It’s been a while, so I thought I would do a morning journalling post (I am on day 11 of the prompts from this site)… I am just waiting for the banana pancakes my Dad made for me, to go down before I go on a run on the beach so this seems like a good a time as any 🙂
Well, I have a lot of privileges that I take for granted I am sure.
I guess one is the fact I have a job that provided me with a laptop, a laptop that I am writing this post on from my parents house by the sea in Wales. I can therefore work from anywhere which had been very useful through these lockdowns and doctors appointments in Wales.
Even though I have had to come back to Wales to have follow up appointments and MRI following the endometriosis surgery last month, and it’s not ideal having to keep leaving my ‘life’ in Southampton to come back and for – I am very privileged to not only have a GP in Southampton that I can access through the NHS but also a specialist in gynaecology in Wales that I can access through my private health insurance. These are both two, MASSIVE privileges. I have been able to access a psychiatrist through the NHS and get medication for ADHD in Southampton for free. Yes there was a waiting list – but still it’s amazing. And I am super privileged that I am going to be having an MRI next week to see inside my body and see where the rest of the endo is and if I need another surgery.
And all that aside I am privileged to be able-bodied…the fact I can just put my trainers on in a minute and run out the door – that’s amazing and I feel lucky and oh so privileged.
*Throughout this post I have realised I do not know how to spell ‘priveledge’ – that is not correct as it gets underlined with the red dashes – hopefully I will remember its 2 i’s and just the one e and no d- not all e’s !*
How have you stretched your comfort zone in the past month (even slightly)?
What did you learn from this experience?
Well I guess I stretched my comfort zone by returning ‘home’ to Southampton for 2 weeks.
It’s funny, they say ‘home is where the heart is’ and at the moment my home isn’t in Southampton. I love my job, I find it very rewarding but at the moment in this covid world my job is not so rewarding…it’s the face-to-face interactions I live for in my job. It is seeing those questioning faces of the youngsters that fuels me.
I’ve been reading Scarlett Thomas’s World Quake novels (thoroughly recommend by the way). In those awesome books, specifically the second one, Effy (the heroine) almost runs out of her life force and gets a terrible affliction known as the Yearning. I think this is a good metaphor for how I feel now.
I feel low on life force at the moment; so going back to my ‘home’ in Southampton, my flat, with no garden, where I live alone… it has depleted my life force instead of topping it up.
The distraction of cooking my own food, decorating the spare room, doing my own laundry was not enough to calm my racing mind.
Anxiety stirred in me while I was there, my thoughts run a mock.
Even though I tried to meet with friends in the evenings there was two whole days where I didn’t speak to anyone in real life other than the dentist. I cycled to the common to sit in the sun and read a book but I was truly restless.
Somehow (well because of the global pandemic) my ‘home’ no longer feels like a home. It makes me feel restless and pointless. The pointless feelings are the most worrying; as that when I know depression is looming.
So after 2 weeks there I made the decision to come back to Wales to be with my parents and doggie siblings. I packed up my car last Friday and drove back.
Today it’s the following Saturday, and it’s terribly rainy weather (much worse than when I was in Southampton might I add) but I just went for a run on the beach and I’m now reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in the window seat, surrounded by dogs.
I feel so much calmer here and my mind is not racing so much.
Environment is so important, as I’ve learned from James Smith’s daily emails (again, thoroughly recommend you subscribe to these!)
I don’t yearn for the ‘old normal’ before Covid but I don’t yearn for this ‘new normal’ either… I think it’s impossible to do so to be honest. How can you yearn for a future that is totally unknown?
I am proud that I did get out of my lockdown comfort zone and return to my life in England. I am proud that I stayed there for two weeks on my own. But I am also proud that I was able to acknowledge that staying there any longer might have significantly impacted my mental health.
For now my home is where my heart is, in Wales, with my family; by the sea.
Over the past month, what have your actions been silently saying about your priorities?
Well we are in lockdown so the past month I have had a lot of my actions enforced upon me by the law!
But, I guess my actions have shown I do have new priorities indeed…
I’m just going to list some of the changes/new priorities here ‘cos I am a scientist and ADHD and deal better with listing things haha, also it’s really bloody hot today and I am having trouble putting my thoughts in order:
I’ve realised for me EXERCISE of some kind every day is very important for my mind and body. I have to do it to stay sane and happy. Even if it is just 2km on the rower or 4 laps of the field next to my parents house. I’m trying to just go running without being super dedicated to a certain distance. I’ve found when I am just running for the love of running and being grateful for what my body can do I actually go further and faster than when I put the pressure of distance on myself. I also get less injures.
