Day 30

Hangnails. Holy annoying fuck.

Probably should print multiple copies of this and stick them around the house as a reminder to myself

They have always been my weakness and I can never let go of one until my nail bed turns into a bloody ruin. But it’s never really been about the hangnail itself though.

When I get into a mental vortex, I start to feel my skin catching on things. Suddenly my skin gets that much drier, catching on fabric, scraping against the clothes that I wear. Suddenly my nails that weren’t brittle before, now are. I can feel every single hangnail when I run my fingertips against each nail. And lord, don’t even get me started about how they feel when I knit or when I write.

And they are so very grating.

I start peeling. I start grinding. I start scraping.

I get at a good one and continue as I let my thoughts swirl around me. It helps me go deeper, it helps me chase the thoughts further.

Further? Where, you ask?

Deep.

Ah shit, and now I am bleeding.

Like I said, it’s not really about the hangnail.

Image: nail_sunny/Instagram

Day 28

Sunny Wednesday coffee in front of the fountains in the gardens of the Palais Royal. 

After having taken a break for a few days because of immense fatigue, here I am again. Typing, just typing, because I can. 

I have not known fatigue like this in a long time. A fatigue that takes me and binds me to the bed, despite me and my will. 

Underneath there is also an anxiety, a desperation that claws at me about all the things that I am not doing, that I am missing. I feel it tie up my chest, making it difficult for me to breathe. I want to cry and scream, in an effort to release some tension—any tension—but I cannot.

I close my eyes and I am taken back into the dark again. It’s not sleep because my brain is running a mile a minute. I try to will myself to stop it but instead of stopping, my brain just flies off to another corner. I hear voices, I see faces, some that I recognise, some that I do not. I call out to no one in particular that I want this to stop. I want to stop feeling this way but obviously it does not. The dark continues to wrap me up in its embrace, immobilising me, taking away with it my strength and willpower. I want to go, to just do anything, to stretch, but this is bigger than me and I have no choice but to give in to it.

I can feel a chill settle around me despite the layers of wool that I am wrapped up in. And with it, a soreness. Without warning the chill turns to heat and I am suddenly clammy. 

Despite it all the tightness in my chest doesn’t leave, reminding me that I have responsibilities and a list of things to do that just keeps extending. I can’t find the energy in me to type, to write, to knit the only thing that convinces me that I am not going through a depression is that I can still find the energy to wash and dress myself. And to cook and to eat. But beyond that, I have not much else to keep me going. Where has it all gone? 

As I am typing I look around and 90% of the people around me are without their masks. It is beyond ridiculous. We are sitting in such close proximity to one another with the wind blowing. We seem to think that we are special, somehow immune to this virus that does not discriminate and does not choose its victims based on any standard that we know.

I stop myself and let my ears focus on what’s coming through: music through my headphones, the fountain and wasps. It is soothing, in a way that white noise is soothing. I can see two wasps hover around me as I write. They stop me from moving my arms and my fingers. They bumble around, trying to bump into my arm, almost trying to make me give way.

Is this a metaphor?

Image: Beyond the Window Box

Day 15

Time and time again I catch myself coming to this earth-shattering revelation: creativity comes in spurts.

I am taking a currently taking a break from something that I just got back into yesterday after an eight-month long hiatus from knitting. It has been about two years since I started knitting and I technically only have one finished project to show for it (but in three different colours), but I love the process. It keeps my hands busy and in the end I have something beautiful and useful to show for it!

Being creative and/or finding the energy to rediscover it is one of the most nourishing things one can do to keep the anxiety at bay. It is also one of the hardest things to do when we are at the eye of the storm.

One of the best books out there to get started is Knit How published by the well-known Pom Pom Magazine.

Such a great resource. Also their images are super beautiful.

Their drawings are intuitive and easy to understand. They also have loads of interesting starter projects to inspire you and to get you motivated. My thing right now is to start from the very beginning of the book and move my way through the book until I “graduate”, wherein I’ll knit myself a sash and then I’ll get started on my long-awaited funnel neck jumper. Currently I am working on my baby project: fingerless mitts.

Wish me luck and see you tomorrow!

