Hello again!

Dear Friend,

Thank you so much for being patient with me and my prolonged silence. I’ve felt so stuck and blocked for so long. Have you ever felt like your voice, both literally and figuratively, is trapped in your throat? Like there’s a boulder that lets a little bit trickle through, but the stream is blocked? That’s how I’ve felt when it comes to writing or videos or anything creative for far too long. Gosh, I have so many drafts with prompts saved. I sincerely planned to be more dedicated to writing here, but January 2020, I was still struggling to get the spike in my anxiety under control.

February started off nicely – my mom, sister, and I took our annual Disney World trip and we were able to see our friend who lives in the Orlando area. Gosh, that trip…my sister and I had our dining and fastpasses already booked only for BTS to announce the Map of the Soul Tour tickets would go on sale while we were in Florida. I remember we were SO EXCITED to get BTS ARMY Membership verified preorder and we were so, so, SO THRILLED to snag tickets to the concerts we wanted to see. We even had our annual trip to visit relatives planned around the Chicago tour dates. And yet even as early as that, we were hearing news of COVID spreading overseas and I was already starting to worry about how quickly it was spreading. When we got back, I went on full-time telework after discussing my ongoing heightened anxiety with my manager. By early March, my sister was on full-time telework, too. I was still working on videos for my channel in March, April and May, but with each week that passed, it felt like just going through my daily routine was taking more and more energy. I remember literally crying when BTS postponed their US tour instead of cancelling – being able to keep the seats we snagged was such a small thing, but such a blessing for us. By mid-May, I was noticing symptoms of backsliding further in my progress with my mental health, so I stepped back from the videos as well, fully intending to return once I had my symptoms back under control.

Summer and fall are kind of a blur, honestly. I know so much happened, but I don’t even know what to cover. Staying with the theme here of discussing my mental health journey, I guess, right? Summer was a lot of struggling to get my mental health symptoms under control – lots of self reflection, trying to better understand myself and why I react the way I do. Lots of naps and migraines, too. So many migraines. I started to feel a bit better in August, but the closer the election got, the higher my anxiety climbed, so September through January were spent juggling work and migraines and anxiety attacks and trying to find new ways to cope. My sister recommended we attempt a 90-day challenge – pick something to do for ourselves, for enrichment and joy, for an hour a day from October to January. I had signed up for a few classes, so I planned to spend my hour a day learning – of course, I didn’t realize exactly how much work each class required, so I ended up pausing on two of them and focusing solely on the third – I still have one podcast left for that one. Honestly, the best things to come from the challenge were:

  • Weekly review – what worked, what didn’t, what can we change moving forward to make things easier? This has been so helpful in identifying little ways we can make life easier – like buying a misting bottle for our all purpose cleaner since I was noticing extremely heightened anxiety when we finally ran out of Lysol spray. I know it is silly that such a simple thing as buying a misting bottle made such a difference in reducing my anxiety, but goodness gracious, it really helped.
  • Getting an air fryer/toaster oven combo to replace our toaster. It has been worth every single penny, my goodness! We’ve severally limited ordering DoorDash delivery since starting to play with recipes for the air fryer.
  • Replacing our old, sad, beat-up tea pot with an electric kettle – we’ve had hot tea daily, which has been lovely, honestly. I forgot how much tea really does help me feel more calm and centered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still devoted to my morning coffee because I love it, but I didn’t realize how much I missed having tea, too. We’ve been making a pot of tea when we brew our coffee, so we can enjoy the coffee while the tea cools to drinkable temperature.
  • Habit- linking – it is sooooo much easier to add a new habit to an existing routine, like adding in running the essential oil diffuser at night – I linked it between dropping my phone on the charger and brushing my teeth. We’ve been gradually linking additional habits as the weeks go by.

January 2021 was a bit of a rollercoaster, with anxiety spikes around the attack on the Capitol and the inauguration, and – the biggest personal change – leaving my job of 11 years. Shocking on a personal level, right? I don’t have another job lined up yet. I spent all of February recovering from burnout – lots of naps, cuddling with Gunny, catching up on fanfics I follow, and spending time on Pinterest for the first time in a long time. I knew I was finally making progress on burnout recovering when I was saving pins to my writing prompts board and thought “Oh, that’s a good one, I could work with that” – it has been SO LONG since I felt that creative spark so easily. I’ve started job hunting now, though I’m leaning toward freelance or short term contract work, I think. I have so many ideas and plans – I can’t even fully explain how…I don’t know, lighter? brigher? grounded but free?…I feel now. I also know things are turning around again since I’ve started noticing little manifestations coming through again – like finding another German Shepherd crystal carving after searching for two years, and like thinking about one of my favorite fanfic authors and having a new fic posted from them the same day.

I’m planning to write again soon, dear friend. Until next time, please stay safe and as healthy as possible. As always, sending you so much love and supportive energy. TTFN!

Love always,

Katie

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