Volume 1, Issue 17: An Honest Coping Skills Check-in

Hi friends! By the time this newsletter goes out, I will have been sheltering in place for 191 days. Sometimes I feel okay and recently came across this article about the weird survivor guilt some of us may be feeling if we are feeling okay or even good right now.

That being said, more days than most I find getting out of bed to be very, very hard. I was inspired by this Instagram post to make this image:

<image of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, leaning on his elbow and giving a condescending smile with the text “The U.S. is in month 7 of this pandemic, how are those coping mechanisms holding up?>

Before you get any ideas, I’m going to tell you this: Mine are absolute shit. Mine are almost nonexistent. Coping skills? I don’t know her. There is a pandemic, the west coast is on fire, the government is trash. I’m using all my spell slots to get out of bed, to work each day, and not have a meltdown when recording a podcast. Yet I’m supposed to soothe myself starting each morning doing yoga or writing in a gratitude journal? Get the fuck outta here.

I am not going to pretend like that shit is working for anyone right now. I respect you more than that. Maybe it IS working for some of you, and that’s cool! I’m glad you have something.

But I’m going to be honest, when I asked myself that question, “How are my coping mechanisms I set up at the beginning of the pandemic holding up?” my answer was, “Not. At. All.” Some of them I flat-out don’t have access to. It mostly has been too hot for me to do any baking. Can’t go outside for walks because the air is full of poison. I am hardly motivated to get out of bed much less ride my stationary bike or practice ukulele.

The question is a good reminder that coping mechanisms aren’t static. What works in one situation or at one time of your life or even at one time of year isn’t guaranteed to work at another time. So, we need to reevaluate frequently.

I do have a few things that are helping me keep my head above water, barely, but I’ll take what I can get. I want to share them with you in hopes that they can help you too or maybe at least trigger ideas of something similar that you might want to try.

My bar for success is low

My bar for success each day is on the floor. Did I get out of bed? A+! Did I put on fresh chonies? Gold star! Did I “show up” to work (at my laptop at our dining table)? Exceeds expectations! Did I do any of my reading, podcasting, or writing this newsletter? GIVE ME A TROPHY!

Pre-pandemic I aimed very high and burned out frequently. Right now, not crying on Zoom is a success. Being able to string together a cohesive sentence is a success. Not sounding like Eeyore on the podcast is a success.

It’s okay to just get by right now.

Daily texts

One of my best friends and I text each other good morning every day. Every. Single. Day. It is not a contest as to who does it first more frequently. Sometimes we don’t really text much the rest of the day.

“Morning”

“Mornin’”

It’s just letting me know they’re there. And I let them know I’m here. And something about that is so incredibly reassuring. I think it’s the dependability. I know I will get that text and I will send a text. It’s not even at the same time every morning. And the rest of the day may go wildly askew. But there is something to be sure of each day.

Rereading or rewatching

Reading new books is part of one of my jobs. I get paid to do it. But finding the focus to read lately has been really, really hard and honestly, if I weren’t getting paid to do it I might not be doing it nearly as much.

Right now I’m rereading a book I really love, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, and it’s done wonders for my mood. We’re also watching a lot of cartoons, from Bob’s Burgers to catching up on some animated Disney films we haven’t seen. Really low-stakes stuff and often things with which I already have a familiarity. There are so many absurd things going on in real life, I don’t want to be surprised by some of my media choices.

Spoopy season is upon us

On top of my normal depression, I have summer-onset seasonal affective disorder. The heat has finally died down and I’m feeling more like myself. Also, yes, fall is my favorite. Halloween is my favorite. They’ve been my favorite since I was a child and we absolutely spent the most money ever at Trader Joe’s the other day buying all the pumpkin shit. We’ve re-evaluated our tea stock and purchased some more tea from a local, Black-owned tea company we appreciate, Hella Tea.

<image is 3 second video on a loop of a cup of tea with a spoon shaped like a skull dipping in and out of it>

I also used this as an excuse to buy a new coffee mug:

New coffee mug. #blackgirlnecromancy
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ID: Skeletor from He-Man drinking coffee with the text "I like my coffee how I like myself: Dark, bitter, and too hot for you."
September 11, 2020
<image is black coffee mug featuring Skeletor from He-Man drinking coffee with the text "I like my coffee how I like myself: Dark, bitter, and too hot for you.">

And since Halloween decor is available in stores now, it means I can do my normal shopping. I am definitely leaving this artwork up all year.

<image is four pieces of framed artwork. From left to right, they say, “Home sweet haunted home,” “Eat, drink, and be scary,” “Let’s get spooky,” and “If you’ve got it, haunt it.”>

So, that’s what’s getting me by. Celebrating small successes, because in these times, even the most basic things can be monumental. Finding comfort where I can. And finding joy where I can and also, protecting that joy.

I am 100% open to hearing what has been working for you or people you know, if anything!

That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to subscribe, share it with a friend, and/or give me a tip!

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