Announcement: Self-Publishing My Poetry

I’m proud to announce I’m self-publishing a poetry collection this November!

COMPASSES AND OTHER ORNAMENTS OF DIRECTION is a 4-part journey that starts in the bliss of toxic love and finishes with lost and forward-thinking freedom after an abusive relationship.

This is a collection of poems I’ve been working on since 2013, when I first started trying to break free from an abusive online relationship. The majority of the poems were completed years ago, but only now have I processed them and the events they percolated from. I added more poems recently, bringing the collection to 4 parts instead of 3.

I’ve also started to realise how fucked up the origin of all these words and pains really is. I’m only now telling it with an appropriate amount of clarity, rather than disillusionment.

When I was a teenager, first new to the Internet and chat rooms and messaging programs, I met lots of people. People who were nice, people who weren’t. People who were catfishes and people who were random weirdos like me just chatting to others for the fun of it. And when I say “teenager”, I mean I was a 13-year-old who was relatively unsupervised and interacted with some creepy men.

I tend to romanticise the man and the relationship I had with him. I want so badly right now to speak well of him—a sentiment echoed in the poem “reincarnate” in the 4th part of the collection—but I know I shouldn’t. There are equal parts shame and protection when I think about him. I’m ashamed, in my 20s, to have been involved with a man in his 20s when I was 13 to 18.

I don’t talk to him now. I haven’t met him in person, I haven’t spoken to him in years, and I have no intention of reconnecting with him or revealing his full name. We weren’t exactly “involved” or dating, but I spent every waking moment talking to him or wanting to talk to him.

This is a hard story to tell when it’s one framed by shame and hurt, instead of the superiority or nonchalance with which I used to tell it. I hate being wrong. And I hate feeling like I’ve done something wrong. I was a child and he was an adult. No matter what anyone says, I’m not at fault.

And I guess this poetry collection is me trying to express the blame and pain I’ve held onto all these years, all the time I was brainwashed into dependency, all the parts of myself I molded to fit his desires.

So please buy the poetry collection. It releases on November 18 exclusively on Amazon in paperback and Kindle forms.

November 18 is significant to him. Maybe if I reclaim it some way, mark it as the day I slung my poems into the world, I’ll associate that day less with him and more with myself.

I’ll be posting small excerpts on my Twitter and my Instagram leading up to the release, as well as the preorder link when I get it! Follow to keep in touch. Cover reveal will be coming soon, too!

Bullet Journal Mental Health Tracking

The largest feature of my monthly spreads for September is my mental health tracking! I have two pages devoted to tracking my mental health, and with me, that’s a lot of space to devote to a single topic in my notebook.

Being on medication or going to therapy aren’t the only ways that we can take charge of our mental health and work on managing mental illness. They can help, but they aren’t the only resources. Self-awareness through my trackers has given me an edge to being on top of my management that I never had before I started doing it.

This month, I have three separate spreads: unhealthy habits and triggers; healthy habits and self-care; and symptoms and side effects. I also track my moods within these, and how they fluctuate over the day. My friends and family have commented that my moods can change very quickly in a day, so that’s something I’ve looked at and attempted to balance out. This month, I haven’t tracked my sleeping, but my sleeping has been fairly regular due to the sedative portion of my medication.

I like recording some of my “unhealthy” behaviours. They’re unhealthy in the sense that I have a suspicion they can interfere with my wellbeing that day—hence why I have caffeine and nightmares in the same section. Yesterday I had an awful dream and the rest of my day felt off because it kept intruding my thoughts, so I checked off “nightmare” for that day.

My self-care and unhealthy habits are side-by-side so I can see if I’m balancing out the two, or doing one more than the other, and how that affects my mood. I contemplated putting everything into one table, but I wanted to be able to compare my “good” and “bad” activities at a quick glance.

I started doing the “bubble” list last month to track some symptoms, and I’ve tweaked it to get more information tracked. I started doing the bubbles because they reminded me of material equipping in Final Fantasy VII. That’s really it. I wanted to have a “scale” of sorts to gage how I was feeling.

