Balancing anxiety and school.

donthavetobeperfect

I am currently working on my application for a bachelor’s program in social work. I applied last year, and due to a reference problem and average grades that couldn’t compete in the program I was declined. I had to tell myself that I had been finally diagnosed that year and I had significant difficulties adjusting – especially with medications. It was okay to try again. I am trying again this year with some boosted grades, fantastic references from some wonderful people and more volunteer experience. My application certainly looks a lot better.

So the question here is – why am I approaching this like I have already failed? I have put off my essay requirements of my application, even though I’ve already done the hard work of asking for references and volunteering with a club on campus that promotes mental health awareness (if you’re on campus, check out their events or consider volunteering! MHA UCalgary). I’ve done the part that requires me to hang up my anxiety for a little while, take a step and ask for what I want or interact with others about mental health, which at first was extremely emotional and difficult to do. And yet, I still discredit my work and knowledge and start the snowball of anxiety every time I sit down to finish the last piece of the application. I had given myself a deadline for the first week of February, and look at where we are now.

I’ve spoken before about letting go of the outcome. In practice, it is a great deal more difficult to accomplish, I understand. If you’re stuck on the outcome like I am right now, here are a few things to remember before you give up.

1. Take a break from it for a little while, but don’t avoid it. Make a cup of tea, watch ONE episode of something you enjoy on Netflix (Downton Abbey, anyone?), take a walk with a furry friend or cuddle them for a little while, write it down in a blog or a journal and get your feelings out in a healthy way, or check out some positive blogs/vlogs that encourage you to keep going. I really feel a lot better after I’ve read something from The Mighty as it encompasses people who are trying as hard as I am – and in a lot of cases, even harder. Other times I’ll watch some beauty gurus like Kathleen LightsJaclyn Hill, or Glam & Gore, who are all talented and beautiful ladies who are open about the importance of mental health, being good to yourself and reminding you how beautiful of a person you are.

2. Make yourself a list of what you have to accomplish, but also include what you have accomplished. Some days, getting out of bed is the best accomplishment that I can award myself, and being a gold star person, you bet your ass I’m going to be giving myself a gold star for that. Remember that any indication that you are trying is going to be a huge step over the days where you can’t try anything.

3. Talk to someone, even if it’s in an anonymous situation. R/Anxiety is a tool I even used last night and woke up to a response this morning of a total stranger reminding me that it is okay and that I need to breathe, remember that if I don’t get in and have to find a job – interviews are hard for everyone, and interviewers totally understand that. This isn’t the end of my life, just a bump in the road. Do you still feel like you have no one? You’re reading this blog right now, send me a message. I’ll be your person.

4. Take care of yourself. If you’re stressed, you’re likely going to forget to eat, drink, and shower. Or maybe you will overeat, drink more wine than you initially set out to, and still forget to shower. Set down whatever is stressing you and grab yourself a shower. I always feel like a whole new person when I get out of the shower, and I spend a lot of time thinking in the shower – but calmly. Being around water seems to really help me and I hope that you will find it helps you too.

This advice may seem similar to what I’ve posted about before, but it’s important to keep repeating it – especially for myself when I feel like I should just give up. At the end of the day, remember that if you give your best, that is all anyone can ask. But you have to be honest with yourself about what your best really is. I know that right now, this empty word document is not my best, and today is a new day, right now is a new moment, and I am strong enough to finish it. Now that my break is done, I hope that you will join me in mustering up some courage to finish this paper off, know that I did my best with it and let go any anxiety about what they will think or if they will accept me because I know that I have given it my all.

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Finally having a ‘normal’ sleep.

4amknowsall

My anxiety visits me without fail every night. I enter the battle of snowballing about things I have to do, things I didn’t do, things I should have said or things I should not have said. I am often unable to fall asleep before 3am, and even more often it’s 6 or 7am before I am finally able to fall asleep. Unfortunately, I also crash pretty hard when I finally sleep, so I end up missing the majority of my day. This often results in missed classes, appointments and other social things. I usually wake up in the late afternoon, guilting myself for missing everything I should have accomplished that day and feeling frustrated that I slept through 5 or 6 alarms.

Last night I was able to sleep before 11pm. I wasn’t sure what came over me, but I was actually tired at night. I got ready for bed before my boyfriend had even gone to bed, which is a feat in itself because he usually tries to go to bed early as he works early. I managed to fall asleep fairly quickly and even though I woke up a few times during the night, I was able to fall back asleep instead of waking up and staying awake for hours. I woke up at 9am today and I don’t remember the last time I saw 9am from this side of the day.

If you’re reading this and you cannot relate with my troubles sleeping, I don’t think I can put into words how amazing it was to fall asleep at a ‘normal’ time and wake up at a reasonable hour. I opened my eyes to see the light shining through my window as usual, but when I looked at my phone to see the time – it was still in single digits. I felt a rush of relief wash over me because I had the whole day ahead of me to do whatever – even if I just took the day to read and cuddle with my dogs, I had the whole day.

After I reveled in the time of day with the hallelujah chorus playing in my mind, I frantically tried to remember everything I did last night to make myself fall asleep quickly so I can try to replicate tonight. That’s my experience with sleep. It’s often such a battle to quiet my mind so that I can fall asleep, so when I do have a good sleep, I need to remember everything that I possible can about what I did so that I can try my best to do it again. I’ve always had troubles sleeping and I’ve always envied those who can hit the pillow and fall asleep. Especially if they can wake up with only one or two snoozes of the alarm in the morning and still attend things before 11am.

In taking the advice of my recent post – I’m going to celebrate the crap out of this day. No matter what happens today that may stand in my way, at least I was awake to experience it. It may seem like a small feat, but I can’t begin to express how proud of myself I am right now. I don’t have to make an excuse for why I can’t meet up before 3pm if I have days like this.