10 Steps on How to Stay Calm During Finals

The original: 130: 10 Steps on How to Stay Calm

  1. Take the classic big deep breath in
  2. And out
  3. Write down a list of everything that you need to accomplish (I use Todoist)
  4. Start adding those things you need to do to your calendar as little events (Google Calendar is a classic)
  5. Try the Pomodoro method, 25 minutes of focused work with a 5 minute break (the free version of the app Focus Keeper is my fave)
  6. Take breaks that are constructive for you, such as some sort of physical activity or catching up on a favorite TV show
  7. Switch up where you study; find new places to do work so that you don’t lose focus
  8. Don’t forget your basic needs (i.e., showering, eating, sleeping)
  9. And take one more damn breath in
  10. And out

Final(s)

This word of the day was too easy. I’m sitting in yet another coffee shop—this time the classic Starbucks since it opens at 6:30 AM—doing work of some variation. I’m wearing a sweatshirt with no bra; you can see my nipples. I’m wearing my mom’s leggings; you can see panty lines. Finals are going well.

I’ve already taken my physics exam and received 0.3 above the minimum for the letter grade that I want. I’m studying biochemistry at the moment, writing in a Rhodia notebook with a sepia tone pen. I’m boujee, remember?

I always go back to this time last year. This time last year during finals week, I got mono and passed out on the floor in my dorm room. I had to be taken to the hospital by EMS. I was afraid of what could be wrong. And behold, I had mono. I attribute the kissing disease to “wet week” a month and a half prior.

I did absolutely horrible on my finals last year. Many of those grades bumped me even lower than I already had (cough, cough—genetics). Being hospitalized earlier in the month and now being sick, I had to take incompletes on my final papers. I had a ton of fun doing those over the summer. Woo hoo.

Now, I’m sitting cross-legged on a wooden chair at a table with my study materials sprawled out ready to get another dirty chai. I finally feel capable for finals week. Like my pen-stained pencil case says, “just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…”

via Daily Prompt: Final

I’m in a Maze

I’ve found myself stuck in a maze for the past two weeks. I don’t know where I’m supposed to go. At the moment, I’m sipping a matcha latte and staring at a shelf full of Jose Cuervo. I’ve found a new place that I can inhabit. It’s a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop a block away from my apartment. It has orange and white striped walls and tiny wooden tables accompanied by chairs clad in floral padded seats. It’s quite nice.

However, I still don’t know where I get out of this maze. I’ve made many varied attempts. I hung out with the same Jose Cuervo this past Saturday night and made friends with a flattened hamburger on my floor. I immersed myself in Sense8 and pasta with solely Parmesan cheese instead of watching a rightfully underrated musical group perform. Despite these varied measures, I still don’t feel like I’ve found the exit of this feeling: one of sadness and confusion about such sadness.

Someone once told me to think of the unknown causes of emotions this way: imagine a man standing on a bridge with water below. His pants are on fire. He doesn’t know why his pants are on fire. He tries to think back to whether he was smoking or if there was a fire nearby. But he shouldn’t do that. He should just jump into the damn water and put out the fire on his pants.

I know this will pass. “This too shall pass,” my grandma always tells me. I hate that saying; she says it too damn much. I also hate “everything happens for a reason.” Sure things need to have some root cause, but you can’t always know the reason. Sometimes you just need to do keep on trying doing something good for you now and think about the cause later. Sometimes you just need to jump in the water.

via Daily Prompt: Maze

I am Better

I talked about how this time last year I was hospitalized for severe depression (in Who I am Not). My favorite uncle had recently passed from colon cancer in April. School was hard for me, between counting thousands of flies and writing out organic chemistry reactions. It was easy for my anxiety to take over and send me into a depression.

It was after my sorority’s formal that I intentionally stepped in front of a moving car. I told my therapist and she suggested that I go to the hospital. I told my mom and soon her and my father were up at school, ready to take me home.

