I have this bad habit of falling into negative thought patterns. Like, all the time.
I’m cynical. I’m sarcastic. It’s a defense mechanism. A maladaptive coping strategy. And it’s become a habit a loooong time ago, and old habits are hard to break, as they say.
Especially during a global pandemic, when the world is burning and my anxiety jumps out and says Yes! This is what I’ve been telling you about all along! Now it’s here; the end is near! BWAAHAHAAAA!
And while anxiety is my main squeeze, lately its cousin depression asked to come stay for a while, and I’m fresh out of room and energy and this is all too hard somebody make it stop.
(As an aside, I’m doing okay. I have good days and bad, and lately I am having more average-to-good days than bad, by far. It’s just that every once in a while I get slammed with a bad day and have trouble recalibrating. Rest assured, I am coping as well as can be expected.)
The point is that I am trying to break this bad habit, or at least learn to interrupt it so that it doesn’t take over and eat all my remaining sanity.
I like mantras. They are helpful reminders that not everything sucks. And language is so versatile that you can craft any mantra that speaks to you, at any time and for any reason.
Lately, when I find myself going down a negative spiral eleventy million times a day, and I actually remember to, I silently tell myself:
I’m just happy to be here.
This is the phrase I’ve used to describe my daughter’s personality. She was/is such a happy, easy-going baby, toddler, and now kid. While other kids would be whining or going into their dark places, she’d smile and ask me what we doing now, mama? She’s the kid in that story with the room filled with poop – the kid who gleefully starts digging through the shit and yells, THERE MUST BE A HORSE IN HERE SOMEWHERE! That’s her, and she certainly did not get her sunny disposition from me, but man I want what she’s selling.
As an aside, I want people who know me to know that I appreciate uplifting messages and I use them and think them…I just also have a knee-jerk reaction to want to make fun of them, too. Like, I remind myself to be extra kind and patient these days with people, but I’m more likely to wear a t-shirt with Pete the Cat on it saying I hate you all than one that says be kind. (Please know, friend of mine who wears these shirts, I like them, I like that you wear them, and please don’t take it personally when I make fun of them.)
At any rate, here I am striking a balance. I want to invite more positive energy into my life because goodness crap, we all need it now more than ever.
Readers, tell me – what are your favorite mantras?
My little girl was almost hit by a car today. Almost.
We were on our way home, crossing a busy street. My son was on his bike, my daughter on her scooter and I was on foot. We looked left, we looked right. No cars. We were in a crosswalk. We did everything right.
To the right of the crosswalk is a traffic circle, and I saw a car whip around and it wasn’t slowing down. By this time, I was halfway across, my son was behind me, and my daughter was ahead of me.
I screamed, STOP, [HER NAME], STOP!!!
My girl started to slow down and I lurched forward, groping for her, even though she was still out of reach. I later told my husband that we’d both have been hit if the driver hadn’t slammed on her brakes.
If there was ever a time when I felt like a crazed, full-blown Mama Bear, this was it.
JESUS CHRIST!! I screamed at the car.
SLOW DOWN!!! I bellowed as I threw my arms wide in rage, fear, and desperation. I’m sure my eyes were red and smoke puffed out of my ears. Certainly, adrenaline was pumping through my system.
The driver gave a gesture that I interpreted as apologetic, but it all happened so fast. I just wanted to get back home where we’re safe.
This is several hours later, and I’m still trying to shake the rage. fear. desperation.
A similar incident happened a few months ago, but I was able to shake that one off much sooner. The differences: we weren’t in a pandemic, and I didn’t feel so constantly vulnerable, thinking about health and loved ones and safety and loss. That time, I was close enough to her that I grabbed her hood and yanked her back. Even if the car had continued to run the stop sign, I had successfully pulled her out of the way. Lastly, everyone was moving slower: me, my daughter, the car. It was far less scary, in a far less scary time.
Also a contributing factor: I’m currently experimenting with different cold brew ratios/recipes/techniques and dear baby jesus, I think I made this last batch way too freaking strong. Today I’ve been jittery and strung out. My husband says I’ve been talking a mile a minute today, buthowisthatpossibleIdon’tknowwhatyou’retalkingabout.
