Joining in — The Happy List

Kate recently posted her Happy List based on inspiration from a podcast she was listening to. It’s a simple thing, really… a “go-to list of things that make you (me) happy,” as Kate succinctly put it.

I actually started making a list like this earlier this year — and a few years ago I was writing one positive thing from each day in my journal. In living with depression, it can be hard to remember the small things that bring you joy. After a while, those small things add up. When you shift your focus to those positive things, no matter how big or small, they can make it easier to get through the dark times.

Kate made a list of 50 things, so that’s what I’m going to try for as well!*

  1. My cats: cuddling with them and how they always know when I need them, even if I don’t
  2. My nieces and nephew, especially how the twins light up and run full force to greet me
  3. Getting lost in a fictional world
  4. That sweet spot of spring weather where it’s warm, but not too hot, and the shade is cool enough you can wear a sweater if you want, but you don’t need it
  5. Adventures with the cohort, especially involving food and drink
  6. Twisted Twig’s Air Element room spray! It’s frankincense, vanilla, and sage and is my absolute favorite
  7. Cuddling on the couch
  8. Alexa responding when I tell her “thank you”
  9. Academic challenges and rushes
  10. Nerding out with my professors
  11. Late night conversations, that even though you’re tired you’re just not ready to end yet
  12. Warm brioche
  13. Other people’s dogs (I love getting visits from Boomer!)
  14. When you season a dish perfectly
  15. Seeing my home filled with pieces I’ve inherited from family
  16. Curling up in bed on a lazy morning
  17. Netflix binges
  18. Spending time with my siblings
  19. Anthropology – I’ve found my home!
  20. Long walks on trails
  21. When the music just matches that moment in your life perfectly
  22. Hot showers
  23. Trying new restaurants
  24. Champagne Toast candles from Bath & Bodyworks
  25. Car “shopping” with my brother
  26. Cats on instagram
  27. When I remember to hygge
  28. The ability to drink caffeine again without feeling like I’m dying (hello, Dr Pepper) 
  29. Back massages
  30. Almost all things lime or watermelon

*Ok. So I made it to 30 rather than 50. That just means 31-50 (or beyond) will be in another post. Giving me plenty of time to think of, remember, or discover things to add to my list!

What makes it on to your Happy List?

Catching up before summer!

Yes, this is one of those “wow a lot of things have happened!” posts.

I’m currently lounging on the couch in my freshly tidied apartment, waiting for one of my roommates to move back in. The past few summers, as some of you may remember, I’ve had roommates to help with the cost. I’ve lived with both of these women before — the very first summer I had roommates, actually — so I’m not expecting much difficulties. One of them, though, will be more than just a summer roommate. C, who’s lived with me the past two summers in a row, is moving in full-time. Our other roommate is here until her lease starts for her studio around the corner. As much as I’ve loved living alone and hermiting with the cats, it’ll be nice having C around as I finish out the last year of grad school.

I had originally hoped to have graduated yesterday… however, this is one of those “things happen for a reason” things… I switched my thesis topic at the beginning of the school year, and have been working on refining my focus and finishing my proposal. All of that has been completed — as all three members of my thesis committee and the graduate school have approved my research proposal! I’ve also secured one of my field sites, and will be beginning my research as soon as I finish IRB training (aka the office that allows you to work with human subjects).

Rather than graduating, yesterday, though, I spent the morning at a local farmer’s market selling my jewelry! I had a lot of really good response and have really enjoyed seeing what started as a small creative outlet to help me through my depression blossom into an actual small (ok, micro) business. I was really nervous not only about being a new vendor at this market, but just as a small vendor with my one tiny table and limited inventory. But the market went really well and was definitely a (profitable) success. I’ll be back every other week for most of the summer, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.

Mostly I’m going to be focusing on the market and my shop website/instagram. I’m going to close up the etsy for now. On my site, I can have more control and there’s no fees. And I still take paypal, so that makes things easier.

This past semester I focused on myself and my school work. I had a super successful academic conference presenting the introduction to my thesis work. I’m actually joining the executive board of the organizing society, too! While there’s been some bumps in this semester, I got some amazing feedback from one of my mentors who’s given me so much encouragement regarding my future in academia. There were some tough times with losing my grandma, and getting into a car accident that same weekend while taking her dog to her foster home… but I pulled through. I’ve had great support from my family, my professors, and my cohort (whom I’ve had so much fun hanging out with this semester!)…

I’m excited about this summer. I’ve got another research project that’s starting. Between that and another project I worked on in the fall, I should have two, maybe three, publications before I graduate! I’ve got trips to the UP of Michigan planned with friends. … And… in a few hours I’ll hopefully be confirming my date (!!!) for tonight!

