corona virus, Mental health, quarantine

Locked down

Well, we’ve been in lockdown here in the UK for two weeks now, this is the start of week 3. It’s all very normal in some ways – I don’t usually go to work and I’m not hugely sociable. I’ve long since perfected the art of staying in the house, only washing or getting dressed when I need to and not seeing anyone. I’m not entirely convinced that all these homebody newbies have the knack of perpetual home being yet.

The main difference to me is that I can’t see my friends or non residential family, which is horrible after only three weeks – but I do speak to my mother every day which is new. Also new is that pretty much everyone in the whole world is either at home or doing an incredible stresses version of their usual job. So there’s an infinitely higher amount of activity for those at home than there usually is, as entertainers and similar are all isolating also. The online content at the moment is superb and I’m not sure how we will cope when it dries up after lockdown ends.

Inevitable everyone is on social media. Which means Instagram is brilliant, and Facebook is awful. I’ve managed to fall out with half my estate on a single post in a Facebook group set up for neighbours, and I’ve been muted (NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE) in another group for swearing. I didn’t swear at any person, incidentally, I used a horrid word to describe the people who are out and about and not adhering to the lockdown. Which I would say is fair. But anyway, as I can’t be trusted, I’ve left both groups now as I remember that I’m no good at the socialising thing. The main good thing about being home and dysfunctional is that I don’t have to mingle with normal people that have normal, functioning lives. Now we are “all in this together” and I’m not a huge fan of togetherness.

The schools are now on holiday but for the preceding two weeks the kids were still essentially in school, just at home. Behold levels of humble bragging like never before seen.

I give you:

And these are just typical examples, nothing out of the ordinary.

My children, who normally have to be dragged out of bed, and who jump at any possible excuse to stay home, were keen to complete the work sent home for them and get it submitted. Seems that 2 hours solid work at any time of day at all, with the rest of waking time being dedicated to computer games works well for them. And that pretty much covers the school work they’d do. I’m not sure if the braggy parents went to school themselves as they seem to think kids go in at 9am, then heads down, learn an entire topic solidly, until 3pm.

My kids obviously miss their friends, but for the first time ever, they are kind of appreciating having siblings. I’m not sure how great all five of us in the house all the time is going to be after it becomes months rather than weeks, but we will see. Thank heavens for computers.

As I said before, it is now the holidays so we can concentrate on such things as housework, gardening and enjoying online amusements. Like I always do. But with everyone else doing it to.

I am incidentally aware that there are amazing people who are still going out to work. They are brilliant, all of them, and I thank any I come into (distant) contact with.

I don’t have a very high opinion of the people who able to be at home but are completely bending the rules to try and get more “freedom”. We are all in the same position. Those who are in flats should wander through the park; those who have gardens should use them. It’s a serious situation and if people want to see their family and get back to normal, they have to stay home and be good. They should let the people who have to be out get on in peace and reserve going out for the essentials.

Politics are strange. The POTUS is still being enigmatically in denial about it all. And everywhere else opposition parties are complimenting each other and being supportive. In Scotland our chief medical officer just resigned because she absolutely didn’t follow her own guidelines about staying at home, and in the UK the Prime Minister has been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 which is actually very scary. I don’t agree with his politics, but I do wish him a full recovery. He’s in charge and we need him.

These are strange times. On one hand I am living my dream life of very low expectations; on the other hand there are a lot of other people in it – mostly virtually, but still there. All the time.

I do fear what the world will be like when the people, who have proven themselves to be pretty much self serving, all want to get their share of the things they’ve been denied all at once.

When the world has to consider the economic impact.

When we stop getting free things and are able to buy toilet roll freely.

It’s hard to imagine being able to do ordinary things. Fiction is hard because the people involved just do CRAZY things like hug, and go to parties and get on buses, and it’s very worrying. Of course I watched Contagion. They did at least take suitable precautions.

What is normal now? Who knows.

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Mental health, Random drivel, Socialising

I’m only sleeping

You know the person who is ignoring you? Has it occurred to you that they may be really depressed? That they may be so down on themselves they don’t want to bother anyone. That the voices in their head are telling them they don’t matter, that people don’t like them? That when you post things about not giving a shit about people who don’t get in touch or brighten your life, you are contributing to that misery?

