Farewell to 2021

I won’t look back on 2021 with fondness, and I won’t sugarcoat it by highlighting the few silver linings. I will mention them, but I will not say “they make the bad things worth it” because, to be honest, they don’t.

2021 sucked. It was hard, it was painful, it was stressful and expensive. I was diagnosed with postural hypotension, and discovered that I would convulse if the almost-fainting episode was severe enough (I suspect this is convulsive syncope, but there’s no real way to diagnose it, unless I have an observed episode). I was dismissed by doctors for both that and my munted wrist.

My narcissistic ex-husband finally sorted out paying me (and my mother) for his debt / things he borrowed, and while that was great, the nightmares I experienced during this were something else. At least now I can file for divorce.

I gained and spent a small fortune. I’m still kicking myself for spending that much. I have so many regrets about that it physically pains me to think about it. I still don’t know how.

Because of my ruptured triangular fibrocartilage complex, I was unable to attend university last year. I was also unable to work. Unable to knit, crochet, write. I became very depressed, which resulted in me becoming one with the couch for the majority of the year. I gained another 8kg.

I had surgery for my ruptured triangular fibrocartilage complex at the start of November. They found a lot more damage than they expected. They repaired a ligament connecting the medial and proximal carpal bones in my right wrist, admired the joint capsule I had busted up, and took a redundant ligament from my inner wrist to become my new ECU sheath. Since late December I have been permitted to begin moving my wrist, though it remains sore and stiff. The scar tissue adheres to the underlying tissue so quickly, I must keep massaging the extensive scarring to break down those bonds.

There were bright spots in 2021. I got away to the beach for a bit with the dogs. I have increased my energy levels considerably. I’ve worked hard to gain more fitness and strength. I have made it to the end of 2021 with the same number of animals as I went in.

I will work hard to make sure 2022 is a better year than the last one.

Holiday Collapse

I’m on holiday. It’s bliss. I’m in a logwood cabin in the middle of nowhere with a friend and our combined four dogs, no humans in sight or sound (although the deer are another matter), and a mountain right in front of us. It is peaceful and quiet. We are in a paddock surrounded on all four sides by native bush, and the driveway into this place curves around a bend so we don’t see the working farm we’re on.

I’ve had my full day of rest, and now I have anxiety bubbling up in my chest, causing my shoulders to hunch and my feet to twitch.

This always happens when I’m on holiday. I have a couple of days where I’m blissed out, and then I get smacked in the face with all the generalised anxiety I’ve been living with and/or ignoring and/or dissociating from since my last holiday, and I spend a couple of days just spinning. It’s a necessary, if annoying, part of my Holiday Collapse. At least I usually manage to avoid getting horrendously sick when I’m on holiday, like I know a lot of other people get.

It’s important, when this happens, to let yourself feel. I’m terrible at this. I don’t like feeling negative things, and I actively avoid them. So when something like this happens I have to concentrate really hard on unclenching my chest and stomach and allowing myself to experience the anxiety, instead of trying to fight it off. It’s not unlike lancing an abscess – you gotta let it all out, and you can’t do that by clamming up!

Despite the fact that this happens every single time I go on holiday, I’m always taken by surprise. It’s silly, really, but there you have it.

And now I’m going to return to my distraction and relaxation attempts. Hopefully this is just for today, I don’t have long this holiday!

Taking A Break From Reality

2020 has been a shitter of a year, and I don’t think anyone has come out of it unscathed. I know I certainly haven’t.

Earlier in the year I damaged my wrist to such an extent that I need surgery to fix it. Unfortunately for me, the first surgeon I went to is faffing about and, as far as I know, still hasn’t even seen the MRI I provided him with. So I’m off to see a second surgeon in the new year, hopefully with a view to getting this thing fixed some time in the next 6 odd months. The result of this is that I haven’t been able to use my dominant wrist – and therefore dominant hand and arm – properly since the start of June. I can’t type much, I can’t hand write, I can’t hold things heavier than my cellphone … in fact, I can’t even hold my cellphone when my wrist is turned at certain angles. I can’t even chop vegetables!

What this means is I basically have a dud dominant hand, and in my line of study, you can’t have a dud dominant hand. And since the surgeon has been faffing about humming and hawing over whether or not to do the surgery (for the record, it does need surgery to reconstruct the ruptured ligaments and tendon sheaths), I’m not able to continue my course of study. At least not until my wrist is fixed.

So I’m taking the year off. And I may not work at all.

I cannot recall a time where I have not had something looming over me, whether that be university obligations or work obligations. There has always been something on the near horizon, or something I should be doing instead of relaxing. It’s a hazard of life, unfortunately. We are only valuable when we are productive, and for many, work is a matter of survival. I’m in the entirely privileged situation where I can afford to not work for a year, to not earn for a year. I mean I’d love to keep that money for other things (like vet bills, or, if I’m really lucky, maybe even part of a house deposit), but I will survive if I don’t.

