Today is not a lost cause

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I was listening to a meditation podcast in my car this morning and I made a mental note of something it said that I thought was important. “Balance is a moving target.” It depends on so many different factors that all change all the time. Balancing it all requires different things at different times. It was funny because speaking of targets, I was on my way home from Target (everyone’s favorite store, am I right?). I had to get out of my house, we needed some groceries, so it worked. Once I got home, I wrote the quote in an actual note (mental notes aren’t as helpful to me lol) and thought about how it related to what I said yesterday, about how motivation needs to be renewed continually, and how that’s okay.

All that is super applicable to me today. I woke up at 5:30 this morning because my cousin texted me. It was way too early and I was still mostly asleep haha, but I didn’t mind because I prefer to be up early than sleep late. I did my morning stuff. Ya know. Washed my face and took my meds and brushed my teeth and cleaned up a little and stretched a little and recorded my moods and meds and related info for yesterday (oh hey bipolar coping skills).

I said yesterday that I was gonna make fancier coffees to keep things at least slightly more entertaining this week. And I’m happy to announce that I did (I put cocoa powder and vanilla extract into the french press along with the coffee, frothed my oat milk, and then topped it with cinnamon). Let me tell you something, it was delicious. So yay for that, but by 8:30 (after I’d been awake for 3 hours already), I was bored as shit and my mood was going down. Ugh. It’s annoying because I’m not crazy like I normally would be this time of year (my typical disclaimer that I call myself crazy because I relate to the word myself, and I’m not looking to insult anyone with mental health issues who don’t identify with it). I’m not DEPRESSED. I’m just overrrrr the fact that I’m in this slump and don’t know how to get out of it.

That was when I went to Target, narrowly avoiding the first bad mood of the day. Came home. Made myself a healthy breakfast (yogurt, almond butter, and some pumpkin all mixed up, so good btw). And then? Boom. Bad, yucky, annoyed mood.

To get out of THAT one, I did the thing where I set a timer and told myself to get to work. It was semi-helpful. I set a timer for 20 minutes (I used an app called Study Bunny, actually…it’s similar to the Flora one I sometimes use and that I’ve written about, but you can use your phone so there’s less pressure, aaaand you can feed a cute bunny rabbit!) and lit a candle, actually put a facemask on, did a tiny bit of work, and then washed the mask off when I was done.

Okay, felt good, got some stuff done right? Uh no, didn’t enjoy feeling accomplished because focus is so COMPLICATED for me. I didn’t wanna rant again about my ADHD and medication issue again, but I’ll update this blog for anyone out there who cares haha. I’ll just say first that when I can’t focus, it puts me in a bad mood. It doesn’t make me irritable or bipolar-angry or depressed. It just makes everything so much more difficult because I struggle to manage my emotions to begin with, like in general, and when I can’t focus on doing that, I’m at a worse disadvantage.

Last I said here, my new psychiatrist wouldn’t give me my Vyvanse to help me focus. I wasn’t really given a reason, but I was obviously upset, and it impacted how my month went. I had another virtual appointment last week and after I explained that it was a struggle, she said it was kind of a misunderstanding, and she gave it to me this month, but she said don’t take it every day because it’s bad for my heart. And she said something about it being bad for adults, but I still have more questions as to why. Because after that appointment, I’ve done research and asked around and talked to my therapist about it. I don’t wanna type anything specific here since I don’t have all the facts yet, but long story short, I feel guilty whenever I need to take my pill.

And today, after fighting with myself, I finally took my Vyvanse. I guess it could be placebo, but I feel so much better now. I just typed all this out in ten minutes, didn’t I?

Yesterday I thought making a better plan would help me manage my days a little better and be a little happier by the end of them. Today, I’m thinking that too much planning only puts pressure on myself and breeds more guilt, soooooo that’s probably not a good idea. Maybe it’s just a matter of trial and error, process of elimination, figuring things out as I go. Noneeeee of us have ever had to deal with something like this coronavirus quarantine thing. It’s been said before but there’s value in cutting ourselves some slack.

What am I trying to say… Basically? Today is not a lost cause. And furthermore, it’s never too late to restart the day.

