Well-being

Feelings During a Pandemic

I have tried several times over the course of being home during the pandemic to sit down and write about how I’ve been feeling, what I’ve been thinking, and what I’ve been doing, but I can never seem to get the words right.

Luckily, my friend Cory has a blog called The Davis Daily and he wrote three compelling posts about how life and work has changed during the pandemic and where it will go from here. I encourage you to check it out here.

I am of the numerous people out of work as a result of covid-19. I have gone through a rollercoaster of feelings that I would like to briefly touch upon:

Fear

Prior to the closing of my workplace, the feelings of fear of the unknown were quite strong. I watched as surrounding areas closed their clinics and wondered why we weren’t doing the same. When we finally did decide to close, fear of the unknown was not only limited to the unknown of the virus but the unknown of when I would be able to go back to work again. Fear grew to include possibly contracting the virus, being asymptomatic, and passing it on to my mom who works with vulnerable populations. As an older woman with some health issues of her own, passing it onto her was terrifying. It still is, despite being in a bit more contact now with grocery deliveries than before.

I still feel fearful about going out. As time goes on, and the weather gets nicer, it looks like less people are following protocols. I fear that there will be another increase in numbers and this will last longer.

Calm

I finished my coursework in the first few days of being home. I didn’t have work to keep busy. And I have waves of a satisfying “calm” that I don’t have these two things pressing on me. I also feel calm because I feel grounded, and not in the “I’ve been bad and have to stay home” kind of way. I feel at peace (mostly) with myself and that is a wonderful feeling.

Anxiety

Naturally, the calm comes and goes and I found myself anxious of not having things to do. I am the type of person who likes to keep busy. I usually have a packed schedule. The flexibility in my day made me anxious – as if I had to be doing more. I started studying for my exam. I got into an exercise regime. I started Couch to 5K. And somehow that made me less anxious. I was filling my days with meaningful activities.

Extreme Joy

A few weeks into creating this wonderful new schedule, it was turned upside down when my boyfriend and I became parents…dog parents. We had been on the list for adopting a puppy for months so our desire to get a dog stems far longer than the pandemic. We adopted a beautiful cockapoo pup named Briggs (who has his own instagram account if you’d like to follow him! @thebestofbriggs). He has brought such joy to our lives and has kept me incredibly busy during this time with training, playing, and making sure he’s on his best behaviour. He is now 15 weeks old and sleeps through the night, can remain in his crate/playpen for 3.5 hours at a time, is potty-trained, and can follow basic commands. We’re working on some fun ones but would rather get him reliably doing the important ones such as: sit, down, up, look at me, leave it, drop it, go to your place, shake a paw (he can do both paws!), and stay. He loves playing fetch and playing with the dog next door.

Briggs has also brought positive changes to my mental health. He’s a great companion and has a calming presence (most of the time).

Briggs the Cockapoo

Guilt

I’ve wrestled with this emotion a lot over the course of being home, as well. And I’ve felt it for different reasons: guilt of not doing more, guilt of not wanting to do work, or study for my exams, or enjoying my alone time. Guilt that I have all the time in the world right now and I can’t keep the house clean or commit to my exercise regime.

I have also felt guilt with Briggs. Guilt that I’m not doing a good enough job training him is a big one. I have been reading online something about this being the “puppy blues.”

Final Thoughts

It will soon be time to take the pup out of his play pen so I’ll leave with this: however you’ve chosen to spend your time during this pandemic is okay. However you feel during this pandemic is okay. Your feelings are valid. These are not normal circumstances. Life is not normal right now and it is uncertain when we will ever be “normal” again. Make use of the time we do have. Chat with your friends, spend some time alone, check on your family members, write letters to seniors in nursing homes, donate to the food bank, binge Netflix, or do whatever it is you want to do. We’re in this together, even from 6 feet apart.

Maybe The World Isn’t Ready Yet – But Let’s Make Them Be

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day: a day I have previously shared details about my life and my struggles in hope that others will no longer feel alone in the way they feel.

