Sunday, October 11, 2020

Daily battle

I missed posting on #WorldMentalHealthDay because I was busy getting married. It was a picture-perfect day, and could easily shape this into a post about fighting through the bad times to get to the good times.

But even more important is how, even in the good times, mental health is a work in progress. Days before our celebration I was stressed about changes to COVID protocols, changes to our guest list, and work. Then, a storm hit and my power went out, stressing me even more.

Two days before my wedding, I was so anxious, I had to take an Alprazolam (on top of daily medication) just to relax. I slept all day and did not eat or drink a thing. My mood swung from happy, everything is fine to inconsolable anger and tears.

It was bad.

When you have an anxiety disorder, the smallest bump can seem like the tallest mountain. Your reactions barely make sense to you, never mind those around you.

Through counseling, prayer, and yes, medication, I definitely handle it better than I once did. But it's a daily battle, and one I know I can't - and shouldn't - do alone.

It'd be so easy to avoid stress. No stress, no anxiety. But, no stress also means no change, no growth, no unbelievably happy moments filled with indescribable joy.

That's no way to live.

If you're going through a tough time, don't get down on yourself. The stress just means you're growing, learning, and headed toward something better. While you're going through it, look around. Those people by your side? Those are your people.

They'll help get you through.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Quick to think

I lost a dear friend to COVID-19. She had a compromised immune system, so I guess some people think that means she was expendable.

But she was so much more than her immune system. She was bright, funny, smart, kind, brave, and the strongest person I know. She was a good friend to me even when no one else was, and because of her I never felt alone, even in my loneliest times. My life was better because of her and my world is darker with her gone.

Our country's response to COVID-19 has put people out of work, kept them isolated, kept people at home with abusers and away from school meals, and has prevented some needed healthcare. Deaths due to poverty, abuse, suicide, or other health issues shouldn't be dismissed. They are all tragic, and our government (at every level) owes us all better protection, not only from COVID-19, but also from its results.

No one should be seen as expendable, and everyone is grieving the loss of something. One is not more important than the other because we all matter. If you can say that the worst loss you've suffered in all of this is some convenience or luxury - I pray you continue to be blessed with that good fortune.

Even if you aren't personally affected, you still should consider your words and actions. "I'm healthy," or, "I would get better," or, "it's all about control," implies you don't care if you spread this to someone else. It implies you think they don't matter. It implies all that matters is what matters to you. 

I know your focus may be how to protect yourself, or whether or not you think you even need protection, or maybe what is affecting you most. That's fair; we're all entitled to think of ourselves.

But if you are so self-involved that you simply never think of others, dismiss deaths that don't affect you as unimportant, or say the loss must be hoax or an overreaction because you haven't personally seen any - I pray you receive more grace than you give.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Thoughts from "quarantine"

I keep wanting to share observations, but there are too many for a comment or a tweet. So here we go... a random collection of my thoughts over the last month.

First of all... I really hate using the word "quarantine." The definition of quarantine is medical isolation, where you have contact with literally no other person. Not. One. I feel like the word should be reserved for those who are sick, and truly aren't going anywhere for at least 14 days. The rest of us are lucky to be safe at home.

People do realize that not everything on YouTube is true, right? Videos can be edited just as easily as blog posts. The truth in this case is just like the truth in every other case: Somewhere in the middle. 

Along those lines, people do realize that not all liberals and Democrats believe we should be social distancing, yes? Also, not all the people who question the recommendations are Republican or conservative. It just isn't that simple.

I have spent an alarming amount of money on my nails in the last month. I am looking forward to salons opening again so I can save money. 

Related: I will have a better nail strategy in place for future social distancing orders. 

My hair is another story. I've ordered a flat iron and new shampoo; I'll report back.

Other than missing hair and nail appointments, my life isn't that much different right now. I'm an introvert who lives alone and works from home full-time; I guess this is what I've been training for.

I am truly surprised at the ease of access so many people have to their senior high school photo.

