Life, Positives

Positives of my current situation

I’m currently at home with my family, doing classes online. While there are some things I don’t like about this current situation (I miss my friends, my family can be a lot, the news is sad, etc.), there are actually a lot of genuine benefits, too. 🙂

  • I get to be home during springtime!!! I love spring. (could you tell from my username? lol) It is my favorite season. I go to school in an urban area, and my family’s home is in a more rural area. I haven’t been home during spring for 3 years, and it’s really nice to be here again and to get to watch all the flowers come up. The air smells so good. There’s so much nature here, and I get to watch it all unfold from the earth.
    Hyacinths
    Blue hyacinths

    Glory-of-the-snow
    Glory-of-the-snow
  • I get to spend time with my sister. She is in middle school (a fair bit younger than me), and I was sad when I went to college because I knew I’d miss out on watching her grow up. Now I get to spend time with her every day, in person, for several months. 🙂
  • I can compare being home now to the times I’ve been home in the past and see how much progress I’ve made. I expected coming home this time to be a struggle, as is usually is. And it has been hard at times. But overall, it’s been a lot better than it’s been in the past. We’ve had several family dinners that didn’t end in arguments! This is pretty amazing to me. From what I can remember, we’ve rarely eaten dinner together in the past few years, let alone eaten it together peacefully and made pleasant conversation. My communication with my mom is also so much better than it’s been in the past. We talk about stuff, I tell her things, and neither of us gets upset! We talk through our conflicts. It’s amazing.
  • I don’t have to walk to class. Walking to class was getting to be pretty painful because of joint pain. Now I get to skip all that. 🙂 I also don’t have to go outside when it’s rainy, windy, or cold. I can even wrap myself up in a blanket during class.
  • People are making an effort to reach out and stay connected with others. In the past when I’ve been home on a break, I wanted to stay in touch with my friends, but they didn’t seem to want to stay in touch with me as much. Now everyone seems to be making a real effort to stay connected. I’m facetiming, zooming, and texting my friends regularly. It’s not just me reaching out to people and not hearing anything back; people are replying, and some people are reaching out to me first!
  • I kind of got a job because of the coronavirus crisis?! I’m studying mechanical engineering, people need ventilators, and mechanical engineers have a lot of the skills required to design and make ventilators… someone asked me to join their team making a new ventilator, so, that’s what I’ll (hopefully) be doing soon and continuing this summer! 😮 It’s really nice to feel needed for the actual things that I have invested in studying in school. It makes me feel good about my choice of major, and I’m proud to be studying this and to be able to help. It also gives me a very tangible reason to do my homework and stay motivated!

Are there any positives in your current situation?

Life

I’m angry (a rant)

Note, this contains: anger, talking about covid-19, hand washing imagery, talking about death, and swearing without some of the letters.

I’m angry that my friends don’t check in with me as often as they did when I saw them at school. I’m angry at one friend in particular for, not once but twice, not offering any sympathy or “I hope you feel better” or “what’s wrong” or “<3” when I said I wasn’t doing well.

I’m angry at the internet and how lots of people are talking about what other people “should” do. You don’t know someone’s situation. You don’t know where that person lives, what that person does, how that person’s doing. I know that the quarantine works best if the most people follow it, and I am following it in the ways I can and I hope others (in the US, at least) follow what the CDC says… but… the messaging to stay home comes from everywhere. I can’t attempt to peacefully distract myself by watching youtube without being bombarded by ads telling me to stay home and popups reminding me that COVID-19 exists. Every email I get ends with reminders to stay home and wash your hands. One email I got requested that everyone “wash [their] hands til they chafe.” I personally do have painful, red skin on my hands most of the time (past year or so, pre-corona) that worsens when I wash my hands a lot or for longer times. I do not want to make my skin itch and peel. That is an awful thing to ask people to do.

Plus, not everyone can stay home. Some people don’t have homes. Some people need to work. People need to get groceries. People need to go to the emergency room for many reasons and pick up medicine at the pharmacy.

Then there’s the other advice that literally everyone seems to be giving to others, like to keep to a schedule, to try Yoga with Adriene on youtube, to watch Tiger King on Netflix, to pick up food for your neighbors, to make a homemade mask. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been spending more time on the internet recently since other forms of interaction have disappeared, and maybe I happen to follow things/people on the internet that share similar views (not intentionally), but it seems to me like everyone is spewing the same things.