If you read my New Year’s post, you may have seen that I have been posting less about my mental health due to an uncomfortable conversation I had a few months ago. While I so desperately want to go into detail about what that conversation looked like, I feel like I can’t. The conversation, while well-intentioned, left me feeling ashamed of having poor mental health despite my desperate efforts to not let it affect my work ethic or my interactions with others. I had never felt that way before.

Seemingly, despite our efforts to break down the walls of stigma, stigma still exists. People don’t want us talking about our mental health or want to be associated with people who do. As I was told, “perhaps the world isn’t quite ready for this.” And you know what? Perhaps they’re not. But how do we expect things to change if we aren’t actively trying to change it?

Someone I know had said to me shortly after the vague conversation (which I continue to refer to but won’t talk) that perhaps people don’t want any potential for violent outbursts to occur. This to me states that people still equate mental illness with violence. Guess what? That’s a myth. Here’s an article from CMHA Durham: https://cmhadurham.ca/finding-help/the-myth-of-violence-and-mental-illness/ . I had said to that person that it was a myth. They had said to me, “well, maybe people don’t know that” to which I shouted “BECAUSE WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT.”

We can get so caught up in how we appear to others. Heaven forbid we show a glimpse of the negative aspects of being human. Social media fosters a platform to be “perfect.” Like hey, check out my perfect life on instagram. Let me use this snapchat filter to hide the dark bags under my eyes. We are humans sharing human experiences. Yet the idea of how we appear to others is more important than caring about other’s experiences. Saying things like “how are you?” can go a long way, but only if it’s genuine. Check up on your friends, family, and coworkers.

I feel like we have come a long way in mental health advocacy. We have. We need to keep going as there is far more work to do.

For now, I continue to feel like my voice has been suppressed and I am picking myself up piece by piece. But I carry on – I continue to keep fighting the good fight. Without talking about these things, there cannot be further understanding. Stigma fighters, continue the conversation by using #BellLetsTalk on your social media posts today.

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Reflecting on 2019 and Looking Forward to 2020

Well here we are… we made it to the first Friday of 2020 and it feels like a Tuesday somehow. I have been meaning to post for quite some time now. I have 14 incomplete blog posts in my drafts folder. From topics like burnout, the Ontario Autism Program chaos, food ideas, and most prominently – posts about my mental health, they were abandoned.

A couple months ago, I had an uncomfortable discussion (to say the least) about some of my posts and the personal content I was posting. So I stopped. Cold turkey. I couldn’t bring myself to write anymore, despite it being a large outlet for me. Maybe in 2020 I will again share things about my mental health journey but until then, the feelings I share may come across as vague.

Reflecting on 2019

Wow, 2019 was a shit show. There, I said it. I went through phases of not knowing whether or not I would have a job, the fate of my clients and other children with ASD, and I started the unraveling of repressed emotions through therapy.

But let’s start with my old “resolutions.” My 2019 resolutions were something along the lines of this:

  • Do (at least) one thing a week for me and just me. This may include saying no to an added responsibility or an act of self-care.
    I did great at this! I did a lot of saying no and taking time for me. I went to therapy at least once a month. I had baths, I did yoga, I laid on the couch and binge-watched Grey’s. This is something I want to continue to do in 2020. Self-care is essential for the soul.
  • Do (at least) one thing a week that improves my relationships with others. Maybe this is texting a friend I haven’t talked to in a while to see how they are doing.
    I feel like this was not my strong-suit in 2019. Especially when the Ford government blew up my career field, I said no a lot to things my friends wanted to do because I was unsure of what the future held. I didn’t go to my Master’s graduation. I kept in contact with my closest friends. But otherwise, I was not good at staying in touch with others, and for that, I am sorry. I will try to be better in 2020.
  • Take better care of my mental health, especially due to the toll it has taken on my physical health in the past year.
    This time last year, I had shingles and that was one of the worst experiences of my life. This past year, I did prioritize my mental health more. Going back to therapy was a very positive step forward for me and I look forward to continuing this going forward. My physical health was MUCH better this year! I battled some recurring stomach problems where going to the doctor made me feel frustrated and helpless. For now, taking probiotics seem to be keeping the pain and discomfort under control and I have otherwise (knock on wood) felt fine.

Looking Forward to 2020

I don’t really have any “resolutions” for 2020 outside of the items listed above. I feel so proud of the progress I am making and the person I am becoming.