So I’m going to. I’m going to take this year off, and I’m going to enjoy myself without the need to find a job and work. I’ll keep my eyes and ears out for a part time one that I might enjoy, because it would be nice to work for pleasure instead of need, but it’s not going to be my goal. No, my goal this year is to relax and unwind, sort my life and my health out, and maybe even reconnect with that creative part of me that loves to write.

But most of all, I am going to appreciate this opportunity to do nothing. I’m going to enjoy getting bored. I’m going to relish the feeling of having no obligations to work or to university. I’m going to live.

Procrastination

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I am procrastinating.

The things I’m procrastinating on are little things, but they have a very big impact on my life.  The things I’m procrastinating on will set in motion things that will literally change my life as I know it, and all for the better.  I had to ask myself this morning why on earth I’m procrastinating on improving my life.

The answer is simple:  I don’t like change.  I’m probably afraid of it.  Yes, it’s going to change my life for the better, but it’s still going to be change.  It means choices, decisions, actions… more things to do.  I have linked the simple action of taking two photos and sending an email to the whole big scary mess, like by doing this I will immediately have to do all these other things.  Which is a load of crap.  All of the rest of it is still months off.

But my brain is ignoring me and panicking nonetheless.  It’s leaving me paralysed with anxiety and the need to run away.  This anxiety is causing my muscles to tense, which is causing a fibromyalgia flare up, which is making me even more inclined to procrastinate because it hurts to do things.

I’m going to do it today, because I need to get it done and out of the way, but I really really don’t want to.

My Head Is Not A Safe Place Right Now – And That’s Okay

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I went on holiday last week to the most beautiful place on earth, the one place that has stayed with me throughout my life.  The one place that I truly feel at peace.

I had this grand idea that I would spend my days relaxing, spinning, and otherwise existing in a zen-like state.  In my head I was going to become one with myself and reach … while not quite a higher state of being, certainly a more peaceful state of being.

It, um, did not go well.

The first two days I was just so relieved to exist in my little slice of heaven that it filled me with a false sense of security and achievement, because I was almost zen-like.  I was decompressing, and I was able to spend a good 30-40 minutes just staring at the ocean in a state of quiet.  I think it was more that I was shell-shocked at the sudden change in stresses that my brain just blanked out on me, leading me to a false quiet.

Then my brain came back, and with it my anxiety, and oh boy it was not a nice place to be!  I hadn’t brought any reading material with me, so I vainly scrambled for some fanfiction escapism, but even that fell flat.  I had a burning need to be doing anything but what I am currently doing in my chest, and my brain bounced around the walls of the cabin maniacally.

But I continued to push for that zen aesthetic, that peaceful state of being.  I was firm in this belief that this is the state I should be in, it was the correct state, and I was wrong for not being able to achieve it.  It took me two days of struggling to correct my thinking.  My head is not a safe place to be in alone, and that’s okay.  With that admission, with the acceptance of this fact, I was able to relax once more and implement my distraction regime.

Distraction helps.  Depending on how bad my brain is depends on what kind of distraction I use – I have ‘high value’ distractions and ‘low value’ distractions.  I chose to hit it with all I’ve got.  I’m on holiday, after all, I want to be enjoying myself!

So I cracked out my gaming laptop and put on Two Point Hospital (the spiritual successor of Theme Hospital, my favourite game ever) and listened to podcasts.  With their powers combined I was not left alone in my head and all the bad thoughts ricocheting around quietened down.

Sure, I felt guilty about spending my time inside playing computer games instead of sitting peacefully and admiring the beautiful view, but I realised that my mental health needs were more important than my belief that I must make the most of my location.

I’ve just realised, as I’ve been typing this out, that I have a big Fear Of Missing Out.  It has been drilled into me that I must make the most of every opportunity I have been given.  If I am in a new place, I must always be out exploring it.  If I am in a beautiful place, I must always be out admiring it.  If I am invited out to dinner with friends (which never happens because all of my friends are students, so we’re either too broke or too busy), I feel like I must go to not miss out.

It’s all a lie.  Because while I may be constantly out exploring a new place, I am also missing out on wellbeing and ensuring my physical needs are balanced.  While I may be constantly admiring a beautiful place, I am also missing out on ensuring my mental health needs are met.  While I may be going out to dinner with friends, I am missing out on storing energy to deal with things the next day.

So I guess what I’m saying is – it’s okay to not be okay.  Do what you need to do, regardless of where you are.  If you can’t do the zen thing, don’t force it!  Work with what you have, rather than what you think you should have.

And anyone who says otherwise is wrong.