Morning routine

I’ve experimented with different morning routines over the years. This has included meditation, exercise, yoga, morning pages, etc. I’d like to tell you I’ve found the perfect routine for me but I’m still looking.

A few months back I came across an Instagram post by an old classmate in school. She said she likes to start her morning by meditating and stretching. Now I already meditate but, while I tried to do some stretches during the day, I never did it in the morning. Later I did a manual handling course for work and the teacher said our bodies are like a new packet of Blu-tak in the mornings, which has stuck with me and encouraged me to stretch in the morning. It took me a while to find stretches that worked for me but then I came across a set that start lying in bed and move you to sitting and then standing.

After stretching I meditate before getting ready for work or having breakfast (whichever I feel like doing first). I still don’t know if meditation helps because I don’t feel any different after ten minutes but I still cling to it because it’s supposed to be good for you.

Now I’m trying to add morning pages again. It’s something I’ve stopped / started this so many times and I’m not quite back into the swing of them. I’m hoping that writing out three pages of continuous thought first thing in the morning might help me throughout the day in terms of overthinking. I haven’t been consistent yet so I’m not seeing any benefits but I’ll try to stick it out.

What is your morning routine?

Self-care Jar

I mentioned in my last post that my sister recommended I set myself a goal each day of my sick leave to do something I want to do. This idea was good on paper and I was keen to do it. I accomplished it for the first couple of days, but then I struggled not just with my depression and anxiety, but the continuing negative side effects of my new medication. To add to my woes, I beat myself up whenever I didn’t follow through with a self-care goal I set myself.

The self-care jar isn’t something I created but I did come up with it by myself before googling it. I took an unused jar I bought to transport natural Greek yoghurt for lunch in work before I discovered I don’t like natural Greek yoghurt. I haven’t decorated it or anything, as you can see from the featured picture, but it serves its purpose. I wrote out sixteen activities I enjoy or used to enjoy before depression decided it was too much effort, cut them up and put them into the jar. Instead of setting myself a goal in advance when the day may not go the way I planned, I take out a new activity each day, on the day, if I feel I’m mentally and physically able to.

Here are the activities I’ve included so far:

  1. Read
  2. Write
  3. Blog (today’s activity!)
  4. Draw
  5. Listen to music / podcasts
  6. Watch TV series
  7. Learn something new*
  8. Have a bath
  9. Watch YouTube videos
  10. Do yoga
  11. Go walking, that’s what to do!
  12. Watch a film
  13. Colour
  14. Do crosswords
  15. Knit
  16. Play Nintendo Switch

There may be days when I do more than one, like reading, but this will hopefully ensure I do at least one thing I enjoy each day. I’d like to add more, such as do a jigsaw but I need a jigsaw first!

What activities would you put in your self-care jar if had / have one?

*I had initially put ‘play guitar’ on this piece but I don’t actually know how to play and I don’t feel I’m in the right headspace to even try to learn. Learning something new simply refers to researching a topic online I’d like to know more about or haven’t discovered yet.

Starting over yet again

This hasn’t been my first hiatus and perhaps it won’t be my last. It’s no surprise I found no motivation to keep updating this, even though I find it cathartic. I set myself a goal today to update it again and I hope I can keep going and catch up with all the amazing blogs I follow.

I’m currently on three weeks stress leave from work after essentially having a meltdown in the office just minutes before I was due to go home for the day. I was triggered by a colleague and I tried to get help because I knew I was about to burst. I work in mental health and I attempted calling my manager with no answer. I sought out another colleague who was in a meeting, and everyone else’s door was closed. I wish I could erase what happened because I feel like it’s always going to be there residually when I go back to work.

What followed was a lot of calls and crying. I was convinced I’d ruined everything, that I could never return to work so therefore I was unemployed and nothing was ever going to be the same again. I’m sad to say the thoughts of ending things entered my head. I haven’t felt that helpless in years and it’s coincidental because I had only just spoken to my psychotherapist the evening before about the last time I felt like that and wanted to end it all.

There were so many signs that I was heading for a meltdown and, in my defence, I did try to avoid it. For a while, I was beginning to accept Lexapro was doing nothing for me. It left me feeling numb and unable to cry when the urge came, which I don’t feel is healthy. Two weeks ago, I had my very first panic attack. I was sat at my computer, working from home, and the day was nearly over. All of a sudden a feeling of dread came over me and my stomach started to knot. I wanted to call my mam (who was closest to me geographically) to get her to come around and simply tell me everything was going to be OK because right then I felt like nothing was going to be OK. It passed and it left me shaken. Where did it come from? Will it happen again?