So. Lovely internet friends: what are you looking forward to this summer?

It’s time

It’s been three months.

Life is starting to feel normal again. Not normal as in things are the same as they were before… But this new life that had to be forged… it feels normal now. The pain is mostly gone. The depression is out of the severe category. And to borrow a phrase from a show I’ve been marathoning, I’ve come to accept some of my “dark and twitsty”-ness of myself. I guess you can say I stopped mourning my former life, my former friends…

Therapy is helping. A lot. Medication is helping. A lot. I forced myself to move on with my life, and that, too, is helping. A lot. My family is helping, my cohorts at school are helping, my mentors, my cats, my friends… I survived this, but I didn’t get through it alone even if it felt that way sometimes.

These last few months I:

– (re)learned to forgive myself.

– unplugged from a lot of things, including also my gaming PC. I turned it off completely in December and it’s sat untouched since then. I’ve been using the time to focus on my wellbeing and also to focus on school. It was the best decision I’ve made lately.

– agreed to co-lead a panel and present at an academic conference this spring. The hotel is booked, travel authorization is requested, and transportation is sorted out. My paper, however… yeah… I really need to start that. (Whoops? I’ve got til late April. I’ll be ok. I have to be ok.)

– started reading my tarot cards again. I bought them over a year ago, but never made it a habit. It’s still not really, but that’s because for three weeks straight they gave me the same message. So I gave them a break so I could actually work on that item. I use tarot as a form of self reflection. And my deck is absolutely beautiful. The bigger problem is I’ve found a couple more beautiful decks and now I want them too.

– discovered a new hobby: jewelry making. This one is super recent. Like, yesterday. It’s taking a lot of restraint to not go out and buy more supplies and just make more necklaces for the rest of my waking hours.

– got to spend some quality time with family. We had a delayed holiday with my dad and sisters, but it was good getting to see everyone. It’s not easy trying to schedule 9 people to get together (not including those 12 and under, of which there are 4 now).

Other things that happened include trading my car in. I was hoping to sell the convertible this summer, but my mom found a Jeep she loves and so we used it as part of her downpayment for that, and I got her old car! It’s got more miles, but overall it’ll be a nice change and something to tide me over until I graduate (when I can get my own new car). On top of that I hit 30lbs lost since my surgery. Yes, just under half of that was from the depression when I stopped eating/was puking all the time, but you know what, I’m eating again and the weight continued to steadily go down — at a reasonable rate this time. And lastly, I’m doing really good work at my job. Tooting my own horn, it feels pretty great that things are going well there. That I made a good decision in this massive career-slash-life change.

It’s been three months.

It’s time. Time to continue moving forward.

Becoming the Monster

Life happens.

The last few months have been pretty damn shitty. I’m essentially only surviving on antidepressants, beta blockers to calm down my heart rate, and a whole heaping dose of escapism. In December, I lost 15+ lbs because I stopped eating. I was puking nearly every day from the reflux my anxiety was maxing out. I couldn’t leave my bedroom for a long time. I’m actually really surprised I finished out the semester.

I did this to myself.

I hurt my friends. One, especially. I lost a lot of my friends. Which saying “lost” makes it sound like we just got separated somewhere or I misplaced them… They lost their trust in me. I made mistakes. I was too blind to see the pain I was causing them. It hurts that some of them see me as this monster. But at the same time, I won’t deny their truths — their feelings are theirs and they feel them for reasons. I hurt them. And it destroys me.

I can’t say how sorry I am. I can’t fight for the relationships that are now gone. I can’t fight against some of the accusations they made. The hope I had that maybe everything would work itself out, that maybe they could forgive me… it’s gone.

I’ve only been on the antidepressants for a month. Just picked up my first refill. I think they’re working though. I’m not thinking that I don’t want to exist as much any more. I don’t want to die. I’m not suicidal. I just don’t want to exist. But as I said, I’m doing better on that front. It may seem crazy, but one of the things helping me get through is hygge. It’s the Danish concept of coziness and being content in the moment. I’ve been using it as a sort of self-healing aid. Rather than focusing on the pain or the overwhelming sadness, I try to focus on finding something good just in that moment. Sometimes that’s just sitting on the couch under the softest blanket in the house, watching silly movies, cuddling with the happiest, purring-iest cat. That moment? Yeah that moment makes me ok with existing.

I don’t know that things are going to get better. People always say that it will. Nothing really prepares you for this. You never think that you are the monster. That you can be capable of hurting the people you care most about. That to others, you are manipulative and abusive. And you will never know how all of that will absolutely destroy you. Shatter you. Knowing that you caused someone else that kind of pain. It’s my fault. And I have to live with that.