12 Tips for Surviving a Funk

The word “funk” annoys me. The phrase “I’m in a funk” bothers me even more. Maybe because the word “funk” seems dismissive, a word used to describe a bad smell – or something gross growing where it shouldn’t. Like toe jam.

With that being said, I just came out of a two week funk. Usually, I’m pretty good at pin-pointing the reason why I’m feeling less than absolutely awesome. But this time around, the funk was more nebulous, more like everything had a cloud of “I’m so sad and I don’t know why” / “everything gives me anxiety” / “waking up and getting ready is excruciating.” Funks are unfun and they make life hard to live. Not impossible, just hard. Like when you’re wearing socks that keep falling off the back of your ankle and you have to stop and readjust them constantly and you’re all “I can’t wait to go home and change this pair of socks.” Except I can’t wait to change my fucking attitude toward life.

So it was a hard couple of weeks. And I’ve been thinking of my coping mechanisms, and how they helped me to some degree of success. And since this is a safe space, I thought I’d share some of my Funk Survival Skills. I’m in no way a qualified mental health professional (no matter what the internet says about me), but I’ve had 18 or so years of dealing with mild to severe depression, I worked 3 years at a therapy center, and I spent a year and a half of twice a week intensive therapy. So I’ve had a lot of trial and error. This shit works for me.