After a particularly stressful day the following week in work, I decided to go to the doctor and I was lucky to get a cancellation appointment the following day because it’s impossible to get a doctor appointment these days. He confirmed what I experienced the previous week was indeed a panic attack. I’ve now been put on Remeron. He had mentioned stress leave to me before but I refused because I’m one of those people that can’t take leave unless all my loose ends are tied up, so it’s not surprising he didn’t offer it to me this time. Again, hindsight is twenty-twenty. I should’ve taken leave while I was transitioning between medications. Unfortunately, it’s not a case of jumping from one to other. I had to wean myself off Lexapro before I could start Remeron. I had no medicinal crutch to hold me up in between and no way should I have been in work while this was happening.

The transition to Remeron is not complete yet. I’ve been on them a week and after having a lot of negative side effects (sudden exhaustion, restless legs) after just taking one, my doctor advised me to take just half a tablet for a week to let my body get used to it. Tonight is when I take a full tablet again so I’m quite nervous. I want to be relieved that at least I have these three weeks to see how I get on without it impacting my job but there’s the guilt of not being in work. Taking sick leave is never easy for me. I take it only when necessary and never have I taken it for mental health reasons. I feel I need a physical symptom as proof that I’m worthy of the sick leave I’ve been given, which is sad. I feel odd going outside to the gym, or running because shouldn’t I be laid up in bed, unable to move? I fear all these worries will not allow me to take full advantage of the time I’ve been given to “sort myself out”.

My sister, who has taken stress leave before, sat down with me and helped get my head somewhat straight. She recommended I make goals for each day I’m off to do something I want to do rather than feel I have to do. Hence, this is one of my goals. She told me to go to gym, go for a walk, go to the cinema, etc. My favourite of her suggestions was to spend a day binge-watching a Netflix series and not apologise for it. She knows me so well. This I do intend to do, but I know I’ll feel lazy for it.

My psychotherapist has no idea any of this has happened (from the meltdown onwards) because it happened the day after our last session. I was going to call her the day it happened, but I’d had calls from so many people that I just couldn’t find the strength to keep talking. I’m meeting her later this evening for our next session and I’m not looking forward to going over it again because I just want to forget, but I’m curious to hear her interpretation of it.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. It’s another of my goals to keep updating.

Me, myself and I

As I’ve said before I struggle to ignore the negative voice in my head that takes every opportunity to put me down, especially when I don’t do something I said I would. Yesterday I snapped, mentally I mean.

I’ve been finding it difficult to get up when I mean to ever since I moved offices, especially as half my week is working from home during Ireland’s third lockdown. Anyway, I skipped my run on Tuesday due to the heavy rain. Normally I wouldn’t use rain as an excuse to avoid running but I guess I really couldn’t discipline myself enough to do it that day. My inner negative voice (I should give her a name) made me feel like crap, especially when I got the bus to work rather than walk.

Come Wednesday and, despite working from home, I couldn’t get myself up in the morning to do my strength training. My inner voice kicked in with its criticisms about being lazy and such. As I was getting dressed I just stopped and stood still, mentally screaming ‘SHUT UP, JUST SHUT UP!’ I’ve heard you should address your inner voice with a kind voice when contradicting it but this is years of having to deal with this bitch building up. Once I shouted in my head, I told my inner voice that I will still have an opportunity to do my strength training after work before dinner, that there’s no rule that I have to do it in the morning or not at all. And guess what? I did. I even got a nice lunchtime walk in the snow/sleet.

Unfortunately I know this won’t mean the end of my negative inner voice taking digs at me but it was a small victory as I try to adjust myself to a new routine in my new situation. I got out for my run this morning but I got up later than I meant to so it became V a bit of a rush. Tomorrow is more strength training and my alarm is set for 7.00am. Let’s hope I can get up in time but if I don’t, I can do it after work. No big deal!

To be liked

I’ve moved offices within my company and it was definitely emotional. Tuesday was my last day and I did the obligatory goodbye email to the team. I had a feeling there would be some replies but I guess I wasn’t prepared for just how touching they’d be. I was expecting generic messages like: ‘best of luck’, ‘wishing you all the best’. But they were very personable and I also received cards from both my managers. For someone like me, who is convinced everyone around me can’t stand me and just pretend to be nice to me, to receive such amazing messages and to realise that perhaps I was liked in my office was just…I honestly can’t describe it.

