You know how I know how there’s no God? Comfort Eating. What a bullshit concept. There’s very little comfort in it, if you ask me.
About a year ago, I bumped into a very dear friend one Saturday in the Milk Market (Hi Una). Now, for us and many other friends of mine, if you’re in the Milk Market in Limerick City of a Saturday morn, you’re winning at Life. It means that no matter what state you were in the night before, you had the foresight to set your alarm for a weekend morning to get down there to sample all of the lovely food & hot bevvies to soothe your weary soul. AND YOU MADE IT DOWN THERE. High fives all round.
But, all that aside, after we’d shouted, embraced and congratulated with each other, we got to chatting about how it’s the little things like going to a gorgeous market like this that make life a little more bearable. Gods love us, we’re a bunch of deep-thinking bastards.
It was during this conversation when Una said “You know what else is brilliant? Making your bed.” I stopped, blinded by the lightbulb moment that flashed in my brain. Una is right. And a genius. She was bang on the money. When it comes to taking stock of the little things that help keep you sane and give your mental health a wee boost, getting up and out of the bed on a morning when you don’t feel like you have any reason to is a pretty big fucking step.
It’s the first proactive thing you’ll do all day, and even if it’s the only proactive thing, then so be it. But – if you have the clarity of thought to baby-step the day ahead, you could do a lot worse than turn around and simply make your bed.
It’s like putting a full stop at the end of a nighttime sentence. It signifies so much, when you really think about it (and I do a lot, this is the joy of my brain). Making your bed tells your brain to wake up for the day, so don’t even THINK of rustling up that duvet or flattening that pillow. On the flipside, it lets you know that you love yourself enough to feel that you deserve a nice, warm, inviting, freshly-made bed yo dive into at the end of a long day of dealing with – well, simply just living. It’s your little reward to yourself for surviving another 24 hours.
I’d been thinking about that a lot lately, which brought me back to one of my favourite blogs from back in the day, called 1000 Awesome Things (click on title to check it out), which I’d found after watching this TED talk:
Both the blog and the talk are almost magical in the feelings they can conjure up from deep within. The blog is all about seeking out the little regular ordinary things in life that can bring you even the teeniest glimmer of light in an otherwise dull day. Nothing grandiose or out-of-reach; just incidental stuff that would normally slip by unnoticed while we’re too busy getting on with the business of living & dealing with our daily worries and problems. Taking stock of small things that go well helps keep us in the moment, and out of the dark cavern of self-doubt and anxiety into which some of us can tend to get sucked in. Who wouldn’t want a respite, however brief, from their daily inner beat-down?
Nowadays, the blog has waaaay more than its original 1000 awesome things for you to take a look at, but I’m going to give my own list a go this week. If you want a nice cheerful exercise, try it out with friends next time you’re sitting around having a coffee. You’d be surprised at how contagious those little bursts of joy can be. By stopping to take note of something nice that has happened or something I’ve noticed in my day, I find it easier to be grateful for where I am and how far I’ve come. Look, I’m no Pollyanna when it comes to seeing the bright side of things – my default mode is cynicism and crippling self-hatred the vast majority of the time. I tend to tell the world to go and fuck itself on a regular basis so I’m no self-help guru, that’s for damn sure. But I just thought I’d share some bits and bobs I’ve come across online that give me pause for thought, in the hope that someone else might find it useful. Must have a think tonight and jot some of my own ‘awesome things’ down.
But first – I’ve got to go make my flippin’ bed. Any minute now…
This morning I got an email reminder about something I owed a payment on, and it was was all “GRRR ARGH WHERE’S MY MONEY BITCH OR WE’LL SEND THE BAILIFFS ROUND” in its tone. Okay, it wasn’t at all like that in real life, but in my anxiety-prone brain that’s exactly what I heard and saw. I threw my phone under my duvet and got up to make tea, ignoring the horrible tension in my stomach and noise in my head.
This is normally where the story would end, me being an ostrich of the highest order when it comes to being able to tackle regular adult trials and tribulations. I’d ignore everything and dread turning my phone on each day, wondering when I’d get a note under the door to let the bailiffs in, and other such catastrophic consequences, the thoughts of which would make me nauseous and say goodbye to any peaceful nights of slumber for the foreseeable future.
However, this wasn’t 2013 J-Ro. Heck, it wasn’t even 2014 J-Ro. This was ‘Straight Outta 2015 and Right Into 2016’ J-Ro; a woman who reads an email like that and thinks “I’d better sort that ASAP”. Well, about an hour after that thought I got it sorted. I’m not perfect.
Would you believe that all I had to do was call and update my card details? Would you believe that I knew that in advance of making the call? Furthermore, would you believe that despite having the card details and the finances at hand to get back up to date (my previous card had been hacked so I had to get a new one which put the brakes on my entire internet life), I STILL felt almost completely paralysed at the thought of sorting it out? If your answer to all these questions was a resounding YES, then congratulations – you’re almost fully versed in the machinations of a brain riddled with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Either you know it personally, or know someone it affects. Some craic, innit?
Anyway, I digress. I took a deep breath, picked up the phone, and spent a whopping two minutes with a very pleasant young man called Daniel who laughed at my ramblings as he updated my card details and basically sorted what was actually a COMPLETELY TINY INNOCUOUS VERY FIXABLE ISSUE. By the time the kettle was boiled for my self-congratulatory cup of tea, I had completed a basic adult task that would make no more difference to a regular grown-up’s day than wiping one’s arse in the loo. And I was SO PROUD of myself. For the first time in years, adulthood and I were on friendly terms.
