It’s Midterm Season

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(Note: I have no idea who did this great comic. I found it on Pinterest, saved it onto my computer and deleted my pin, so… yeah, can’t give credit where it’s due. Oh, and happy miserable Valentine’s Day.)

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Fighting the Fight: A Clarification and an Explanation

The Clarification:

So, last few weeks I’ve been talking about taking care of really basic physical needs and basic self-care. But in one of my classes, I wound up having a discussion with a classmate about mental health. One thing she said was that she got really annoyed when people would tell her “Just drink water and do some yoga and you’ll feel better!” Many times, it’s an oversimplication of the problem.

After that conversation, I remembered what I wrote these past couple weeks in the Break-Up Survival Guide so I want to clarify (since I actually did say “Drink water, you’ll feel better”): I’m not saying that doing these things will “cure” you of your depression, or of any other mental health problems. Sure would be nice if it were that easy, though, wouldn’t it?

Here’s what I am saying:

#1. You cannot view your mental health and physical health as entirely independent of each other. They are in partnership with each other and are constantly interacting and impacting one another. Depression and anxiety are mental disorders. Mental disorders are considered disorders of the brain. Your brain resides inside your body and is dependent on your body to meet its needs. So if your body’s needs aren’t being met, your brain’s needs aren’t being met either so your mental health further disintegrates.

#2. If you are severely depressed and/or comorbid (that is, you have multiple physical and/or mental health problems), you will likely have to fight this battle on every front. For some people, things like monitoring what they eat and drink and exercising and keeping a solid sleep schedule is enough to bring them to healthy state of mind. If you’re one of them, I’m happy for you. But for a lot of us, that isn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for me.

And I do fight this every day, on every front: physically, mentally, cognitively, spiritually, behaviourally. I fight with antidepressants. I fight with habits. I fight with strict thought policing. I fight with social support. I fight with prayer. I fight with food and drink and exercise and bubble baths and hot water bottles and bras and shoes and sleep schedules. I fight with knowledge from my education and from health care professionals, with the wisdom and experience of my family and friends. I fight by taking pleasure in the little things, the minute details. I take every tool at my disposal to fight this because I will not risk it getting that bad again. If I slack off in any of these areas, I start sinking down into the mire again. And I will not have that.

#3. These are my coping mechanisms. These are the things I find helpful. Hopefully you find them helpful too, but if they don’t work, they don’t work. There are many different kinds of depression and so there are also many different kinds of treatments and you have to figure out what will work for you. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. Just keep an open mind and never give up.

The Explanation:

Also, I’m sure you are wondering when I’ll get to the actual break-up related stuff because so far I’ve been talking about depression and anxiety. I will put together a post on more break-up specific strategies, but that will probably come near the end of this series, since that’s the most difficult part for me to write, not to mention the most difficult part to put into practice.

See, I do have a structure to this thing and I’m trying to group like things together and I have no idea how many thousands of words I have to go through and categorize and I’m trying to give this thing a natural progression, starting small and simple then working up to bigger and more difficult things. So coming up next should be a post on some medical stuff and the rest should be cognitive/social/behavioural strategies.

Also, a lot of what I’m writing is written from my own memory. Generally, I have a pretty decent memory, but once I have time, I would like to come back to what I’ve written here and add in more info and studies and references for you. If I ever get around to researching all that, I’ll probably add it in as an edit at the bottom of the original post so you’ll know what changes I’ve made. I’d like to add in some diagrams too, but at the moment I am really horrible at visually presenting my ideas, so I will have to add that in later.

That brings me to why I’m so focused on depression and anxiety here.

The reason my depression survival strategies are lumped in this break-up stuff is because though I’d been depressed before, the break-up made it exponentially worse than anything I’d ever experienced before. After this break-up, I came to the realization that I had to do more about my depression than what I’d been doing. I had to up my game because if I didn’t, I was going to die. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that: I lost thirty pounds over the course of about a month because the depression and anxiety made me so nauseous I could not eat and I watched as my physical strength deteriorated. And my family watched too, terrified.

For me, this really is about purely surviving.

So here I am, fighting the battle on every front, against an enemy I can’t see or touch.

