Lightbulb Moments

For a long time, I had a bank of things I could rely on that would bring me various degrees of happiness.  For most of my life, one of the biggest sources that I relied on to feel better about myself was the opinion and acceptance of others.

I have codependent tendencies. I began to realize this about myself a few years back, but I think I came to a greater understanding of what it means to be codependent this past March when everything really began to spin out of control. In addition to my codependent nature, I have always maintained the aforementioned bank of things as my reference points. When I would experience stress in its various forms, I could always go back to this list and find an, albeit, temporary grounding of sorts. This list included a myriad of things, from certain foods, to activities to items. My living space was usually a significant one. If everything crashed around me, I could come back to my home (wherever that may have been-the last 4 years have involved a lot of moving around) and re-charge. Similarly, I would schedule in lots of physical activity as a means to bring me back to myself. For a period of about 6 years, I would religiously set my alarm and wake up at 4.30 most mornings, to get a good hour long run in before the day began. The feeling that I would experience after finishing a run was incredible. In spite of the early alarm and wake up time, I would collect enough energy from that hour of running to keep my spirits and mood high for the majority of the day. I’ve always been a bit of a homebody, so I easily took to more quiet and contemplative activities like knitting and cross-stitch, and I adored sitting and listening to podcasts and CBC Radio One. All of these activities brought me comfort. They may not have been the most exciting or challenging ways to pass the time, but they all allowed me the chance to find my centre again.

What happened then, in the weeks following early March of this year was unsettling, although for the sake of honesty, I will admit that this unsettled feeling actually stretched much farther back than March-I had just been ignoring it. As I found myself wandering around in a fog, I began to realize that all of my reference points had gradually been rendered ineffective. I would come back to the house that I fell in love with, with all of its charm, and feel as though it wasn’t my home. I would go out for a run, but instead of looking forward to it, and feeling invincible upon my return, I would slog my way through my usual 8 kilometre trek, and experience sluggishness and grogginess, fighting off the urge to take a nap at 10 in the morning. My excitement for simple things like a really good sandwich or pancakes for breakfast had all but disappeared. I listened to my subscribed podcasts. Nothing. I would pick up the cross-stitch pattern I had been working on, but would end up staring blankly out the window. I would listen to music; I would re-arrange the furniture; I would attempt to watch shows or movies that I used to love; I would pep talk myself; I would continue to go through the motions of my reference points but nothing happened. No joy. No focus. No happiness. What remained was an incredibly uncomfortable void. I felt as though all of my go-to’s had left me. I remember asking a few friends if what I was experiencing was a mid-life crisis. I also seriously started to consider the possibility that I was suffering from depression.

And then, I read this article:

I found it interesting, and it resonated with me, but I wouldn’t say it was life-changing. I sent the article to Ian, who responded by sharing this picture with me,

And then, my face did this:

I know a lot of people reference the proverbial light switch for pivotal or cross-road like moments in life, but I had never really experienced it for myself. When Ian sent the picture, along with a bit of an explanation, all of the cliches,

I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone
Light Bulb
A-Ha Moment
The Answer IS 42

went through my mind. It was as though someone had, quite literally, turned the lights on. I got it.

Anyone who has experienced one of these light bulb moments can relate to the feeling of exhilaration and intense understanding that I experienced. While the light bulb moment didn’t result in my reference points suddenly working again, or waves of happiness flooding over me, it did allow me the opportunity to better understand what it was I was experiencing, and part of the why. I am a curious person-people watching has long been a favourite way to spend time-and in being curious, I also have an innate desire and passion for understanding. While the light bulb moment allowed me to gain a new perspective on what was happening, it also left me wondering, Now What?

In the month that has followed since my light bulb moment, I have begun to explore various means of re-grounding. I still go back to some of my former reference points, but am trying to incorporate new ones. Something that I stumbled upon that has, interestingly enough, replaced my old runner’s high has been epsom salt baths. I should preface the remainder of this post by mentioning that up until recently, I have been a staunch anti-bath person. I never liked taking baths. I would get bored. I would grow impatient. Remember when I said I struggle with allowing myself down time? I came across this article,,  as I was looking into ways I could replenish my energy, as a highly sensitive person. While I was at a point where even the idea of taking a bath seemed like too much energy, I was also just desperate enough to try anything. In so doing, I have come across a new reference point that works for me. The first time I tried this particular recipe, I developed a raging 12 hour headache; as I have incorporated the practice more often into my schedule however, the headaches have lessened-I also try to drink more water before and after one of these baths.

Its a slow process, but I am beginning to incorporate new reference points and ways to ground myself. I like to think that this is beginning to happen again, in my brain.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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