I’m in a funk, have been for a while. It’s annoying, but it’ll pass. Here’s the thing about living with a mental illness though, it makes being in a funk stressful. The second guessing, the over-thinking, the ever watchful eye checking to see if my mood has turned into something other than a run of the mill funk. When is a funk no longer a funk? At what point do I really get concerned that this is an episode of depression or the beginning of a hypomanic phase? I often lack motivation before I’m suddenly full of the stuff, in the worst possible way. It has taken work, but I’m pretty in tube with my mental health and this doesn’t feel like anything than a funk. Yet, the thought is still there. This is why having a mental illness is exhausting, even when you are well you’re on the lookout for signs that you might not be. This is just a funk, I know that, but I wish it would bugger off.
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“Write hard and clear about what hurts” – I’ve had this Hemingway quote stuck in my head for months. There’s this thing I’ve been struggling to write. No, that’s not quite true. There’s this thing I’m writing that I’ve been struggling to make sense of. This week I realised that it’s actually multiple things and I’ve been trying to push words together, even when they don’t fit. Last Friday I took myself out for lunch, trusty notebook in hand, and I wrote and I wrote. It felt good not to stare at a screen for a while. It felt good to remember what it’s like to write by hand. It feels good to finally make sense of things that haven’t made sense in a while. It feels good to have my faith in my ability to write restored.
I realised that a couple of years ago I stopped listening to new music. I stayed up on new releases from old favourites, but most music from the last few years has passed me by. After some recommendations from friends I’ve been listening to music more often. Here’s what is catching my attention at the moment; it’s a mix of new(ish) tracks and old favourites.
If there is pasta in house I’ll never go hungry. Carbonara is a particular favourite. It’s not a particularly authentic version, so I’m sure Italian people would roll their eyes if you put it in front of them, but I love it. When I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, the thought of not being able to eat pasta freaked me out more than the lack of bread. So began my search for good gluten-free pasta. Of course good in gluten-free terms is always second best to the gluten filled version of anything, but there had to be an edible alternative out there somewhere. Trial and error ensued. Pasta made with rice is OK. Pasta made with corn is better. Pasta made with a mix of rice and corn is only so so. Pasta made with corn, potato and lupin is the best. And so my love affair with pasta continues.
Here’s the thing about coffee, l love it but my body doesn’t. A few years ago coffee was the only thing that kept me going during a particularly long bout of insomnia. Eventually my body screamed STOP. Vicious migraine after vicious migraine resulted in me giving it up all together. I dabbled with decaf, but for obvious reasons it wasn’t the same. Yet we live in a world of “but first, coffee” and I never really stopped craving the stuff. I’ll never be a daily caffeine drinker again. But nothing beats people watching, over a cup of coffee, a couple of times a week.
TIPS FOR WRITING
Have an idea. Compose paragraphs in your head. Jot down some notes. Come up with a title. Scribble some more notes. Sit down at laptop. Open Word document. Stare at the blank page. Consult notes. Struggle to read your handwriting. Vow to makes notes on your phone in future. Stare at the blank page. Check emails. Re-read notes. Figure out what the title is. Jackpot. Type the title onto blank page. Save document, just in case. Stare at the page. Design a really basic title graphic. Check Facebook. Stare at the page. Check Instagram. Stare at the page. Decide music is needed. Open Spotify; decide which playlist to listen to. Stare at the page. Open new document. Write a book review. Check Instagram. Decide silence is needed. Turn off playlist. Stare at the page. Admit defeat. Stand up. Grab the lead and take the dog for a walk. Breathe in the spring air. Breathe. Just breathe. Know that you can try again tomorrow. The words will eventually come. They have to.
If you have spent any time on the internet in recent years, you’ll have heard of self-care. It’s everywhere. At its core, self-care is “care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.”