Sanity in Social Isolation

Part 1-My own experience with isolation, and how to stay sane:

When the government in my state announced the mandate that we should practice social isolation, my life didn’t really change much. I am fortunate enough to work for a company that values us as people, and has made working from home not only do-able, but enjoyable. This is, to date, the easiest social isolation I’ve done. And yes, I’ve done it before, more than once.

One thing that makes this different, and carries its own difficulty, is the uncertainty surrounding the situation as far as what the world will be like when it’s over. In the past, I knew the world would be the same when I re-entered it. Now? There isn’t so much certainty. If you’re struggling with that uncertainty, or the loss of normal daily life, it’s okay to grieve. I did every time and it was vital to my health.

The first time I was isolated was brief, and due to swine flu when that was the virus we were all worrying about. I was at home for two weeks, and the Stephen King mini-series marathons on TV were absolutely the only reason I didn’t sleep the entire time. I didn’t learn much this time, mostly because I was unconscious and resting for most of it. The thing I wish I’d done differently was text my friends more. I could’ve used the support and the social interaction.

The second time I was socially isolated, it was due to an extreme, but acute, bout of depression caused by the situation I was in during the fall of 2012. I will most likely write more about that in my next post, but for now: I lived alone, in a big city, with zero friends there or in my hometown, and I was expected to function completely alone.

First, I was fortunate to have all the creature comforts I could want and supportive parents. I had school to distract me, though I essentially stopped attending classes and disappeared from the world for an entire semester. I left my home once or twice a week to eat, and then enjoyed, to the best of my depressed abilities, Netflix, video games, phone apps, and an unholy amount of sleep the rest of the time.

This? Not healthy. That is NOT the way to go through social isolation and I really urge everyone to remain social and productive in some way. I nearly died, and I say that to press the point that it is not good for you. I wasn’t being forced into isolation, but I was isolated, and I handled that isolation in the worst way. It also seems to be the biggest temptation if you’ve lost your job or social connections during this time. No matter how alluring sitting on the couch watching TV seems, it’s not going to do you many favors.

The one good thing I did for myself then, which I do recommend, was that I took a lot of late night walks on the beautiful campus nearby. The fresh air, scenery, and exercise are probably some of the biggest reasons I wasn’t more sick (I left there with physical illness from ignoring my physical needs). It provided a needed respite from my self-imposed prison and restored my sense of peace and calm. If you can’t go for a walk, try to find images of nature or even a virtual tour of a park or facility you enjoy. You could even imagine your favorite outdoor place.

There was a little less “outdoor” for me during my third isolation but, it was also much less lonely, and healthier. My 2015 illness, which is explained in one of my much earlier posts, put me in bed. The summer heat kept me inside even after I was able to walk around.

I spent 7 months isolated with my family because I simply didn’t have the energy to entertain guests or have even a small conversation, for that matter. Believe it or not, I stayed mentally healthy the entire time. I was being physically tortured by my own body every minute of every day, and I was isolated with my parents, and I still managed to stay happy. Not everyone is so lucky and this was absolutely not completely due to my own actions. I am grateful for the people who helped me. None of us can do this isolation without some kind of support, even if it’s long distance.

How did I help myself when others couldn’t? I breathed. I was in a constant state of focusing on my breathing; a breath in for a four count, hold, and the slowest breath out for as long as I could manage it.  It’s a meditation technique but it’s also a calming technique medical professionals recommend for anxiety and to reduce all kinds of physical illnesses like hypertension. My entire day was me focusing like this, to stop the constant pain and nausea and to keep me sane. On its most basic level it satisfies the primal need for air and tells your anxious/stressed body “I am still breathing, I am still alive”.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this is a good way to get back to basics. If you are healthy and able, focusing on breath can be a wonderful way to ground yourself. Don’t stress about the “how”, just breathe in whatever way helps you. Try reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris for some excellent tips on different types of mediation and a great read in general.