May you all have a blessed new year!

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Going Back to Therapy

In light of today being World Mental Health Day, I thought I would use this day to be open about my journey thus far and something I have not talked about too much. In June of this year, after extensive research, I decided to go back to therapy.

I don’t mean to say it as if it’s this big thing. It’s not. It’s a step for myself in the right direction, and it took a lot of courage to go back after some less than ideal experiences, previously.

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My Previous Experiences with Therapy

The first time I went to therapy was during my time in my undergrad when I was first diagnosed. I believe he was a psychiatrist and he was amazing. Maybe because I was vulnerable opening up about my symptoms, I felt comfortable telling him more about my life. He was the person I went to go see after my dad passed away. He was the person who helped me through three difficult years of living with a new diagnosis and all of the stresses I was dealing with at the time.

When I graduated, I was unable to continue to see him since he was at the school’s Wellness Centre. It’s awful. I can’t even remember his name. My nurse practitioner referred me to a free service through my family doctor if I wanted to continue seeking therapy. That lady ruined therapy for me. In just three sessions, I hated it. I felt so judged – a feeling I don’t think one should ever really feel during therapy. Not when you’re at your most vulnerable. I immediately shut down after my third session with her and stopped going for three years.

Why I Wanted to Go Back to Therapy

I decided to go back to therapy because my anxiety and depression were not in a good spot. My moods were all over the place. My thoughts were all over the place. Mood swings were wild. My physical health was suffering. I knew I couldn’t continue in the same routine. I needed something to change.

How I Found A Therapist 

The resource I used to find a therapist was Psychology Today. You can use the site to search for local mental health professionals in your area and read their bios to see what they specialize in, what kind of techniques they tend to use, and how much they charge. Many can be covered if you have insurance, but if you don’t have insurance, some charge on what is called a sliding scale – I tend to look for ones that have this as an option. I was interested in ones that specialized in areas such as anxiety, depression, and grief. I was also interested in developing more of a mind-body connection since I somaticize psychological symptoms into physical symptoms. I have found an excellent choice for me, which might not be best for you. We all may need different forms of help based on our needs.

What Sessions Are Like So Far

Since June, I have had 5 sessions. For my first session, my therapist did a hybrid of an “intake session” and an actual session so I could see if her methods fit with my expectations before going back to see her.

No one ever really tells you this but your first session feels like crap. I mean, I obviously found it valuable and have gone back since my first session. But for me, the first session was terrifying. I had to go to a new place, meet a new person, come in wearing my “people-person” smile and greetings, sit on a couch, and re-open wounds I thought I had healed but had really just patched with a band-aid. Although I’m not ready to disclose some of the things I talked about, I will say I cried so much in the first session. I cried happy tears, sad tears, and mad tears. I was all over the place yet again. But you know what? I left feeling so much lighter than when I had arrived. And every time I go, I feel a little bit lighter. She gives me strategies for getting through the days when I feel awful. She is an outlet to talk to things I have repressed from a very young age. I am listening to my body more. I am motivated to become a better version of myself.

The Stigma Around Therapy

Juan Pablo Galavis once said, “There’s a stigma on the word ‘therapy.’ People relate it to big problems. That’s something we have to change. Going to therapy can be very healthy. It can change the way you see things and treat others.”

Going to therapy shouldn’t be seen as this “big deal.” Just because you go to therapy, it doesn’t mean you’re mentally unstable. Sure, I may have a mental illness I’m living with, but you don’t NEED one to go to therapy. Therapy can be for everyone. It doesn’t mean you’re weak either. I am so strong for wanting to feel better. I’m proud of that. Psychology Today offers an article about The Stigma of Therapy that is worth reading.

If you are thinking about seeking help, know that you’re not alone. There are some excellent resources available through easy Google searches. We live in a world where there are e-counselling options. This is fantastic! You are not “crazy” for wanting to talk to someone. If you could be the best version of yourself, wouldn’t you want that? On World Mental Health Day, may we be reminded to continue to break the silence and fight the stigma.