Not to mention that I’ve had two nightmares in the past week, one of which was technically a nightmare within a fucking nightmare (so I guess that makes it three nightmares in all). I shit you not, I had a nightmare and in the dream I went to sleep, had yet another nightmare, “woke up,” BUT WAS STILL IN A NIGHTMARE. When I woke up for realsies, you’d better believe it took me a hot minute to be quite certain that I was conscious and the world before me was indeed real. I think it’s high time I made myself a totem, BECAUSE HOW DO I KNOW I’M NOT BEING INCEPTED?! Leo?! JGL???
As a surprise to absolutely no one, I’m also knee-deep in a violent dystopian novel. My choices amaze even myself.
Soooooooo there you have it. Too much, too often I feel like the world is burning and I have a front row seat. I can feel the warm glow on my face and I can see the ash falling from the sky.
Everyone, just please do me a favor and SLOW DOWN when you drive. Check the crosswalks. Then check them again. Thanks.
I’m good at following directions, and the goals of shelter in place are straightforward: stay at home, don’t go near people, wash your hands, pee in jars. Pretty simple.
I visualize safety precautions on a spectrum. Way over here is pre-covid, when we went everywhere and my kids licked all the things. Way over on the other side is what we’re doing now. We aren’t going anywhere, we aren’t in direct contact with anyone, and all licking is kept to the bare minimum.
But as businesses and humans start to open up, we enter this super messy gray area where I already know I’m going to have a hard time, as a human and as a mother, deciding what is safe for us to be doing. How much contact is safe? How much risk is acceptable?
I’ve already felt this odd phenomenon where I don’t feel safe – I feel vulnerable. scared. hypervigilant. – but at the same time, I am safe. I have food, water, clothes, shelter, my family. In the same way, we’re all supposed to behave as if we are sick – staying away from people, wearing masks, washing hands – in an attempt to not get sick or get anyone else sick. Or, maybe we are sick and we don’t know it? It’s both. It’s Schrodinger’s sickness, in the same way that it’s Schrodinger’s safety. We’re both safe and unsafe, sick and well, all at the same time.
Now let’s spread a thick, bitter layer of anxiety over this delicious dumpster fire. Staying home makes me feel safe. Well…safer than I do out in the world. I can control my surroundings here and there’s a very limited amount of exposure we have to the outside world. As we open up, of course that gets much harder to control and, if I know myself, anxiety will increase henceforthwith. But, anxiety is a tricky devil, and there’s also the thing where tapping into my social support network – in person – decreases my anxiety. Dude, I miss hanging out with my friends. Like, a lot. So, again, as we open up, I’m going to have to constantly decide: how will this social engagement increase my anxiety due to my exposure to others’ germs? How will it decrease my anxiety because social interaction is healthy for humans? Where shall I hide all these jars of urine?
You see the constant, ever-present dilemma. I’m already exhausted.
Another factor that’s tough for me is not having an end date. All the uncertainty is difficult and I’m for sure gearing up for a marathon, but even the runners who sign up for a race know exactly how far they’ve gotta run. I have no idea how to pace myself. Shall I freak out all at once, or would it be better to space out those panic attacks? Asking for a friend.
One realistic (I hope) goal I have for this summer since all the things have been canceled is getting to the beach. Any beach. With the least amount of people possible. It’s the best place I can think of to go during a time like this: it’s low risk, high fun, outdoors, and free. I don’t care if it’s raining on a Wednesday morning, if that means we can go and be safe(r), then we’re fucking going. Get in the car. We’ll be like backpackers – we’ll carry in everything we need to survive and we’ll carry it all back out with us – food, water, plastic potty, and whatever waste is deposited therein. We won’t stop for nothing. You need to pee? Here’s a jar. You want ice cream? Fucking churn it yourself.
So I haven’t been inside a grocery store in weeks. Not since March 19, to be exact. Until today.
The two main reasons I wanted to go were for items that couldn’t be picked up curbside- for me that meant a giant plastic pool and garden items like flowers and tomato plants. You know, lovely things that make life feel worth living. I was determined to get another kiddie pool because our city announced they wouldn’t be turning on joy the water features this summer (at least for now), and that’s a devastating blow to the well being of my kids and thus my family. My son didn’t cry when school was canceled (and he likes school!) but you bet your ass he cried when I told him the splash pads weren’t going to be turned on. Sigh.
