Everything has gone wrong. What am I supposed to do?
Today is a Monday, I woke up at 9am but I didn’t get out of bed till 12pm. I showered, ate lunch and then started writing what I felt until eventually I landed here at 6pm.
I quit my job in September 2019 and began slowly building a vegan fashion brand throughout the end of that year, travelling between London and New Delhi to create the products I wanted to sell. On January 2nd 2020 I fell down some stairs and broke my foot, it was so broken that after a month of attempting to heal in an Air Boot my doctor viewed my X-Rays and recommended surgery because the bone wasn’t healing at all.
So here I was, unemployed, broke and literally broken unable to travel for my work and mushed on painkillers with a cast and wires in my foot. My father who had been living in India flew to London to keep an eye on me. My dog sat on my bed with me waiting for a walk and my mental health bounced from panic at the dwindling numbers in my bank account to guilt at the lack of productivity that I needed to fund my life. I settled into numbness at just accepting that this was my life and vegetating in front of Netflix all day. I’m a pretty social person, like my greatest joy is being outside with friends enjoying the world but I started dodged requests from friends coming to visit. I lived in pyjamas and bed for months, telling everyone who asked that I was fine. Everything is fine. I’m lucky to have a roof over my head and food on my plate, this will pass. But I was sad. Very sad.
In mid March, as I was beginning to recover and the wires were out the world changed. Coronavirus, a term I had never heard before, was sweeping over the world, infecting millions and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Lockdown began the week that I was finally going to have my first outing and after being stuck all year I was torn between numbly letting myself sink into more depression or attempt to figure out what the hell I was going to do. My father who had practically moved to the UK to take care of me fell under the most vulnerable category, with COPD issues and I couldn’t risk him catching it, especially when one of his best friends had passed away after contracting Covid-19 in late March. We were in lockdown.
Here’s the thing, work wise I was screwed. No one was shopping for clothes, the fashion business was suffering so the brand that I was building wasn’t going to make me a penny and the work needed to make them (factories, travelling to make sure the fitting was correct) wasn’t happening either.
Here I am, 27 years old, 7 (now 8) months into unemployment and living in my parents house with nothing left in my bank account. Everything has gone wrong. What am I supposed to do?
I created a small website using easy at home vegan recipes that I had created for instagram over the last 5 years. That was all I could focus on to stay sane while my foot recovered and I had already worked on it slowly over March. So I forced myself to finish the website in a week and publish it. There, something productive I could do.
I created it, published it live and tried to push it on social media. It gets a few hits but it’s the internet and there are people with actual degrees and life experience in restaurants, who was I kidding myself. I stopped updating the website.
Now April rolls around and I’m able to start physiotherapy and get out of the boot more and more. There’s a lot of guilt accumulating within because of my unemployment status. I refused to register with the government for unemployment because I’m embarrassed to. I don’t want to let myself off of the hook, I was meant to be launching a business by now and I wanted to change the world with it. I was meant to have learned everything I could by now about the industry. I should be able to answer questions about the fabric and ethical fashion by now without hesitation. But I can’t because I wasted so much time wallowing in my depression, I felt like a imposter, I kind of still do.
STOP, that’s what the tiny rational voice in my head tells me. Just don’t think about that part, carry on.
Paralysed by depression sounds like an eloquent way of putting it.
I went through the months of February and March (and April if I’m being completely honest) waking up every morning with zero purpose. What was the point of a day? I could do nothing, it sort of felt like a waste of a life and of the time other lives had spent cultivating this one. I imagine many other people might feel this way. Is there solidarity in feeling like you’re not the only one?
In April I took to working on myself. If I can’t make anything, if I cannot work right now then maybe I can fix myself.
Here are 5 things I’ve tried to do every day that make me feel like my day was time well spent;
A 45 - 90 minute walk with my dog.
I started forcing myself to do this after hearing on a Deliciously Ella Podcast that she makes the most of the first two hours of her day every day, walking her dog every day no matter the weather. Now the first two hours of my day are usually spent staring at the ceiling or my phone screen so I’m not exactly Ella level productive, but the thought that I'm performing something similar to someone I admire helps me feel better. I sometimes listen to a podcast during the walk to feel productive, kind of killing two birds with one stone. Fresh air, tick!
