Today’s post is brought to you by Chelsea Peretti* and this deeply relatable tweet:
Sometimes it takes a six line pep talk from a stranger to get you back on track. This one is decidedly Wiccan and I needed it.
Manifestation is part and parcel of the Wiccan faith and picturing ourselves already living the lives we want is a powerful tool – so like Chels says: when I start to feel like I’m drowning, I’m going to visualise my way through it.
Right now I’m struggling to imagine what this time next year is going to look like, and anxiety (hello, old friend) is sending me on the path to pure catastrophe – which isn’t the one and it certainly isn’t helping anyone.
The Other Side, with that in mind, is going to take some training to visualise, especially in relation to the day-by-day ethos I’ve been practising since March. Luckily, I have nothing but time to work on changing my thinking. First stop, what I want it to look like.
I’m sure I’ve pondered before all the things I would do once lock-down was lifted and I’m not even sure I’ve done them yet. I’ve hugged my friends obviously but not as ferociously as I’d like. We’re still tiptoeing around physical contact and it still feels awkward. Plus nobody’s on the same page.
I’ve been to dinner once and the cinema too but I haven’t run into town like a madwoman and I haven’t climbed a mountain or run naked through a meadow (yet). I don’t even know if the things I want are the things I used to love.
Course I still love books and films and wandering down alleyways looking at graffiti, that could never change but maybe I’m less concerned about ASOS deliveries and fast fashion and pubs with people I don’t even really like. Harsh maybe but the last six months has shown me who I need in my life and it’s a smaller, richer pool.
I think if nothing else, this year has reinforced the feeling that I need less but want more. When we’re healed and the economy is back on track, I want to do more with the skills I have. Believe in everything I’ve achieved and get myself out there career-wise.
I want my home and my family and my friends and my cat. I want good food and blankets and afternoon naps and laughter. A decent wage and a job I can stand with people I like. I don’t need three dresses for a tenner or statement necklaces at great cost (even though they’re like, my thing).
I don’t even need holidays or handbags, expensive make-up, festivals. I want a good life and the wind in my hair and to know I make a difference somewhere in the machine, even if it’s miniscule.
You’re going to have to forgive these freeform blog posts for now, they’re the only way I can untangle the mess of my mind and feel better. Yeah I know right, poor me with a job and a roof. But you know what I mean, it’s tough for all of us in different ways.
So that’s what I’ll be working on this weekend and next week: a vision of what I want the other side to look like. I hope it’s simpler, stronger and more peaceful. Maybe it will be quieter too and that’s okay.
What do you want from ‘The Other Side’?
*I mean, not really. She didn’t write the post or anything. Thanks for inspo, Chelsea, love to your husband.
Anyone else just feeling completely fatigued right now? I’m so tired at the end of every day, emotionally drained and feeling like a printer running out of ink.
Sometimes, I just want to sleep all day and that was never me. I’ve upped my napping habits to every day of the weekend and it’s lush and decadent as fuck, but I actually feel I need it emotionally, which just empathises the impact the last six months has had.
And I’m one of the lucky ones who has still been able to maintain a routine, still work and interact with colleagues. My husband has been furloughed since March and now been made redundant, and I feel for him.
Everything is so uncertain and hard, like we’re wading through treacle just to get to the other side – but the other side keeps moving.
During times like this I find comfort in being cosy and if I’m honest, slapping on a positive face. Faking it until we make it. Trusting that everything will eventually work itself out and manifesting a better tomorrow in my mind’s eye. Things will heal and so will we all but everything feels just a little too much now.
There’s not much purpose to this post beyond getting these thoughts out. Despite the stiff upper lip, I’m also trying to be honest about negative feelings where usually I would sweep them away. To accept that it’s okay to struggle and have serious doubts and be scared or numb or angry. To feel what we feel.
I’m learning that dropping a quote about positive thinking is all well and good but that feeling shit is as legitimate. That toxic positivity is a thing and it doesn’t always help the situation.