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Quarantine Update: day 56

It’s another morning of another day, the start of another week where we’re gonna be doing a whole lot of the same thing (that thing being nothing). It’s actually kinda funny, the fact that we’re living in a weird “Groundhog’s Day” situation, and I definitely typed that with light humor as I try to see the bright side of things: I’m not dealing with the savage customers at work, I’m lucky to not be absolutely panicking about money, I’m at home with all my stuff and with technology that I swore I’d never again take for granted after not having it in the psych hospital. But the monotony breeds lots of stress, on top of the stressful uncertainty that everyone everywhere is feeling. Quarantine has taught me that doing nothing is tricky (which I already knew, but this confirmed that it’s not just me who finds it difficult; it’s actually a trigger for most people). More recently it’s taught me that I need to adjust how I approach this whole thing.

I’ll start where I am now. I’ve been so…unmotivated. I won’t say lazy, because that word doesn’t fit and because it doesn’t give me credit for the effort I’m putting into being my best self. It’s just that I haven’t gotten much done, though it’s not for lack of trying. This stay-at-home thing is a fight for me because I can’t stay focused. I’ll explain the whole story with my ADHD and stuff later, but suffice it to say that it’s causing me grief. I have all the time in the world to write and work on my fun personal projects, and I can’t fucking concentrate. It’s ironic in the most infuriating way.

Anyway. What have I been doing? Well, I’m glad you asked. I looked back through my journals to get an accurate answer: I’ve been trying to stick to a structured routine. That’s something most bipolar people should do all the time regardless of pandemic or not, but it’s obviously more important during one, and it honestly just makes me happy to check things off a preset list because it gives me the surge of dopamine accomplishing something gives me. And it’s like, legitimately healthy. Like, I try to complete all my habits and track them along with my moods and other info. It makes me proud of myself. I have of course been writing (and exploring new opportunities with that). I’ve been video calling my friends and family (I am endlessly thankful that we have the ability to do that). I try to go for walks. I journal and scroll social media and read articles and play gaming apps. I watch YouTube and I must have binge-watched Family Guy fully like twice already (it’s one of those shows I can enjoy without having to actually focus on it).

I guess that seems like enough shit to do, but it barely fills one day, and it isn’t fulfilling, especially because it’s the same daily. It’s not like these days are much different than a normal day off from work that I would have had during the previous version of my normal. But it’s not broken up by anything. It feels less meaningful (which sucks because I have so much more time to work on what I actually DO find meaningful).

If I had to summarize the last month? Boring. I also think the word “mundane” fits, and actually I think that works with what I’m trying to do here because it reminds me of poetry by Tyler Knott Gregson where he talks about the “miracle in the mundane.” Seeing how the normal, seemingly trivial parts of life can be beautiful.  It’s a lot like how finding joy in the little things makes us feel better about life.

So, what can I do this coming month to make it better than the previous weeks? Uhhhh, oh man, let’s see.

Try to change up my routine. Mix up the order. Add new things. Take some things out. Get creative with it. Maybe I’ll start by binging a show that isn’t Family Guy haha. Maybe try to make something totally random into a daily habit. I can’t think of anything right now but I promise I will. Oh, here’s a sort of related but random idea: make my coffee differently every time I make it for five days (and I drink at least two cups a day, so that means finding a bunch of different recipes or tweaks). Okay, this paragraph is actually getting me really excited. I’m gonna make an actual plan and set goals and shit for this. New week, new goals. Renewed motivation (because I’ve been reading stuff about how motivation isn’t a permanent thing and needssss to be renewed a lot, which is just how it is and that’s fine). Yeah okay I’ll update again at some point, but I’m hoping the next few weeks are more…I guess I’ll use the word exciting because that’s what I want it to be and I wanna attract that shit. Boom.

