I’ve been having a lot of nightmares recently, so I’ve come up with a morning routine to help me get on with my day. I like keeping this sheet next to my bed so that once I’ve woken up I’m not at a loss for what to do and how to live. This routine really helps me to start my day right. I sometimes change up the order or skip some steps, but having a methodical, ordered plan and doing positive things to wake myself up has been really helping me.
I found that I often got stuck between reading something funny on Buzzfeed and getting out of bed. I just stay there reading more and more, or start looking on Pinterest or Youtube for other funny things in order to cram out the bad in my mind. I think the idea of getting out of that warm, safe place and facing my day is too intimidating. So, I tried to break up that step into smaller steps. My ideas about how to transition from lying in bed to standing up are in the picture on the right. They’re intended to get myself to move around a little because after a nightmare I really want to fall into the freeze response, and that doesn’t do me any good. So there they are! 🙂
This week, I have done a lot of drawing. I’ve known for a while that drawing helps me calm down and be a little peaceful and happy. Drawing while watching TV on my computer is my go-to self care, both when I’ve just had a long day and want to relax and when I’m having more intense feelings.
I’ve been having trouble sleeping, and one of the things I’ve tried to help myself fall asleep more easily is having a routine before I go to bed. I’m still working on it, but it’s currently something like: take melatonin, DRAW, brush teeth, go to the bathroom, put on pajamas, go to bed listening to music, read something, turn off lights, stop music, go to sleep.
Drawing at night has been really helping me! It’s very relaxing, and it gets my mind thinking of good things before I go to sleep, so I’m less anxious and maybe have fewer nightmares.
This week has been better than the last week, and I think it’s because I was busier and did more things.
I went on a walk with a friend, had lunch and hung out with another friend, did some volunteering online and in person, went to my high school’s graduation, went to a reunion, repainted my door, cleaned my room a bit, helped out at the dress rehearsal for my sister’s dance recital, went to therapy, taped things up on my wall, started a new project for my family, and started learning new languages on duolingo.
I had some bad days this week, when I was feeling depressed, or anxious, or triggered/flashback-y. But I also had some great days: the day I hung out with my friends, the day I volunteered, the day I went to the reunion, the day I discovered duolingo.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I felt best when I was busy doing things. I think staying busy helped to keep my mind off other things. It was good to be around people, too. I felt valued and not alone, and being with my friends reminded me of good things I that used to like and had forgotten about.
It also felt good to be productive. My repainted door looks beautiful. I did that! It took a good amount of time and a lot of help from my brother, but it’s very satisfying to have it back in my room now in its beautiful, new, sky blue color.
Duolingo is another way that I can be productive. Instead of mindlessly turning to buzzfeed, I can open the duolingo app and actually learn a new language. I can see my progress very quickly, and it’s really cool to think of the new skills I’m learning.
Yay! Now I just have to make sure I have plans for next week, too. 🙂
I say, “I’m fine,” a lot. When people ask me how I’m doing, when people ask me if something’s wrong, when my mom ask me if I slept well or had nightmares, I say that I’m fine. But I don’t really mean that I’m fine.
The way I see it, the answers to “How are you doing?” go in this order, with the best at the top and the worst at the bottom:
“awesome,” “fabulous,” “amazing”
“not great,” “not good”
“Fine” isn’t on there. That’s because “fine”‘s meaning, at least for me, switches around a lot. Some of the time it means “okay-ish,” but it could be anywhere in the range between “terrible” and “good.”
I talked about this with my brother, and he said that “fine” means “good.” He pointed out that if you say, “It’s a fine day,” or that you went to “a fine restaurant” or you saw “the fine arts,” you’re talking about something good. “An okay day” sounds worse than “a fine day.”
But somehow, when it comes to talking about how people are doing, “I’m fine” doesn’t sound as good. (Is this just me? Do other people really mean that they’re great when they say they’re “fine”? I’m tempted to think not, but maybe I’m wrong?)
