family

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.

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

Four Years Later.

The concept of time is so strange. I’m laying in bed and it feels like no time has passed while simultaneously feeling like a lifetime since I last heard your voice.

Grief has no timeline. There are the five stages, sure, but past that, there is no telling when one feels certain emotions and thinks about certain things. I haven’t stopped missing you. I could never stop missing you. You gave me life. You gave me two sisters who I am also so grateful to have in my life to check on me and be there for me as I continue to transition through new stages in my life.

I had a breakdown the other night. I sobbed and sobbed over the first major snowfall and having to drive without snow tires. It was a bad breakdown. One of my largest in a while. And it wasn’t just because it was dark out and I had to find my way home. It wasn’t just because it was my first time driving in the snow all season. It reminded me of that day. This day, just four years ago. Except I was getting my tires put on. And the garage was down the street from the hospital. And instead of going straight home, I stopped in to visit. And it was my last time holding your hand and saying goodbye. Then, it started to snow harder. Although you did not have the energy to tell me, I could hear your voice telling me to drive home before it got worse. And it did get worse. The snow diminished the visibility on the road. I drove slow. I made it home. And I got the call.

The reoccurrence of the heavy snow, the limited visibility, it all brought me back to that day. And it felt like I was re-living it all over again.

But then I sit here and think about how it has been four years. So much has happened in this time that I wish you were here for and I mean, physically here for.  I would love to hear your voice during the dark times. To get advice. To have you listen. To tell me when I’m overreacting. To tell me not to worry about things I can’t control, even though I do. I can’t help it. It’s a trait I got from you.

For the limited time I did get to spend with you, I am grateful. I am so grateful. It wasn’t all good. And that is something I have been coming to terms with a lot in the past year as I continue to grow and learn about who I am. But I did gain some valuable life lessons from you, many of which I am only coming to appreciate now, at this point in my life, and memories I will hold near and dear to my heart forever and for always.

Love forever, your little leftover.

10404069_10203017561711063_7460714692535958098_n.jpg

It Ain’t All Bad

I think I get so caught up in the moment, especially while I am running on the adrenaline rush of an anxious moment (fight or flight), I sometimes forget to stop and realize that although I have moments where I feel like nothing is right, everything is wrong, and things are falling apart, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t all that bad.

(Can you tell by that run-on sentence I still have residual anxiety from the weekend?)

Here are a few of my “It ain’t all bad” thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. I have a job I love with people I love working with.
  2. My clients may have bad days, or bad moments, but they are humans too, just like me. I have bad days. I have bad moments. I am making a difference in their lives. But life, as we know, can have its share of hiccups.
  3. My thesis is hard work right now, and I may feel like I don’t have much of a social life because of it, but in the future, I will be looking back, not remembering the negative feelings of it all, but just the satisfaction of getting my master’s degree that I worked so hard to get.
  4. I don’t feel guilty about eating that chocolate chip cookie because it was delicious.
  5. I get to hear birds singing out of my window every morning. Nature is beautiful.
  6. Money can be earned and saved in the future. Seeing the world and traveling with my best friend has greater value than the cost of the trip.
  7. My car gets me to and from the places I want and need to go.
  8. My friend group talks every single day in a group chat and I think that it’s wonderful that even though we are growing up and don’t get to see each other all the time that we still make time to send funny pictures or share things about our lives each day.
  9. I love having friends who know that even though we don’t talk every day, love and support is just a text or call away no matter what.
  10. The same is true for my family members.
  11. I’m learning to accept a lot of different things in my life. I am stronger than I ever was.
  12. I have access to delicious food each day.
  13. Soon it will be summer and I will likely be complaining that it is too hot rather than it being too cold like it is now.
  14. My boyfriend makes me feel loved, respected, and beautiful. I have never felt so comfortable being myself with someone. I wish everyone had the chance to feel the way I feel just by hearing his voice.
  15. I am 25 years old and I still call my mom for help with things like making gravy. She also knows how to pick my clothes out for me better than I can. My mom is my favourite person in the whole world.

bc44005b3e0ef146b47c0e34ab088475.jpg

The Fight Within

Today’s post is not about food. I am remaining compliant today and have 9 days left in Whole 30, but in the past 24 hours, something more important has taken over my thoughts. Apologies in advance for my disorganized array of thoughts.

Last night, I received news that a good friend is fighting hard with his battle with cancer but has unfortunately been placed in a palliative care unit in the hospital.

When I received the news, I froze. My first thought: I have to go visit him. My second thought: I haven’t stepped foot in that hospital since my dad died and I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough to do it. I want to and my intention is there, but these multi-level feelings of grief, weakness, and heartache are complicatedly woven. To the reader, it may not appear to be complicated. My anxiety lenses, however, would gravely disagree.

It’s not the first time in my life that someone I love has fought cancer or other medical battles. I get overwhelmed and frustrated that bad things happen to good people. I try to hold onto the idea that there must be some sort of greater meaning out of all of this.

But then this morning I received news that a friend from high school had suddenly passed away. A sweet girl who has just turned 25, just like I did last week, had her life cut tragically short.

I’m a hopeless romantic and an optimist at heart. I like to believe there is more good in the world than bad. But today is just a hard day. I send prayers to the families and friends of everyone I am thinking about today going through the hardships I mentioned as well as the people who have silent struggles and other hardships they are experiencing at this time.

On this motivational Monday, may we be able to look for the good in the world, have strength to face the bad, and learn lessons from both.