Four Steps for Self Care

Now that I’ve gotten the business writing/sales pitch out of me, I can provide an update on my mental sanity.

Since I started seeing a therapist at the beginning of the year, I’ve learned to use several new coping techniques, most of which have helped me in the moment and slowed or stopped an anxiety attack. But they do nothing for the aftermath of the attack’s buildup or the perceived anxiety that is consistently flowing. As such, after prolonged periods of socializing, I’m beyond exhausted. I’m tired mentally, physically, and emotionally. Coping only does so much.

However, there are some small advantages to my ever-present anxiety. Sometimes I can harness it into productive anxiety and focus my energy into my crafting business. Or like today, for instance, I can use it to take care of mundane household tasks like changing sheets, catching up on shows, and making new posts. And while all of that still drains my energy, at least I have a sense of accomplishment afterwards.

With starting my own business, some of my other hobbies have taken a backseat. My  story writing was one of them, as was my reading list. I’ve been gaming here and there, mostly Zelda games that don’t require much of my time because I know them so well I don’t struggle with them anymore. Mostly when I need some self care, I find a quiet isolated corner and hide there for as long as I can until I’m ready to be around people again. That being said, here are a few things that I do to calm down and take care of myself.

1. Journaling. One of the best ways for me to calm down and manage my chaotic thoughts is simply to write them down, and my therapist would agree with me. In fact, she’s told me she wishes all her clients would take to journaling. In all fairness to her, though, not everyone enjoys writing the way I do so I understand if this isn’t right for everyone. What I find most helpful about journaling, though, is that it helps make whatever’s bothering me more tangible and thus, more manageable. Plus journaling doesn’t require any special items. Just some paper and something to write with. Even if you just jot down a repetitive thought on a Post-It note and throw it away, that can help bring your anxiety down.

2. Yoga and Meditation. As cliche as it might sound, yoga and meditation can slow the mind down. However, I believe that meditation can be done in multiple ways, not just sitting quietly and listening to your breathing. Meditation can be done during any activity you find pleasurable. It could be during a morning run, where all you focus on is putting one foot in front of the other, or what most consider traditional meditation, sitting quietly and breathing to quiet your thoughts. The reason I put yoga together with meditation is because that combination is what works for me. Whatever activity you choose to do, use that to focus only on the activity itself.

3. Take a Nap. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is rest. Find a dark quiet place, grab a cozy blanket and pillow, and lay down for 10 minutes. If you can only spare 5 minutes, then lay down for 5 minutes. You’ll feel refreshed and maybe even ready to take on one of your tasks.

4. Watch YouTube. Find some cute animal videos and watch them. Everyone loves watching puppies and kitties at play and they can calm you down. It’s a small thing, but it can make all the difference.

That’s it for now, but you can always check online for additional tips on self care. If you have your own care routine, kudos to you! I’m off to work on my own self care routine.

Advertisements

Looking to a Brighter Tomorrow

I apologize that it’s been so long since my last post. Chaos doesn’t even begin to describe the last couple months for me.

Tuesday was my last day at my job. I finally caved and quit. The past few days have been marvelously stress free and I have no regrets yet. I’ve been making more crocheted fairies and getting things done for the possibility of starting up my own crafting business called Nerdvana Crafts. So yes, I’ve been keeping busy, but there’s still a lot of work to be done in the next few weeks.

Job hunting is not exactly a fun task, but one that needs to be done. Having worked from home for the last five years, I’m eager to do something else from home. So far I’ve found a couple jobs that include freelance editing, writing, and data entry. I’ve also gotten a couple requests for crocheted projects, but as a starting entrepreneur, that probably won’t sustain me for very long, at least not until business starts picking up.

There is a publishing company looking for a freelance writer and editor to help authors with their works and I’m highly interested in this position because one, I’m also a writer and editor, and two, this could be my break into the publishing world and I’m eager to see where this could take me, if I get it. The only hitch is they want writing samples and links to live content and right now, this is my only blog and I would prefer to keep it private for my own sake. However, I do have another one that I abandoned a while ago that could possibly work for this. I’ll have to come up with some new posts for it and hope they’re good enough. The trouble would then arise from picking something to write about.

My family has been extremely supportive of my decision to quit my job, though my dad has expressed concern about me being without income despite my reassurances that I will manage. Having been unemployed before, I know how to manage my finances to the most essential items only until I have a new job. However, the difference between this unemployment and my previous bout was this time, I left on my terms.

