This is the way the world ends?

When I was learning to drive, I remember driving on a particularly hilly, curvy road that had a 50 MPH speed limit. So I was a little tense, because it was the first time I had been driving that fast. There was another car coming toward me, and I was really concentrating on that car because I didn’t want to hit it.

Mom also kept describing the car as a “ton of screaming steel,” which didn’t help much with my stress levels.

And at a certain point, it became clear that I was steering toward the car. My mom, next to me, goes, “Look at your own lane.” After I had safely passed the car, Mom explained that if you focus your eyes on something, you automatically and subconsciously steer toward it. So you should focus on your own lane so that you will steer in it.

The significance of this story will become clear before the end, I promise.

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Not Thinking about Oneself

Saying that hating yourself is the alternative to loving yourself is a false choice. …You can like yourself just fine without loving yourself to excess. We believe that it would be better for everyone not to concentrate on self-feelings–positive or negative–quite so much. Instead, focus on life: your relationships wiht others, your work, or the beauty of the natural world. Think about the deepest joy you experience in life–it doesn’t typically come from thinking about how great you are. Instead it comes from connecting with the world and getting away from yourself, as when you enjoy time with friends, family, and children, are engaged at work, or do all-absorbing tasks such as art, writing, crafts, athletics, or helping others.

The Narcissist Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, pg 29

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

–C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I find that often, the days on which I am most happy are the days on which I’m not particularly questioning that happiness. The days on which I am least happy are the days on which I’m worried about not being happy. It may be that the best thing you can possibly do for your mental health, for your self-esteem, and for your proper perspective and virtuous humility–is not to focus too much on yourself, your feelings, your feelings about yourself. Focus your view outward, not inward.

It’s difficult for me to say this, because I am an introvert, I tend to be inwardly focused, and I have a very high intrapersonal intelligence–that is, I understand myself very well. I enjoy it when my counselor compliments me on my self-knowledge. But I do think I can take it to excess. And maybe I would be happier if I found more things to do and gave myself less time for rumination and a long spiral of increasingly unhappy thoughts. Hobbies: maybe, in the absence of full-time work, hobbies will be my key to happiness.

Hobbies like writing on this blog. 🙂

Pin Curls Part II

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Rocking the 40s Housewife look

So I took down the pin curls after about three hours. Turned out a little more 1830s than I had expected…

Not quite what I was going for.

So I think tonight after my shower I’m going to wet-set just a couple of curls at the front: a little more like this.

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Here’s hoping!

Pin Curls

So that mental/physical health day I took today has gone GREAT. I got up early, got breakfast with Mom at McD’s, we went swimming, then I came back and went through my readers’ notes/revisions on my book’s introduction. So I’ve had a productive day.

But it turns out the most time-consuming of my tasks today is figuring out how to do my hair for the Halloween party tomorrow night: how do to front curls for Elizabeth Bennet.

“How do you get those ringlets?” “By the application of hot irons!”

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Evening Anxiety

My depression and anxiety are always worse in the evening. It’s probably a combination of darkness, fatigue from the day, and a lack of distractions. And lately, it’s become fraught with a question: take off work tomorrow or not?

The thing is that I’m a day-to-day substitute teacher. Now, this isn’t the hellhole job that a lot of people assume it is. It can be tiring and occasionally annoying (I really wish we were allowed to use duct tape as a pedagogical tool for classroom management!), but it’s really not that bad a gig. You just have to keep the kids in the class from 1) maiming anyone, 2) inciting a riot, or 3) starting a fire. Everything else is kind of negotiable. And if you keep a good sense of humor, it’s not that bad.

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Therapy Thoughts

The big monkey on my back for this past year has been my inability to get a full-time job. I am finally working part-time as a day-to-day substitute, but the full-time job still eludes me, and it’s freaking me out.

My counselor and I talked a lot today about taking off work when I need to due to Lyme fatigue and anxiety/depression. I often feel guilty when I do so, even though the nature of day-to-day subbing makes it super simple to take off. I realized that the reason I felt so great yesterday was that it was a day off work without any of that guilt. I wasn’t working, not because I had decided to “slack off,” as I often end up thinking of my mental health days, but because I wasn’t called in to work. The weight of that decision was not on me. Whereas today, I feel guilty because I took a day off TO SEE A DOCTOR ABOUT MY HEART, and didn’t get as much accomplished as I “could have.”

Today my counselor echoed something I’ve thought a few times recently: maybe the reason I don’t have a full-time job yet is because I can’t handle a full-time job right now because of my physical and mental health.

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Ashley’s Awesome Day

We interrupt this Lyme retrospective to give you breaking news!

I am having an AWESOME day.

Like this. Except, who would wear a dress on a day like that? Talk about chafing…

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with depression for the last… Well, the last year or so, and I’ve been having a tough time lately. But today has been great. And since one of my great joys in life is getting things accomplished, along with talking about myself and my life (don’t we all love that?), and because I’ve been working really hard on internalizing my accomplishments and giving myself credit for them, Imma tell you aaaalll about it.

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Now open up and say “Cheese!”

Luckily, Wilson College had January off. I spent all that time trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with my stomach and freaking out about the fact that I was about to start my student teaching–while sick. Finally, they send me for an endoscopy.

In case you haven’t heard of an endoscopy before–I hadn’t–it’s when they knock you out and stick a camera down your throat to take photos of the inside of your stomach.

No, not like that. But you get points for being adorable.

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White Dress, Green Face

Hearing voices might have been my first Lyme disease symptom… or just my overactive imagination. But I date my first clear Lyme symptoms to late November. Specifically… the night of White Dinner.

White Dinner is one of the two formal dinner/dances that Wilson College holds every year. Originally the idea was that every college girl had a white dress–it was like having a Little Black Dress–so you didn’t have to buy an expensive new dress for the occasion. By the time I was in college, the tradition was that only seniors could wear a white dress. And it was my senior year. So on with the dress!

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Great, huh? Unfortunately, I didn’t get to wear it long.

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