Reflecting On March – A Bittersweet Month

Well, what a month March was. Turbulent, to say the least. 

I thought I’d use this post to share some reflections on what went down in the past four weeks. Excuse me if it isn’t all that well ‘put together,’ but my laptop fan is struggling, and, according to my brother, ‘sounds fucked.’ So concentrating is hellishly difficult with it whirring and spluttering away.

A Bittersweet Month

I Started Using Artificial Sweetener Again Then Stopped

Once upon a time I had anorexia and developed an addiction to artificial sweetener. I took my little tube of aspartame with me wherever I went, so, in the event tea came my way, I’d have them to hand. At the height of my intake, I’d use up to four tablets in a single cup of tea. Thinking about it now makes me balk. Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar. How, how I was capable of ingesting that much sweetener at once is beyond me. How, how could I have possibly found the taste palatable?

After about twelve years, I started to wean myself off them because I’d heard aspartame was linked to cancer. It took a while, but eventually, I started having a teaspoon of sugar instead of my dinky toxic tablets, and I swore off artificial sweetener.

Well, in March just gone, I was trying to cut a large majority of added sugar out of my diet and decided the sugar in my tea would have to go. I tried it without sugar and the pleasure my daily five cups offered was lost entirely. Then I found this stuff called Half Spoon Sugar. Made up of granulated sugar and ‘a touch of sweetener’ (which happened to be my nemesis aspartame), half a spoon contained half the calories and carbohydrates of a teaspoon of sugar while giving you the sweetness of a full spoon.

Ramming the thought ‘ASPARTAME IS DEADLY REMEMBER? YOU FUCKING MUPPET!’ to the very back of my malfunctioning brain, I thought I’d give it a go. Naturally, it didn’t taste good and left that familiar and grim bitter aftertaste.

I used it for less than a week – during which I told myself I’d get used to the bitter aftertaste like I did my first time around with sweetener – before I scolded myself for my moronic behaviour, tossed it in the bin and went back to having regular sugar in my tea. Since this facepalm deserving event, I’ve reduced the sugar in my diet. I now have two cups of tea with sugar a day, and three without. It took three or four days before I became used to having tea without sugar, and I’m doing just fine with my new regime.

I Thought I Had Cancer 

Last year I had a cancer scare with a mole (I was put on the two-week referral list…which in the UK means a specialist must see you within that time.) and so I’ve been on high alert ever since. (Which makes the above tale of the sweetener all the more baffling, doesn’t it?) I’ve been purposefully avoiding visiting certain news sites because they’re always packed with cancer horror stories which I know would send me down a very dark, very deep rabbit hole in search of cancer symptoms of my own.

Anyway, for ages, I’ve had some bumps at the very back of my tongue. I never thought much of them because they didn’t hurt or cause me any bother… But then, for reasons unbeknown, I decided to look at the site which I’d forbade myself for visiting, and, lo and behold, there was an article about a woman who had a lump on her tongue which turned out to be stage 4 cancer. I didn’t read the article itself, just the headline, I was too terrified.

I was also too afraid to Google what tongue cancer looked like because when I’ve ‘self-diagnosed’ in the past, it’s led to all kinds of trouble. So, the next day I called the nurse at my local doctors. They took me through a series of questions and asked me to send photos of my tongue, which I did post haste. I waited for a reply. Then I waited some more. I called up, twice, and asked if anyone would get back to me. After two and a half days of not hearing anything, and with it being Saturday and having had but a few hours of sleep because of anxiety, I found myself checking into Urgent Care at the local hospital.

The nurse looked inside my mouth for all of three seconds before saying ‘your tongue is perfectly normal.’ I burst into tears. She said if I’d looked on Google at what a normal tongue looks like, I would have seen that it looked like mine. I told her I’d been scared to do so. She said ‘take care lovely,’ and left to get the next patient. I rested easy that night.

I Changed Tactics With My ‘To Do’ Lists

A ‘to to’ list is the backbone of my daily routine. Starting a day without a ‘to do’ list is asking for trouble and I feel unsettled whenever it happens. (Exceptions to the rule are when I’m going to be spending the day in nature.)

I have monthly, weekly and daily ‘to do’ lists and, up until two weeks ago, they were all written down in my notebook. When I found I wasn’t meeting my goals and was feeling deeply unsatisfied with the work I was producing, I thought back to when I was at my most productive – during my years at university – and what I was doing back then to keep myself on track. I remembered I used to have my monthly and weekly ‘to do’ lists on my wall, as well as saved as a document on my desktop. I knew I’d have to do that again, and, since I have, much more stuff has been getting done, and I’m feeling pretty fucking great about (most of) what I’m producing. There’s something about ticking those little boxes and scoring lines through my ‘to do’s’ that motives me better than anything else.

