How to Self Care

After a week that, for some weird reason, caused me to breakdown yesterday, I spent to day trying to fix my brain. It didn’t work 100% but I no longer feel like I am drowning in commitments, so there’s that, at least.

Today wasn’t my usual self care routine, but there are some things that remain consistent when ever I try and take care of myself.

 

Eat.

I know that when I get bad, the first thing that falls aside is food. I am more likely to eat junk, or skip meals; I have been known to eat nothing but an entire tube of Pringles for a day. So when me and my house mates accidentally ended up ordering pizza last night, it at least meant I would have tea, and food for today as well.

 

Do something productive.

I know lots of self-care related posts that say to stay in bed, watch films or tv, have a bath, read a book… and I’m sure those things work for certain people. But, for me, doing nothing productive all day is likely a symptom of my mental illness, and giving in to that will only make it worse. So even if it’s Facebook messaging friends about interviews, or taking notes on LGBTQ+ history, so long as I make a step towards my degree work, I’m breaking the cycle.

 

Have a shower.

It makes me feel more alive, like I have achieved something, and that I have something worth completing coming up in the day.

 

Do something fun.

I know what I said about work and all, but when I start to feel overwhelmed again; which will definitely happen, I like to play video games. Completing a few tasks in game, weirdly, does feel like doing something productive.

 

Blog.

Telling you guys holds me responsible.I’m making something, putting something into the world that didn’t exist before, and I feel all the better for it. It’s one of the reasons I post so much when things do get bad.

This probably won’t work for everyone, but this is what tends to get me out of my slump.

 

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Welcome back. Again.

Moving back onto campus after two and a half months of being away was a weird experience.  For starters, I was moving in with some of the best people on the planet, one of whom I hadn’t seen in four months.

Then, I was moving into a really lovely house, which we’ve made as cosy as you could imagine. Fairy lights are everywhere, and the decorations my friends stuck up for my 20th birthday last week have yet to be taken down.

Campus feels like we never left though. The building works are still going on, leaving brick walls and wiring everywhere, though the uni have compensated by sticking a giant “Marjon” sign around campus, which obviously makes up for it.

I will say that I don’t feel like I’m back at uni. Lectures have started and my assignments have been given out, but everything is different to last year. Maybe it’s because I sort of already doing. Kinda. In a very vague sense.
My anxiety disorder is much less active than last year. I mean, it isn’t really, in that I get flashes of panic about pissing off my wonderful housemates, and that I’m constantly annoying my boyfriend by needing endless reassurance that I’m not as annoying as I think I am, but there’s been no panic attacks so far.

For comparison, this time last year, I’d had about 3 I think.

The most terrifying this is that I can compare how I feel now to how I was in year 12; the place I’d never want to go back to. We’ll see how things go.

Inspiration and Being Better

I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump recently. The last creative thing I did was… months ago, and I have barely done any blog posts this side of 2017.

I’d like there to be an actual reason for this – assignments, a social life, mental health, even.

In reality?

I’ve been lazy. I’ve been in a writing block and I haven’t made any effort to escape.

Until today, when I began editing the EPQ story I wrote last year. A whole year since I handed that bloody short(ish) story in which was probably the most significant piece of writing I’ve ever done, and cannot be bothered to edit properly.

So I began editing it… and hated everything. Like, hated. Like it was one of the worst things I’ve ever written.

But then I went back and looked at my old blog – iapologiseifyoureadthis.wordpress.com – and realised… It’s not so bad.

Everything on that blog is cringy and humiliating, but it’s who I was at that point in my life. And there is no comparison to where I am now with my writing, both fiction and non-fiction. I am so much better!

This is because I’ve practised. I have over 4 years writing experience now than I did when I started that old blog, and I like to think it shows.
It’s the same person, that much is obvious, but everything is juts… better.

This EPQ story is one year old. It’s going to feel crap because I’ve learned a lot since then, but we keep going. To improve, to grow, we have to keep making shit things, and I’m not going to let that stop me anymore.

I’m getting back into writing. It’s what I’m good at. It’s what I love doing. It’s what I’m going to do.

I am a hairy girl.

I’ve seen a lot on social media and generally online recently about body hair on women. And, as the feminist I am, I wanted to weigh in with my two cents worth.

(TL:DR version – I have hair, I don’t care and nor should you.)

I’ve been blessed with thick, flowing locks on my head. They’re dark, they’re full and when I say thick, I mean, they take literal hours to dry after washing.

