Mental Health, well-being

Count Your Blessings — Week #2

Last week, I started a very simple exercise to help me fight depression. I’ve decided to count my blessings every day of the week, so that I can actually visualise that there’s good in my life. I need to confront my mental illness 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. I may have really bad days, and sometimes it may seem impossible to say anything positive about a day, but I’m going to make it my mission to find something even if it’s just the tiniest blessing.

So, let’s see how this past week went, shall we?

Monday 7th of January: I had a pretty bad mental health day. I was feeling helpless because of a job hunt that’s not quite going the way I’d like it to. I was fidgety all day and binge ate until it made me physically sick. I found myself reaching for my phone all the freaking time, scrolling down social media as if my life depended on it. This is the kind of self-sabotage behaviours I want to work on this year because it’s unhealthy, harmful and counterproductive. I need to find other ways to deal with anxiety, but this is a whole other topic. Ultimately, I did find a couple of blessings to count. I watched Cheaper by the Dozens 2, which I much prefer to the first one. I teared up at the end when everyone goes their separate ways, and somehow that helped a little bit. By the time I finished though, I was sick of screens as I’d spent the day working on my computer and reaching for my phone. So, I closed my laptop, put my phone on plane mode and reached for a book instead. Now, you might wonder how much of an achievement this is, especially as I used to be an avid reader. Well, I’ve actually had a weird relationship with books since I went into publishing… I’ve basically stopped reading altogether. But I want to get over this long, awkward phase and find my love for books again. And, guess what? I read about 150 pages on Monday evening! It was a bit laborious at first. I couldn’t focus, quickly felt bored and longed to do something else. But I powered-through and I’m glad I did because I am loving re-reading Harry Potter so far. So… yay!

Tuesday 8th of January: much like Monday, this wasn’t a very good mental health day. However, I’m starting to see a pattern here. 10 days before I get my period, I start feeling really bad about myself, I keep wanting to eat and I’m in a foul mood. Apart from that, I had a very interesting 2-hour chat with my roommate Annamaria. We talked about university, religion and it was just really enlightening. I love having conversations with smart, open-minded people (otherwise, it’s a pain). Then, I had yet another pizza (I think I’ve had about 4 in a week, this craving’s gotta stop). Later, as I was watching The Intern, the weirdest thing happened. Do you remember how, in the previous Count Your Blessings post, I told you that I’d stopped investing myself in one of my writing projects, The Wright Siblings? Yep, you guessed it. Somehow, out of nowhere, my brain decided to venture there again. I didn’t write much, only a couple of short scenes. I find that it’s both a blessing and a curse because I just don’t feel like it’s the right time for me to go back on that journey. It’s not that I’m not ready — I think I’ve finally got the distance and the experience I needed to make it a better and stronger story. It’s more that I want to focus on other things right now. I have a job to find, which is a top priority; I want to dedicate more time & effort to this blog; and I am currently working on a poetry book that I am hoping to release later this year (I was aiming for Spring but this is looking far too ambitious). Nonetheless, I’m still thankful to my characters and my imagination for not giving up on me.

Wednesday 9th of January: well, well, well, I’m not having the best week mentally and physically now am I? I couldn’t sleep because I had a strong asthma attack. If you have asthma and you’re like me, a super anxious person, you know that panic attacks and asthma attacks just don’t bode well together. Unfortunately, I can’t help but panic when I can’t breathe — which I think is fairly reasonable, seeing that it’s supposed to keep you alive and all that. The weirdest thing was that my subconscious actually made me realise I couldn’t breathe in my sleep. I had a dream where I was having an asthma attack and it was so bad that I had to be taken to the hospital. I startled when, in the dream, I realised I wasn’t waking up. How strange is that? Anyway, this is definitely not a blessing but, somehow, being alive is so I think it’s worth mentioning. I also went out to take out the trash and recycling in the morning and the fresh air actually helped a lot. It’s the little things, right? That day, my roommate Gabi came back from her hometown, Caracas. I learnt a lot about Venezuela and I am really grateful to have people from all over the world in my group of friends. They enlighten me on topics I am clueless about and they challenge my questions, my opinions and everything in between. I also finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and jumped straight into the second one. That felt hella good! I finished the day on a Skype call with my friend Anna. Thank the computer Gods for all the instant messaging apps.

