*awkwardly scoots into the room*
It’s been awhile since I last sat and wrote, or felt confident enough to sit with my thoughts and write them out to you all reading this now. I haven’t spoken on the phone in a long time (rather more so talks on discord and in text) and I’ve not been super active on social media in bursts, and it’s okay. I needed it.
It’s been one hell of a last year and a half. I think I may have said something similar for some years, but I’d like to go ahead and just look at this one only. I don’t really want to focus too hard on the madness of the pandemic, as I think we’re all more than well aware of how challenging it’s been with sickness, changes, losses, bad financial times, isolation, etc. But it’s affected everything else, and that’s what I wanna get into.
I’ve been inside an emotional pit. I’ve disappeared and felt a former shell of who I am, further away from who I want to be. I don’t like how suffocating things have become to feel. It’s been overwhelming. Some days I really defined the “can’t get out of bed” or better put, don’t want to get out of bed. I stopped so many things.
Some days the most I got done was more on a drawing and a shower. Another just a bit of a job hunt. There were days I slept the whole day with a few small bursts of being awake and pawing through my phone to check on people.
At my worst point, I remember a conversation with me and my twin sis, Mandy. She listens to a lot about my day to day because we talk almost daily on discord. I just felt like I couldn’t keep up with anything, or that once I got going, eventually or too soon my depression snuck in and “ruined” things. Out of that conversation came a little handy trick, a tool that came to light: a Vital 3 she suggested, that I try everyday to do. Your vital items to try to do each day for you might be entirely different, but here’s what we came up with.
Mine is focused on -FEELING BETTER- on a whole. Periodt.
Doing the whatever pesky things would get me back to there.
And for me, that entails taking my medication every day for panic/anxiety and depression. However, after a long enough time on lexapro, I did attempt to wean and stop taking it (after speaking to doc first) but had interfering side effects because the tapering was too fast, so I’m working on that because I think I am ready to either keep it as low as possible and/or get off that. That’s a whole other convo.
but mostly the top 3 otherwise includes:
1) movement/exercise/sunlight – maybe it’s 20 mins of hiit, maybe a quick dip in the pool doggie paddling around and kicking my legs. Maybe I need to sit on the bench for 5 or 10 mins in the sun. Just get up and clean, organize, or improve my little cove here and not be at a computer for an hour.
2) tracking food to make sure I’m eating enough (hooray anxiety for giving me nervous stomach) and when I do, well enough
One main issue is dealing with other mental struggles where I get totally paralyzed by too many damn decisions. I make so many all day long when I work, that when it comes to grocery and recipes, I find points of myself frustratedly asking “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY BRANDS OF HUMMUS, I just need one for this meal, omg” I can’t even use work as the only reasoning, because this actually happens to me a lot outside of obligated things. I have my suspicions why, but I don’t know for sure.
That’s another issue I need to explore more on, but I’m working with the cards I’m dealt and finding ways to improve how I can handle them.
Perhaps that means this: eating similarly for a few weeks because it makes tracking a one time deal and done (unless I diverge more than a bit) and it’ll make me feel better. Then I can figure out a new eating routine, track it on Crono once, and so on. Eating rotations.
3) hopping on a scale just for ONLY data collection (I realize and agree that for some parts, scales cause a lot of trigger and anxiety) to see over weeks how I’m doing and if what I’m eating is a good combo or not so much. More about not losing track of time and catching things sooner. Not being afraid of what # I see is kind of empowering. Oh it’s this today? k. punch into the app. Move on with day.
Luckily there are many apps that take water weight and daily fluctuations into account and don’t give you big ups and downs but a more balanced range of where you *really* are at. That’s what I’m using and highly suggest.
I honestly don’t know what I would have done else with myself had we not had that conversation. It really was the life jacket I needed. That I still need.