So I had this all planned out. I was gonna go an hour before closing so that it’d be as empty as possible (and freaking hell there were still way too many people in there for comfort!), because I drive by that parking lot every single Tuesday at 2pm for curbside pickup and the parking lot is chockfull like there’s an end of the world party and everyone’s invited.
My anxiety started spiking before I even got ready to go. Uuuuggghhh having chronic anxiety centered around health issues REALLY SUCKS during a pandemic. And trying to control my breathing so I don’t start hyperventilating in an N95 mask is difficult to say the least. Basically, I was using my cart as a battering ram and trying to strong-arm my way through the grocery store to get what I needed and get the hell out.
They keep the giant plastic pools outside of the store, and I grabbed one and brought it inside, only to realize…this is big. and awkward. How the hell am I supposed to shop with this? So the greeter man by the door was super helpful and had me just take a picture of the bar code and he held it at the door so I didn’t have to cart it around everywhere with me.
I did my shopping. I ran into someone I knew! How quaint! Just like the before-times. The staff were soooo nice. Like, not paid nearly enough for how nice they were during a pandemic. And what the nice employee lady told me was that THE GARDEN CENTER CLOSED OVER AN HOUR AGO. Fuuuuuuuuuuck. So much for planning ahead. This will mean that I’ll have to come back at some point and endure this drawn out panic attack again. Covid-19: keeping therapists and big pharma in business!
I wove around non-mask wearing teenagers (WTF) and paid for my stuff and retrieved my pool and got out to my car. My husband’s car, actually. Because while my car is bigger, it has the car seats and the backseat can’t be put down. So I brought his so I could put the seats down and have plllllllenty of room for the pool (I’m so smart!) right?
My 5 foot diameter pool was clearly not going to fit in this Prius. Even though I tried like an idiot. Several times. Maybe this way? Nope. I hope no one’s watching me. FUCK. I had to take off my mask at this point because I needed to breathe. I was gonna have a panic attack right there in the parking lot.
I called my husband.
Uuuuuh, you’re gonna have to tie it to the car or drive home holding it out of the window.
Thanks. Who do we know with a huge car? OH WAIT! I saw husband-of-a-friend in the store just now! THEY HAVE A SUBURBAN!
I hung up and madly texted my friend. My phone autocorrected “fucking” to “tucking.” I hate that.
Her husband was still in the store, and he graciously responded that he’d be right there. I almost texted back with I’m the one with the pool but thought better of it.
We caravaned home, I got the pool into the yard, said a bunch of thank yous, and then bathed in disinfectant along with everything on my person and set my clothes on fire. I got over the hump with some Xanax-infused ice cream and didn’t end up needing a Xanax, but oh man the panic was real.
I think tonight took about two years off my life, but at least I got the goddamn pool.
It’s Day 15 in this dark place. I wonder when I’ll see the end? Sometimes I think my punishment will never end.
I feel pretty accomplished, surviving in this strange place, with a huge credit to my husband on the outside who has courageously smuggled in compliant dinners.
My captors allowed me to eat out a few times and but forced me to make substitutions and special requests. I longed to cry out for help to the waitress, but I was threatened with punishment upon our return. At one point I was brought to a bowling alley that sold fried foods as another twisted means of torture and I ended up begging to be put out of my misery, to no avail. I was present at a gathering where I was offered pizza. and. cake. but I knew of the unsaid consequences if I were to succumb to temptation in a moment of weakness. Only strength will get me through. And hope. One day at a time.
My time here has reminded me of being pregnant, oddly. My sense of smell has become superhuman. Halfway down the dungeon stairs I breathed in, and with my exhale I moaned, “THOSE MARSHMALLOWS HAD BETTER BE GONE BY THE TIME I GET DOWN.” Sometimes, the captive start to sound like the captors.
I’m still craving the sweet flavors of home, mainly in the dark of night. Some days are better than others, but I find being given permission to eat something -anything compliant- does the trick to distract my body from its woes and the craving passes.