I’m not sure how much this has helped this month. My medication doubled a few days ago (thankfully), so I’m still adjusting to that. But these layouts are definitely the most eye-pleasing I’ve done. They’re both pragmatic and nice to look at.

Since I’ve only posted the blank spreads here, it’s hard to see how they look nice. However, I will have some pictures on my Instagram by the end of the month!

These spreads are some I’ll definitely repeat in the future.

C25k Journey, Part 4

The couch-to-5K program is supposed to be done consistently, like any other exercise program, for it to be effective. I did not do it consistently over the summer. It may sound like I’m making excuses, but the weather just was not adequate for me to be outside running and I didn’t have the means to get to an air-conditioned gym or indoor track. I know what’s bad for my health, and exerting myself in humid and hot conditions is something that’s definitely, definitely bad for me.

So I’m restarting C25K! Now that fall is approaching, the temperatures are chillier (to a certain amount, but they’re still higher than they used to be because #climatechange). I’ve tried running in different temperatures, and anything above 18*C is too hot for me. What better way to get my regular exercise in by just restarting a program I knew was working and knew I could do? I’ve already done the first week again, and it was weird running the 1-minute intervals again after working myself up to 3-minute and 5-minute intervals! I felt like I was doing HIIT cardio while redoing Week 1.

The unfortunate thing is that the temperature has picked up again this week, so I haven’t run since I last went, and I don’t think I’ll be able to get a run in until the end of the month. But I know that when the temperature is a consistently comfortable one, I’ll be out every other day for my run. I’m so excited.

Week 1 was easy, even if I was blindsided by the 60-second intervals. I’ve gotten faster and my cardiovascular strength has improved. My usual 30-minute route isn’t long enough to fill 30-minutes now, so I loop back in a few sections to make up the difference between the time and distance. My heart rate returns to normal and has lowered significantly compared to when I first started.

Overall, I’m proud of what I’ve done even if it wasn’t a completed couch-to-5K program. This time, though, I’ll finish it for sure.

Advice To My University Freshman Self + Spreadsheet Template

I’m surprised I’m not feeling the disgruntled pull of back-to-school season. This is my first year not going into school once September hits, so I half expected that I’d be itching to get on a bus or go to a campus and get in a classroom. But I’m not.

I’m thinking about the most recent school experience I had: university. I wish I had gone into university with the right mindset—seeking higher education—instead of the wrong impulse—getting out of my childhood home and being “independent.” Nobody in family really did the university thing (and if they did, they weren’t around to mentor me through my last year of high school, which was filled with grief and angst). So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my freshman self, after I’ve done the undergraduate program.

Get your mental health checked out before you have a breakdown.

Seriously, Coryl. You’ll fail a class, scrape by in three others that are prerequisites for the rest of your degree, and you’ll get yourself on academic probation. Your mental health matters and when you’re barely sleeping, abusing alcohol, and not doing anything aside from resisting the call of the void… you need help.

Compile all of your class syllabi into one master spreadsheet/calendar.

Use it. Plan your time. You’ll go through weeks where you have nothing due, and you’ll slack off. And then the next few weeks will be a bloodbath of assignments, tests, readings, and presentations. Hindsight is 20/20, but foresight isn’t half bad either. Here’s a handy Google spreadsheet, based off the ones that older (more successful) Coryl used each semester.

Speak up in class, even if you’re not entirely right.

A good professor—hell, even a decent one—will be able to take your half-baked answer and continue lecturing off of that, and your classmates will already be more interested if they hear someone speak other than your prof. You know all those times the lectures dragged on? That’s because the prof was trying to get you guys to supply some information or questions. Plus, there’s bound to be a participation grade and your prof will remember you (and ask your name, you’ll never get used to saying your name out loud and having to repeat it). You’ll also digest the information better because you gave some input.

Don’t leave things to the last minute—studying, reading, essays.