What if you’re sick, and breathing is difficult? Or your panic attack is too overwhelming to breathe? I had days like that too, when my heart condition was bad and it felt like all the air was being pressed out of me. In those times, I would focus on a part of my body that didn’t hurt and think about what it felt like. It’s a mindfulness technique that takes your focus away from the negative stimuli and brings it to something benign and lacking any unusual stimulus. The bottom of my foot was my part of choice.

Part 2-Replacing anxiety with activities:

Aside from practicing mindfulness meditation, I picked up a lot of hobbies. Previously I had really only played video games, read, or watched movies. Now I was hungry for absolutely any activity to distract me. It worked.

Here are the things I did to entertain myself: I learned everything I could. I focused on self-improvement instead of entertainment and actually found I was more entertained that way.

YouTube is amazing. I learned to Knit, to sew more complex things, to embroider, and to solve a rubix cube the slow way. I practiced piano. I stretched and went for walks with my parents when it was safe for me. I read non-fiction books and fiction books. I played puzzle games. I did puzzles, almost constantly; we had a puzzle on the table daily.

I practiced drawing. I colored in adult coloring books. I took long baths with bath bombs and calming music. I learned anatomy (and then forgot most of it). I went on www.memrise.com (which does have more than just language lessons) and www.khanacademy.org and learned everything I could. I practiced mental math until it wasn’t difficult or scary anymore. 

I took in anything and everything. My mindset was “If I’m going to die, then I’ll die knowing I did a lot of things. If I’m not, then I’ll live with more skills/knowledge and maybe I can help someone else.” The fact that I wasn’t bored out of my mind helped too.

There is always something to do. Enjoy the view from your room. Learn something new. Count everything you see that is a particular color. Make something to donate or share like a fleece tie blanket or a heartwarming painting. Take time to appreciate your loved ones. Practice not caring what others think and being yourself, because we all need a refresher on that sometimes. Confront your fears. Share your fears with someone else. Give your pet attention. Give yourself attention.

Part 3- Gratitude

This has been the easiest isolation for me because I still get to talk to my coworkers. I still feel like I am offering something to the world (which isn’t a requirement, but it’s something I enjoy doing). I can eat, and exercise, and get out of bed. I can use my phone and have the energy to talk to loved ones.

I am fortunate. I know this. Some are not as much so. But if you’re reading this, and you find that you’re scared, or bored, or wishing you could get more social distance between you and the people you live with, maybe this will help.

Life is not always what we expect. Sometimes we have to do it differently, or alone, but we adapt and survive anyway. Every time I was isolated was different. The time that was the healthiest was when I focused on self improvement and my breath. My gratitude, and my entertainment followed naturally.

There is value to anything and everything, even if our culture tells us otherwise. Even if what you need to do is sleep, you’re resting your mind and body and that’s important. If you need to cry and grieve for the life we were living before, that helps to refresh your body and relieves the stress and pain. Everyone worries, that’s normal. Just remember to try to let go of the things you cannot change and focus on what you can. Even if the only thing you can change is the pace of your own breath.


Chess, Leadership, and a Polymath

I’m in medical limbo right now, waiting to get a neuro-EMG done, so I’ve been trying to take it easy in my free time. Normally, I’d be writing, creating something, or organizing another part of our home that probably doesn’t need to be organized (again). Lately though, I’ve been playing Runescape (not old school, sorry, traditionalists). For those of you who don’t know what Runescape is: it’s an online MMORPG that’s been around since 2001 and was created by Jagex. It has a massive player following and is incredibly extensive in story-line, mini-games, quests, and choices. So. Many. Choices.

The really fun thing about it is those choices. Don’t like to pick just one thing? Try 27 different skills to master. There’s so many things to explore in game it’s impossible to get bored. You can free-play, but a membership is completely worth it. I’m not here to advertise for them though; I really just want to talk about our society’s idea of choosing one thing.

My entire life, I’ve been told “you have to choose one thing to specialize in”, “you’re a beginner in everything and a master of nothing”, “you’ll never find a good job if you don’t pick something”, etc. the list goes on.

