Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 13

Hello everyone! Welcome to Day 13 of the coronavirus quarantine series. If you’re like me, then you must be feeling some ill effects of cabin fever. I’m itching to get back out into active society and challenge myself through various activities: dancing, attending Toastmasters, possibly getting hired as an entry-level recruiter (more on that later). But alas, President Trump announced today that the shelter-in-place policy will last until April 30, instead of the original April 7 deadline. As disheartening as it is, I think this is the right move. Better safe than sorry, right?

Today was a busy but productive day. I tutored a girl at 10am (barely woke up in time for the tutoring session). Then I went back to sleep, because I needed to rest before my 3-hour session of tutoring kids in SAT English. I got out of bed at around 2pm, hurriedly ate my “brunch”, then prepped for the class with my boss, who runs the SAT tutoring company. Today was our first time teaching the class through Zoom, a platform that allows for video conference calls– kind of like Skype. It’s the new big thing that all the major universities are using in place of in-person classes.

The class, which went from 3-6pm, ran smoothly, for the most part. We spent the first 45 minutes or so figuring out logistics and ironing out technical difficulties. For the majority of the class, I graded essays and corrected homework and in-class assignments. Nothing earth-shattering. I suppose this job will prepare me for when I eventually become a TA, in grad school. Anyway, when 6pm rolled around, I closed my laptop and breathed a sigh of relief. My weekends are usually my busiest time filled with back-to-back tutoring. But I can’t complain. At least I still have a job and can work remotely, am I right?

After resting for a bit, I put on my running gear and went for a long run (with several walking breaks) on the levee. The view of the water and sunset was gorgeous, and for the first time in a while, I felt completely happy and content with my present state of being. If only I could freeze the frame of that very moment, and live in that flow state forever. I wish I didn’t have so many ups and downs in my moods. It’s exhausting, not knowing when the next wave of depression will hit. But I know that with time, experience, and lots of therapy, I will one day be able to better manage my mercurial moods. For now, I simply must manage the hand I was dealt.

As I was running, with the melody of Elton John’s music filling my ears, I felt strangely inspired. One by one, an itemized list of things I wanted to accomplish in life manifested in my mind. Write a book. Build a business empire. Become a sports psychologist, professor, and published author. Write a high-concept fictional novel that will be turned into a movie. Dance competitively and perform in front of thousands of people. Give a TED talk. Am I manic again? Or is this simply a reflection of my passionate self? One thing’s for sure: the dark cloud of depression has lifted, and I definitely feel more like myself.

All in all, today was an excellent day. I am determined to bring my first novel to fruition. I will write every day, for at least 4 hours. This is crunch time. I’m so excited to see what my mind can create.

Oh yeah, one more thing. I mentioned earlier that I was thinking about becoming an entry-level recruiter for some company. I think that experience will help me break out of my shell, challenge me socially, and give me structure and a feel of what a 9-5pm job looks like. Plus, I’ll be making steady income– albeit, not THAT much money, but it’s more than what I am making at the moment. I’ll start looking on Linkedn and Indeed.com for job openings. Will keep y’all posted on what happens with that! Talk to you all tomorrow!

 

 

Best,

Belicia

 

 

Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 12

Hola, everyone! How are you all doing? It’s currently 9:57pm on this Saturday night. I’m in my room, listening to the song “Starring Role” by Marina and the Diamonds whilst typing out this blog post. Haven’t done the whole listening to music while writing thing in a while. Sometimes I find any kind of background noise distracting when I’m writing, but other times it actually helps me focus. Anyway, enough fluff– let’s get to the heart of today’s post!

Today was pretty productive. I taught a 3-hour SAT math class remotely. Then I tutored a girl in English– also remotely. I’m very blessed that I still have a job, since I can tutor from home. A lot of people have lost their jobs during this pandemic, and my heart goes out to them. How do they pay for rent and groceries, if they don’t have income? I feel so lucky that I live at home with my parents, where I don’t have to worry about the aforementioned responsibilities.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m currently rewatching the entire “Divergent” movie trilogy. I tend to get obsessed and fixated on things really easily, so I spent a good chunk of today watching interviews from the actors in Divergent, as well as the author of the Divergent books, Veronica Roth. She started writing the first book during winter break of her freshman year at Northwestern University. She then found an agent who loved the book, and the first book of the trilogy was published in 2010, before she graduated from university! Talk about a precocious author! As I was watching her interview, I grew inspired to write my own fictional novel that could maybe be turned into a film. I know, I know… wishful thinking, right? I mean, the kind of writing I’m most familiar with is narrative writing, which is what I’m doing now, on this blog. I don’t think I’m creative enough to come up with something high-concept, like the Harry Potter series. Can creativity of that caliber be learned? I wish I had taken more English or creative writing courses in college. I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to school to get an MFA in English lit or creative writing; I know they have a program at University of San Francisco. My focus right now is to get into grad school for psychology, but now is also the perfect time for me to write my first novel! When else in my life will I have the time and capacity to nourish my creative passions, like writing and dancing? Once I start grad school, I’ll be focused primarily on academics and research. Then I’ll go out into the work force, and that will be my priority. And then the whole marriage and children thing (maybe). So, I’m determined to not waste anymore time moping around. I have about a year-and-a-half before I start grad school, in fall of 2021. I can get quite a bit done during that time frame, if I focus and apply myself. Write, dance, read, and grow as a person.