So here’s to the future. May it be brighter and more fulfilling, and may this job search not take as long as my last one. Cheers!

Facing the Future

Yesterday as I was driving home from a weekend at Jerad’s (partially planned, but also started a day early due to lack of internet at home for work purposes), I started thinking down a semi-dark train of thought for me. I was worried, and still am I guess, about finding a mate/lover to spend the rest of my life with. Truth be told, I’m not in a huge rush for one. I have the two greatest friends I could possibly ask for and I’m finally starting to get comfortable with myself. I think the only reason I was so bothered by this yesterday was that I was alone with my thoughts and driving away from a place that made me feel happy and relaxed and calm.

It has gotten to the point that my “home” no longer feels like home. Yes I’m allowed to live here and use the facilities like water, heat, internet, etc. but the only room that feels like mine is my bedroom. Granted, I completely understand that living in my parents’ house means that it’s exactly that: my parents’ house. They make all the decisions regarding furniture, paint, etc. And I know what you’re going to say. Why don’t you move out, get your own place? Trust me, if I could afford my own place, I would be gone in a heartbeat. Don’t get me wrong. I love my parents, but sometimes they’re a bit stifling.

Circling back to my original point, I had ventured down this dark road of, “Oh, I need to find a mate or significant other,” and how I would even begin to do that, and after I was home I had considered looking at several dating apps. Well, that actually made me even more worked up to the point of being in tears before bed. Clearly I am not ready for such a commitment or even making myself that vulnerable to anyone and ironically, actually looking at reviews for dating apps shut the waterworks off in an instant. Looking at some of them snapped my logic on in a big pile of “Nope, nope nope, nope, nope!” Quite frankly, I’m more committed to getting a cat once I can afford it.

Given that I have been under what feels like an enormous amount of stress in dealing with an ever-growing pile of work requiring extra hours just to get caught up, family stresses, and one particularly problematic Hot Topic order, this mental breakdown is perfectly understandable. I’m having to do a lot of adulting stuff on my own, with only two friends to help me unwind and unload on. Doing yoga helps sometimes and playing video games usually helps a lot. But I’ve been so worn down that I can’t even focus enough to write. This entry here is actually coming off a relaxed weekend so I managed to focus enough to put words down in a coherent manner.

So trying to add the stress of joining a dating app and looking for “love” just out of sheer loneliness and not feeling like I fit the typical societal “norms,” on top of my current, high stress levels stemming from work and home, I was basically setting myself up for failure and decided that if I should ever find that one special person to share my life with, great. I would love to have a perfectly imperfect romance with someone and be able to have my own family,  to enjoy (and suffer through) the joyous miracle of being a mom. But for now, I’m content with letting love find me while I continue working on myself and overcoming my own obstacles and insecurities. Until next time…<3

Post Vacation Madness

So I’ve had a crazy day. In coming back from vacation over the past five days, I was sent an email saying that I had gone into the negative with my paid time off and that technically I shouldn’t have been able to do that, but it happened and so I would not be able to take any paid vacation off for the rest of the year in order to “pay back” the time I’m currently negative. Quite frankly, I don’t think it’ll take an entire five months to pay it back, but what do I know? But the good news here is that I have no foreseeable “planned” vacations coming up in the next five months to worry about needing that paid time off.

That one email put me into panic overdrive mode and made me feel quite overwhelmed with things I wanted to do today. Not even things that absolutely needed to be done. To put it simply, my mind felt like a very busy train station, with six different trains running on six different but criss-crossing tracks and they continually ran the risk of colliding with each other.

After taking several deep breaths, I calmed down enough to make a list of things I wanted to get done and slowly did them one by one throughout the day. One of them was to sort through a massive pile of stuffed animals, mostly monkeys, and pick ones to donate/get rid of. While I was in college, my favorite band was called 100 Monkeys and my family and friends made it their mission to get me 100 monkeys and some time last year they succeeded. So I took one massive “family” picture of most of the monkeys and then sorted through them to divide them between keep and donate. Part of my desire to do this I blame on the show “Hoarders,” which I watched while I was on vacation because my best friend loves it, and while I don’t mind watching it, it makes me want to clean and sort and organize, etc. The other part of this desire to clean is from a genuine place of reducing clutter and initially I wanted to clean out the laundry basket these monkeys were sitting in so I could actually use it as a laundry basket. However, that didn’t work out so well because now the basket is full of the Disney toys that had been sitting on top of all the monkeys!