Thursday 10th of January: my fourth and last roommate came back from her hometown in Australia. We had a lovely catch-up and somewhere in the conversation, I told her how I freaked out about turning 27. After we talked, it dawned on me that I was actually fine and pretty happy with my lot. Which then inspired me to write a blog post that I published immediately after. It feels so liberating to finally write about what I want, in the language of my choice and without filter. I typed this blog post listening to Shallow by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and it was truly perfect.

Friday 11th of January: things started to go downhill from there, although I’d already had a couple of bad days. In the afternoon, I went to a doctor’s appointment that I’d booked mid-December (that’s the NHS right there for you guys). My knee’s been hurting for a while now and I wanted to make sure it’s nothing serious. My previous experiences with the NHS had been pretty unsuccessful but this time I thought, surely they’re not going to ignore the fact that I’m in pain every time I walk up/down the stairs or crouch, etc? I was wrong. The GP told me she could only recommend me to a physiotherapist if I’ve been in pain for at least 6 weeks. When I pointed out to her that 2 weeks probably weren’t going to change anything, she told me ‘we have guidelines’ and that was it. So, unless my knee miraculously heals in the next 10 days like she suggested it would, I’ll have to go back. I was just pissed off by the whole thing because every time I go, they are so unhelpful I wonder why there’s such an institution in the first place. I am very much for a free health service, but if there’s no service to begin with, I really don’t see the point. Anyway, I guess my blessing that day was reading Harry Potter… shocker.

Saturday 12th of January: it got worse. I once again couldn’t sleep because of an asthma attack. And, all day, I felt completely out of it. I know it must be hormones, but I was just so whiny I managed to annoy myself. The only two things that stood out to me that day was finishing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (so emotional!) and talking to my roommate Annamaria for an hour.

Sunday 13th of January: another bad day, being very much apathetic and useless. I tried to deal with my self-assessment tax return and oh my God, what kind of torture is that? Anyway. I did force myself go to the café and ate the most amazing pastry (a chocolate hazelnut delight that I’d never seen before). I may hate my body at the moment, but I’m still grateful for the sin that is sugar.

Well, there you go. Like I said, it’s not going to be cheerful every week. Barely two weeks into 2019 and I’m already not feeling 100%. However, I’m pretty sure my period are to blame. As it’s a recurring problem for me, my friend Johanna suggested I get tested for my thyroid as I may suffer from hormonal unbalance. But I can’t see the NHS being helpful on that matter… we’ll see. My asthma’s still really bad for some reason — I’ve tried to avoid medication as I know I’ll be taking quite a bit once I’m on my period but I don’t think I can avoid it any longer.

Even though I had a bad mental health week, I did find something to write down as a blessing every day and I should be proud of that. Instead, I feel terrible for not being productive enough. I regret staying in bed because I know it makes things worse, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do the right thing — the mere idea of putting on clothes was painful, because of my reflection in the mirror. If I can’t stand looking at my reflection in a mirror, in a safe zone that is my room, how am I supposed to face the world out there? That’s how bad it got, yes. I wonder if there’s ever going to be a day when I feel fabulous, no matter what.

I have to say though, if there’s one thing I’m particularly happy about is how much I read. I couldn’t finish a book for 3 months, and I read 3 within a week! How awesome is that? I know it might sound like no big deal, but I hadn’t willingly and eagerly picked a book over Netflix in years. Harry Potter is always a good idea, amirite?

Anyway. I hope your week was more enjoyable than mine but if it wasn’t, remember that there’s always next week. At least that’s what I tell myself.


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