quarantine-update

enjoy the little things

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Thought this quote was fitting because good little things are what’s getting me through the all-consuming boredom (things like fancy coffee from my own personal at-home cafe lol, finding and downloading and playing new games on my phone, infused water, and video calling my family♡ every day).
I’m telling myself to focus on these awesome little things because I just regained my mental stability and I don’t want unending boredom and the looming feeling of uncertainty to uproot that. The second part sounds dramatic, but seriously, the world is a mess and the uncertainty is a trigger (for lots of people!). The first part sounds like it shouldn’t be a big deal buuuuut
Boredom makes me feel super shitty. I want to be motivated and productive and feel accomplished (and not because the world is telling me I have to, it’s just an internal feeling of calm I get from it that I want). I need structure (I am clinging to my morning routine bc I like the way my mornings go, and that helps, but still, I don’t have places to BE). Oh hang on, I started writing this wanting it to be a positive rant lol so yeah, focusing on the little things and enjoying them to their fullest and doing what I can to combat the negativity that comes with the quarantine (that’s an absolute necessity still, by the way) and thinking good things.

Mental Health Awareness Month

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 I took this selfie on the 1st, found a mental health sticker for it, & I wanted to post it but couldn’t think of a perfect caption for it. Because I wanted it to be about something important. Because mental health is HEALTH, not something separate but a portion of the whole piece. The conversation about mental health is for all of us, just not those of us with mental illness, although I guess sometimes the term “mental health” is used to mean the absence of illness, which I don’t love.

But I do think if you have issues it’s more apparent that you have to focus on mental health since your life revolves around it & you weren’t given a choice in the matter. Basically, mental health is “cognitive, behavioral, & emotional well-being.” Health in how we think, act, & feel.

I’ve been thinking about what that random sticker I found says. It’s good advice, but what does it mean to ❝make your mental health a priority.❞

Here’s a brain-dump I came up with:

↳ ᴅᴏ ᴅɪғғɪᴄᴜʟᴛ ᴡᴏʀᴋ
-think about things you have to process
-get things done when they need to be done
-ask for help when you need it

↳ ʟᴏᴏᴋ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ʙʀɪɢʜᴛ sɪᴅᴇ
-part of doing difficult work
-try to find the good thing even during bad times
-be grateful for those good things

↳ ғɪɴᴅ ʏᴏᴜʀ ʜᴀᴘᴘʏ
-and hold onto it during the craziness we call life
-do more of what makes you feel good ⠀⠀⠀

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
↳ ᴄᴜᴛ ʏᴏᴜʀsᴇʟғ sᴏᴍᴇ sʟᴀᴄᴋ
-be gentle with yourself
-take a break
-it’s okay to make mistakes
-you’re only human⠀⠀
-don’t feel guilty for needing to rest
-you’re trying your best

Words of the Year, 5 months later

I think it was like a few years ago, in early January, I heard about people picking a “word of the year” instead of making New Year resolutions. And this year a blog post by blessingmanifesting reminded me of it. She said to choose a word that embodies how you want to be and think and feel and do, “something you can apply in little ways throughout your life instead of a concrete goal that involves either failure or success.” I chose three words this January, and as I was just looking through my current journal, I found myself thinking about them again. The first word I wrote down was “continue,” because shit was hard a few months ago and I wanted to keep going, keep moving forward, and not let anything stop me in doing that. Which is why word numero two was “unstoppable.” Can’t let things get in my way. My third was “unbothered,” and by that I meant I didn’t wanna let was customers upset me, not let the insignificant action of others influence my mood. And that’s the one that really got me connecting the words I wrote down five months ago to this present moment. I’m not at that shitty job, so letting morons bother me is n out an issue, but I’m not really letting any random nonsense bother me. Like minor mood fluctuations that would have sent me spiraling (for obvious reasons, after having uncontrolled bipolar for yearsss). Alsooo, I sure as fuck continued in spite of difficulties. So check those boxes too. I haven’t written in my physical journal too often lately (I switch between digital journaling and physical journaling, best of both worlds alwayssss) but I’m glad I found these three little words and the pretty butterfly I glued next to it (I’m gonna stop writing before I go offfff about how symbolic a butterfly is in relation to continuing…it is right? or is it just me who feels that way lol)

I was listening to a podcast and one topic was this “new normal” everyone is talking about.

