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Thoughts: Blue - by Julie R.N

by Julie Roussy Newton |

Mental health and well-being during a pandemic

A very specific shade of blue is the same colour as my Dad's eyes, and so are a pair of scrubs that he wears to work, which are his favourite.

Similar in colour, but in a bit of a warmer tone, are the blue disposable gloves. Lighter and clearer but colder, is the blue of his surgical face masks.

Indigo changes from shade to shade, depending on the time you keep the textiles in the dye-bath, the strength of the prepared indigo, the temperature that the dye is, and finally the temperature that you rest the fabric in, after it is dyed. I like working with indigo because of its consistency in working out. During these times, I have found comfort in the certainty that if I follow my indigo recipe with any attention, I will have a strong blue as a result.

I think blue will be what I remember when I look back on this time in my life. A time with uncertainty, sadness and courage. Over the course of the past 2 months, my mental health and my mental well-being have been many different shades of blue, like lots of people I know.

I have been trying to remind myself that all we can do is our best, but that is easier said than message received sometimes. I have take 60mL of Fluoxetine every day for the past 2 years, and I've worked closely with doctors at the UBC Mood Research Center to better stabilize my highs and lows. Throughout my life, the more I meet people and talk about mental health, the more I realize the importance of bringing light to this topic. We are together in this even if we can't be together IRL :)

I saw something my friend posted that has stayed with me for weeks. A picture of a sign in someone's home that said,

Resist the urge to make this about yourself.

This is really hard. Because obviously, these times are sucking for all of us for different reasons. But whenever possible, please count your blessings. For myself, focusing on what I have and can still do is keeping me grateful and somewhat positive. I also have stopped checking the news for the past week and my body feels less toxic on the inside!

During this time, my mom and I have been taking best possible care of my dad, because his health is our #1 priority. Our actions during this time hold heavier significance. The important sacrifices we have been taking are not in vain. They are keeping people like my dad, who works in a hospital every day, safe. I recognize that I am in a privileged position because I am able to stay home, work from home, and have food and shelter and love provided to me by my family. I am so grateful, more than ever, for my family. I'm grateful for my health, my able body. The question for me right now is not how society can help me but how I can be of service.

That being said, obviously, it's not been the easiest time. I look forward to hugging all my friends so much when it is safe to do so. I have been trying to balance my mental health as best as possible. Creating a schedule really works for me... I usually start with:

What do I want to achieve this week?

and break it down into tasks that I could do each day to try and achieve my goal. Say it is: I want to put X amount of new items online. On Sunday I break up my week into what needs to happen for completion and go onwards with my week.

In the mornings I like to start my day off outside in fresh air, moving my body. Whether that be a walk with Fig or tending to my garden, I am thankful for the warmer days and brighter evenings.

I have really taken to gardening. I enjoyed gardening so much in high school ( I wanted to join the gardening club at Magee but was too shy lol). In the past years, I tried my hand at it but I was always too busy and my garden didn't get the time it deserved... NOT this year! Time kind of passes for me right now in the increments of centimetres my garden grows. It is soothing, satisfying and mind busy-ing work. Being all dirty in the garden and connecting to how our food is produced is neat!

I am in the fortunate position where I have all the time in the world to learn new things and help others.

I have been keeping busy with work, making masks for those in need and calling my friends around the world. I had weeks earlier on, of checking the news, 500 times a day, and having crippling anxiety attacks... Self soothing by smoking weed and eating.. But right now with my schedule and being in touch with friends and having goals to work on, my dad to cook for and care for, I feel hopeful. 

I wanted to create this series of mental health posts to share our stories, maybe learn from each other about what works and what does not... and to keep the conversation open on mental health, especially during these trying times when we are spending lots of times confined indoors.

Thank you all for supporting hijulez during this time while I know it's also been difficult for you too. I love you all!

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