Bad Spells, etc. (Pt. 2/?): How

Alright then, the “How”. Kind of.

First,  you drink a lot of tea. From your favorite mug. Herbal stuff, because of that caffeinatedanxiety thing. Or cocoa I suppose, if you’re one of those non-tea drinkers.

I say kind of because coping with shitty circumstances is never going to feel good: there is nothing that I know of that will take something that is a) hard and b) necessary and c) uncomfortable, and make you love doing it. And if you find it pretty please let me know?

I love to write–putting down my thoughts so that I can see them, read them and process them linearizes my thinking. Things aren’t this vast tangled web, and I can figure out what I’m actually thinking about and what I actually want, need, and feel. In fact when I’m manic there is almost nothing other than knitting and writing that actually helps me stay calm, or in one place. But writing this thesis: the first long writing piece I’ve had to write about the technical/mathematical craziness I love that is physics, has been hellish.

The other aspect to this that has taken a little while to understand and move past is that it truly knocked my confidence in my recovery. I thought I was a bad ass, honest, leave everything on the table, speak my feelings, recovery oriented ninja and then suddenly I was skipping meds, missing class, missing meetings with my advisor, neglecting myself, and my pets, and generally avoiding anyone who cared enough about me to question the mess that things were obviously becoming.

It turns out that the way I got things to start to come back around was the same way I’ve done so in nearly every other aspect of recovery: find people who I trusted to help me figure it out, spill my guts…

…(be incredibly grateful when they don’t judge me for avoiding everything and everyone and also for helping me come out of the panic attack that inevitably comes up)…

…make a plan, and execute with much communication and help.

For someone who tells those who honor me with their trust, and ask for my advice, that mental illness is physical illness: that it’s physical illness of the brain, and that they don’t need to feel ashamed for needing help, it was a bitter pill to swallow when I had to give the same talk to myself.

In my case this time, I was lucky enough to be at a small, liberal arts college where all the professors in the department know me, and know each other. My advisor reported concern, and I had to face up to the mess I’d been shoving under the rug all term. Since that happened, I’ve started making progress on my thesis again. It isn’t going to be what I wanted, or what it could have been, but that’s something for radical acceptance: I’m hanging onto what one of the lovely people told me when I asked for advice (they work for the college): “The best thesis is the thesis that is done.”

In the spirit of getting all the shit done, when everything is shit, please find below my attempt to distill my experiences here into some general to-do’s for the next time this happens.

And yes, if you know me in the real world please feel free to smack me upside the head with this if I pull a vanishing act on you.

  1. Find someone who you trust loves you enough to call you on your bullshit. Talk to them, tell them what is in your head, and then ask them to help you make a plan to get back above water.
  2. Spread your plan out, and make sure you’re not overloading yourself. It’s not going to do any good if you panic about your plan, and then feel shitty for not doing it “right”.
  3. Drink a cup of tea. Breath. 
  4. Ask your someone if you can check in with them, and if they don’t hear from you if they can check in with you. Feel that other people around you care, and that you aren’t alone in this.
  5. Get shit done. 

Treat yourself as kindly as you would treat anyone else who is feeling like you are. We’re all human here.

My thesis is due on the thirteenth, for better or for worse. A thesis that is the best I can do under the circumstances is better than a thesis that never appears. People are here for me. I’m not alone in my shit. You also, are not alone in whatever shit is going on in your life.

When mental illness rears back up it can really feel like it’s life interfering with the mental illness rather than the other way around. Remember in the midst of that, that you are a person with a mental illness and not reducible to it. We’re all here, dealing with our own shit, and rooting for you.

Until next time,

Kerry

Distractions and Financial Responsibility

So I’m keeping on with this whole trying to post daily thing, and what I’m discovering is that I don’t have it in me to be deep and hopefully insightful every day. So for today…

I’m getting a new toy!

I’m actually very excited because tomorrow, if the weather doesn’t mess with my plans, I’m going out and getting an iPad Air 2. If anyone cares, which I doubt, I’m going with space gray and 64 GB. Related, I’m also excited because I’m adulting, and got a couple new credit cards today. They’re both from Capitol One–the Quicksilver, and the Journey cards, and the planner nerd within me is actually really excited about planning out payments, and making sure everything fits together right so that I can improve my credit score so that it’s decent for when I need it.