  1. Talk about it. It’s amazing how much it helps just to talk it out. I can’t count how many times I’ve built an issue up in my head so much that it became the end of the world, only to talk about it with someone and realise it actually wasn’t a big deal. I’ve found that if I keep my negative thoughts to myself, I get suffocated, overwhelmed, and start to feel out of control and helpless. There’s something about verbalising your feelings. It’s like releasing a pressure valve in your Feels Grid.
  2. Take an inventory. I sit down and think of any outside influences that could be at fault. Is my medicine affecting me? Am I sick? Have I been drinking too much? Not getting out of the house enough? Having problems at work? Conflict with friends or family? Low blood sugar? I was nearly suicidal for 6 months before a doctor suggested the hormones in my birth control (the patch) could be sending me into a tailspin. I stopped using the patch and felt better within a week. You never know, sometimes.
  3. Make a list. This goes a bit hand in hand with “talk about it” and “take an inventory.”  When I’m really mired in a funk and I don’t think I can talk about it yet, I write a list of “Shit That’s Bothering Me.” This list ranges from the most troubling (“I feel like I’m failing at my job”) to the most shallow (“cookies make me gain weight”) – if it bothers me, it’s going on the list. Making a list has duel benefits. 1) I’m releasing that pressure valve in my Feels Grid by letting it all out on paper, and 2) I can examine what’s wrong with me, and I can see what is and what isn’t in my realm of control. Failing at my job? In my control – I can ask for training, feedback, or guidance from my supervisors. Cookies make me gain weight? Out of my control – but I can limit how many of them I eat, and how much I exercise after eating them. It’s like making a battle plan for getting yourself back.
  4. Show gratitude. I like list making. After I make my “Shit that’s Bothering Me” list, I make a “Shit that’s Good” list. I think of the positive things that are happening so I keep perspective. I get as real or shallow as I need to. Previous lists of mine have included, “My parents love me”, “I kicked ass at on that email”, “I took a shower today”, and “I’m glad I like tacos”
  5. Indulge, but don’t binge. It’s good to take some comfort for yourself when you’re down. But don’t make your home there. It’s the difference between taking an evening to yourself to skip your shower, eat a brownie and watch Teen Mom; and calling out of work so you can eat an entire pan of brownies while watching an endless marathon Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2. Not that I’ve ever done this (twice). If your self care turns to an excuse for apathy, or “it’s just easier to do this“, it’s a red flag.
  6. Don’t drown yourself. This seems pretty obvious, but it took me a while to catch on: listening to sad music, watching sad movies, and reading sad words when I’m sad makes me more sad. *lightbulb* I used to love that commiseration and that charge I’d feel when an artist or a movie would channel exactly what I was feeling. Eventually, though, I learned that depression is fertile, and it doesn’t take much fertilization to make my mind a breeding ground. Now I seek out material the opposite of what I’m feeling. And I stay away from known triggers – like TV shows and movies with sentimental attachments, and basically all music. Distraction gives me a good break from the negative thoughts.
  7. Move. There’s heaps of science that backs up the positive effect of exercise on depression and funks. And it’s true. Even if it’s just a walk around the block, or sitting out on the balcony. Prying my ass out of bed or off the couch and into the outside world does a bit of good. And back when I was periodically active at my gym, it felt good to zone out while lifting weights. Also it makes me feel like I have control over something good happening – like I’m working out. I’m making myself do this, and it’s good for me, so that’s good. I’m awesome.
  8. Confront your anxieties. You know what makes anxiety 800% worse? Avoiding it. I think I’ve had the same anxiety since I was a kid – something will happen, it will be my fault, and I’ll get yelled at. Seriously. I can trace most of my anxiety attacks back to the initial fear of “I’ll get yelled at.” sounds silly, until I’m shaking at my desk having heart palpitations with a red face and vomit rising in my throat. If I think I’m going to get in trouble, or in a situation where I might be talked sternly at, my first instinct is always to do everything in my power to avoid it. But, therapy helped me learn that confronting whatever is giving me anxiety is so much better than leaping to the worst conclusion. Problems at work? I’ll convince myself to ask questions about it until I understand and feel good about it. Stressed because you don’t have money to pay a bill? Call the company you owe and see what your options are. Feeling like you have a million things you want to do and not enough time? Write it out in a list and prioritize it. Think your friend/parent/family member/co-worker/facebook friend is mad at you? Ask them about it.Think your friend/parent/family member/co-worker/facebook friend is treating you badly? Say something about it. Dreading opening up your junk drawer or junk room because it might be out of control? Just open it. Take a small pile and work through it, one pile at a time. I’ve learned that no matter how hard it is to confront your problems, it’s much better than holding it inside and worrying.
  9. Take a super shower. Literal self care: when I’m in a funk, showering is the first thing that falls to the wayside. I’ll sit in a dirty funk forever with absolutely no concern for myself. So I’ve found that taking a Super Shower – an extra long shower where you not only shampoo, rinse and repeat, but you also scrub, exfoliate, polish, use the loofah, use the pumice on your feet, shave, use body oil, use every toiletry and indulgence you have. Take the time to wash and pamper what usually gets a quick scrub in a morning shower. Then, dry off, lotion up everywhere, comb your hair, and put on clean clothes (or pajamas). I follow this up with mascara and eye liner, and blow drying my hair straight. It makes me feel human on the outside, even if I’m feeling like pudding on the inside.
  10. Get dressed. If I have to go to work while I’m in a funk, going in unshowered and dressed with no effort makes me feel a million times worse. If I take a shower, get dressed with a purpose, and put on make up, I can trick myself that I’m in control and that my life doesn’t feel like a complete mess. But, I’ll admit that I usually talk myself out of this because I want to stay in bed for the 30 minutes it takes me to shower and blow dry my hair. You can’t win them all.
  11. Do something. I’ve been trying harder than ever to funnel funk feelings into productivity. 90% of the time this means baking. I do my best baking when I’m in a funk. It’s a nice distraction/respite from being mired in the shit. I feel productive and in control, and after all is baked and cleaned and put away, pretty satisfied. And when the treats come out amazing, it’s not bad on the ol’ self esteem. I also like to write, draw, obsessively sort, re-organize or clean. Anything to keep my mind occupied and my ass moving. Except vacuuming. Vacuuming is the bane of my existence and is guaranteed to make my funk worse.
  12. Be kind to yourself. This is the most important lesson I learned in therapy. Being kind to myself means listening to what I really need, be it alone time, sleep, help, a tantrum, or a hug. It also means reminding myself to think positively in the midst of all the shit. “This too shall come to pass” is one of my mantras. I remind myself of all the other times I thought it couldn’t get any worse, and how it I’m still here. Don’t belittle or hate yourself because you’re down. Give yourself the time, the space, and the encouragement to get through it. I’m my harshest critic, judgiest judger, and worst nightmare. It’s taken a lot deliberate action on my part to change the way I think about myself, but I’m glad that I did – and even more glad that I can enact positivity now.