Never again will I go back to ordering Chipotle in person.

People who are working are annoyed that they can't collect unemployment. People out of work just want to go back. Just like every parent complains about driving their kids all over, until now, when they complain about being "stuck" at home all the time. We all want what we can't have. Crisis is no different.

People will take any opportunity to drive like maniacs. 

Related: I've been driving more this last month, because I'm moving (yes, in the middle of a pandemic; do not recommend). I appreciate the lower gas prices.

I've seen a lot of talk about "quarantine dreams." Suffering from anxiety, I have horrible dreams more nights than I don't. I honestly didn't even notice a difference.

Why are people not having their tax refund direct deposited? Before you say, "because I don't get a refund," tell me why you wouldn't have the money you owed automatically withdrawn? Then the IRS would have your bank info. 

I liked Cuomo's briefings at first. Having facts helps my anxiety. I have found daily briefings less helpful, and think the frequency should be reduced.

That said, I'm not sure I totally understand people who are anxious, but sharing alarmist theories about this whole thing. Facts are helpful; opinions less so.

I am grateful for technology that offers us a chance at "normalcy" during this time.

That said... conference calls (which have become video calls) are actually more stressful to me. Don't people realize those microphones pick up everything?

I have a virtual appointment today with my counselor. Wonder what we'll talk about? 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Under the influence

My latest obsession is YouTube (yes, I realize I am late to this game, but I'm a GenXer so it's OK). It started with watching videos by "makeup gurus" and lately has evolved into watching home decor videos. 

I had no idea that so many people recorded and shared videos of themselves doing housework, or that there was such a large demand for this content, but here we are. To be honest, I don't always watch the speed-cleaning videos because it mostly makes me feel like reminds I'm not doing enough cleaning around my own home. I also don't usually watch the "day in the life" videos, since those tend to be geared toward stay at home moms, and that's not relatable for me. I like the decorating videos (usually called "decorate with me") and the typical prequel to those, the "haul" videos, where the influencer shares her purchases that will lead into the decorating. I also sometimes like the pre-prequel, the "shop with me" content, in which the influencer literally records herself shopping. I actually find this handy because I know what's where if I'm looking to shop, and it satisfies my urge to shop without the risk of adding to cart.

I have made several observations about the influencers I've found so far. A few to share:

  • Not all influencers are created equal. Some definitely have a more natural ability to engage and share, and are just more enjoyable to watch. The way I know I really like an influencer? If I actually watch the cleaning content, or the stay at home mom stuff. 
  • Along those lines, I am a lot more likely to watch the content if the influencer has a pet.
  • Even though they are not all the same - the homes often are. Most of the influencers I've found decorate their homes in a "modern farmhouse" style. I'm not sure how to describe the style exactly, other than the colors of the home are likely gray, white, and brown / wood tone, and most of the decor comes from Hobby Lobby or Kirklands with occasional bits of Amazon and Walmart.
  • That's not a knock; I do love the style. While I'm not about giving my money to Hobby Lobby, there are other stores with similar merchandise and watching is more about the ideas than the exact stuff.
  • I've never seen an ad from any of these places - ir any home decor retailer - on any YouTube video, and I think they may be missing the mark.
  • Since they all shop in the same places, they often have the same items. I've seen the same "Farmouse" sign in a dining room, an entryway, and a bedroom - so far.
  • "Agreeable Gray" seems to be the most popular wall color.
  • Rae Dunn is incredibly popular among this "modern farmhouse" group, though the appeal does seem to stretch across to other styles as well. You've probably seen Rae Dunn items in stores, and just had no idea what you were looking - I know I didn't, and now I see it everywhere
Like I mentioned, I see some items over and over, but I also see different ways to use that same item, which is actually pretty helpful. It's honestly an interesting way to share an interest in home decor tips and tricks, and engage with others who have different ideas and influences. 

It's also interesting that I have so much interest in how others keep and care for their homes. That probably says something about me, but I feel like that's a separate post.