This was a comment I left on my friend’s post where she was reflecting on something I said in my previous post, but then I realized it really should have just been an answering blog post with my thoughts on her thoughts on a brief note in my jumbley thoughts. (I literally didn’t need to write all that, but I thought it was funny, so here we are.) The following is stuff I’ve been kicking around for a giant chunk of my life, but never really put all down in any sort of organized way.
This is totally still writing relevant, btw, because to write well, to actually do the writing at all, I have to be functional as a human being for the most part, and I can’t do that if I’m slowly drowning in my own head.
Right, here it is:
(You and I have already talked about this a bit in person, but in case it’s useful to anyone else.) BEHOLD A WALL OF TEXT!
First, I think it absolutely needs to be something we talk about the same way we talk about the necessity of washing our hands and what to do in case of a fire and how to take care of cuts and scrapes. We have so many little things we teach as a matter of course, as a matter of practical precaution, but for a great variety of reasons, we (‘we’ here being the common bits of american culture across the beautifully motley cultural landscape) don’t even want to talk about mental health or emotional well-being on a large scale, we don’t acknowledge it until something goes terribly, horribly wrong, despite it being a part of us that needs minding and care just as much as the tangible bits of us. I wonder if we could be as conscious of how we’re thinking and feeling as we are aware of things like the aches in our bones, muscles, bellies, and sinuses; if we encouraged and supported emotional literacy, and allow room in the day-to-day for expressions of grief and joy and everything; if we could commonly have handy ways of caring like cerebral first aid– maybe it wouldn’t be as painful for those of use who find ourselves battling our own brains. It’d be nice.
On the matter of having a plan, these are things I’ve found helpful:
-Understanding and accepting that my best at any given moment will not always be my best at any other given moment. This has been super important in how I arrange care for myself (the things I expect to be able to do for myself). It helps me to remember this when I’m struggling and I KNOW I’m capable of doing better, of being better, but it’s just not where I am in that moment. Sometimes caring for myself is accepting that I’m not where I want to be, but it doesn’t mean I’m not doing my best still, and that’s okay.
-Taking little pleasures where I can get them. I refuse to feel pitiful for little things making me happy. If listening to Disney music or walking around with soft, cute plush toys, or wearing outrageous hats or jewelry pleases me, I’m more concerned with that than whatever might be considered mature or appropriate. These are my emotional bandaids, so I will not allow myself to worry about how it looks to other people if I absolutely don’t have to. Most of the time people don’t seem to notice, or they actively appreciate seeing something fun they didn’t expect to see in their day, which is nice.
-I keep bottles filled with water stashed around my usual places. That way wherever I settle, I don’t have to put a lot of effort into staying hydrated. SUPER IMPORTANT! This has a surprisingly (terrifyingly) large impact on what your brain is doing and how your body feels.
-I make sure my blankets and sweaters and cozy things are clean. There’s something especially demoralizing about realizing you can smell you, and you smell a little like farts, and then realizing you couldn’t even be bothered just to put things in a machine that DOES THE WASHING FOR YOU. Sometimes you don’t have the time to do this before a bad bout. I’ve asked friends if they’re doing laundry, can I toss my blanket or my jammies in with their stuff? I’m not in the way if they’re already washing things, and it’s something nice they can do for you, too. I’ll offer to chip in for detergent or whatever. It works out.
-I keep easy grab foods handy / avoid keeping junk in the house. A lot of times I don’t feel like eating or if I’m hungry, I can’t be bothered to cook or even wash and cut fruit or veggies. My go-to for a long time was a bag of chips or whatever sweets I had stashed around or I’d order pizza online and live on that for several days, but on a nearly empty stomach with a history of generally handling sugar or too much grease poorly, this was a terrible idea. Regular items in my fridge: a big bag of baby carrots, sliced lunch meats and cheeses, washed and separated lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes, washed/cut fruit (I try to habitually prep some of this, but a lot of times I resort to buying the bags or boxes of this stuff, or I ask a friend if they’d mind cutting a watermelon or whatever if I pay for it.), hummus (easy protein), single serves of yogurt. Also, bread and cereal. A lot of times it means I’m standing in my kitchen eating a plain piece of lunch meat and popping a couple of tomatoes before going back to the couch, but it’s something. Also, this works out well when I have to take food with me to feed myself when I’m out and about in the world.
-The people around you want to help. The ones who stick around love you. You don’t have to understand how or why. Just take it as fact. They choose to exist in the same space as you, no matter for what reason. Take it. Just keep staring at the bald face fact that they are there. “why? do you feel obligated? do you feel sorry? i’m not worth this much trouble.” It doesn’t matter. It’s not kind to you or them to make the decision on your own whether or not they should love you, whether or not they should help you. You don’t have to understand it. It just is.
-Similarly, the people who choose not to be there– it will hurt, but it is what it is. Whatever is going on with them, your priority is you. Don’t waste time or energy on people who can’t or won’t. This doesn’t mean you HAVE to be angry. If you are angry, then that’s that. You’re entitled to feel how you do, but don’t waste any time or effort trying to do something about it unless you 100% believe it’s absolutely necessary and will have a positive impact on you.
-Take time to breathe. Is anything on fire? Is anyone in your immediate sphere actively dying? You are okay to take a minute. Take five minutes. Get a cup of tea. Walk to the bathroom, even if you don’t have to go. Just do something to break up whatever you’re doing.
-If you have a pulse, you have a chance to do / be / experience something different from where you are. Ride out the moment. Do what you have to do. You have a chance, no matter how improbable. It can be okay. Keep it in mind.
-You got this.
If you’re hurting right now, I love you. I love you even if you’re not hurting. But there’s a lot going on in the world, the same as ever, I’m told. We got this. I love you. Stay as safe as can be, guys.