Basically, the only way to get through a funk is to take care of yourself. Take care of yourself physically, as well as emotionally. Be encouraging, be honest, and be open to those you trust. And above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help – asking for help is much easier than you think, and much better than suffering. And anyone who tries to tell you different is a dick. True story.

It gets better. And there are always good things happening. Like tacos.

Just remember that.


Eat it up: China Town

Last weekend was the first beautiful warm summer-like weekend of spring. It was exactly warm enough to go without a jacket, but not so hot that I became a sweaty pig beast. So Joel and I took a field trip to China Town for a project we’re working on. And I pretended I was a photographer behind Joel, who actually is a photographer. Ok, I was really just there for the food, because China Town has some of the best eats in Sydney. So let’s begin!


Friday night noodle markets! So much dim sum and booths selling everything you can think of.
Friday night noodle markets! So much dim sum and booths selling everything you can think of.
Fun fact: the Ceremonial Gate was dedicated in 1980 to officially declare the China Town area.
Fun fact: the Ceremonial Gate was dedicated in 1980 to officially declare the China Town area.
mmm, steamy.
mmm, steamy.
This guy is here every night, spreading the good word of Jesus by hula hooping and decorating people with leis.
This guy is here every night, spreading the good word of Jesus by hula hooping and decorating people with leis.
We happened upon the YouTube Fan Fest red carpet. The only name I recognized from the marquee was Jenna Marbles, and that was only because Cara mentioned to me earlier that day that Jenna was in town. I'm clueless when it comes to YouTube.
We happened upon the YouTube Fan Fest red carpet. The only name I recognized from the marquee was Jenna Marbles, and that was only because Cara mentioned to me earlier that day that Jenna was in town. I’m clueless when it comes to YouTube.
shadow people
shadow people
The entrance to Kimber Lane, with the "Between Two Worlds" installation peeking out.
The entrance to Kimber Lane, with the “Between Two Worlds” installation peeking out.
"Between Two Worlds" - representing the path between our world and the spirit world. I want some of these spirit creatures for our apartment.
“Between Two Worlds” – representing the path between our world and the spirit world. I want some of these spirit creatures for our apartment.
Char Kway Teow - noodles with eggs, prawns, cockles, Chinese sausage and fresh bean sprouts. And enough spices to clear your sinuses for days. So good.
For dinner, we decided on Malaysian street food at Hawker. First up: Char Kway Teow – noodles with eggs, prawns, cockles, Chinese sausage and fresh bean sprouts. And enough spices to clear your sinuses for days. So good.
ice milk tea and our platter of Lor Bak -  five-spice pork rolls, prawn cakes and fried tofu. I never knew how good fried tofu could be.
ice milk tea and our platter of Lor Bak – five-spice pork rolls, prawn cakes and fried tofu. I never knew how good fried tofu could be. I thought tofu was for hip, early 90’s yuppies. But deep fry it and it’s good enough for chubby 30 something admins as well.
Siu Yuk - roasted pork belly with 5 spice rub and crispy crackling. This is what my roasted pork belly was supposed to look like. Whoops! Melt in your mouth pork, and crunchy crackling, with a perfect cucumber and rice complement. Textures forever.
Siu Yuk – roasted pork belly with 5 spice rub and crispy crackling. This is what my roasted pork belly was supposed to look like. Whoops! Melt in your mouth pork, and crunchy crackling, with a perfect cucumber and rice complement. Textures forever.

After dinner, we rolled ourselves home, catching a glimpse of a meth head shouting at cops as we walked to the bus (dinner and a show!). And on Saturday morning, we returned to see more. We walked to the Chinese Garden of Friendship, and almost went in, but it was the first warm, beautiful day of spring and that meant the Garden was a tourist trap. No thanks.

So calm
So calm
So zen
So zen
So photo
So photo

Fun fact: I took a photo here in 2012

I know, what a super cool fun fact!
I know, what a super cool fun fact!

Then we stood in line for about 20 minutes to get the infamous Emperors Cream Puffs – fresh, hot (like scalding hot), bite sized puff pastry filled with vanilla custard for $.35 each. They’re served from a tiny window, and you’d walk right past it if there wasn’t a giant line (but there’s always a line), they only take cash, and you’re not allowed to take photos of the Tim Burton like machine that fills the puff pastry tins and takes them through the fryer. I’d wait in line any day to get these babies. And I see why people by 20 at a time.

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 10.36.49 AM

We walked around Market City and Paddy’s Markets, a huge flea market style set up in a large brick warehouse. They sell everything from $1 underwear to knock off Michael Kohrs bags to fresh produce and seafood.

This is from the internets – I didn’t take one of Market City. Plus there’s a lot of construction happening around it now, so it wasn’t very photogenic. /excuses
Actually, I didn't get any photos of Market City because I was in a food coma from Pepper Lunch and it's chicken curry delish. The food is served in a super hot skillet and continues to cook while you eat. So, so, good.
Then there was food coma from Pepper Lunch and it’s chicken curry delish. The food is served in a super hot skillet and continues to cook while you eat. So, so, good.

But after all that lunching and all that walking around, we got to the real reason why I love China Town: N2 Extreme Gelato. It’s not nearly as good as Gelato Messina, but it’s a lot more fun.

Simpsons on your menu board? TAKE MY MONEY

Saturday’s adventure was vanilla bean gelato with white chocolate fudge chunks, almonds, coconut shavings, and a syringe of white chocolate sauce.

I'd do it all over again.
I’d do it all over again.

And then I got home and passed out in a diabetic stupor for the next few hours. /champion

So there you have it, Audrey Eats Her Way Through China Town. I love it. Next time, we’ll have to do some actual shopping and maybe hit up a sketchy karaoke bar. It’s a fun area, and as I always forget, super close to our neighborhood. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go run about 600 miles I didn’t run last weekend to work off the 16,000 calories I consumed in that 24 hour period. Or maybe I’ll just think about running 600 miles. I might just order some pork belly instead. mmmm…


A Year in Review

September 3rd brought about my one year anniversary of living in Sydney with Joel. We celebrated with Netflix, champagne and sweatpants.

One of Joel's customers gave a bottle of bubbly. Free champagne is the best champagne.
One of Joel’s customers gave a bottle of bubbly. Free champagne is the best champagne.

Like every milestone that’s passed since I’ve been here, it’s still a little hard to believe that it happened. Like, how did all the holidays pass, all the seasons change, and all the shit that’s happened happen when I only got here like, 2 days ago?

Moving overseas was a huge process, and in the excitement of it all, I underestimated every step of it. I knew I’d miss my friends and family, but I didn’t know how devastatingly I’d miss them or how much I’d kick myself for not calling them every day when I was back in the States. I knew living in a new country would be an adjustment, but I didn’t account for the little things, for the crushing despair I’d feel from not being able to do a walk around Target when I’m feeling down, or for having to stand in the grocery store Googling “what is this ingredient called in Australia” or having a question about dinner and not being able to call my mom for advice. It didn’t occur to me that I’d feel like such an outsider in a first world, english speaking country, and I didn’t think about how feeling like an outsider would make it harder to make friends. I didn’t know how helpless and frustrated and angry I would feel when I’d hear about being able to do nothing about problems back home. I didn’t think about how scary it would be to count every dollar in my budget because I can’t just borrow $50 from my parents anymore. And I really didn’t think about the “hey, only I can talk shit about my family, ok?” reaction I’d get when I’d hear shit talk about the States and American policies – that was the most surprising.

So this year has been the biggest adjustment I’ve ever gone through. But, I can’t think of an adjustment that has been more important or more necessary. And for all the internal challenges I’ve faced this year, my support system has been incredible. I’ve met some great people through Joel and through work, and my parents been there for me, offering me endless support and turning a blind eye to me buying American TV shows through their Amazon prime (they also gave me a gift of temporarily taking over my student loan payments, which I’ll never be able to thank them enough for). My friends have never been more than a message or an impromptu Skype session away, which I’ve never been more thankful for.

I’ve also had a constant source of support and friendship and general badassery here, and it was from one aspect of my life that I knew I never had to worry about: Joel. For the first time ever, I feel like I have a partner. I have someone who isn’t just invested in me, but who is invested in us. I hadn’t realized it before I moved here, but I had always had him as my number one priority in life. Since being in Sydney, though, our life together has become the number one priority. And it’s been an eye opening experience. It’s our money and our problems and our home and our holidays and our life. He’s helped me to be more conscious of my spending, to be healthier, to be more patient and supportive of myself, and to let go of situations I have no control over. Of course, we’ve had our stumbling moments, but now, it feels effortless. I wake up every morning feel grateful that the universe knocked us together.