You see, I’m not doing too hot when it comes to recovery at the moment–I can always tell I’m kind of slipping when I latch on to a new obsession. This obsession though seems promising, as it’ll improve my financial future instead of make me spend money. I went on what people in the credit card forums (I was surprised they exist too!) call a spree, and applied for a few different credit cards upon signing up for a credit karma account and seeing that my number wasn’t where I’d like it to be. I was approved for the majority of those I applied for–the two cards I mentioned above–and now I’ve devised a sort of plan to get myself on track financially. I thought this plan might be helpful to share, as my situation isn’t that far off from any other college student, and although it might seem boring it’s actually really important to plan financially for the future. So here are my little tips–now remember, this is just my plan and what I think will work best for me. Feel free to pick and choose to create a plan that you think will be best for you. Also–remember that I’m no expert, just a college student trying to stop herself from blindly spending.

Aspect A) The bank account: So the first part of my plan will be my main bank account. This is where my paycheck is deposited. I’m going to use this account as a sort of base, as I’m trying to make use of the rewards system that comes with the credit cards.

Aspect B) The savings account: My savings account is linked to my bank account which makes it really easy to transfer money between the two. From now on though, no money will be flowing from savings–>checking. This part of my financial life isn’t as healthy as I’d like it to be, but I’m planning on growing it. What I have, and what I recommend for everyone, is a giant coin jar. It seems really simple, but if you make a commitment to every day take the change out of your wallet and put it in a jar, at the end of the month that money that you might not have touched otherwise will have added up into an amount that can grow in your savings account. Also, if you’re like me and have a job where you get tips consider putting a portion of your tips in this jar as well. That’ll help your savings grow even faster. I’m also going to kind of take stock of my money situation at the end of each month and try to transfer some money into my savings at that point if it makes sense as well.

Aspect C) My secured credit card: I have a secured card, which is generally easy for people with even no credit score to get, which I’ve been using to try and develop a credit history. This kind of card is great for college students because of a few reasons: its possible to get them, and you can’t spend what you don’t have as you need to deposit a certain amount at the get go which serves as your credit limit. Because of this, the limit is usually pretty low which keeps spending from getting out of control. As long as you try to pay off this card as you use it, and don’t keep it maxed out all the time, just paying the minimum each month, a secured card is a pretty safe way to develop a credit history. I’ll generally be keeping this card to use for emergencies, or for vet appointments and such.

Aspect D) the Quicksilver card: So this is where the fun comes in for me–I’ve been looking for a way to upgrade my iPad, but I was dreading making the actual purchase and seeing 730$ leave my bank account. I then remembered the payment plan my phone is on–the Verizon Edge plan. This plan spreads the cost of whatever you get out over 24 months and just adds that cost onto your monthly cell phone bill. My parents are angels and still cover my cell phone, but I’m now looking to get a line of my own for the iPad Air 2 with cellular. Here is where the new card comes in: my goal is ultimately to raise my credit score without going crazy with spending, which for me involves making smallish purchases on the cards and paying it off immediately. I don’t want to be carrying around cards for the same purpose all the time (which one would I use?!) so what I’m going to do is dedicate this card to the monthly bill for my new iPad Air 2. This way I’ll still be spending regularly and collecting rewards on the card, but I can predict exactly how much and when that money will be needed. So I can just pay off the card immediately after the bill comes, leaving me carrying no debt. Also, this serves as protection, as even if an emergency comes up and I’m short on cash I won’t miss a payment on the iPad.

Aspect E) the Journey card: the Journey card is a student card, which means pretty easy to get, and things that students care about like no annual fee, and a baby rewards system of 1% cash back on all purchases. If you pay on time you also get another 25% for 1.25% cash back total.  This is going to be the card that I use regularly. My plan is to pay it off completely every Saturday.

The hope is, that with all of these things in play I’ll be able to both grow my savings, and keep a check on my spending, all with minimal effort on my part. Keeping track of credit card balances is made pretty simple these days through various banking apps. If you hook up your debit card to these apps, you can set up your payments in advance too so that you have less of a chance of forgetting.

This has been a pretty boring post, but I hope its been informative and given you some ideas of your own. It seems weird to think that we need to adult already, but if you’re like me the babies and marriage photos on your Facebook feed gave you a hint already.

For me, taking control of one area of my life, especially one as important as my financial life, makes me feel better about myself, and my abilities. If I can do one complicated thing, surely I can handle them all?

Any questions, if you need to talk, or for pretty much anything, let me know.

Thanks for reading lovelies, have a nice week.