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I’m Not There Yet & That’s Okay

People say that in your 20s, it’s your prime time to “find yourself” and “discover who you are” because “these are the best years of your life.” Wow, I may have overused the quotation marks just a tad there but that was probably to mask the nauseating feeling I get whenever I hear the words “find yourself.”

As I veer into my “late” 20s, it is apparent I have hit the stage where large life changes are happening around me. I’ve experienced a few of them as well. But many of them I haven’t and you know what? That’s okay.

I’ve had many discussions with friends of mine about the rush for getting married, having kids, buying a house, getting the dream position at your dream job, travelling the world, and having life figured out before the age of 30. That’s bullshit. Life isn’t a race. Yet we’re forced into this snow globe where we make our lives look so pretty on the outside and meanwhile we’re trapped in a bubble of self-comparison to others’ and where they are in life.

Allow me to self-reflect:

  • I’m 26 turning 27 in a few months
  • I’m not engaged
  • I don’t have kids
  • I’m not even remotely thinking of having kids
  • I am still paying off OSAP
  • I’m still paying off my car
  • I’m still in school
  • I recently obtained my master’s degree
  • I am still very early in my career, but am blessed to be working in the field I want to be working in
  • I have an amazing partner (now roommate)
  • I do not [entirely] love my body in its current form
  • I have some good habits (i.e. meditation, yoga)

It’s so much easier said than done to say “I’m not going to care what others think of me” or “I don’t care that I’m not as far in life as other people” but how can we not fall into the traps of self-comparison when social media has taken over our lives? It seems like everyone is trying to “one-up” each other by having a bigger, better wedding, or posting the better selfie, or posting how wonderful their lives are because they are part of some pyramid-scheme business (probably) and making “so much money” before the age of 30. Meanwhile, my life feels incredibly uneventful because I’m being unapologetically selfish about having to work and do school because I am one of the few people in any of my friend circles still in school.

In the list above, the things I don’t have yet or have not done yet are not things I’m bothered by. And I am proud of myself for being able to say that. I’m not in a rush for things to happen. I have been working so hard on different aspects of my life and have done so in private. I’m not ashamed of where I am in life. And I am SO incredibly happy for my friends and family who ARE at different stages of life. It’s a messy time. Everyone is doing his or her own thing, and I honestly think that is so awesome. I think we need to support each other for what they are doing or where they are.

I found this picture on Instagram a while ago, and I think it sums it up what this rambling post hasn’t said yet: the definition of “behind in life” is subjective and the “timetable of life” is really individualized.

As my dad always used to tell me (from one overly anxious individual to another), “don’t worry about the things you can’t control.” I’m choosing to enjoy every moment of every day instead of rushing towards “the next big thing.” The things I can control, I’m working on them. I’m happy for others and where they are in life and am open to listen if they are unhappy. I’m happy where I am and where life is going. There will always be something where I will say “I’m not there yet” and it really is okay. 69603287_667367610428598_8774124848604512256_n.jpg

 

Unapologetically Selfish

I was on Instagram yesterday and came across a picture that really upset me. This is what it said:Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 10.11.04 PM.png

I don’t know if I was hangry and it struck a nerve the wrong way or what, but my first thought reading it was, “you don’t know my life!”

I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t even bother complaining about being so busy. This is the path I’ve chosen. I suppose I’ve reached a state of complacency. This is the new normal. It has been for almost four years now.

I work full time. I am enrolled in classes for my BCBA credential which I watch videos for every day after work. And in between all of that, I find time to sleep, eat, exercise, errands, and maybe if I’m lucky, I will get to spend time mindlessly scrolling on my phone or reading a book, or texting a friend to check in. I don’t even have free weekends. The downside of working full time is the only spare time I have for my online meeting and tests is on the weekend. Saturday mornings, too. Thank goodness I’m a morning person. But that eats up time I have and takes it away from someone else.

Guilt is such a useless emotion, yet one that seems to overpower me at least once a week. I succumb to my anxiety and get overwhelmed by the guilt of not being a good enough friend because I still haven’t invited them over, or made plans to see them, or have texted them to check in, or any of those emotions. I feel guilty when my schedule doesn’t align with my mom’s and I can’t help her run errands or even come in for a visit after work because it doesn’t line up right. I feel guilty and I cry about it, which takes me further away from my to-do list and further into a hole of self-loathing and shallow breaths.

