Posted on October 3, 2020
When we went into lockdown in March, I never thought that I’d be celebrating my birthday (roughly six months later) still in lockdown. I just hadn’t thought that far ahead. I know that lockdown has loosened over the last few months but I still don’t feel as though it’s safe enough or socially responsible to do something as casual as going out for my birthday when, fingers crossed, I’ll have many more. So we had to get creative with the birthday celebrations but I feel like I still followed my birthday rules and feel good about how I celebrated my birthday even though it was a bit different than I’d have expected it to be.
So, to refresh our memories, these birthday rules that I discovered several years ago are: do something you wouldn’t normally do and buy yourself something you wouldn’t normally buy. So here we go…
Rule #1: Do something you wouldn’t normally do.
Finding something to do at home was a bit of a challenge because, after six months of staying inside, we’ve really done everything possible to do, from the mundane to the more interesting. So I did find it hard to come up with something. But then I had a sudden flash of inspiration. We always have homemade cake on birthdays but we thought that, rather than going out to do something special, we’d have something special brought to us and so we ordered a beautiful, more extravagant cake for the day of my birthday (we will still have homemade cake because it’s a family tradition – we’ll just do it later on). I got to choose it and I was very excited for it to arrive.
I had classes (online) all day on my birthday but when I came downstairs after the second one, this beautiful cake – chocolate cake, chocolate icing, and maltesers (available here from Betsy’s Bake) – was sitting on the counter. I had a couple of hours before my next class and one of my parents dropped in briefly for what we had officially named ‘the cake break.’ It was really, really good. I had cut myself far too big a slice to get through (it was very rich) so I tucked it away and did my last class of the day, before having dinner and finishing it off.
Because there was much more than we could eat ourselves, it was really fun to share with people and witness their excitement and enjoyment. That was a really nice part of it that I hadn’t expected, thinking we’d get through it all as a family. In general, I think I prefer our simpler, homemade cakes but I did really, really enjoy this as a fancy birthday treat, which, afterall, was the point.
Rule #2: Buy yourself something you wouldn’t normally buy.
Having received the two big items that I would have chosen to spend money on for my birthday (and technically I am contributing to the electric guitar because it is an expensive purchase), I was a bit lost as to what to do for this second rule. I feel very fortunate for my birthday presents but I have also really come to enjoy this tradition and so I still wanted to buy myself something I wouldn’t normally buy; I just wasn’t sure what to buy as there weren’t any big things I wanted and it would be a waste to buy something I only just kind of wanted. So instead of buying one thing, I looked at what I’d spent in previous years and once I had an estimate of what to spend, I decided to dedicate that money to my attempt during lockdown to finally finish decorating my room. It does mean these things won’t all arrive at once and it won’t be the traditional ‘the thing has arrived!’ but if there was ever a time to bend rules like these, this is it.
I haven’t spent all of the allotted money yet but so far, I’m getting a suncatcher, some sea glass to put in jars to place around the room, some small prints to go on the walls, and a cool candle. I’m not sure what else I’ll choose yet but I’m so excited to have my room start to feel truly like my space. It’s gonna be so great.
This is the guitar that was my main birthday present, which I’m paying for in part because it was pretty expensive.
My actual birthday was A LOT. I had some lovely messages and cards and gifts from family and friends and the amazing cake so there was a lot of good. But it was also very hard work. I had three university classes, one of which was kind of like a personal development seminar and that got very emotional. I felt drained and completely exhausted afterwards, even though it had been a positive experience. But it was hard and upsetting to dig so deep. Plus I have this weird anxiety about turning twenty-six when I feel like I haven’t done all the growing I’m supposed to do at twenty-five due to the pandemic. I ended the day falling asleep on the sofa with the beginning of what turned into a several day long migraine. So, yeah, it was a lot. But I do genuinely think I will always look back at it and remember a really good, really special birthday.
Category: about me, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, covid-19 pandemic, emotions, event, food, holidays, university Tagged: 26th birthday, anxiety, bedroom, birthday, birthday cake, birthday in lockdown, birthday present, birthday rules, cake, coronavirus, covid-19, decor, decorating, electric guitar, fatigue, guitar, lockdown, lockdown 2020, lockdown birthday, migraine, pandemic, pandemic 2020, pandemic anxiety, university
Posted on July 11, 2020
I’ve seen a lot of people posting post-lockdown bucket lists recently and they’ve been really fun to see. It’s nice to see people excited about things. And it’s a nice reminder that there will be an end to this situation, to the restrictions, to the fear. I started writing my own post-lockdown bucket list but halfway through, I stopped and really thought about it all. I’ve mentioned before that I think the British government has handled this crisis appallingly and that I don’t believe that they’re acting in the best interest of the people; with the experts warning about a second wave, it seems incredibly irresponsible and actively negligent to start lifting lockdown. Me and my family have discussed this a lot and have decided to follow the scientific advice, rather than the government’s advice. So I changed my approach to the post and renamed it my ‘when I feel safe again’ list.
So these are the things I want to do as soon as it feels safe enough to do them:
Ultimately, I’m looking forward to feeling safe again and the resulting relief for my mental health. My anxiety isn’t going to recede from its overwhelming levels until then and only then will I be able to function somewhat normally again. I hope.