Here’s the thing: I can’t tell you how to get over your ex because I don’t know how. It’s been over a year since my ex broke up with me and I am still not over it and not over him. There are still times where I am overwhelmed by the depth of my love for him and how profound the loss of him is. But this isn’t a guide to getting over someone; this is a guide to surviving loss, surviving clinical depression. That’s it. Survival. Because survival is the first step, because you’re not getting over anyone if you don’t survive. And surviving, that’s something I do know how to do.

The Break-Up Survival Guide (Depression and Anxiety Edition): “You’re Not Seriously Talking About Posture?!”

Today I’m jumping off of last week’s post, “Move”. Yes, I’m talking about posture. Believe it or not, I’m not going to focus on the psychological aspects of it, though changing your posture can be a form of “faking it ’til you make it” and your outward behaviour can alter your internal mood states. I’m focusing more on the pure physical aspects of posture in the interests of physical pain reduction, because feeling achy all over is depressing and there are times when the only thing I have in my life to enjoy is the absence of pain.

Most of us have lousy posture, myself included. But improving your posture can make you feel less tense and sore. Again, you don’t need to do this all day every day. Just start by maintaining good posture for a few minutes and over time you will be able to hold that posture for longer. One day, it will become habit.

Basically, sit up straight with your shoulders pulled back. And if you tend to slouch, it will feel like they really are being PULLED back. Your ear, shoulders, and hip should all be in line with each other. After looking in the mirror, I’ve noticed that I (and many others) tend to jut my head forward a little bit instead of keeping it in line with the rest of my body. I think we tend to do this because we’re told it reduces double chin, but it’s poor posture.

Also, ladies: those contorted postures that models use (you know, where they stick the booty waaay out to make the butt look bigger and the waist smaller) are horrible posture and, speaking from personal experience here, can make you sore. It’s true that the spine isn’t completely straight and that it does have a little bit of curve to it, but that curve should not be exaggerated into an S-shape like what you see in comic books. Your spine has to support weight like, for example, your head, and in order to perform optimally, the spinal column must be in line.

Hm… I’m trying to figure out how to explain this… I think of gravity as a vertical force: it presses down. I think of us as horizontal objects, divided into uncountable horizontal planes (‘plane’ as in “flat surface”). Top of my head, a horizontal object. The more “horizontal” surface area you have, the more gravity presses down on you. Kind of like how chopping food up before you cook it makes it heat faster by increasing the surface area. So to reduce the pressure gravity puts on you, you reduce the amount of “horizontal surface area” you have by making sure all the horizontal planes of your body line up. That is, you want your vertebra neatly stacked on top of each other because it reduces the amount of surface area gravity can act on. This is why doing the human flag is so much harder than doing a pull-up: surface area.

Think of your spine like Jenga. Move one piece out of place and the rest of the structure becomes unstable.

Here’s a little thought exercise my old music teacher had us do (since sitting up improves lung capacity and helps you support your breath): Imagine that you are a kind of puppet and that a string is attached to the top of your head. Now pull the imaginary string upwards. This got most of us kids sitting better than just being told to sit up straight.

Another thought exercise: Imagine that your shoulders are angel’s wings. Try to fold your wings against your back. This helps you pull your shoulders back.

Also, vary your postures while doing sedentary activities. I spend a lot of time reading on my bed, so sometimes I’m sitting cross-legged, sometimes I have my back against the wall and my legs stretched out in front of me, sometimes I lay on my tummy or my side. Switching postures keeps me from getting stiff. Again, this is related to that integrating movement thing I talked about last time.

And ladies, take a look at your bras and your shoes. These two items have more impact on the way I carry myself than any others. If you wear heels, make sure you are stretching your legs. If you are wearing a shoe with a heel, that means your heel is forced to be elevated off the ground, which can shorten the muscles and tendons along the back of your legs over time. I stretch this out by either standing with my feet flat on the floor and by touching my toes (you can just reach for your toes if you’re less flexible) or by sitting on my butt and fully extending my leg while pulling my toes towards me. Stretch gently. According to this article (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1986-03-25/features/8601180366_1_calf-muscles-high-heels-leg), you should “stop as soon as you feel pain or strain, hold still for several seconds and then stretch again only if the pain stops and you can feel the muscle fibers starting to loosen.”