I get that people are trying to help each other, and that’s very nice, but people are not the same!!! Personally, trying to keep to a (timed) schedule makes things worse for me, and has for many years. I’m at just as much of a health risk as my neighbors are. Plus I don’t know my neighbors. Personally, I’m not interacting with anyone that’s not in my family, so I don’t need a mask (at least for now). (though I might try making some for others, once I get my own life together) And I don’t have f-ing netflix. (and probably wouldn’t like the show anyway)

People are not the same! There were SO many different people on this planet, living different lives, doing different things, in different places, before covid-19, and guess what, those differences haven’t evaporated. People’s experiences are not the same.

I am still a full-time student. I do not have more free time than I did before!

Personally, I’m struggling. But I was struggling before all this. My struggles haven’t changed a ton. I still have nightmares, I still procrastinate my schoolwork and then get mad at myself, I’m still insecure in my friendships, I still don’t always get along with my family, I still struggle with eating, I still have physical health challenges that I worry about a lot.

Another thing I’m mad about is how people weren’t there for me when I was struggling my most. This is not the worst time in my life. Other times have been much worse. I have seen people expressing things about this situation that I felt so strongly during other traumatic times in my life and that were invalidated by those around me. I did not receive the amount of support or recognition or validation that people now are receiving.

I think that part of the reason I’m not that worried about people close to me dying is that they’ve literally all already died. All my grandparents are dead. The entire older generation in my family is gone. They died last January (my grandmother and my great-uncle. my uncle also died last January, though he was in his 50s.). The oldest person in my living extended family is 59. I’ve already suffered through and mostly gotten over those losses. And now I’m expected to be patient and validating with everyone else the way they weren’t patient and validating with me.

Last year, I had to email my advisor a picture of my grandmother’s obituary to prove that she had died, because I couldn’t get extensions on assignments or excused absences without it. Because it was the policy that she couldn’t just take my word for it. She couldn’t trust that I was telling the truth when I said that my grandmother died. She needed her f-ing obituary. And now, classes are pass/fail at my school. Teachers are sympathetic and very willing to grant extensions with zero proof or even explanation. I appreciate that they’re doing this, but at the same time it seems so unfair that even though I was struggling more in the past, it was harder to get help. Where was all this when I needed it?!

I’ve also struggled with being at home, on winter breaks and summer breaks, for years (due to being around my family, lack of privacy, lack of control, feeling trapped, trauma anniversaries, not having motivation, etc.). I have expressed this many times to many people (friends, teachers, advisors) over the course of years, but this is the first time I’ve been taken seriously. This is the first time people have agreed with me.

Now everyone seems to not have motivation. I’ve had to deal with this for years (hello, depression), but now everyone else gets the sympathy and support.

Honestly, I’m writing all this while angry, and I’m aware that it’s not exactly how I truly feel. I feel badly for my friends who are struggling. I care about them and want to help. I’m sad about the state of the world, and it alarms me how many people I see struggling who weren’t struggling before. I’m glad people are supporting each other and being kind.

I think probably another reason why this situation angers me is that I beat myself up for so long and invalidated myself for feeling the way I did while everyone else seemed to be fine. And now it turns out that it’s not that they had skills that I didn’t have; they just didn’t have struggles. I’m doing better than some of them now because I do have lots of really healthy, effective, coping skills that work for me. Other people were fine before because they hadn’t been challenged, not because they knew some secret I didn’t, were magically born better, were stronger, smarter, more assertive, or more resilient.

In my lab group last semester, I constantly compared myself to other members of my group. I didn’t think I was doing as much work as them or contributing as much. I saw myself as the mentally ill one that they had to support. Well guess what’s happening now. I’m the only one that still cares about lab reports in my group. I’m the only one that knows from experience that we have to work on it before the day it’s due, even though we don’t have motivation to. I’m the one being responsible and reminding people of deadlines and creating google docs and submitting reports and doing the calculations. Because I have the skills to deal with lack of motivation and being at home and lack of structure and still get on with my life. I’ve dealt with this before. They were only able to do more work than me in the past because they weren’t struggling. They weren’t trying harder than me; they were just lucky.

