Getting my shit together

Whaddup y’all, it’s been like 2 months since I posted anything and I have no excuses other than I’ve been busy and tired.

Since I last posted the following has happened:

  1. I got into a relationship and then got myself out of it. It turns out I just really like being single.
  2. I donated blood, passed out on my walk home, and took a giant chunk out of my knee. That was a month ago and it’s still not quite healed.
  3. I got a second job. I can buy vegetables now, it’s amazing. I won’t die of scurvy!
  4. I saw a clinical psychologist to evaluate my readiness to start testosterone, and she said I was good to go and would let the endocrinologist know. I might be on testosterone in as little as a month if all goes well. I might go into more depth about this if I feel like it.

And I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I remember this very second. It’s been a wild couple of months. A lot has happened, and it’s really taken a lot out of me.

I’m really happy with where I am now. My second job means I’m not constantly broke, and that’s honestly relieved me of so much stress. It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, but it gets me out of the house and forces me to have human interaction. Which, as much of a pain as that is when I’m cold and tired and grumpy, I’m sure will be good for my mental health in the long run.

I’ve also decided to get my shit together and start serious work on a novel. The way I look at it, I want to eventually make all of my money from my writing. The longer I put off actually doing that writing and putting myself out there, the longer I’m going to be broke and forced to work multiple jobs to pay my bills. The more time I spend putting off writing, the more time I have to spend living the way that I do. Which isn’t terrible, but it’s not exactly ideal either.

So here we are. I am declaring right now that I am writing a book. I actually have 2 separate plots for 2 separate books bouncing around in my head, and I’m hoping that, eventually, I’ll get them both out there. For now, I’m just working away trying to get something done. For a change.

I am a terrible procrastinator, and so unless I actually start holding myself accountable, I’m never going to actually get anything done. And I’ll end up on my deathbed saying “I wish I had written that book” and I’ll die a disappointment to myself. And I don’t particularly like disappointing anyone, especially not myself, so I’d like to avoid that.

Anyway, here’s this tiny little post so that the world has proof of me saying that I am getting my shit together and I am writing something. I’m done with being a writer and having almost nothing to show for it. It’s time to get my arse into gear and actually produce some content for a change.

Featured photo by Elza Shimpf on Unsplash.

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What am I doing with my life?

When I was in high school, I had my whole life mapped out. I was going to study economics, get my degree, get an internship at the Reserve Bank, and then work there doing whatever it is that people do there. I forgot the word economist. I was going to be an economist.

This dream was brutally shattered on my first day of university. I sat down in my maths lecture, and immediately realised I was in way over my head. I sat there, dazed and slightly afraid (okay terrified), and then walked home and had an existential crisis in the privacy of my bedroom.

I ended up switching my major from economics to psychology the next week. Which I later dropped for English Literature because I discovered I would have to do a stats paper. Which I later dropped for linguistics. Which I later just dropped out of entirely.

Anyway, I switched to psychology and immediately I had no life plan. I had no direction. No goal. Nothing. All I had was a $200 textbook for a paper that I was no longer doing and would never need again, and a new diagnosis of severe clinical depression. That probably didn’t help the situation either.

As of this moment, it is almost exactly 18 months since I realised I wasn’t going to become an economist for the rest of my life. Do I have more of a life plan now? Shit, no.

I don’t have a lot of ambition. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just my goals are a lot vaguer than they probably should be. I’d like to travel at some point. I’d like to own a home at some point. I don’t want to hate my work. I’d like to have a cat at some point.

I only really have one concrete goal that I absolutely have to do before I die goal. I want to publish a book. The cool thing about this is the fact that I might do it next year, or I might not get around to it until I’m 70. I’m pretty relaxed about it. It’s not like being a professional athlete, where you’ve got to get in while you’re young and fit, and you’ll only be at your peak for a few years. I’ve got time, and I’m not in any hurry.

My flatmate had a bit of an existential crisis recently, and it got me thinking about how everyone around me seems to have a very clear idea of where they’re going. I haven’t got the faintest idea, and I’m pretty happy this way. I don’t really think I’m in any position to be dead set on anything yet. I’m literally still a teenager, I’m not 20 for another couple of months yet. I’ve got time to figure everything out.