Your body also needs breaks from wearing high heels. I wear high heels to work several times a week, but my shifts are short and I’m either barefoot or wearing my orthotics in some runners the rest of the week. Make sure you are spending some time wearing flat shoes.

On the subject of flat shoes, my podiatrist really disapproves of flats. Why is that? It’s not just because there isn’t any arch support. It’s also because there is no cushioning on your feet, which is okay if you’re walking around on something with some give like soil or sand, but if you’re on concrete, your feet are not made to handle that kind of hard pressure all day. Second, flats also allow the tendons in your forefoot to spread out. Once a tendon is stretched out, it can’t be stretched back, so this damage is irreversible. So, when I say wear flat shoes, I’m not referring to flimsy ballet flats or flip-flops, but something with cushioning and support that can be laced snug around your foot to keep the tendons from getting stretched out.

And if your bras are not fitting properly, that puts a lot of tension on your back, neck, and shoulders. Even if you have big boobs, you should not be getting back, neck, and shoulder pain from having big boobs. That pain results from an improperly fitted bra, not from having large breasts. I’m saying this as a busty woman myself (and I will be saying a whole lot more on bra-fitting in the future, so if your bra is uncomfortable, stay tuned).

Another thing I’ve been doing is carrying heavy loads like textbooks in a backpack. Around the start of the school year, I was getting some back pain and I couldn’t figure out why since my exercise habits hadn’t changed. Then I remembered that during the summer I was not carrying textbooks around in a cross-body bag. And even though I did alternate the bag from shoulder to shoulder, that still wasn’t good enough.

So I decided to do what my chiropractor has been telling me for years and actually contemplated using a backpack. Thankfully, my mom had a cute one lying around and she’s letting me use it. In order for this to do anything for you, you have to wear it across both shoulders. One shoulder only isn’t going to cut it. The straps are adjusted so it sits lower on my back and I find that physically, I do feel better.

Another thing I’ve started doing is after I go to bed, I put my pillow aside for a few minutes and lay flat on my back to stretch my shoulders out. It feels especially good after I’ve spent the day hunched over my computer. Doing this has a similar effect on my shoulders as sitting up straight but without any effort from me since gravity is doing my work for me here.

I also do things like wearing my orthotics around the house every day, brushing and flossing every day, wearing my retainer from time to time, regularly showering and washing my face, wearing clean clothes that fit me well (most particularly a well-fitting bra), washing my bedclothes regularly. These are all small things but they make me feel like I’m taking care of myself, which I need.

These mundane tasks have become accomplishments for me. At the end of the day, I can tell myself that I may not have gotten all that I wanted to done, but I did do things to invest in my health and well-being and that is enough. Because when you’re depressed, doing these small things are a colossal effort. It is enough to just survive.

The Break-Up Survival Guide (Depression and Anxiety Edition): Move!

So, today I’m continuing where I left off from the last BUSG post: basic self-care for your physical body. Seeing as your brain is responsible for your mental health and your brain is housed in your physical body, it is probably in the best interest of your mental health to make sure your body is getting what it needs.

(Just to clarify, since I know I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve moved to another city, when I’m talking about moving today, for the most part I’m talking about getting your body moving, not packing up and moving to another place of residence.)

I’m starting to consider that maybe I should’ve titled this “Depression and Anxiety Survival Guide (Break-Up Edition)” instead of the other way around, since so much of this is strategies for handling anxiety and depression, but it feels wrong to change it now. Oh well.

Your body is made to move. Exercising regularly decreases your risks for a myriad of diseases and delays a lot of age-related health problems, so it’s an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. If I’m remembering correctly, we start seeing these preventative effects when a person exercises for three hours or more per week, which is why I am aiming to get three hours of exercise a week. I’m halfway there right now, but seeing as my life is very unsettled at present, I figure it’s better for me to get more things in order before I get the other hour and a half or else I’ll overwhelm myself and give up for several months.

Also, endorphins. One of my counsellors told me that forty minutes of brisk walking three times a week can be equivalent to an antidepressant. (For the record, if you’re on antidepressants, I’m not telling you to go off them and just go for a walk instead. Do both, and keep in touch with your doctor.)

