✴ totally random apps that have helped me survive quarantine ✴

I’m so bored. Still. But there’s a lot to be thankful for. Still. And I’m trying to take note of it all. Which should be helpful during this chaotic period in our lives, right? Gotta try to look on the bright side, and since I’m able to, there’s no reason for me not to actually do it.

Technology always makes the list of shit that’s helpful to me. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I was born in a time where I didn’t have access to a phone.

I’ve downloaded lots of apps. That’s partially because I was in the wormhole of YouTube videos where people talk about their favorite quarantine apps, but I have no regrets about watching them and downloading some of them. I’ve even organized and re-ordered my apps all on my phone, and it’s made me feel that much more put-together, for some reason.

Anyway, this isn’t really new for me. I always talk about how apps make my life so much fucking better. Mood tracking ones (Daylio and eMoods, specifically) have been on my phone for a long time now and are so useful in so many ways, and omg, please allow me to geek out about the graphs and charts and data they provide me with (doesn’t it make my insane mood disorder sound cooler to think of my symptoms as “data points” or something?).

You probably guessed where this was going, but (to be trendy as fuck) here are my favorite apps and ones I’ve been using during this endless quarantine:

*Melly

I don’t remember where I heard about this one, but it’s super calming and makes me really enjoy guided breathing. It feels like forever ago that my therapist brought it to my attention that I can go long periods without actually pausing to take a breath haha. I’ve gone through phases where I’ve tried to stop and consciously breathe, and according to my fitbit heart rate thing, when I make an effort, it’s helpful in slowing things down to a more acceptable speed. So I’m really trying to make it a habit to steady my breath. I use Calm for peaceful background noise, and I actually currently have a month-long trial of a full subscription that I can actually meditate with, but I think Melly is more fun in a different way because you get to build a little zen garden thing. Super cute.

*Kitty Collector

Guys. You know when you’ve hit a slump and you’re bored and you want some form of stimulation so you pick up your phone but you wind up just staring at it because you don’t want to read the news and you’re sick of social media and you don’t have the head to play a game or read an article or check your email so then you close it only to open it again and repeat until something just kind of…happens? Yeah. I downloaded this game (would it even be called a game?) where you basically just take pics of cats that come to your yard and play with what you put out for them. It’s a free game with no adds (amazing), and it’s so soothing and calming. It’s great to have on in the background and have something to do when I look at my phone for something to fucking do.

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*Animal Crossing

Honestly, I downloaded this because I had to see what all the fuss was about. Everyone is obsessed with it, and I don’t have a Nintendo switch. When I saw there was an app (called Pocket Camp), I started to play and I have to say, it really is peaceful and relaxing. Mindless but in a way that feels like you’re actually doing something. And it makes me feel included in the craze, whiiiiich makes me happy.

*Unicorn Chef

Oookay. This is a kid’s game. But I downloaded it a while ago when I was big-time anxious, and it helped calm me down and distract me from panicking. It’s colorful. You “cook” unicorn and rainbow themed foods. That’s it. I’m obsessed. It’s an oddly satisfying game, and even though it’s for kids, I have no shame about playing it because it’s fucking helpful as fuck when I get overwhelmed

*#selfcare

The point of this “game” is to make people remember that there’s nothing wrong with not being productive all the damn time. Nothing wrong with just laying in bed and recharging. It’s like you’re in your bed, and there are little activities you can do to ground yourself or slow down or relax. It’s also just really pretty.

*Study Bunny

I use this one to help me get my writing done and focus a little better (since focusing is a constant struggle). It’s this little bunny you get to name and feed and keep happy. And you do that by setting the timer for however long you want, and then doing whatever you have to do. I also use the lo-fi music that comes with it, or if I want different focus-noise, the ticking of a clock sound. Aaaaaand it makes graphs, so I’m obviously a fan of that.

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*I’m just gonna group all of these as one: YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+

Necessary, amiright? If binge-watching shows makes the days better, then why not do it? I also stream the news on YouTube and Hulu (although it’s been a while since I felt the need to do that).

