Taking Care of Yourself Despite Everything

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Let’s be honest here guys: taking care of yourself while you’re struggling with mental health, and trying to balance a million different activities and relationships, is next to impossible. Something always falls to the side, right? And while we can say that we’re going to take on less hours at work or go out partying a little less, it’s always our me time that suffers.

However, at least for myself, I find that in order to keep my hit points up, I need to be able to maintain a good sense of self care, no matter how badly I’m feeling. And although some days I literally have to force myself to get up, and often times I can really only manage one or two of the things off my list, it’s important that I maintain a certain level of self care for myself at all times.

Whether you relate to this or not, I do promise you this: the more time you take to invest in yourself, the better you’re going to feel. It might not out right make you feel any less awful than than you had been feeling before, but it will help you start getting on the right track.

Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of the most important self-care things you can practice on a (somewhat) daily basis.

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The Hit Point Scale

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Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve spent a lot of time developing theories about myself and the rest of humanity. Maybe it’s a writer thing, I don’t know, but I find it helpful to be able to understand those around me. Gives me an idea of what I need to do to take care of myself a little better, and how to communicate effectively with the important people in my life. Of course, I’m going to be talking about another one of those theories today, and I hope it’ll help you learn some things about yourself as well.

I grew up with video games – in particular, JRPGs like Final Fantasy. I use them for a lot of different metaphors in my life, but I’m pretty sure anyone, regardless of gaming history, will be able to understand what I’m trying to say with this.

Start off by imagining that you’re a video game character, alright? Obviously, this means that you have a hit point bar. To keep it simple, every morning when you wake up, your hit points generally reset to 100. By the end of the day, depending on what you did with your time, they’re often depleted, right?

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How to Survive Retail (Or Any Other Trashy Job)

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I’m in a really good place right now. Not emotionally – that’s a mess – but I’m not working, I’m starting my own businesses, I can sleep in until noon everyday, and my schedule isn’t filled with anything except things I enjoy. I have next to no money, but thanks to my depression, I may be able to get financial help from the government while I deal with my issues. I may be a mess, but my life is not.

However, I’ve done my time in petty jobs and retail. I’ve been yelled at by customers, worked ten hour days until one in the morning, did split shifts, and came to work with only three hours of sleep after crazy panic attacks. I get it. I’ve been there. I’d like to say that my worst shift ever was when I got a phone call during my break because one of my childhood friends just died, but it wasn’t.

However, I came up with a few things to help me get through it. If there’s something I’m good at, it’s creating coping strategies and plans, so here are a few of the things that have worked for me:

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You Are My Sunshine 

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So I went out with a friend of mine the other day. I go out with a lot of people. I like to think that makes me popular, but I think it just means that I work too hard to do too much, and there are some things I need to let go of.

Anyway, we’re sitting there chatting about our lives. We haven’t spoken in a while, so we’re catching up. He’s a little bit older, in his late twenties, still works in retail, isn’t actively working on any projects or big goals or anything like that – you know, just living life.

And I start to think as we’re talking, ‘man, this guy is wasting so much potential for himself. Here he is, an awesome human being who’s talking to me about his past ideas of opening a tea shop or being a voice actor or whatever else, and he’s doing nothing to pursue any of those things. That’s really sad. I should encourage him to work harder.’ 

So the conversation keeps going, and I do what I can to try to encourage him and get him motivated. After all, he has so many amazing ideas that he’d be brilliant at executing, so I should push him to go for them, right?

And then it hits me. It’s not that my intentions or thoughts were wrong – I’d love to see him pursuing some of these things – but rather, I had been placing my value in the things I was doing, and by default, his as well.

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Where in the World Are You?

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That’s actually a line one of my favorite characters delivered in this book series. I’ve been rereading it with one of my friends recently, and although I never really thought about this particular piece of dialogue besides the fact that it’s brilliant foreshadowing, I’ve really started to think about this recently.

I know I talked before about default positions in your world, and this isn’t too far off from that, but I wanted to introduce a new concept that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. It might seem kind of crazy, and you might completely disagree with me, but I don’t really care. It’s just one of my theories about people, and in the end, there’s no way to either prove it nor disprove it, so take what you will and leave everything else in the trash.

Let me start off by saying something crazy: you exist inside your world more than you do in ‘reality.’

Let me break this down for you a little bit here. It makes sense when you think about it, I promise. We’re going to start of sciencey before I get too crazy on you here. Don’t want to lose my audience right off the bat.

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Where Do You Find Yourself?