I was supposed to follow a strict schedule today, to get back my self-discipline. As usual, though, I wasn’t able to follow through. It was largely because I didn’t get a restful sleep last night. Couldn’t seem to quiet my racing mind. When 8am rolled around, the last thing I wanted to do was wake up. So in that sense, today was a bust. But good thing is, there’s always tomorrow! Tomorrow is a brand new day, a blank page in your narrative. I am determined to get my life back on track, and I have to start somewhere. Take a step forward, no matter how small.

Okay, folks. Gotta get my shut-eye in preparation for a bright and productive day! Stay healthy, and have faith. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

 

 

 

Love,

Belicia

Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Days 10 and 11

Hello everyone! Welcome to Days 10 and 11 of the quarantine. Hope you all are doing alright.

I apologize for not posting yesterday. The depression was especially hard-hitting, and I basically stayed in bed all day, watching movies. One of the movies I watched was “Grown Ups”, a 2010 comedy starring Adam Sandler and other superrrr hilarious actors and actresses. That kept me up until 3am, so I woke up pretty late today, around 1pm. That’s been my sleep schedule as of late– stay up late watching movies, and wake up late feeling groggy and unmotivated.

In other news, I finally picked up my medication refills from the pharmacy today, so I look forward to feeling more like myself, once I get back on track with my medication regimen. Depression honestly sucks. You don’t have the mental energy to do, well, basically anything. These past four days, I haven’t been exercising. I haven’t been writing my book, or making progress on my website, or studying for the GRE. And it’s so hard to quiet the self-judgment, which only intensifies with negative moods. I judge myself when I’m depressed for not being productive, for acting like a lazy bum, just sitting in bed all day, goals left unaccomplished. I hate every second of it. And despite having dealt with depression since I was 16, I have yet to find a good way to get out of the funk, besides letting the dark cloud slowly and naturally pass.

Right before writing this blog post, I re-watched the movie “Divergent”. The film is based off of the hit trilogy written by Veronica Roth. Fun fact– she started writing the first book at age 21, when she was in college! Anyway, I feel super inspired after watching the dystopian sci-fi action film. It is set in a the futuristic city of Chicago, where the people are divided into five factions: Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Erudite, and Dauntless, with each faction serving a particular role in society. The Dauntless are the brave warriors, the soldiers who protect the people of the city. Tris, the protagonist, was born into the Abnegation faction, but defects into Dauntless when she is of age to choose for herself which faction she belongs to.

The Dauntless initiates have to undergo ruthless physical and mental training to become true members of the faction. Failure to make it through the two stages of training will render one Factionless– aka, a person who has no place in society, and is essentially homeless. So, if one wants to survive, failure is not an option.

Tris starts off the training process at the bottom of her class. She is physically weak and lacks innate ability. But her drive to succeed and perseverant, dogged character pushes her to the top of her class. She puts in countless hours of practice, waking up early every day to squeeze in some extra training time. She fails, and fails, and fails again, but she refuses to lose heart. She is beaten down and belittled by her superior, who derives pleasure from picking on the runt of the litter. At the end of the day, though, she proves everyone wrong and emerges on top.

Tris reminds me of the person I used to be. A fighter. A warrior. As a gymnast, I was far from the most talented. I didn’t have the right body for my sport. I lacked innate flexibility and had to work twice as hard as my teammates to succeed. But work, I did. I didn’t achieve my Olympic dream, but I like to think that I got close to my potential– before an injury took me out of the sport prematurely, that is. I worked my body to the point where I couldn’t continue. That just shows how much mental strength, passion, drive, and discipline I used to have. I had grit. But I am light-years away from the person I used to be.