Well you know what? The list does not go on for me. I’ve never seen my way of thinking as a problem, I never considered my life was less because I enjoyed many things. If anything, it was better, because I always had something to do. Runescape was built with this “polymath” style that I love, and other people love it too. Why is it that in games, we all praise the well-rounded, do-everything players, but in life…that’s unacceptable? I love learning new things, and I hate being told that I have to pick one thing and stop learning about the others. Lately, there’s been a lot of talk on social media about how this is a product of late stage capitalism; how it’s because we’re seen as work-horses, instead of individuals with unique minds. I don’t know enough about that to say for sure, but I do know I’m not fond of it.

Finding jobs is difficult sometimes because unless the supervisor hiring me understands that my way of thinking is valuable, they won’t see my value. Even my social media sites for Lock, Stock, and Spoonies don’t stick to one thing and I don’t think anyone minds much. When it comes to job interviews? It comes off as wishy-washy. Which is a shame, because here’s why it isn’t: I know I like these things. I am not uncertain about any of it. I know what I enjoy doing, I know that I’m a hard worker, I know that I have skills that an employer would find valuable, but getting the chance to prove it isn’t always easy. I love organizing things, multitasking (I guess the new term is task-shifting), occasionally doing monotonous tasks which allow me to clear my head and gain some respite, but also doing things that give me purpose.

Research was fun, but I also had a hard time imagining myself in grad school and tied to the research other people wanted. Could I do it again? Probably. Finding the right lab would be crucial, with the right tasks. Microscopy, over animal research, sounds so nice.  I really enjoy maths, and I loved my courses in school, but I’m good at theoretical mathematics, so where do I go that wants that with just a bachelor’s and a basic knowledge? I loved the props, makeup, costuming, and hand and computer drafting courses I took in Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, but I wasn’t there long enough to master any of it. I would love to have the money to get myself AutoCAD again so I could play around designing things digitally. I’ve danced and I loved the physicality and joy it brought me, but my health conditions have made it hard to do regularly. Ballet will always hold a special place in my heart, and hip-hop was just the most fun if I was feeling creative. Filing basic medical records (the kind that follow a template and don’t require specialized education) for my job originally was actually awesome; I had purpose there, and it was exactly the kind of work I could do for hours and never notice how long I’d been working. However, the position was part-time, and I have bills to pay. I could continue listing things, since my list of enjoyable work is pretty long, but I’ve never quite been able to find that job that screams “me”. I enjoy being a housekeeper, but the downside is the physical requirements of the job are exhausting. I find I have little energy for much else given my tachycardia condition.

I want to continue growing, and learning, and problem-solving. I want to wake up every day knowing I’m doing what I love, and that’s not hard to find when it comes to me. I want to go through each day following my passions, and being myself; not fitting into a box someone else has made for me. I know that sometimes, jumping into that box is necessary. We all have things we have to do to survive, to help those around us do their best, even if those things aren’t something we enjoy doing. Life is full of bland, red-tape type tasks, and we do them because we have to. Taxes? I hate them, but I sit down and try to learn more about the system while I do them, because at least then it’s a little more fun than before. Bills? If you set a schedule, and follow a budget, they aren’t so bad as long as you’re making enough money (sorry to those who aren’t, that’s a whole other story that I hope you don’t have to live long). Paperwork you’d rather not do? I try to sit there and just take it one line at a time and think about the rewards that come with it being done: peace of mind, financial security, or job security etc. Need to care for someone else? Some parts of that job are hard and no one likes them, but we get to see another person thrive and survive, and that’s worth it. There’s nothing wrong with being the person who helps hold everything together by doing the job no one else wants. I’ve done that job multiple times, and I’ve enjoyed all of them.