I should be drinking more water. I’m being given my ration, but I long for something different.
My biggest concern for the second half of my sentence is the shackles of food boredom. I’m trying to keep my spirits up by finding ways to make my meager breakfast more interesting. Even the slightest new taste can do the trick; I plan to beg for fruits I don’t often have. With luck I’ll be shown some mercy.
Sometimes I sense that my time here is melting away my humanity. Have you seen that movie, Lord of the Rings? Do you remember when Bilbo saw the ring again after he hadn’t seen it, or held it, caressed it, in a long time? The greedy monster inside him contorted on his face for just a fraction of a second. That’s how I feel when I see my captors eating ice cream right in front of me. The preciousss.
Another day, gone.
If you should find this, please leave a message of hope in its place.
I’ve taken my extra time away from babies and I’ve surprisingly spent a good chunk of it exercising and shit. I know, I’ve surprised even myself. This morning, I was running around the house in my sports bra, getting the kids ready for school, and my husband first asked this weird half-naked lady with purple hair if she’d seen his wife, and then, upon remembering how hot I am, asked me if I knew where the gun show was. (spoiler alert, I do.)
That’s right. We know how to keep that spark alive.
Ever since my daughter was done breastfeeding and my body became my very own again, I’ve been working to really, truly take care of myself. I’ve had mental health stuff come up. I’ve had a bunch of seemingly random health stuff come up, too. Skin issues, GI issues, chronic acid reflux issues, my ongoing headaches and migraines. I’ve had a few tests done for the GI stuff and the short version is that they can’t find anything physically wrong with me. That leaves me with…my diet. The food-like things I put into my body.
About a year ago I cut out some dairy, but not all. I feel like that has helped some. Not all. I’ve also cut out or reduced a few things that trigger my reflux. So that helps. But not all the way.
Sooooooooo, my dear psychos, I’m taking the plunge. Starting tomorrow, I’m doing Whole 30. Wholey crap. For those of you unfamiliar, Whole 30 is an elimination diet to see how certain food groups affect your body – you eat whole foods for 30 days and then slowly add stuff back in to see what happens. It’s a good way to see if you have any allergies or aversions and junk. Basically, I can have meat, fish, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts. Nothing else. No added sugar, no soy, no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no alcohol.
This is a big deal for me. I’ve always eaten everything. I don’t have any obvious allergies and I’m generally not a picky eater. I’ve also never been on a special diet before, ever. Unless you count my surgery prep and the stuff I couldn’t eat during pregnancies, I’ve never really restricted myself. And guys, my parents are from the midwest. Dairy is, like, THE most important food group. It’s like how Bubba is with shrimp: there are so many ways you can have cheese. There’s sliced cheese, grated cheese, powdered cheese, melted cheese, blocks of cheese, wheels of cheese. There’s cheese curds and cheesecake. Don’t forget cheesewhiz. I grew up having cows milk with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ice cream almost every night. Dear lord, my body is a temple and it’s never not been worshipped with dairy.
This is going to be interesting, y’all.
Luckily, I have a friend, whom I’ll call M, and she’s done this before and she offered to do it with me now and to be my emotional support animal. Honestly, I don’t think she’s aware of what she signed up for, because when I get hangry, all bets are off. I’ll be texting her in the middle of the night needing a peptalk so I don’t inhale my kids’ Valentines candy in my walk-in closet.
It goes without saying that I plan to blog about this experience as much as I need to and probably more than you all would like. Food is such an emotional thing. We have living, breathing relationships with it because it’s rooted in culture and family and it’s woven into every. single. social. gathering.
I’m treating this like one big experiment, and it’s my goal to remain determined and curious. Although I’m a rule follower to the core, M (dude, when I call you M, it reminds me of that kickass lady from the Bond movies played by Dame Judy Dench. You’re welcome.) kinda gave me permission to bend some small rules so I don’t go absolutely crazy. Like, I may still cook with real butter (I’m just kidding! I don’t cook, my husband does. A word on that later). And I’ll probably have some store-bought mayo (another midwestern food group – you can’t make a salad without it!), but I’m very interested to see how I feel without all that sugar and dairy and grain in my system. I’m looking forward to the poops! Oh, the BMs! I’ve heard the legends and I want to know what secrets lie within…and without.