These days, I am lost. I thought I knew what I wanted– get my PhD and become a psychologist. Why, then, am I struggling so much to find my footing? I used to identify strongly with Tris. A fighter. I’d identify a goal, and let nothing get in the way of me achieving it. Now, I am but a shadow of my former self. I can’t get out of bed. I can’t commit to goals. My self confidence is the lowest it’s ever been. I don’t have faith or trust in myself. I’m growing distant from my family. I feel so… alone. And that gnawing feeling of shame… it’s the worst. I know what I am capable of. I’m just going through a transitional phase, a huge rough patch. I just can’t seem to pick myself up, and I don’t know why. Every time I seem to be making progress, something happens, and my momentum fades. The budding flame flickers into smoke.

Maybe I’m not the fighter I thought I was. But deep down, I don’t truly believe that. Not for a second. I know I’ll make it out of this… but the question is, how?

Another thing I learned from the movie “Divergent” is that no one, not even the strongest-willed person, can succeed when going solo. Tris relied on the support of her friends to get back up when knocked down to the ground. I think when we are at our lowest, social support is integral to being able to rise again. I need help. I need guidance. I need inspiration. In college, I was inspired each day. That culture of hard work and focus that characterized UCLA pushed me to strive for excellence. As much as I’d like to attribute my successes to my own work ethic and determination, I’d be kidding myself if I said that was the only factor leading to my success as a student. I had a lot of help along the way, whether I was consciously aware of it or not. I think that’s a big reason why I haven’t been feeling like myself these past 7 months back home. I am all alone, and as a result, I am left feeling stagnant and uninspired.

I can confidently say that I have hit rock bottom. But it’s not the first time I’ve fallen to the ground. The good news? I can only go up from here. What I need to do right now is set a goal for myself. The first one I can think of at this moment is grad school. I want to earn my PhD. Then, I need to break down that long-term goal into smaller, more concrete goals. Studying for the GRE is the first step. So, I’ll channel all that present pain I feel into my studies. And I mustn’t lose focus. I must strengthen my mind, regain my discipline, and control my mercurial emotions, which often get the best of me. How do I do that? I gain back my momentum. As an athlete, I know exactly how to do it. You set a daily routine. Daily habits. It’s hard in the beginning to get started, but once you exercise repetition, those actions– getting out of bed on time, exercising daily, eating healthily, getting work done– will become second nature. Habit is how we build momentum. It is the underlying driving force. You can’t be lazy. You need to have the self-discipline to fan a flame. To nurture a seed. Once you start, you can’t quit. I know all this. I just need to put it in action.

Now, can I go about this process of transformation alone? Can I WILL myself out of my depressive funk, without the help of others? I like to believe I am strong enough to do it. But why put myself through that torture, when I can turn to others to support me? I need mentors. Peers who I can look up to. Watching “Divergent” today… it made me long to be a part of something greater than myself. Interestingly, the first thing that came to mind was the military. Let’s just entertain this silly notion of me enlisting in the military. I have a feeling that if I were to do it, I’d feel right at home. I love a good challenge. I love the culture of self-discipline and striving for excellence. I’d have people to look up to who challenge me to be better every day. I am inherently a super competitive person. When I see someone who’s achieved more than me, I immediately want to push myself to their level. I know that, when placed in the right environment with the right kind of people, I will be unstoppable. But I can’t go it alone.

I guess that’s why I’m feeling stuck right now. The earliest I can start grad school is fall of 2021. That leaves me about a year-and-a-half of fighting a lone battle. I’ve already squandered 7 months of my two gap years. I’ve spent enough time nursing my wounds. I’ve validated the fact that transitioning out of college was hard. But now, it’s time to rise again.

As I’m writing this, my motivation levels are sky-rocketing. In the back of my mind, I’m already laying out a plan. Wake up at 8am every day. Take a cold shower. Sit down and study for 3 hours. Then write for 2 hours. Then run 4 miles. Then dance and stretch for a couple more hours. Then study some more. And rinse and repeat, every day. It’s the brute force, competitive athlete’s method of going about achieving a highly-coveted goal.

In the past, I’d actually be able to follow through with these insane schedules I’d lay out for myself. Nowadays, it’s all talk. I can’t trust myself anymore. I can’t trust myself to live up to my own expectations.

I guess I should start small. Instead of studying for 3 hours, maybe start with 1. Instead of running 4 miles, start with 2. Take warm showers, instead of icy cold ones. Then, work my way up from there. Even when I trained in China, the coaches told me to start slow in the beginning. No need to burn myself out unnecessarily.

