It’s June now, and I am doing much better mentally than I was at the beginning of the quarantine.
Yes, we are still in quarantine.
Being optimistic about life feels more plausible now that lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted…but anyway, I’m not here to update you on the status of the world. I want to share with you what I’ve been up to these last two months!
Quarantine has forced me to slow down, reflect, reevaluate, and initiate new action. While I would hope to never endure a quarantine again, I think I have taken advantage of this time in a few different areas of my life. Those areas include my mental well-being, my career goals, and my yoga teaching.
After several mental breakdowns two months ago that put a strain not only on my mental well-being but also on the relationships I have, I decided to make finding a therapist a priority. I had been considering getting a therapist a few months prior, but I kept making excuses, which was easy to do when I was busy running around living the life of a twenty-something-year-old woman. Quarantine made it difficult for me to continue to ignore my mental health though.
After some research, I decided to try BetterHelp because it was affordable without health insurance, it was easily accessible since the communication is digital (which is perfect during quarantine), and it offered a lot of flexibility. It was super easy to set up an account and get matched with a therapist- you answer a few questions and share any preferences you have for the type of counselor you want, and that’s really it!
Some things I really like about BetterHelp include:
- I can message my therapist at any time and as frequently as I want. This has been great for bad days when I need to just dump all of my feelings.
- There are group workshops weekly that you can sign up for on different topics such as managing worry, toxic friendships, trauma, etc.
- There is a weekly “live” session with your therapist and you can choose how you communicate. I’ve been opting for the video chat format but you can also choose a phone call or live-messaging.
- My therapist has been sending me BetterHelp’s worksheets to help me work through areas I need more support in, and I find the worksheets to be useful. One that I’ve particularly enjoyed is about decatastrophizing worries.
- I also really like my therapist, but if I didn’t connect with her for any reason, I can request a new therapist.
Please do some research before deciding to try virtual therapy. I’m not an expert, but what stood out to me as the biggest drawback to virtual therapy was that counselors at BetterHelp can’t diagnose any mental illnesses and they also can’t prescribe medication. Please do research to determine which type of therapy is right for you.
If you do want to try BetterHelp though, you can click here to get one week free. This is an affiliate link so if you do sign up via this link, I would also get one week free.
In addition to therapy, I have begun graduate school!
I honestly did not expect 2020 to be the year that I enroll in a program…I thought I was going to be traveling a ton this year. Fortunately, I did travel before the quarantine began at least. But let me tell you about the graduate program!
I decided to enroll in graduate school after losing both of my jobs and after having a difficult time getting a new job. The challenges of getting a new job during a pandemic are likely related to the pandemic’s impact on the economy, however, I also began to notice that many jobs I was applying to preferred candidates with a CPA, which I don’t have. Thus, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Accounting so I can be eligible to take the CPA exam when I finish!
Graduate school has significantly benefited my mental health while I’m continuing to search for work because it provides me with a little more purpose daily and I know I’m working toward a specific goal. It’s been a rewarding experience and I’m very proud of myself.
The last significant change I’ve made in my life over the last two months has been establishing an online yoga presence.
Since I was teaching at a community gym that provided me with clientele, I wasn’t focused on promoting myself or creating an online presence at all. Unfortunately, I lost my clientele during the pandemic because I don’t have anyone’s contact information and I wasn’t connected with anyone on social media at all.
So I’ve recently created an Instagram, a Facebook, and a YouTube account! I’ve been primarily making short yoga videos, and most of the videos are chair yoga videos. I’m still experimenting with the online yoga stuff and I don’t have fancy equipment, but it’s been a ton of fun putting myself out there in this way. My partner has been supportive of it, which I really appreciate. His support has been the fuel for a good portion of my motivation to even do it at all.
Thank you for reading and for being here. Please let me know in the comments below how the last two months have been for you. Please make sure to include one thing that you are proud of, no matter how small it may seem 🙂
Despite how heavy my foot was on the gas, it felt like we were driving in slow-motion. I was weaving around the cars in my way and tailgating them as my dad clutched his side and dry heaved into a plastic bag. I had never driven so recklessly and aggressively.
I pulled to the front of the emergency room and he pulled himself out, hobbling toward the door. I quickly parked in the deck and with shaky hands, I put on my sweatshirt and sprinted to the ER after him. He was already inside, sitting in a wheelchair and checking himself in when I arrived. He had stopped shouting in pain and was relatively calm as he sat there.