I feel like a concrete and very specific idea of what I want to do with my life is like putting a big red target on me, screaming to the universe “hey come and crush all my hopes and dreams, they’re right here, it’ll be easy”. I don’t want to play games with the universe. It’s a lot bigger than me.

Even if I don’t ever find a specific direction that I want to go in, I’m pretty happy to just do whatever. I’m not particularly bothered by what I do, I just don’t want to end up doing something I hate.

It’s nice to just say that I don’t really have a lot of direction in my life, and for that statement not to be a bad thing. I felt a lot of pressure at the end of school to know exactly what I needed to be doing with my life so that I could do the right degree and get into the right field. I basically picked economist because I was good at economics and had no idea that I would ever actually make a living as a writer.

I’d like to think that I’ve done pretty well for myself so far. I managed to get into writing almost right out of high school, and I’m slowly getting better and more experienced at what I do. I don’t have any plans to go back to university, but in the event that I decide that’s something I want to do, then that’s an option.

Honestly, I have 3 main objectives for my life for the foreseeable future.

  1. Don’t starve.
  2. Don’t get evicted.
  3. Don’t be so depressed all the time.

I’m doing a pretty good job so far. I’ve yet to starve, I’ve yet to be evicted, and I’m not as much of a useless, depressed blob as I was last year. I’d say I’m doing pretty well for myself.

This post doesn’t have much of a point, I’m kind of just talking to myself. And posting that on the internet for some reason. Which, let’s be real, is pretty much what all of my posts end up being anyway. Uh, if this had to have a moral it would be it’s okay not to know what you’re doing with your life. I don’t think anyone really does, especially not when they’re young.

Featured photo by Chase Emmons on Unsplash.

Mental health awareness week

It’s mental health week! And, since I am very well acquainted with all the ups and downs associated with mental health, I’ve decided to write something about it. Which is amusing, because I haven’t written anything in over a month because of how terrible my mental health has been. Thanks, brain!

I have severe clinical depression, for which I take antidepressants. Unfortunately, this particular antidepressant also makes me prone to panic attacks, and so I’m on another medication to combat this side-effect. I was diagnosed with depression in March 2017, and I began taking this particular type of antidepressant in December 2017. It’s actually the 3rd antidepressant I’ve been on, and so far it’s been the most effective.

In the first few months of being on this antidepressant, I experienced extremely bad panic attacks, and I decreased my dose in February. That made a huge difference, and while I still get panic attacks from time to time, they aren’t anywhere near as bad as they used to be.

I actually wrote a post after a really bad panic attack, which you can read here if you’re curious. Long story short – it was a fucking fiasco, and I have decided that while depression is a nuisance and generally makes my life miserable, panic attacks terrify me and I salute the people who deal with anxiety on a daily basis. I don’t know how y’all do it, honestly.

I don’t get panic attacks anywhere near as often or as badly as I used to, but the possibility will be lurking there for as long as I am on this type of antidepressant. And while that’s a real pain, I do prefer the occasional panic attack over literally being as useful as a literal rock for months at a time.

I’m pretty relaxed about the fact that I have depression. It’s not the sort of thing I bring up on a first date, but it’s not something I try to actively hide. I’m not bothered taking medication in front of people, and I’ve stopped feeling bad about cancelling plans when a depressive episode hits.

The biggest issue I have with the fact that I have depression is that I don’t like taking time off work for it. I know it’s a real thing, and I know that there are days where I just really shouldn’t be working, but I can’t help but worry that people think I’m making things up to get a day off.

Which is pretty reasonable, except I work from home and the most contact I have with my boss is through email. If I wanted to, I could just be like “yo I’m feeling pretty terrible today, I’m taking the day off” and all would be well. No need to elaborate, and if I chicken out I can just say I have a migraine. But nope, I’m a complete dumbass, and so I often find myself trying to work through depressive episodes. And let me tell you, during a bad episode I am almost completely useless. It’s like my brain is just like “yeah sorry focus machine broke” and not only do I have to try and fight my lack of will to exist, I also have to force myself to concentrate, which doesn’t help.

The thing is, unless you know what you’re looking for, it can be really hard to tell when someone is having a bad mental health day. It’s easy for people to look at someone and think “huh, Joe has been weird all week, they really need to get some more sleep” or “damn, Betty needs to get their shit together and stop procrastinating”. When really, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, none of which anyone else can see.