And again, the non-angry, wise mind part of me would like to clarify that there’s nothing wrong with being lucky. There’s nothing wrong with not having struggled or developed ways to get through tough situations. I’m glad that most of my classmates and friends have gotten to be 19/20/21/22 years old without experiencing life-changing trauma and without needing skills to deal with distress and to keep yourself going when you don’t want to. There’s always time to learn and develop skills or whatever is needed now to get through this.

And I know that people can struggle now even if they’ve been through bad stuff before, too. I know I’m struggling. There are days I’m not motivated either (or experiencing other bad things). There’s also nothing wrong with having gone through bad stuff and not developed good skills for dealing with it yet. Again, there’s always time.

I’m sorry if I offended or hurt anyone in my anger or by things I implied. Please let me know and I’ll try to make it up to you. It was not my intention.

Writing this helped me get some things off my chest and feel better. 🙂 And made me feel more valid, I guess. It’s valid to be angry when I see people getting support that I didn’t get in the same situations because that’s not fair, and I was missing out on stuff that would’ve helped.

Life

Life/blog update — semester recap, school stress, recovery

Hello! I haven’t posted in a few months! The reason why is that I had a really busy semester at school. I was taking 5 academic classes, instead of the 4 I had taken the previous two semesters, and it was a lot. They were also all hard classes; there wasn’t really an easy one I could blow off. All of my classes were for my major, mechanical engineering.

To be honest, it was a really different semester from any I’ve had in college so far. It was a lot busier, but it was often a good busy. I wasn’t as dragged down by my mental health issues! (!!!) !!! My ptsd really has been better since I did the trauma work. I was still anxious, and I had some depressed periods, and my ptsd was still there every now and then, but overall I felt a lot better than I’ve been feeling the past few years.

I was actually able to do the work! I don’t think I would have been able to handle the workload if I’d taken these classes a year ago. In fact, I couldn’t — I dropped a class both semesters to take 4 instead of my original 5. I had more free time for homework this past semester because I was spending less time upset.

I was also less lonely. I spent a lot of my time with my fellow mech e’s (mechanical engineering people) because we had mostly all the same classes. I like seeing people often, not just once a week. I like having people be part of my life and texting me to ask if I’m okay when I don’t show up to class.

It was also stressful — school itself was stressful. I know that school is known for being stressful, and many of my friends have been complaining/venting about this for years, but school had never really been that stressful for me until now. I think it’s because there were always other things stressing me out more than school. My stress about family members dying and whatnot gave me some perspective, and I prioritized other things above school and knew that if I didn’t complete my homework or do well on a test, it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

It was like I had peeled a thick blanket off to reveal a messy heap of broken parts underneath. I had thought that my ptsd (the blanket) was the main problem in my life (and it was a big chunk of my problems), but all my stress about trauma-related things were covering up my other stresses, insecurities, and ineffective ways of coping (the messy heap). With less of the ptsd, I could see the rest more clearly, and it wasn’t pretty.

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peeling back the blanket

It turns out I do get stressed about school. A lot. I care too much about disappointing my teachers and letting people down when they have high expectations for me. I feel pressure to do well. I’m really bad at working in a lab group.

My health isn’t great. Eating is hard and has been hard for a while, which makes my health worse. I don’t know my body very well, and pushing myself too hard in dance has led to some injuries. I missed a couple days of school because I was in too much pain to walk to class.

I’m uncomfortable with lots of things to do with dating and sex. I’ve never dated someone, and I’m not sure how I would. If that makes sense. Like, what the relationship would look like, what stuff I’m comfortable with, which stuff I’m scared of but could get over, who the relationship would be with, etc. It’s just stuff I’ve got to figure out for myself at some point.

I have a lot of social anxiety and often think that people hate me or are trying to kill me.

I’m still really sad about the losses of my grandmother and uncle last January. My family feels really small, like it has suddenly shrunken.

But…. I can do something about all of these things! I can work on these things in therapy! Little by little, it’s going to be okay! Lots of great things happened this semester, too!

I finally got to choreograph a dance in my dance group!!! 🙂 😀 I’ve been wanting to do this for so long. It was wonderful, though stressful at times, and it was really fun to play around with the formations! It looked great on stage, too, and I got a lot of compliments on it!