Movement also gives you something to do. It’s not like I stop thinking when I move or that my thoughts are now only focused on the act of moving, but thinking about depressing things while moving around and reorganizing my room isn’t nearly as depressing as thinking depressing thoughts while just laying there staring at the ceiling. Moving doesn’t stop the depressing thoughts but I do find it can sometimes dial down the intensity because there’s a little bit of distraction there.

And I totally get it if you feel tired and sore and don’t want to get up. I understand and respect the need for rest. But spending too much time laying around can make things worse. You ever heard of disuse atrophy? It’s what happens when you don’t use your muscles enough– your muscles start wasting away, becoming smaller and weaker.

I also find that if I don’t move enough, my body gets sore from that, too, and frankly I find it a less pleasant type of sore than the kind I get from exercising. “Good workout” sore makes me a bit sore and stiff, but stretching feels great and I know I’m getting stronger and I’m admiring myself more in the mirror even though I probably don’t look any different. But “selectively bedridden” sore is different. I feel weak and tired and purposeless. There this sinking, sluggish feeling about it and it’s awful.

But going from barely able to get out of bed to exercising three hours every week is a bit extreme and overwhelming so that’s not what I’m telling you to do right now. That’s why this portion is entitled “Move” not “Exercise”. Take breaks from reading or watching movies or interneting to get up and walk around your room for a few minutes. Shrug your shoulders. Reach for the ceiling. Try to touch your toes. Stretch a little, just enough to feel it (don’t tear anything!). Basically, just use your muscles to do everyday tasks. Integrate movement into your regular activities.

Me, I’m lucky that I don’t have to go out of my way to do that. To give you an idea of what implementing everyday movement looks like, I’ll use myself as an example.

In my job, it is an office job (part-time, since I’m in school), but I still stand whenever people come to speak to me, I sit when I’m inputting at the computer, I walk around to follow up with people and to grab things out of the back room, I crouch to pick things up of the floor or to talk to children, so I get everyday movements implemented into my work. It’s not physically demanding but it’s movement.

Same goes for simple things like keeping my room clean, reorganizing things, picking things up, putting things down, doing my laundry, emptying and reloading the dishwasher, cleaning the cat box, vacuuming, sweeping the floor. Not demanding, but movement nonetheless.

Of course, this satisfies not just the need for movement, but it also increases my standard of living and it makes me feel like I’ve done something useful that day. It also means less work for my mom to do, which in turn means less strain on our relationship. We both start to feel like I’m pulling my weight, so… win-win.

I also try to implement movement into meeting with friends. Usually we grab lunch or a hot chocolate then walk around for a bit. That way I’m both socially and physically active.

Before I moved, I lived in an apartment and would take the stairs instead of the elevator. Now, I have to park down the street from where I live since there’s no more room in the driveway, so I get some movement walking to and from my car.

Movement can also be used in tasks like grocery shopping, walking from the parking lot into the store, etc.

And I actually do get exercise too, since working at a dojang means I get free martial arts classes as an employee. Again, I’m not telling you to dive headfirst into exercise. You’ve got to slowly and gradually work your way into it, allow your body to adapt to these new habits, so that you’re less likely to be overwhelmed and exhausted and more likely to be consistent and succeed.

And now that I’ve moved, I live in a nicer, safer neighbourhood. I feel comfortable walking around on my own where I live now, so I can go for a walk when I want to. This unfortunately isn’t a privilege everyone has. If you can’t go for walks like I can because you feel unsafe or live in a dangerous area, don’t feel bad about yourself, just stay safe and do what you can.

Hello 2018!

Hi everyone! Happy New Year! We’ve survived 2017! Astonishing!

January 3rd marked one year since I started this blog. Some bloggers like to recap on the year but, no, not me. You’ve probably noticed this has been a rather depressing year for me, so reflecting on it is pretty much the last thing I want to do. I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier to see a year end.

Instead, I want to talk about something that makes me happy: my holiday and my plans for 2018.