Category: covid-19 pandemic, mental health, music, trichotillomania, university Tagged: alcohol, anxiety, anxiety disorder, collaboration, concert, concerts, coronavirus, covid-19, cowriting, decorating, drinking, driving, exercise, family, friends, hair, hair dye, hug, hugs, karaoke, lockdown, long drives, masters, masters degree, mental illness, pandemic, performing, post lockdown, post lockdown bucket list, redecorating, singer, singersongwriter, songwriting, swimming, when i feel safe again list, writing
Posted on April 18, 2020
As of today, we have been living in the ‘new house’ for two years. So it’s not exactly new. But after living somewhere for fifteen years, two years feels like nothing. In fifteen years, I became a person, my own person. Then I blinked and two years went by. It’s not even comparable.
There were so, so many good memories in the ‘old’ house: the late night games me and my brother would play where we made nests out of our bedding, bringing Lucky home at eight weeks old, listening to the same Annie Lennox CD every year as we decorated the Christmas tree, evenings watching TV as a family, my Dad telling us made up Harry Potter stories until we fell asleep, waking up to Snubby curled up on the pillow next to me even if it meant a mouthful of fur, big dinners with family and friends, bringing Lucy home, things as simple as coming home to the living room windows open and Wimbledon on the television. There are more good memories than I can count.
There were also bad memories, like my Mum crying after her Dad died, coming home after being bullied at school, watching my brother come home after being bullied at school, the early meltdowns, Lucky getting sick, having my heart broken for the first time, being told my cat was terminally ill, taking her to the vet that last time and coming home without her… finding out that my Dad had died. They aren’t memories I want to spend time with but they are moments that made me who I am and so I need them safe. And those walls kept them safe for years. But memories aren’t like possessions. You can’t pack them into a box when you leave a place. So what if you reach your new house and they haven’t travelled with you? At least not with the same clarity, in the same condition, that they were in where you previously lived? What if small details have been left behind?
“So what is it that makes us mourn the loss of a structure? It’s not the great architecture, or the way the light pours in through the windows in the morning. It’s the loss of the vessel that held our memories. It’s almost as if leaving a home rich in such a lived-in history causes our memories to spill out everywhere, and we feel like we’ve spun out of orbit, scrambling to collect them… But we have to remember that we have lost the vessel, not the memories. We just have to build a new place to hold them.” – Kelli Kehler on Design Sponge (x)
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been walking around, looking at the house and trying to figure out how I feel about it, how I feel about the fact that it’s been two years since we left the place that I’d always considered home. I’d never thought far enough ahead to consider anywhere else home. This is where I live now – I know that – but when I think of home, it’s the old house. But that’s not home anymore either because it’s got other people in it who will have changed things – who will be filling it with their own memories – so I’m not sure where ‘home’ is. In a way, I feel kind of homeless. It doesn’t help that even though we’ve been here two years, we haven’t had much time to do anything to make it ours. Not really.
It’s a grieving process. And it’s one that hasn’t been properly dealt with because there’s been so much going on: medication changes, going back to university, challenges with my mental health. To say it’s been hard is a pretty huge understatement. It’s been one of the hardest things to happen in my life.
But I guess there’s a reason we call it a grieving process. Because it is a process. Our feelings change day to day. We move forward, we move back. Our emotions heighten, they settle, and then they heighten again. It’s ever changing. So rather than sum up the last two years, I’m trying just to think about now and when I think about now, this is what comes to mind: most days, it’s okay or it’s at least not something I think about. But there are still days where I hate it, where it feels like I’m walking around wearing someone else’s skin.
I’ve read various articles about moving out of your childhood home and adjusting to a new house and something that came up a lot was finding things you like about your new surroundings and where you find things you don’t like, try to figure out why and what you can do about it.
So here are some examples…
What do I love about it?
What don’t I love and how can I change those things?
Me and Mum have been talking about this, about this feeling, for quite a while. But with my Masters, I haven’t had the time or the energy to do much about it. And Mum’s been working and helping me manage everything. But my second semester is ending and we’re stuck in lockdown so we’re planning to carve out some time to get more comfortable here – or get me more comfortable, at least, as the one more sensitive to this issue. We won’t be going out to get paint or new tiles or anything like that given the current situation but since we’re both stuck in the house with some extra free time, we thought we’d start with the things we can do while in lockdown, like putting up pictures. We also have a scale drawing of my room and cut outs of my furniture and have been moving them around to try and create a set up that is both practical and feels right to me, enough at least to try out.
So we’ll see how it goes. Nothing’s going to change overnight, but then what does? One step at a time, hopefully this house will feel more like home.
Tips for moving out of your childhood home. (x)
Category: about me, animals, anxiety, covid-19 pandemic, death, depression, event, meltdowns, mental health, quotes Tagged: childhood, childhood home, coronavirus, covid-19, decorating, emotions, family, feelings, finding home, grief, grieving, grieving process, growing up, home, house, lockdown, lockdown 2020, memories, moving house, new home, new house, quarantine, quarantine 2020, redecorating
Hi! I’m Lauren Alex Hooper. Welcome to my little blog! I write about living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as several mental health issues. I’m a singersongwriter (and currently studying for a Masters in songwriting) so I’ll probably write a bit about that too.
My first single, ‘Invisible,’ is now available on iTunes and Spotify, with all proceeds going to Young Minds.
I’m currently releasing my first EP, Honest, track by track and all five songs are now available on all major music platforms. However, there’s still more content to come…