The One With The New Year

Happy new year!

The first week back at work has been difficult for me, and it was not even a full week as I started on Wednesday. It was a shock to the system to have to get up, get ready and go sit in the office for eight hours. It was a little difficult to concentrate; I felt completely out of it. The office was very quiet and it felt odd and only added to the sense of unreality of it all. A Where am I and what on earth am I doing sort of feeling. I missed lazing in bed and eating too much and doing very little else besides.

Anyway, I was thinking of whether I should do a 2018 year in review or make some goals for 2019. In regard to the review, there is probably little point; I think 2018 passed somewhat in a depressed haze, with moments of joy such as my big trip back home (to South Africa) in February, my staycation in summer and a trip to Scotland with my dad too. (This I sadly forgot to blog about. We had limited connectivity there and I somewhat enjoyed switching off, enjoying nature and spending time with my father.) There were a few smaller things too, off the top of my head I think about a weekend spent looking after my sister’s cat, fun weekends with my sister, and a lovely relaxed Christmas. But the whole being depressed and anxious thing followed me around and filled up the majority of the year, the empty spaces around holidays and fun weekends, the bit with real life and the daily grind, I struggled. I felt very stuck in my sad, anxious and self-critical mindset and am still working my way through that.

Looking forward to 2019 I know that everything will not be magically ok, but I was thinking about what I could do to improve things. I was thinking about the things I would like to achieve this year. I think these goals would look something like this:

Continue to tackle my Anxiety and Depression – keep seeing my therapist, engage with my treatment, take my medication regularly, and do things that will make me calmer and feel more in control (read: less procrastination and panicky self sabotage).

Build my savings and pay off my credit card – continue to work on managing impulsive and emotional spending, basically. Also- continue to work on identifying the difference between need and want, and then really think through my purchases why do I want this and how will I use it. I want to have a proper emergency fund!

Buy a new bed – buy a double bed in particular. I have been sleeping on the same single bed since I was a child and I am also ready to move to a double bed, however I am having some trouble commiting to spending this much money on something I technically don’t need (I have a functioning bed already!) and am also stuck on the logistics of it (Can I manage to make a bed up myself?) If I managed to succeed at the above savings goal though, I’d love to go ahead and get my new bed.

Carry on ‘locally’ travelling – this year I did go abroad once, to South Africa at the beginning of the year. However my other trips were a ‘staycation’ to Northumberland and I also spent a few days in Scotland with my dad. I would like to not go anywhere abroad this year, in line with above savings goal, but definitely still travel a bit. I am contemplating another staycation, am definitly going to Scotland with my dad again, and would like to explore my local area more – I started doing this but as depression took over I…stopped. I have a mental list of gardens, abbeys and areas of countryside I want to go to and I’d like to really commit to going out and seeing them this year. I can’t keep hibernating indoors, wallowing in my depression, after all. And if I explore like this, it should hopefully help me not feel like I’m missing out by not going abroad.

Become better at organising and managing my digital backups (and well, making them in the first place) – I have developed a fairly ok system for my paperwork over the past couple of years, next I want to develop a system for my photos and other important bits. I have sort of started but very half heartedly and my harddrives are still too messy for my liking. I also need sort out all the photos on my phone and get them backed up. (Does anyone else find themselves with a huge “Camera” folder of unsorted pictures just floating around your internal storage/SD card and clogging up space? Just me?)

Of course, nothing is set in stone. Who knows what 2019 will bring and if events will allow for the above to happen. But these are the things on my mind, and these are the intentions I’ll start my year off with. If I start well, hopefully I can end well no matter what happens.

The One With the Failed Diet

When I was looking at accommodation for uni I automatically drifted towards catered accommodation- it seemed more private, closer to uni, breakfast and dinner provided, £5.10 a day to spend at any uni food outlet, room and bathroom cleaned. It seemed great, and it wasn’t much more expensive than self catered. So far its been fine. But this food thing? Bit not good.

I never really talk about this on the blog, and I’m not sure if I should, seeing so it may make seem a little crazy but here we go.

