I’ve been tentatively planning a visit to my relatives up north for the first time since 2019. When I saw the prompt from WordPress for this month is Bridge, I immediately thought about the trio of bridges my mom, sister, and I watch for as we drive north – they’ve always been our “point of no return” for the Michigan trip. The point at which we refuse to turn around, to backtrack, to cancel. The bridges themselves have held no special significance to us beyond a landmark for our annual trip.
And yet, in a way, they do somehow hold special significance for me today. Lately, I’ve caught myself thinking “it would be easy to get a position at my old job.” And it would – because falling back into well-worn patterns always seems easier than forging new ones. It’s tempting to see this life bridge as the chance to turn around, to reconsider, to lose ground, but I like to think I’ve grown past that mentality for the most part. I keep trying to remind myself that this “it would be easier” thought is simply my brain panicking at things being hard and overwhelming right now.
I’ve been imagining myself as a younger me, the one who was scared to rock the boat. I feel much like Nicely, finding myself tempted to give in to habits that don’t benefit me, yet I’m more afraid of being pulled down by the demons I’ve battled before. To that younger version of me, I say this: Yes, change is scary. Yes, things are hard. Yes, it is okay to be fried and overwhelmed and want to retreat to what is familiar. But just because something is familiar doesn’t mean it is good for us. Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
So, I’m going to keep driving north, past those bridges, and into less familiar territory. I’ll be traveling new routes and taking small detours and stopping to see the sights. I’ll be revisiting the lessons of my youth – but this time, with the wisdom of experience on my side. I hope when you encounter your own life bridges, or whatever your usual landmark for turning around is, you also remember you are strong and brave enough to forge a new path. I believe in us. We’ve got this.
Hello again. I hope this finds you as well as possible. I’ve been thinking lately about the idea of “one step forward, two steps back” – kind of feels like that’s what my life has been over and over again this year. More realistically, I know I’ve made far more progress than I tend to give myself credit for making. I’m in a far different place than Katie of November 2020 would have imagined. I’m far more aware of my limits and where my boundaries stand – or maybe simply more quickly aware that they’ve been violated. It’s strange, somehow I feel a bit like I’m a teenager again, discovering who I am – but isn’t that something we do over and over again as we grow and change, anyway? Of course, it’s been many, many years since I was actually a teenager, but sometimes I still feel like I’m not the adult-ier adult I want to be, though I do have evidence to the contrary which I use to remind myself I can, in fact, handle the situation at hand, whatever it happens to be. I guess it’s more in the way I feel myself swinging between moods so quickly, if you know what I mean? To be fair, there’s been a LOT that’s happened over the past few months, on a personal level, so maybe swinging between moods so quickly makes sense. It’s exhausting, though, you know? I remember being excessively exhausted as a teenager, so maybe that’s why it feels so similar. I’m okay, just struggling a bit right now, and that’s okay, too. I’ve been working a lot on managing my stress and anxiety to try to be more resilient to the sudden shifts that keep happening.
If I’m honest, I think this particular post is mostly a way to remind myself that it’s okay to be struggling right now. I hope it helps remind you it’s okay to be in the struggle, or at the very least helps you feel seen in your own “one step forward, two steps back” dance, too. In my Handling Hard Emotions post, I talked about pitching a tent instead of building a house in the blue zone. I’ve been using that analogy a lot lately, and the affirmation “Keep moving forward” – but I’ve also been saying I feel like I’m in the blue zone, but the exit is nearby. Almost like I’m in a forest and I can see the clearing through the trees, but sometimes a new set of thornbushes block my way and I have to pause, rest for a bit, review the map, and find another way out. Last week, I spoke with my counselor about feeling like I had made it out of the woods, but like I was still walking the path beside them. I feel like the path turned back into the woods for a bit, and that’s okay. It’s frustrating, though, isn’t it? When we feel like we are back to good (or at least better) and then slip backwards again. I don’t know about you, but my initial reaction to backsliding is often self-recrimination. “Dang it, we are better than this. Stop backsliding. We should be able to handle this.” Does your inner critic say similar things? That sneaky “should” is something I’ve been working to avoid – looking at what IS not what I think it SHOULD be. I’ve been countering these thoughts with “Hey, it’s okay. It’s like a pendulum. Remember we thought about moving the base of the pendulum higher so we don’t swing as low? We’ve done that. Even if we did swing far lower, we know we’ll swing back to good, better, far better, too. It’s okay to be in the backswing right now, it happens, it’s normal.”