I have a much greater appreciation of the importance of looking after your mental health now that my continued existence literally rides on me looking after my own. If I don’t look after myself, I can’t work. If I can’t work, I can’t buy food or pay rent. If I can’t buy food or pay rent, I’m going to end up living under a bridge huddled under a cardboard box. And let’s be real, I’d probably end up getting bitten by a rat and dying of the plague 2.0.

I didn’t realise how much of a role my brain actually played in my life until suddenly it didn’t work properly anymore. Which sounds kind of ridiculous, but I never realised just how difficult basic things like showering more than once a week or remembering to eat at least once a day become when your brain is just a depressed mush.

As such, I think it’s important that people who are having these sorts of issues seek help, and that those who don’t suffer from them have a better idea of how they can support those around them who do. Having a week where we can focus on mental health and being open about it is a good way to reach people who otherwise might not have paid much thought to it.

As someone who spent years living with severe clinical depression, and not having the slightest clue that something was wrong, I think it’s important that we can talk openly about the fact that it’s okay not to be okay. I laughed when it was first suggested to me that I might have depression. I thought there was no way that I could just have this life-changing illness and be none the wiser. I had no idea that you could have depression and still be functioning relatively well. I had no idea that you could have depression when your life didn’t seem all that bad. I had no idea that depression could be so different from person to person, and that no 2 people experienced it exactly the same way.

If someone had realised that I was showing symptoms of depression when I was 15, I’d like to think that I would have been able to get a handle on things before they got as bad as they did. It took me 4 years of what I just assumed to be teen angst for someone to say, “constantly wanting to die and having no hope for the future isn’t actually normal”. It’s taken me nearly a year to find a medication that worked for me, and even then it still isn’t perfect. It took me a few more months after that to learn to catch myself before I fell into bad episodes, and how to deal with them when they came. I still have days where I wake up and just go “yep, I’m not getting out of bed today”. I’m getting there. I don’t know exactly where “there” is, or how far away it is, but I’ll get there.

Looking after your mental health is so important, and I don’t really think we take it seriously enough. We need to be able to talk about mental health and mental illness, without being afraid that people are going to think we’re pathetic or attention seeking. I used to be so afraid to admit that I had a mental illness, but now it’s as much a part of me as my bad shoulder is. It’s not great, but it’s there and it’s not something that I can just get rid of. It’s just something I have to learn to manage.

I know I did this, or at least something very similar to this, a while ago. But in the spirit of promoting safe and healthy coping mechanisms for mental health week, here we go again. This is a list of things, in no particular order, that I do when I wake up and know I’m going to have a bad day.

  1. If you’re on any medication, make sure you’ve taken what you need for the day.
  2. Establish whether you need company. Ideally, you should probably hit someone up and tell them that you’re struggling, but more often than not I need my own space to deal with things.
  3. Have a shower/bath/wash your face. Hot water is nice and relaxing, and being gross and crusty for long periods of time isn’t fun.
  4. Put on some clean clothing. It doesn’t matter if you’re just putting on clean pyjamas, putting on clean clothing will make you feel remarkably more human.
  5. Put on some good music. Sometimes I want some relaxing instrumental music, and sometimes I just want to destroy my eardrums and the neighbours’ respect for me. Whatever it is, it’s nice to have something to focus on.
  6. Eat something relatively healthy. If you haven’t eaten anything other than chocolate and coffee for the past 3 days, eat a vegetable. Or a pasta. Or a fruit. Just eat something with some nutritional value.
  7. Make yourself laugh. I’ve got a list of movies and tv shows that never fail to make me laugh until I cry. Having a good laugh at something, even if it’s just for a second, always makes me feel a little less miserable.
  8. BLANKETS. I don’t care what time of year it is, I don’t care how hot my house is, if I am miserable I am wrapping myself in every blanket I own. There’s nothing like being wrapped in a cocoon of warmth and safety.
  9. Go to bed at a decent hour. Getting a decent amount of sleep makes life so much easier to deal with. There’s no point in being depressed and tired and cranky.
  10. Relax. Recognise that the best thing for you is to look after yourself. There’s no point forcing yourself to be doing other things when you just need some time to relax and sort yourself out.

To wrap things up, mental illness can be the worst. It’s invisible to almost everyone who is having issues with it, and it makes every aspect of life 1,000 times harder than it needs to be. If you don’t already do so, start taking note of the things that make you feel better, and help you relax. It’s good to have on hand when everything else feels like it’s falling apart.