Alrighty, folks. Enough talk. Time for action. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

 

 

 

Belicia

Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 9

Hi everyone! It’s Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 8:36pm. Today went by in a blur. I woke up late, around 1pm, after falling asleep at nearly 5am. Insisted on staying up late last night to finish watching the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. Spent most of today watching the the third and fourth installments, Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2.

Besides watching movies, I didn’t really do much else today. Took a quick walk on the levee, then took an online dance class taught by Dancing With the Stars professional, Maks. As the depression grows stronger (my meds still haven’t arrived in the mail), I find it increasingly difficult to find joy in activities I once derived pleasure from, like dancing. Regardless, I was able to make it through the samba dance class, and for that, I’m proud of myself.

I spent most of today in a lot of physical pain. Presently, I have two canker sores– one behind my tongue, and one on my lower lip. Eating has become torturous, with each bite sending blinding waves of pain through my mouth. I basically did not eat anything today. A shame, since my mother so graciously made my favorite fried rice for dinner tonight, and I couldn’t touch it.

In addition to the canker sores, my head was spinning all day long. I don’t know if it was a bad case of vertigo, or if I’m getting an inner ear infection, which could explain the slight discomfort in my left ear. But when I tried running on the levee, I kept losing my balance, so I eventually slowed my pace to a walk. When I got home, I was running up the stairs when I lost slipped and fell. Don’t worry, no injuries, just a couple minutes of intense pain in my foot.

Didn’t do much writing today, other than writing this blog post. Today, like yesterday, and the day before, was difficult. Words aren’t flowing. Creativity is running dry. Sinking back into the pits of depression. 100% because I’m off of my meds, since silly old me didn’t order a refill on time. Lesson learned: always stock up on your meds, especially during these unusual circumstances, when going out of the house is not always convenient.

Oh well. I’ll get through this. I keep telling myself that tomorrow will be better. But really, I feel myself slipping again. I guess I just have to keep trying to fight. Yes, tomorrow will be alright. I’ll exercise, even when my body screams for me to stay in bed. I’ll write, even when the words won’t come. I’ll study, even though my mind is vacant. And once I get back on my meds, everything will be fine once more.

 

 

 

 

-Belicia

 

Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Days 7 and 8

Hi folks. It’s 10:46pm on this Tuesday evening. I wish I could be writing to you in better spirits.

These past couple days saw a sudden halt in the momentum I had been slowly building up over the past week. At the beginning of the quarantine, I was extremely motivated to tackle my goals, get back in shape, and make the most of my time spent at home. I was setting daily goals and schedules and was, for the most part, following through with them.

Then, towards the end of last week, I ran out of my my medications. When I realized I was running low on my mood stabilizers, it was already Thursday. I called the pharmacy that day, and after put being on hold for two hours, was able to order a mail-delivery refill. However, it takes about 3-5 business days for the medication to arrive by mail. So I’m expecting my meds to arrive by tomorrow. In the meantime, I just have to stick it out and try my best to swim against the tides of depression that I sense are coming my way. Three days without medications, and my head is getting foggy again.

I spent most of yesterday and today in bed, watching movies. Finished the Harry Potter series, watched “Mrs. Doubtfire” earlier today, and the next item on my bucket list is the Hunger Games series.

This is the second day in a row that I didn’t run on the levee. I didn’t get any fresh air today. Earlier tonight, I forced myself to do a little bit of stretching and core exercises downstairs, which was a victory.

Even typing out this post is a chore. Words aren’t flowing well, at all. Writing, which used to be my escape, my oasis, my paradise, is, at this very moment, torture. I’m afraid I’ll have to end today’s post here.

Be well, everyone.

 

 

-Belicia

Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 6

Hey guys! It’s 9:38pm on this Sunday night. I just finished watching the third installment of the Harry Potter movie series. I plan on watching all 8 before my YouTube TV free trial period is over.

As of today, I’ve decided to curb my unhealthy, morbid obsession with the coronavirus. In past days, I would obsessively refresh my Facebook page every 5 minutes, searching for the latest updates on what’s been happening regarding the rampant spread of the virus. As expected, I would be met with the same grim news, the same dismal Facebook posts. I eventually realized what a detrimental effect all this negative news has had on my mental well-being, so today, I decided to cut the nasty obsession. Don’t get me wrong– I still intend to stay informed about the coronavirus. But I will do so responsibly, and not indulgently.

Today was, like yesterday, a mellow, uneventful day. But even the most mundane of days carry their own small victories. For one, I finally finished reading the book “Grit”. I also ran a little over a mile on the levee, even bumping into an old friend on the trail (don’t worry, we kept six feet apart while briefly catching up). At 6pm, I had a successful tutoring session with one of my students, a 5th grade girl. She’s the cutest little thing, and it’s such a pleasure teaching her.