I have some good friends! I became closer with one friend this semester, and it was amazing. She’s really fun to be around, and we laugh a lot, but she can also be serious, and she’s helped me through some dark moments. She also replies almost right away when I text her! :O For whatever reasons, I’ve never had a friend before that both replied to my texts quickly and whom I wanted to text back quickly. Texting her doesn’t make me anxious.

I took on a leadership role in a sustainability club I’m part of, and it was fun to get more involved and have more responsibility! Plus I’m friends with almost everyone else who has a leadership role, so hanging out with them was fun, and I felt included.

And I do like my classes and my major. It took me a long time and lots of anxiety to decide what to major in, but I’m glad I chose what I did. It seems like a natural (not necessarily easy, but natural) thing for me to do. Mechanical engineering involves a lot of geometry, moving parts, forces on this and that, this goes here so that happens, this affects that, etc. and I think that’s just how my mind works. That’s how I like to think. I like making things. I like figuring out how things work. I like understanding the world around me.

So when it’s hard, at least I know that this really is what I want to do.

Overall, it was probably my best semester of college yet. 🙂 It was the hardest academically, but other aspects of my life were the best they’ve been in a while.

Anyway, I hope to have some more free time (which doesn’t always translate to me doing more with my time, lol…but maybe) over winter break, so I want to get back to writing more! I like writing. It helps me make sense of things. Sometimes when I’m thinking through things in my mind, I imagine what I would say if I was writing it as a blog post, and that seems to help me be more logical. So I already have lots of ideas in my head for what to write. 🙂

I’m also going to try to comment more on people’s blogs! I read some of them in my email, so I have been reading, but now I’ll (hopefully) actually comment, too! 🙂 

I hope you’ve all been well, and I wish everyone the best in the new year!

Life

Here are my current secrets

Hi. I’m pretty sad and lonely right now, and I feel like no one likes me. I think part of the reason why I feel like that is that I’m not telling everyone the truth. I’m hiding things from people again. I’ve done this before, and then I get better at being vulnerable, and then eventually I slip back into hiding. My secrets are piling up. I think the solution is to share them with the people I’m keeping them from, but for now, as an intermediate step, I’m going to share them here! (opposite action to shame!)

(note: mentions of eating struggles, self harm, suicidal thoughts, and masturbation.)

Things I’m keeping from my friend #1:

  • It really hurts me that you guys are in a group chat with out me and made plans without including me. I wish I could be in the group chat too. I think you guys became closer friends without me during the time I was grieving my uncle and grandmother. I’m sorry I wasn’t part of your fun activities then, but I really couldn’t be.
  • It also hurts me that you’ve been hiding this from me for months. I’ve known about your group chat! You know that I know about it! Just tell me, and I’ll be happy for you for having other friends and having fun!
  • Do you even like me anymore?
  • I wanted to tell you that I went to a peer support group for people with acquired brain injuries and people who know people with brain injuries, but I avoided it, and then other people we knew joined us for dinner, so I couldn’t say it in front of them.
  • I’m not doing well. I’m doing better than I’ve been in the past, but that’s still not good. Eating is a real struggle for me, and I wish you’d take it more seriously and help me out.

Things I’m keeping from all my friends:

  • I have self harmed in the past and been suicidal in the past, and currently I do think of suicide at times. This has been going on the entire time you’ve known me. I haven’t wanted to worry you, because I know you would worry if you knew.

Things I’m keeping from my therapist:

  • I think I have seasonal depression! What should I do about this??
  • I feel like I’m getting more depressed!
  • I’m not sure if therapy is working anymore, or if this type of therapy is working anymore.
  • There’s another bad way that I sometimes cope with things to escape for a bit. It’s masturbating, in a way that makes me hate myself afterwards and feel sick. I have never told anyone this! Please don’t hate me or think I’m horrible and weird! I wish I could stop but it’s harder than I thought!
  • I have a blog! It’s a good thing and it helps me.

Things I’m keeping from my family:

  • I wish I went home this weekend!
  • I’m not sure I like what I’m majoring in anymore! Maybe I want to be a teacher instead??
  • I went to the brain injury support group.
  • I didn’t have a good day yesterday. I wasn’t too busy to call because I was having fun like I said. I was mindlessly watching tv instead of eating because I liked feeling lightheaded. I did go out eventually to spend time with friends, but I didn’t really have fun and kept almost crying.
  • I was upset when we talked because I had just found out about friend #1’s group chat and plans without me.
  • I know I did that whole ptsd treatment thing and was doing better, but maybe now I’m not anymore! I mean, ptsd is still better, but I’m depressed a lot. More than before.
Affirmations

Affirmation #20 — A speck of sand

IMG_0393

This is a speck of sand on the seashore of my life.