Please note that my brain is currently depressed mush. I apologise if anything doesn’t make sense. Thank you for reading!

Featured photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash.

Tiny milestones!

I checked WordPress this morning and was delighted to discover that I had 994 total views on this blog! As of right this very second, I’m at 999, and I thought I would just post a tiny little piece to acknowledge this little milestone.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s an absolutely miniscule and practically non-existent number. But it’s still something, and in just a short few moments my work will have been viewed 1,000 times. It’s crazy to think that this tiny little hobby of mine has grown and developed over the past year, and I’m actually getting somewhere with it. Sure, I’m going slowly, and I might not ever get far, but I’ve gone a lot further than if I hadn’t started at all, or given up along the way.

I’m glad that I make myself keep going with this, even when it’s difficult. I’m glad that I push myself to make myself vulnerable and talk about things that I don’t even like talking about in person. I’m glad that I keep pushing myself to keep doing the things that terrify me. I want my blog to challenge me, and I want it to be a place where I can discuss things that aren’t easy to talk about. I’ve got to let it all out somewhere, it may as well be to strangers on the internet, right?

I’m not a great writer, but I’m a lot better than I was this time last year. I’m a lot better than I was at the start of this year. And, so long as I keep pushing myself to do things that challenge me (no matter how much they terrify me), I should be able to look back at this and say I’m glad that I kept working to improve.

In short, happy 1,000 views to me, and thanks to anyone that has ever put up with my inane rambling! I can definitely promise this won’t be the end of it, and even if it’s slow, I’m going to keep pushing forward.

Featured photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

It doesn’t always need to be perfect.

I don’t post nearly as much as I should do. I let myself get bogged down in needing to make everything perfect, and in doing so, nothing actually gets done. It certainly doesn’t help that I’m a chronic procrastinator, and so the concept of making anything perfect is very daunting, and I put it off even more.

Top that off with clinical depression and weekly migraines, you have a recipe for a disaster human!

I will 100% admit that, at times, I am a disaster human. I’ve definitely come to get a lot better at managing all of the above, but there are times that I let them get the better of me. This month has been an example of that.

I haven’t done much with myself for the last month. I’ve got up, worked, fed myself occasionally, and then sat in bed until it was time to go to sleep. I haven’t felt particularly bad, I’ve just been a bit burnt out. The concept of doing anything above the bare minimum has been rather overwhelming lately.

But, there’s no need to fear, because my saviour is coming. It takes the form of the end of one of my current contracts. I had toyed with the idea of extending it, but I decided that since I genuinely think I might spontaneously combust if I continue working myself as I have, that it’s in my best interest to call it quits.

It’s definitely a bit of a shame, since it’s a really good opportunity to get some really good experience, but I am not going to survive working a 6-day week for much longer.

And, I’m hoping that in letting this contract finish, I’m going to have a lot more energy to work on my own projects, and increase the quality of work that I produce for my main job. Everyone is a winner!

And coming back to the perfection thing, it’s really exhausting to be perfect all the time. I’ve come to realise that I’ve spent a lot of time trying to do that. I don’t want to keep doing that. I’m 19, I’m barely out of school, and I don’t even know how to pay my own taxes. I think we can all cut me a bit of slack.

In other news, if you hadn’t already caught on, this post is rapidly becoming a train wreck in the interests of not trying too hard.

I had a bath yesterday, for the first time since I was like 10. Initially, I lay and listened to music for a little while, and then I read on my phone once I got bored. Once I got past the constant fear of dropping my phone and watching it sink to a watery grave, it was actually an incredibly relaxing experience.

I donated blood today. It’s really interesting, because I hate needles with a burning passion. Just the word makes me want to retch. But, for some godforsaken reason, I’ve donated blood on 6 separate occasions now, and I’ve already booked my next appointment to donate. I don’t entirely understand what drives me to keep donating blood, since the process is incredibly unpleasant for me. Maybe I’m not such a disaster human after all.

And that’s what I’ve been up to. Procrastinating, having migraines, being depressed, having baths and donating blood. And accepting that I can’t make everything perfect. This post is the miracle child of that realisation. You’re welcome.

Featured photo by Sora Sagano on Unsplash.