Gratitude Practice

The last six months have been rough… that’s a gross understatement, but we mustn’t dwell… no, not today…

…but back in February I spent some time in the ER with severe abdominal pains, and was told that it’s probably appendicitis, and then they couldn’t find my appendix during the ultrasound to verify and my symptoms weren’t severe enough to perform a CT scan. However, they did find e-coli so they treated that and sent me home, but it’s still probably appendicitis. They didn’t give me any fun drugs (JERKS) because they want me to suffer be able to feel if something changes. I mean, COME ON! Would I really not be able to feel it? I basically laid on the couch for five days with a heating pad and avoided all pants that didn’t come with a drawstring.

But here I am, a month later, going through the same thing. Again. And I’m feeling kind of bummed, to be honest. I CAN’T WEAR PANTS, MY FRIENDS. As it is, my tights are rolled somewhere around my bum and I’m hoping that it doesn’t look stupid under my dress. Even if it does, there’s not much I can do about it because technically it’s still winter and I need to wear something on my legs for warmth. And whatever cleavage I had disappeared last week, so I don’t even need to wear a bra anymore. *cries*

So for the moment, I’m going to write about the things I am grateful for, and not in a sarcastic way, either. So here it goes:

I’m grateful for the weirdness of cats. They’re all little lions that think they own the world. They do own the world, the internet is proof.

I’m grateful for my family. I’m blessed with loving parents and a wonderful sister, and a husband who accepts all of us as we are and loves us just the same.

I’m grateful for the budding cherry blossoms and the flowers and the birds that sing in the trees.

I’m grateful for longer days and brighter afternoons.

I’m grateful for morning coffee, and that the last time I bought my favourite coffee it was on sale so I bought 7 lbs without flinching.

I’m grateful for potatoes and their ability to be turned into stamps.You were once a tuber and now you are a craft item. That’s magic, right there.

I’m grateful for hot baths and lavender soap.

I’m grateful for music and the way it transports me to a different time and place with each song.

I’m grateful for Rex Manning Day and that I have friends who willingly celebrate it.

I’m grateful for trying new things like reflexology and it not being what I thought it was at all.

I’m grateful for recipes and the pleasure that comes from cooking my own food.

I’m grateful for weird, offbeat movies.

I’m grateful for the ability to style almost any item of clothing, and the feeling of accomplishment when I pick up something particularly hideous and turn into a great outfit. It pisses my sister off, but I know this is a skill that she’ll master in her own time.

I’m grateful for spicy tuna rolls. Of course I am.

I’m grateful for the stars and the planets, and the galaxies far, far away.

I’m grateful for sundresses and floppy hats and sunglasses.

I’m grateful for bees. I’m not grateful for hornets and wasps, they are assholes. Sorry for being negative there, but it needed to be said.

I’m grateful for online booking forms.

I’m grateful for phone calls and random I love you’s/I miss you’s from friends.

I’m grateful for postcards and letters.

I’m grateful for playlists and mixed CDs and those old mixed tapes that I swear I’m going to listen to again one day.

I’m grateful for slipper boots and thick socks and onesies.

I’m grateful for Jeopardy and The Price is Right.

I’m grateful that I’ve managed to keep several plants alive and grow a successful vegetable garden twice.

I’m grateful for the ability to make friends everywhere I go, even if it’s a cat.

I’m grateful for puns and that I laugh at my own jokes.

I’m grateful for karaoke and singalongs.

I’m grateful for all the feminists, we’re changing the world and making it a better, safer, and fairer place every day for everyone.

I’m grateful for the wonderfully strange articles that my friends send me like sushi burritos, clips of cephalopods, and everything space related.

I’m grateful for hot chocolate.

I’m grateful for my beautiful book nook and the fluffy white blanket that lives in it.

I’m grateful for forgotten bags of candy that I find in my purse from time to time.

I’m grateful for the space heater under my desk.

And yeah. Things will get better, I’m sure of it. They always do. Leaving you with one of my favourites, Lovers’ Carvings

Much love and thanks for reading,

Rochele xo

 

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Mental health… the last six months

Back in February Twitter opened their hearts and shared their stories for Bell’s Let’s Talk day, and then the conversation died. Around the same time, my world was collapsing.

Actually, my life began to implode sometime in November. I kept waiting for things to get better. I should have known something was up when I didn’t want to have anything to do with Christmas, because it’s my favourite time of year. My heart is usually bursting with joy and I’m that sick individual who counts down the last 100 days to December 25th. I didn’t feel it. I felt angry and numb instead. I didn’t put up my Christmas tree or decorate. I made one batch of chocolate gingerbread cookies, but I gave most of those away.