Advanced thanks to M and to my husband, who has been amazingly supportive so far. He does all the cooking in the house, and he’s been planning meals for me and I know he’s gonna be there to cheer me on this whole way, even when I’ll be tackling him to the ground trying to eat the pasta hanging out of his mouth.
It all starts tomorrow, folks. What’s hilarious is that my mom friends are going out after we walk/jog/run tomorrow morning for coffee and donuts. FUCKING DONUTS ALREADY?!
At our wedding 6 and a half years ago, we had a cute little candy table set up.
Most of the candy was put in these mason jars I painstakingly decorated with lace, burlap, and ribbon. We had, among other things: mints, taffy, and jelly belly beans.
A lot of the candy was left over after the wedding, and I wanted to keep a few of the jars I had made, so we consolidated the candy in the jars I wanted to keep. Fast forward to when we moved to Oregon, and the jars now live on the windowsill in our kitchen.
We don’t eat candy very often. Well, let me be clear – we eat the good stuff quickly, and the rest just kinda…sits there. Plus, the wedding candy kinda became more decoration than treat.
Fast forward again to when we had kids, and to when my youngest kid decided that she’d rather start pooping in her pants than in the potty (the latter she had been doing for weeks already). Kids are wondrous, folks. Simply amazing little creatures.
Mama had had enough and, after much screaming and sanitizing and laundry, we decided to try rewards as a last resort. My first thought was that we’d have to go out and buy some M&Ms.
We had three cute little jars full of (old) candy that wasn’t being eaten, right in front of me as I did the dishes at the end of every exhausting day! I promptly offered my daughter a jelly bean the next time she went poop on the potty, and pointed to the jar that was backlit by the spring sunlight coming in through the window, illuminating the sugary beans like they were sent straight from heaven.
It worked like a charm!
Now, because we were giving my youngest a magic poop bean every time she delivered the goods, my oldest saw an opportunity.
Hey, he said. (he didn’t really say that) I want one, too. (that he did say)
And so, for the past, I don’t know, 6 months or so (maybe 9? my brain is mush), we’ve been giving each kid a bean, when we’ve been home, for a deed that normally should be going on unrewarded.
After a short while, it was clear that my genius had paid off, and that my daughter’s skill mastery of potty training was here to stay. But, another problem was looming.
How do we stop the rewards?!
Surely, I’d created two monsters. Obviously, they’d go off to college thinking they deserved a godforsaken jelly belly after every empty colon produced. Clearly, I had failed as a parent. I had gone in without an exit strategy! Rookie mistake! Sorry, future roommates and partners.
We had a finite number of jelly beans! Of course! Again, the answer had been staring me in the face as I stood at the sink, doing endless freaking dishes day in and day out. The jelly beans would, one day, just run out. There would be no more.
The Last Jelly Bean
This problem solved itself, ladies and gentlemen. I made the announcement, and they accepted the news in stride. The countdown to the End of the Jelly Beans became somewhat of a thing, from then on. It was to be an exciting milestone for all involved.
So. I’m sure you know what recently happened. My baby girl produced so much poop so many times and ate her way through that jar. She no longer needs the jar. She no longer asks for the beans. The circle of life was complete in that the beans became the poop for which the reward was the beans. I propose that the chicken-or-the-egg phrase be officially replaced.
So thank you, Jelly Bean Jar. You served your purpose not only in looking cute at my wedding, and on my window sill, but you also saved me having to do a whole lot of laundry.
Now, let’s raise a glass to the Jelly Bean Jar. Here’s to stale candy doing what I could not- getting a stubborn little girl to do something that shouldn’t require rewarding in the first place.
I have been doing yoga for a long time now, and I’ve figured out the hard way that if I don’t do yoga frequently, it makes me feel something something.
Recently, I’ve been signing up to do yoga through our local parks and rec. It’s cheap, it’s local, and there isn’t another way to do yoga in this town unless you’re selling your soul to the gym gods. That means joining a gym. I tried to make a joke but I’m tired.
