Monthly Archives: August 2016

Get Your Shit Together August: Behavioral Health Treatment

And we’re back for week three of Get Your Shit Together August! Today’s post is maybe not applicable to everyone personally, but is certainly applicable to at least one person you know, even if you’re SUPER well-adjusted. (If you are: what’s that like? Please tell me.) Today we’re talking about anti-depressants and behavioral health therapy.

Now, straight off the bat, here’s a disclaimer: I’m not a therapist. I’m not a doctor. I work in this field, but I’m not licensed and I’m gonna be talking about things very generally here, but in no way is this advice from A Medical or Behavioral Healthcare Professional. Okay? Okay.

When I was in high school, I went from being at the top of my class in almost all of my classes to struggling very hard to keep up with work. To be honest, I had struggled a little in middle school, too, frequently doing homework on the bus or at lunch because I just couldn’t make myself focus when I was at home. High school was more work, though, and it became harder for me to fit in everything I needed to do before school and during lunch. I was tired all the time and spent my after school hours taking long naps instead of doing my homework. I felt heavy and overwhelmed and I couldn’t say why or how or when it started. Finally, in my junior year, it caught up to me–my academic and personal issues combined for a perfect storm of mental catastrophe. I had to take a math class–my worst subject–with a teacher who was terrible. And, let me tell you this, I was never one of those kids who hated and bad mouthed any teacher I didn’t agree with. I understood teaching was hard, and that even if I didn’t like a teacher personally, they were probably doing their difficult job pretty well. This teacher? This was a bad teacher. I had never before wished harm on another person, but when she broke her hip halfway through the year, I actually thought, “Dear god, please let her be out for the rest of the year.”

Anyway, the point is, I got a D in her class the second or third marking period of that year. I had never gotten below a B- on a report card up to that point and my parents were livid. I broke down when they confronted me, had hysterics, literally ran out of the house and called a friend with a car to come pick me up. My parents eventually came and got me, apologized for yelling, and started to gently ask how I was feeling and how long I had been feeling that way.

I am extraordinarily lucky. I have always had a good relationship with my incredibly understanding parents. There’s a history of mental illness in my family and they weren’t judgmental at all about getting me into therapy and eventually getting me on medication. I had some amazing teachers to balance out that one rude math teacher, including an English teacher who literally changed the curriculum to fit my needs. Everyone around me me was willing to cut me some slack. Except, of course, for me.

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Get Your Shit Together August: Bullet Journal

Welcome back to Get Your Shit Together August! I hope you found last week’s post helpful! This week’s is obviously up a little later in the day, and that’s because, in true shitshow fashion, I did not take my photos last night and didn’t realize until I went to post them that I needed to black out some of the work information. WHOOPS. Which is a good reminder that this series is about trying to get your shit together if you’re a shitshow, and your shit will never truly be as together as you wish. That’s just life, tragically.

Anyway, I’m sure that bullet journaling is old news to most of you. It’s been scientifically proven* that 99.9%** of our listenership are librarians, aspiring librarians, librarian spouses, librarian BFFs, ex-librarians, library ghosts, three libraries in a trenchcoat, cardigan salesmen, etc, and librarians are notoriously Ahead of the Organizational Times. My library bros have been talking about bullet journaling for months, maybe years. When Renata and some other Twitter bros started doing it, I googled it out of curiosity and was immediately overwhelmed by the website, unable to entirely grasp what the process was like or how it could be helpful to me. I put it out of my mind, and it stayed there until this spring/summer when Kelly Sue DeConnick and the Bitches Get Shit Done group started to pick up the habit.

Kelly Sue started to keep a bullet journal and started occasionally tweeting and tumbling about it. Again, I looked at it and felt totally overwhelmed and put it out of my mind. But it was Kelly Sue AND a lot of office supplies seemed to be involved AND all my friends were starting to dip their toe in the water AND I’m a sheep desperate to be liked, so I decided to try again. Having already perused the website and come away with little-to-no useful information, I turned to google. I managed to find a few blogs that went into detail about how and why bullet journaling can be helpful and began to suspect that it might be the sort of thing I needed to add some organization to my mess of a life.

So, What Actually Is a Bullet Journal?

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Get Your Shit Together August: Bitches Get Shit Done

I’m a person who’s struggled with organization my entire life. I remember being in third grade and desperately wishing I wasn’t too much of a goody-two-shoes to forge my mother’s signature on my assignment pad. While I had completed my assignments, I had done it from memory and forgotten to have her sign  the actual book. As I grew up and clinical depression started to eat holes in my memory, I started missing assignments or forgetting assignments, and went from being a perfect, straight-A student to a person who got straight As on tests and mandatory Cs on my late homework. Sure, this dip in grades helped the adults around me identify and diagnose my depression, but that diagnosis didn’t make it any easier to organize and stay on top of my life.