I’d started writing something about that weeks ago, and I never got around to finishing it, but I reread it just now and remembered where I was going with it. I’m hoping to finish it later tonight, but here’s what I have at this point:

Finding A New Normal

Things are chaotic and uncertain in the world right now. The global spread of coronavirus has affected all of us. The number of people diagnosed is still climbing, and with that, fear and anxiety are climbing as well. We’re worried about our friends and family, especially those who are immunocompromised. We’re uncertain about the future. We want answers, or at least a time frame to work with, but leaders and experts simply can’t give that to us. We’re doing what we can and being responsible (meaning we’re practicing physical distancing and self-quarantining), but to be honest, it’s hard. Our regular routines have been interrupted and we’ve had to figure out how to try and adapt in a very short period of time. And throughout all of that, we’re still trying to live our lives and manage our mental health.

I don’t know what that looks like for you, but for me, it’s a bit of a mess:

With more downtime and a burning desire for information and connection, I panic-scroll through social media and news headlines. It becomes particularly stressful when I know I should put my phone down or close my laptop, but I just can’t. I’m overconsuming information, but I’m still understimulated. Or put simpler, I’m super bored. Which, of course, leads me to be less productive than I want to be. Or less productive than I think I “should” be. So I beat myself up.

I’m lucky enough to be making some money remotely, but it’s an adjustment having my boyfriend home to distract me. I’m not alone with that adjustment –it makes my head spin just thinking about how many people are trying to get work done with distractions around them. And not everyone is in a job that allows them to work remotely, so I’m counting my blessings.

I am trying to do what I can to counteract the negative effects of being thrown into these changes, though. I wake up at a fairly regular time every morning and go about my routine as I would any other day. I get dressed in something that’s comfortable but isn’t pajamas. I have coffee. I even make the bed. It all makes me feel like I’ve begun my day, like something has happened even though not much has.

I think clinging to some sort of routine is my desperate attempt at making things feel more “normal” in the middle of this period of difficulty, whatever normal may mean.

I’ve been thinking about what normal is for a while, actually. I don’t mean it as in “conforming to the standard.” I’m talking more about it as it applies to us individually, or as a sense of familiarity we strive to have in our lives. Last month, I was hospitalized at a psychiatric facility in order for me to gain control over a bipolar depression and my mental health in general. All normalcy was obviously shattered as I spent over two weeks in an unfamiliar place trying to win the fight against my brain for my life. When I was discharged, I found that I couldn’t even return to my previous sense of normal; things had changed, so my definition of it had to change, too. It was best summarized by a quote I found on Tumblr that said: “we can’t return to normal because the normal we had was precisely the problem.”

So I’ve been trying to find a new definition of it. I’ve been asking myself what I want my version of normal to be, what I want my life to look like. Figuring it out is something that would be hard enough to do after a hospitalization, but during a global outbreak of a deadly virus? It’s even more complicated. And are those questions even helpful in my quest for normalcy?

But I’m starting with what I know for certain. Prior to the pandemic, and before I was hospitalized, my life was marked with extreme mood fluctuations and incredible instability. It was the only normal I knew, but I certainly don’t want to go back to living that way. I want that to simply be my “before,” something to look back on and be glad I’m not experiencing anymore.

Since then, I’ve gotten better at navigating these less-structured days and I’ve had a few where I’ve felt really proud of myself by the end. It’s a work in progress. And I think it’s an exercise in resilience (isn’t life in general an exercise in resilience?). But anyway, yayy for thinking positively!

It might be difficult right now with all that’s going on in the world, or maybe you’re not feeling the happiest right now in general, but I hope you find the time to try and smile, even if it’s hard, because you deserve the little mood-boost that comes along with it.

I’ve been trying to keep a gratitude journal, trying to listen to and repeat positive affirmations in the morning, trying to take the time to sit quietly and steady my breathing.

I feel very fortunate that I’m able to do such things in the first place; I know what it’s like to be so grossly depressed that doing any of that isn’t even a possibility. I also know what it’s like to be slightly less depressed than that, and doing all those healthy things, and not get anywhere with them because fuck my brain. So I don’t take the fact that I’m smiling as I’m sitting here, listening to Disney World area loop music and typing this post.

