#BlogElul 13: Remember

(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)

(pardon my scattered thoughts—I’m writing this with a lot of Benadryl in my system and the exhaustion of someone who chased, wrestled, and carried an almost-nineteen-pound cat to and from the vet today.)

as someone who has both anxiety and ADHD, I have a complicated relationship with remembering. the anxious side of me remembers everything it shouldn’t, like an embarrassing thing that I said to someone seven years ago—and the ADHD side of me cannot remember that she renewed her car registration even when she gets ticketed and, when she does remember, she cannot figure out where the sticker went after it arrived. (this is absolutely a true story, I am sad to say.) but if there’s one thing that this push-and-pull has taught me, it’s this: remembering is an active process. it requires effort to remember, either because one uses tools like reminders and calendars, or because one exerts large amounts of effort and focus to recall the information independently.

but, I think, there is also a Jewish aspect to remembering because remembering is, to me, a mitzvah. the important part is to be careful to remember not for vengeance but for justice; not for trying to find fault for the past but to inform decisions and prevent those mistakes in the future. it is our job to remember in order to preserve, and choosing to do that involves thousands of small decisions that allow us to remember, constantly, who we are as Jews and what that means in a world that is often unfriendly to us. having converted to Judaism, I feel a particular responsibility to remember where I came from and work on building bridges between the world I left and the world I joined. and, of course, there’s the element of wanting to be remembered—wanting to do something that impacts the world in a way that will outlast us. the work is now, and it is never-ending.

Shabbat shalom.

#BlogElul 1: Decide

(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)

it’s interesting that the first thing I have to write about is deciding because it is… not my forte, to say the least. I’m not sure if it’s because I have anxiety about change or because I just find decision-making very emotionally exhausted, so I often struggle to even decide what to eat or wear to work. there is also the fact that, even when I have made a decision, I often struggle to follow-through and complete whatever task I have set ahead for myself. so whether it is a lack of decision or a forgotten decision, this is definitely not a verb that I am very comfortable with.

perhaps that is why this is the word I have to start with as I prepare for the new year—or perhaps it is because deciding is such a big part of my Jewish journey.

Continue reading

reflections, week 21

skipped another week because things have been even wilder… I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, now—I’m hopeful but nervous, and I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other until then.

write something every day (except Shabbat). really fell off the wagon for this for the month, not just this week—from an abandoned bullet journal to various works in progress that have seen no action whatsoever, and I haven’t even been updating my word count spreadsheet. and, as you can see on the blog, it hasn’t been any better here! the truth is that this has been a really difficult month for me on a personal level, and these struggles have consumed every waking moment. it looks like we might be on a path to some resolution, which I hope will allow me to take the reins of my life in the last week of the month!

be better about money. this has been so-so over the past couple of weeks—I think I’ve been doing more spending to try and fill the hole that I’m feeling because of these personal conflicts. I have tried to not buy things that are too frivolous, but the truth is that I did not need all this new baking equipment or the ingredients to test like 10 new recipes (recap coming soon, once I crack the code for the brazo de reina)… I just got them because they made me feel better. I have also replaced my laptop and I’m waiting for the new one to be delivered—but I don’t feel guilty about that because I have had my current laptop for seven years and I love her dearly but she’s ready for retirement.

self-validate more. I’ve realized that there is still a part of this which I am struggling with and which is not so much giving myself credit for the work that I have done or trusting myself to do things—but more about trusting myself and my instincts and my needs without needing anyone’s permission. I really thought that I had gotten over my issues trusting myself but honestly it’s another day, another way in which complex PTSD continues to impact my life. I think that realizing ADHD is part of my life has made it a lot easier to give myself room to struggle with staying organized at home and come up with more regimented systems to support myself in executive functioning—but now it’s time to spread that to being kind and supportive of myself regarding whatever I need for life after trauma.

throughout these dark few weeks, I have been incredibly blessed to have friends and family near and far offer their support in a myriad of ways. if nothing else, that has been a beautiful part of all of this—to know that, even if sometimes I am writing here just for myself, I am not in fact alone. 🙂

thirty, treinta, trente.

a week ago yesterday, I headed out to afternoon tea at The Drake to celebrate my thirtieth birthday with my girls—the same amazing women who helped my wedding happen (with the exception of A, who had to work during our tea time). we had a chance to dress up and just relax with some tea and some treats, and then we went shopping and just had… a chill day, which is something I rarely have a chance to do.