Sometimes, Christmastime can be really stressful. There’s end-of-semester projects and exams, extra work events, deadlines for things like submitting health care claims, hosting family gatherings, and financial strain of getting gifts for everyone. Christmas is usually even more stressful for me because, well, I’m rather ambivalent about Christmas, which probably sounds really weird coming from a Christian, but it’s caused a lot of family conflict the past few Christmases. But this Christmas there wasn’t any drama around that (probably because I just kept my mouth shut on the subject).

On the 23rd, I called two of my grandmas (coming from a split family, I have three sets of grandparents), both of whom I hadn’t talked to in eight or nine years due to the Divorce From Hell. I’d been meaning to call them for months, but life got in the way and I wanted something to say besides, “Hey, I’m super depressed” so I hadn’t gotten around to it. So I wished them both Merry Christmas and chatted with each of them for a few minutes and will be talking more with them in the future. (They both said “You sound really good”, which means my acting is certainly up to par since I was kinda miserable at the time.)

So I feel this weight lifted off of me because I was rather anxious about calling them and about what I would even say to them after all this time but I knew I needed to talk to them and that I didn’t want them to pass away without me making things right with them (I already went through this with one grandparent).

The best thing about this holiday, though, was that I actually had plans. Instead of sitting at home trying to entertain myself and feeling lonely, I was actually out with people for most of the holiday, which was very good for me.

Mom’s Boyfriend invited us to go with him and his daughter to have Christmas Eve dinner with their best friends’ family. I’d never met them before, but I wasn’t nervous because a) antidepressants and b) they’re just the kind of people who know how to make others feel comfortable. After dinner, I wound up talking education and artificial intelligence with the dad for a while. The mom said to holler if I needed rescuing; obviously, she didn’t know that conversations about education and artificial intelligence are right up my alley. Then we played card games for several hours then listened to Christmas music.

It’s the first time in years that Mom and I’ve actually had an event to go to on Christmas Eve. Her side on the family used to have family gatherings with all the aunts and uncles and cousins, but the family’s grown so big and so busy that those stopped.

Christmas Day my mom and I unwrapped gifts. We decided that she would give me a budget for gifts and that I would just buy my own presents and she would reimburse me for it. I rather like this new system because I get only things I really, really want. Bizarrely enough, the things that I picked for myself are things I would’ve been bored by when I was a kid- pajamas, slippers and fuzzy socks.

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And yes, they are super cozy.

That evening, Mom’s Boyfriend and his daughter (henceforth known as “Pseudostepsister”) came out for dinner and presents. He must know food is the way to my heart because I got an awful lot of restaurant gift cards and chocolates. We also played board games, which I won every round of. Even the cat came out to say hello to our guests, which is unusual because people scare her. We think she likes Pseudostepsister because she’s similar in personality to me. And after much fiddling around with the phone camera, we took our first picture together as a family.

 

Boxing Day we had yet another Christmas dinner, this time with my siblings. The younger of my two brothers and his wife never responded to our invited or showed up and my brother-in-law had to work, but my sister and her son came and we sent leftovers for her hubby and my oldest brother came with his wife and three kids.

So we had six adults and four kids under the age of six. Very busy. And all four of those kids decided to jump on my bed so I was rather frazzled trying to make sure no one fell off. My youngest nephew kept throwing himself onto my pillows and laughing but eventually wound up bonking his head on the wall doing that. He cried for a minute then went right back to what he was doing like nothing happened.

They also like to see and pet the kitty. I have to supervise to make sure they’re being gentle with her and now my youngest niece is allergic to cats, which is a shame because she loves cats and is always asking about “the kitty”. After a while, Cat decided she’d had enough and booked it out of there and hid out in my mom’s room.

Mom kept trying to get a picture of my youngest nephew walking around with all my stuffie cats in his arms, but didn’t really succeed because he’s always moving so everything’s a blur.

My nephews, especially the older one, also took a particular interest in my piano. Since they’re not even two yet, they can’t do anything besides turn it on and off and randomly hit keys, but it warms my heart seeing them so interested in something I love.

My oldest nephew also loves to play with ping-pong balls, but he discovered the giant exercise ball my mom has and was rather tearful when we pulled him away from it to open presents.

We had stockings for all the adults and wrapped a present for each of the kids. We got the girls these magnetic Etch-a-Sketch-type pads because they’re at the age where they do a lot of drawing now. They started playing with them right away and I got to see, for the first time, my oldest niece write her own name.