A whole year. Damn. It took a lot longer than I expected, but I feel like Sydney is becoming my home. I’ve met some great people, I know how to get around town more, I know what to expect from the seasons (i.e. how to dress and live during summer when you don’t have air conditioning), I have cheat sheets for the metric system, I’m determined to learn how to drive, I’m going to hit the beach way more, and life here doesn’t feel so lonely anymore. At the end of every month, I learn a few more lessons about living here. My visa is finally finished and turned in, and I’m employed full time. Basically, I finally feel ready to worry less and do more.

Time flies. At jet speeds. And it feels like so much has happened, even if it doesn’t look like it. Because all the things that happened were little. I realized the value of a dollar. The value of a phone call or even a text message to loved ones. The values of patience and consideration. The value of putting myself in someone else’s shoes. The value of eating healthier and moving more. The value in dropping bad habits. The value of letting go and forgiving. All these little realizations all added up to something huge: I finally grew up.

Happy anniversary, Sydney. Thanks for everything. xo

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 12.52.44 PM

Catchup.com – Awwwgust Spring

Happy September, everyone!

Well, August just crapped on by didn’t it? It feels like August was like, 2 weeks long.

Let’s see what we’ve been up to…

meal plannin'
meal plannin’

This month, Joel and I started making a big vat of chicken, veggies, and rice stirfry (and peanuts sometimes!) on Sunday night, and packing our lunches for the week. The first three days I was like “seriously? Chicken and rice again?” but now it’s not a big deal. And since we aren’t taking dinner left overs for lunch anymore, our dinners stretch further. Now we’re only making 2 or 3 additional meals, not 5 or 6. It’s cut down on our groceries bill, take out lunches almost never happened (I forgot my lunch once – whoops), and neither of us have had food poisoning (although we’ve started the “new rice after 3rd day” rule). We’ve switched up the stir fry sauces and used hokkien noodles instead of rice a couple times, but overall, it’s the best meal plan step we’ve made. And the cost for a week of lunches = $15.00; $13 if we make our own stir fry sauce. Not too shabby.

family photo shootin
family photo shootin

Joel took family photos for our Nye family friends, which meant a day of hanging at the studio with pals and adorable kiddos, and an evening of building legos with the other Henri in my life, and holding 3 month old Amelie. Holding a sweet sweet baby in our apartment while watching Star Wars and hanging with pals? My biological clock maybe went into overdrive by about a gajillion. Let’s not even talk about catching Joel giving Amelie a tiny kiss on the top of her head.

Henri, art directing
Henri, art directing
lego castle building
lego castle building

and seriously, high 5 to Craig who will only let his kids watch the un-retouched version of the trilogy. High 5.

caramel milk drinkin
caramel milk drinkin

Joel took a two week staycation holiday a the beginning of the month, and we might have had a couple days where we didn’t move from the couch. Which was fine by me. It was so good to have him home and happy for so long – even if it did make me incredibly jealous. haha. And if you haven’t had caramel milk, then you should. You don’t know what you’re missing*.

Calamity Caking
Calamity Caking

I woke up from a dream in which I made a cake from scratch. I was low on funds, and we’ve been trying hard not to eat sugary desserts every day, but I really wanted to make a cake. So I looked through my trusty Back in the Day Bakery cookbooks and picked out the Baby Party Cake with Buttercream frosting.  Joel gave me $20 and I ran off to the store to buy flour and butter because I knew I was running low. But it wasn’t until all the butter was measure out, the eggs separated, and flours and powders sifted that I realized I was short on sugar by a whole cup. D’OH. After an emergency google, I substituted with raw sugar.

Then I read that I needed to whip the egg whites into peaks, but I didn’t have a second mixing bowl, or a second mixer, and my beaters were coated with cake batter that looked like cookie dough. I was going to skip the step, but then I remembered that women in the 1800’s made cakes with a whisk and their arm muscles. So I whisked egg whites for 10 [excruciating] minutes and sure enough, peaks formed. And as I folded them into my cookie dough, it almost immediately turned into silky cake batter. hu-fucking-zah.