After the hospital, I spent the summer in an intensive outpatient program. With five hours a day, five days a week, there was barely any time for me to enjoy myself. Not like I could remember what I enjoyed doing.

Even last semester, I entered into a two week depression. Taking forever to leave my bed, forgetting how many days it had been since I had showered, failing to reach out to even my closest of friends. It was all so hard for me to even think about.

Despite all that I have gone through in the past year, I am now in good place. I’ve regained my characteristic motivation. I am motivated to do well in my classes, reach out to friends and family, and do the things I know remember that I love.

This time last year, sitting in the psychiatric ward at the cafeteria tables looking out at the rain, I would’ve said I’ve been better. But now, looking at those same water droplets hit the Ithaca soil, I can say I am better.

via Daily Prompt: Better

Heard From Here

I pull the dirtied string, the window nude,

Stripping left blind higher, faster than right.

Space well-hidden between homes exposes

A tree stuck thin between the house cracks.

 

Laughter unleashed into streets, hyenas

Howling at the moon from the pavement.

A year ago my laugh was with these above,

Our sound in unison with pitch and tone.

 

It is a song best sung together. But now

Depression sings the taste of sour grapes.

Here, dried fruit falls from vines onto the floor,

Ants circling around the concord spheres.

 

I can still hear those laughs from here. Yet

If I push myself, it’s only back to sleep.

 

–Elizabeth Lacey

124: Who I am Not

I am many things. A daughter, a sister, a friend. I’m a student, a researcher, a writer. I am many things but I am not my depression, my anxiety, my obsessive compulsive disorder.

It was this time last year that I was hospitalized for severe depression. I didn’t even know that it was Cinco de Mayo then. Not like it mattered; I was in a psychiatric ward with no allowance to the outside world.

Being in the hospital, you only focus on yourself. There are groups that you go through in the same recreation room throughout the day to understand the mental illness you are dealing with. By this, it’s hard to draw the line between yourself as a person and the state of your mental health.

After being released, I still had a hard time differentiating between who I am as a person and the handful of mental illnesses I had been diagnosed with. I thought of myself as my depression, my anxiety, my obsessive compulsive disorder. Combined with the unfortunate stigma surrounding mental illness, I looked down on myself as a person.

It wasn’t until a certain exercise in an intensive outpatient program over the summer that I realized the extent of my identity. The therapist first told us to draw a bubble with “me” written in the center. Then she told us to write the particular illness or illnesses we have in their own bubbles around the first one. Finally, she told us to write who we are to others and our interests in other bubbles surrounding those original drawings.

With that inspiration, I was to fill up the majority of the page with bubbles other than my mental illnesses. That drawing showed that I am so much more than a few diagnoses.

I am many things. 

via See Jane Write: 365 Blog Post Ideas and Writing Prompts

Shook/Triggered

I am shook. 

This phrase is commonly used by my fellow millenials in reference to being panicked. You will commonly hear these three words when either of the following occurs: you see that guy who ghosted you via Snapchat in the stacks, someone makes a comment in favor of the conservative stance on reproductive rights, or CTB has run out of their classic sun dried tomato bagel.

You will also hear that they were triggered. But what do they mean by that word?

In a sense, they mean to express that they are offended or that their feelings are hurt (thanks, Urban Dictionary). However, the psychological intent of the word triggered is when someone’s mental illness is exacerbated. You don’t seem so triggered now, do you?

But that’s fine; you don’t need to have a mental illness to be triggered. There can be memories or traumas in your life that you would prefer not to be reminded of. For example, unseasonal weather triggers me. It reminds of me of this time last year when my uncle was slowly passing away and I was entering a depression. As a result, I wasn’t one to chill on the slope in February when it was a mild seventy degrees.

We all have our triggers and it’s important to know them. If I didn’t know I retreated into my room and isolated myself whenever the weather was nice, I’d be much more distressed trying to figure out why.

So claim to be shook. But don’t consider CTB running out of your favorite bagel to be one of your triggers. The garlic is so much better anyway.

via Daily Prompt: Panicked