The two boys each got an animal backpack and a reusable snack bag along with some new socks. Turns out that putting on new socks is one of my oldest nephew’s favourite things.

I also finally gave my brother and sister copies of my grad photos from 2013. They were pretty happy about it and my sister showed her son right away and asked him “Do you know who that is?” His response: “Zelda”. He thinks I’m Princess Zelda.

The most exciting part of the evening was when I heard my sister-in-law whispering in her youngest daughter’s ear and my niece said “We’re having a baby!” Apparently she’d already let the cat out of the bag at dinner but since she’s still learning to talk we don’t always understand what she’s saying. So my brother and sister-in-law are having baby number four, due early next summer!

After Christmas was my birthday. My best friend invited me and another of my friends out to her place so I spent from the day after Boxing Day to New Year’s Day out at her place. They made it their personal mission to get me caught up on Marvel movies, so a lot of our time was spent doing that.

Probably the coolest thing was getting a call from my one grandma late on my birthday because, well, remember me mentioning my one brother and his wife didn’t come to the family Christmas dinner? They had a baby! On my birthday! I got a NEPHEW for my birthday! Isn’t that the coolest thing ever?!

(Well, it’s a little awkward since they never told me that she was pregnant, but whatever. They’ve been wanting a baby for ages so I’m thrilled.)

Best Friend’s mom is also a photographer and was wanting to expand her skills and portfolio, so we did a photo shoot with her. Sounds glamourous? Well, it’s not. The way we had the hold the poses actually made us a bit sore. It is, however, great fun. Vast majority of it was goofing off and going “I whip my hair back and forth, I whip my hair back and forth, I whip my hair! I whip my hair!” We also exaggerated the poses she had us do and we were pouting and going “Drop the shoulder! Da booty out!” I’m as excited to see the bloopers as I am the finished product because I’m sure those bloopers will be glorious.

We also went out to this local shop that has the best hot chocolate ever.

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I splurged.

Later, Best Friend had her brother- and sister-in-law out too, so it got very chaotic because they’re loud and rambunctious. Lots of yelling and roughhousing. So when they wanted a snowball fight, I bowed out to avoid getting a facewash. But I did join them when they invited me to work out. I lasted about two minutes and paid for it for the next three days. See, they’re all body builders and their workouts are kind of intense. But they let me play with their gymnastic rings.

 

Best Friend’s husband also let me try out his cello. I’ve always wanted to play a cello and wanted to try out some melodies for some music I was writing to see if I’d want a cello in it.

Best Friend also has this divine grand piano. It has the most gorgeous tone. I could sit my ass down on the keys and it’d still sound beautiful. I got to practice on it for a couple hours while they picked up some groceries and it’s the first time in what feels like ages that I’ve actually been in touch with my music.

And I got to ring in the New Year surrounded by friends.

So, what will happen in 2018?

I’m actually kind of excited. I’m twenty-three, rebuilding my family relationships, taking classes with my two favourite professors, have five going on six nieces and nephews, a cat to cuddle, a 3.35 GPA, jeans, a bathingsuit and a sports bra in my new size, new notebooks and pens, and antidepressants, so world, here I come.

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I love notebooks. I hardly ever use them but, ugh, the aesthetic.

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I feel like it was appropriate to have this accompany the picture of my new notebooks.

For the blog, I want to finish the “Break-Up Survival Guide” because, frankly, I want to be done thinking about the whole thing. After that, I’d like to actually post some fashion stuff, particularly information on bra-fitting, and might post some book reviews and also some recipes. And of course, I’ll still be talking about mental health, self-care, school, and life in general.

 

Outside the blog, I want to bring my GPA up to a 3.5, get my full driver’s license, buy a new car, renew my car insurance, pay down my credit card, get all my medical appointments up-to-date, find a new doctor (my old one retired), hang some pictures on my wall, get back into kickboxing again, read lots of books, cook more, and spend more time with family and friends. A friend of mine also wants to jam, so maybe I’ll actually work on some music too.

Basically, what I have planned for this year is just to Make Things Happen.

So, here’s to a promising year. Hello, 2018!