Unfortunately, this isn’t reserved for the hair on my head.

Sure, I get hair in the usual places (ie, everywhere, like most other people) but my hair is especially noticeable. Very dark, very obvious and always in the way, apparently.
There are kids at work who tell me, “you have hairy arms” and my response is now just “I know! Now, why don’t we take your shoes off.”

If I shave my legs in the morning, there is stubble by the evening. I get one day of hair free shorts or dresses before the razor has to come out again and I slice my skin to a million pieces. Or I go back to wearing jeans in accordance to society’s rule.
Crop tops are a big no-go because of the patch of fur on my lower back, and I can grow a beard some guys would be jealous of.

I’m just coming to terms with all of this. It was only until recently that I would actually flinch if the word ‘hairy’ was used around me – it felt like my own personal kind of slur, designed to hurt and shame me.

By 13,  I’d already been shaving my legs for three years, my armpits for a year longer. Puberty hits young sometimes.

There’s my little sob story. I know,  it could have been much worse for me as a kid, and I’m blessed that only a few people snickered about it in the girls changing room. But you still feel like shit when you’re crying over another slashed kneecap, or your sitting in front of a nurse with an infection in your armpit due to shaving, or you’re dry shaving because you’re at guide camp; shorts are a necessity but you have no running water.

I’m over it. I’m done feeling like “hairy” is a dirty word. Like the hair on my legs is gross, but it’s A-Okay on my brother. Like I have to scrape off layers of skin, getting scarred and pock-marked in the process, for hours of wearing a skirt, just to then have days of itchy, dry skin.

I’m not saying I’m not going to stop getting rid of the hair. I’m just going to stop feeling guilty over having it in the first place.

Eating again

One of the unfortunate side effects of my anxiety is the distinct lack of appetite caused by intense nausea. This, in turn is directly linked to how stressed out I am.

In short, while some people comfort eat when stressed, I almost stop eating all together.

And it’s not a diet because I’m not trying to lose weight. I like my body how it is!

There was a time over last summer where my anxiety hit new highs. I had just started working, which was stressful, and was getting the bus to town nearly everyday, which is enough in itself to send me to a spiraling pit of self destruction, so I was feeling ill constantly.

Which meant I was eating… maybe… one full meal a day? And surviving off crisps and cereal bars for the other two ‘meals’.

Since then, it’s never been so bad. Usually, I eat two meals and a snack if I remember.

Until recently. I should be incredibly stressed, because uni work is amping up, I haven’t done much work on my project at all recently, my presentation on Tuesday sucked and we’re going to court tomorrow morning!

But I’ve been eating three meals a day. What’s more; I’ve been having breakfast, which I haven’t eaten regularly since year 9.

I feel good. I don’t feel stressed. I’m scared about how long I have before this goes belly up and I go back to the nausea and sleeplessness.

Cutting my hair… again.

If you go back through my blog, you might find the first post I did about cutting my hair for my BEDIN challenge.

I have since cut my hair EVEN SHORTER – to the point where I’m not even sure if I like it this length.

No, I’m not going through a rough breakup. No, I’m not trying to find myself. No, I didn’t do it to ‘be more gay.’ Well… not intentionally.

I’m no psychologist, but I think the reason runs a bit deeper.

See, I’m a bit of a control freak. I like plans, organisation, structure. When things change, it makes me very panicky and anxious, because I don’t have a planned reaction to this brand new situation.

This is just who I am as a person; I’m working on being better, but let’s assume I’m not going to alter this core aspect of my personality overnight, okay?

So. There is a deep need for control. HOWEVER, it’s very exhausting to be like this all the time. I think that’s why I’ve been feeling really bad these past few weeks, really zoned out and anxious – because I’ve been wound so tightly.

Because I woke up feeling awful on Thursday morning, I acted without thinking. I just pulled the scissors out and started hacking at my hair and suddenly it’s too short to even put up in a ponytail.

The weird part? I felt a whole lot better the second it was gone.

Irrational behaviour done.

Back to planning out my life.

‘Children’ vs ‘Adult’ books… Or, you know. Just books.

As much as I love music, people, and Nutella, the greatest love of my life has been, and will always be, books.

That’s just how it is. The feeling of finishing a book for the first time, and the emptiness you’re left with is a kind of masochistic addiction that I always need more of.

And, look, I’ve tried to be a book snob. I love Dorian Gray and Great Expectations as much as anyone!

