SETBACK IS NOT FAILURE

I’ve been off social media and blogging since mid June. I took a short break after I felt my mental health suffer from the constant negative news of COVID-19 and the re-emergence of a second wave of the virus where I live. Many things have happened during my sabbatical – some funny, some embarrassing and a few not so great. I’ll start at the beginning; the moment that prompted my temporary absence.


Reflection from 26/06/20 – prior to the second wave of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown.

For the last six months, I’ve been feeling happy and mentally healthy. I’ve worked on improving social connections, reducing social anxiety and negativity, and lessening the need for control. ‘Let It Go’ has become my new mantra. In fact, not long ago, I suggested to my doctor that perhaps I had reached the stages of maintenance or recovery. Yesterday, I had a humbling reminder that achieving good mental health is an ongoing journey and setbacks can happen. In actuality, setbacks are part of the recovery.

Late in the afternoon, seemingly out of nowhere, I started experiencing shortness of breath, coughing and tightness in my chest. It felt like an elephant had nestled down on my sternum. My immediate thought was ‘grab the puffer, it’s an asthma attack’. If I hadn’t panicked and had taken a moment to think, I would have concluded that a random asthma attack while playing a Nintendo game was improbable.

Frantic to alleviate the shortness of breath, I puffed Ventolin like it was going out of fashion. It did nothing but gave me the shakes and dizziness. You’d think being an ex-pharmacist, I’d be a tad more informed but no, gasping for air must have killed all rational brain cells. My husband suggested I sought medical attention and question possible COVID-19 infection.

I was promptly seen at the medical clinic with the doctor checking all of my vitals, including oxygen saturation. When asked what triggered the symptoms, I was at a loss. In the morning, my three-year-old son and I had watched trains past at the nearby train station, played at the local park and had babychinos.

At the time of the attack, we were playing Animal Crossing, making ‘money’ through the sale of harvested fruit. It’s a big loan, two and a half million ‘dollars’ to be exact, so there could be some causality. It’s not completely outside the realm of possibility.

The most likely trigger was the discussion I had with my husband, which had taken place an hour prior to the onset of symptoms. We were deciding whether or not it was in everyone’s best interest to travel almost seven hours to stay with the in-laws amidst the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections. It was a mutual agreement to can the trip.

The doctor gave me two options; go to the emergency department for oxygen nebulisation and get checked for COVID-19, blood clots and asthma or stay in the clinic’s treatment room for observation after taking a Valium for a suspected panic attack. I countered with ‘I think I’ll just walk it off. Uh… or go home and rest.’ In the end, I reluctantly took the Valium and waited in the treatment room for the dizziness, pins and needles, tremors and chest tightness to dissipate.

As I sat on the treatment bed, several nurses came in and out of the room to gather medical supplies and asked why I was there. I felt embarrassed having to repeatedly admit that I had suffered a panic attack and as a result, hyperventilated. I also felt ashamed for occupying a treatment room and wasting the doctor’s time, who could have attended to patients with ‘real’ problems. Stupid, right?

Instead of accepting it for what it was – a panic attack, I let the experience colour my interpretation of my self-worth. I failed. Therefore, I am a failure. I allowed myself to believe that falsehood.

That internal dialogue of mine can be cruel and critical, making me proficient at self-sabotage. I’m quite the high-achiever in that regard. I have such a negative perception of myself that every time I am faced with challenges or a setback, I am quick to accept defeat.

Ironically, I am fast to point out to others the importance of being kind to yourself and owning and valuing your truth. It’s high time I heed my own advice.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

 

JOURNEY TO MATURITY

During lockdown, we bought a Nintendo game called Animal Crossing. Have you heard of it? It’s a popular social simulation game where you play a customisable character that willingly moves to a deserted island run by a (shady-ass) raccoon named Tom Nook, the island landlord. He gives you a tent and some tools. You make ‘money’ through selling fish and bugs that you catch. Pillaging and pilfering for resources from smaller islands and trading on the turnip stock market gets you the big bucks (ahem… just a tip). You can recreate your own dream island filled with friends, fruit and money trees, a museum and a clothing store. If you don’t mind repaying exorbitant mortgage loans to Tom, you can turn your humble tent into a three storey house and hoard furniture and clothes until your heart’s content.

Anyway, I’m getting off track. The point is, the kids love this game and so do I. It’s fun, friendly and ever so addictive. Whenever my three-year-old son has a turn, he likes to take off all his character’s clothing and run around in his underwear. Whenever my seven-year-old daughter has a turn, she likes to go to the clothing store and spend all her money on unnecessary fashion.

It’s painful to sit and watch them play. I have a habit of telling them what to do. I remind them that there’s fruit to harvest and sell, weeds and fallen sticks to pick up, mortgage loans to repay, and island star ratings to consider.

My husband always says, “Let them play their game how they want.”

You see, I forget that each child is playing the game to their level of maturity. Each person is unique in their definition of success and their journey to maturity. What a three-year-old boy finds interesting is different to that of a seven-year-old girl. And the same goes for adults.

