By Chelsea Adams
Find out more about Chelsea here!
EIGHT MONTHS OF GROWTH WITH A SIDE EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER
This pandemic has taught me to value time over money, to value moments with myself and others over the currency. It has taught me that to simply be, whether that be in stillness, in thought, in frustration or caught up in many emotions at once, it's all valid. Although the emotions may feel intense and never-ending, they will pass. I remind myself of that now when I'm having a day of particular sensitivity. I am reminded of an Instagram message conversation with a friend about how we all deserve respect for the different things we value. With more alone time, comes more realisation, and with it being Mental Health Awareness Day in the week that this article is released I thought I'd share five things I've realised over the last 8 months.
NUMERO` UNO: How often I try to make myself 'easier to deal with' purely for other people.
With less daily interaction with people, I've suddenly noticed how much I used to feel guilty for being emotional and sensitive. I've realised no one gets to tell me I'm too much of something. Unless it's hurting someone else, it's none one's business but mine. When I'm told I'm too emotional or too sensitive I used to disconnect, paste on a pleasing smile and try to somehow earn back respect. I shall no longer apologise for being too much of something. The respect I have for myself is the same level of respect that I show others.
TWO'S A CROWD: How showing up for yourself can make your day and yourself proud.
I thrive under a structure, so the first few months of the pandemic were a bit of a blur, to say the least. But by now, creating a routine is a strategy that helps me manage to get more done in my day; even if that means writing a simple 'to do' list with a max of 4 things the night before. By taking the time to do this I show up for myself; and even if I made something of my day but I didn't feel the best, I still have the satisfaction that I achieved the minimum. Developing that mental grit over the last 8 months has seen me literally wanting to scream into a pillow on multiple occasion's as my mind argues with itself over whether I should go for a run or sit on my bed in my sweatpants for another 5 minutes. It's seen me re-arrange bedroom furniture, which then turns into a colossal de-clutter. Then when I'm halfway through the process, I look around at the gigantic mess I've created and wonder why the hell I decided to do this! I sit for 5 minutes and concur that there's no turning back and continue the sorting and purging of material possessions. I've done all of these things' multiple times over. Yet every time I cross the hurdle and choose to sweat in my activewear and not my sweatpants, I feel so much better. Every time I finish cleaning up and look around at my tidy room, I feel better. I guess I'm learning that for me at least exercise and mood are more connected than I thought, or maybe its food and mood. I mean, I'm not going to deny that I get hangry, or that when I'm bored I go and stare at the inside of the fridge for the 12th time in a day; wishing that it's soft purring sound and cold interior had the answers to all my questions. But alas, we continue.
TRIO OF DIPS: Just like Triple J do so well, coming back to music will always ground me.
I sware the distant lull of a guitar has a special power over me. It helps me leave the present. Whether I'm playing it or just listening to a song, I get to travel somewhere else for a small moment and while there are songs that take me straight back to events and memories that seem impossible now, they still remind me of that feeling of freedom and fun that only music pulsing through your body can achieve. Although crowds full of people singing lyrics back to a stage of performers are a sight that we may not see for another year, I have relished in time spent learning how to not only play songs but write them too. I used to song write throughout high school, but it dropped away after and has only recently risen from the deep lake of experiences and books full of lyrics with no music or chords yet. It has taken hold so quickly that in the space of 2 days I finished a completely new song, which for me is a new achievement. But besides that, this time has been well spent discovering new artists and music, singing way too loudly to Careless Whisper by George Michael and wishing I had somewhere to set up my weighted keyboard, that still lives at my mum's place. I've become obsessed with specific songs from all genres, so much so that they're on repeat. Or it's the other end of the spectrum and I stumble upon a song that helps me release some emotion that I couldn't make sense of. All I know is that, just like that deep connection between smell and place, music and memory have the same for me; so much so that I have specific songs that represent people, and I can't help but think of them and only them when I listen. The grounding quality that music possesses has also helped me find an authentic version of myself when I sing. One that is not copying another singer but is truly my voice and the way that I sound. Now that I know I can feel proud of the way I sing, belting out the lyrics in the car to any of the wonderful trio of dips songs on Triple J is even more fun. I mean who cares if you look like an idiot when stopped at the traffic lights!
