Today had almost all of my most loved things: my favorite vegan brunch (grits! mushrooms! TATER TOTS!!!), holiday decorations all over Pittsburgh, the prettiest views of the Allegheny River, and rare cuddles from Chloe. Not pictured: all the books I bought for family gifts, the sweater I bought myself at an arts and crafts show, free food and drinks at my office holiday party, and the most delightful Christmas episode of The Great British Bake Off.
these are everywhere in Pittsburgh since the synagogue shooting
the view from my backyard
the leaves at Phipps
Happy Monday! Last week kinda sucked.
It was mostly because of the world being shit and my anxiety, and also my anxiety being worse because of the world being shit. But the leaves were really pretty and I saw reminders all over the city that love and good people still exist, even if the bad ones are screeching at us from every angle right now. Also, goddamn I love fall. All weather should be fall weather.
I cried in therapy for the first time in at least a couple of months, I think. It happened as I told my therapist how I spent six hours Tuesday paralyzed on my couch worrying about the midterm elections but also worrying about every other thing in my life, which tends to be how anxiety happens for me. It just hadn’t been that severe in a while, which scared me big time. All of this was also mixed in with a good old fashioned depressive spell I’d been in for a couple weeks. Wooooo! Love when my mental illnesses get together and throw a party.
My therapist is awesome because she’s a social worker, so she gives me worksheets and anxiety management strategies but we also talk about politics and social justice and the steps I’m taking to eventually get my master’s degree in social work (which is at least, like, 5 years in the future). This time we mostly talked coping strategies though cause, as I said, I was not great last week.
She told me to write down the things we talked about me doing this week to keep the bad brain juju at bay. They are:
make a list of fun activities to do in the mornings before work, and schedule them the night before (I already try to do this but I slack off when I’m depressed)
wake up with Joe at 7 a.m. (lol kill me)so I can enjoy the morning and nap before work if needed (this was his suggestion and it’s a really good one! He’s the sweetest and I love him a lot. Mornings are my favorite but never get to experience them fully because I work nights and it bums me out.)
take drop-in yoga classes (only if I can drag a friend along cause group classes scare me and I can never relax :/)
keep journaling (doing that now. yay!)
start up the daily gratitude practice again (a thing I really enjoyed that I stopped for no good reason)
Sometimes I get really frustrated that I have to do things like this to make my brain hate itself a little less. I hate that I have to do so much every day just to feel a little bit normal, and that sometimes it doesn’t even work. What the fuck?!
I’m super duper thankful to have good health insurance and a good therapist and people who love and support me, but goddamn it gets tiring sometimes. And then I feel guilty for being frustrated because I know I have it easier than so many people who have seriously physically debilitating chronic illnesses.
But then I stop and remind myself that my chronic illnesses are debilitating physically, because Jesus, I just sat on my couch rocking back and forth for six hours with my heart racing the entire time because I was so anxious. But it’s not the same, right? It doesn’t feel like it should be the same thing. I dunno. That’s still something I struggle with a lot — how to think about my mental health in the overall context of chronic illness and disability.
I know chronic mental illness is a serious thing, so I don’t want to discredit my own problems, and I’d never do that to anyone else. But also, I can walk and talk and see and hear and exercise and eat most things without getting sick. I can get up most days and do what I need to do, even if my brain is yelling at me the whole time. I’m one of the lucky ones. I think I just get sad knowing that even when you’re lucky, it’s still so hard.
The whole point of me starting this blog in the first place was to document the things that fuel me and keep me mostly sane, so I’m aware that it’s not exactly productive to think this way. But life would be way too boring if we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes, I guess.
Anyway, I’m gonna finish The Chilling Adventures of Sabrinabefore I call it a night. Here’s a picture of my own familiar from back before the leaves changed. She was almost certainly angry that I wasn’t inside feeding her at that very instant.
P.S. Joe and I went to the Lord of the Rings festival at a local indie movie theater on Friday and watched all four hours of the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring. It reminded me how much I love and identify with Hobbits and also of this eerily apropos-for-our-society bit of dialogue:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”