Then I read that quote: “If they truly care, they will make time.”

And I’m crying all over again.

It’s not that I don’t care about you. If you are my friend, and truly my friend, you would try to understand and be patient with me. Maybe I can’t meet up in person but we could chat over video messaging, a phone call, text, it’s 2019 for goodness sake! But know that it’s not that I don’t care about you. It’s that I care about me.

What kind of friend would I be if I agreed to hang out and wasn’t really listening to our conversation because I was going over my to-do list in my head the entire time? Sitting there and suppressing every negative thought I have only to potentially have a panic attack the second I get in my car? I love you. I do. But one of my methods of getting through the week is setting up a “time budget” where I allocate my time into rough categories. It helps me feel safe, with flexible boundaries, and organized. I am calm when things are organized. It is not that I don’t want to make time for you or that you’re not important, but at this stage in my life, I have other things that are important to me and my well-being.

As a lovely friend stated last night, “if you truly care, you won’t ask someone to overextend themselves when they’re too busy.”

I’m doing the best I can with the time I have and the circumstances I have chosen or have been handed to me. And for that, I am unapologetically selfish.

Wellness Wednesday: March Check-In

There has been so much I have wanted to say in the past month but the words don’t come as freely to me as they did before. It has been quite the month to say the least but what I can say is I’m exhausted, I’m worried, and I’ve been fighting the fight since day one.

But before I get into that, let’s check in with my February goals and see how that’s going:

Goal #1: Be more physically active

I am so happy to say I have actually done well in this area! I am continuing to do yoga every day when I wake up, and am doing another form of exercise (usually HIIT or another more intense yoga video) three times a week.

While I haven’t been following Yoga with Adriene’s March calendar, I have been selecting videos based on my mood or muscle groups to target and have still maintained this habit.

I feel lighter, taller, my posture is better, and I’m overall feeling more awake in the morning.

Goal #2: Eat better 

So far so good for this one too! Woohoo! I am still keeping track of the meals I eat. Rather than strictly counting calories, I am also being more mindful of eating more vegetables and meal prepping more. I am not skipping breakfast (for the most part) and with my Hidrate Spark water bottle, I am also drinking more water and reaching my water intake goals for the day. Although they are a little more on the pricey side, the glowing reminders and the graph tracking my progress throughout the day has been very reinforcing.

 Goal #3: Keep Going

With this mindset, I am feeling proud of the work I have put towards improving myself. I have lost about 8 lbs since February 2nd but even more importantly are the non-scale victories I have been achieving:

  • my clothes fit better
  • my energy levels are much higher
  • I have continued sticking to a routine
  • I am more mindful of what I eat, do, and how much I sleep

Other Events in My Life:

I may have mentioned this in the past but I work as an instructor therapist with children with autism and other developmental disabilities. If you aren’t a resident of Ontario (or even if you are), you may not have heard that the provincial government has changed its autism program in terms of funding.

To quickly summarize: children were previously assessed on need and several children were on a waitlist to access services such as IBI (which is work I do – Intensive Behavioural Interventions). This plan claims to clear the waitlist and provide families with more choice.

While on the surface, it looks to be more fair and equitable, it isn’t. The only way it IS fair and equitable is that NO children will be able to access the treatment they need for success. Here are Mike Moffat’s 10 short reasons the new Autism Program should be scrapped. (I could honestly write like, 10 more blog posts on this subject ALONE)

For a more detailed look at what the Ontario PC government has claimed and the truth behind those claims, check out this article.

Here’s how it affects me:

  1. I am so worried for the children and families. I have worked in adult services and that is no walk in the park (honestly, I could also write a few blog posts about this as well). I have so much hope for these children, especially those I have worked with and I want the best for them and their futures. Families are being put in a difficult position financially, emotionally, and mentally. They have a hard enough time with day-to-day activities but are now forced to spend what little spare time they have to fight against the government on social media, through emails, meetings, and other efforts. Being an empathetic person by nature, it is impossible not to take these feelings to heart and feel what they feel. I continue to fight with them for a better solution.
  2. Job security – Families pay for services which then pays us. Lack of access to services due to insufficient funds means lack of work. It is very uncertain in the field of ABA how companies will be able to stay strong financially throughout this crisis. This is widespread across the province with layoffs beginning in companies already. While I have faith in my organization and the strong, dedicated leaders, the uncertainty is not something I am good at handling as someone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder. I am a planner. I like to know what lies ahead. I don’t have that. I am nervous. I am trying to remain positive.