They told him a room would be available in a few minutes as they wheeled him to the side to wait. Suddenly, his calm expression broke into one of agony and his mouth opened wide to verbally release the torture his body was causing him. I rubbed his back and reminded him to breathe deeply, hoping it would pacify him. It did not. He continued to cry and shout in the waiting room while people checked in. Then he started vomiting into a plastic bag. I got him tissues to wipe his face and I asked the administrator when the room would be ready. I was impatient at this point.
Fifteen minutes later, a nurse slowly meandered over and wheeled him to the room he would spend the next six hours in. Ironically, it was the same room he had spent nine hours in, the same time last year. That time was for a different emergency though.
After several hours, multiple doses of pain medication, and many tests, the doctor diagnosed him with kidney stones. He was able to pass it in the hospital and be released the same day.
Life is obviously uncertain, but it didn’t use to scare me as much as it does now. My cousin’s death has completely transformed the way I perceive the world and it has caused me to raise questions that I otherwise wouldn’t have asked or even considered. While I feel like I have more compassion and gratitude for life, I have also come to recognize as life as being very fragile. This has caused me to develop fears that I did not use to have. Some of the fears are silly while others make more sense but… I haven’t seemed to overcome them all yet.
The terrifying experience I had with my dad on Monday as well as the volcanic tragedy in Guatemala, among many other tragedies that people experience, has caused me to reexamine the reality that life is fragile.
I had shared this realization with the grief group I used to attend about two years ago now. Many of my peers had solemnly nodded their heads in agreement as I shared my concerns and worries about this fact. The therapist, however, raised the question: how do you deal with uncertainty?
One method for coping that my peers came up with included acknowledging the challenges we had faced previously and that anything that comes next can be overcome too. Another idea was to focus on the present rather than worrying about what might never occur.
Since I’ve been learning more about yoga philosophy for my yoga training, I’ve learned another effective method for challenging my fears is to be in a state of mind that is described in the Yoga Sutras, which is upeksha, or “indifference.” I learned about this idea in an article from The Yoga Journal written by Frank Jude Boccio titled, “Calm within.”
Boccio deems it is more apt to regard upeksha as “equanimity” rather than “indifference.” He defines equanimity as “a state of even-minded openness that allows for a balanced, clear response to all situations, rather than a response born of reactivity or emotion.” He adds that it is a balanced state of mind and heart. It allows one to experience pleasure and pain without clinging to it or condemning it. In other words, equanimity is about experiencing life and different situations without judging it as good or bad and therefore, maintaining an emotional detachment from it.
For example, my dad had kidney stones and needed to be hospitalized. It’s not good or bad, it just happened. He was able to get the care he needed to alleviate his pain through hospitalization, and he was working from home that day which enabled me to drive him there. So..while it may seem unfortunate that he had to be hospitalized for this condition, it was actually perfect timing and everything panned out well. In the moment, however, it was scary and awful but it needed to happen this way. If he was at work, he would’ve been taken to a hospital that was further away and it would, therefore, take the rest of my family longer to get to him.
Equanimity is also about realizing that while you can’t be responsible for nor can you control what happens in life, you can control your reactions. I controlled my reaction by driving him to the hospital, and I let the doctors take control of the situation.
The last aspect of equanimity as Boccio describes it is that you have to open your heart while simultaneously letting go of expectations and attachment to results. This aligns with what I’ve been reading in the Bhagavad Gita, which is Hindu scripture traditionally written in Sanskrit. It is part of several books of epic poetry.
The god, Krishna, tells a warrior, Arjuna, that it is important to act for the action’s sake, and not for the results, whether that be success or failure. This equanimity is yoga. (The physical aspect of yoga that is the most popularized is only one limb of yoga philosophy. Yoga is actually a more comprehensive philosophy with eight limbs).
I believe this type of mindset and state of being would be beneficial to me and it is something that I would like to practice in both my asana practice as well as in meditation. This way I can keep a level head when difficult situations emerge and I can also live with less fear than what I live with now.
How do y’all feel about equanimity? How do you live with uncertainty?
“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” -Mark Twain
My therapist recommended I try a counseling group that focuses on behaviors and emotions, and I went to my first session last week. It’s only been a week as I write this, but it’s been insightful thus far. Our first assignment is to practice mindfulness because it is helpful when it comes to reducing suffering, increasing control of your mind, and experiencing reality as it is.
