It’s Sunday January 6th, 10:30pm. I am in bed, still writing my own version of Rewind 2018 (hopefully, it won’t get as much hate as the YouTube one). One sentence I wrote is ‘I thought it would be a good exercise to count my blessings for a change…’ and, somehow, it also happens to be something I’ve started doing this past week. At the end of every day, I note down on my diary one positive thing that happened to me. Or a few, if I’m lucky. This way, I can actually visualise that there’s good in my life. One thing I’ve understood about depression is that I need to confront it with facts, so that when it tries to make me believe I’m alone or pathetic or ugly, I can prove it wrong with substantial evidence. Easy in theory, much harder in practice but it’s worth a try, isn’t it?
So, I hadn’t planned to write this blog post, especially since I’m not finished with the other one and it’s essentially the same thing but for the whole of 2018. But, you know what, screw chronological order and whatnot. The 2018 blog post will be ready soon, but this one makes sense to me now and I feel like writing it in one sitting, when it’s still fresh in my head. I need to stop making excuses and do what makes me happy, even if it’s not conventional or logical or chronologically relevant. Ideally, I would like to post these at the beginning of each following week (does that make any sense?). Please keep me accountable and tell me off if I flake out on this. I think it could be valuable, really valuable. Unfortunately, I stupidly tend to ignore what’s best for me.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my weekly blessings:
Monday 31st of December: I went to celebrate New Year’s Eve at my friend Laura’s. We had McDonald’s for lunch, watched The Princess Diaries 1 & 2 and started watching High School Musical. Our friend Sabeena arrived halfway through the film and didn’t like it so, instead, we opened a bottle of wine, ate raclette and talked all night. We watched the Graham Norton Show and somehow missed the countdown by only a few seconds — our clocks were not synched and we didn’t realised it had started on the TV programme. It was all very festive and fun.
Tuesday 1st of January: I stepped into 2019 with two friends, we drank strawberry Champagne and watched Crazy Stupid Love. We went to bed at 4am, which never happens to me unless I have insomnia because I’m such a grandma. When we woke up, Sabeena was craving bread and the mention of baked goods made my mouth water. Plus, Laura told us about this French local shop/café near Paddington, Chez Laurent’s. However, I really didn’t feel like putting on clothes but Sabeena convinced me to go out in my PJs. So, for the first time in my life, I went outside wearing a fuzzy striped pair of pants. No one cared, at all — it was bloody brilliant!
Wednesday 2nd of January: I got woken up at 5am from a bad dream… which turned out to be more like an epiphany. It gave me an idea for a short film, which I basically started writing right away. I don’t know what’ll come out of it, but I felt so inspired. This hadn’t happened to me since The Wright Siblings, a trilogy I started working on back in 2014 and that I stopped investing myself into after all that depression and fear of failure crap. In the evening, I had a lovely Skype call with one of my best friends, Marine.
Thursday 3rd of January: I had a really bad mental health day, so I was pretty sure I would have no blessing to count. I was wrong. My friend Johanna called at 8:30pm for a bit and it really cheered me up. It’s an endless reminder that when we don’t feel well, we need to reach out to friends. I’ll remember one day…
Friday 4th of January: this was my 1st London anniversary and the sun actually came out! It was a much better mental health day and I felt really peaceful. I waited around all day for a parcel and when it arrived, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I had finally caved in and ordered the Bloomsbury hardcover box-set of Harry Potter from Wordery. The precious was now in my possession. It is £67 instead of £115 but no matter how I justified the purchase, I still felt guilty about all the money spent on myself. The guilt completely vanished once I had it in my hands though. What a good investment! That evening, I had a great catch up with my roommate Annamaria and, after that, I went to Laura’s again to celebrate my homeversary. She got me a card that absolutely made my day. We ate pizza, watched all of High School Musical and sung at the top of our lungs. I barely remembered the lyrics and her neighbours probably hate us but we had a jolly good time.
Saturday 5th of January: Laura and I went shopping at Westfields, a shopping centre I didn’t even know existed even though it’s barely 30 minutes away from where I live. I hate shopping but it ended up being surprisingly fruitful. My friend helped me step out of my comfort zone. She suggested garments I would never have reached for because I thought it wouldn’t suit me or because I thought it would be too small or whatever reason is good enough not to try the damn clothes on (I’ll be writing a whole blog post about this sudden shopping spree very soon; it deserves its own glorious moment). After that, I walked through central London to Southbank to meet my friend Filipa and her sister at the National Theatre. She got us tickets to see Hadestown, a musical she had already seen back in November and loved. This production was incredible and I feel very lucky that I got to see it before its UK run ends at the end of January.
Sunday 6th of January: it was one of these days where I woke up feeling tired and unmotivated. I went to the café to have breakfast and work on finding a new job. But even after two cappucinos, I felt very much out of it. I messed up an online application, which I had to redo from scratch because I hadn’t saved anything before I unintentionally closed all tabs (first world problems, right?). I gave myself crap all morning & early afternoon for being so useless. I felt very defeated so I went back home. I put on my new dressing gown and ordered a late lunch pizza, even though I’d already had one a couple of days before. I watched Freaky Friday to try and make myself feel better and, guess what, it worked! It made me tear up and laugh and, after that, I felt much more ready to face the rest of the day. It’s now 11:30pm and I’ve been really productive — another thing we probably all need to remember: stop being so hard on yourself, you’re doing great! (update: it’s now almost 2am and I am still working on this blog post… Oops. I’ll probably regret it tomorrow but so far, I’m really happy with it) I also had a Skype call with my friends Noémie & Lucie, which was a lovely way to end the week.
There you go, so many blessings! 2019 took off at top speed and, although I’m aware it won’t always be so great, I must learn to appreciate the small things and victories, no matter how tiny and insignificant. I had lots of fun with friends and, overall, a good mental health week. Not too shabby for Justine! (Yes, that’s a line from Rachel Greene. Of course it’s a quote from Friends. It’s me, what did you expect?)
Please join me on this new adventure and let me know your weekly blessings in the comment section. You don’t have to share anything too personal, obviously, and I’d be happy to just read one if you don’t feel like writing loads.
Disclaimer: if you’re reading this and you’re feeling so helpless you can’t find a reason to smile at the moment, please know that it’s OK. It really is, honey. I know it’s fucking hard, and it’s not your fault. For every blessing I listed above, I had to fight monsters & demons & voices & circumstances. I’m not perfect, my life isn’t perfect and you shouldn’t compare yourself to me – the same way I shouldn’t compare myself to all the friends who’ve already been published, bought a house, got engaged, etc. etc. We’re all on individual journeys and we’re all at different stages of our lives. Last year, I was ready to end mine — today, I’m ready to experience new ways to cope, to try and find what works for me. This is only an example of what you could do too perhaps, if it helps. But don’t worry if you feel like nothing brought you joy this week. There’s always next week, or the one after that. In the meantime, be gentle with yourself and remember that you are not alone and that you matter. Always.