Healing isn’t linear – ha, I know we’ve seen that shared over and over and OVER again. But we WANT it to be linear, don’t we? It would be so much easier if we could move straight from Point A to Point B, but that’s not the way the journey goes, you know? It’s a long distance path, full of twists and turns, mountain tops and valleys, too. I’m trying to remind myself – and you, too! – it’s okay to pause and rest, to backtrack and take detours and sometimes stop and shake our fists at the sky and the map because we’d like to have a word or two with the cartographer. Because jeez, who thought this was the best path anyway? 😅
All jokes aside, wherever you are on the journey right now, I’m rooting for you. If you are lost in the woods, or deep in the valley’s shadows, I’ve been there, too. I know how hard it is to keep trusting the path will wind back toward nicely paved roads and clear skies and flowers as far as the eye can see. I’ll be there again in the valley and the woods from time to time, and that’s okay. Because I know – and I hope you know, too – that we’ll make it back out into the sun soon. Maybe not as soon as we hope, but soon enough anyway. We just have to keep moving forward, while also allowing ourselves the space and grace to truly rest.
Speaking of rest – have you been getting rest in ways other than sleep?
I know I often realize I’ve been neglecting several forms of rest when I’m feeling rundown, overwhelmed, and/or less resilient than I like to be. Worth checking out and seeing where you might need additional rest, yeah? I know I’m currently lacking in the nap, safe space, and spiritual rest at the very least, so I’ll be focusing on remedying those shortly. Naps are almost always a surefire way to recharge and recenter myself – what’s your go-to recharge method?
Until next time, my friend, I hope your map is leading you to a lovely meadow or mountaintop view soon, or at least a decent place to rest, and that you have comfort when you most need it. Rooting for you always!
I hope you are doing well. I received some news that upset me recently, which provided me with the opportunity to review my current response versus how past me would have reacted.
In the past, when I found myself sad or deeply upset, I would often fall subject to “ugh, why does this always happen to me?” or “I’m so unlucky” types of thoughts. I’ve worked very hard over the past few years to at least identify when I’m having those thoughts – to observe them and counter them. Not easy, right? Necessary though, I think.
With the news that bummed me out a bit recently, I decided to allow myself a few days to grieve what could have been before facing what is. I think a lot of us have been faced with these moments of “I wanted things to be different but here we are” throughout the course of this pandemic. It’s hard, isn’t it? And that’s putting it excessively mildly, right?
I keep going back to this post I saw on Instagram months ago, where @yasminecheyenne was talking about healing/shadow work and how it’s important to remember you can’t live in that energy of processing trauma and inner healing 100% of the time – it’s important to come up for air, to take breaks, to pause and recenter and notice what’s happen here and now. To focus on what’s still good. To practice the self nurturing care that we need, especially while working through hard emotions.
Lately, my sister and I have had many discussions about how heavy things have been – on a personal and on a world news level – and we’ve both noted that it is so easy to become overwhelmed and to find ourselves spiraling and focusing solely on everything going wrong. We’ve actually been having weekly “What worked, what didn’t, what can we change moving forward” meetings every weekend for the majority of the pandemic, just as a way to force ourselves to pause, acknowledge what’s happening, how we are handling it, if there are any ways we can make things easier for ourselves, and also making sure to try to balance our “what didn’t work” list with an equal or higher amount of “what worked” – it has been very helpful for us to create those gratitude lists alongside the acknowledgement of everything else. It’s helped us pitch a tent in the bad moments instead of building a house and living solely in the negative.
It’s like this song, which comes to mind for me when things are especially hard:
I really like the tent vs. house analogy. Sure, it is easy to get stuck in the blue zone, even so deep in the blue zone that it looks black and inescapable. But if we look at our presence in those feelings as sitting in a tent, well then, sure, we still have a lot to carry with us – sometimes so heavy that we can only move forward by a fraction of a millimeter, moving so slowly forward that it can feel like we aren’t moving forward at all. But each increment of a millimeter forward is still forward. Looking at it as a tent instead of a house helps me remember that progress is progress is progress – and progress makes it easier to maintain hope.
I hope allowing yourself to camp in the blue zone when necessary gives you the space and safety to process the hard emotions while knowing you won’t be there forever. Regardless of where you are on the road out of the blue zone, I’m rooting for you.