So, I feel anxious about the future, about jobs and money. I’m still struggling with socialising but at the same time I miss people so much. I miss my colleagues massively and sometimes wonder who the hell I am if I can’t see myself reflected in others. That one is hard to explain.
But we’re all feeling a variant of this, aren’t we? Not one of us has been unaffected by the crisis this year.
I’m just going to own these feelings for now and treat myself, and Glynn, as nicely as I can. Autumn is just round the corner and cosiness is key. We’ve got a new sofa and Autumn is spooky story season.
Blogtober is also on the horizon and I’m hoping a post a day will kickstart my creativity. It’s hard to blog when you’re not doing much besides contemplating your navel and catastrophising.
How are you? (Really)?
It’s a good question, isn’t it? Why Wicca and not Buddhism, or literally any other religion? Well, while Wicca may be a religion, it is also a faith you can tailor to your own beliefs and it’s that kind of fluidity that I need in my life. Read More
I really am struggling with getting out at the moment and it’s so hard to explain why. I think I’ve adapted a little too well to staying in and not seeing anybody – and now we’re gently trickling back into the real world, I’m getting panicky about it.
I do realise it’s just anxiety speaking and it’s time to pull on the big girl panties – but I still feel like talking about it because it’s not something I ever thought I’d be feeling. Historically, I’ve always been a part-time hermit and I always joke that I could very naturally make the leap to full-time, 24/7 recluse but I do have a lovely social life and I do fill my social calendar with nice things (ordinarily) so this doesn’t happen. I don’t normally get FOMO but I’ve started to feel the twitch as my friends have returned to normal and I’ve fallen behind.
I know, I know it’s all in our own personal level of comfort and I’m just being extra cautious – which is totally fine. There’s just something stopping me take the leap and I don’t know if it’s fear of getting sick (I don’t think so) or whether its just being overwhelmed by too many bodies, lights and sounds. Probably more the latter. I feel safe here with Glynn and Mittens, and although that won’t change, I do need to start getting back out there.
This has all coincided with the move out of central Brighton, where we were surrounded by people and restaurants (and chaos) to the ‘burbs, where the only sounds you really hear are foxes fornicating in the bushes behind us. It’s so quiet here normally and there are trees all around so I can’t even people watch from the window. It’s a lot of change. I wouldn’t change it but this is my truth.
Honestly, one of the hardest things I’m finding is being away from all the graffiti that was literally on my doorstep. Not traveling to the office is blissful in so many ways but I’m really pining for the street art I’d usually see from home to town and back again. I’m missing out and it kills me.
So I’m going to start forcing myself out once a week. Even if I have to get on a bus to go and do a graffiti tour on my own. Actually, Helen’s said she wants to come with me so now it’s a tour for two. I need to take it slow and do what feels right but I need to do this for myself and I need to know I’m going to be okay when I do it. Before I can’t do it at all.
The other day we went for the shortest walk outdoors and I had a panic attack. My second in as many weeks. It actually really upset me which probably made it feel worse. I don’t like this side of anxiety and I hate that things have changed so much that the attacks I never really used to have have become the norm.
Still, I know I’m not alone and mental health has been hammered for so many people over lock-down. My mum actually said the other day that she’d never really known she even had mental health before this happened. I guess, in typical optimist style – always reflecting then putting a positive spin on things – this is a good thing. At least we can talk about these things more openly now. Not just Mum and I, we’ve always been pretty deep talkers, but in general.
I still don’t think I’ve come to terms with the fact it’s September next week and it still feels like March. This past six months – SIX MONTHS! – have both flown by and gone so slowly at the same time. Everything’s changed, maybe forever. I’m different. I think I want to old me back so I’m going to go out and find her again, via the power of secret snickets and my favourite graffiti artists. Dinner with friends and bus rides. Coffee and selfies under trees.
My palms are sweating already.