The point is, I can love many things, and dream of the perfect job, while still understanding reality and necessity. I’m not wishy-washy, I’m a polymath. I’m not stuck, I’m traveling to my destination. I’m not giving up, I’m determined to find balance in my life. I’m not passionless, I’m so full of passion it can’t be contained to one subject. Our world is full of unique people, unique minds. Everyone processes information differently, and instead of embracing the unique talents our world is full of, a lot of people only want to surround themselves with minds like theirs. Everyone has that moment, where they’re tired and just want to talk to and work with someone who thinks like they do. It’s less stressful, so I get it. But when you stop and look at each person’s abilities, if you look at the larger picture of how each person fits together in a team, it gets easier to see a functioning whole. Every video-game has the right idea: your team is made of people with special skills and all have their faults.

Chess, the game of kings, is played around the notion that each peace has their faults, and their talents. The knight can travel the entire board very quickly, but he can also get trapped easily. The queen is versatile and an incredible warrior piece, but she’s weak to the bishop (and visa versa) and she can’t jump out of her own lines. The rook can jump to special defense of the king, but he can’t travel diagonally. The pawns have two special sneak attacks, but their straight forward moves put them at a disadvantage. The king is a slow and steady piece who changes the entire outcome of the board based on his moves, but if he’s captured the game is lost. In order to win, all pieces have to be used together, to form the perfect war team and overcome your opponent’s strategy. The reason it was the perfect game for kings, generals, and advisers, was because it mirrors real life leadership.

Leaders learn their team’s strengths and use them to their advantage. They don’t try to ask a fish to climb a tree (as the popular quote attributed to Einstein goes), they tell the fish to swim. If as a leader, you can’t get your team to mesh, maybe you’ve got them doing the wrong tasks. Sometimes, in our country at least, it feels like finding a job is about fitting into a box. The person interviewing you is looking for a specific person with specific skills; and this is necessary to a point. But there are only so many people, and only so many interviewees. Maybe some jobs wouldn’t have such high rates of turn-over if they started looking at their interviewees, who are eager to work and help, as an individual with a skill. If corporations started creating positions for the people who come to them, instead of fitting one person into a cookie-cutter job, they’d be fluid and adaptable to change. The world is changing quickly, our environment, our governments, our mindsets. The members of each team, whether it’s research, government, education, or corporations, they can play a role in helping those entities thrive, or fail. It depends on how willing our leaders are to adapt and play to their team’s strengths. If not, they may find their team breaks under the weight of change.

I want to find a job, a career, a team, that plays to my strengths and balances out my faults. I’d rather be on the team that can take change head-on, not the one that breaks underneath it. The hard part, is finding a team, that’s looking for a piece that looks like me. I’ll keep looking.

From Start to Finish

What’s the best way to manage time? How do you organize your own ambitions and interests? Do/did you just pick one to focus on and leave the rest behind? Do you do a little bit of each every day or week? Do you master one and move onto the next?

I think it’s safe to say I’m an organization fanatic. I love trying new ways of organizing my things and my time. I love filing at work. I love sorting out my things and folding clothes and arranging items. I love trying new time management apps and making lists; you get the picture. Anyway, my whole life, I’ve always made it my goal to improve in every aspect of my life. Lately, due to my graduation coming sooner than expected, and the added fact that I no longer attend classes, I’ve needed to rethink my time management. I’ve got to consider what I want to do for my future career-wise and with my hobbies.

I’ve been feeling like my old method of doing a different hobby/endeavor each day is failing me in terms of my potential. So, here’s my new plan:

Start something. Finish it. Move on.

Whether that thing is beating a videogame, learning a language, getting my body into shape enough to do something specific, writing, knitting, sewing, etc…

The only added rule is I also have to maintain the cleanliness of our apartment, as well as keep up with daily responsibilities and maintain things I’ve learned or achieved already. What’s the point of learning a language if I forget it a month or two later?

This is the way I’m going to try things for a while. Recently I’ve been trying to beat Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for PS4. You can check out my YouTube channel for those broadcasts. Then I’ll do something else, finish it, and move on. I hope this new way proves to be more beneficial. The way I’ve been doing it seems to have downsides.