My son is a hoarder of fish and furniture. He has a room filled to the brim with fish tanks and furniture stacked randomly inside and outside of his house. My daughter has questionable taste in fashion and wallpaper. She will spend her entire savings at the clothing store. But that is their game. That is what’s important to them. That is where they are in their journey.

As an adult, I am used to running on that pesky treadmill of life (obviously not literally because sweating and I have a hate-hate relationship). I am much further along in my journey to maturation, having experienced some high and lows of this rollercoaster called a life. Sometimes I forget to have realistic expectations of my children.

I need to remind myself to give my children the freedom to grow emotionally, socially, spiritually and intellectually at a pace that meets their needs. They will have plenty of years to be burdened by the complexities of life but as a parent, I can try to shelter them as best I can. Hopefully, in a way that doesn’t turn them into precious snowflakes!

In the meantime, I’ll wait until they’re asleep to log onto Animal Crossing to harvest all those unpicked fruit, make some money and pay off their loans. Hey, I’m not addicted! Someone’s gotta do it. Well, that’s the excuse I’m sticking to.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

SQUARE CUT

Most people will fork out the money to have their hair cut and styled by a professional. Why? Because unless you have eyes behind your head and extra limbs, it’s pretty hard to give yourself an even trim or a styled haircut. A DIY dye job? Yeah, achievable for the majority. DIY highlights? Doable for some. For most people, the cost of a trip to the hairdresser is insurance against sporting a hair fail that will take months to grow out. That’s not to say that disastrous results don’t happen at salons but you’d think the odds are lower.

So why are we quick to grab the kitchen scissors and offer our services to hack someone else’s hair? Why do we think we can do the job a professional is trained to do?

When my daughter was two-years-old, I convinced my husband that trimming her hair would be easy peasy. It would save us money and time, and spare her the trauma of facing a stranger wielding sharp scissors. Luckily, I succeeded in giving our daughter a decent hairdo. As a result, my husband readily agreed to the next cut.

Only something terrible happened. Maybe it was the pressure of expectations. Maybe I had a bad pair of scissors. Maybe the three cups of coffee I had prior made my hands shaky. If I’m being totally honest with myself, the first time was probably a fluke.

Whatever the case, I gave my almost three-year-old daughter a sixteenth century Trappist monk-like haircut, minus the bald spot. You know the one I’m talking about? AKA a mushroom cut or a bowl cut. I kept trying to correct the uneven bits and instead of cutting my losses, I pressed on. Eventually, I had to stop because I ran out of hair to cut.

My poor little girl lost her wavy brown tresses and had to sport a Dumb and Dumber look for months. A beanie became her best friend. Suffice to say, my haircutting privileges were revoked, never to be returned. We learned a valuable lesson from this mishap.

1. Less is more.
2. Know when to quit.
3. Sometimes accepting mistakes is better than trying to fix them.
4. Some things are best left to the professionals.

When my three-year-old son needed a haircut last week, I didn’t think twice about booking an appointment. Unfortunately, our usual hairdresser was fully booked for another month and given that Henry’s fringe had started impinging on his sight, I felt the urgency in getting the task done. We visited two hair salons before dropping into the nearest barber.

Poking my head into the shop, I asked the man if they catered for children. The man looked at Henry and said, “It depends. Will he sit still? Will he behave?” I should have listened to my ‘this is a bad idea’ instincts and backed the fudge away but I hadn’t wanted the time spent searching to be in vain.

After reassuring both the man and Henry, we proceeded with the haircut. My only stipulation was that he didn’t use a hairdryer or an electric razor as Henry is sensitive to the noise. The last time Henry visited the hairdresser, he spent the entire time with an anxious scowl, watching for any movement towards the dreaded handheld hairdryer.

The man complained that it would be difficult to execute a good cut without them. That should have served as a second warning from the Universe but like a stubborn mule, I ignored the tingling bells.

This man was like Edward Scissorhands reincarnated. He snipped and clipped at a furious rate. Poor Henry had his eyes squeezed shut and shoulders bunched for the whole duration. I could understand his reaction because it was terrifying to watch. I kept saying, “You’re doing so well buddy. The man’s a professional. He knows what he’s doing and he WON’T cut you.” I was tempted to pull the plug half-way through.

Ten minutes later, twenty bucks down and Henry walked out physically unscathed but sporting a professional crooked square haircut. You know the one I’m talking about? Unintentional blunt bangs that was in desperate need of some texturing and a leveller, and jagged sideways lightning bolts around the outside of the ears.

I don’t know what is worse; a DIY Trappist monk inspired haircut or an expensive haircut from a barber with the fine motor skills of a preschooler.

Anyway, it was my bad. Again. If I’m not prepared to drop into any old salon and get my hair styled by an unknown hairdresser, why did I subject my kid to that treatment? I chose the fastest way to solve a problem at the cost of my son’s comfort. I learned another valuable lesson here.

When my son asks, “Where are the photos of my first days at kinder?”, I’m gonna have to say iCloud got hacked but only those specific photos got deleted.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/