Cooking at least one meal a day
What you put into your body is important, it’s what all health inspo bloggers say and they’re always smiling with chiseled abs on instagram so they must know what they’re talking about right? Knowing what ingredients are going into my food gives me a sense of control over my own life. Cooking is a form of meditation for me and I love food so the end result is something tangible that I can have pleasure in, like a reward for the hard work. Meal done, tick!
Doing Physiotherapy/ Instagram, Youtube or Pinterest stretches or workouts for at least 10 minutes a day
Yes, I’m that asshole who wants to come out of quarantine with abs and the ability to get through a spin class without wanting to throw up. I had to start physiotherapy for my foot so my doctors at the NHS sent an email with at home exercises. I was already moving so I started googling hurt food workouts and checking Pinterest images for workout plans to do after physiotherapy. It’s amazing how much information is available out there for free right now. I’ve become obsessed with Romee Strigd's (the Victoria Secret Model) Youtube Channel. She seems so happy travelling the world with her boyfriend for work, exercising almost every day and eats well so it’s inspired me to behave a little bit more like that even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Soul Cycle, Core Collective and Psycle London have free classes online and I’ve tried these out over the last 2 weeks. Doing them from the safety of my own home has enabled me to wobble and edit these to work with my still weak foot without anyone watching. Sweat session, tick!
Not watching Netflix until after dinner
It’s a new nonnegotiable for me. I spent the first 4 months of this year watching Netflix everyday and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of the guilt at the end of the day when my greatest achievement was watching 10 episodes of One Tree Hill. It’s a hilarious anecdote on a phone call but at one point there’s nothing else to watch. Time flies by when you’re passively staring at a screen. Sometimes you can get immersed in the emotions of the characters on the screen and it will affect your mood, most likely it’s something stressful because let’s be honest, there’s nothing exciting about a show where a person is genuinely happy all the time. On the days when I don’t want to actively do something I’ve started going onto youtube and watching videos of people who are productive (think 'how to do your taxes', 'how to make cheese using cashews' or, if I’m feeling particularly impressive, Ted Talks). Screen time spent wisely? Tick!
From jumping in a shower for five minutes for a quick clean and change of underwear to a hot bubble bath and a long hair wash. Feeling clean makes you feel better, trust me I’ve spent months in pyjamas and greasy hair, there is definitely a difference.
Not convinced? It’s also a great place to cry in when the others in my home are irritating me (honestly who hasn’t cried in the shower or bath this year?) The door locks and no one can come in and talk to you when you need silence.
A doctor recommended that I take a bath every few days to help the muscles in my foot get better so I’ve been taking 20 minute soaks a few times a week and it is BLISS. Just before bed with a good playlist. Cleaned myself? Tick!
I might have lost you there, but just hear me out.
Drinking aggravates depression. Someone has definitely proved this but I’m too tired to go find proof right now so just use your past experiences. Being home drunk with nothing to wake up for the next morning is like asking for someone to punch you in the head when you wake up. I'm not saying stop drinking, but I now limit it to once a week. What are you getting drunk for? Don’t drink to feel better, drink to feel even better. I’m currently trying this out and it seems to help a lot with waking up in the morning. Once a week? Tick!
I wonder if this is a routine that most productive and successful people just do effortlessly. Today is a Monday, I woke up at 9am but I didn’t get out of bed till 12pm. I showered, ate lunch and then started writing what I felt until eventually I landed here at 6pm. I’ll eat dinner and go for a walk during sunset before turning on Netflix and falling asleep and that's okay because I did 4 things today that made me proud.
What’s the takeaway from this self therapy writing? Realising that it’s okay to not be the person who you want to be right now. If you want to be that person, to begin you can incorporate some things that bring you closer to them. If you don’t know where to start, look to people who inspire you and learn from what they do. Maybe one day you’ll realise you’re closer than you think.