But my point is to smile if you can 🙂

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“I just like to smile, smiling my favorite” 🙂 I love this because like, it’s great to show people kindness, that makes us happy, but we’re all people too so that’s a fun reminderrrr ❤

I’m finding plans/routines really helpful during this (I’m sure I’ve said that before)

1:45pm || It’s been a good day, I guess. I woke up early like normal, did my whole morning routine and made coffee and started my day. I’ve been utilizing technology as best as I can during this craziness. I mean, being isolated is certainly not my favorite thing, but keeping myself accountable is helpful. I use that Flora app for when I write, I meditate with the Calm app for a little while every day. I always use Daylio and eMoods to track my bipolar-type stuff, but I’ve been trying to use emotion words to describe my moods too (there’s a list in the Notes app on my phone). I downloaded Longwalks as a journal, which is fun, and this morning I downloaded one called Halohah (does anyone use either of those?). I went for a walk. I’m gonna go for another one soon because I wanna get a cup of coffee at like 711 or something, I’m just craving that type of coffee, it happens sometimes. I video called with my sister and the baby. Then with my mom. It’s nice to be able to see them even over long distances! I wrote the first page of an article due soon, and it made me happy and feel productive. I had both breakfast and lunch one right after the other lol, but I’m not freaking out about my weight or eating habits in general because fuck the fucking disordered thoughts telling me to care. I’m better than that. Not saying it’s bad to struggle with an ED, but I’ve been back and forth and back again, and I know which direction I have to choose. I am, however, going to do a YouTube workout, just because that actually improves my mood. Being at least a tiny bit active also helps me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Once I’m done writing my article I’m gonna read for a while, because I have sooooo much I wanna read: my BP magazine and Mindful magazine (both of which I subscribe to and have apps on my phone/iPad for), Celebrations magazine (the Disney one!), the Disney Food Blog Guide pdf my sister just bought for me, a few articles on research digest, and I wanna finally finish some of the books I started a while ago. I’m obviously not gonna finish all that reading in one day, but I have the time to read so I might as well use it (while simultaneously not pressuring myself to get too much done, because I feel like putting pressure on ourselves during this whole thing is counterproductive). And then I’m gonna journal and write for myself.

So I found this thing I wrote about eating disorders back in March 2015 at 3am, and it’s applicable now, and I’m sharing it here because I’m proud of my little 23-year-old self :)

Alright, you have an eating disorder? You’re in recovery? Well, listen up, you beautiful fuckers.

Here’s some shit I’ve learned:

– I’m a beautiful fucking flower, a unique and wonderful snowflake, and my presence is a gift to the freakin’ world. And guess what? You are fucking flowers and snowflakes and crap too. Got it?? Literally think about it. How awesome are you? If you’re seriously thinking that you are not in the category of beautiful humanflower that I just described, I urge you (in a kind and delicate way) to stop the pity party. Where has the self-deprecation gotten you? I get it, truly I do. You don’t feel good enough and you don’t feel whole enough and you’re guilty and sad and you don’t have the energy to be positive. I KNOW. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t a fricken flower/snowflake/BALL OF AMAZINGNESS.

– Be real with the people who love you and want to help you. Don’t hide the behaviors and bullshit. That’s a huge thing, or at least it was for me. To let someone into my “secret anorexic-Laura brainwave space” was the most difficult thing, I think. To have my eating disorder not be “MINE” anymore was devastating. But believe me, it opened up a whole new world of options and help and stuff. It may seem odd to do. And I think one of those reasons is because it’ll seem like you’re seeking attention or being annoying about it. But just be mature about how you go about it (which will take time to figure out, btw). Also. If you WANT attention, ask for it. Honestly and openly. There is literally nothing wrong with needing some love and attention or like a hug or something.

– I am always going to “be in recovery.” I will always have had an eating disorder…so I will always be in recovery. But do you amazing fuck-fishes see how I worded that? “Will always HAVE HAD an eating disorder.” Chose those words specifically, because they show that my eating shit will always be a part (PART! Not all!!!) of me, because it’s shaped who I am as a person (nd I think that’s important because I’ve been scared to death of losing that part of me, which is silly because I am who I am because of my struggle). And those words? Past tense, you lovely loverbuggers. I’m not afraid to phrase it that way now.