This is something that my 10th grade English teacher used to say. That vocab quiz that everyone’s freaking out about? It seems important now, but in the scope of your life, it is a speck of sand. It’s okay if you don’t do that well. Applying to colleges? Maybe that’s bigger than a speck of sand — a seashell — but think about the seashore.

In high school, my friends and I would remind each other, “A speck of sand on the seashore of your life!” before tests. It just adds a bit of perspective through some nice imagery. 🙂

Life, Positives, Therapy

I’m doing better

For the first time in a while, I am feeling solidly okay.

  • Sirens aren’t a trigger for me anymore. I go to school in the city, and this was a huge problem for me last year. I would get caught in flashback-y/dissociative states for a few hours as a result of hearing the unremitting sirens just outside my window.
  • Brains aren’t a trigger for me anymore. We look at lots of pictures of brains in my psychology class, and I am not alarmed and do not associate them with traumatic memories anymore (at least not unless I consciously prompt myself to think of the connection, like now).
  • I’ve been having fewer nightmares. I haven’t had a really bad nightmare, one where I wake up in a panic attack, in a while. The few nightmares that I have had haven’t been that bad.
  • I don’t feel as dependent on my therapist(s); I don’t feel as much of a need for a therapist. I think this is because I have formed other close relationships in my life where I feel comfortable talking about things similar to those that I talk about in therapy. What I want most from therapy right now is to do the trauma work (which keeps getting put off, because I didn’t have enough time left at the program I did over the summer to do the trauma work then, and then when I got a new therapist I had to get used to her, and I was overwhelmed at the start of the school year and thought I couldn’t handle anything extra until school settled down). As kind, sensitive, caring, and wonderful as my friends are, I know they don’t have the knowledge or experience (or time) to help me work through my trauma. So I still need therapy for that.
  • I haven’t self harmed in a while… maybe a month? I think the past few times I have self harmed have each been about a month apart. I’d say that’s pretty good! I used to self harm a lot, maybe a few times a week, although I didn’t think of it as self harm at the time.
  • I’m getting better at asking for things!
  • I’m being more vulnerable with friends, gradually, slowly.
  • My college feels like a real home now. Last year, my home home (place where I grew up and my family still lives) felt like my real home, and I missed it a lot. It was a better place than college. In contrast, this year, my college home is better than my family’s home. My suite there is my home, and my suitemates are my family. When I go back to my family’s home, I miss my suitemates. My suite is a much more supportive environment than my family’s home, and I feel more comfortable being vulnerable and being myself there. And my friends are there. And we’re at similar places in our lives and studying similar things, so it’s much easier to relate and get along. If I squint, I almost feel like I’ve lived here my whole life. In my suite, we have a kitchen and lots of people who love to cook. Sometimes my suitemates make food and share it because they have extra, so I sometimes wake up and am offered freshly made crepes, or come home from a long day and someone says I can have the caramel apples in their fridge. It’s really lovely.
  • I declared my major! This has a lot of benefits. a) It enabled me to drop a hard, stressful class that I don’t need for this major. b) I can stop worrying about what to major in, which I had been worrying about a fair amount for at least half a year. c) I can plan out what classes to take in the rest of my time at college. d) I can see a future for myself that looks at least a little enjoyable. I am more hopeful. 🙂
  • I’m doing my homework regularly.
  • I ask questions more in class and am developing relationships with professors.
  • I’m getting better at knowing what I need. Sometimes I need to express myself, sometimes I need validation, sometimes I need someone to know something, sometimes I need a hug, sometimes I need distraction, sometimes I need help grounding or need help checking the facts, sometimes I need a broader perspective. I am still working on this but have gotten a lot better at identifying what would help in a situation and taking steps to get it.
Coping Skills

Getting stuff done when anxious and depressed

College has been a struggle with my mental illnesses. I thought I’d make a list of stuff that I have found through trial and error that works for me in hopes of having a nice list for other students who are struggling, anyone who has stuff to get done and has trouble doing it, and myself for when I inevitable forget about all the good skills I have to remind me that I can do things.

