My actual ratbrains!

Non-blog, Rat Brain

After a long period of procrastination and anxiety I finally have some pet rats – Janet and Chidi (who are in fact both girls…)

It’s been a difficult decision committing to a pet. Mostly because it is a commitment – to sticking around, to living here, to caring for these little beings and not just myself. I’ve had pets before of course but always known my mum would know what to do. So I’m choosing to commit to these little guys.

These are my first pets since moving out and they’re ones I’ve always wanted as a kid – but my dad hates rats. Considering the theme of this blog though, I think it’s an entirely appropriate choice!

Dear Rat Brain: What are your stories?

Rat Brain, Relationships

Dear Rat Brain,

Whenever I come home, I notice the pattern we immediately fall back into. We’re snappish, quick to criticise, sometimes immature. It’s a frustrating thing to deal with when you try hard to move *away* from this kind of behaviour when you’re not at home — but as soon as your foot steps over the threshold, I hear you squeak, ‘Ooh, I know this place! I know how we used to act!’

Part of this is the stories other people have about us; other times it’s the stories I still carry around myself/my family.

‘I must defend myself. They don’t understand me. I don’t know any other way to be besides passive aggressive’. The walls we put up as a teenager for our safety were needed then, but not now.

My goals for this Christmas are to try and unpick these stories, bit by bit. To extend some kindness for myself and for our family, who are trying their best and almost always have our best interests at heart. Even when they unknowingly hurt me, fight with each other or try to control each other, they are acting out the stories they hold onto, too. I can’t begrudge them that.

Going Warm Turkey on Phones (Weeks 4-5)

Phone Addiction, Rat Brain, Self Care

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As expected, the battle with my phone (and internet) addiction is proving to be challenging, but in ways I haven’t anticipated.

I’ve had reasonable success eliminating the smaller, less anxiety inducing times I use my phone, such as not using it while walking or on the loo or something (I know, I know).  I use my phone considerably less at work, now, and hardly check it at all before work. However, I’ve got some time off work at the moment and it’s been difficult keeping that momentum going without the usual routine.

This has highlighted something that seems obvious, but I’m finding myself tripping over again and again — when you’re tired, hungry, hormonal or generally emotional compromised, it’s going to be easy to fall into compulsions. It is phenomenally easy to avoid doing compulsions when you feel tiptop, but if your go-to approach for uncomfortable feelings is still avoidance… You’re always going to reach for the thing that helps you avoid it.

I am exhausted right now. This is the first sliver of time I’ve had off from work since I started here, and I was beginning to get burned out. However, I need to remember that self care doesn’t mean lying like a slug in my bed all day until my muscles ache, it means not avoiding my feelings. It’s easy to tell myself that I will feel more tired, more burned out if I allow myself to feel everything, but I actually feel worse when I reach for all my addictions.

So yes, I am exhausted, but I need to take care of my little rat brain right now.

P.S. I’m almost halfway through my No Takeaway/Fast Food challenge this month. This along with tracking my phone usage has  been illuminating to say the least, about the arguments my brain makes up to justify compulsions, and what is necessary to stay on track with my values. I was just going to post week to week like with the phone stuff but I’m going to do a monthly roundup of what I learned, instead 🙂

Surprisingly it’s gone far better than this phone challenge, and taught me numerous things about compulsions and sticking to values so… Maybe cold turkey isn’t so bad!