– I don’t need my disorder. I don’t need it to cope with the bullshit that will inevitably pop up in my life. I don’t NEED it to “control” anything, and I sure as fuck don’t need it to determine my weight or how my body “should” be. First of all, life bullshit gets easier the longer we live. And even if it doesn’t always all get easier, I’ve learned that there are different ways to cope. Yeah, there are actually such thing as “coping skills” and tools. SECONDLY, your disorder ain’t helping you control shit. It’s controlling you, and if you know anything about yourself in relation to your eating disorder (aka: if you are introspective and wise enough to figure out that it really IS NOT about the food), you know that you’re doing this to yourself because things are crazy AROUND you or possibly WITHIN YOUR HEAD. I’ve learned that I can’t control what happens in the world around me and I can’t even always control the crap happening in my head. That sucks. Period. BUT…the good news is I (we!) can control the way we react to all that. And thattttt is actual control, my fine friends.

– I don’t NEED my eating disorder to be part of my identity. I want it to be a part of my STORY. But my story is more than just my struggle with anorexia. Granted, it’s a hugely interesting story. The phrasing “hugely interesting” may piss some people off because it overlooks the complete and utter misery we with eating disorders go through. And I don’t mean to glamorize it or make it seem like anorexia was a blasty blast. It sucked. It was cold and painful, and the gnawing ache of hunger is something I’ll never wish on my worst enemy. BUT WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY IS: I did have anorexia. I did go through some shitty shit. And I want to respect that that happened. I want to acknowledge my struggle and appreciate what it’s given me (perspective…strength, bc what doesn’t kill us does indeed make us stronger…the knowledge that I’m resilient and capable…etc) and I want to set that aside. Section it off. And have it in my memories. So I can think about the perspective it’s given me and the strength that I gained from overcoming it…etc. And realize that I am not a girl with anorexia, nor do I need to be in order to have had those memories and experiences and stuff.

– It. Gets. Easier. If you let it, I swear to you it gets easier. I think the CRUX is that you neeeeeed to LET it. Don’t fight it when you stop remembering what it was like to be x weight and x size with x disordered thoughts. Fuck that shit. Don’t fight it when you don’t think twice about eating your favorite food. Don’t sweat it when you’re a little different-looking than you used to be, but you know you’re DAMN HOT.. Don’t sweat it just because you’re not the same number. (Must I say that “you’re more than just a number…because, and I’ve been in this recovery thing for like seven years so excuse me if you’re not at this point yet, it’s a little overdone).

– After it gets easier, it’ll get hard again. This lady who ran the program I was lucky enough to be in when I was 16 years old and about to drop dead, she would always wag her finger back and forth and say “the disease goes like this.” And as terrible as she was (for not treating us like humans and instead treating us like attention-seeking low lives), she was correct. It’s a roller coaster. But I swear it’s worth the ride.

– If you’re just beginning your journey of NOT HAVING AN ED ANYMORE, then first of all congrats. I’m proud of you, I love you, I’m here for you. Please stick with this. *Insert emotional and heartfelt rant here.* A word of advice is that you’re going to take time to mature and like, get a handle on this recovery thing. Please be responsible. Maybe that’s not the right word. But I was just going through the ED recovery tags and I see that many people who were in the position I was in seven years ago just don’t realize what I realize now. Which is totally and a billion percent fine because it’s a JOURNEY as I said. An experience. And this one will be beautiful.

There’s more stuff I can say but I fear I’m sounding quite obnoxious at this point. I’ve just been thinking about how incredibly FRUSTRATING AND TERRIBLE eating disorders are. I see people struggle and it kills me. I see beautiful amazing talented wonderful people be blind-sighted and bogged down by the baggage that accompanies eating disorders. It’s not fair. I hate it. But it’s obviously time for me to go to bed because I’m rambling.

Quarantine Update

I didn’t make the bed today. I did yesterday. And the day before. I’d made the bed pretty much every day since getting home from the mental hospital, since I discovered for the first time in fourteen years what it feels like to be unburdened, to be free from constant depression and anxiety and chaotic, crazy thoughts. It’s fuckin’ enjoyable, that freedom. And while I’m enjoying it, I’ve been making the bed because why not feel like I’ve really got it all together?