Around the beginning of December I lost my appetite and developed insomnia. I told myself it was stress. I did not want to go to the doctor because I knew the first thing they would do was put me on medication and I’m a bit of a hippy when it comes to pharmaceuticals. Less is best.

I kept waiting for things to get better. But they didn’t. I told myself I would feel better once Christmas was over, but if anything, I felt worse. I told myself I was worked up over the anticipation of going back to school and things would settle down once I got into a rhythm. But they didn’t.

And then my friend passed away. It was the first time anyone my age had died. It sent me into a downward spiral. I was dealing with this crushing sadness and I didn’t know where to go from there. I felt helpless.

I was having a hard time at work, too. I didn’t tell my employer I was taking evening classes and my work was slipping because I was so tired from staying up every night to write papers and study. The few hours  I spent in bed were broken, and many nights I just didn’t sleep at all because I couldn’t.

There was major upheaval in my husband’s company. There were times I had to ask him not to tell me any more because I just couldn’t handle it.

My relationships were falling apart and I began to withdraw from the people that love and care about me. I couldn’t exactly explain how I was feeling. There were nights when all I could do was sit in the bathtub with a drink to numb the sadness and anxiety.

And then my grandfather passed away. I can’t say it was unexpected, but it was one more thing to add to the burning pile of emotions I didn’t want to deal with.

Things were going to get better, I kept telling myself as I sat crying for no reason, almost every day. I’m tired and stressed out because of school/work/marriage/family/deaths/friends… it’s going to get better.

Except it didn’t. I started to run out of excuses for things. I finished school for the semester. My husband’s company was doing a lot better. My life was settling down and yet I wasn’t. The more stuff began to wind down the more anxious and sad I became.

And then I had an unfortunate experience online where a friend’s privacy was breached and several conversations between us were leaked. The information itself didn’t hurt anyone but us, but what followed did. My friends thought they were doing the right thing by standing up for me, but the things they said were misinterpreted and it ended up hurting other people. It was never the intention, but the fallout was huge. All they were trying to do was protect me. People were calling for my head to roll. I did my best to apologize to those I had unintentionally hurt, but it didn’t matter. Suddenly I felt very alienated from my online community. I had to step away because everything I said and did was being mocked by a small group of people who really had no idea what was going on.

That was the last straw for me. There was no longer one single aspect of my life that I was comfortable in. I felt like I had let everyone down. I felt worthless. I felt terribly alone. I had this crushing sadness. I wanted to throw my phone off of a very tall building, seemingly every notification was bad news or someone flipping out at me for my poor life choices.

I had a few full-scale meltdowns and anxiety attacks. The kind of anxiety where you think your heart is trying to escape your chest and you’re not sure if anything in your world is ever going to be right again. I dwelled in that place for a few weeks.

I finally admitted THINGS WERE NOT OKAY and I WAS NOT GETTING BETTER. I didn’t know where to begin to regain control of my life. I had no idea what I wanted or who I was anymore. I didn’t love who I had become and I didn’t know how to change things. I was overwhelmed and terrified I was going to fuck up the rest of my life. I hit my bottom and couldn’t find the way out of the hole I was in.

I made a critical choice and decided to talk to someone and GET SOME HELP. I accepted that I couldn’t do it on my own anymore and as much as I was leaning on friends and family, I needed something more.

Bottom line, every two weeks I sit down and meet with a qualified professional. Some days are better than others, but I’m having more good days than bad ones. Not everything is such a big deal any more, and I’m learning to take life one day at a time. I still struggle, but at least I don’t feel like the sun is never going to shine for me again.

Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you because on the outside- my life looks fantastic. I’m married, I own a home, I have a stable job, and I have a lot of friends and I’m living the dream. On the inside, though, I was going through hell.

We don’t talk about mental health, and I don’t know why. For me, it was one more thing for people to judge me for. I had a lot to be grateful for and I felt selfish for not being able to appreciate my life because it could be so much worse. It was thrown in my face a number of times. Depression and anxiety can hit anyone, and it often comes without warning. Instead of telling someone it gets better, shut up and listen to them. Maybe you know someone who is in my position, or maybe it’s you. Either way, you don’t have to do this alone.

Mental health is so important. Take care of it. You go to the doctor, dentist, optometrist, specialist etc. when things in your body aren’t working, so why are we so afraid to take care of our mental health? Why do we wait until everything around us collapses before we seek help?

It’s part of taking care of you and there is no shame in that.