I didn’t want to do anything big or flashy, you see—for a long time, I didn’t even think I would make it to 25, let alone 30.

for most of you, I don’t need to rehash what it’s like to live with mental illness, to wonder whether you’re going to make it through the next fifteen minutes, to try and figure out what the hell is wrong with you that you can’t seem to be an actual human being like everyone else. I was undiagnosed for so long that I managed to convince myself that I was just a complete disaster of a person—and trying to pretend otherwise felt really pointless.

but somehow, between therapy, my friends’ support, and sheer stubbornness? I’ve made it to my 30s, and I’m actually excited to see what happens next!

so, like any other self-respecting millennial, I came with a bucket list of sorts: my 30 for my 30s. I don’t know how this is going to go, seeing as I’m not great at long-term goals like that… but I figure, if there’s ever a time to try, it’s now. 🙂

we’ll see how it goes!

getting tasks done with adhd

something that has always bothered me about my executive dysfunction—and which preventing me from accepting that there was an issue rather than just laziness on my part—is that I do not often struggle to complete tasks, no matter how difficult… but I always struggle to start them. (this is especially the case during bipolar downswings, where motivation is at its lowest and nothing seems rewarding enough to bribe myself with.)

my struggle with task initiation is not unique among fellow ADHD peeps, I have learned; in fact, there are many articles describing it and giving tips. however, I have found that years of maladaptive behaviors on my part mean that some of those tips do not work for me—so I figured I would share what does work! while I used my personal examples for each of these, I have also seen some of my students be successful with these… but, as with everything, YMMV!

Continue reading

on touch and boundaries after trauma

(cw: sexual assault, PTSD, complex PTSD, trigger responses, dissociation, emotional abuse, relationship violence)

the last couple of weeks have been, to be frank, an absolute mess. the stress at work was beyond wild because of this past Monday’s site visit, the results of which will determine whether we get funding to continue our personalized learning journey—and then I had an interesting conversation with a colleague on Thursday the 30th that left me too shaken to write about until, well, now.

it started out innocently enough. we were discussing something unrelated and I mentioned to my colleague that I missed seeing them around, as we just have not coincided in a while. they breathlessly revealed that they have been taking some time off because they were sexually assaulted and are trying to recover from the experience. they then went on to describe the situation in pretty specific detail—and, as (bad) luck would have it, it was really close to my own experiences with assault.

Continue reading

reflections, week 14

I thought last week was difficult—but nothing could have prepared me for this week. I had a pretty intense PTSD episode (post incoming), did some laundry, and tried to keep my head afloat. on a bright side, the walkthrough happened this past Monday and it seems to have gone quite well!

write something every day (except Shabbat). I actually did write every day except Shabbat this past week, not even including academic work, and it was super exciting! I’ve started Camp NaNoWriMo strong—okay, it’s only three days, but I don’t usually start on the 1st so I’m giving myself credit—and I’m actually excited about this story! we’ll see how this goes!

be better about money. I got my tax refund today and I’ve never been more excited to see a deposit in my savings. I’m trying to keep at least 40% of it in savings, so we’ll see how that goes—but all I did with that money today was pay this month’s bills early (aaaaaaand buy tickets for Endgame for myself and some of my closest friends since it comes out my birthday weekend)! I’m gonna also buy some supplies for my classroom and some hair products from ULTA because I’ve been waiting forever to buy them. but overall, I feel pretty excited about making good money decisions lately, including accepting a summer job that I know will be more work but will pay way better than my other option.

self-validate more. my therapist actually remarked on this just this past Monday, as I told her about my PTSD episode and managed not just to avoid negative self-talk but also give myself props for how I handled things. I’m also sitting on that post (I’ve literally got five in the queue), but I’m trying to figure out what makes the most sense when (and what I can finish first).

until the next time, in whichever post that might be!