That is just scratching the surface of all of the thoughts and feelings I have about this today. I will be releasing an infographic I created talking more about the Ontario Autism Program for those interested.

I’m off to do a night yoga routine before going to sleep. I need it tonight, especially.

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A Day of Love

Ahh Valentine’s Day. Can you smell the love in the air?

I have to admit, I wasn’t going to blog tonight. I’m not even really a fan of Valentine’s Day. Never really have been.

When I was 3 and in toddler time at the library, I remember (quite vividly, believe it or not), coming home from “library school” and being upset because I had received valentines from kids who I didn’t want valentines from because I knew they didn’t like me and I didn’t want them to give them to me because they felt like they had to (or really because their moms filled them out for everyone in the program). I even kept that group of valentines in my memory box for far too long.

When I was in grade 7, my first “boyfriend” broke up with me on Valentine’s Day because he wanted to ask some other girl to be his girlfriend but he still gave me a stuffed animal and chocolate, so that end of the deal wasn’t bad.

At the end of the day, it’s a commercial holiday which is exciting because tomorrow, chocolate will be half price and THAT is something to celebrate. (JK I’m eating healthy now… see yesterday’s post)

On social media, I see posts upon posts of significant others and blah blah blah. My boyfriend won’t answer my text messages let alone care that I’ve posted a picture of us for the world to see and collect likes. I am totally NOT meaning to bash the people that do it, but maybe I just feel like I don’t need to do that. I think my mentality has shifted a bit with me [trying] to post less on social media. Particularly, less about my personal life on social media.

Do I love my boyfriend? Without a shadow of a doubt. I tell him every day. Probably about a million times a day. Every day, at some point during the day, I tell him I’m glad he’s my best friend and I appreciate everything he is.

Truthfully, I am happy I have found someone who I can share all the deep dark stuff and the sunshine and rainbows stuff. I can be in a room with him and be perfectly comfortable saying nothing just being in each other’s presence is enough. I can also talk to him about anything. I’m honestly surprised sometimes how we haven’t run out of things to talk about. He is my best friend and best half. I couldn’t ask for a better partner to journey through life with. There I go, sharing publicly with the world that I love him.

On this day of love, I just want to briefly say, I hope you all have had a wonderful day of love. You are all loved. You are all worthy of love. Give yourself a little self-love today.

February Check-In

It has been a quiet start to 2019 thus far. January knocked me off my feet, quite literally, as I had shingles for the first part of the month and spent a lot of time quarantined in my bedroom.

Now that I am feeling much better, February has become the new January in terms of putting goals into action. To hold myself accountable, I am sharing some of my goals on here (as I usually do).

Goal #1: Be more physically active

I have mentioned Yoga with Adriene before but if you’re hearing about her for the first time, she is my go-to yogi on YouTube. Her videos are easily accessible, and each month, on her website she posts a calendar and an overall focus for the month. This month’s focus is Care. Here’s the link to check out her website: https://yogawithadriene.com/calendar/ and one for her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene. I promise, there is something for everyone.

I am doing the Care videos every day this month and haven’t missed a beat. I have even started waking up at 6:30am every day to squeeze it in. This weekend, I will be away and I will be swapping out the longer videos with the short 5-7 minute practices so I can still stay in my routine.

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I recently cancelled my gym membership. Although I have nothing bad to say about the facility, I don’t live close to it anymore. It wasn’t convenient, especially not with work and school right now. Driving 20 minutes to the gym seemed a bit out of the way and it was wasted money. So I thought about it and if time to go to the gym is the biggest barrier, how can I make up for it? As a two-in-one kind of way, I decided to take 20 minutes away from screen time (phone, laptop, tablets), 3 times a week. I have chosen 3 times a week so I can still prioritize school and watch lecture videos and study when I am home from work. I am using the Nike Training Club app. It’s free and I can cast it to the TV. Afterwards, I can shower and head to bed. This routine is going well so far.