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So, my sister’s pretty smart. To be honest, even though she’s over two years younger than me, I’ve recently been feeling like she’s actually older. She certainly seems to have her life together more than I do, seems more adult in a lot of ways, and while that makes me happy for her, it really only makes me feel worse about myself.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m so fed up with comparing myself to others and the damage that brings to myself, that I wouldn’t do that with her. However, I just wish I was at the same place, you know? I wish we could both be moving forward together – and that’s it, really.

That being said, she knows what it’s to be anxious, to be depressed and everything in between. She’s always been known to be the unstable one, not me, and it seems like we really switched roles recently. So, of course, when she came to visit for a few days, I took the opportunity to ask her how she got through everything, and what she thought about things. Thankfully, she had some good things to say – which happened to directly correlate with my post from before.

Let me pose a question to you guys quickly – where are you in your world?

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Science Rules

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Thanks Bill Nye.

I’m going to get a little bit scientific with you guys here. I don’t know everything about this stuff – not at all – so don’t quote me as being an official voice on these topics, but I do know what I’m talking about.

Let’s start off with a little bit of information about how our brains work, yeah? Basically, our brains are a huge center of connections. There are receptors and givers (no idea what the actual scientific term is so just roll with it), and these determine how we think. Depending on which chemicals – or how many – our receptors receive from the givers, it determines our moods, our thoughts, our feelings, and all that largely impacts our decisions. If you know anything about depression at all, you’ll know that it’s usually a problem of not enough serotonin and dopamine being transferred over to the receptors, thus creating a chemical imbalance and impacting mood in a way that “normal” people won’t get. Of course, antidepressants target these brain areas and act as supplements for what your brain has been missing all along.

Cool. 

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The Next Step

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That’s actually the title of this one show me and my sister have been watching. Ironically, of course.

Anyways, following my posts about coping with anxiety and depression here, I’m here to talk about the next step to handling your worst days. We’re talking those days when you literally don’t want to live anymore. I’ve had quite a few of those recently, and while I can’t say that the practice I’m going to go into changes how I’m feeling at all, but it sure helps me handle things.

I like starting my days off right. I don’t always do this, of course, but I’ll get ready, make tea and breakfast, and go over my schedule for the day. This way, I’ve got a good start to things, and I feel better overall. However, one of the practices I’ve been putting into place recently is to check my ‘daily inventory.’

Wake up and start each day new. You’re a new you, it’s a new world, etc etc. Awesome. When I say to ‘check your daily inventory,’ I mean to take a step back away from yourself for a bit, and objectively consider how you’re doing on that particular day. This morning, for example, I woke up (finally) feeling well rested. The sun is shining, which means I’m more motivated to do things, but I also feel completely and absolutely miserable. It’s worse when I’m not distracted, and if I’m not constantly doing things, I’m going to end up breaking down in tears – something that I’m really quite tired of right now.

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What it Means to Be a World

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Before I get to the plethora of other things I have to do today (napping), I wanted to take a moment to get some of my thoughts down. This has been a concept on my mind a lot recently, and although I came up with it over a year ago, I haven’t really stopped to think about it much until now. That is, the fact that each and every human being is a world.

I know I’ve mentioned this before in a few of my past posts ( X X X) but I wanted to elaborate on the point a little more. I’m probably going to be mentioning it a lot more in the future, so I thought an explanation is in order.

Now, something you should know about me is that, well obviously, I’m a writer. I finished my first ‘novel’ when I was six years old. Writing isn’t just a hobby for me. It’s an identity, and the thing I believe the most in when the rest of the world is miserable. Anyways, I’ve been working on this particular story for a few years now, and one of the first things I wrote about it was this particular section of dialogue:

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The First Step in Any Adventure is to Set Up Camp

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I talk a lot about anxiety and depression. Being something that I struggle with a lot myself, and something that I know is a huge issue in our world today, I kind of think that it’s worth tackling. There’s so much that goes into the two topics. I could probably spend most of my life covering these things and still not tackle all there is to talk about. However, today I’m not going to spend more time discussing how sucky it is, but rather, how to deal with it when it happens. Granted, that’s a rather large topic in and of itself, so I’m going to stick to the basics: how to set up camp.

Both depression and anxiety make you feel unsafe. You feel overwhelmed, trapped, lost within everything else without any means of escape, and completely drowned out. You can’t drag yourself out of it, you can’t fix anything – you have to just wallow in your own feelings of misery until they (hopefully) go away.

Yeah, that’s the way it goes. So instead of letting those feelings overwhelm us, let’s take a moment to step back and create a safe space for ourselves. 

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