When I say, “I’m fine,” I mean that I am not doing super well, but that I also don’t want to talk about it.
It might be upsetting to talk about, and I don’t want to get all worked up right now. Or this might be an inappropriate situation, where we don’t have time for a long one-on-one talk. Maybe I’ve just run into an old friend and want to catch up, but we’re around other friends, and we’re both in the middle of doing other things. Or maybe I’m just not close enough with the person to tell them the truth and invite them into my life.
Most of the time, though, I say “I’m fine” when I want someone to know that there’s something wrong, but I don’t want to say more about it.
If it’s someone I’m close to, maybe I’ll tell them later. I might want them to know, just not now. It’s sometimes a little cry for help, in this case. I might even want them to ask me about it later, in a safer place. Maybe.
If it’s someone I don’t know that well, I probably don’t want to tell them anything else, but I say I’m “fine” because I’m sick of lying and saying I’m “good.” I want them to know I’m not “good.” I know that “fine” is a stretch or a bit of a lie sometimes, too, but it’s not as much of a lie as “good.”
That’s what I mean when I say I’m fine. What do you mean when you say “fine”? And how are you doing? 😉 Personally, I’m having a good day but a bad month or two.
(Please be aware that the first part of this post has to do with life/death and wanting to die.)
It’s the name of my blog, so I might as well say why…
I believe something is better than nothing. That’s why I’m alive. If you’re dead, you have no opportunities, no chances, no smiles, no sunny days, no cute babies, no flowers. None of that. If you’re alive, you might have a lot of pain. It might take up almost the entirety of the day. Or the week. Or longer. But it is not like that all the time. There are still some good things. There are some good moments.
Once, when I was having a bad day, had been in the throes of a flashback all morning and part of afternoon, was overwhelmed by school and life, and wanted to die, I had a meal with my friend, and she asked me what good thing had happened that day.
I nearly started crying at the question. I thought there was nothing good. Everything was horrible. But I thought about it. It took some time, but I came up with an answer. I had had peanut butter on my bagel that day, and it tasted good. I told my friend this. She smiled, and we talked about how good and versatile peanut butter was. It was a lighthearted conversation. It lightened my mood and made me realize what other good things there had been that day. I had had other good foods to eat. I was currently talking with my best friend, an amazing person.
There were a lot of things going wrong, but it wasn’t all bad. There were still things I could enjoy in life. As long as there is still something in this life for me (and I think there always will be, since even if nothing else good happens in a year, spring will always come), I. am. staying. here.
I also remind myself that something is better than nothing when I start to worry about making things perfect. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good enough.
In school, it’s better to submit an incomplete or imperfect assignment than to submit nothing at all. It’s much better to fail an assignment than to get a zero. I’ve been there and done that! Zeroes affect the final grade so much more than even a 50%. I once spent a whole year trying to bring up my history grade from one zero on a summer homework assignment at the very beginning of the year. If I’ve been in class a little and done some work on the assignment, I can make something. It’s much better to submit what I have than to not submit anything. Even if it’s below the minimum page length. Even if my code doesn’t execute. Even if I know it’s the wrong answer. I tried. Most teachers give partial credit. Some are even understanding when I explain that I couldn’t do it or haven’t been in class all the time because of mental health issues. Some will give me an extension so I can bring up my grade from at 50% to a 70, 80, or even 90%. Partial credit exists and is beautiful, and teachers are humans and understand struggles.
I often worry about sending the perfect text or email, too. I delay replying until I know what perfect thing to say. But at some point, a quick, short, not-the-best-but-okay reply becomes more valuable than the perfect reply a week later… if I even send it a week later. Sometimes it’s just better to send something and let the other person know I’ve read their message. I can give a quick answer, or maybe say that I’ll get back to them later. But I’ve said something, and that counts for a lot. It’s better communication.
Even with this blog, I could have waited a few more months, or years, before starting it. But who knows what will happen in a few years?! I can do what I can and learn more as I go along. But I’m starting something now.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe