You Know Something’s Wrong When…

The world we are living in is a very difficult one to live in. On one hand we are surrounded by SO MANY great and beautiful things like friends, family, nature, the freedoms we enjoy – but on the other hand we are dogged by some of the ugliest things. Racism and bigotry are very much alive and well. Violence is everywhere we turn. Extremists of all kinds seek to dismantle all that we have worked hard to achieve as a society. This is becoming especially apparent with our southern neighbours, the U.S., based on recent events.

I have been struggling a lot with my depression this summer in and of itself, but watching events unfold around the world, mostly in the U.S. since Donald Trump was elected president, has been profoundly disheartening and has had a negative effect on my mental health overall. It has added to what has felt like a gradual spiral dive turned crash and burn into the ground. My mental health is in the shitter. My anxiety is at a 2-year peak, and my depression is the worst it has been since I went on medication approximately a year ago. I realize part of it is seasonal, part of it has a social aspect, but I feel like a large portion can be attributed to struggling to live in this world we have created for ourselves. I’m not saying I am suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, but it is becoming more and more difficult to go about my day knowing what has been happening elsewhere and thinking about what could potentially happen that day. It’s a very stressful way to live.

The events that took place in Charlottesville this month had a more profound effect on me than I ever could have expected, leading me to examine my own belief system and the way I look at this and similar situations. The fact that neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and white nationalist groups feel like they have a place in society today is scary to me; bordering on terrifying. They shouldn’t have a place anywhere. I thought we as people learned from history, at the conclusion of World War Two, 72 years ago. I was so, so incredibly wrong.

I consider myself a feminist, and my political leanings are quite far left. I am very much against any form of racism, bigotry, or hatred; things that are very easy to say considering my privilege. Sadly, it is all I seem to see when I attempt to read or catch up on the news.

It’s difficult to handle these huge amounts of negativity everywhere when living with depression. I sit here and feel like I should be doing something about it. Single-handedly if I could, as impossible as that is.  I question myself constantly: Do I do enough? Do I allow it to happen? Am I helping to perpetrate racism and bigotry and hatred as a white person? I know there are opportunities out there, but most times I just do not have the energy or the motivation. It’s difficult enough to get out of bed every day and get my self to work, let alone do anything else.

It’s so hard living in this world. It makes me want to rage quit.

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31…

Two weeks ago on Monday… I turned 31. What a lame/boring age to turn. No milestones, nothing. I DID, however, have a GREAT weekend leading up to my birthday. I was able to spend some quality time with a lot of special people, and wouldn’t you know it? I took maybe two photos the entire weekend… SO out of character for me, I KNOW.

I hosted a game night on Saturday night (February 24), which turned into a great way to catch up with people I don’t see nearly enough. We played Cards Against Humanity, and my new game Bang!, which was a birthday gift. We ate nachos and those of us who didn’t have to drive drank. We were all merry. My friend Steph, took me out to buy birthday party supplies earlier in the day as her birthday gift to me, and it really made the day and night great. We played games and joked and laughed into the wee hours.

On Sunday, I planned a birthday dinner with some of my closest friends. Sadly, one was unable to make it due to work, but I saw her the very next day for our weekly movie night on my actual birthday. I invited my dad, my sister and her boyfriend, my super awesome friend Jen from work, along with her husband and daughter, as well as Wes and Ash and their cute kids. The food was awesome, and the atmosphere was pretty great too. It was so nice to be able to celebrate with a dinner surrounded by some of the people I care about the most. It was a really enjoyable evening. I went home that night very happy.

After an awesome (and exhausting) weekend leading up to my birthday, my actual birthday was very run-of-the-mill. I went to work, I ate free pizza from a local pizza place that offers a free birthday slice, I went home, I napped, I went to my friend Alice’s for our weekly movie night, and then I went home to bed. It was a good day, but very normal.

Overall, it was a great a 31st birthday, and it was awesome to celebrate it with as many people as I did.