In K-12 school, the worst part of the way we do it in America, is there’s always a review time which ends up becoming a “we’re learning it all over again” time. We’re thrown so much information, and the focus pinned on testing so much so that students often do rote memorization just enough to remember information for exams and then it’s forgotten in a night. I can’t tell you how many times myself and students I know spent cram sessions trying to “learn” the material to ace the exam. It doesn’t work and our teachers know it, but the system is broken and that’s how we learn here.

My way of jumping between tasks feels a bit like that: I don’t finish learning as often and I have a lot of half started projects which I’ll just have to restart later because I’ve forgotten what I was doing. It’s my little experiment; I hope it works.

Updates: Things to Come, YouTube, and Why the Delay

It’s been a bit since my last post here on WordPress. Lately my focus has been on work, school, and wrapping up some YouTube projects. I’ve got four jobs now, which has been an interesting juggling act with school.

What’s coming up:

  • A blog about what tattoos have meant for me and my roommate, especially in maintaining our mental health.
  • A blog about fibromyalgia and other chronic illness from the perspectives of people who have them. This particular blog may take some time since I’ve got to sort through surveys and statements.
  • Some YouTube videos of small holiday projects, sewing projects, and more videogames and puzzles.

What to do in the meantime:

If you’re looking for some things to do, there’s my own social media, as well as some channels I enjoy.

  • My Instagram: Lockstockandspoonies
  • My Facebook
  • My YouTube Channel
  • Our Cat’s Instagram for some cute kitty pictures: Yurithechainchomp
  • The podcast “Terrible, Thanks for Asking”
  • The Frey Life’s YouTube channel. Mary Frey lives with Cystic Fibrosis. Her and her husband document their lives and give motivation. They’re a Christian family and Mary says she finds much of her strength in God. Her posts have an uplifting tone.
  • Healthcare Triage. A good place to go if you’re looking for information on how testing and research works, different health risks, and financial information in terms of healthcare. They’re a good overall healthcare channel.
  • SuperKian13. Kian Lawley’s YouTube channel. Some good fun. Pranks, games, and other lighthearted stuff.

Thank you for your support, and I hope you all enjoy the upcoming content!

Keeping Up With the News, and a Bucket List

I’ve been disconnected from current events lately. I care about how the world is doing, not just our country, so it’s going to require some significant energy to schedule time to read the world news from good sources. Part of the difficulty of my health is that I have far less energy (or spoons, for my Spoonies out there), and sometimes that makes it difficult to find the mental fortitude to handle the stress of the news; whether it affects me or not. I have to protect my mental health so that I can get up every day and hopefully at some point do something for other people. Lately, our world news has been heart breaking and I have to save the “spoons” to handle it.

With this in mind, I think I’ve got to schedule a small amount of time daily to get caught up. Another difficulty is that I’m just busy. I have a job daily, and since it’s a physical job I get worn out easily; the rest of my energy goes to cleaning my apartment, taking care of our cat and my two snakes, basic hygiene, and an attempt at having a healthy social life (which includes making gifts for babies of friends and family because that makes everyone happy).

While I think about all of this, it makes me think about what I’m capable of, what I don’t want to miss out on, and what experiences I’ve had that I didn’t think I’d ever have, or would never have again after getting sick. With all of this in mind, I decided to make a bucket list. It’s going to be long, and have all the little things too. If you make it through it, or if you don’t, comment with your own bucket lists! I want to see what other people value in life experience, and what people think is interesting. Especially, if you’re a Spoonie or even if not, let me know what experiences you’ve had that you’re not sure you’ll be able to have again, or things that you wish you could do again even if you know you probably can’t. I hope some people comment because even if in the chronic illness community there’s a feeling of “there’s so many basic experiences I’ve lost” or “no one will care what my bucket list is because I’m so limited”, it’s also important for us all to know and remember: your life matters, what you do, what you can do, and what you want to do, matter. It doesn’t matter what it is, or how it compares to someone else; all that matters is that you do something with your life, even if all you can do is think thoughts, and read blogs from twenty-something college students. You’re alive, you’re making it through one moment at a time, and that has importance.