READING. Omg so chill time with a book and noise cancelling headphones has been so important. It’s amazing to escape and it forces me to not look at my phone so much which is always a good thing. I now recognise I need to make time to read everyday, even if its an audiobook (which is possibly cheating). It’s so healing and reading really does take you to new places and allow you to live different lives…and travel…omg I miss travelling :./!
SHOPPING. I’ve realised all the things I actually need (toiletries, books, stationary -not food lol) I can buy online and I can buy them from local/small businesses. I don’t need to go to big shopping centers; where I will undoubtedly get stressed and anxious about all the people and overwhelmed by all the items and end up wasting my money on shit I don’t need. AND you can put adblockers on your browser so that’s amazing if you are like me and easily led by ads…and we don’t yet have the technology to block me from seeing end of aisle offers; it’s all too much.
LEARNING a language…I’m still really enjoying taking time each day to do my Spanish learning, even if it’s just a quick Duolingo lesson on my phone. This is something totally different to my work so hopefully it keeps my brain going and expands my mind. Also, it’s nice for me to think that when we can actually travel I can go to a Spanish speaking country and talk to the locals innit. Hola!
I’ve prioritised time OUTSIDE on my own in the NATURE too; I guess lockdown has made me realise how important this is…
I’ll finish this post with this quote I just stole from one of James Smith‘s daily emails…(I thoroughly recommend you subscribe to them!)
Anyway his email today was about being happy and not striving for a life that doesn’t actually make you happy just because you think that’s what you should be doing; and I really needed to hear that today.
Realize that sleeping on a futon when you’re 30 is not the worst thing. You know what’s worse, sleeping in a king bed next to a wife you’re not really in love with but for some reason you married, and you got a couple kids, and you got a job you hate. You’ll be laying there fantasizing about sleeping on a futon. There’s no risk when you go after a dream. There’s a tremendous amount to risk to playing it safe.
And, what’s something you love today that you never even knew you needed in your life?
This is another morning journaling attempt.
It’s a Saturday, week who knows of Lockdown. Here in Wales we still aren’t supposed to go more than 5 miles from your home.
I’ve had to force myself to have a rest day because I keep getting calf injuries from too much HIIT workouts (specifically squat jumps and burpees) and then trying to compete with people who run faster than me on Strava.
I think with my ADHD (undiagnosed) I always want to be on the go and doing stuff. Even writing this blog post right now is a compromise…I was supposed to be just sat here having an analogue day. No screens at all…(kindle doesn’t count!) but here I am anyway…
I just finished reading Superior by Angela Saini (I have first edition signed copy from where she did a book launch as part of the ‘Why not a Doc’ podcast at the RI) and then I started reading Girl, Women, Other by Bernardine Evaristo on my Kindle (reading it in a book club, with one other friend lol).
So here I am; perhaps these great writers have inspired me. I want to be like them; to write.
And at least if I’m here on the sofa on the laptop, as opposed to in the dinning room, which is the designated work space, then it’s ok.
I’m trying to think of things I’ve let go of…to adhere to the rules and point of the journal prompt heading for this blog post.
The truth is I have trouble letting go, in general. Haha.
My ex who broke my heart; I’ve mostly let that go, but probably not fully if I am honest with myself. I have let go of the anger though; I think I forgive him and I know I am better off. So, I guess in a sense I have let go of the life I thought I would have with him. It still bloody hurts some times, but I think that’s just the betrayal and the shock and fact I was so wrong about him. It hurts a lot less and I think about it in a much more fleeting and less consumed way than I used to, even compared to like 6 months ago. So that’s very positive.
I guess I have fully grieved for that life and I do genuinely feel excited about what this ‘new life’ has to hold.
So that’s the first part of the journal prompt done!
The something I love that I didn’t expect to love has to be my parents dogs!
Bili, Milo and Stella.
I wasn’t brought up with pets because of my asthma and my parents (especially my Mam) for most of my life has actively disliked dogs and their owners sometimes lol.
But then it all changed when she started to look after my sister in law’s dog. She used to cry when he would go back home. She did a full 180 on dogs…and now my parents have 3!
Bili was the first; he’s a Cavachon. I truly love him (and he is my favourite) …I didn’t realise I could love a dog so much, but I do.
When I had that bad break up which happened just before Christmas. When I came home to my parents he started sleeping in my bed instead of in with them. And he even slept next to me in the bed with head on the pillow like a little human. He cwtched into me as I cried. It was like he knew how much I needed him…
Now I consider him to be one of my bestest friends. As cheesy as that is.
Dogs. They give you unconditional love. And it’s impossible not to love how they react when you come through the door. Their excitement at seeing you.
How they force you to relax by snuggling up beside you and going to sleep on the sofa.
How they roll over in front of your when you are walking about the house and want a belly rub.
How they put their ball on the floor in front of you and look up with those loving eyes. And you have to throw the ball.