Now, granted, I still love monkeys, so I’m not getting rid of all 100, but I also realize that, with all of the other stuffed animals and other miscellaneous “nerd” stuff I have neatly arranged in various places in my room, I need to make space for new stuff and move some of the old stuff out. This is, in itself, a process and a time consuming one at that. Ideally, I’d like to go through all of my dressers, my closet, and a clear stacked “tower” and see if I can’t weed some non-essential things out of there. But I need to find time first.

So monkey wrangling was only one (well technically two) item on my list of things to do. The next two were fairly simple. One was to write a check to my dad to pay him back for several things he paid for me while I was gone. The other was to do some math for a store I wanted to buy from and find out how to get the best deal. Well, turns out the store had a flash sale so I ended up completing my transaction immediately and within my self imposed budget based off my latest paycheck. This will be my birthday gift to myself when it arrives. As for the check writing…well, I haven’t gotten to it yet, because I still need to finish working and then I need to balance out my checkbook.

The third item was actually making up a blog post. Since my mind was going a million miles a minute, making up this post actually helped to calm me down and slow down enough to remain calm throughout the day. This was probably the easiest one to do once I got rolling. I did a lot of venting this morning to my best friend so most of that was already off my chest.

Last on my list was making up several YouTube video playlists for working out. I have yet to find a good balance for me, since I love yoga for the stretching out, but I also like/need more cardio and strength training, which is where Pilates comes in, and a lot of the videos I end up watching become too challenging for me and it takes me a good hour just to get half an hour of actual working out done because I have to keep stopping. So my mad plan this morning was to do my cardio/Pilates once a week on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and yoga for the rest of the week. However, the yoga won’t all be just stretching routines. I know of some that include body weight based strength training in the flows. This task is easily the most time consuming. It will require making multiple playlists with multiple videos for different groups of body parts and searching for said videos to put in the playlists. I wholeheartedly believe this will be the definition of madness. If I get it done yet tonight, it’ll be a miracle.

The only relaxing thing I’ll get to do is some crocheting while watching one of my cooking shows. I’m making a very small, 3-inch figure of the spotted elephant from Rudolph for a friend. Last I recall, I had finished the head, body, and ears. Oh! Speaking of which, the Bumble has been finished and delivered to its new home. The recipient was absolutely delighted by it, even if mom did sew the arms on upside down.

So yes, my day has been quite hectic by my normal standards and to top it all off, last night on my ride home, I learned that I would have relatives coming up this weekend for our town’s annual festival for the drunks, and quite honestly, my first thought was, crap! That’ll cut into my gaming time!

Until next time, read on, peace out, and find time to chillax once in a while. Everyone needs their chill time.

Writing on Command

Does anyone else have issues writing on command? I can bet that in at least every single creative writing class, you’ve been given a subject and five minutes to write about it. And I don’t know about you, but for at least the first 30 seconds to a minute, I stare at the page and my mind goes completely blank.

It could even be about something simple like apple pie. I’m sure there are a lot of people whose first thought is about the smell or the taste. Me, I’m trying to come up with the “Why” of the matter. Why apple pie? Why not blueberry or peach or cherry? And then half a dozen other questions arise, like who’s making the pie, who are they making it for and why, etc. and I’m being battered by all these thoughts.

Eventually I’ll come up with something plain like “Grandma’s apple pie sat on the windowsill waiting to cool off while the grandkids played outside and grandpa slept in the recliner in front of the tv.” And that will be all I can do in 5 minutes. Now, given ample time to think through all the random questions, and more than 5 minutes to write, I can make a paragraph that’s completely different and more descriptive.

“Grandma set her freshly baked apple pie on the windowsill to cool off. Its warm, spicy scent wafted through the house, as she had added a little extra cinnamon, just how grandpa liked it. She and her grandkids, Todd and Lily, had picked the apples that morning at the orchard just down the dirt road. Todd and Lily were still outside playing a game of hide and seek while grandpa dozed in his recliner in front of the old tv with the wire rabbit ears. Grandma smiled as she started to wash the dishes in warm soapy water. Once those kids smelled the pie, they would abandon their game and come running inside, begging for a piece of it while it was still hot.”

