How to Get Your Sh*t Together in 10 Days or Less

Technically that’s “10 Days or Fewer.” I’m an English major, what can I say? By the time you graduate, the pedantry is well and truly ingrained.

Also I will own up right now that that title is misleading. It has not been ten days since I decided to get my shit together, so I can’t actually tell you if my method (such as it is) works or not. But it has been a while since I last posted–most of a month, in fact–and a lot has happened. Or more accurately, very little.

At the end of July, I finished tapering off Abilify, on my meds manager’s advice and with my consent. I wasn’t sure how much the drug was helping me, and she felt like I needed to get off at least one of my meds, since I was taking five different ones to treat my anxiety and depression. I’d also gained quite a bit of weight in the months since starting Abilify, so there was the possibility that it was contributing to that as well and that if I went off it, I might start to shed those pounds. So we agreed to try tapering me off it.

The initial taper, from 15mg down to 5mg, went pretty well. I had some withdrawal symptoms, like increased depression, but those went away eventually. After a couple months, I started tapering off the 5mg as well, and as I said, I took the last one at the end of July.

And everything was fine for a while. I wrote 6k of silly fanfic and was feeling pretty productive and generally quite good about my life. I mean, there was the part where I still didn’t have a job, but that wasn’t weighing on me very heavily, and anyway, I’d just put in three applications. It was bound to turn up something, wasn’t it?

Unfortunately, depression decided to turn up first.

Depression is kind of insidious. At first, it just seemed like I was having a few bad days, but as those days lengthened into a week, I started kind of hating myself again. I wasn’t getting anything done. My burst of productivity at the beginning of the month–reading books, writing fanfic, watching movies–evaporated. I spent my days trawling the internet, and many nights staying up until 3 and 4am, just because I wasn’t tired.

I realized I was probably having a Major Depression episode. That didn’t help. My next meds appointment, with a new meds manager, was two weeks away, and my next therapy session even longer away than that. I just kept stewing, and knowing that my brain chemicals were acting up did not help me feel better. If anything, it made me feel worse, since if I was just a Better Person, I would realize I was being irrational and stop being depressed.

If only it were so easy.

It only got worse when I found out that I did not get any of the positions I’d applied for. At two of them, I didn’t even get a call for an interview. I got pretty low, and a week before my meds appointment I ended up calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Talking to someone without a dog in the race helped a bit. I managed to claw myself onto a ledge just above the bottom of the Pit of Despair, and held myself there until my appointment.

My new meds manager agreed that stopping the Abilify is probably what brought about the episode of depression. As of a week ago, I am back on it, and to be honest I’m feeling a lot better for it. I can’t tell if it’s actually helping at this point, or if I’m just experiencing a placebo effect, but I’m definitely closer to the top of the Pit of Despair than the bottom. I can see the sun shining, and it’s just a matter of getting high enough to let it shine on my face.

Which brings me back to where we started: getting my shit together.

I decided yesterday that I am done with sitting around and doing nothing. I have a ton of books to return to the library. I have a less-silly fanfic that needs updating and more importantly, finishing. I have an afghan for my brother and SIL to knit. Among many, many other things. So I sat down with a notebook and wrote up a plan.

Well, 12% of a plan.

Most of it comes down to a schedule. Having a set time every day to do certain things, so I can start reaching my goals and making progress. It’s only day 1 of the schedule, but I think it’s going pretty well. I think I will probably report back at the end of the week to tell you all how it’s gone. As important as the schedule is, however, I also know it’s important not to treat the schedule as the be-all, end-all of my day-to-day. Flexibility is important, so if things don’t fit the schedule, it’s all right. Just go with the flow. Get done what you can. That kind of thing.

I think, so far, it’s working. I didn’t do as much writing as I needed to do today, for example, but there’s always tomorrow. There is always and forever tomorrow.


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: No One Actually Cares If You Don’t Shave Your Legs

I am a woman living in Western society, which means said society dictates that in order to be socially acceptable and more attractive, I must be as hairless as possible. Some people couch it in terms of hygiene–having all that hair in all those places gives bacteria places to grow! Isn’t that disgusting? Don’t you want to be the opposite of disgusting?

When I was younger, I let this dictate how I dressed, especially in the summer. I hated shaving my legs (still do), so I’d spend the hot Kentucky summers wearing jeans most of the time. Society had made me self-conscious of how I looked, and it wasn’t until some time later that I learned to stop giving a damn.

For one, the hygiene argument is patently ridiculous. I can’t believe I let my middle school health teacher con me into thinking that was true. As long as you bathe regularly, having hair in, say, your underarms is not going to make you more gross or smelly or whatever. And anyway, if it is such bad hygiene, why exactly are men allowed to have as much hair as they like in their armpits? Shouldn’t they shave as well, to be less gross and smelly and disgusting?

(Double standards: the bricks on which the patriarchy is built.)

The same double standards applies to the hair on our legs: men should have hairy legs because virility and etc., but on women??? GROSS. There is literally no difference between men and women’s hair. It’s just keratin. We’re supposed to be hairy; we’re mammals for crying out loud! From what I’ve read, women only started shaving their legs when skirts got shorter in the early to mid twentieth century, and that was mostly because advertising companies convinced them that such hair (on the legs and the armpits) was “objectionable.” To who, exactly?

And really, in this day and age, who cares? It’s just hair. It’s keratin. It’s exactly like what’s on our heads.

I could certainly expound on how it’s rather creepy that society (i.e., mostly heterosexual white men) wants women to look as prepubescent as possible, but instead I’m going to talk about my personal experience this summer.

As I said above, I hate shaving my legs. It takes forever, it’s a pain in the ass, and I always, always miss a spot or three, which nags on my perfectionist tendencies. For a long time I just haven’t seen the point. As I said before, my laziness and distaste for the whole process had led me to mostly wear jeans in the summer, or wear shorts for a week at a time until the hair was “visible” enough that I felt uncomfortable wearing shorts.

This year, I finally decided to stop giving a fuck. I have worn shorts almost all the time since late May, I would say? And I’ve only shaved my legs maybe three times. I shaved them today, for example, and they were quite hairy. I wore shorts yesterday, out in public, and no one cared.

In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I shaved my legs was at least two months ago, and I’ve worn shorts nearly every day. No one has walked up to me to say that I’m disgusting, or that I’ll never get a man, or anything like that. No one cares.

I know I’m making it sound kind of revolutionary, but to me, it kind of is. In high school I was asked by a bunch of… well, preppy girls how often I shaved my legs. I admitted that it wasn’t all the time, and they laughed. I tried to shrug it off, because I wore jeans all the time even then and no one ever saw my legs, but it still hurt.

So it IS a revelation: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR HAIRY LEGS. If you think it’s going to repel future partners, worry not! Remember that phrase, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best”? EXACTLY THAT. As far as I’m concerned, people who put so much stock into the stupid subtleties of physical appearance are not worth my time.

So yeah. I’ve stopped caring about my body hair, because it turns out no one else cares, either! Most decent people in the world have bigger things going on in their lives than some random lady’s hairy legs. And that’s just the way I like it.