I have never had a good relationship with food. I don’t like to eat- I’m really weird about food,  like if I don’t like the smell or the texture or the way it looks then I can’t bring myself to eat it. My parents used to have to force me to eat when I was little, and spent years bargaining with me to finish just half of what’s on your plate, Catherine. I’m sure I should of outgrown it but I never did. I still pick at my food, and my portion sizes are half the size, even the quarter the size of other peoples yet it takes me longer than them to eat. I also developed the tendency to associate food with comfort instead of nutrition. At one point when I was depressed I was eating so little, and at the same time so much of the wrong things (aka skipping supper and filling up on chocolate instead) that I ended up underweight. That was part of my wake up call and so I simply forced myself to eat- even if I didn’t like it, even if I didn’t want to. And I got good. I learned to eat and I put the weight back on. Last year, last academic year, I was eating three meals a day, I was having just one chocolate bar a week and one packet of crisps a week (that sounds bad but to go from one meal a day, if that, and to having one bar of chocolate a day, if not more, it makes you feel proud to end up at that place). Sure, it wasn’t an amazing diet, but I was proud of where I had ended up. I was in control of my diet. I was doing well and I was going to keep progressing, getting better.

But last Semester I fucked up. I justified it- the first time living away from home, the stress of adjusting to uni. OK, I said, but I made a goal- I would do better this semester. Alas.

Now? Now I have completely lost that control, and it doesn’t seem to be coming back any time soon. University catered meals are frankly, gross, especially for someone as fussy as me. I thought having meals provided for me would encourage me to eat, but it does the opposite- I skip supper at least three times a week, and often just substitute for snacking or nothing at all. I keep some food in my room but they’re snacks, mostly, and I can’t really get fresh fruit and veg easily- such things are expensive, and go off quickly. And that £5.10? Pure temptation and for someone as weak willed as me, especially when I’m stressed out or anxious, which is often,  I end up spending it on things I shouldn’t. In my effort to start working I have been going to the library again- and I’ll end up buying a hot chocolate because I’m cold, and a  brownie or a muffin just because I have some money left over. When I’m between lectures I need something quick to snack on because I’m hungry and I don’t have time so I end up grabbing a packet of chips or a brownie or something else ridiculous. Its so easy to give in temptation when you have the means. Last year in an effort to save money every day I went into uni I made myself sandwiches, on whole wheat seeded bread , and packed a little something with that and that was lunch. No snacking, unless I’d brought one. My only treats would be the occasional pizza slice or ice cream. And of course I was at home, which meant I could cook for myself, or eat my parents cooking, and have access to whatever i wanted, including lots of good stuff. It was reasonably easy to keep myself in check.

I long to have that control back. But I feel like its out of my hands. A large part of the forcing myself to eat was learning to cook, making my own suppers,  putting together my own lunches, so that I could see and track exactly what I was eating. How do I do that at uni? I am lazy and stressed and I have £5.10 to spend on what I want and so I do. This is problematic. I am currently anaemic, again.I don’t feel good. I need to do something about this.I need to start forcing myself to eat things I hate again because I am not getting enough vitamins, minerals..anything. But I severely lack willpower. And I really like hot chocolate.

I read this blog post and it made me feel a lot better. In the end I need to accept that I have messed up but its not too late. I need to stop resisting, making all these excuses. I just need to do it because I can. I did it once and I can do it again. The diet may be failed now, but it doesn’t have to stay that well. It goes back on my list of goals for this semester. I will start by taking baby steps- like working on cutting down the chips first- and then go from there.

books on shelf
I used to read a lot. My room back home is cluttered with books, and even when I came to uni I packed as many books as I could get away with. Sometimes I can easily read a book in a week, two weeks. But not much anymore. Over the past year I have barely read 10 books, if that. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy reading anymore, its just I can’t seem to concentrate anymore. At least when I was commuting to uni last year I had the benefit of having that time to read without distractions. Now there seems to be so much else to do. I have university, and I have to study and between all this it seems so much easier to do far more mindless activities- like browsing the Internet or watching dramas. Not to mention how noisy halls are, especially late at night when I want to read (I love my hall :|).  But nonetheless, I want to read more and I want to read like I used to. So I made this a goal for this year. I wrote out a list of 30 books and I’m going to read every single one this year. I know 30 books doesn’t sound a lot, but for me this is going to be a challenge. So far I have made good progress though- I recently finished The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, which was a nice quick, satisfying read and I’m left anticipating the next three books. I managed to finish this book in just under a week too- which is a testament to how good it is, or how much free time I have right now. Either way, I am left hopeful that I can do this.