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Since then, I’ve been working through some other things. I have been really tired and lethargic and sleeping poorly for weeks. I figured out that my B12 was low again (which was the cause last time it happened) and had to go back on my B12 supplement. I think it is safe to say that I have to keep taking it and can’t stop again; not if I want to function at least semi-normally. I’ve been on it for just about a couple of weeks now, and I am noticing improvements progressively as the days pass. I have started sleeping better incrementally, and I am able to come home and complete tasks that were falling to the wayside previously.

I am also working extra hard to get on track financially. I have a long road of breaking bad habits ahead of me, but I recently listened to an audiobook that is poised to change my life in big ways in terms of money management and savings and the future. I am excited about getting on track for real, for the first time. In the past I always dreaded having to deal with money, and I feel like I am finally not afraid to deal with it anymore. It feels pretty great. As a result, I am feeling more positive about other aspects of my daily life as well. I am getting more physically active again, slowly but surely. In no time, I think I will be working out and doing more healthy things in general.

I find it really interesting how making sense of one very important aspect of your life can make a difference in a multitude of ways, including translating into other seemingly unrelated parts of your life. I am already taking much better care of myself mentally – practicing self-care on a semi-regular basis as compared to barely ever before. And I have been much kinder to myself in general.

Things are also coming together for the two trips I have planned this year. The first is in June, to attend a family wedding, and the second will be a trip to visit my best friend who moved away last October. The flights and accommodations are book for the trip in June, and I will be planning for the second trip happening later this year just as soon as flight schedules come available.

Huxley, or The New Guy as I like to call him from time to time, has made himself very comfortable and is already friends with my friends who have met him. It’s funny how quickly it feels like they have always been here. I can’t imagine my home without him now, and it has only been 5 weeks. I’m not complaining whatsoever! He has been a great addition to my little family here and Tobi has accepted him also, which makes me feel happy inside.

I have an exam coming up in less than a month, and I spent my day today getting caught up on all of my reading. After 4 hours, I finally got there! Next step will be going through the study guide, which will start tomorrow. I am determined to do better than my previous two courses, where I ended up with C’s. I am thankful to have a study buddy, that’s for sure! I am also thankful for my bullet journal, which has done wonders to keep me on track especially during the toughest days. Maybe one day I will do a blog post about that. It’s not as creative and fancy as some of the others out there, but it works great for me.

This post kind of became a jumble of overall updating, which was not my original intent. It’s not very often that I have so much to say as I did today. Hopefully the next one will be more coherent!

The Ups and Downs of 2016 – The Year in Review

2016 was…a year. It was harder than some others were. It was a year of growth for me. It’s early in 2017 and I am feeling optimistic so far. It’s early days, and I though it would be fitting to review what happened to me in 2016. The year had its fair share of ups and downs. There were many things learned and a lot of positive change.

Let’s start with the “ups”:

  • I truly enjoyed celebrating my birthday this year with the impromptu plans that came about. It was great to be surrounded by awesome people.
  • I didn’t increase my debt-load.
  • I reconnected with some old friends.
  • I started a new job and it is the first job I’ve had where I truly feel respected and appreciated.
  • I made an amazing new friend as a result of starting the new job. I can’t imagine not having her as a friend.
  • I learned to love living alone. I’m not so sure I could live with someone again unless they’re REALLY special!
  • I became a lot more comfortable with who I am as my own person.
  • Tobi is a happy kitty and is well on her way to being a healthy weight.
  • I saved up for and built my new computer. (Built with the help of said amazing friend and her husband!)

And now for the “downs”:

  • My best friend moved across the country – This is kind of bittersweet because it was an amazing move for her personal happiness, but I miss the shit out of her.
  • I didn’t pay down any significant amount of my debt.
  • I didn’t manage to save any money that stayed saved. (see “ups” above)
  • Some pretty influential celebrities in my life died. Carrie Fisher was the hardest for me because she is such a strong advocate for mental health. She was a bit of a hero, and not just because of Star Wars.
  • Tobi had a health scare. We caught it in time, but it is looking more and more like the issue will crop up again. It’s almost time for another visit to the vet to avoid the scare again in the future…

I created a few goals for myself at the beginning of 2016 and they included getting healthier and being kinder to myself. I think I am definitely better at being kind to myself than I was. Getting healthier is still a work in progress, but I feel like I will make some serious headway with that one in 2017.