And to top it off, on Thursday I came home from my new office to my leaving present which was SIX books from an independent bookshop near where I worked. I’m such a big reader and that’s perhaps what I was most known for in my old office. Thankfully I’ve read or bought none of them. The boxes also had a message thanking me for my hard work and that I’ll be missed which is going into a scrapbook. And a card. It was such a thoughtful present.

I won’t lie, I was quite down on my first day in my new office, missing my old team so much. I’ve met most of my new team (primarily on Zoom) and they all seem very nice. It’ll take some time for me to adjust but I can’t deny how great it is to leave later in the morning and come home earlier in the evening. I know deep down this is for the best and it was never going to be easy. This week will be my first full week in my new office/team so I’ll have a better idea of what to expect and hopefully get to know my new team a bit better.

Like I told my old team, I only really needed to say goodbye to the office building because we’ll still see each other at company events, be it online or in person. And I fully intend to retain them as friends if they’ll let me.

Time to go

Today was my second last day in my office, on Wednesday I move to an office closer to home but still in the same company. I’m sad, nervous and excited. Sad to be leaving such a great team – it’s actually the first time I’ve ever been heartbroken to leave a workplace and I told them as much in our morning meeting earlier.

I’m nervous because change is not something I handle very well. It’s probably held me back in more ways than I care to imagine and it’ll take an adjustment. It helps that my soon-to-be ex-manager has told me the door will always be open for me. Unfortunately there’s a high turnover in my role no matter which office.

And of course I’m excited about what a shorter commute will mean, how many steps I’ll get when I walk to and from work, the days when I can cycle to work.

I’ve been granted a short day tomorrow which will give me a few more hours to reconcile the fact that I’ll be walking into a whole new environment on Wednesday. I’m dreading the goodbyes, I’ve never been good at goodbyes. Even today when everyone took turns wishing me well in our Zoom meeting I wanted it to be over. Of course I appreciated what they said – even though at times it felt like they were talking about someone else – I just never know what to say. I only wish my Lexapro would’ve allowed me a tear or two when one of my managers made a touching speech about me.

It’s not goodbye forever, I will see everyone at times during the year for company wide stuff, even if it’s just on Zoom, and I’m hoping to create a couple of friendships. It’s just going to be tough not seeing them every day.

Think yourself better

I didn’t go for my run this morning and I’m trying not to beat myself up over it. The temperatures have dropped and paths are icy in the mornings especially and I could’ve done myself an injury and not been able to run for the foreseeable future. And yet the voice in my head is telling me that I’m lazy. The same happens with other stuff I don’t do such as writing. I seem to have this mentality whereby if I don’t do something then I obviously don’t want to do it, e.g. if I don’t write then I don’t want to be a writer.

This topic was broached with my psychotherapist last night but it was near the end of our session so we didn’t explore it properly. I’ll aim to bring it up first thing next week.

Back to running, I doubt I’ll be able to run on Thursday either because we’re due several nights of low temperatures so I don’t know what the paths will be like, plus it’s supposed to be misty. And I thought all I’d have to worry about was running in the dark. You see I’ve been using the gym on the dark mornings to run on the treadmill but now the gyms are closed so I’ll have to brave the darkness (with keys between my fingers).

I’d run in the evening when temperatures are a bit higher and my surroundings are a little less secluded but it takes me so long to get home and M insists on waiting for me before putting on dinner so I just feel bad making him wait. I’m hoping when I move office locations in two weeks I might have more time in the mornings to run (and the ice is gone) or I could run in the evenings without making M wait for too long.

Everything is a dilemma with me that I strive to figure out.

Normality, sort of

Today is that last day of my Christmas holidays, though some big change is coming up. It’s not official yet but I’m due to move to a new branch of my job on the 18th, which is much closer to home. I already know I’ll be very down when the time comes (though it doesn’t make me look forward to returning to work tomorrow) because the people I work with are amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever left a job and felt truly torn up about the people I left behind. In my last job, most of the people I enjoyed working with had already left and part of me wishes this was the case now. Another girl has announced she’s leaving the organisation altogether in February/March, so I got part of my wish!

This week will all be about catch-up from the week and a half the office has been closed, and then next week will be me training my replacement who starts on the 11th. I hate training new people because I know in my head how stuff is done but have a difficult time explaining it to others. It’s why teaching never appealed to me. Then I’m gone, closer to home with a team that’s relatively new but most of which I’ve met before. But will it be the same? My manager assured me if I decide I don’t like it and my position pops up again in my soon-to-be old office then I’ll be welcomed back with open arms. This is comforting but I know I won’t miss the long journey into the city and back.