The Realities Of Brexit Hit Me

Brexit is, at its most basic, Britain’s biggest fuck up. Nothing riles me more than this topic. The fact that European countries I used to once travel to freely will now have barricades up when I approach their borders is demoralizing, distressing and painful. I wrote about how it’s affected me in this post if you’re after some more detail.

I Accepted I Need Eight Hours Of Sleep

I tried sleeping less in March…to get more stuff done, but it quickly proved to be a fruitless endeavour. Less than eight hours and I forget how to human.

I Bought Hel To Remind Me To Live 

A little bit ago, I published a post about Hel in which I featured this pendent which I mentioned I was thinking about investing in. Well, I ended up buying it because I’ve been thinking about death an awful lot recently, and I thought wearing Hel around my throat would serve as an excellent reminder to live every day as fucking thoroughly as I can. And, she’s beautiful.

I Received Cave Mouth’s Second Album On CD

Cave Mouth’s second album The Dark Has Teeth (it was made in a few short weeks, between depressive episodes in 2020) is upcoming from Non Posse Mori Records, and I got my CD’s yesterday. They’re magnificent. I’ll be putting some up for sale next week if you’re interested along with Cave Mouth patches.

I Went Back On Tumblr

I used to love posting on Tumblr, but stopped eons ago for one reason or another. (I just looked up some of my old Tumblrs – the log-in details are long forgotten – and I found Getting Dressed In The Dark.) The other day when I was paying a visit to Nona Limmen’s Tumblr, I thought to myself, ‘hell, I miss keeping one of these.’ So I’ve set up a new Tumblr site where I’ll be curating a smorgasbord of wyrd wonders. WW&E does have a Tumblr – WordPress posts there automatically – so if you’d like to suggest a name I can use that’s a tad more riveting than Katie Metcalfe, do say!

I Started Taking L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine

Early in March, when my brain was playing dead, and not helping me get shit done, my creativity, as a result, was low and thus my mood plummeted. As it happens, I decided I wasn’t going to wallow and so researched into supplements that could encourage it to pull-itself-the-fuck-together.

I found out about L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine and, after some serious and dedicated research on Reddit and Amazon, decided I had nothing to lose by giving them a whirl. 

Found naturally in green tea (which I don’t like) and black tea L-Theanine is an amino acid which, while not essential, does have numerous benefits including improved focus, better sleep, increased cognitive performance. It’s can also boost the immune system, and may also act as an anti-inflammatory. L-Tyrosine is another amino acid that works to improve mental alertness, memory and creative thinking. 

I noticed a difference within days, of taking the two in conjunction, and I’m not kidding you. My creativity became supercharged, my energy was sky-high, I found myself better able to concentrate for longer, my productivity was better than it had been in years and I was capable of thinking on a much deeper level. All of this led to a great and wonderfully elevated mood. They helped me to feel as if my life was *gasp* falling into place.

I Went Back On Social Media

I hadn’t intended on going back on social media up until a few days ago when I realised I missed connecting with people who love what I love and love to talk about what we love. I felt nervous going back though. My body went into flight mode when I initially made the move to type in my log in details into Facebook. 

Hilariously, Facebook messaged me a few weeks ago saying I had over 100 friend requests. At the time I was like ‘yeah, ha! Don’t fucking think so.’ And my assumption was correct for, when I logged in, I had but one awaiting me. Lie much, Facebook? 

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you’ll know about my sabbatical, why I took it and the effect that taking it had. Though I’ll just reiterate that taking a break was the BEST thing I could have possibly done for my mental and emotional well-being as well as my productivity.

I’m still mulling over how I’m going to approach my relationship with Facebook and Instagram, but if I stay around, I’ve set down a few guidelines for myself, to begin with:

– Schedule a session of social media time into my day for after my work is done. Ensure it doesn’t exceed 30 minutes.

– Continue to keep the Facebook app and messenger app on my phone disabled.

– Ask myself why I have social media and what it is I want to accomplish with it. Write down my ‘why’ and put it where I can see it.

– Have a clear purpose for logging on and stick to it.

– Use people’s posts as inspiration rather than comparison.

– Be more selective about who I follow.

– Think hard about what I’m posting and if I need to post it.

– Always be authentic.

– Check-in with myself about how being back on social media makes me feel. If I find that it’s hurting my productivity, creativity, emotional and mental well-being, log out to take another sabbatical.

I’m sure other stuff happened as well, but I suppose that will do for now. Congratulations if you’ve made it to here, you’re brilliant!

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