They have truly thawed my icy heart lol.
I really love them and they have made this whole lockdown thing berable.
These dogs have honestly been better than therapy for me.
I just wish I could take them back to England with me. But then I could not give them such an amazing life…
Well, lockdown has been great for this. It’s been a great leveller. This reality; it’s really something actually.
REALITY CHECK x 10.
Hmm, I guess I’ve realised I don’t actually need all those things I thought I needed.
I don’t need more; I already have everything I need.
(I realise that I am speaking from a place of privilege here; I have a nice roof over my head and a garden and I’m in this lovely bubble here in the South Wales Valleys where neither me or my parents have to go out and see people. We can do all our work out of the confines of this dinning room).
But, yeah, as long as you have your health, and your family are ok and you can contact them and your friends. That’s really all you need.
I’ve realised too, that I really didn’t appreciate how special it was to be near actual people and have actual face to face interactions in reality. IRL!
My aspirations and ambitions for the future have actually shifted as a result of this experience though.
I don’t feel in a rush to get back to my old life.
Of course I wan’t to go out to meals with my friends and play roller derby and go swimming with the triathlon club… but knowing I can’t go back into schools and interact with young people in real life means I am really quite content with this work from Wales life (again I realise I am very lucky and privileged here!).
But, with regards to life ambitions. I’ve never been someone who had a 5 year plan. I was never someone with a 6 month plan either to be honest. I only ever strived to have some travelling adventure in the diary to look forward to and that was enough for me to be content…so it does feel really weird that my calendar literally has no future travel plans in it. I can’t even put in a date for when I go back to England…
I’ve always been a ‘live in the moment’ type of person, which I think maybe makes this whole situation a bit easier for me. For example, I’ve never really aspired to get promoted in work, or to have more responsibility; some people might say that’s because I am a woman and we aren’t confident in our own abilities and we hold ourselves back where a man wouldn’t.
The truth is I am confident that I could work at a higher grade, but I don’t want to. I did a PhD, not because I really wanted to, just because I didn’t know what else I should do. I was told that because I got a first it was the natural next step. I never stopped to think about the extreme effect four years of PhD would have on my mental health. I don’t regret my PhD but I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend lol.
For me trying to get promoted and have more responsibility it’s not worth the stress. I’m so grateful for my PhD because without it I wouldn’t have been able to have this job; this job that I love. But I still find this whole ‘Dr’ thing embarrassing. I don’t feel like I deserve it and I don’t like using it, again I realise this embarrasment and awkwardness surrounding my title might because I am woman, or maybe it is just my personality. But I don’t want people to see I am a ‘Dr’ and feel like I am trying to say I am better than them, or smarter than them. I am just stubborn, that’s the only reason I have a PhD. But I digress, the stress, the responsibility of working ‘at a higher level’ it’s just not worth it for the effect it will have on my mental health; I’m cool with this level :P.
Life is short and I have enough money to be happy; besides I am getting anxious now just at the thought of having more meetings about stuff, even if they are virtual lol.
I like to just get on and do the stuff, I actually really like doing the thing.
The real problem for me is being forced to make a plan, to sit down and think and not just throw myself in, head long. I need constant supervision, to stop me going off on tangents (probably the ADHD). I like doing all the things, but I have to be careful as I do get easily overwhelmed and then it gets so bad I can’t do ANYTHING…
But, If you too are a ‘grafter’ that’s nothing to be ashamed of. In the end, we can’t all be high level managers, someone has to actually DO the things!
Society says that at 35 I should have a husband, and kids and a mortgage; that after 10 years in a job I should be promoted and be line managing someone, and have more responsibilities. The reality is that I am currently single and back living with my parents…society would perhaps say I am failing…but I dunno, I don’t think I am, and that’s all that matters.
And anyway, the reality is we are in a pandemic and people are dying. Those people didn’t get a choice. I still have a choice about how I want to live, so I will make the most of it.
I will make the most of my reality, of this moment, of this life; while I still can.
Final thoughts on this reality
Don’t let society dictate your timeline.
Decide what you want your reality to be. Make peace with it.
The only expectations you have to live up to are your own.
(Can you tell I have just been watching series 1 of After Life ? :D)
This a tough one, I find it very hard to focus just in general. So easily distracted, I am.
But actually working from home in my parents dining room (with my Dad working on the same table as me) has been ok!
I would even go as far as saying I am actually more focused here than in my office in work.
Because I have no commute to my ‘office’ I literally get up out of bed and get straight into my workout gear (I usually go for a run or do a workout in my lunch break), go downstairs and check my emails in the ‘office/dining room’ with my morning coffee.
With my coffee I flag any emails that need to be addressed, write some ToDo’s for the day in my notebook (from tomorrow it will hopefully be a new snazzy Bullet Journal – I’ll do a post at some point about my attempt to bullet journal in the future).