A lot of changes were affected in 2016, including these:

  • I went on antidepressant medication. I was in a really terrible place when I finally went to my doctor to ask about this. He was more than happy to talk about it with me and suggest some options. I stand by this as quite possibly the smartest decision I made in 2016. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t done it.
  • I am finally started doing a better job of looking after myself and working on finding the work-life balance that works for me. I also starting improving at practicing regular self-care.
  • I came to terms with a lot of things and I feel like I finally started to heal. This is especially true in the last half of 2016.

Because of these changes that took place in 2016, I also noticed small things about my habits:

  • I started listening to music again.
  • I started wanting to read again.
  • I was more present in my life than I ever was in the past.
  • My weight started to finally go in the right direction (DOWN instead of UP!)
  • I was able to manage my spending well enough to make the new computer happen and get back into playing PC games again.
  • I finished my big blanket project that I started in the summer of 2015. (I finally finished it in the summer of 2016.)

I started a few projects, however, that were not so successful. I won’t beat myself up over these because being kind to myself is so much more important. The kind of things that I am listing below used to cause me a lot stress and upset, but no longer.

  • Life Reboot and Life Reboot 2.0 were almost complete failures in terms of accomplishing the goals I set out for myself. HOWEVER, the items I listed in these projects have slowly become incorporated into my daily life and continue to become easier as time goes on.  This is why I refuse to call my “life reboot” a complete failure.
  • I got rid of my gym membership that I was so excited to have at the beginning of 2016. Frustrations and bad experience with the gym over and over again prompted me to bite the bullet and cancel my membership early. I have found that home workouts and yoga are a much better fit for me. This isn’t so much a failure or not a success because it was something that I learned about myself.

In 2017, I will continue to be kinder to myself, and focus on getting healthier. In addition to this, financially I am determined to pay down a chunk of my debt and start saving for a house. I also have a reading goal of 25 books and want to pick up my camera again. I miss taking photos. The only times I picked it up in 2016 were for Mason’s and Sloane’s birthday parties. I want to get the creative juices flowing this year. Because I am in a much better place mentally, I think these will be easy to manage. 2017 is shaping up to be a good year around here.

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I had more fun in 2016 than I’d had in years!

 

100 Things I Love Part 5: 81-100

Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2017. I am feeling a lot of positivity about this coming year and am looking forward to seeing what it brings. In the meantime, I bring you the last installment of my little self-care project. 100 Things I Love, has been really uplifting, and I have found that I have generally been able to keep a more positive attitude versus before. I am calling this self-care project a success!

  1. Watching my friends’ and my sisters’ kids grow up
  2. A freshly tidied space
  3. Scented candles that smell like baked goods
  4. Breakfast
  5. Scarves – I hate having a cold neck!
  6. A nice hot bath
  7. That I can take medication to help manage my depression
  8. Super hero movies
  9. My antique desk
  10. Being able to play PC games again (It’s been years.)
  11. Organizing my clutter
  12. Coming home after time away
  13. Sleeping in my bed after I’ve been away for a night or two – it really feels amazing
  14. Being able to drink tea from a travel mug!
  15. A sense of accomplishment at the end of the work day
  16. Writing when I can; when I feel inspired (however rare it may be)
  17. Curling up in bed right before I fall asleep when I am good and tired
  18. Fresh starts
  19. The amazing friends I have in my life
  20. Coming up with this list

And there you have it. 100 things I love, complete.

2016 was a heck of a year. There were a lot of changes, and a lot of things that stayed the same. I started a new job, and as a result I made an amazing new friend. The new job also resulted in working at the first job I’ve ever felt appreciated and respected. She is truly wonderful. I finally started loving living alone, and that has resulted in being able to focus on things I wasn’t able to before. My best friend moved across the country. I am thankful however, that we are able to keep in touch thanks to Apple! I had a health scare with Tobi, but we weathered it and she is healthy now, aside from the continuous issues she has had to deal with for most of her life.