This is something everyone says, but honestly, when you’re in a double concentration program that has two different languages, nearly a book’s-worth of reading each week, and linguistic studies, all with multi-faceted methods of learning (presentations, essays, quizzes, you name it)—you can’t leave shit to the last minute. You literally are not able to read an entire Shakespeare play in one morning. Your reading speed and your typing speed are not high enough for you to be able to do it all in one shot the night before.

Stop drinking.

It’s not worth it. You’ll gain weight. You’ll develop an addiction you knew you’d get, even before you tasted vodka, and you’ll create a persona with your drunk behaviour that other people will assume is your true personality. You’re not Drunk Coryl. You’re Coryl and when you’re drunk, you’re more like Manic Coryl—and Manic Coryl is not a healthy Coryl.

You got this, Coryl. You didn’t have it when you were a freshman, but you’ll have it by the time you finish.

Now the only things I need to do are stop worrying about my debt and continue plowing forward to reaching my goals.

Therapy Diary: 10 Weeks On Medication

I started medication on June 29, so it’s been exactly 10 weeks on these antipsychotics. It’s been incredibly good. I’ve felt like I can complete goals now, without something blocking my brain or telling me I should feel worthless or like I should give up all the time. The first 6-7 weeks were probably the best, but it’s not like recently has been bad!

Today I saw my doctor about adjusting the medication, and at the end of September I’m doubling my current dose (which is really low) to one that’s a more common amount for treatment.

I’ve felt more stable the past few months than I have in years. I’m sleeping more, my brain isn’t on overdrive half the time, I don’t feel useless the other half of the time. I’m really pleased with how I’ve been progressing—to the point I think I’m better and don’t need the medication. But that’s the medication talking. I feel more normal because of it.

I’m not entirely better—I had a… crisis, I guess, on August 30 that really shook me up because I hadn’t felt like that in months. Then I remembered that the way I felt that afternoon was the way I felt weekly, on average, and I can’t fathom how I survived through it that frequently. And I can understand why something like my crisis is serious and should be taken seriously—like it should have been every other time it happened when I was unmedicated and not in counselling.

These 10 weeks have been great. I’m looking forward to the next few months, how I progress, and all that stuff. I can safely say that getting medication, even without a formal psychiatrist’s diagnosis, has helped me.

Basically, it’s been 10 weeks on medication for bipolar and my doctor said I looked happier, my brother and dad say I’ve been more consistent, and my goal completion is a testament to my emotions.

September 2017 Bullet Journal Spreads

This month, I went more detailed and expansive with my monthly layouts.

I separated my mental health trackers to two different spreads (more on that in this post about tracking my mental health!) and moved my calendar to its own spread.

I’m trying to exercise more regularly. I made a spread for my workouts and tracking kilometers I walk, jog, or run. I like the checklists for the different exercises. They give me options for mixing up my workouts week to week. I’m aiming to go running 2-3 times a week at half an hour (approximately) a run with Couch-to-5K, and I’m aiming to lift weights 3 times a week without a set amount of time or reps. I average 20-30 minutes per workout, so I’ve got a good balance for myself. I’m not a newbie when it comes to exercise, so if I went a little easier on myself (with like 4 days of working out instead of 6), I know I’d get bored and unmotivated.

I’ll be consulting my monthly layouts a lot more often. For those with keen eyes, you’ll see I eliminated a habit tracker. I don’t know why I didn’t include it, but it’ll be interesting to see how I fare without a list of checkboxes to fill in every time I brush my teeth or read a book. I just didn’t feel like I needed a list to keep track of my actions this month. What matters more to me are my mental health symptoms and the side effects from my medication. My habits and daily routine and *life* are affected by my mental health—so why should I keep track of what my mental health changes? Why not instead keep track of my mental health symptoms so I can catch myself when I’m slipping?

This month I also returned to a colour scheme I used back in February. Something about orange and blue and grey makes me happy and calm. I didn’t go heavy on the decorating. With how utilitarian and pragmatic these spreads are, I didn’t want to put my energy into keeping it pretty. Besides, the design is pleasing enough that a bit of colour and cursive does enough for me!