DO QUADRANGLES HAVE FOUR SIDES?: Never overthink a question.
You write the best answers when the reaction is immediate; well I typically do. Then I just have to remember to proofread them for grammatical errors. No, but seriously, I used to overthink everything, particularly with replying to messages via social media. I used to obsess over whether I was reading the tone properly, whether I was too formal or too casual. I still sometimes get so hung up about it that to attempt to reply I have to go to the notes app of my phone and type my reply there. For some strange reason, when I'm not typing in the reply box there is less pressure. It also becomes easier for me to commit to sending the message, because I can simply copy and paste the sentences and hit the send button without nitpicking my reply. This strategy was one I developed many years ago when I realised how much difficulty I encountered with social media and texting particularly with one-word answers. Tone is critical to a conversation; and yes, there can be a general tone in a chat online depending on the topic of conversation I acknowledge that, but when its small interactions or connecting with new people, I would lose my shit. I'd end up so nervous I felt like I needed to vomit or run until I did. I would sweat all over and worry about how I should reply or question the persons reaction and like a gazelle jump to the worst possible conclusion amongst a pile of tears. But all animals aside, the endless Sahara of internet interaction became a minefield for me throughout the first 4 months of lockdown in Melbourne. I felt less and less like myself, having extreme cases of emotional rollercoaster as my body and mind tried to balance their equilibrium between fight and flight, until I accepted the help I needed in the form of an art therapist. I talked, I made some art, and 5 weeks later I was starting to feel like myself again. That art is now my hobby too, which is fun! So, all in all, I now try not to obsess or overthink, and because of that, I'm more present, which leaves more room for fun stuff like seeing if I can move an oreo cookie from my forehead to my mouth only using my facial muscles! I haven't succeeded yet.
THERE ARE FIVE SEASONS: Especially if you live in Melbourne; & they affect my emotional state.
One of my greatest realisations happened when spring finally arrived. The winter hibernation had ended. When I emerged from the hood of my oodie wondering what month it was, I was surprised to say the least, sun… birds… yes! I'd managed to sleep out winter like a bear in a cave. Seriously, all jokes aside, it became easier to get up in the morning because it wasn't dark, daylight savings arrives and suddenly it goes from being afternoon to 7:30 and your brain wonders where the hours went. Seasons change, we all know that but for some reason, in the last month of Melbourne weather we've gone from spring to the frustrating period of time I like to call: The fifth season – Literally everything all in one day or sporadic on and off weather, that leaves you in a summery haze one day and rugged up like it's going to hail the next. I have realised that this fifth season has disturbed my mood and emotions every morning, for the last 30 days. Yeah, I understand it isn't the worst possible thing in the world, but it's so teasing! The warm weather reminded me of last summer and normal life and I got excited! Yes, I understand all the positive messages getting thrown around, and that we have to stay optimistic; but at the moment I no longer have control of my emotions, mainly my crying reaction. I'd liken it to being stuck on a rollercoaster. I will cry for happy reasons and sad reasons at the drop of a hat! Anything and everything will set me off! Videos of cats playing: I happy cry! Watching the general news: I sad cry. I look out the window and see a butterfly: I happy cry! There's just no knowing what emotional response will begin next. I mean, I guess it's a good thing cause I'm learning to appreciate the joy and happiness in small things like a bowl of ice cream or my 2 hours of exercise outside, but all 'gratitude' aside it's exhausting, and I've definitely reached capacity. Although many people, I'm sure, are feeling this way, I encourage more gentle reaction and kindness. We all deserve it now, and although the fifth season seems to have its own agenda when it comes to toying with my emotions; ultimately, I'm responsible for them!
So, in closing, I'd say choose things for yourself because they serve you. If they don't, do not be afraid to take stock, to take time to reflect and decide upon what brings meaning to your life and what things can be shed. Just like you tidy and prune a garden our lives, actions and emotions need the same care. Don't think that that care has to always come from yourself. Own your emotions and know that they are valid; that they don't have to be dire to reach out for help. Remember that reaching is your strength shining through so never be ashamed of it! Oh, and one last tip: Five house plants is most certainly not enough! Go on, fuel that green thumb addiction and buy a few more…With the emotional rollercoaster I've been on, how many do you think I have?