*Pinterest

It’s so obvious to say, but like. I have been obsessed with my Pinterest lately. I always enjoyed it, but once I couldn’t leave my fricken house, I sat down and actually organized all my board and pins into categories and whatnot, and it was so satisfying. And now it makes me happy to scroll through it all for inspiration and ideas and honestly just because it’s aesthetically pleasing.

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*Habitica

Trying to be productive isn’t a bad thing. Obsessing over it and beating yourself up if you aren’t is a bad thing, but trying to do good things for yourself isn’t. I found this habit tracking app that turns doing what you want to do each day into sort of a role-playing game. It helps me make my days go how I want, it helps me get things done that I want to get done. And my motivation for completing my to-do list isn’t just “because I have to,” but because the gamification of my list makes it fun.

Special shoutouts to:

*video calling apps for obvious reasons

*my calendar apps and Trello for keeping me organized in an easy, colorful way

So yeah, I’m in no position to write any form of advice on how to be productive, but I think I’m certainly capable and qualified enough to write something on how to survive. I’m good at survival. (Is that something all of us with mental illness are good at?) And even though I’m not feeling like super put-together or on top of my shit, I’m still getting by, and I’m not unhappy or worried about soon becoming unhappy. And for me, after years of fighting with my moods, that’s huge.

I’ve gone through a few different phases during this whole thing, with varying degrees of motivation and frustration and productivity and enjoyment. It’s confusing. But there are small things that make me calmer or help me hold it together during the craziness. There have always been things like that, although I’d like to make a special shoutout to my lithium for being one major thing that’s allowed me to actually succeed in doing so.

I think I wrote this post because I was just overly excited about how much I love my phone???? But either way, I feel good about what I smashed onto this blog post, so have fun reading. Or don’t, no pressure.

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I’m wearing shorts and a tank top, it is SUMMER (sort of), but I can’t leave to gooooo anywhereeeeeee

 

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.

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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.

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’s been getting more and more difficult to write over the last 29 days of being stuck at home. I don’t want to complain because there are so many people have been devastated by this virus and my having to stay in my house isn’t that big of a deal. At all. Plus, I have all my stuff here haha, it’s not like when I was at the psychiatric hospital for 17 days without anything to really entertain me. I have it good being stuck at home, and I’ll guiltily say it’s better than being at my job being miserable. But I can’t focus. It’s all exacerbated by my lack of proper meds for my adhd, the meds I’ve been taking for nine years, but I’m not gonna complain about that now. I’m just like. I’ve got writers block even though I’ve been trying to get some sort of writing out. It’s been raining all day which doesn’t help. I mean the sun finally just came out at 6:15pm, so I think after dinner I might be able to focus better bc the sun weirdly helps with that. It’s been a weird day all around though. I slept til 9ish, which I haven’t done in ages. I mean. I needed the sleep. I’ve been going to bed around 10 but had been waking up progressively earlier for a while. I woke up at 5:30am yesterday so I couldn’t focus then either because I was exhausted. I dunno. I like my morning routine. It’s basically the only structure I have. And I’ve known how important structure is to me and my mental health for a while. Tomorrow will be a good day. I feel like I can definitely make it a good day. I’m still on proper mood stabilizing meds, and I don’t take that for granted. The lithium and other ones are holding me at a relatively even place. Last month was sooooo steady. This month has been less steady, but for obvious and understandable reasons. I’m not anxious. I mean I’m antsy. But not anxious. I’m lucky. Aaaanywayyyy ending this ramble ✌🏻

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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

Anyone else struggling with being productive? Anyone else find any cool ways to help get back on track?

At least it’s sunny!

It’s quarantine day 17 for me. And like everyone else, I’m going stir-crazy.  I’ve been watching the news, watching the number of sick people rise, watching the chaos and uncertainty spread everywhere, but there’s only so much of that a person can do. I miss seeing people. I’m so incredibly thankful for technology, and for the fact that I can FaceTime or Google Duo my friends and family (and play virtual games with them on other apps!), but I miss going out and seeing them in person. We’re all being responsible, doing the social distancing thing (though trying to remain emotionally close!). It’s tough, though! I also haven’t been working, which doesn’t bother me in itself but is stressful in terms of money. I’ve been writing articles here and there for some extra cash, and it was going great in the beginning with all the new free time. But now I feel like my brain has melted. It’s been hard to focus.