Here’s my bucket list:

  • Learn to ice-skate, at least well enough to not have to think about it too much.
  • Get my own bow and crossbow and practice archery more (get a bullseye 90% of the time)
  • Learn to use, clean, and fire a handgun proficiently for sport in a range. (I’ve done this a bit with a marksmanship class, but I’d like to go for sharpshooter status)… (I am pro gun for sport or appropriate self defense, but I feel regular background and mental health checks should be required)
  • Learn to crochet
  • Learn to make my own clothes
  • Learn to tailor clothes
  • Learn at least two more languages fluently (I have had introductory lessons on ASL, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, and French, and would like to learn more at that level but I do want to be fluent in 3 languages)
  • Learn to paint and draw at a higher level, and sell a painting
  • Go on a haunted/historic tour of America
  • Run my own Etsy store
  • Have kids
  • Get married
  • See a panda in real life
  • Gallop on a horse again
  • Visit Japan
  • Visit New Zealand
  • Write a book
  • Visit the grand canyon
  • Do a flip
  • Do an aerial
  • Do a butterfly twist
  • Drink Armagnac
  • Dress up in clothing for the era of a play/show I’m seeing (a plan made my one of my close friends that sounds like so much fun)
  • Have my own greenhouse
  • Choreograph a dance that I feel comfortable sharing with people
  • Learn to play guitar relatively well
  • Visit the Harry Potter part of Universal Studios
  • Go on a roadtrip with my best friend and just go wherever we want without too much planning (this needs more funds than I have at the moment)
  • Have a job that pays enough where I don’t have to worry about whether I have enough money to pay bills if I have a surprise expense
  • Learn how to dance en pointe
  • Learn to hold my breath for 5 minutes (I’m told my grandfather, who was a navy Frogman, could do this)
  • Get my hair dyed blonde
  • Learn to skateboard
  • Learn to snowboard
  • Write my own song
  • Own my own piano
  • Learn to play the cello
  • Get flexible enough to do the splits both ways

I think that’s everything for now. There might be more later, there might be less, or I might be forgetting something. But maybe that’ll tell you all a bit more about me, and reassure you that bucket lists don’t have to be extreme, dangerous feats like skydiving. It’s your life; set your own goals, ones that make you happy.

Beyond Powerful (book review)

I recently finished “Beyond Powerful: Your Chronic Illness is Not Your Kryptonite” by Lala Jackson. I loved it! It goes over the 7 superpowers (with an 8th bonus online) Jackson believes our chronic illness gives us. These “superpowers” are traits that anyone can gain, but that our battles and co-existence with illness have given us either more easily, faster, or in a way that was unexpected.

I won’t spoil the book (read it), but I will tell you about my favorite parts:

There’s a point where Jackson discusses owning your knowledge of your body, AND the unusual behaviors/activities we pick up to maintain our health and sanity. I’ve had to learn, and relearn that skill over and over again in order to remain healthy.

Another good point is that we are extremely talented at accepting our reality and not getting distracted by it. Illness is part of our lives, but if we get too distracted by it we’ll miss the rest of our lives. The people, the moments, the hobbies, activities, surprises etc… I personally have grown up being the type of person who never thought bad things were “bad” and ended up coming off a bit like Phoebe from “Friends”; she tells horribly sad stories with this happy calm that makes everyone else uncomfortable. I would say things like “Yea, I can’t eat without these enzymes or I get really sick” or “that seven months was absolute torture because I was trapped in bed at my parent’s house”; which are my illness based comments but I’ve also had a lifetime of oversharing horrible things with little consideration to the fact that most people see events as “good” and “bad” as opposed to “life”. I’m a realist, and while I, of course, acknowledge moments might not feel so great, I also know that they give me the perspective required to truly appreciate the happier moments. Having chronic illness only amplifies that acceptance of my situations as “just life”.