In Which I Have a Lot of Regrets and Complaints

I was supposed to have a work event this past weekend, meaning my ex would definitely be there and possibly his GF, though possibly not since her name got scratched off the sign-up sheet. Since I wanted to know what exactly I’d be in for after four months of not seeing either of them, I had my best friend check to see if they’re still together and yep, they are. They are still in each other’s profile pictures.

And then I just plummeted. (And by the way, I didn’t go. Figured I’d be happier if I just stayed home and studied.)

I guess I’d gotten my hopes up, even though part of me thought them breaking up would be too good to be true. And part of me just wants them broken up just so that means I have some space without them always flirting in front of me. But the other part of me still really misses him and wishes I had just one more chance with him to do things right because I have a lot of regrets and things I would’ve done differently if I’d known better at the time.

When him and I were together, I was under an enormous amount of stress.

First I was in summer school taking a Psych Stats course that requires a C+ or higher in order for me to apply for my major, plus I was still new at my job and learning things and worried that I would screw up and get fired.

Then I was seeing different psychologists to try and get a diagnosis for whether I had a mental disorder, submitting paperwork to my school to apply as a student with a disability, then having to drop out of school to take care of all these appointments and paperwork, which then resulted in StudentAid BC telling me that since I’d dropped out too many times, they would no longer loan me any money. Which is devastating for me because I was still living in poverty and didn’t know how I would pay for school and my receiving BC Housing and child support depends on me being a full-time student, and at the time BC Housing and child support were paying for the roof over my head. Plus this means that I’d sunk about $20, 000 into a degree I now might not get to finish.

Then I had to do more paperwork concerning student loans, which they wanted me to start paying back despite the fact that I am still in school, full-time according to my university since I now have a documented disability, but they won’t acknowledge my disability because I can’t prove that it will last for the rest of my natural life, so therefore I am a “part-time” student and should pay my student loans back. Because eight years of crippling anxiety and depression is not solid enough evidence for them.

I was helping my mom job hunt and rebuilding my relationships with my siblings, which was also stressful, and living in a dump of an apartment that needed constant maintenance because that’s all we could afford.

This all resulted in me being tired all the time. So we didn’t actually go out for dates all that often, but usually stayed in at my place or his. Each time, the plan was to watch a movie, but it got to the point where I felt so tired I didn’t even feel like watching a movie but would rather just cuddle on the couch… which usually ended up with us making out on the couch. I’m not sure where the energy for that came from, but somehow it was there.

I don’t regret going as far as I did with him sexually, but I do wish I’d spent less time making out with him and more time actually talking with him. I wish we’d went out for walks or went out swimming or ice skating or played board games or video games or sat around listening to music or reading books together or even just studying together.

And I just had so much of my own baggage. I never suggested going out to restaurants or movies because I knew he would insist on paying for me as well as him and I hated being a drain on his bank account. He’d made it clear on the first date that he didn’t have a problem paying for me (in fact, I think it makes him feel rather manly), and after date number four, during which I had my “I hate being poor” breakdown, he insisted on paying for my things. He was just trying to take care of me.

But thing is, I like being independent. When someone is always paying for me, I feel like a burden. And he was younger than me and I wanted him to enjoy that. I wanted him to save that money for school or for a trip to his dad’s in Alberta or for that video game he’s had his eye on or on a new book. I didn’t want him spending it all on me.

And during the summer when we’d dated, he was working two jobs, both of them very extraverted while he is rather introverted, then once his summer job was over he was in his first semester of university, taking full-time courses while working close to thirty hours a week. I figured he was tired and he had mentioned being really exhausted so I didn’t suggest actually going out to do something either because I wanted to make sure he was getting the rest he needed.

Now I realize how stupid it was. He was the one who suggested us going for a walk on our Thanksgiving date and he had a great time. He had a great time! He was talkative and energetic and fun. So why did I think he wouldn’t want to go out to actually do stuff? And I’m so mad at myself for not even thinking of just asking him about it.

I wish I’d been more assertive. I wish I’d confronted him on things like him not telling people about us, particularly not telling his mom, and I wish I’d insisted on him telling me at least something about his past relationships. But I never did because I was trying to be respectful of his boundaries and because I didn’t want to be seen as a “nagging”, “clingy” girlfriend (which is an idea our society put into my head, not him).