Still, I have found a few things that seem to help. Like, I know everyone seems to be talking about this, and I hate to even mention it because it seems so cliche at this point. But if I get up and stick to some sort of a “normal” routine most mornings, I notice I feel a lot better. And if I get changed into clothes that are comfortable but that aren’t pajamas haha. Oh, and making the bed helps too, if only because it sends the signal to my brain that I’ve at least done one successful thing!

Also, I know this was one of my depression tips a while back, but moving to various places around the apartment makes me feel better too. I don’t wanna spend the whole day at my desk trying to get writing done because it sucks the fun out of writing when I’m just looking at the damn screen and coming up with nothing. If I move to the kitchen table, sit on my bed, or even the floor, I tend to have more clarity of mind for some reason.

Another totally overused tip is to exercise or move in some way, but I don’t think I need to get too into that one.

Then there’s this amazing app I found: Flora.

It’s so fricken cool, like, I don’t even know why it’s so cool haha, it just kind of is.

Basically, it’s a productivity app that challenges you to focus for 25 minutes at least at a time. And while you’re focusing, you grow a tree. If you touch your phone before the time is up, you kill the tree (which you obviously don’t want to do!), so it’s a great motivator.

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Other cool features:

  • You can grow a tree together/work as a team
  • You can tag your sessions with one of six categories you create
  • You get graphs and charts and it keeps a calendar for you
  • You can receive daily summaries about how you’ve been doing
  • It shows your adorable little garden growing with each session

Here’s their website, but I found them on the iTunes store and downloaded the app to my phone. I would definitely go give it a try if you’re struggling. Or if you just want to feel suuperr accomplished and proud of yourself. One of my tags is just “other,” and I set the timer and go do random things around the house or anything that needs to be done, and by the end of that time spent being productive, I’ve grown another tree. And the app is free, so like, why wouldn’t you download it haha.

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And while I’m talking about things I’m excited about and that motivate me and that make reaching goals really easy and fun, I downloaded the Hero’s Journal. I’ve been following the creators on Instagram for a while, I think since they were just a Kickstarter, and they’re giving away a PDF of their “Quarantine Quest” (for free) and I looked through it yesterday and loved it so much that I immediately downloaded the full journal. It turns your life into an epic story and the journey to reaching your goals an adventurous quest. 10/10 would recommend, so fricken awesome.

I think it’s so important to do what you can with what you have, ya know? And turning mundane things into exciting things is just a great way to do that.

Totally reminds me of Mary Poppins singing “just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” while making toy cleanup fun. But aaaanywayyyy, I’m gonna go get to work!

I keep joking around with my boyfriend that if this was happening a month and a half ago one of us wouldn’t have survived. If we’d been quarantined in the middle of my massive depressive episode and I’d been utterly insane? No way. Lol I’ll take this moment to once again be thankful for my newfound sanity, but even still, I’m trying if to keep busy. Boredom has always been a trigger for me and even though I’m worlds better now I still don’t wanna push my luck haha. I spent most of the last week working on articles for one site I write for, so that was productive. But now I’m sitting here like “what else can I do?!” I can work on a few personal essays and other random blogposts. Or I can work on the jokey little kids book I’m writing for my nephew. But I’m hitting the pause button on the extreme writing, I think. I’ve been video calling lots of people. Technology is amazing like that. I can see my sister and bro in law and the baby. And my parents. And we all did a giant group FaceTime last night for like an hour with my cousins and rest of the family. So that was fun. But this social distancing/ quarantine thing is hard. I keep tellingggg myself there’s so much else to do! I have books to read and crafts to do. I have tons of coloring books and a fuckkkkton of markers and colored pencils and crayons. I have like five sudoku puzzle books from when I was at the psych hospital haha. I wanna crochet some hats or even a scarf. And I keep contemplating looking for workouts on YouTube lol but we’ll see about that. But yeah, this sucks but we’ll all survive. More than anything else I’m just thinking about boredom and how it relates to finding my purpose and my identity (which seems unrelated but I’m writing this whole thing about the connection and this coronavirus situation works with what I’m thinking about). Hope everyone is doing okay! Hang in there!!