That’s not the only thing to happen since my discharge, though. I could list a few key things, but the most pressing is that basically the entire planet is in quarantine. Maybe you’ve heard?

I’ve felt like I’m in a movie montage, with the days blending together and time passing quickly but also inexplicably slowly, but I think it’s all come grinding to a halt. Maybe there was no grinding; I’ve been feeling the effects of the semi-isolated boredom grow steadily each day. But regardless, today is different: I didn’t make the bed.

I’m sitting here on a mess of blankets and pillows, my stuffed elephant sitting haphazardly where I left him this morning. I’m thinking: I was doing okay with this lockdown for the most part until recently, I think. And now, I just don’t know what to do with myself. It’s the lack of structure that’s getting to me. This beats being at work, there’s no doubt about that. I’m going stir-crazy, though, and I don’t know how to fight back against the boredom.

My only real defense is routine, so I try to stick to one in the morning as rigidly as possible (though I’m not really sure that’s the right thing to do). I wake up early, wash my face, take meds and drink water, get dressed, brush my teeth, make coffee, scroll Pinterest for motivation and ideas, record my moods and meds and sleep, write a journal entry, make a healthy breakfast, take my vitamins, go for a walk. That’s me doing what I can to make the most of this situation (since I’m lucky enough to not be affected by this in a more negative way).

I just want to feel productive and accomplished and proud of myself. That’s basically what I always want anyway. I want to feel like I’m doing things that are important. Like I matter.

Yeah, that’s a bit of a dramatic leap, I know. It makes sense in my head.

Before my hospitalization, boredom and emptiness seemed to be predominant in my life, so much so that it made me begin to question my identity. My therapist and I had spoken about how boredom was a sign that I wasn’t doing anything I felt was meaningful. In a journal from that week, I wrote that “being bored means I’m not being crazy, meaning I’m not in the middle of an episode, meaning I’m really not sure about anything.” That still seems dramatic. Existential. But put simply, boredom is a trigger. Too much time to think, too much time to be unsure. To combat it, I have to “find my why” and “work toward my purpose.” That obviously seems difficult. Do I even know what’s really meaningful to me?

I haven’t spent too much time working to figure it out because I’ve been trying to fill my days will as much good as possible in a more immediate way; while I certainly see the value in looking at the big picture, I’ve felt that throughout this period of uncertainty, it’s better not to zoom out too far.

I’ve had the topic of uncertainty on my mind for a while. Since I was in the mental hospital, actually. So maybe I’m at a particular advantage since I’m a step ahead of most people. Then again, maybe I’m at a disadvantage because I’m crazy enough to have been in a mental hospital (the way I write and speak about my mental illnesses applies only to me, by the mean, and I don’t mean to call anyone else crazy; I identify with it in a very positive way, but that’s just me). But my point is that I already knew I had to find a new normal. I didn’t want to go back to the life marked with such extreme mood fluctuations that I endured before. I couldn’t have gone back even if I wanted to (thanks to lots of new insight and a cocktail of meds that actually work for me). My mood has been stable, my anxiety has been minor if I have it at all. Things are different (and thankfully better!) and I have to start from here now. It’s like when I was recovering from anorexia in high school; I couldn’t return to my previous “normal,” so I had to find a new one.

That’s what all of us have to do now. We have to find a way to gain some sense of normalcy now. And if we can’t find normal, we have to create it. We have to determine how we’re going to survive this…and then survive. It’s scary to not know how, I know that. But I’ve been thinking about that, too (I guess I’m doing more than I think I’ve been doing, because processing feelings and ideas seems to be something I’ve done a lot of).

Fear of the unknown is a unique feature of people with anxiety. I’ve definitely wished that I had the power to know more things with certainty, but I’ve learned the hard way that that’s not how it works. Life wouldn’t be what it is if we had all the answers, anyway. Uncertainty, unpredictability, and doubt are not awful things.

But right now, during a worldwide pandemic, when the death count is rising and there’s still no vaccine, when our lives are disrupted and we’ve had to adjust to working or learning from home, when we’re concerned about our health, our loved ones, our financial status? It’s difficult to think otherwise. We’re living through a historic event. This is huge. And quite frankly it sucks.