I have big plans for 2017 though. I plan to travel! I plan to meet people! I will be starting my house savings. I will be improving things around my apartment, a plan for which has already been set in motion. I will be taking better care of myself and my health as well. I have many goals I have set out to accomplish. I am excited for these things, and will of course be sharing what I can.

Happy New Year!

100 Things I Love Part 4: 61-80

I know it’s been a little bit since I last published for this project. Family Christmases got in the way! I have a break from gatherings now, and thought I would continue on.

Welcome to Part 4 of the 100 Things I Love project. Reflecting over Christmas and being away from work made it a bit easier to come up with some additions for the list, which was pretty awesome.

  1. Any kind of cool nerdy coffee mug
  2. My TARDIS collection
  3. Wiggling my toes in new warm grass
  4. Sitting around the table chatting with the family after a big holiday dinner
  5. Sitting on my back patio/landing reading a book in the sun
  6. Finishing the latest project
  7. Wayne’s snickerdoodles – Gluten Free and AMAZING
  8. Quiet days to myself with no expectations
  9. Yummy-smelling candles
  10. When plans go off without a hitch
  11. Feeling prepared (this one is helpful for my anxiety too!)
  12. A glass of ice-cold water
  13. A nice, brisk walk.
  14. Great conversation
  15. Bookstores
  16. Having a library card
  17. Collecting Classics (the books, that is)
  18. Holiday leftovers
  19. Learning to manage my money effectively
  20. Treating myself from time to time (It’s just good self-care.)

I hope you had a great holiday! I did, for the most part. I find it a bit more difficult these days to really get into it as the majority of my family are adults or are nearing adulthood. There is less emphasis on the excitement of gift-giving, and more on just being with family. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really great. It’s one of my favourite parts of the season. It’s just hard to get pumped up and in the “holiday spirit” when that’s the case. I am back to work for the rest of this week, and then we are on to New Year’s Even this weekend. I have plans to go see some friends and spend the night playing board games and eating and drinking lots of wine. I am very much looking forward to it. I hope you have some exciting New Year’s Eve plans as well!

100 Things I Love Part 3: 41-60

Welcome to part three of my self care project. These are items 41-60. This bunch was quite a bit more difficult to come up with. It seems to be more difficult as I get deeper into it. The rest of these are going to be a challenge to come up with!

  1. Dark chocolate
  2. Hand dyed wool
  3. Geeky memorabilia – autographs, pop figures, art, etc.
  4. Leaving work early
  5. Owl-themed décor
  6. Travelling to new places
  7. Sleeping in
  8. Sleeping in general
  9. My comfy green wing chair (It’s vintage!)
  10. Not having to cook if I don’t want to
  11. Adult colouring books
  12. Pen pals – the old-fashioned kind!
  13. Receiving letters and packages in the mail
  14. Candy canes
  15. Wine
  16. Sleepy kid/baby snuggles (while babysitting)
  17. Tabletop game nights with friends
  18. Video gaming with friends (World of Warcraft, Path of Exile)
  19. Wrapping gifts for others at Christmas
  20. My Batman coffee mug

It should also be noted that today is my blog’s anniversary! I have been active on this blog in one way or another for five years. It feels like a real achievement!

100 Things I love Part 2: 21-40

Welcome to part two of my new self care project. These are items 21-40. This next bunch was a bit trickier to come up worth. I think this is going to get more difficult as I continue!

  1. A good movie drama
  2. Teddy bears/stuffed animals
  3. “Character” – as found in old buildings
  4. My family – even if they sometimes drive me crazy from time to time…
  5. My new computer
  6. Tea! (loose leaf)
  7. Helping friends when I can
  8. The people I work with – they are some truly great and kind people
  9. Radiator heat – so warm and cozy!
  10. The first snow of the season
  11. Not owning a car
  12. Being able to live (relatively) comfortably on my income
  13. Comics
  14. Feeling valuable, like my work/effort is appreciated
  15. Being free to do what I want, when I want
  16. Productive days
  17. Sailor Moon
  18. Crochet
  19. Shopping for gifts (mostly for others, but sometimes for myself too)
  20. Cat snuggles

100 Things I Love Part 1: 1-20

Welcome to part one of my new self care project. These are items 1-20. These first few were pretty easy to come up with. I’m not sure if it will stay this easy!