I’m in my thirties now, working an office job, doing a podcast, and writing in my spare time. I have a jam-packed social calendar (trying to schedule hangouts with me has become the epitome of “it’s so hard being pretty and popular!”) and a miniscule amount of free time. I’m still a hopeless mess, but I’m starting, finally, to come up with strategies to get that mess under control. I’m going to turn this month into Get Your Shit Together August and talk about a few of them, from the perspective of a scatterbrained, messy nerd in hopes that other scatterbrained, messy nerds will see that there’s hope, even for them. My life might not be perfectly organized and neat and logical, but, hey, I’m paying my bills on time and that’s not nothing.

Bitches Get Shit Done

One of the first steps in organizing my life and attempting to get my shit together was nearly completely inadvertent. In January 2014, I signed up for Kelly Sue DeConnick’s text-based reminder system, Bitches Get Shit Done, or #bgsd. I did it sort of on a lark—I figured the people who would get the most use out of it would be people who had school deadlines or were working on big creative projects. I have a desk job. A small child could probably do the same work just as easily as I do. It would be cute to get the messages, but I figured they wouldn’t necessarily apply to me.

Oh boy. What a simpler time that was.

But let me back up for a second. While I’m sure 99.99999% of our listenership know who Kelly Sue is, for the remaining .00001% of you, she is a writer (primarily of comic books), business owner, mom, KISS fan, Mama Shark, and in the ranks of Mallory Ortberg and Lin-Manuel Miranda when it comes to imaginary Twitter BFFs. I could go into all of the ways she’s important to me, personally, but I already did that once and accidentally-on-purpose made her cry in public, so just know that she’s someone you should Be Aware Of if you aren’t already.

A few years back, comic book writer and trash of the thing Chris Sebela jokingly agreed to having Kelly Sue periodically text him to nag him to get his work done. It wasn’t a joke and she made good on the threat. After tweeting about it, lots of people expressed interest in having her nag them to get work done, so the Bitches Get Shit Done list was born. It’s a text-based “shotgun blast nagging,” in Kelly Sue’s words–set up through the Remind101 service, a mass text goes out a few times a week with anything from inspirational quotes to firm entreaties to close tumblr and start working to tips on organization and productivity.

It is, for reasons I can’t quite nail down, extraordinarily helpful. Despite the monotony of my work, sometimes I do need that kick in the butt, and despite the fact that the messages come during the 9-5 work day, a lot of them stick with me hard enough that they’re still in my mind when it comes time to open my own creative endeavors at the end of the day. It’s just the right mixture of firm nagging and gentle understanding that creating is hard, achieving your goals is hard, and frequently you’re your own worst enemy. It’s a balance that I’ve been looking for a long time. I do need someone to occasionally glance over my shoulder and nudge me to focus and remind me that I have deadlines and warn me that the only way to get the thing done is to do it. But I also need the reminder to breathe and drink water and take my time and put myself first. I need the nagging, but without the “everyone can do anything they set their mind to, just push through, you’re the only thing holding yourself back from greatness” motivational speaker style encouragement. BGSD is realistic, or at least, realistic to my life. It reflects my attitude, my sense of humor, and the kind of world I want to live in. It’s not a lofty organizational method, it’s not a zen-like lifestyle change, it’s a push to make whatever progress you’re able and encouragement to feel good about that, no matter how small it is

Also, I think Kelly Sue has secret cameras in my cubicle because, goddamn, those messages usually come when I need them the most.

But really, the thing that might be at the heart of the success of BGSD is Kelly Sue herself. The texts feel like they’re coming from a mentor or a friend, from someone who wants you to do your best and really cares about the outcome. More than once I’ve made myself close Two Dots and get working because I didn’t want to let Kelly Sue down by slacking off. She’s not my mom or my boss–I’m a stranger on the internet. Was she going to read my contract report? No. (Is upper management even going to read my contract report? Probably not, let’s be real.) But that lingering sense of something not unlike loyalty keeps me on task, at least for a few minutes, at least long enough to check something off my 2do list.

Does any of this sound at all appealing or helpful to you? Well, you’re in luck—BGSD subscription is always open. To sign up for your very own nagging texts, text @bitchesg to (971) 244-8342. (Standard text changes apply, etc etc) To read a little bit more about the origin of BGSD, check out this post on Kelly Sue’s tumblr. And to get in on the action on Twitter, check out the #bgsd and #bgsdlist hashtags.

And that’s it for today, folks—the first step in sort of kind getting your shit together. Next week: bullet journaling, which is actually WAY less complicated than the bullet journal website wants you to think!

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