How are you guys doing?
I’ve been feeling out of sorts for a few weeks now and it’s not all one thing, just a culmination of lots of little (and not so little things). Luckily, I’m pretty good at listening to my inner workings and knowing how to make myself feel better. My friend Helen referred to me as the Queen of Self Care recently and honestly, she’s not wrong.
I guess this is a catch up post so I can freestyle what’s been going on. We’ve been in the new house for a month now and I love it so much I never thought I could ever be as happy in a place as I am now. It feels different and we care for it differently. I’ll willingly pad downstairs on a Saturday morning to hoover and tidy – it feels good to be a real adult women finally. My husband has lost his job though so it’s all feeling a little bittersweet. Unfortunately, redundancy has hit the Bass household (as it has with so many people in the UK and worldwide). Basically, Miss Rona is a bitch and we now have to deal with her aftermath.
I can’t deny I’m not worried every day that I’ll lose my job too or that we won’t be able to pay the mortgage – but we have no choice but to keep going and face whatever comes our way head on. The Wiccan in me knows it will all be okay in the end and I can manifest a good future – but for now it’s still A LOT. I still worry about getting sick, losing loved ones, the economy – I haven’t gone back to normal at all. If anything I’ve become even more hermit than ever. I receive visitors like a pro though!
But yeah, I’m not going back out there yet. I’m still going to be careful. I’m waiting for the second wave and worrying about that too. This morning I had a bad panic attack and I can’t be sure what triggered it. The heat (we’re in the midst of a heatwave here) or caffeine? Who knows but it was frightening – I feel like I’m back to being scared of everything again. I do know though that I have to trust the universe – the Goddess – not to give me more than I can handle. I can handle a lot.
We’re staying positive but we’re also feeling our feelings. If we’re having an off day we acknowledge it. I’ve recently read an article about toxic positivity (here) – another thing Helen and I discuss a lot. I know I’m guilty of slapping on a good attitude at work when I might not be feeling it – fake it ’til you make it, if you like. For me that’s how I deal – I’m surrounded with a few people that do not do this AT ALL – but I do think it’s important to be honest about real feelings – so I’m learning how to just be at one with them.
I’m really not enjoying my physical appearance much either, so the self care I’m undertaking is for body and soul. Lots of deep conditioner and face masks – oh and sleep. All the naps. I might even have one during my lunch break in an hour. I can’t stand this heat.
In other news, I’ve been watching way too much Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and it’s starting to have a really negative effect on me. All that arguing! It’s even permeating my dreams now so I might switch to Disney movies for a bit. Comfort all the way.
Anyway, that’s it from me. I feel better for getting this all out. There’s been good news too but some I can’t share yet. I will when the time is right.
How are you?
I guess lock-down’s just over then, is it? Judging from this weekend gone and our own ridiculous government, I’d say yeah.
Just the thought of being fully out there again before it’s actually safe is messing with my mind. I’m terrified, not so much about getting sick myself, but of my loved ones contracting COVID from me and not making it through. Maybe that’s a lie, I am frightened of getting ill.
I honestly hope that none of my Lock-Down Diary entries seem flippant because I am taking all this seriously. Sure I’ve leapt at the chance to get out and see friends (once in a threesome)* and maybe I don’t wear my face mask enough – but I understand how much front-line workers have sacrificed and how many people have lost loved ones in the most heartbreaking way. It’s ridiculous to look around our local park and see how many kids (and not just kids tbf) are blatantly flouting the rules. It makes me anxious just to see it.
I literally itch if someone walks too close to me and honestly I don’t understand some of the logic people are using. The thing is, I don’t think we can be held 100% responsible for any confusion. I mean, we’ve been in lock-down for two months and I don’t think I’d pass a quiz on the official ‘rules’. Sure they’ve recently slackened but I’m still not clear. Our own Prime Minister has been so wishy washy in his messaging – “We strongly suggest you don’t go out” – is not definitive enough. How about “You will not go out until I say so.” If my Mum could lay down solid rules when I was 12, why the hell can’t Boris?