Only I would really understand how far I’d come since what I call The Bad Time. Back then, I was completely broken. The phone ringing would have triggered a massive anxiety episode, letters arriving in the post would make me feel sick. Any appointments I had to attend sent me into spirals of terror and insomnia. To put it mildly, I was fucked.
Nowadays I’ve (mostly) settled into the driving seat of my brain, and those days are hopefully behind me. I’ve done countless regular adult-y things since then obviously; I know this because (a) I’m not homeless and (b) I smell fairly okay on a daily basis – I think. But today, I used this opportunity to take stock at how far I’ve come the last few years in terms of recovering from The Bad Time. The details of what / how / when / where / who was involved my recovery are for another time, but this post is about acknowledging victory over the little battles in life, so that by doing so, you can avoid an all-out psychological war with yourself. Again.
It’s nice to evaluate where you are in the world every once in a while. Apparently today is World Compliment Day as well, so fuck it – I may as well pat my own back as well as all the backs of all the poor souls who call me their friend and did whatever bit they could to, quite literally, keep me above ground when I could barely drag myself out of bed or up off the floor. Y’all know who you are. I’ll be coming to a hug near you very soon.
So if you’re up against the little battles, keep going. One at a time. And cheer the fuck out of yourself as you conquer each one. Don’t be looking at the status of others; if all you can handle right now is opening a bill without becoming short of breath, then that’s all you can do. Ask a friend to hang out with you while you do it. Seriously. Make a party out of it. Involve Tayto sammitches and tea if it’ll help. Whatever shit you need to do to slowly plug back into the world, DO THAT SHIT. You’ll be glad you did. In time, you’ll be writing a post just like this, with memes and all.
Fingers crossed, I’ll still be doing it too. See you there.
I ended a friendship recently as my friend’s an emotional dumper & was bringing me down. I talked to her&explained how hurt I felt. She refused to accept any responsibility for my feelings & said it was my problem. Now I miss her. We’ve been friends since we were kids. Do I get in contact?
Friendships are a tricky business in the grown-up world. As people get older and change their priorities in life, it’s very common for friendships to change and for some to cool off as people go their separate ways. It’s a rare thing when someone actually specifically ends a friendship though; most people are content to just let such things slide naturally so as not to attract any attention to the issue.
I’m guessing it wasn’t a decision that you took likely in telling her how you felt about her behaviour towards you, and the fact that you didn’t get the result you wanted must have upset you a great deal. So I’m wondering what it is that has made you want her back in your life at this stage?
When you guys were friends, you found her quite draining, and referred to her as ‘an emotional dumper’. Friendship, like a romantic relationship, is something that functions at its best when both parties are benefitting from the union. It seems that she got the better end of the deal, in that she could vent to you at her leisure, and bring all her problems to your door, but you were left feeling like all YOU got was negativity. If she refused to accept responsibility for your feelings when you brought it up, chances are it’s highly unlikely she’s changed in the time since you guys spoke. So if you DO want to revisit the friendship, you’ll have to accept that not much will have changed, and she’ll still be the same person who brought you down all the time.
It could be that you miss the good times or what could have been, and things seem a lot better than they actually were through the rose-tinted glasses of time. Or it could simply be that you DO miss her. Only you can know the answer to that question. Once you’ve figured out your motivation, you’ll find it easier to decide whether or not you want her back in your life.
I would say that it’s probably no harm in reaching out, after all, life is too short to hold grudges, and it’ll be better for your overall well-being to eliminate animosity and strife wherever you can in your life. But if you do reach out and offer the olive branch, remember she may not want to get back in contact with you, and so you’ll have to make your peace with that.
However, if all goes well and you guys get back in contact, I would advise you to mind yourself in it from the beginning. You can keep her in your life, but keep your emotional cards close to your chest, and watch out for signs that you’re falling into old roles where you’re the designated shoulder for her to cry on constantly yet again. Just make a decision in your mind about what you will & won’t tolerate, and then avoid situations where the old habits could kick in again. Remember; you can’t change her; you’ll have to be the one to change. You can resolve to be more assertive, and set a higher standard for how you want your friends to treat you.
Best of Luck!
Right lads. Four hours to go – no point in trying to sleep at this stage! I’m home and stocking up on bagels and tea for later on, got my raincoat & runners ready…it would only be a cause like Darkness Into Light that would have me up walking any kind of distance at 4am of a Saturday morning.
I’m dedicating my walk to my wonderful gentleman of a cousin Keith Smith, who was one of the most genuine, gentle souls to walk the earth, and who, like many others, died by suicide this year. Something in our mental health care system is letting down the most vulnerable of people, and until that changes, I guess all us ordinary non-government folk can do is stand up in a show of force to those who are struggling with the darkness, and in a mass symbolic gesture, tell them we understand, we know the pain. Some of us (me included) are doing the walk simply because we are here to do it, and I’ll be honest, 18 months ago I didn’t think I would be. But that’s a whole other story…
So we walk for you, those people who can’t, those who are not around any more even though they should be, who wish they could, who can’t see the wood for the trees, those who could maybe be just one more human interaction away from deciding to stick around…we walk for all of you.
Mind Yourselves. Best of Luck to everyone walking around the country today.