I’d like to thank all of the amazing people who have rallied around me, especially over the last six months. There have been some awfully dark days, and without your love and support God only knows what would have happened. I borrowed your strength when I could not find my own, and I’m getting the help I need because you told me I was worth it, even when I felt like I was not. Thank you for loving me, no matter what.

Check out The Canadian Mental Health Association to find out more about Mental Health Week.

A break in the weather brought to you by Ro

Spring is here… but it snowed today… WHAT IS HAPPENING?

School update- I’m almost finished. I just have three exams next week. I’ve been up until at least 1am consistently every night for the last ten days trying to get final papers and projects finished or I’ve been awake stressing about it. On Tuesday night I presented and defended my first piece of technical documentation and I am fairly confident that I did well. I still have to wrap up my editing piece, and then my technical writing styles final project. Almost done… six more days. I CAN DO THIS. No I can’t. YES I CAN. No, I think I’m just going to curl up into a ball and die. NO YOU WON’T. Yes I will. <—- Me, every day.

Life has been stressful. I’m working full time and attending classes three nights a week and my employer doesn’t know that I’m in school. I’m dealing with stuff at home. A friend passed away and that derailed me for a bit. People are moving away, and I’m not good at goodbyes. I’ve abandoned my bucket list and resolutions for the time being, I just need to survive the next six days. I could use a lot of hugs and reassurance right now. And then… and then…

I was laying in bed at 1:30am this morning and I realized that I’m looking forward to putting my life back together. I’ve taken a three month sabbatical from being domestic in any way shape or form. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cooked a meal. Or cleaned. And I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I miss it. I used to be a domestic goddess. I cooked, I baked, I sewed, I cleaned sometimes, I went to the gym, and I read books cover to cover. I also realized that while the next six days will totally suck, it will be over soon and I have a lot to look forward to:

  • SHOWS! In April alone I’m going to see The Airborne Toxic Event, The Dudes and The Zolas with Julia, and the ever fine Hannah Georgas with Tiffy and Jenny 
  • Cherry blossoms
  • The trees are starting to grow leaves again and greenification has already begun
  • My lady love Jaime is going to come for a visit or two, girl I cannot wait for this
  • Taking my sister to Jurrasic Park 3D
  • I’ll be participating in the Sun Run, despite the fact that I haven’t trained in over a month. I hope I don’t die
  • Replanting my herb garden- basil, oregano, dill, mint, chives, and terragon
  • May 2, aka THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF THE YEAR, is my birthday (and Julia’s too, hooray birthday buddy!)
  • I’m finally going to Sasquatch Music Festival for the US Memorial Day weekend, and not only is the line up awesome, but some of my favourite people will be there
  • June 6th is adult night at the aquarium and this time I’m bringing a flask since they made me buy food the last time I wanted a glass of wine at adult night
  • Setting up my outdoor spaces
  • The days are getting lighter, eventually the weather will improve, and the patios will open
  • Camping and campfires
  • Going to the lake
  • BBQ’s on the beach
  • Or just BBQing. Everything tastes better on the BBQ, even pizza. Mmmmm. Pizza. Wait, I can have that now if I want. Yay!
  • Picnics in the park
  • Lunch in the park- let’s be real, I never stopped having lunch in the park. I live for that shit
  • Sunglasses
  • Mini skirts, tank tops, bikinis, and sandals
  • Fireworks
  • Suntanning beside the pool
  • Driving just after the sun has set with all the windows open and the music turned up
  • Road trip to Oregon and California
  • Squamish Valley Music Festival and camping and debauchery
  • Bike rides around the Seawall
  • Popsicles and boozy slurpies
  • Fish and chips at Pajos
  • WRECK BEACH because aint nobody got time for clothes
  • Speaking of no clothes, does anyone remember Camp Naked from last summer on twitter? That will be starting again. When it gets warm, NO CLOTHES
  • Stargazing. This one just cannot come fast enough. The telescope is always ready to go
  • Warm nights on the deck playing cards and listening to music
  • Outdoor concerts
  • Reading in the sun
  • Drive In movies and movies in the park
  • I also mentioned to someone that I wanted to build a blanket fort outside in my yard and have drinks in it – AHEM NATALIE, ARE YOU READING THIS?
  • Scott and Lyndsey, I’d really love to be invited to Green Lake again and I promise to return your sleeping bags and bring my own bedding to the cabin and some delicious treats and booze and bug spray and whatever else

I feel better just looking at this list. Good things are coming, people. Keep moving forward.

Here, listen to this while you’re here because it’s great.