Don’t worry, I’m not here to do a political post. I’m just spitballing my feelings. I’m also worried – and this is something I’ve mentioned before – that I’m not worrying enough. For the most part we’ve settled into a groove and it’s working. I do wonder what the future will bring but I’m not thinking ahead that much. One day, one week at a time. I’m content with the small things. My biggest treat is seeing a friend or two during the week and all that really constitutes is a couple of tinnies in the park and a good old decompression session.
WFH has become more normal now and it is nice to have Glynn at home. He’s on Furlough until the end of July which is challenging for him but good news for the upcoming move. He can take on project managing duties for that, which is a relief. If it ever happens – we’re so close I can taste it.
In other news I’ve somehow managed to win the cat over. Snacks have helped but I’ve also started grooming him of an evening – and he loves that shit. It’s embarrassing how much he crumbles underneath my brush. Now he follows me around, even to the loo and we’ve become best friends. I love him so much.
I think he’s going to have a rude awakening when we move him into the new house but ultimately, it’s going to be so much nicer for him. We’ll have a little garden and he’ll have more space to explore. Getting a cat was the best thing we did during the pandemic, if ever – Mittens forever!
So that’s what’s on my mind right now. Not much is happening.
How are you today?
*We genuinely thought it was okay because one of the Tory government said it was in an offical interview. Turns out this was retracted soon after. Guess I didn’t get the memo – see what I mean about confusing?
I’ve seen this a few times around the internet and I thought I’d have a go myself.
Things I’d say to my pre-lockdown self:
This is your future self reporting back from two months ahead (don’t try to work that one out, just trust me). So much and, in turn, so little has happened over that period.
Not all of it is horrendous – but I want to give you some advice to prepare you for entering lock-down. A few little things to make it a bit easier on you, if you like.
You’re about to not see your family and friends for months, so hug them tight and tell them you love them. Go and see your mum now and cuddle the shit out of her. You might consider staying there in the cosiness of her flat in Bexhill, where you can all be together but that’s probably not the best idea. Not being able to walk around naked during lock-down will not be an option. Hug her and make sure she knows how much you’re going to miss her.
Deep clean the flat. You didn’t do that and it’s getting you down now. This isn’t all your slovenly fault, you’ve just made an offer on a house and you’ve half-heartedly starting packing. There’s crap everywhere.
Don’t fight getting the cat. He’s going to bring you untold joy, especially during this time. Try not to get upset when he doesn’t warm to you straight away, he’ll come around.
Please try not to sweat the small stuff. It’s not that small I know, it’s life changing and devastating for so many people but you need to stop disasterising. Put your phone down as much as you can and only read the news once a day, it will drive you mad for a couple of weeks, continually refreshing that newsfeed – and it won’t help.
Buy a truckload of stamps so you don’t have to wait ages for a load to be delivered. You’re going to send a lot of letters and postcards.
Set up a decent workspace for yourself sooner, by the window where you can watch a quieter world go by. Exercise more. I haven’t done nearly enough because I’ve been too anxious to go outside regularly. Pick a quiet time and power through that shit, because believe me, it gets harder.
Don’t waste your time with the Gilmore Girls/Gossip Girl re-watches, just because you can’t mentally handle anything else. They’ll be there still after lock-down – watch Schitt’s Creek instead. You won’t regret that believe me.
Call the doctor sooner to get your medication back on track. She’s really understanding and it makes a difference, I promise. Make sure you’re always on top of your prescriptions. Wash your face better, you’re having a break-out at the moment which may also be down to lack of vitamin D. Stock up on deep conditioner.
Make sure your loungewear is organised, it’s all you’ll live in.
Did I remind you to hug your friends?
