The Importance of Bed-Making

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.

Pic courtesy of Stormy Knight greeting cards - click pic for their site!

Pic courtesy of Stormy Knight greeting cards – click pic for their site!

 

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.

OR you could just do this. Like. A. Boss.

 

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…

 

<3

Winning Little Battles

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.

I'm in there somewhere.

   I’m in there somewhere.

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?

goldfish

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.

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.

J-Ro

<3

Not Just An Annual Feeling…

Here’s the thing about marking the anniversaries of people who have died; the date is more for the outside world to give you a pass on an outpouring of grief. I feel the same way today as I did the day my Mom died; I’m just allowed to show it on the outside today far more than any other day in the year. Our grief has got to be as pigeon-holed, socially speaking, as any other of our human emotions. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I’m sure there are times when anyone in a state of grief has wanted to throw down & bawl like an abandoned toddler for the gaping cavernous loss they feel when someone in their immediate world has died, but society being what it is has dictated ‘Thus Far and No Further’ when it comes to public grieving…lest it make others uncomfortable. Fuck that. Being human is to be bereft when a connection is broken.

It’s not a judgement by any means; rather an observation. The world would not function if we all gave in to our base instincts to keen and moan 24/7 for the loss of our loved ones – rather this post is to remind us that even if only show our pain but once a year, it remains hidden the other 364 days in the calendar. It is no less sorrowful or aching to the soul; it’s just that on an anniversary, we are permitted (by ourselves & others) to grieve aloud once more. We are all dealing with a pain on some level – our duty as fully functional humans in today’s modern society is to realise that nothing is EVER what it seems. It may be acceptable for someone to grieve loudly & publicly on a certain date; that doesn’t mean that someone isn’t living with that gaping pain today as freshly as the day their whole world became one perfect soul less.

My Mom is gone 3 years ago today. What I feel in 2016 about losing her is no less emotionally crippling than the day I watched her slip away as we held her hand & bore witness to her transition. It’s still raw, debilitating and terrifying. I have felt those since the day she died, and I’ll feel it all until the day I join her in the ground. But today the Universe has given me permission , on the basis of the calendar being favourable, to deal with it however way I want.

So if anyone’s looking for me this Sunday, I’ll be with my other similarly grieving family members having dinner, sharing stories about the O’ Donnell – Ronan Matriarch that make us laugh & cry in equal measure, getting drunk at varying levels of appropriateness to deal with the relentless unsympathetic passage of time, culminating with a final salutation; honoring how long we’ve had to function without her, how we’re all doing great despite the gaping hole in our souls where she and her unique madness should be.

It’s a rotten toxic crippling bucket of shite, because my Mom SHOULD be here, enjoying her later years with her girlfriends / hobbies and, if there was any justice in the world, a decent man to have a companionship with. But instead we have a grave to look upon, a name to send upwards, a universe to lay to rest in the blackness. So please excuse me if today I crumple up like tin-foil & keen from the bottom of my toes to the top of my manic little head. Someone else will have that liberty another day.

“And on it goes, this thing of ours…” – Paulie Walnuts, The Sopranos

Mental Health Adventures: Confessions of a Dermatillomaniac

I’m writing this post on the back of a very shitty sleepless night, borne by a downward spiral of anxiety from somewhere deep within the pit of my brain. I’ve had a rough couple of weeks dealing with what for me is one of the biggest, and most visible, symptoms of my anxiety disorder.

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Not For The Faint Of Heart…

I just woke up from the most distressing nightmare.

I was at some sort of get-together at a family friend’s house and when it was time for the usual tea & sammitches I went to the crowded kitchen to get some grub and a hot beverage.

Over by the fridge some mucky-faced young wan was guzzling milk straight from the carton before handing it over for the tea, and a germy young fella with dirt-encrusted hands & fingernails started rifling through the only plate of sandwiches, manhandling each one & opening them up to see what filling they had, only to put them right back on the plate.

I woke up screaming. Food hygiene is nothing to joke about.

TRAUMATISED.