Just talk about what you want to talk about and be aware that every time someone depressed reads a post that says “I have shit friends and I’m getting rid of them” they think “that’s me” and they get a little bit sadder.

We would all love to be gregarious and outgoing and notice everything and never forget or fail to see anything.

If we forget you have an important appointment, rest assured we also forget that we have appointments ourselves. If we miss your birthday, we hate ourselves for it.

As we grow older and the problems take up more room in our heads, very few people manage to be that brilliant friend they’d like to be.

If you love someone, have them in your life. Don’t expect anything of them, just take them as they are. If they hurt you, don’t waste time on them, but don’t be hurt if they can’t be what you want them to be.

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Psychology, Random drivel, Trends

January – the month of denial

Right, I’m averse to people ruining January therefore I don’t like the concept of Veganuary/dry January etc to begin with.

The concept of seeing the new year as a fresh start, putting the old year and old habits behind you, is good for your mind. It’s a positive way to view the new year. If you want to make the change a permanent one, yes, it’s logical to start at the beginning of the year. But no more logical than starting any other time.

And some people think January isn’t a good time to be changing yourself because they are self obsessed themselves and want the month to be a full 31 days of joyful Me-ness. But that aside…

The concept of denying yourself something for a month with every intention of going back to it is pointless and masochistic. It isn’t a change, it’s a fad. That’s stupid. Why resolve to give something up for a month? It makes it a treat, something to look forward to going back to. It means you start it with the intention to fail, it’s often a change you don’t really want to make, and you see it as a sacrifice. Stupid. If you want to make a change in your life, make it. If you don’t, don’t.

I personally hate when I do something all the time and people “try it” for January. They join the gym, join slimming clubs, give up alcohol and moan about how tough it is. They don’t do it to raise money, they do it to make themselves feel good. So clubs and what not are really busy, then come February everyone reverts to normal and the usual people are all that remain. Does that make anyone feel good? Does anyone sit down in December after 11 months of bad habits and congratulate themselves for being good back in January?

I do think New Year Resolutions are positive. I don’t like that they are being vetoed this year by many. But I wish people would view them as tiny, positive and achievable changes. Eat less cake, forever. Make five minuted to colour in, every day for ever more. And leave January alone as a month. If you want to cut something out of your life, do it as a permanent change. 2020 is here, let’s make it a good one. Let’s not pretend we will be perfect by the end of the first month.

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Mental health, Random drivel

2020 vision

I don’t think I’ll get bored of eyesight/year puns for a while…

So it’s a New Year, and something I should be doing is writing more. January 1st therefore sees the first and hopefully not last entry for the year.

A friend of mine posted this:

and I thought I would answer.

1. What am I willing to leave behind in 2019?

Regrets and things I didn’t do. They haven’t been done and that’s fine. There was a reason for everything I didn’t get done, and I have to accept that. If I manage some of them in 2020, great, but I am going to look ahead to things I want for 2020 and not play catch up for last year. Of course some things still need attention, but not all. Some ships have sailed and I can’t yearn for that I have missed.

2. What am I going to forgive myself for in 2020?

I didn’t do a lot of things. I didn’t meet people, I didn’t go jobs I meant to do. I didn’t get things done.

But that’s ok. I forgive myself. I could have done all those things, I didn’t for a reason. I needed that year to heal myself and by having that year of inertia I feel better equipped to face the future.

3. What am I most grateful for?

My family. Our collective health and still having my loved ones with me.

4. What am I most proud of in 2019?

To be honest this is a hard one. I did some good things but I didn’t achieve anything to speak of. I think the most positive thing I did is to get better at sleeping.

5. What do I want to create in 2020?

I want to make the life my family and I deserve. I want to make our home the warm and welcoming place it can be. I want us to eat good nutritious food. I want us all to get into better habits and live our best lives.

I also want to write a book, as always, and I want to make lots of cards. But they are extra, not essential, things.

6. What am I not going to do in 2020?

I’m not going to fixate on “should”. I’m going to think of what I “could” do and see what I can achieve. Who decides what I should do or be? Nobody. Nobody is judging and I will not act like they are.

7. What thing have I not done that I’m willing to do in 2020?

I haven’t organised our life to satisfaction. That’s what I’m going to do in 2020. Decluttering, planning. Do it little by little.