While we still don’t know how this will look in another month, a year – five years time – you’re doing okay. You and Glynn don’t bicker THAT much – and you’re both well trained for staying in. You’ll be alright in your little bubble with the cat, the gerbils and sometimes your step son.
They’ve just permitted us to go outside with one friend at a time so you’ve seen a couple of your besties by now. This has made a massive difference to your mental health.
You’ve been working from home and it’s not so bad – an extra hour in bed is heaven. You shouldn’t stress out about the new role you’re in now. You’re doing fine, honestly.
Things are not fixed and there’s confusion about when they will be but you’re a smart girl, stick with your instinct. Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll get there, whatever happens.
You’re lucky, remember that.
What advice would you give your pre-lockdown self?
Work have put on a lot of webinars this week focused on Mental Health and the topic of Kindness. As a result, and maybe to distract from work itself, I’ve been doing a lot of navel gazing.
One of the things to come out a lot is the question of how we show kindness to others – and how we’ll keep the momentum going when ‘all this’ is over. Which is a good one because there’s always the fear we’ll forget everything we learnt in lock-down as soon as we’re free again.
Kindness can manifest itself in so many different ways and not all of them monumental. Sometimes just asking someone how they feel today – and actually waiting for the answer – is enough to turn it completely around. Someone actually asked me this today and I realised I was at a solid 7/10 in mood.
When he asked me why, I cited two team meetings, a catch-up with a friend and the feeling that I’m at least doing something, however small, to get through each day. While my mood – same as everyone’s – will be completely different on any given day, it was satisfying to reflect that one of the things I feel right now is hopeful, with a hint of purposeful.
For a while there around a month into official quarantine, I started to think of myself as nothing without my loved ones, and nothing without a job to do. Like maybe I don’t know who I am unless I can see myself reflected in others, be it friends or colleagues – or in the work I have to show at the end of a day. I still standby that in part although I don’t know if I can really explain it.
I guess I mean that I was thinking that all my strength comes from the support of others, of making them laugh or helping them – or being proud of something I have done. I think I might have been partly wrong. Those things are still there in lock-down, of course they are. In some ways they’re more prolific but in a different way.
But I myself am resourceful and I’m stronger that I know. I’ve done hard and horrible things before but they’ve never been like this. None of us have ever had to consider the things we think about now. I still have support but there’s something to be said for slowing down and considering that I’m a resilient motherfucker actually, rolling with the punches – and I’m proud.
While it’s so much easier to talk about my negative lock-down qualities, I wanted to think about the other side of the coin – the good things.
For one I’ve kept up my blog which I’m pleased about (I get such a kick when my mother shares one of my posts on Facebook) and I’ve been reading a tonne (something I couldn’t even focus on a month ago). I haven’t done all the courses I wanted to, nor have I done much government sanctioned exercise (or baked banana bread) – but I’ve sent regular postcards to friends to stay connected and I’ve stayed in touch with my family, speaking to them every week at least, sometimes more. I’ve written quizzes and learned how to video call, even though it stresses me out
every time sometimes .
I even hoovered this afternoon for no reason other than I wanted to. Okay, I needed to, there’s catnip EVERYWHERE. For the most part these things are tiny but for every night I go to bed and I’m not tied in a knot with anxiety about an uncertain future, I am victorious.
I went off on a huge tangent there to talk about myself but that’s okay. When we ask someone how they are, we need to take time to listen to the answer. There may be clues in what they’re saying – or not saying.
Anyway, I’m trying to pay the kindness of others forward. Sometimes that’s as natural as gulping down air and sometimes it takes more effort but it’s always worth it.
How’s your lock-down going?
I thought I’d stick around for Mental Health Awareness Week because why the hell not, eh? We all have mental health, whether it’s good or bad – or somewhere in between, which is what mine mostly is. I’ve worked hard to
numb the pain face my problems head on and although I prefer to be open about my feelings I am by no means an authority on any of it. I’ve learnt my fair share along the way but every person is different and what works for me might not work for another and that’s the beauty of human nature I guess. We respond differently to different things.