I've never touched an egg yolk that wasn't runny before. These yolks were squishballs and I could juggle with them. Free range grain fed eggs forever.
I’ve never touched an egg yolk that wasn’t runny before. These yolks were squishballs and I could basically juggle with them. Free range grain and hormone free forever.

Then, my brain deflated. First, I stared at a mixing bowl filled with powdered sugar and cubed butter and thought “this doesn’t seem right. If I mix this, I’ll get a powdered sugar bomb.” And I realized quickly that I forgot to beat the butter and milk first. Whoops. So I fished the butter out, emptied the powdered sugar, and poured in the milk. How much milk? About 3x the amount I needed. So, after using an entire bag of icing sugar and some corn starch, the icing was still runny. Hind sight tells me I should have added more butter and just doubled the recipe so it would have solidified, but I only just now thought of it. And I ended up with green icing.



I was really not looking forward to eating the cake. It smelled yum, but the process and the icing made me think it was going to be a dried out mess.

Ohhhhh, was I wrong. It was the best cake I’ve ever had. It was the big cake version of their Old Fashioned Cupcake, which was life changing. So, I dubbed this cake Calamity Cake. It took us a week to eat it (will power was strong), and if I could make another one today, I would. Except I’d make sure I have all the ingredients first.

Calamity Cake eating

taco partying
taco partying
Lettering by Joel
More lettering
Lettering by me
Gallery hangin - it's been at least 2 months, and the pictures haven't fallen yet. SCORE.
Gallery hangin – it’s been at least 2 months, and the pictures haven’t fallen yet. SCORE.

Our gallery wall, which we first hung in like, May? Fell within two weeks. Now, to hang photos on our cement walls, we have to use adhesive backed hooks and sticky tack. First, the adhesive has to dry on the hook for 24 hours. Then, it takes a lot of measuring and planning and measuring and planning and then sticking the adhesive hooks and hoping they were in the spot you want them to be in. Then it takes at least 2 weeks for the hooks to cure to the wall before you can hang the frames. Then you have to sticky tack the corners of the frames for extra support. It’s a long process. I just wanted the frames up, and we were tired and just wanted it done, so we skipped the measure/plan/measure/plan step and just fixed the hooks wherever and decided to move the frames around until it looked good. So that’s my long winded explanation about why the frames aren’t evenly spaced and why we don’t have a print in that long brown frame yet. Normally the spacing would drive me crazy. But, a) it’s finally a gallery wall and b) it’s so much better than staring at a white wall.

book readin' (what a sweet surprise gift! I've been reading Shirley Jackson since I was 10. love, love, love her, and the SJ bond I share with my mom)
book readin’

I went to the post office to get what I thought would be the FBI background check for my visa, but I also got a surprise package from my mom. Mom introduced me to Shirley Jackson when I was 9 or 10, and I’ve been in love ever since. I have well worn and well read copies of Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons in my books at home. Most people don’t know that in addition to writing horror stories, she wrote hilarious accounts of her time raising four children and trying to be a house wife. So good.

  • visa finishing – FINALLY. After many theatrics and dollars spent, my finger prints have been submitted. My medical exam is done. NOW all I have to do is wait. Wait, and wait, and wait. And I’m very much looking forward to not having to spend any more money on it.
  • Work – someone here made a big decision about his career, and I couldn’t be more proud or excited for him.
  • It’s officially been a year since I moved from the States. Which means it’s been a year since I’ve driven a car, hugged my family, eaten McDonalds, or lived with air conditioning.

And the views weren’t too shabby


And now it’s September! It’s spring, I’m recovering from stomach flu, I’ve been in Sydney for a year now, and we’re on the track for a good month. Fingers crossed errryone!

*I’m a milk fan, which is great, because people here drink milk like it’s water. And so, there are heaps of flavours to choose from. Yuummmm

One Year

hey hey!

It’s been a year in this beautiful city. A year that challenged and amazed and revealed.

Best decision I’ve ever made.

I’ll be back later with a more indepth review of my first year Down Under, and a new catchup.com post, and even a blog redesign! But the death grip of this flu I have is clouding my brain at the moment and I can only concentrate on Speed, which is currently on TV. Keanu is soothing. Death must be near.

xo, Sydney.