I know I’m not alone in the panic-scrolling of my social media and news feeds. It feels like there’s nothing else to do. It feels like at least if I’m updated on what’s happening, I’m doing something. It affects my mental health, though.

And as it is, April has been a little been more varied in terms of my moods. The boredom from the quarantine is getting to me, which is normal, and to be expected. I don’t want to say I’m anxious because this by no means compares to the anxiety I’m unfortunately accustomed to, but there’s a definite increase in that “iffy” and uncomfortable feeling of “what the fuck do I do with myself?” I’m having this back and forth motivation. And when I’m not focused and motivated, I feel this vague sense of “what’s the point?” It’s like the ghost of my depression, something that’s recently become a thing of the past but that I still remember clearly enough to be like “yup, that’s it, that’s the ghost of it.”

It’s worse when I don’t take my ADHD medication (that’s become a complicated issue thanks to my new psychiatrist, who I saw virtually for the first time last week) but it makes sense that the Vyvanse helps my moods; ADHD makes everything more overwhelming and being overwhelmed makes everyone more emotional.

Other than that, my mood is low but it’s probably unrelated to bipolar disorder. It’s definitely normal to be mopier these days. It’s new territory for me to feel emotionally dull, or even sad, and not have it be a warning sign for a major depressive or mixed episode to come. But then again, I still have to keep at eye on things, keep track of my moods, do what’s best for my physical and mental health, and be proactive.

Right now I’m just doing what I can to get by. Like, I’m using technology to its fullest. I video call friends and family frequently. I go for virtual walks with my cousin every day, and I use FaceTime for my therapy sessions now. I’m trying to stay connected emotionally, even though we’re all physically apart. A video call does wonders to ease the loneliness that this situation is causing. I’d include texting in this, but I can’t focus on texting people lately. It’s weird. But I’m dealing with it.

I’m using Hulu to live stream the news (although I’m trying to limit the amount of news I consume because too much is just bad for my mental health). Sometimes I download to podcasts so I have something to listen to while I walk. They’re usually news-related, but I have some in other genres. I downloaded the CDC app too, which I scroll through every now and then for added info.

I use Google calendar to stay organized and track my writing deadlines, as well as plan out a schedule so I can have personal accountability. I’m continuing to track my moods, anxiety, meds, sleep, and habits on my phone, which is important with bipolar anyway, but it also makes me feel kind of like I accomplished something. I’m trying to stick with my goal of drinking enough water. I might as well work on it now, and crossing off the cups I’ve had is a definite happiness booster.

A quick aside about goals right now: So many people have these big plans to use this time to get in shape or start their dream business or begin some sort of tremendous undertaking. And that’s wonderful for those so inclined. But not everyone has the luxury of having that option. Some people have been impacted by the coronavirus more than others. Essential workers are busting their butts every day still. Some people have family who’ve caught coronavirus. Some people have gotten sick themselves. But even people not in those circumstances don’t need to feel guilty for just getting through this time however they can, even if it’s just struggling to stay entertained.

I made a list of how to entertain myself, way back when this thing started. I wanted to stay busy, since boredom has proven itself one of my triggers. So I listed as many things as I could think of, and I planned on referring back to it if the excessive free time started to get to me. There weren’t very many things on the list (read, play video games, puzzles, etc), but I found myself unable to do most of the things on it anyway. It was almost like a depression thing, when you want to do something but can’t bring yourself to do the thing. But either wat, I don’t know if my old method of frantically distracting myself to run from boredom and the eventual mood episode it brings is the right one to use. I need to find and keep a sense of balance. I need to let go of what I can’t control but work on what I can. I need to recharge. I want to recharge.

My plan to do that will involve setting guidelines. I only want to watch or read the news in the morning, and not for too long. It will involve doing things I haven’t been doing lately, any things, just to get myself a change. Maybe I’ll crochet some hats (even though it’s spring now). Because maybe it’ll help relax my brain, help me heal even more. Maybe I’ll be struck with brilliant inspiration while mindlessly crocheting. Basically, my plan is to do stuff that’s helpful and then enjoy the good feelings after.

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Also, after writing this…I just decided to make my bed