Anyway: Kindness. Or specifically for the purposes of this post: Kindness to self. That can look like any number of things on any given day. Kindness to me one day might be giving myself permission to eat (an entire tube of) prawn cocktail Pringles in front of a Schitt’s Creek marathon. Or it can be recognising that my body could probably do with a vegetable for dinner.
It’s easy to slip into the narrative of self-care being all about bubble bath but to me it’s way more than that. Sometimes just simply saying no to something I don’t have the mental capacity for is enough. It can take so many different forms and it’s important you find what works for you.
When I’m seriously spinning out I find it very hard to eat or focus on anything besides what’s on my mind. I’m very distant and snappy, and not at all pleasant to be around. In those periods I do enjoy a good bubble bath but generally, writing things down helps me.
Unraveling the tangled strings of my thoughts really helps me make a plan and using my words is key. Even if it’s just a list in my journal.
Pampering, napping, nails, colouring in: these are all things I do for myself to feel better and to promote good mental health. Especially during these Pandemic times when so much is unknown and so many of the things we’ve always known have changed. It’s more important than ever to cut ourselves and others some slack.
The way we speak to ourselves is also vital and something I think about a lot. I wouldn’t speak to my arch nemesis the way I’ve spoken to myself over the years and it’s been an adventure trying to break the habit.
A good few years ago I took a stand up comedy course and perhaps predictably, all my material was about being fat. Self-deprecating, innit? I cringe now thinking about how mean I was, trying to make people laugh at me, giving them permission to find my perceived flaws as hilarious as I did.
That’s not me at all now and I can’t believe I took such cheap shots at myself and by default, other fat people. It’s hardly a shock my comedy career didn’t light the world on fire but my point is, I won’t talk about myself like that anymore. As the great Hannah Gadsby says in Nanette:
“I have built a career out of self-deprecating humour and I don’t want to do that anymore. Do you understand what self-deprecation means when it come from somebody who already exists in the margins? It’s not humility, it’s humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak, and I simply will not do that anymore, not to myself or anybody who identifies with me. If that means that my comedy career is over, then, so be it.”
That quote has followed me around for a while. I know I’m not from a minority group so it’s different but I find these words profoundly moving and inspiring.
She also said this:
“When somebody tells me to ‘stop being so sensitive’, you know what? | feel a little like a nose being lectured by a fart. I am not the problem.”
I mean fucking hell, OUCH.
So this is the concession I make for myself, to stop saying bad things about how I look, how capable I am. I slip sometimes but I always catch myself and make a mental note there’s a reason I no longer do it.
I want to know: how are you kind to yourself? ❤️
Not much about this whole pandemic is that fun. The novelty of staying in has very much worn off by now and most of us are itching to get back to some semblance of normality, whatever the heck that will look like.
But you know what I really like? When people tell each other to ‘Stay Safe’. It’s become something of a COVID catchphrase, in the vein of ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ but easier to inject into everyday conversation. The older generation seem to favour it and I never tired of a lovely old man or woman telling me sincerely to stay safe.
I feel it profoundly. That person is on my side, doing what’s right and earnestly trusting in the process. Even though any one of us could be forgiven for not bloody understanding the process in the first place.
Boris’ so called speech about easing lock-down was completely WHACK and left almost all of us scratching our heads. Why is it so difficult to tell it like it is?
Anyway, the main thing I’ve taken from the easing is that I can see one friend outside as long as we social distance. That means coffee with Tora on Thursday and a meeting with Helen in the park on Friday. I’m so excited!
Other than that I’m not changing anything more until I feel comfortable. I went to return some packages at lunchtime yesterday and being out was stressful – so many people milling about. I feel like I’ve regressed as a confident adult out there in the world. It’ll take some training to get good at that again.
Anyway, stay safe everyone, we’ll get there soon.