This paragraph covers more of the senses and is more descriptive that the initial sentence (and yes, it took me about an hour to craft just this last night). This is something that plagues me as a writer. I can work with writing prompts, but not time limits. My brain needs time to process and think through all possibilities and even then, I may not actually perceive ALL the possibilities.

It doesn’t help that I’m mentally bored with my job so naturally my mind kicks in to autopilot halfway through my day. There’s just not enough stimulation there, and then when I’m done with work, I need a break from the mental monotony and instead I dive into more hands-on crafting like my crochet projects.

I know I said I would work more on my writing this year but the last month I’ve really slacked off and I need something to jolt my creative juices again.

Over to you guys! How do you break out of your own ruts and get the creative juices flowing again? I’d love to hear your suggestions and tips!

***************************************************************

And now for a special update!

The past couple days, I’ve been working on one of my mother’s crochet projects because I thought it would be small and easy to crank out in a few hours. Well, it’s turning into a few days, but it’s not all that bad. I needed a break from my blanket and this has been fun. It’s my first amigurumi, the Bumble snow monster from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He still needs a face and arms, but I’ll work on those later.

Bumble Amigurumi

In addition, I have to commend my mother on starting one of her own sewing projects, which is a quilt of valor for my godmother’s son, who’s a Marine, and she is making considerable progress on it without my prompting. I’m really proud of her for putting as much effort in as she has over the past few days, whenever she had some free time. What she has done looks great. I’ll try to get pictures for next time.

Lost and Found

Now that things have calmed down a little and I’m more level headed, allow me to give you a little context for my recent explosion.

Monday morning I was sent a group text by Gia about getting together for a summer hangout time, since all four of us were home/in the state (we have a mutual friend who’s going to school in Arizona right now). Along the way of deciding dates and such, I made a simple, polite request for Gia to clean her apartment because of my health issues (allergies, mostly). I even included a remark that my allergies had been getting worse and that anything from animal hair to dust to pollen was aggravating my sinuses. And I knew firsthand that I wouldn’t enjoy myself if I had to spend most of the weekend with an ice pack to my face. Here’s where the first of the sparks fly.

Gia’s first response was half-heartedly sincere, but she had to point out that she ALWAYS tries to clean her place before guests arrive. Note the key word “tries.” Then she added that she’ll shave her cats and hire a maid service, and not to be surprised if her cats magically had all their hair back come the weekend we had settled on. If you can’t tell, this was heavy sarcasm. First off, the fact that she had to point out that she always tries to clean her place annoyed me because it’s a lie, unless cleaning house doesn’t include dishes or taking out the recyclables. Second, I can take a joke, but the sarcasm regarding her cats and a maid service was not only unnecessary but also showed me her true unwillingness to take my request seriously. For those of you who’ve had sinus infections or have allergies and no medication seems to offer relief, it’s no fun having your face hurt and not being able to do anything about it.

In any case, I ignored the sarcasm because I know that’s how her personality is. Next came the discussion of who would pick up who, what routes to take, etc. and after much discussion and a period of silence, I decided to make an executive decision: to have Jerad pick me up late afternoon that Friday so we could go up to Gia’s, and Gia could pick up our other friend around the time he was done with work. Well, earlier Gia had mentioned that she could get off work at noon and in my executive decision, I mentioned that she could use that extra time to clean her apartment before getting our other friend, not in a mean sort of way. I just know she’s busy with a full time job and she’s very tired after work and I understand that sometimes you just don’t have the energy to do something. Plus I’ve heard her mention to me several times she “ran out of time” or “didn’t have the energy” to clean the place up. So my suggestion to use the afternoon to clean was meant to be helpful, not hurtful.

Gia takes it as hurtful and responds with a photo that said, “Bitch, don’t tell me what to do,” and that I am not ok with her place and if the other two can think of a better place to meet, that would be great. To which I responded that I just wouldn’t come if she was going to be that way about a simple request. It should also be noted that I’ve been having an anxiety attack for about an hour and both of my parents have seen it and been trying to council and console me.

The next day Gia sends a message to all of us to “disregard and cancel all plans made yesterday. I forgot I had babysitting duties that weekend.” My first thought: Are you fucking kidding me? You triggered an anxiety attack on me for nothing?! And of course, this is where I snapped and deleted her from all my emails, my phone, and my social media. And then the narcissistic manipulator comes out and sends me a long text the following morning with this great sob story about how I’m immature for taking her off my social media and that I’m not the only one with medical issues; how this could’ve been resolved by a little self awareness and we could’ve talked it out like mature adults. But the way she wrote it makes it sound like she’s the victim, the only one with hurt feelings, and she pulled Jerad into it by saying something along the lines of having to mention her own health issues because “a little birdy whom apparently speaks for you had to lecture me since you apparently do not comprehend sarcasm anymore.”

