I woke up this morning, brushed my teeth, and did the dishes. All I do is the dishes. I need more hobbies. And less dishes. And better strategies for coping with my anxiety and need for control.
Thomas made toaster waffles for breakfast instead of his usual oatmeal so that was exciting. He still ate the waffles though, as he does the oatmeal, with mini frozen blueberries that stain our plates and his teeth bright purple.
I had an 8am work meeting that got cancelled at 7:59am, which was frustrating because I’d intentionally changed out of my pajamas and into presentable Zoom attire three hours ahead of schedule. Now I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go virtually dial into.
In my newly-free hour I did a bit of work and then a bit of sketching (see: alternative methods of coping with anxiety).
You will notice in the background the playlist that has been my soundtrack for the past few months; I haven’t updated the title since I created it in July, but you could really substitute in any month at this point. It should now read: “October’s a messsssss.”
In the spirit of messiness, my mantra for this week is something I wrote down in my notebook a few days ago: “I am making room for all the parts of myself.”
I am making room for the “dumb” parts, the “boring” parts, the “unworthy” parts of myself. The parts that – in my attempts to always appear smart and funny and thoughtful, and in my great fear of coming across as stupid or boring or worthless – I suppress.
I am afraid of the “unimpressive” parts of myself, the ones that aren’t worthy of praise or recognition. But those are parts of me nonetheless, and the more I deny their existence the more I reinforce my belief that I’m only worthwhile because of the impressive parts.
Maybe sharing these posts is a way for me to conquer that fear; to express all the parts of myself – even the dumb, unpolished ones that just write about coffee and binge watch “Selling Sunset” – more authentically. To say, in other words, “This is me, take it or leave it!”
I am making room for all the parts of myself. Let’s see which Maddy shows up today…
I left the house only once, which was to go to Target for toilet bowl cleaner, and ended up buying a big bag of candy corn that I finished on the walk home.
I told myself I’d cook the tofu and kale I bought earlier this week (in a fleeting moment of grocery-store-optimism) for lunch; instead, I ate slices of bread with cheese and a mixing bowl full of popcorn.
Every time I catch myself in the mirror I have thoughts about how lazy, ugly, useless, etc. etc. etc. I am.
I sat on the couch and watched almost two hours of YouTube videos and if you ask me what I watched I genuinely would not be able to tell you.
Then, I mindlessly scrolled on Twitter until Thomas – who has been diligently doing school work all day – asked me what I was doing and I felt so guilty that I put down my computer for an hour.
Something about writing that list was oddly cathartic. Instead of further internalizing these shame-filled, self-deprecating thoughts and letting them dictate (read: ruin) the rest of my evening, I’ve shared them with you which, incidentally, has meant that I now feel a level of separation between myself and those thoughts. Here’s a garbage doodle of what I mean:
After sharing all of the ways in which I’ve “let myself down” and “been unproductive” today, these negative thoughts have transformed into humorous anecdotes. This blog is basically free therapy!!! Thanks, reader!!! Maybe you and I both can laugh at the image of me trudging down the street at 9am eating candy corn pumpkins for breakfast???
Oh! In the blistering heat of hating myself, I forgot to mention that not only did I end up cleaning the toilet bowls, but I also did my laundry (and Thomas’. #bestwifeever. #butimafeministthough).
The original intent of this post, for the record, was to recount moments of happiness from the past week. While it may have briefly transitioned into a more pessimistic broadcast, I will now share its optimistic half. Without further ado,
Maddy’s Moments of Happiness (Which Are Really Just an Excuse to Share Sunset Photos), Week of September 20, 2020:
— I watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in awhile from our rooftop with Thomas:
— I went for a walk around the block and felt transported to the desert when I came across a garden full of succulents and bright flowers, and then again to an entirely different fall-forest-world by the bright read leaves of one of my favorite trees in Berkeley:
— A friend got me a gift card to a popular bakery in Berkeley! The thought of waiting in a long weekend line for a trendy spot means I haven’t gone yet, but I plan to start my week off right with some delicious pastries on Monday morning.