Set a timer and work on something for only x amount of time.

  • This is good if the assignment seems too scary or overwhelming.
  • You break it down into a smaller piece that you can handle and feel okay with. Sometimes I set my timer for 20 minutes, and sometimes I set it for 5, or even less. The key is to do something manageable.
  • Then when the timer goes off, I stop and take a break. If I’m up for it, I set the timer again, but I don’t put any pressure on myself to do that.

Rewards!

  • I give myself stickers when I do important stuff, especially stuff that’s hard for me or things that I’ve been procrastinating. I actually mainly use this for therapy stuff, not school stuff, e.g. I give myself stickers for doing exposures, being vulnerable, using skills instead of doing target behaviors, etc.
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I have a sheet of paper pinned to my wall where I write down my accomplishments in pretty colors and give myself a sticker and checkmark.
  • Rewards can go along with the timer thing above. During my break, I can get to  play one round of a game on my phone, go out to the lounge and hang out with friends, read comics, etc.
  • Important note: do not use self care as a reward. A reward is something extra. Keep up with your normal self care habits regardless of whether or not you complete something. Take breaks regardless of whether or not you got anything done.

Ask. for. help.

  • This can be really hard to do, and sometimes asking for help doesn’t actually get you the help you need, which feels awful, but overall asking for help is so essential. 
  • To me, asking for help means:
    • asking questions in class when I’m confused,
    • emailing the professor or TA when something is unclear,
    • emailing my professor to ask for an extension when I’m going through a rough time,
    • asking people in my class if we can work together on the problem set (if collaboration is allowed),
    • asking people in my class how they did x problem I’m struggling with,
    • going to office hours,
    • emailing my disability services coordinator if I have questions or need something or am having a rough time,
    • going to see my advisor,
    • asking to switch my advisor when the relationship isn’t working,
    • asking my friend if I can talk to her when I’m having a bad day,
    • asking a friend if I can hang out with her,
    • asking for a hug,
    • asking my therapist if we can talk about something that’s been bothering me, or if we can have more frequent sessions,
    • asking people in my suite if there’s a problem I’m not sure how to deal with or could just use some help with (mouse in my room, people are being too loud at night when I’m trying to sleep, etc.)
    • and many other things
  • The main thing that gets in the way of asking for help, for me, is lots of shame. I try to check the facts on whether the shame is justified and if the intensity is justified and effective. It’s usually not. Generally, asking for help will a) get me what I want and b) help to solve my problems and also c) show people I care enough about something and d) am working on it enough to ask.

Be realistic when planning out what to do.

  • This is hard for me, especially when the amount of things I have to do is not possible.
  • I have to radically accept that I cannot do everything, and I cannot be perfect.
  • In that case, I have to decide what to skip. Sometimes this means getting less sleep, but I try not to do that because I know less sleep will make me feel worse later. Sometimes it means I don’t go to a club meeting, don’t answer all the questions, get some wrong, skim readings, miss a class, and don’t do things as thoroughly as I like to or as thoroughly as I think my professor would like me to, ideally.
  • In these times it’s helpful for me to remember that other people are skimming the readings, not understanding everything, and getting questions wrong, too. No one is doing all the work.
  • Being realistic is beneficial in the long run because I don’t feel as guilty later for not doing everything. I knew from the start that it was unrealistic, and I had already decided not to do something and accepted that I wasn’t going to do it.

Prioritize, and do the priorities first.