Then I go into the kitchen and make my porridge and then I eat that in the living room while watching the news (I can only handle a few minutes of the new in the morning if I am honest) and then I am good to go. I start work straight after that.
I take a lot more breaks here in lockdown but the actual work itself is done in less time, I think because I am able to be more focused.
I really struggle to work from home back in England because I have a small flat so the ‘office’ is in the living room, which means I can see the TV and all sorts of other cool stuff I can be doing instead of work, right there in my eye-line. Here in Wales all I can see is this screen, this table and the window to the outside.
Another reason I am able to focus better now is because just before the lockdown I invested in some noise cancelling headphones. These were a great investment, thoroughly recommend especially, if like me, you suspect you are ADHD. Also, my parents (especially my Mam) they watch the news A LOT, like every hour! So I am so grateful for the headphones because I can tune the news out, which is definitely a plus for my mental health right now.
For work, I can also just tune out and do 25 min blocks using the headphones by using the ‘Forest’ app which is really good, because after you use the app for long enough they actually plant an actual tree…
I have also signed up to ‘Brain.fm’ which is a similar app but with a different calming/focused music each time. This focusing music in combination with the noise cancelling headphones has meant that I am actually able to be actually really focused and productive here in Wales. Yay.
Also, I find having 2 or 3 things that I am trying to achieve in one day is actually better for me than just having 1 thing to do. The problem for me and my (ADHD?) brain is that I get bored of a task so quickly, especially if it is monotonous data entry or analysis, so if I can do a 25 minute burst while listening to the Forest app and then have a little break and then come back and sit down and do something else for another 25 mins then that makes all this admin stuff a lot more manageable.
Usually in my job I am out in schools or community spaces talking to people, I am a very social person and my job is being a communicator. So normally I avoid this type of daily screen work like the plague/coronavirus, it’s a bit like torture lol. But actually this extra time we have now to do all this admin is good in a way, because now all this ‘boring’ stuff I’ve been putting off, I have no excuse not to do it and it is quite interesting, in manageable chunks at least 🙂
In terms of what I need to truly focus on today… Well, I think for me it is just making sure to be present in the moment.
Just doing one thing at a time. Breaking it down and chunking it!
So if thats data analysis work I will focus on that and close down all the other windows on my computer and just have that document open on my screen. I will move my phone off the table and all the other pieces of paper relating to other tasks will get filed away so they aren’t in my eye-line.
When I go for my run outside later, I will remember to look at the sky and smile at each person I run past at a safe distance. Then later when I am reading in the garden in the Sun or sat on the sofa with the dogs watching TV I will focus on being present and grateful that I am alive and I have a job I love.
I am still feeling really uninspired at the moment so I had a look online for some journal prompts to inspire my writing of this blog.
The problem is that for someone like me with ADHD (self diagnosed :P) is that I then spent about 30mins reading through all the possible prompts on about 20 different websites; deciding that each prompt and suggestion wasn’t appropriate/I wasn’t in the mood to write about that particular subject.
So, yeah, perhaps journal prompts aren’t for me and this blog needs to be more natural and not forced…Just stuff I feel like writing about when the mood so takes me.
AND If this means I don’t write anything for days then so be it.
However, with all that being said I did actually find a journal prompt site that did have some good ones on. These were on discobumblebee.com and were on the subject of depression and anxiety.
I guess in these difficult times of self isolation and self distancing journalling might be a good idea. Even if you don’t normally suffer with depression and anxiety, you probably are experiencing it at the moment.
It’s actually a great opportunity for everyone, because we all need a little help with our mental health, especially now. Journaling can give perspective, perhaps. Anyway, it seems like a good place to start to think about what we have to be grateful for; even though this whole situation is really pretty sh*t – we are human so we have to have hope.
So here is my first ‘successful’ attempt at a post inspired by a journal prompt:
‘List 20 things that make you smile’
Cwtches with my doggie siblings
Starting a new book (actual books preferable over Kindle books)
Buying new books (many kindle book buying binges have already occurred during lock down!)
Listening to audio books while running (especially thrillers)
Matt Haig’s books/quotes/audiobooks/insta/twitter posts
Travelling (preferably on planes but trains and boats are cool too. Not a fan of buses or taxis!)
Long walks/hikes in the mountain or by the coast
New shoes (specifically those with make me look like a gangsta)
Phone calls with my parents
Voice mail conversations with my friends in far flung countries
Decaf coconut lattes (specifically from Pret on the Uni campus)
Astronomy themed clothing
Dancing (kitchen dancing will have to do for now!)
Dead lifts (#GetThemGains)
Singing/ rapping (specifically to Lady Gaga, Eminem or the Greatest Showman soundtrack)