Self-Care Advent Calendar

This time of year can make it hard to remember to take care of yourself. So in the spirit of the holidays, I have made a self-care advent calendar for December. Feel free to alter any of the activities if you need to, and remember to take care of yourself.

1. Make a list of holiday activities you want to do

2. Make your favourite seasonal clothes easy to find

3. Drink your favourite tea before bed

4. Make a list of things you’re grateful for

5. Turn off your phone for the evening

6. Meditate before bed

7. Have delicious brunch

8. Spend time with friends

9. Do something you love

10. Go for a walk

11. Take half an hour for yourself

12. Go to bed early and read

13. Meet up with a friend for hot chocolate

14. Write about your day

15. Do a holiday activity with someone

16. Do yoga

17. Have a bath

18. Reward yourself with a treat for being awesome

19. Walk or drive around your neighbourhood and look at the lights

20. Eat a good breakfast

21. Read a book by the fireplace

22. Take a long shower

23. Watch a holiday movie

24. Give a gift to someone

Happy holidays!

The Happiness Project: Solo

I’ve never been a person who’s had problems doing things alone. When I lived with my parents I would go to the movies by myself every week. I don’t mind going to eat by myself or go sit in a coffee shop and write. So I thought this month was going to be a breeze. I went into it with a plan. Both my best friend and my girlfriend were going on vacation at the same time and I thought that would be a great opportunity to take myself on some nice dates. I’d go to the movies, out for dinner, stuff along those lines. 

Then November came around… With Christmas coming around, funds are a little low, not to mention time. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on Christmas gifts and all my money on the rest of them. So dates by myself weren’t exactly going to happen. 

Then there was the other factor. For anyone who listens to my podcast, you’ve probably heard my episode on Favourite People. I’m not going to sum it up here (but I recommend you go listen to that episode if you want to learn more). Anyways, Andrea is my favourite person and I was really struggling with the idea of her going away for a week and a half. Everyone else was so excited and happy for her, and I was too, but underlying it all was an overwhelming sense of panic and abandonment. Yes, I’m aware it was only a week and a half. I know most people would think I’m being completely unreasonable, but it was a big deal to me. I was talking to another woman with BPD beforehand and she completely got it. 

Anyways, before Andrea left she made sure to remind me that there are other people who love me and that I should leave the house every once in a while. I like to think I succeeded. I went to my friend’s Caffe one night, went to a show with one friend, out for coffee with one, for lunch with one, and I even hung out with a few friends to watch a movie. And yes, I did end up taking myself out for dinner one night too. I also let someone help me when I was having a really hard day. She came over and really lifted my spirit. It’s hard for me to admit when I need help, so I’m really proud of myself for admitting that. 

I’ve really been working on expanding my support system. Reaching out to more people, taking on a lot more myself. It’s hard but therapy, DBT, and CBT are working wonders.

I thought this month was going to be about me doing things by myself, but it wasn’t at all. It ended up being about doing things without Andrea and also accepting help. The theme of the month may have been solo but even my childhood hero Han Solo needed help sometimes. He had Luke and Leia and I have my friends too. Now, I don’t need validation for doing this. I needed to do it for myself. 

Join me next month for joy. Yes, an appropriate theme for December, I’m aware. 

Introducing Not Enough Spoons

I’m sure anyone who follows me on Twitter already knows this, but May is mental health awareness month. I used to keep pretty quiet about my own mental illness, but it’s never going to be normalized if we don’t talk about it. I’m not ashamed that to quote a friend of mine, I have a bunch of letters and acronyms that follow my name. Alicen Ricard, sufferer of GAD, OCD, BPD, and depression. Not as good of a title as Daenerys Targaryen, but I own it. I am not my mental illnesses but I do have mental illnesses and I’m not afraid to talk about it.

One of the steps I’m taking in my mission to normalize mental health issues is to start a podcast about it. I’ve been working on it for quite a while and am pleased to announce that the first episode is going to be released next week.

I approached my friend Andrea and I one night and nervously told her my idea and asked if she’d produce it. To my delight, she said yes and the podcast was born.