  • I have a new planner this year that categorizes the to-do list into three sections: top priority, priority, and errands. This has been helpful to me because I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the things I have to do. When I put them into the categories, I find that I only have a few top priority things to do, and most of the things I have to do are errands. It will be okay if I don’t get to the errands because they’re less important and less urgent. Knowing this helps me feel less stressed.
  • When deciding what’s a priority, I think about this equation: priority = important + urgent.
  • I also have a drawing on my wall of the fish tank thing where you put the big rocks in first. The fish tank thing…I’m not sure where I heard of this, but it was a while ago. Basically, you want to put the big rocks (important things) into your fish tank (you life, day, schedule) first so that the extra space is filled up with the less important things. If you put the smaller things (sand, gravel) in first, you will fill up your tank before you have room for all the big rocks. Here’s a video explaining it.
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This is my drawing. It’s some sort of vase instead of a fish tank, and I have flowers instead of rocks. The size of the flowers roughly represents the amount of time, relative to the other things, that I want to spend on it. Sleep and self care are the biggest. Classes, homework, and eating are second. Hygiene, fun, planning, and replying are third. Clubs, socializing, and cleaning are next. (some of these things also fall under self care) Projects, events, and volunteering are the smallest.
  • In more concrete terms, for me this means having a rough bedtime to make sure I get enough sleep, blocking out time for meals, going to classes and doing homework before reading random emails and fiddling around on my computer, doing the assignment that’s due tomorrow instead of the one that’s due in two weeks, etc.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to motivate me to do the highest priority things first when other things are more fun or easier. Recently I’ve learned (the hard way) just how guilty, ashamed, sad, angry at myself, and stressed I feel when I don’t do the important things. Although the intensity of these feelings is not justified (i.e. the magnitude is greater than the actual situation calls for, and I should use opposite action), I still want to avoid feeling like that. I’m currently using that as motivation to do the most important things first. (or first-ish)

Take breaks!

  • Lots of little breaks while you’re working (see timer thing),
  • some longer breaks, maybe every few hours (or more/less frequently, depending on how you’re doing)
  • and some really long breaks — I like to take Friday afternoon though Saturday afternoon off and not do things related to school. I also go home about once a month.

Have other important things in your life besides school/work.

  • I like to think of the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If you put all your eggs in one basket and happen to drop the basket accidentally, all the eggs will crack. But if you keep some eggs at home and put some in a purple basket and some in a green basket, and then if something happens to the eggs in the purple basket, you will still have most of your eggs.
It’s like this cartoon. 🙂 (image from https://www.reddit.com/r/GetMotivated/comments/3i8z5r/image_convertible_and_a_lake_peanuts_by_charles/)
  • When one things gets tough, you can rely on another to keep you going.
  • Therapy, dancing/ballet, arts and crafts, and relationships with friends are things important to me outside of school. I spend time on them, have fun, and make progress. This also helps me keep some perspective. There is more to me than this one thing.

If you’re going to procrastinate, procrastinate effectively. 

  • If you just can’t do that hard thing now, do something else productive. Take a shower, do laundry, eat a meal, reply to an email, etc. Then you won’t have to do it later on, and you’ll feel accomplished!

Take care of yourself when you need to.

  • If your anxiety is too high to concentrate at all, or you’re dissociating and can’t focus, or can’t stop crying and thinking bad thoughts, take a step back and evaluate what skills you need to use. Forget about work for now and just focus on taking care of yourself and your mental health. It’s more important. Use skills that you know work for you. Then go back to the work later, once you’ve recovered. Communicate upfront if you didn’t do something that others were relying on or expecting (e.g. group project). Be honest if you can.

Budget in extra time. Allow for mishaps. 

  • I’m not very good at this now but hope to be better at it. I sometimes have flashbacks or other crises that take me out of commission for a few hours. Ideally, I would not be doing my homework right before the deadline, and I would schedule in a few spare hours with nothing planned so that other things can flow over into it so that when this happens, it wouldn’t cause as great a problem, but I’m not there yet. I’m working on it.

Listen to music while working.

  • This probably doesn’t work for everyone (well, nothing works for everyone), but I find music helpful in blocking out distractions. If I listen to upbeat music, it also keeps me somewhat energized and hopeful about what I’m doing. Today I’ve been listening to a 60s music playlist on youtube. 🙂

Keep up with normal self care habits.

  • They generally make people feel better overall and more motivated and able to do things.
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Also on my wall — this reminds me of what self care means to me. The blowing bubbles imagery reminds me to breathe out as if I’m blowing a bubble.
  • Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. You can do it!! 🙂

 

In summary, because this was a long post:

  1. Set a timer and work on something for only x amount of time.
  2. Rewards!
  3. Ask. for. help.
  4. Be realistic when planning out what to do.
  5. Prioritize, and do the priorities first.
  6. Take breaks!
  7. Have other important things in your life besides school/work.
  8. If you’re going to procrastinate, procrastinate effectively.
  9. Take care of yourself when you need to.
  10. Allow for mishaps. Budget in extra time.
  11. Listen to music while working.
  12. Keep up with normal self care habits.
  13. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. You can do it!! 🙂