8. How am I going to love, serve and give of myself in 2020?

That’s easy. I’m going to try to get enough sleep.

9. How am I going to love myself more in 2020?

I’m seeing a counsellor and we are working on learning to like myself more. I have a long way to go yet…

10. What do I need to heal?

Time. Patience with myself. Planning. Eating better, sleeping better, exercising smarter.

The first of January is a new start. It’s a time for fresh thinking, for celebrating another year survived and looking ahead to the immediate future.

Bring it on, the 20s are here, hear me roar.

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Mental health, Random drivel

Today not tomorrow

Hello, my name is procrastination.

Why do something today when you can put it off until tomorrow? Probably the worst ever doctrine to live by.

I have a list in my head, all things I’m going to do. I’m trying not to think of them as “should do’s” and instead see them as “could do’s”, as discussed in my last post. Unfortunately they don’t end up has “did do’s” either way.

Does beating myself up about it make anything better? No. It doesn’t matter how much I fret at 3am, it doesn’t change. That’s what’s so utterly frustrating about being overwhelmed: you want it fixed but you can’t comprehend where to start.

It’s terribly easy to give up and agree with the inner mean voices that you are indeed useless. And useless people can’t do anything really so that’s it. You can’t.

In my case I comfort eat and I eat terrible food and then I fret about my health. I’m not sure how the cycle begins of eating bad food, putting on weight, being sad about putting on weight and eating more bad food because you’re sad. I guess the sadness comes first, but I usually notice that I’m struggling mentally when my clothes stop fitting so well. It’s not like I am unaware that I am eating more, but I can’t satiate the hunger. I think perhaps it is a form of self sabotage, being overweight is a thing to hide behind. I hate being fat, but it’s a very safe thing to be sad about. “I don’t want to go out because I feel fat” is understandable. “I don’t want to go out because I don’t feel like I can” is something that people don’t understand, they think you’re being rude, or you’ve gone all weird, or you just don’t want to do things.

No, no dwelling on things that I haven’t done, or things I’ve done wrong. I’m going to celebrate my victories. After all, it’s currently 3pm, which is the horological opposite of 3am.

July marked four years since I stopped smoking altogether. I just quit and I’ve never gone back to it. I’ve never managed that before, I only stopped when pregnant and started again once the babies were old enough.

This year at the end of June, I completed the Ration Challenge. For one week I ate only the contents of a ration pack in order to raise money for Syrian refugees, who have to rely on such ration boxes for survival. I raised £400 in sponsorship and learned valuable skills for planning food and coping with being seriously hungry.

My quest to reduce plastic has worked (ish). We are not plastic free by any stretch of the imagination, but we use a lot less. I’ve switched out washing machine pods for big bottles of washing liquid by companies with better eco credentials. I have done the same with the dishwasher. I use many of my own home made cleaning products and where possible use washable clothes and water instead of disposable wipes and cleaning products. The cleaning product I do use for antibacterial purposes comes in a huge box (which is recyclable) and a refillable bottle. I swapped out all the shower gels and hand wash for bars of soap, but there was dissent from the family that they couldn’t wash properly and so I’ve had to give in and allow these back in. I may refill one of their shower gels with castile soap and see if they notice… I have super silicone covers that replace cling film and also, if I get round to making them, beeswax wraps. I try not to use bags when I’m shopping but my memory is poor so I do need to sometimes buy more plastic bags, which I recycle by piling them up in the under the stairs cupboard. Oh and we now use glass milk bottles, which I really like anyway, and the milkman takes the used ones away for reuse. There’s other little things around such as reusable pods that you fill with coffee instead of buying coffee pods, and I try to not use plastic when I can.

We still have plastic. Especially me, I drink a LOT of Pepsi Max, which is probably the reason for most of my issues. But we contain our plastic rubbish to that which is contained within the bin collected by the council. We previously used to have to do several trips to the recycling centre with excess plastic so that’s a small step in the right direction.

So. I CAN do stuff. I can make up my mind to do something and just do it. What can I achieve today; what I can do RIGHT NOW?

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Mental health, Psychology, Random drivel

I should have done it differently

I had an epiphany yesterday.