But reading classics is like eating an entire cake; it seems like a great idea at first, and you’re really into it! But the novelty quickly wears off, and you’re left feeling a little ill and wishing you had chosen to do anything but that. Yet now the challenge has started and god damn it, you have to finish this entire cake.

But there is a certain prestige that comes with reading The Three Musketeers, and The Odyssey, and Hamlet, when you’re not studying them in school. I would love to be able to read them, remember what happens, and pretend to sound like an intellectual. I have a theory that people read these kinds of books for the ‘stimulating thoughts’ they get from them.

Personally, I’d rather read something fun, but if you want to ‘grow’ your ideas and ‘mature’ as a person, then be my guest!

Though, children’s lit does this too, at a child’s level. Still discussions of death, of living life while you can, of discrimination, abuse, love, hate, war… just, in fewer, easier to understand words.

Same software, different casing, right?

This is why Rick Riordan, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Scott and Lemony Snicket will always be on my list of favourite authors. They tell adult stories in a kid friendly way. They don’t talk down to kids, they don’t patronize them. They simply make the same themes more accessible and easier to read.

And how could I not look up to these authors when I’m trying to do the same dang thing?

 

 

 

Depressed Studying

So this is probably the first time I’ve recognised depression as depression. I’m still not entirely sure why; maybe I’m getting better at noticing the shitty feelings I get?

Regardless, life goes on.

The last time I felt like this – the infamous Year 12 disaster – I didn’t know what it was. I took endless mental health days and basically kept saying “I’ll do it when I feel better.”

I don’t yet know all of the direct links to my mental health, but I know workload is one of them. The more I left, the worse I ended up feeling, so the more I left.

Which is why I’m currently in the university library about to bash out some words for this podcasting project, despite not wanting to do anything except lie in bed.

Even if I force myself to type some utter crap, something so bad if anyone read it I would be put on publishers’ blacklists, it’s still something.

It’s something more than I would have had, and less work for me later.

Sorry, I’m not saying this is a way out of feeling like crap. It really isn’t – I’m still numb and will probably be for a while. But this helps me. Or, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe this is depression’s best friend anxiety STILL worrying about this project even though it’s not due till may and I haven’t yet done the work that is due for this Wednesday.

Who knows. But that’s where I’m at, mentally. I hope you’re doing better.

Numb

Anxiety makes it nigh impossible to avoid thoughts and feelings.

There’s always something to worry about, something that takes up far too much time and energy, something that, perhaps, you don’t necessarily need to worry about. But when you’ve had it for a few years, you learn to live with it. If it weren’t such a distraction, I might find the constant pressure useful, and turn it into something productive.

Think of it like a wind up toy; for the past 2 and a bit years, I’ve been wound up so much that, eventually, I’m released and just spin out of control (this is how panic attacks happen!)

Now though… it’s different. I’m not wound up, I’m not spinning out of control.

There’s nothing there.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s things I need to worry about – like the radio package due tomorrow morning that I haven’t done yet – but I can’t bring myself to care. I just… I just don’t. And that terrifies me, because that’s where I was in AS levels.

Things aren’t great right now, but other people have it worse, so what do I know? Should I even be complaining about this now, when there’s so much going on, when my family are hurting, and I’m bitching about… It doesn’t matter.

I wanted to get something out. Sorry I have to share it here.

I saved this as “gay ass poem.”

My first kiss was with a girl.

Aged 11, a friend’s house, we swear to never tell
anyone of this,
a pact made by 6 of us,
just wondering,
just curious.

And, in my defence, it has taken 8 years to even write of it;
Time has passed so rapidly, I’m not sure if the others,
self-named straight girls, even remember that night,
for them, a blurred memory buried deep with
play-doh fears and lego stacked dreams,

for me, 8 years of ignoring half of myself;
8 years of “crush or friend?”
And I suppose it’s funny, because
When I kissed a boy a year later, it was a huge deal
Pressure of friends expectantly watching, daring me, laughing at my
discomfort,
the buried fear that they would find out;
us dorky queers are taunted enough at school.

But none of that aged 11.
None of that at my queer revelation.
No wondering, just wonder.
No longer curious, but satisfied

in the knowledge that no one would know how much I liked
the smooth softness
and long hair
and sunshine that radiated from her.

I don’t remember which of the others I kissed –
8 years is a long time to sit on a memory
and now I will never remember my first kiss,
stolen from me by fear and time and a promise I no longer
have the patience to keep.