So there you have it– three small but mighty accomplishments. I say accomplishments, because even just a month ago, I would not have had the wherewithal or mental strength to do anything with my days. I’d sit on my ass, nurse my wounds, and wallow in self-pity from dusk till dawn. It was a pitiful existence, and I am so glad I’m out of the dark place.

Now, onto some ways I think I could have improved my day. I should have gotten out of bed earlier (I woke up around 1pm). I also could have done with spending less time on my phone. I didn’t make much, if any progress on my book and website today. And I definitely did not crack open my GRE book. Also, I got into yet another argument with my mother over something stupid. I’m trying to mend my relationship with her, but it hasn’t been easy.

Here are some action items I’m planning for tomorrow, 3/23/20:

1) Write my book

2) Write latest feature article for my website

3) Study for the GRE

4) Start reading a new book (which one, I have yet to decide)

5) Run, stretch, condition, and dance. Gotta stay active to stay healthy!

Alrighty guys! I know today’s update was not very interesting. But what can you expect? It’s hard to have novel, exciting experiences to share when you’re cooped up at home all day. After this quarantine ends, never more shall I take for granted the little things, like eating out at a restaurant, going out with my friends, or even having sufficient toilet paper (luckily, we are still stocked up on TP… for now). In the meantime, I’m just trying to stay sane, like everyone else around me.

 

 

 

XOXO,

Belicia

Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 5

Welcome, everyone, to Day 5 of the “CQ” (coronavirus quarantine) series!

Today was a meh kind of day. Everything I did seemed to take a little bit more effort and willpower that normal. I woke up at 7am, did some social media scrolling, then fell back asleep until 12pm. At 1pm, I hosted a virtual SAT math class using Google Classroom. It worked out pretty great, actually! From 3:00-4:30pm, I watched some of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. From 4:30-5:30pm, I tutored another student, an 8th grade girl, in English. After tutoring, I took another break by finishing the Harry Potter film. I then went on a 2-mile run on the levee– took more walking breaks than I would have liked, though. Got home, took a shower, ate dinner, then returned to my room, and here I am now, writing this post!

I didn’t get much writing or reading done today. I was planning to finish writing a feature article for my website, finish reading the book “Grit”, and make some headway on my own book, which I had planned to have done by the end of this indefinite period of quarantine.

I guess we all have down days. It saddens me to say that my relationship with my parents has not improved. My brother Austin called me earlier this evening and told me that my mom was hurt that I wasn’t spending more time with her and dad. Hearing that made my heart break. I know I haven’t been the best daughter, lately. There were a lot of factors that contributed to the ever-growing divide between me and my parents, but at the end of the day, it’s up to me to mend my relationship with them. My parents– they did nothing wrong. All the decisions they made for me thus far, they made with good intentions. I need to grow up and stop blaming them for everything that’s going wrong in my life. But I truly believe that some physical distance apart from them will help things, so much. I’ve been stuck at home for the past 7 months. This quarantine period is only wearing at my already thinning patience around them. The only time I really interact with my parents is during meals, and even then, I’m only at the dinner table for 10-15 minutes (I eat very fast).

I’m at a loss of what to do. A reasonable person would say, “Well gee, Belicia, why don’t you just sit down with the two of them and tell them what’s going on?” Well, if you knew my family, you’d know that we don’t really operate in that way. The way we communicate is through actions. I’ve always felt loved by them, not because of what they say, but because of the things they do for me. It’s time I reciprocated that love. I mean, how would you feel if you, and parent, spent the past 22 years giving everything and more for your grown child, and that child won’t even talk to you, let alone muster the words, “I love you”? I would be crestfallen. Hurt. Devastated. I think that’s how my parents must feel right now. They just aren’t saying anything. Especially my father. He’s the most stoic, reticent man I know. Sometimes, when my mother and I are arguing, my father just blends into the background, the sounds of our yelling acting as white noise to his ears. I simply can’t read what he’s thinking!

I don’t know, guys. I just don’t know. Maybe I need to let down my guard and throw away my pride and just let my parents know that I love them. So much. I love them with all my heart, and I am forever indebted to them for everything I have and everything I’ve achieved in my life thus far. Maybe they’ll stumble upon this blog post one day. All I know is, as of right now, I don’t have the courage to show them what I have written.

Anyway, I’m gonna get back to watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (the second installation of the series). Have a great rest of the evening and I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow!

 

 

-Belicia