— I read a good book. Actually, I read three good books this week. (I need to find hobbies other than reading.) Pictured here is the happiest of these book-reading moments as it came paired with rosé and tortilla chips on a Friday afternoon:
— Two (!!!!!!) of our friend-couples got engaged!!!!! I didn’t realize how desperate I was for moments of love and joy until one of them FaceTimed us from across the country to share the news and I started sobbing. It was kind of awkward because the guy in said couple is Thomas’ friend so I don’t think it made sense to anyone that I was crying tears of happiness while Thomas, of course, remained relatively calm.
So, as we begin another week, here’s to the small moments of joy that keep us going…
…even on a Sunday when the best we can do is clean the toilet and show up again tomorrow.
I’m using the boring post template I introduced back in November because I want to write more but my “well of ideas” is as dry as my skin right now (lol!). Being creative is hard when you’re someone who derives the majority of their inspiration from the outdoors. My mind – just like my body – feels stuck.
Date and Time: Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 8:37am.
It feels selfish and foolish to write or think about anything other than the coronavirus. It’s impossible not to feel helpless and confused and scared about the thousands of people suffering and in need of help. But it also feels necessary to read, write, and think about things other than the virus to maintain some semblance of psychological health. I’m lucky enough to have a job, a home, a wonderful partner, and my health. I know how lucky I am. I’m trying to help others in whatever ways I can. It’s a tired saying, but it’s true that you can only help others if you help yourself first.
I joked on Twitter the other day about how prepared I felt for the way this crisis would affect my mental health:
On a more serious note: the coping strategies I’ve been practicing for years to deal with my anxiety and depression are now at the forefront of articles and media about how to stay mentally healthy during this crisis. Meditation, journaling, therapy, etc. are being recommended more than ever, to the point where I wonder if anyone’s actually doing these things or everyone’s just posting and tweeting about them????? (Also, if I see one more home workout video, I might lose it!!!!!!!)
The difficult thing about these practices is that they – whoa! – take practice. The only reason I’m able to take deep breaths and reframe my thoughts (#CBT) in this time of crisis is because I’ve practiced them over and over when I’ve been in…not a crisis. It was when things felt more manageable that I was able to gradually, successfully alter my trains of thought and transition from unhelpful behaviors to helpful ones. Then, when I did enter a time of crisis – a serious bout of depression, my injury, this pandemic – I had enough practice to have made these exercises a habit.
All of that’s to say: it’s OK if you don’t have things under control right now. I’m 99.99% sure no one does. So give yourself a break.
Location: At home (duh). I started sketching but then I realized I had a 9am meeting so here’s my half-finished sketch (was just getting to the reflections in the water…):
I figured drawing mountains would be one way of feeling closer to them in this time. Thomas, however, was relieved when Yosemite announced its park closure because he’d spent the previous weeks afraid that he’d wake up one morning and I’d have packed up and gone to shelter-in-place in Yosemite. (I can’t pretend it wasn’t something I seriously considered.)
It’s also crazy how much I’m coming back to thoughts and sentiments I expressed over a year ago when I first started posting on this blog. For example: my first post in which, in the last paragraph, I talk about sharing more writing and art despite the fear of being “bad” at it. I hope others are encouraged to create more in this time just for the heck of it.
Weather: It’s been rainy and grey outside the past few days. For those of us who rely on sunshine and fresh air to stay sane, this weather (combined with the shelter-in-place, obviously) is a double whammy. The house in which Thomas and I live doesn’t receive much natural light; I ordered a “White Light Therapy” lamp online last week in the hopes that it makes it easier for me to stay inside. Thomas, meanwhile, seems to have no issue with staying inside all day, which is confusing to me but good for him.
Listening to: Lots and lots and lottttsssss of music (sorry, I still can’t get into audiobooks or podcasts). Ideally I would use this time to discover new music – or at the very least catch up on what everyone else has been listening to for the past few months (finally learned what the “Renegade” dance is last night, #let’sgo) – but I’m still listening to the same ol’ tunes.
Music recommendations are very welcome at this time. And TV show recommendations, too. I started rewatching New Girl last night. Season 1, Episode 1, baby. Spoiler alert: it’s still fucking hysterical.