I mentioned before that I recognized her sarcasm and ignored it. However, the fact that she blatantly attacked Jerad for no reason really irritated me. First of all I’m sure he wasn’t actually lecturing her. He’s too nice a guy for that. And second, I didn’t ask him to speak for me. He did that all himself, for which I thanked him in genuine appreciation for because sometimes it’s hard for me to speak at all, especially during an attack. I’m glad he wanted to be an advocate for me.

Since receiving this long text, I have not responded or risen to meet her challenge. I’ve had several long internal thoughts of writing a revenge letter or something about karma being a bitch, but up until now, I haven’t written anything down. It should also be noted that she pulled this same kind of thing when we were living together and having all the tension. She messaged me a big long spiel about everything we were both feeling at the time and when I responded via the messenger that I felt the exact same way, her retort, in all caps, was “And yet no words!” I don’t remember what else she put with that but I was hysterical and bawling my eyes out because I was desperate to end the fighting and once I calmed myself down enough, I managed to go out to the living room by her and apologize, even though I wasn’t the only one at fault. (I never got an apology from her.)

So I know where this trap goes and although I may have lost a 10 year friendship, I’ve found something more important. Confidence, self respect, and freedom from my tormentor. Being that this year is meant to be about taking care of myself and finding new things about myself, letting go of this abusive friendship is refreshing and freeing, and I feel so much lighter now that it’s finally over. It might’ve been messy and volatile, but it’s done and over with, and that’s what matters. No one has the right to bring you down and make you out to be the bad guy when you’ve done nothing wrong, though I will admit I wasn’t perfect either and things could’ve been handled better. But your reaction to a situation shows what kind of person you are, and if you need to walk away before things explode, to avoid getting burned, then don’t be afraid to walk away. Some things just aren’t worth it.

Breaking Point

I’m at a very low point right now. Even though I have a lot to be grateful for, I’m feeling like parts of myself are being chipped away and it’s frightening. I’ve been an emotional wreck all day and am having to fight very hard to keep from rushing to the store to buy something I don’t even just because it’s on sale. I even took an hour and a half drive with no destination in mind just to try and calm down. It didn’t help, but I was mostly ok while I was out driving so I guess there’s that. I feel like I’ve reached my breaking point, and quite possibly my limit.

Like I told my best friend this morning, I’m sick of all the work related emails, which have doubled in the past few months. I’m sick of coming away from both emails and conference calls feeling more scolded than uplifted and encouraged. I was actually upset last night by an email that felt like a personal attack and it’s still bothering me now. I know it shouldn’t, but it read like I was being scolded for doing my fucking job. And this is happening a lot more often lately. Not because I’m doing a bad job, but because I miss one or two tiny little things. I understand they want perfection every time, but no one’s perfect no matter how hard they may try, and I’m a perfectionist so I understand and struggle with that daily.

I’ve been struggling to concentrate all day, all week, possibly all year even…that’s how bad it’s gotten. I’ve been on the verge of an anxiety attack and have even had small bursts of uninhibited crying, like releases of emotion just washing over me to give me some kind of release from all this stress. I’m caught between this vortex of opposing energies, between wanting to do everything and nothing all at once, which will lead to nothing getting done at all. I don’t even know how I’m putting together coherent thoughts right now. The only solace I have right now is my music, my best friend, and being alone.

I’m beyond exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally…it doesn’t help that we had relatives over last night who stayed until midnight and I was trying to sleep, having gone to bed at 11:30 to try and calm down after reading that stupid email shortly beforehand. I have such terrible eye strain that I need to alternate between my two pairs of glasses on a daily basis now, and the only way to really rest my eyes is to sleep or do absolutely nothing but stare at the ceiling. I’ve tried doing my other hobbies without my glasses and the only way that works, and it’s not a given every time, is if I haven’t already been wearing them all day for work. And even though my headaches have mostly gone away now, I still feel like I can’t catch a break. I know people say it has to get worse before it can get better, but I feel like my switch is stuck in the “worse” position and it’ll never get better.