For you, all of this could be entirely different goals and reasons for them. But the idea of brewing life down to a couple things one could manage each day.. say for me, even if that meant I get out of bed, do 20 mins of the HIIT, eat, and collapse right back in, at least I managed something good for me, even when I feel terri-bad.
Feeling mentally horrid, it’s so easily to spill over and bleed that effect physically. It’s hard to care about yourself when you.. well. When you don’t care? When you feel overwhelmed and when taking a shower or handling what people need from you is too much, when it feels like there is nothing left inside you to give to you, let alone others as well.
And when you are just one doggie paddle from sinking, you have no choice but to funnel it to work to pay bills to survive or to find said work to do so.
It’s hard to remember to eat when you’re super busy or easy to say eff it when you don’t want to make a single further decision or are overtired and end up eating last minute at the end of a horrible feeling day. That’s when it gets dicey. That’s when your body is like LAY OFF ME, I”M STARVIN (ahhh chris farley!) and you might eat anything in sight. You might binge eat.
So to be clear, I’m not remotely after an idea of perfection in any field of this. Some days of my Vital 3, I managed 1/3. Others 2/3 and as often as I can, I got my 3/3 days and when I do, I celebrate that up and feel pretty good because I know it’s going to make ME feel good in the future. It’s okay to actually feel good about an accomplishment. You should be proud. Tell someone, yeah I took a damn shower today and it feels nice. *sunglasses*
Maybe your vital 3 is literally 1) take a shower/change clothes 2) eat 3) clean one quadrant of a room.
Maybe your vital 3 is 1) play less video games 2) 10 mins outside and 3) eat less takeout.
Whatever it is, it should be something to carry over day by day no matter what else is going on, and the key is that it does not exist as a fear inducing, “Will I get it done today” guilt driven monster to feed, but something that will ensure you will hang onto what matters to you while it shit goes down, when you lost your footing and can’t handle much.
I have to admit another thing – I have felt a little guilty from the joy that has leapt from within me, directly and mainly because of the dynamic changes due to the pandemic… I’m actually a lot happier in so many ways than I’ve ever felt, except when I did freelance (which I’m back to again, hello darkness my old friiiiend).
I know for extroverts or people who enjoy being in office, this has not been fun. I say this with my entire being: I feel you. I feel you, as some introverts would agree, it’s a struggle to be in office some days, and other days you find things you do enjoy too. I’ve been there, and if it stays this way a long time, you will find your way.
I hope in the end of all of this, we can both sides agree that maybe work environments should be a mix and hybrid, let those WFH who want to, let those work in office who want to. Things can still get done, this last year and many months has proven so. Actual change could come from this. I won’t hold my breath, but I will have a fool’s hope it sticks for the sanity of all of us.
For me, it’s simple, as I don’t miss the following: Not being trapped in traffic sweating and having to pee. I’d rate that pretty high up there. Go ahead, laugh. I do. I don’t know anybody who hasn’t had to pull off somewhere. Not going to an office means less navigating all the social hoops. More control of interruptions (some might argue against this, and fair enough, but this is just personally me, I never liked being startled by people just popping in and me in headset unawares lol)
I don’t feel the need to put on makeup or worry about a hormonal skin day. A lot of my self-conscious stress has vanished. I live in my leggings and tanks or comfiest of clothes, a hodge podge of whatever’s cleanest and finally get a preview of giving zero fucks. Saying all that, balance may be key. I still sometimes play with makeup or hair, but it’s because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to be ‘presentable’ Idk about you, but isn’t it getting tiresome!? It has been a huge sigh of relief in terms of social and workplace obligations all around. I’m taking it easier on myself. I haven’t plucked my eyebrows in over a month! It was nice to let go of some reigns and put that energy elsewhere. There is a beauty in all of that I wish I’d realized sooner.
I’ve taken freelance gigs as they came, but when it’s slow, or when I’ve earned some time off between, I’ve started trying to target my energy to things that personally boost me, enrich me, make me laugh, something that is good for me on a daily basis.