Thank you for your continued patience with me when it comes to updating this blog. It’s been a weird couple of months, but I feel like I’m growing through them. To catch you up, I did take a new job from April to June. I really enjoyed the quality assurance/editing portion of the new position, but the changing scope and deadlines quickly triggered memories and feelings from my previous job that left me feeling like the new job wasn’t the best fit. It didn’t help that the content to be reviewed was rather graphic (medical devices & their uses) – apparently I am far more squeamish than I previously thought, but hey – learned something new about myself, so that’s a win! Biggest takeaways are: editing the work of others is fun for me, offering quality assurance suggestions to ensure the best product delivery is fun for me, working on multimedia video edits is NOT fun for me, shifting deadlines and scope is NOT fun for me, medical content is NOT fun for me. All good things to know as I continue to try to figure out what I want to do next.
I’ve done some freelance writing through textbroker.com, some transcription work through Rev.com, and I’ve started sharing my creative writing on Vocal (check it out if you’d like!). I’ve also signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo this month. It has been really nice getting back to writing creatively. That’s another thing I’ve noticed over the past few months – when I’m not making time to be creative, my mood tanks much more quickly. I’m sure I’ve talked about spoon theory on here before, yeah? Anyway, I have a lot of self-care/mental health toolkit tasks I can do that are neutral in terms of spoon drain (neither add nor subtract – reading, watching a film, playing a game), I have some that subtract in the short-term but add in the long-term (cleaning, exercising, etc.), and I’ve noticed being creative (crochet, sketching, writing, etc.) is a good activity for actually replenishing spoons/helping with the ongoing deficit (time with friends, playing with my pup, and actually resting help replenish spoons, too). I was talking about it with my therapist (I rejoined BetterHelp in April) and discussed how spoon drain kind of works like credit card debt rather than washing spoons in the dishwasher. Every time I borrow spoons from future self to deal with various crises, I increase the deficit. I often feel like I’m at a constant small spoon drain – like carrying a small amount of debt from month to month – sometimes the drain is higher and sometimes it is low enough that when I am able to do activities that actually replenish spoons/leave me feeling energized afterward, I feel like I am actually making progress to someday being at “full spoons” again. So I’ve been trying to make creative activities a priority lately. There’s something really rewarding about seeing something you’ve created take shape and come together – maybe that’s today’s dinner, a dessert recipe you’re finally trying, finishing that shawl, responding to a writing prompt, coloring in a coloring book, whatever – there’s a joy in the creating and a joy in the finishing that I think is really beneficial.
I should probably get back to working on my daily word count for Camp NaNoWriMo now. I hope you take time this week, or as soon as you can anyway, to do something fun and creative for yourself. I hope you find time to play, to learn something new, to make low-risk mistakes (for example, working on art skills and turning to a new page or erasing and trying again), to do something that helps replenish your spoons. I know sometimes it can be hard to find enough spoons to even have the energy to do something that will actually help, and that’s okay, too. Please be gentle with and kind to yourself right now, friend. You deserve to be treated with kindness, especially from yourself. Wishing you ease and comfort on your journey and sending you so much love and supportive energy, always.
I hope the weekend has been treating you well. In today’s post, I want to reflect on lessons I’ve learned from my mental health journey. I hope that what I’ve learned may in some way help someone else to avoid falling as far as I did in 2018. I hope that what I’ve learned helps someone else.
As mentioned at the close of yesterday’s post, the remainder of my recovery journey to now had a few other bumps. I’ll be discussing those moments of backtracking before continuing with how positive things have been. As with previous heavy topic posts, please note that this one may be a painful read, at least for the first few paragraphs – if you want to skip it, I understand. The post does include mentions of suicide, so if that is a trigger for you, please go ahead and avoid this post, or proceed with caution. Okay? Okay. ❤
I’ve decided to split the discussion of 2018 into two posts – this first one will deal with what is arguably the worse months of my life to date and the second will deal with going from utter and complete darkness to fully believing the universe has my back. As with yesterday’s post, I know this one is a hard read, so feel free to skip it if you worry it will trigger you in any way, or proceed with caution. Okay? ❤
As I think back on the first half of 2018, I can’t help but think of the Shawn Mendes song “In My Blood” – I don’t think there is another song that better encapsulates my mindset from October 2017-July 2018.
Whew, okay. Today’s post is going to be…yeah. I’m hoping cathartic for me and somehow useful for you. Note that I will be discussing the onset and persistence of suicidal thoughts in this post, so if that is a trigger for you, please skip this one or proceed with caution. As always, if you or someone you love needs help, please reach out for help – https://psychcentral.com/lib/common-hotline-phone-numbers/. Let’s go.