There was one thing I would’ve asked her to change (in the hypothetical situation that I was in any position to do so): while women do have the higher stats on chronic illness, there are many men who struggle as well. In a world that tells them they cannot be weak, or sick, or even upset about their circumstances unless it’s in anger. Jackson assumes most of her readers are female (which is probably true), but maybe as chronic illness advocates we should try to reach out to more men as well. My roommate is a guy with Crohn’s disease. He struggles daily to live normally with his illness, and while he’s much more open about it than most, he also rarely lets his illness show through unless he’s completely debilitated by it. There are a lot of days when I want to remind him that he’s strong just as much as anyone else who reads this blog or has chronic illness. We owe it to men with chronic illness to advocate for them and help them become leaders too. Though, Lala does acknowledge male readers, and she doesn’t, by any means, exclude them. To be fair, it’s difficult to include a male perspective when you are not, in fact, male.

At any rate, the book is a quick read, which is a huge bonus when you’ve got limited time due to illness. It’s very worth reading no matter which stage of accepting and/or being empowered by your illness you are. You can learn more about Lala Jackson, check out her blog, or get your book copy here.

Stress, Reviews, and Trying New Things

I don’t want to talk too much about how my life was this past week. Sometimes I just want my privacy, and this week had too much in it that was very private and personal. I was stressed out and sad and I did not know how to cope some days except to just do my own thing. This involved enjoying a lot of my hobbies: knitting, reading, video games, coloring, writing, and playing music (and of course, sleeping).

I watched a lot of movies, and listened to podcasts, and audio-books. If you’re interested in audio-books, “The Chronicles of Saint Mary’s” are excellent. Well narrated, and well written, funny, and interesting. Podcasts that are good are “Terrible, Thanks for Asking”, and “Things You Should Know”. I’m a huge fan of the thriller and horror movie genres, especially supernatural ones.

I watched Stonehearst Asylum, which, in my opinion is phenomenal. It brings the idea of what exactly qualifies as mental illness, and the proper treatment of it, as well as just has an interesting and thrilling story. In the very early days of organized treatment of mental illness, asylums were where everyone was thrown. There were a lot of misconceptions and cruelty was often mistaken for treatment. Stonehearst Asylum was a good display of history (though I wouldn’t count on it being entirely accurate) as well as mystery, action, and a fantastic plot twist.

Lavender was another movie I watched. It’s not for everyone, as it can be frustrating trying to piece everything together. Not to mention it can be a bit upsetting for anyone with some….painful parts of their past or childhood. Without giving it away, proceed with caution before you watch this movie. If you’ve had trauma as a child, or are triggered by violence or any kind of assault/violation of space or comfort, this is most likely not the movie for you.

I also spent my time trying my hand at learning the guitar again. I enjoy teaching myself new things using books and YouTube. I played a song I’ve been trying to figure out, and I think I did alright. You can check it out on my channel (with a clip of the original linked in the description) Lock, Stock, and Spoonies (the YouTube version here). I’m still trying to get it perfect but I’ll have to figure out more guitar skills first.

If you can’t tell, I’m suffering from some writers block. I want to be a supportive voice for people who often don’t get enough support from society, the medical system, the financial system, and sometimes their own friends and families. But I also want to put my own creativity, personality, and art, out into the world, and some days that’s hard. Partly because that’s hard in general, putting a piece of yourself out for people to judge. Partly because some days I struggle with exhaustion, or depression, or just being damn stressed out so much so that I can’t remember an entire month of my life, or an entire human being who was a good friend to me in high school (Seriously. I couldn’t remember her and it was both embarrassing and painful to realize I’d forgotten huge chunks of my life due to mental illness), and those things make being creative, AND brave enough to post that creativity, difficult. I hope that I have more days that are better and that make me feel confident and strong, but lately I’ve had days that made me feel not so great.

That’s the kind of days everyone has, and being a Spoonie, they’re more common. I’m exhausted and struggling to make sure I take care of myself, and remember important events. My social life has been put on hold for a bit, and that’s okay. Sometimes my health, and healing have to come first. But let’s hope that soon, I’ll be able to put out more easy to read or watch content.