Apparently, signing up for an exercise class via P&R if you’re under 40 means that you’re the youngest lass in the class…by like 15 years, at least.
Do you know what this means?
Unfortunately, it means that the class is pretty too very much easy for me. But at least yoga is an individual sport where I can just do an extra twist or add a limb in there and make it a little more of a workout.
On the upside, this means that I look like a friggin ROCKSTAR! The instructor takes all this time explaining the pose and how to use all these props to keep your shoulders in their sockets and I’ve already got both my legs behind my head.
Seriously, though, there are several poses that I can do that the instructor can’t, which means several times she’s been describing the pose while I’m already doing said pose, and I’m spacing-out-while-trying-to-concentrate-and-not-fall-on-my-ass, and she points to me and says, “Just do what Melissa’s doing.” And then I snorted. I was flattered and surprised; it was a flatprised snort.
On another random note: This instructor’s look and voice quality reminds me strongly of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and you guys, I cannot express how calm and safe that makes me feel. She’s middle-aged, female, blonde, and her voice is calm, steady, earnest, and full of wisdom.
Before discovering this class, I remember saying that I really wanted to be able to do yoga to the commanding female voice-energy of Cate Blanchett playing Galadriel in Lord of the Rings.
Frooodooo…..now dooo down-ward facing doooog. AT ONCE!
But Dr. Ford is a close second. Or maybe not even second, just…different. Her energy is exactly what I need right now. What a lot of us need, I think. It’s protective. It’s quietly empowering. Right now, for me, it’s pretty transformative.
Another random thought: Just last night my yoga-teacher-Dr.-Ford-doppelganger said….aahhh crap and I forgot the exact wording, but it was something like:
The way you practice having balance is by losing it.
And maybe it was my headspace at the time, or the way she said it, or both, but it was one of those quotes that just hit me, you know? Probably because it works on both literal and figurative levels.
So, I’m not sure what my point is except that I enjoy yoga and it makes me feel great.
I remember when federal holidays were super fun. Do you remember, dear Psychos?
I would get off of school or work and get to sleep in, and oh the bank is closed, so I can’t do that errand, might as well stay home in my pjs and drink tequila milkshakes. And then maybe, if I feel like putting on pants later, I’ll go out for a late lunchy dinner. Linner, if you will.
Remember that?! I don’t, mainly because of those damn milkshakes, but you get the idea.
Before the invasion of my sweet, beautiful children, holidays were fun. Relaxing. Looked forward to. But not anymore.
Now, it’s kinda the complete opposite. Now that I’ve gotten used to having my 5 year old in school 5 days a week, and my 2 year old in school 2 days a week (Ha! I didn’t notice how the numbers matched up like that until now. I think that means that because I’m 36, I should get that many paid vacation days per quarter.), having them both home on the same day is kinda painful. The cherry on top is that my go-to backup place to bring my kids in this small-town-with-nothing-to-do is the library, and on days like today, that’s also closed. It’s the proverbial final nail in the proverbial coffin of my proverbial sanity.
Sensing that the storm was coming, I called in reinforcements (aka MOMS Club) and set up an outdoor playdate for the kids. I’m suuuuper thankful that the weather more than cooperated (it was sunny and downright warm for this time of year!) and also suuuper thankful that moms and kids showed up, not only to entertain my kids, but also to say words to my face and allow me to say words back. A conversation! How delightful.
Now we’re well into the afternoon, and there’s been a minimal amount of yelling on my end. We might just get through the day without any major incidents, folks.
Now if only the small child would just stop kicking and fussing around in her crib and freaking nap already…
Seasonal Depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately SAD) is a real thing. Oregon is cold, it’s dark, and it’s freakin gray. It’s hard to get out of bed some mornings, and I often can’t get warm, even in my own house. It’s no mistake that Jo Rowling (we’re on a first name basis, people) gave the dementors, a metaphor for depression, the power to create an icy chill in their midst while sucking the soul out of their victims. When I’m cold, like that chilled-to-the-bone feeling, I’m irritable. Moody. Unable to feel contentment. I feel like crawling back into bed.
I have several tricks up my sleeve to try and keep the soul-sucking dementors at bay. I wish I had a magic wand, but I guess my Hogwarts letter got lost in the post.