I was thinking about the fact that almost everything I regret not doing in my life, I think that “I should”. I should spend time with people, I should do more round the house, I should eat better, I should exercise more, I should have better routines, I should spend less, I should sleep more, I should drink less coffee, I should read that book, I should take the dog out, I should make the dinner…

It’s all “should have done”. So when I don’t do anything I should have done, I feel like I’ve failed. I should have done it. I didn’t.

If I change “should” to “could”, that puts a whole different perspective on it. If I “could” spend less, then that suggests I can look into it and maybe get somewhere. And if I haven’t done it? Well I still could.

It’s saying pretty much the same thing, but it changes the expectation.

So, you tell two people that you’re going to Paris on holiday.

Person A says “you should climb the Eiffel Tower”.

Person B says “you could visit the Musee D’Orsay”.

That suggests that person A will think you’ve not done Paris properly if you don’t make it up the Eiffel Tower. When you return and they say “did you make it up the Eiffel Tower?” you would feel bad confessing to them that you hadn’t made it. However when you speak to person B it’s different, you explain that you would have gone there but you didn’t get time.

That’s the difference I think. If you could have done something, you would have done it if you could have done, but you couldn’t or didn’t.

If you should have done something, then if you haven’t done it, you still should do it. It’s still hanging over you.

I read a lot of guides on “how to be a better person”. Many of them are specifically about becoming tidier and getting on top of housework.

One of the singularly most useful things I read was that you allocate a time to do each task you have ahead of you. For example, Tuesdays chores can be dedicated to cleaning the floors. If you don’t finish them on Tuesday, well so be it. You don’t do it on Wednesday because on Wednesday you do laundry. You can catch up Tuesdays chores next Tuesday. You do what you can. You don’t do everything you should do. You don’t beat yourself up.

Obviously there are some things you should always do. You should always shut the freezer. You should always feed the dogs. You should always wear a seatbelt. You would be right to chastise yourself upon failing to do those things.

But for the large tasks that seem daunting: you do what you can. And you can always do more another time. You could leave it to next time. Don’t tell yourself what you should do.

You could conquer anything. You probably shouldn’t.

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finances

Da rules

So, I think I need to lay down what’s allowed and what isn’t. The No-Spend list. I find it way to easy to cut myself way too much slack and let things go. So, hard and fast rules required.

Not allowed:

The usual suspects:

Craft supplies, cleaning products, toiletries, or cosmetics, unless to replace a finished product.

 

Food:

No takeaway, ready meals or meals out unless it’s a special occasion. Special occasion doesn’t include “its Friday” or “I haven’t cooked”. No groceries unless planned. And no meeting folk for a coffee and muffin. Oh, and no fizzy juice.

 

Books:

Including Kindle 99p books of the day. The only exceptions are existing preorders and there aren’t many of those. Two, I think.

 

Clothes:

Not for anyone, unless to replace an outgrown/worn out item.

 

Toys and things for kids:

No LOLs, no Xbox games.

 

Magazines:

None. Not for me, not for kids, not for anyone. Even ones with spectacular free gifts.

 

Still allowed:

– Gifts at birthdays etc.

– Nice food.

– Haircuts

– Himself going to the football

– Kids’ activities

– Slimming World (but not related products)

– Swimming

 

How am I doing? I hear you, my imaginary reader, you want to know how frugal I was today. Well, not really at all if I tell the truth. More than usual is all I can say.

 

Today I spent £30 on groceries and £3.59 on breakfast out. I also purchased a 99p kindle book. I haven’t yet achieved “no spend”. So far in April I have spent:

 

£81 on groceries, leaving £28 for the rest of the week. That’s ok, I’ve not got vast amounts of unnecessaries, we have lots of pasta and things to make pasta sauce with. I should also have a veg box that I paid for last week but which was not delivered today as scheduled. Grr. So I may be spending -£14 on groceries tomorrow.

 

I am going to consult the freezer for dinner ideas but I have a sneaking suspicion that it mostly contains quorn, and potato products. Who doesn’t enjoy quorn nuggets served with hash browns?

 

Today I bought some fresh fish but other than that, and my accidental breakfast out, food has been all from things I have in. This is an incredible saving to be honest, I usually spend a small fortune each night on dinner.

Tomorrow is another day. Let’s see how that goes…

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