonfuls.
It's kind of sickening, isn't it?
But when I'm tired or cranky or even not feeling adequately joyful and gregarious, sugar, neatly packaged in a chocolate bar or a can of pop, cheers me up and keeps me going.
"There, there," says sugar, "you are not really tired (or sad or frightened or lonely or frustrated or angry). You just need a little pick-me-up. You can use me to simulate energy (or comfort or safety or love or satisfaction or peace) and you will feel ALL BETTER."
Which maybe wouldn't be a problem except that my standards for my mood are high and it takes a lot of sugar to get me to feel how I want to feel. And that much sugar is simply not good for me. Every year, the amount of sugar I eat packs on a few more pounds and it's getting out of hand. I don't want to develop diabetes, or wear out my hips, knees and ankles (at least not before the rest of me is ready to head off into the sunset anyway).
So, with my move to my winter accommodations, I decided to cut out the daily pop and chocolate bar habit. I started concentrating more on mindful eating (which naturally reduces my overall food intake, because being mindful means I actually notice when I'm full). I picked my yoga back up where I left off a few months ago.
Returning to yoga feels great.
The mindful eating feels challenging, but good.
Cutting back on the sugar feels horrible.
I know what I have to do if I want to be able to change my sugar habit. I have to FEEL my feelings and find more genuine ways to feel energetic, comforted, safe, loved, satisfied and peaceful.
And/or I need to lower the bar and accept that I am going to be way more cranky and tired, and feel way more sadness, fear, loneliness, frustration and anger, without my sugar crutch than I am going to feel with it.
I want to change.
I want to create better health for myself.
So, I'm cutting back on shortcuts. Cutting back on pretending. Cutting back on simulations.
And that scares me. Because I predict that it could mean a very bumpy winter for me indeed.