Ironically enough, the journey home on my last day before my Christmas holidays saw me stuck on the tram for over TWO HOURS due to a car getting stuck on the tracks, and get this, two tow trucks got stuck trying to retrieve it. Then my tram terminated four stops before mine. The next tram wasn’t going in my direction so I had to wait further for the right one. And it wasn’t the first time that’s happened so you can imagine how much of a plus it will be when I don’t have to take that anymore. Instead I can walk, cycle, get the bus or drive (if I pay for parking).

It’s the people I’ll miss. Whether there’ll be tears I don’t know, my Lexapro might prevent that but I know I’ll be bummed out. I just hope it will be for the best.

And we’re back

Ireland has gone into its third lockdown as of today. I don’t see why we can’t just do what New Zealand did and close our borders. We’re an island so we have that luxury.

I’ll be honest I wasn’t in great form on the last day of 2020 compared to those excited to see the back of it. I started the day off by attempting to go for a run. I say attempted because my Fitbit decided not to connect to GPS the entire way. I was near tears again but tried to reassure myself that it was for the best because the paths were icy and I may very well have caused myself an injury. So my run turned into a long walk. I was still a little bummed about it and it wasn’t until M said that missing one run isn’t the be-all and end-all that I felt a little better.

The rest of the day I spent doing almost everything from the comfort of my bed, which I try to avoid for the sake of sleeping better at night. My sleep pattern is all over the place as it usually is when I’m off work for an extended period. God help me on Monday when I have to get up at 6.00am.

Today, however, I felt positive. I got up late, yeah, but I did my strength training and stretches, added jade-rolling to my skincare routine (that’s for another post), I hoovered and mopped the house and I tried raspberry yoghurt for the first time.

This last one is a big deal because, if you remember, I have terrible food anxiety. I was convinced I hated yoghurt, I’ve tried it in the past and I was convinced it tasted the same no matter what flavours were added to it. But I need probiotics and ideally not just from supplements, which I’m taking also. So I decided to purchase some Activia gut health yoghurt in both vanilla and raspberry – both flavours I love in ice cream. I tried the vanilla yoghurt on Wednesday and it wasn’t bad, a bit sweet but edible. I put off trying the raspberry one until today because I was convinced “not bad” was as good as it was going to get. Well, I tried it today and oh. my. god. it is delicious! It tastes just like ice cream and I finished the pot a lot faster than I did the vanilla. I honestly can’t believe I like yoghurt, this is something I never thought possible. Then again I used to hate porridge and peanut butter but now I love them too. It’s always extra special when I like things that are good for me.

Now I just need to like a few more vegetables…!

A lack of consistency

I came back from my run today crying. My progress took a nosedive and I partly blame it on technology. You see, I noticed my Fitbit wasn’t accurately tracking my distance when suddenly the same route I always run seemed to get longer and longer. After some Googling and testing it out myself, I realised that I was beginning my runs before my Fitbit had a chance to connect to the GPS. On Sunday, I waited and it connected within seconds so I thought it was solved.

Today, however, once I’d done my five minute walking warm-up I hit the Run option and it wouldn’t connect. I kept walking, way past my starting point and it eventually connected after some minutes. My run was terrible and I wound up stopped at just 2.6km (my personal best so far is 3km). I know I can’t blame my Fitbit on my running progress and I wonder if it’s psychological that I wanted to stop at my usual stopping point even though I still had some distance to go. Not helping either was my relatively new, fully-charged earphones dipping in volume before going off completely. I thought perhaps someone was trying to call me but nope, they just decided to act up.

Tears came as I walked the rest of the way home and M tried to comfort me as I cried, which is rare for me considering I can’t really cry due to the Lexapro. I cried last week due to memories of one of my late dogs Jessie but before then I couldn’t tell you when I last cried.

I know I wish I could be great at everything when I first try it but I’ve been running for a while now, not always consistently, but regular enough that I thought I’d have better progress by now. I did make it over 4km for a time but I was left feeling very ill that I thought it best to slow it down a tad. Also, due to the dark mornings I’ve had to use the treadmill at the gym and I don’t know if that’s helping or hindering my progress.

All I can do is keep trying, I suppose. The worse thing I could do is give up, though sometimes it’s quite tempting.