That definitively includes taking care of myself (not what I think I have to do or think I have to present myself as) and ensuring even if my mood feels bad, that I physically don’t have to match and feel bad. That also happens to be making things with my hands and creativity with my mind. Drawing, sewing, weaving, resin, anything I can feasibly try that isn’t going to break my wallet.
What I really don’t miss is initially being misjudged because of how I look, that I look younger, etc. Those that know me the closest know when it comes down to the utter core, I am entirely serious business about work. I’m very serious business about work life balance, being paid on time and unafraid to ask about rates, about workflows or having real convos that actually improve the future workflow and communications.
I’m serious about diversity and fairness, healthy and mentally supportive environments, and proper treatment of everyone regardless. I don’t know why, but there are some people who resist. Not everyone is ready for change there or would prefer it stay the way it is. Including WFH or not.
So, in the meantime, I guess I’m not surprised when people aren’t ready when I do stand up. WFH has nothing to do with that portion, it’s just nice to be treated properly, treated well, valued. When somewhere you work for is just, ohhh I don’t know, … how about a good place that actually values who they take on, values their skills not just by floaty words but by fair rates and reasonable deadlines — even continually trying to learn new things and improve.
You know… adapt. Change.
That’s what all this is boiled down to.
Adaptation. Changing. In every spectrum.
Communication that is transparent and clear is never more important. I dare say I hope in all this it’s had no choice but to improve, but I know better and have experienced some really downright awful and bizarre exchanges. I know it will take a long time for that.
Luckily, between working, I was able to take on a variety of new craft adventures thanks to a myriad of reasons: Kylee, who gifted me a craft box for so many months that would intro me to different styles of craft each month. Friends, who saw a little kit and passed it my way. I picked up resin, have done embroidery, cross stitching, and loom weavings! I’ve kept up drawing (not every single day, sometimes in bursts) but consistently challenging myself to try new things there. All this gives me confidence, satisfactory object or final art piece to enjoy that is proof I can not know how to do something and come out with an end result, plus it keeps my hands and mind busy so that I can’t be stressing out as hard or worrying/hyper focusing.
When I was at my busy points with freelance work, admittedly I didn’t have as much time to do any of this. It’s not like you can loom, draw, and pull a 10-14 hour day while doing everything else you gotta do everyday. That’d be unrealistic and completely unsustainable.
But you can do small things in bursts when you got the energy, and conserving that energy for something positively fueled, even if by originally outrage, annoyance, or something typically negative. You know, spite really can go far and at great length. 😉
That’s why I’m planning in my journal ways to continue these mental boosts wherever possible, no matter what. I’ve adapted how I’m even journaling these days. I just discovered how much I love bi-weekly journaling pages. I hope I never stop adapting to things and delighting when something new works or even if it doesn’t, figuring out why and applying that forward.
What are you struggling with the most, and where do you want to collect and send your energy instead? It’s okay if you don’t know! I didn’t know. I was overwhelmed. It took talking to friends and asking for help on perspectives to reach this point. It really helps to confide in someone how you’ve been feeling, about all of this, about everything. Every day and work and life woes and triumphs.
Stay open to those who matter most to you. And recognize when you’re shutting the doors up tight in your mind. Let a little air back in. The breeze can be nice.
After 6+ months of just letting my hair do it’s thing, last night I did a bleach bath all over it and ordered my fav purple rain hair colour coming in today.
I might get a hair cut soon, even. or let it be wild and thick and long.
The hardest part of all this was accepting that I can just be me whatever I am, as I am, whenever I am and exist, that it’s enough to do what I’m capable of, not what I highly expect to do and guiltily compare to those without the same struggles. I live a different life. That’s okay!
Tomorrow might be different.
Tomorrow I might be clinging on my 3 things to try to care for myself.
It’s not linear and not always happy.
So to end this, I’m curious.. what’s your Vital 3 right now?