I had the grandest of plans for the first seven days of January 2021. I was going to write and take a photo everyday and write some more and drink lots of water and consume less salt and journal and run every morning and go to bed at 10.30 and get up at 7 and eat a more wholesome diet and do my nightly exercise routine. I was going to do everything.
But I didn’t do everything. Far from it. And you know what? That’s OK.
Some Things That Didn’t Go Quite To Plan
- 365 Day Photography Challenge / Thankfully, it dawned on me early on in the week that a 365 Day Photography Challenge was not going to happen. Not this year at least. When I’d accepted the fact I wasn’t going to take and share a photograph every single day of 2021, I felt freer, lighter and more creative. I came up with ideas for other, much more manageable photography projects, some of which you might have already seen me mention. But I do have some surprises too, which will be revealed in the coming weeks.
- Writing A Poem Every Day / Before depression caught up with me in 2019, I used to write a poem more or less every day without needing to think about it much at all. It was just what I did. It was as natural as breathing. The decline in my mental health changed everything. Writing a poem became impossible. In the past few weeks, I’ve been able to write two poems. They have – and I’m so grateful for this – come relatively naturally. But I’m still finding my footing, and I think that to tell myself I’d commit to writing a poem every single day was setting myself up for failure. Perhaps in a few weeks this will have changed, and I’ll feel more capable, but for now, the pressure is off.
- Drinking More Water / I don’t know why I find it such a challenge to drink enough water. I made a promise to myself that I’d have a glass every morning at breakfast then drink up the contents of my colossal water bottle – it really is ridiculously massive – through the day. This didn’t happen every day. Not even close. But I did drink more than what I had been, which, for the record, would be a few sips a day, like, when I’d take my medication or brush my teeth. So I count that as progress. If anyone has any advice on how I can make sure I sup enough water, please do holler in my direction.
- A More Wholesome Diet / I had every intention of eating more wholefoods this year. But, this past week I found myself mostly eating exactly the same meals as what I’d been eating throughout 2020, most of which weren’t the most nutritionally balanced and wholesome. I know it’s a matter of being prepared and having the willingness to spend more time in the kitchen, but during the past seven days I was neither prepared nor willing. I’m trying to come up with ways I can entice myself to spend more time preparing food from scratch, and I thought maybe putting on an audio book or a podcast while I cook. Any recommendations on things I could listen to would be very much appreciated.
The Things That Did Go To Plan
- Blogging Every Day / It was a big deal to me that I managed to blog every day and I felt the greatest sense of achievement when it came to the 7th of January and I could look back at what I’d produced over the week. Yes, some other things were neglected because of it – mostly exercise and sleep – but that’s predominately because it takes me longer to craft a blog post nowadays thanks to my brain rewiring itself after months of inactivity. Posting every day is something I intend to keep doing. While stray thoughts from a depressed wyrdo might not seem that important in the grand scheme of things, creating these posts helps me feel as though I’m living my purpose. So for me, they’re absolutely necessary.
- Spending Less Time On Social Media / At the end of December, when I was writing down what I wanted to achieve in 2021, one of the things on my list was to develop a better relationship with social media. I realized one of the ways to do this was to spend less time on it. During the past seven days, I didn’t look at Facebook or Instagram before midday and it made a radical difference to mood, my creative output and my focus. The time I did spend on social media, I tried to spend productively by engaging with other peoples posts and searching for inspiration. No mindless scrolling that would inevitably leave me feeling like an underachieving, useless heap of a human.
- Reading More / For many months during 2020 I didn’t read any books. I couldn’t concentrate for long enough to make it through one page, let alone hundreds. I also had issues with my eyes during a particularly nasty part of the year when I thought I had cancer. Because my stress levels were so high, my vision would randomly blur. And it would blur worst of all when I tried to read. When I found myself being able to read again, it felt like I’d been handed back the key depression had so heartlessly snatched away. I again had access to all the worlds that were rightfully mine to explore. I started making a list in December of all the books I wanted to read in 2021. And, of course, after the horrendous disaster that was 2020, I went wild. I gratefully started ploughing through that list, reading in the morning after breakfast, in the evening before bed, and whenever little moments opened up during the day.
- Managing My Depression / This wasn’t an easy feat by any means and it was especially challenging when I’d get into bed at night and my thoughts had time to gather. I’d get into bed with the hope that I’d fall asleep straight away. ‘Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off,’ was my mantra whenever I’d find my head getting crowded with voices. Not the sort of profound mantra I expect other folks have when they find themselves under siege, but it helped and I’m here, and I’m writing to you, so I managed my condition better than I could have hoped.
Some Lines From Books I Read
“Snow that wasn’t forecast is the best gift of all.” – Nigel Slater (The Christmas Chronicles)
“A life can change in a paragraph, in a turn of phrase, in a single well-used word.” – Joe Fassler (Light The Dark)
“I felt that magical alchemy of poetry, the way it acknowledges things we can’t fully understand.” – Aimiee Bender (Light The Dark)
“My path as a writer became much more smooth when I learned, when things aren’t going well, to regard my struggles as curious, not tragic.” – Elizabeth Gilbert (Light The Dark)
“Let me fall in love one last time, I beg them. Teach me mortality, frighten me into the present.” – Jack Gilbert (Light The Dark)
Some Things I Watched (And Started Watching)
What I Was Listening To As I Was Writing This