With help from my co-host/producer, Andrea, I dive into various topics on mental illness and types of mental illness themselves while debunking common stigmas and misconceptions about them.

I’m more than a little nervous about putting my own story and mental illness on the line, but I truly feel it’s important.

Not Enough Spoons podcast will release its first episode on May 21, 2019.

You can follow us on:

If you have a topic suggestion for us or want to share your own mental health journey with us you can send an email to notenoughspoonspodcast@gmail.com

“I Suck” and Other Borderline Thoughts

This past year has been a mental health challenge to say the least. Back in October I had depressive episode bad enough that I finally went on antidepressants. Though my depression did get better after that, my struggle was far from over.

Fast forward to January of this year and things started going downhill again. I was medicated, I didn’t have the same stresses I had back in 2018, so why wasn’t I feeling better? It all came to light when a friend mentioned a topic I didn’t want to talk about and my emotions went off the rail. I had a complete meltdown and I didn’t know why. That friend grew more concerned as I pulled away from her and shut off my phone so I could ignore her and the rest of the world.

I had so many thoughts and feelings and the emotions were clearly clouding my judgement. I wanted to immediately go see my friend and hear her say everything was going to be okay, but at the same time I had pulled away, so clearly she hated me now. Right? Wrong! This is just one of the many lies my brain tells me.

Turns out it wasn’t just my depression and anxiety that were kicking my ass. If you follow me on twitter and saw my outburst this month after I had some anon asshole tell me I shouldn’t tweet about such a “volatile illness”, then you already know this, but for the rest of you, I have Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD. Don’t know what that is? You’re not alone.

BPD is commonly mistaken for bipolar disorder, and although similar, they aren’t the same. I could give you some clinical description of BPD but honestly those never make it sound great. I did way too much reading after the diagnosis, as the only things I knew about it were from watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (which is amazing and you should all go watch it!). The reading just sent me into a downward spiral as a lot of books and articles really villainize it. People with BPD are seen as volatile monsters that can’t control their emotions or maintain friendships or relationships.

Let me just say, this isn’t true. People with BPD love big. I once told a friend we have so much love in our hearts for our close friends and family that we don’t have any left for ourselves. I personally don’t really seem to have trouble maintaining friendships, but that might be because my friends (especially the select few that know I have BPD) are stubborn and refuse to let me sabotage any of the relationships in my life. The only person I struggle to love is myself, but I’m working on that. Despite the title of this blog post, I don’t suck, even if my brain lies to me sometimes and tells me I do. I’m trying my best.

Struggling to deal with emotions is a huge part of BPD. I suffer from emotion dysregulation and black-and-white thinking (using always and never statements about yourself and others that may be harmful. Example: I’m never going to be able to do this). Add my anxiety and depression into the mix and my brain is a hot mess of emotion at any given point and time. I’ve cried more in the past few months than I ever have in my life. And considering the amount I cried last year, that’s saying something. I use a mood tracker and the vast amount of sting emotions I can go through in a single day is a little crazy.

But back to my point, once I found out I had BPD and cried for a while (followed by listening to “My Diagnosis” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on repeat), I realized the past year (longer, if I’m being honest) suddenly made so much more sense. Suddenly I knew why I was struggling to “get over” emotional situations.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s been rough. I’d like to express nothing but gratitude to the people I’ve broken down and cried on because I just couldn’t handle all the emotions anymore. Nothing with BPD is a quick fix. I meditate, do grounding exercises, see a therapist, go to a BPD support group, and do daily Dialectical Behaviour Therapy homework. I work out even when I don’t want to. I journal nightly. I work so hard to maintain my mental health, and sometimes it still fails. But I don’t give up. I’m in this for the long haul.

Now, I’m not saying any of this for sympathy. There’s nothing I hate more. I’m here to break down stigmas. I want nothing more than to spread awareness about a terribly stigmatized but not well-known mental illness. Talking about all this feels like coming out all over again (actually worse, cause I never really “came out” I just started dating women and didn’t care anymore who noticed). This is worse, because I don’t want anyone to think less of me, but the only way I’m going to break that is talking about it. So I refuse to be quiet anymore.