Until that ruddy post owl is found, here are the things I try:
Note: This post is not a replacement for real, amazing therapy. These are simply things that work for me personally. Psychology Today is a great place to start looking for a therapist if you’re in the market, as it were.
My light therapy lamp
Last year, I finally went out and got myself a happy lamp! Getting up in the morning is hard for me, especially in the winter time when it’s pitch black outside. Somehow, that just seems wrong for a person to have to function in those conditions. I just got my lamp back out for the season, and I put it on my bathroom counter and flick it on as soon as I get out of bed. It’s on and shining into my eyes for about 10-15 minutes as I get ready in front of the mirror. It helps to perk me up in the mornings and makes me feel less dead inside. I wish I could get the effects for longer, but I have active kids who need to be places and I no longer sit in one place for very long. At this point I’ll take whatever I can get.
My slippers and hats and sweatshirts and blankets. And sometimes my cat.
Did I mention that I get cold in the winter? I’m actually always cold, but in the winter I’m knocking-on-death’s-door cold. I still can’t believe that I survived living in Boston for two years. I attempt to stay warm by wearing fuzzy slippers. I have ones with down feathers in them. And memory foam. I also have those buttery-soft slipper-socks. When I’m feeling saucy, I’ll wear slipper-socks and slippers at the same time. It’s also not unheard of for me to wear a jacket indoors, or one of my many knit hats. The couch is covered with blankets. And when I don’t hate my cat (and when she doesn’t hate me), I will allow her to sit on my lap to keep my nether regions from frosting over. When animals aren’t total assholes, they can be kind of comforting.
Those microwavable ricey/beany heat pad thingies
They are warm when I am not. The end.
Hot drinks, sometimes with sugar and caffeine
In the winter, I’ll often make hot decaf tea in the afternoons and evenings (in addition to my normal caffeinated morning beverage) to take the chill off, but also because they provide this psychological cozy boost. I enjoy feeling the warm, solid mug between my palms and breathing in the sweet, warm vapors. The Dutch call this feeling gezellig, which roughly translates to “cozy,” and I find myself often chasing it.
FIRE. (Candles and the fireplace)
First off, let me just say that Oregonians have a weird obsession with scented things and lighting shit on fire. Haven’t any of you heard of a spare the air day?! Having said that, I do enjoy the occasional scented candle or switching on our gas fireplace because Oregon creeps up on you after a while. It’s the warmth, but it’s also the psychological boost from the bright, flickering lights and the yummy, spicy, earthy, comforting scents that can fill up the house and my soul.
Music is the perfect drug; there is a piece of music to induce any mood you’re after, with little to no side effects. Spooky Halloween music, cozy Christmas music, after dinner dance party music (pants optional). Music shoos them dementors straight back to Azkaban. Also, if you don’t get these Harry Potter references, consider yourself on notice.
I tend to isolate when I’m anxious and depressed, so I schedule events on my calendar to get me out of the house and interacting with humans over the age of 5, even if it’s cold and rainy and gross and disgusting outside. We might get wet or cold or muddy or all three, but at least we have a fun time hanging out with others, and then we’ll get warm and gezellig once we’re back home again.
HUMOR!!!!!! DEAR GOD, THE HUMOR!
Humor is my EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!!!! Laughter boosts the mood and the immune system. It brings people together, and holy crap it makes me feel less alone. The best cross-section of humor and mental health I can think of can be found at The Bloggess. Jenny suffers from anxiety and depression, but she doesn’t let that get in the way of being fucking hilarious. She’s the reason I started blogging, and I love her and I met her once and she signed my DSM because that’s how deep her commitment to hilarity runs. She normalizes and humanizes mental illness, makes me feel less alone, and makes me laugh – which makes me feel better. Boom. If you’re at all interested, read her blog, check out her books – geez, I wonder if she’ll pay me for this? Shout out, Jen! Call me.
As an example to show how much Jenny Lawson just gets me, here are her calendar pages for October and November:
Ok, I’ll stop here. I hope this is helpful for some people. TELL ME – What do you do to combat the cold, dark, gray, damp winter months of torture?!