I wish I’d been more affectionate with him in public. I would hold his hand and put my arm around him in public, but I’d never kissed him in public, not once. Since I didn’t really have any relationship experience, I wasn’t sure what “appropriate” PDA was and didn’t want to offend people, so I didn’t give him a kiss even when I wanted to. And I worried about people walking in on us kissing too. I wonder if that put a damper on things as well.

I wish I wasn’t so scared. Sometimes I wonder if it was my own fear that ended the relationship.

My mom says that she understands my thoughts, but that it takes two to make a relationship work and he wasn’t trying. Which is true. I know the break-up isn’t my fault. He was the one refusing to talk to me that last month of our relationship. But I guess sometimes you just go over it all in your head because if you’re the one who wrecked it maybe you’re the one who can fix it.

I wish I could have another chance, to tell him what I’ve learned and what we could do different. Maybe things would be different with me on antidepressants and taking a lower course load and having less paperwork and appointments and not being so scared of what others think of me and with my mom having a full-time job and us living in a nice place.

And I’m just so confused because I feel like I’ve been dealing with two totally different people in my memories of him. One of those people loves me and thinks I’m just the most wonderful person and is excited to see me and be around me. The other doesn’t care about me at all and is cold and rude. I don’t know how to reconcile them with each other. My world doesn’t even make sense to me. Dating him now, after all that’s happened, doesn’t make sense. But being apart from him doesn’t make sense either.

So I had several breakdowns over the course of this weekend, after which my mother lectured me. I hate being lectured. I’m either being told what I should’ve done differently, which frankly isn’t helpful to me now, or told that life’s not fair and to just get over it.

(I feel like I’m painting a rather negative picture of my mom. She’s actually really great with me most of the time and I’m glad she’s my mom. It’s just that when I’m super close to someone and they get on my nerves, it affects me more than if it’s someone I’m not close to getting on my nerves, so I complain about them more even if they’re great the rest of the time.)

I also overestimated how much medication I had left and ran out, so we wound up having to grab that on the way to my brother’s place so I had it for exam time. So we wound up being an hour late, which my brother was fine with, but my mom lectured me in the car about how I need to plan ahead or write things down and how now this is affecting my brother and his family. And I just said “‘Kay” and kept my mouth shut. Sometimes I want to say “Can’t you see I’m already doing the best I can? Can’t you accept that sometimes things just slip my mind? Can’t you see I already hate myself for being a burden on my loved ones?” But I don’t because it would worry her and she worries about me enough already.

It’s been tight financially. Obviously, having to come up with like, $2000-$3000 out of nowhere to get moved took its toll, but we had to shell out even more money because now that my mom finally has a medical plan, she had to catch up on all the medical appointments that have had to be neglected for the past, mmm… seven years or so. Which was another $1000. And then there’s gas money to get to and from work from us both. Plus Christmas shopping. Plus I needed a new sports bra and new pajamas.

In short, we didn’t have much money for groceries so I haven’t eaten much this week. As I’ve already referenced, when I don’t eat enough, my thoughts wander to places they shouldn’t and my muscles get sore and it’s harder to sleep so I just feel like crap.

And then of course, there are final exams. Yesterday felt like the longest day ever. Sunday was spent getting my medication then visiting with my brother and his family then studying super late then having that breakdown and then more studying and then yesterday morning I had one of my finals then work, so I wound up being up for over thirty hours with only a nap for sleep.

I’m also taking on more hours at work next semester, which means I’ll have to go to staff meetings, which means my ex will be there and his GF too unless I get lucky and she has a class at that time. I’m really dreading it because being around them all summer really messed me up and I never want to go through that again. Honestly, I’m petrified.

Again, my moods have been all over the place. There are some days where I’m passionate and opinionated and alive and am interested in all these things and love learning and am a genius and will one day do great things and feel like I can handle anything that comes my way. Then other days, like these days, nothing that used to make me happy makes me happy, I feel like I have no personal interests or hobbies, and just feel like this boring, empty shell of a human being that never gets anything done.

I’ve been trying really hard to be positive but lately it’s been falling short. If you believe in prayer, I would really appreciate you praying for me.