Unfortunately, this assignment has gone to the wayside a bit since my dad had to go to the ER last week and spent three nights at the hospital. That would’ve been a prime time to practice meditating because I was consumed with anxiety and the thoughts I used to have after my cousin passed resurfaced…I was experiencing very intense emotions. I tried working out in the morning, which did help a little bit but…I didn’t deal with my emotions sufficiently I guess. It all blew up in my face a couple of hours later when my mom was nagging me to text my aunt. I erupted and we got into a dramatic fight…and she stormed out of the house. Then I yelled at my sister until I finally broke down and cried uncontrollably.
Anyway…I forgot about this assignment but I will work on it every day going forward because practicing mindfulness would help regulate my mood swings.
I have practiced yoga twice in the last two weeks, which is a method for practicing mindfulness though. I watched the Yoga with Adrienne videos that my good friend, Lana, recommended on her site. I think I would rather learn the moves enough to do it on my own but for now, watching the videos and following along has been a little helpful.
Thankfully, my dad is doing pretty well and he’s home from the hospital, so my anxiety surrounding medical issues and death has decreased. Instead, I’ve been having a lot of anxiety about my future. I think as far ahead as a year from now, which is ridiculous because then I miss out on enjoying the present moment.
I’m bored with all of the books I’ve been trying to read and with all of the shows I want to watch so I decided it was about time to come on here and write again. So…yeah..I’m ending my Fall-Out-Boy-esque-hiatus now. My hiatus was not five years nor did I release an underrated, killer record before going on break and then proceed to get married, launch a solo career, or have children during my hiatus…but this has been the longest break I’ve taken from writing on here, and in general, since…my sophomore or junior year in high school. It’s a little unfortunate I didn’t write because I like to document my life, thoughts, and feelings…but everything seemed so…heavy at the time and the idea of writing anything…I didn’t perceive it as therapeutic.
During the last month or so, however, I have been documenting random thoughts/feelings into a journal by hand to at least get them out there and then I would organize them into the different Bullet Journal prompts I had going.
Anyway! I am going to resume writing again. I’ve been having an urge to write creatively over the last week or so…hopefully I can do some of that because I miss that. In the meantime, I’ll blog a bit about what’s going on and I’ll start with an update since a bunch has been going on!
I’m having surgery again tomorrow, but unlike last time, I’m not afraid because I already know what to expect. Nonetheless, I’m not particularly thrilled about it, although it will be better to go through the surgery than to avoid it.
The surgery I had before, and the one that I’m having again, isn’t super serious; it’s purely a dermal procedure to ensure that I don’t have skin cancer and that I don’t develop it from what’s been considered atypical. Despite this, the fact that I have to get surgery “to be safe” and “to check” for these things has confronted me with mortality more than before. Then, a month after my first surgery, my cousin was killed, which was devastating in itself while also further contributing to these thoughts about mortality.
There are about two months left of school, and then I’m off on a plane to Europe where I will get drunk in every country and hopefully hit up a couple of gay bars.
The past two days have been really good…Friday I went to the women’s basketball game and we won. Yesterday I spent the whole day in the library with my friend but we watched a bunch of movies later so that was nice…last night though I had a bad dream about my ex. She wasn’t in it much and we didn’t interact with each other…which is one of the reasons that it was bad. It was also a bad dream because I had many physical limitations…like I couldn’t move fast enough and/or I couldn’t talk or see…it was frustrating and difficult.
Regarding my ex, I feel very powerless about what happened between us which is probably why I dreamt feeling powerless when it came to her in my dream…I was physically unable to tell her how I felt and look at her…it was hard and depressing.
Yesterday when I was in the library I wrote my final letter to my ex under the advisement of my therapist. My therapist had suggested that instead of writing a “mature” letter, I should write something vulnerable. She didn’t say I had to send it but I think what I wrote is important for my ex to know. I’m going to share it with my therapist tomorrow and see what she thinks, and then when I drop off her stuff at her house during Thanksgiving break I’ll include my final letter.
The letter is vulnerable, strong, powerful, compassionate…I think it’s a really great letter and hopefully it’ll make these dreams of feeling restricted and powerless go away.
Anyway, just wanted to share that before I update my list to see what kind of progress I’ve been making…