Education, Health & Wellbeing, Technology

Qualified, Medicated, Elucidated.

Despite numerous drafts on the back burner, none have quite made it live for quite some time. I would say must do better, but this is my playground, not homework. There are no deadlines, quotas or gradebooks. I’m not letting anyone down by not posting – at most I’m just barn-egging my free range-destined ideas. I do not condone this method in either sense: both chickens and thoughts ought to roam free if you ask me. Much of the following has been written over the last few months, and I’m sort of collaging it back together to fashion something funky fresh. (I think normal people just call this making edits, but when have I ever honestly been one of those?)

It’s been a long wee stretch y’all! Radio silence – but let’s be real, I do this for me, so that’s kinda all that matters. Lots of things have happened. I’m now:

  • unofficially qualified to teach high schoolers (!?)
  • employed full-time for my first teaching position, and notably both scared shitless and hella pumped
  • taking anti-depressants for the first time ever – something I probably should have considered a long time ago
  • jamming some cool new runaruna (hobbies) just in time for raumati (summer)
  • barreling towards my mid-20s at an unacceptable pace
  • divorced from the Stockholm Syndrome captor that is Facebook (finally)

Balancing my Brain

Let’s unpack the antidepressants one though, because I want to dispel some myths and relinquish some of my own internalised stigma around usage. I shall clarify – I have never thought any differently of anyone else for taking them. Whatever helps you cope, you know? If they help you function and keep in emotional equilibrium in what would otherwise be a tumultuous, numbing and soul-destroying headspace – power to ya, that’s amazing. However, for some reason, in a stint of utter hypocrisy I couldn’t extend myself the same grace.

When I focused inward, in spite of intermittent suggestions that I try the antidepressants route, I was quick to dismiss them. No, I said… I don’t want the side effects, they’ll make me gain weight, not sleep, interfere with libido, cause nausea, feel worse, et cetera. I even worried that medication would interfere with spurs of creativity I often get when I’m in certain kinds of emotional pain. If that doesn’t scream enneagram 4, I don’t know what does. All valid concerns, of course, but what I didn’t say, was that I didn’t want to be thought of as someone who needed meds to be okay.

Since I first started experiencing mental health issues, and subsequent to my diagnoses, medication has been a background consideration that I have always outright refused. Likely for an amalgamation of these reasons already mentioned. Also, because it felt like a cop out. Surely I just needed some trusty CBT, to dust off my gratitude journal, and melt into the grass for a bit?

Just for the record, I vote yes to all of these self-care endeavours. Sometimes though, self-help, therapy and mindfulness alone isn’t enough.

In a nutshell, anti-depressants were a game changer for me. August through September was a rough period for me; I hadn’t been that low in at least two, possibly even three years. While I don’t expect they’ll be a long-term solution, I’d much rather have them as a buffer when I need them than suffer unnecessarily. If it’s something you’re considering for your own mental health, know that there are so many of us out there – it’s almost alarmingly common, and there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Our society is gross sometimes, but I can vouch for the pockets of judgement-free zones. They are out there.

Goodbye, Daddy Zuck

Good fecking riddance, Facebook. Breaking up with this parasite of a website was like what I can only imagine weening oneself off crack cocaine entails. At least, it was until I actually did it. Not just deactivated either. Deleted, obliterated, goneskies [—ignoring the fact that Facebook gets to hold onto my data indefinitely—]. I have been telling myself I need to get off for a few years now. Even Cambridge Analytica was apparently not enough for me to kick the habit, even though I toyed with it. When the Social Dilemma came out in 2020 – **what the hell was up with that pantomime soap opera of family dinner cut scenes** – I went shit, I should probably, actually, do something about this. For about 20 minutes. Then I was back on my bullshit, endlessly scrolling like my life depended on it.

A habit acquired over 12 years is one not easily broken, and that’s before you throw in the acutely fined-tuned algorithms and AI humming away in the background, meticulously designed and ever-adaptive, making staying online as inviting as possible. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg and his bitches have their systems mining data in every possible interaction, swipe, click, reaction and message – both on and off the site. In the age of social media, privacy is all but dead. But we all know this, right? At best, we’re tolerant. At worst, we’re actually kept in the dark, disconnected from what goes on behind the scenes. I can genuinely say I’m an ex-addict. Vaguely, 5 weeks clean – I quit somewhere around 25 November. The creepy thing is, it’s kind of the status quo.

My primary motivator for getting offline was to waste less time staring at my phone. I can’t definitively say whether I’ve achieved this yet – sometimes the answer seems to be yes, other times it feels like my usage has migrated to other platforms, Reddit being my weapon of choice. I also wanted to spend time connecting more meaningfully with friends – my actual friends, not my 400 and something Facebook friends – as well as on reading, hobbies, projects and of course, actual mahi.

Protecting my privacy was I suppose a half-hearted secondary motivator – I do have a very public, distinctively personal blog after all. Thinking about everything I willingly published on that site makes me feel a bit yuck. My profile dates back to when I was twelve years old. Yeah. Though I must say, twelvie Abby was actually hilarious.

All my doubts, hesitancies and excuses preventing me from calling it quits, when push came to shove, were entirely unfounded.

  • How will people contact me? Ever heard of texting? Whatsapp*, Viber and goddamn email do the job just fine.
  • Will I still get invited to events? Of course! To the ones that matter. The rest of them probably weren’t worth it anyway.
  • What if I want to stalk people? you’ll find more fulfilling time wasters, promise xo
  • How will people find and read my blog? You only ever did it for you, readers and views shouldn’t matter. Also, you’re still tolerating Instagram** for now, and WordPress actually has a pretty active reader base too

*acutely aware that Whatsapp is owned by Facebook/”Meta” also, and while I feel gross about that it’s far less clunky than many alternatives
**Insta doesn’t seem to have the same emotional or instinctual pull compared to Facebook. Deleting the app from my phone has been enough to keep me off it so far.

Me vs My Impostor Syndrome

Maybe I’ll delve deeper into this in another blog post, but I’m tryna work on mitigating those ever-present background feels that I’m not qualified, competent enough, and most glaringly, that this is not a job for Pākehā. The vast majority of Māori I have talked to, potentially even the entirety, have told me otherwise. I’m figuring that stuff out in my brain, and trying to remind myself that I don’t need to have all the answers, and I’m allowed to keep learning.

Runaruna Raumati

Board games will always be my bread and (dairy-free) butter, but they just hit different in the shade on a pelting hot rā. Being introduced to Kubb this kirihimete was indeed a highlight [not a board game, but I don’t discriminate]. I also started going to a weekly board games meet to play new games and meet fellow nerds ❤ loving it thus far xo

After much intrigue, I finally bought myself a longboard a few months ago, and that has been a laugh and a half. I’ve always been the worst at anything involving decreasing friction under my feet. Inline skates, skateboards, heelies, ice skates, and the like. I always avoided them as a kid because I found them difficult and embarrassing. When you think about it though, all that separates ability from lack thereof is time + effort. In the words of a wise ex, you have to own sucking at something. There’s no shame in being a beginner, and you may as well enjoy being a noob. A lesson I am still learning, to be frank.

Until next time, haumi mā. Stay Breezy, like (the original) JoJo.

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