  1. My cat Tobi
  2. My apartment
  3. Living alone
  4. Coffee
  5. Sunshine
  6. Tacos
  7. Cozy blankets
  8. Doctor Who
  9. My blog – even if I don’t post as much as I would like anymore. It’s been a 5-year labour of love so far.
  10. Playing games (both video games and board games)
  11. Books/reading
  12. Pens
  13. Tragic Toys
  14. Feminism
  15. Trying/learning new things
  16. Pizza
  17. The colour grey
  18. Sci-fi TV
  19. Stars
  20. Lilacs
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*sings* These are a few of my favourite things… *sings*

Some Thoughts on Self Care

I’ve been publishing mainly regular life and personal posts and I’ve also been thinking it might be time to change things up a bit. I want to write a bit about self-care.

Self-care is the thing I never knew I needed until I started seeing my therapist in August 2014. With her help I learned that self-care is key to managing mental illness, especially anxiety and depression, as is my case. It’s also something I’m not very good at, or at least feel like I’m not very good at. Self-care can be as simple as taking a nice hot shower after an especially trying day, or curling up with a good book on a weekend afternoon. Simply put, it is taking the time to check-in with and look after yourself.

Some of the things I do for myself are take baths in the evening, read, play World of Warcraft, and have a regularly scheduled weekly movie night with a dear friend of mine. She struggles with her mental health as well, and the movie nights keep us both social even when we are having a hard time getting through the day. It also gives us both someone who is there and supportive. Basically, it helps us to both feel like we’re not alone and going through things on our own. The movie nights have gotten me through some pretty tough times.

The point of this post is something of a self-care exercise in itself – something outside of my ordinary realm of self care. I can across it on Pinterest, in a pin about practicing self care when things are especially tough, and I think it is a beautiful idea. The idea is to compile a list of 99 things you love. I’ve decided I am going to do this… with a slight modification just because of my own idiosyncrasies: 100 things I love.

I am going to create a list of 100 things I love. I wont share them all at once… It might get overwhelming, and it might take me awhile! I will probably share twenty or so at a time as I come up with them. The goal is to remind myself and maybe you as well, that there are great and beautiful things out there to keep us going. For those of us that live with mental illness in our daily lives, it is something important that we shouldn’t forget.

So, stay tuned for it. It will be coming soon:

100 Things I Love

 

Struggles

It seems I dropped the ball with publishing these daily. Time to get back on track!

Today’s (March 15, 2016) Prompt: Share something you struggle with.

Like many of us, I struggle with things from time to time, and there are other things I struggle with on a daily basis, almost constantly. The thing I struggle the most with is my mental illness. As I’ve written before, I have Social Anxiety and Persistent Depressive Disorder. I (for the most part) have my anxiety managed, but my depression keeps getting the better of me continually at this point. Right now, it is especially bad because the winter season makes things worse for me. As a result, so many things on a daily basis are a struggle. 

Nothing is easy. Getting out of bed is a struggle, getting dressed is a struggle, cleaning…doing dishes… Imagine too, when you’ve finally made yourself get up to do that really difficult thing, something happens that puts a wrench in the whole thing. It all falls apart and you become a complete wreck because you’ve failed to do that one thing. And when that happens I also struggle with being a failure. Absolutely everything is more difficult when living with depression; it’s not just being sad all the time, and it’s not something that thinking positively is going to fix. Depression makes your brain a complete asshole, and fights against you at every turn. I am lucky now that with the spring weather starting to arrive, things are getting slightly easier (even though there are still bad days), along with the things I’m doing to look after myself as best as I can on a daily basis. 

I guess what I am trying to say is with mental illness, the struggle is real. It’s not something positive thinking will fix, even though in some cases it can help a bit (e.g. in managing my social anxiety). Mental illness is a disease just like other physical illnesses. Just because it isn’t outwardly visible doesn’t mean we don’t struggle on a daily basis. It’s something to consider when interacting with someone you know to be struggling with their mental health. I encourage you to give it a try.