Checklist for the day:

  • heather grey
  • charcoal grey
  • bordeaux red
  • chartreuse green
  • mustard yellow
  • antique lace white
  • oatmeal white

Image: © Zeina Abirached/Flickr

Sunday lists n.2: 5 things I do when the anxiety gets too much

Today is SUNDAY! Sunday means my beloved is at home. Every other Sunday means that we get the house to ourselves for some precious alone time. Sunday means writing lists for this blog. Sunday means reading. Sunday means really appreciating the things that I am grateful for. And as silly and trivial as it may sound, especially in the face of this global pandemic we are facing, I am truly happy that my anxiety has been relatively manageable these past few weeks.

Here are some things that I find helpful, for me, for those times when shit gets rough.

Clean

I find cleaning to be akin to sorting out thought’s in one’s brain. As you are decluttering your desk, you are also decluttering your mind. As you throw out old receipts, candy wrappers, backs of band-aids and so on, from your bag, you’re also sorting out your memories. When I can afford it, the best way for me to calm down is housekeeping. The act of mopping the floor (I do it on my hands and knees) becomes meditative, and the same goes for washing the dishes. Even if the anxiety hasn’t gone away by the end, I can look around at a clean space and feel less overwhelmed by visual clutter.

Cook (a lot)

Since quitting the kitchens, cooking has become restorative for me again and I will work my hardest for it to stay that way. When my internal freak-out alarm is at its loudest, the kitchen is where I find my solace. The calm begins with choosing, or creating, a recipe. But the best part of it is meal prep. Chopping everything and getting them ready in their bowls is so calming. Making something so that your family’s fed and loved is so crucial to me and the way I love. When everything seems to be falling apart, knowing that I can be relied upon to make a big batch of pasta and meatballs, or curry, or chicken karaage that everyone will eat up in a split second is reassuring.

Exercise

Right, so sometimes I’ve done the first two and I would still find myself bouncing my leg up and down and picking at my cuticles. This is the time to bring out the big guns. And by big guns, I mean some good ol’ HIIT and weightlifting. Full disclosure: I have been living with a seriously banged up knee for more than 20 years now, which means I have to maintain my weight at around 50kg. But to complicate things further, there are A LOT of exercises that I can’t do. Still, there is no better way to feel alive than feeling your whole body moving like an engine and then having sweat pour off of you. I know at that moment that I exist, and that life is a bit crap right now, but if I can do 10 pushups in 10 seconds, then maybe, just maybe, I am fucking awesome.

Maybe.

Write

So I only did the first three things for almost as long as I have had anxiety. I couldn’t keep up with something like journaling and I was basically writing for a living, so writing when I was panicking seemed like a busman’s holiday. Or, in this case, a busman’s nightmare. But sometime last year I got back into writing, but writing poetry to be specific. I really got into the groove of it and it helped to have a little notebook and pen on hand to whip out at any moment– on the street, on the metro, in a cafe, at a party– to sort of expunge myself of any panic I might be feeling at any moment. It worked until one of my exes told her mother that I was a poet when she was asked what my profession was. That lie, among many other screwed up things that were happening at the time, just made me want to stop writing. That is until I stared this blog 11 days ago!

Writing is like cataloguing one’s memories and thoughts. It’s better than a photograph because you need to describe everything that you are going through, in your own words.

Writing is cathartic.

Writing heals.

Plan ahead

Let’s be real, I have always been a planner. Sometimes the best part of a holiday is planning for it: the places you’ll go, the outfits you’re gonna wear, the things you’ll eat, etc. But I digress.

When I find myself spiralling, it helps me to have visibility on the future. It doesn’t even have to be that far ahead. It could just be planning for the day, or for the afternoon, even. It helps to tell myself I have these non-negotiable things that I need to accomplish, some things that I would perhaps like to do, and a couple of things that I would include to treat myself with if I happen to get everything done. It helps me focus on the immediate and it also gives me motivation to keep going forward.

Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot.

One of the things that I tell myself when my anxiety is riding dizzyingly high is that I need imagine myself walking on a tightrope. The tightrope walker makes it to the other end by placing one foot after the other. Sure, on a long piece of metal string (ok rope. fine, cable), but that’s basically the action. Dwelling on the height, on the morbidity, on its dangers, just renders the act impossible. To me, it’s kind of like managing anxiety. What matters in the end is that we keep on walking.

Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot.

Image: © Getty Images/Unsplash