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Goal #2: Eat better 

I decided against doing a February Whole 30 this time around. I was going to do one to “cleanse” my system out and create some good habits. Alternatively, I have decided to use what I learned from Whole 30 and really try to be more mindful of what I’m eating. I’m keeping track my meals. Each time I put an entry in, I think, “I would rather not be doing this, I think ignorance is bliss.” But the awareness is eye-opening. I have been trying to make better choices. And my partner has been doing the same, which has been motivating for me as well. We’re not really restricting anything from our diets but just being mindful of portion, type of food, and eating more fruit and vegetables. 5f46d950-f1c8-4718-afa9-a1e370e036c9.jpg             5b9051cf-ae0d-47fe-9be6-21a068eea2d0.jpg

 Goal #3: Keep Going

These are goals not new to me. I’ve had them for a while. I will keep working at them. This time around I have set up reinforcement systems in place for reaching both non-scale and scale victories to keep myself motivated. I put so much effort into other areas of my life: work, school, friendships, family – why can’t I put that much effort into myself?

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The First Monday of 2019

Happy New Year, everyone! Today is the first Monday of 2019. A new year, a new set of goals, and new opportunities.

I tried to write a post last week about the things I learned in 2018 and I could not bring myself to finish.

To my friends and family I did not get to see much of in 2018, I am sorry.

I was rotten at returning text messages. I didn’t attend as many events as previous years. I shut myself out. It was truly a year of self-care and introspection.

To be honest, my mental health took a bit of a dive in 2018. I had panic attacks in the frequency and intensity as I used to have when I was first diagnosed in 2012. It scared me. I felt as weak as I did back then, times. I tried to push through it. But everything just felt so busy. In the past year, I worked full time, was in school part time, both completing my master’s thesis and then starting coursework, and trying to balance other responsibilities. I made it through, relatively unscathed. And now, I’ve been trying to reframe my overwhelming schedule as passionate ambitions.

Old Resolution: Social Media
One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to post less on social media. On my personal instagram, I posted about 80 times this year which works out to be about 6.9 times per month or 1.6 times per week. I liked not posting much on social media. However, when I would see people I hadn’t seen in a while, they would often say to me, “wow, it seems like you’ve been up to a lot of exciting things lately!” And naturally, I’d laugh and agree.

I, along with other millennials, embellish things on social media. No one posts the bad stuff on social media. On my blog page (@frompanictoplate), I have posted some more honest pictures and quotes, and honestly, that was refreshing. It was also comforting to have people inbox me and share their experiences and feelings with me. While social media can feel embellished and fake at times, sharing some of the vulnerable parts of yourself, the real parts of yourself, can be empowering.

New Resolution: Goals For Me and For Others
Something I started in the last quarter of 2018 was to say no to one extra responsibility a week. This meant saying no if asked to work an extra shift in an already busy week or maybe not doing the “suggested” reading for school so I could make more time for myself.

To continue this in 2019, I want to instead do (at least) one thing a week for me and just me. This may include saying no to an added responsibility or an act of self-care.

I also want to do (at least) one thing a week that improves my relationships with others. Maybe this is texting a friend I haven’t talked to in a while to see how they are doing. Maybe it’s making plans with someone for a coffee or other inexpensive outing.
I want to do better. I want to be a better friend.

Mental Health Meets Physical Health

A goal I would like to especially prioritize this year is taking better care of my mental health, especially due to the toll it has taken on my physical health in the past year. I was sick quite a bit and not just like, a little cold here and there. I had laryngitis (at least twice), one of the most painful UTIs I have ever experienced, and now, I am writing this while on the couch wincing at the overwhelming pain that comes with shingles.

To avoid feeling like this in the future (or ever again), I know I need to take care of myself and not push myself because I “like being busy.” I am learning to accept that taking care of myself is not selfish.

So here is to a new year and new exciting opportunities for growth and to make memories with those we love. 6fe48211174875e2cc330edb2519d971.jpg