I’m 25, Unemployed, & Spent $485 On My Wellness Routine This Week

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Today:  a recently unemployed woman takes hot girl walks, re-watches Gilmore Girls, and spends some time at the doctor’s office.
Age: 25
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Unemployed
Salary: Previously $50,000
Editor's note: This diary was written in March 2022.
Content warning: This diary contains mention of suicidal thoughts, depression, and panic attacks.

Day One

9:45 a.m. — The first thing I do every day is take 150mg of Wellbutrin XL. I’ve tried three different antidepressants since October of last year, and I’ve been able to tolerate Wellbutrin for the longest. I’ve had anxiety, depression, and PTSD for as long as I can remember, but I was too scared to take psychotropic medication for so many years because I thought I wouldn’t feel like myself. For the first couple of weeks on each new pill, I was right — but my care team of doctors and psychologists have been really receptive to how I’m feeling and worked with me to switch meds until we found one that didn’t wreck my body or personality, and that’s Wellbutrin.
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2 p.m. — I’m currently apartment hunting and if I’m not careful, I’ll fall down an Internet hole of constantly clicking between Zillow and Apartments.com as I get more and more stressed about finding a place. Normally, I set time limits on how long I spend each day searching online, but today, I accidentally spend three hours scrolling. When I get really stressed like this, I stop what I’m doing and focus on my breathing. I’m not a fan of instructor-guided meditation (it makes me even more stressed), so I don’t follow a set plan or anything. I take a deep breath in for eight counts, hold for two, release for eight, hold again for two, and then repeat that cycle until I feel in control of my nervous system again. I do this deep-breathing exercise for about 10 minutes and can feel the tension release in my neck and shoulders. Once I finish, I’m tempted to start apartment searching again, but instead I put all of the stress and anxiety in a mental box that I’ll revisit in the future.
4:35 p.m. — I used to work remotely as a travel agent for a luxury van rental company and recently quit. There were a lot of reasons that pushed me towards quitting, but the main reason was that I had recently gotten a new manager that I did not work well with. She joined our team near the end of 2021 and completely disregarded my thoughts and opinions about my work. I felt steamrolled for months. It's been a fantastic decision and has improved my mental health. I'm incredibly lucky to have had enough money saved up to make this decision, which was the main reason I was finally able to quit.
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Now that I have more time on my hands, I’m a big fan of the hot girl walk. While I walk, I like to listen to podcasts or whatever Taylor Swift album has been on repeat in my head, which lately has been 1989 and Reputation. But today, after 15 minutes of walking, I start to feel really anxious and uncomfortable. I keep walking and the feeling continues to build. I turn around and make my way home and once I get inside, I have a panic attack.
I’ve had regular panic attacks for a long time and I’ve learned that the best way to overcome one is to accept that it’s happening and get to a place where you feel safe. So, I have a panic attack and cry about how stupid it is that I’m crying about having a panic attack. (Does that make sense? No, but here we are.) Once the panic attack subsides, I decide to do something that always makes me feel better: order takeout from my favorite Greek restaurant. I get a gyro wrap with falafel and the largest size of fries they offer. I put on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and soothe my frazzled brain with falafel and rich people drama. ($23)
Daily Total: $23

Day Two

11:20 a.m. — This morning I have a six-week follow up with my GP to discuss how I’ve been tolerating Wellbutrin and how my overall mood has been affected. Unmedicated, I deal with severe depression and thoughts of suicide and self-harm, along with a touch of anxiety and panic attacks depending on the week. Since starting Wellbutrin, my depression and related symptoms have almost completely disappeared (yay!) but my anxiety has quadrupled (boo!). Because of this, I’ve had more panic attacks in the last six weeks than I have in the last year. But if I’m being honest, I’d rather have panic attacks and anxiety than feel suicidal all the time. If that’s the trade-off, I’ll take it.
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My doctor says that if the panic attacks continue to bother me so much, she can prescribe a mild sedative to take when I start feeling anxious. I’ve had both positive and negative experiences with sedatives in the past and tell her that I’ll think about it and get back to her with an answer. I’ve also been having severe knee pains throughout the last three months that have made it hard to move or exercise because my knees are so stiff and swollen. My doctor arranges for me to have a follow up with an orthopedic doctor next week to figure out what’s going on. Because the pain has been so bad it’s preventing me from going about my day as normal, the doctor gave me a Toradol injection, which is an NSAID pain relief medication (the visit is $74.60 after insurance). 
7 p.m. — As a depressed girlie, I often don’t have the energy to cook dinner so I rely on salads and frozen food. But tonight I’m feeling nostalgic and decide to cook my favorite comfort meal that I would make back in college. Let me preface: I’m a pescatarian, so I enjoy beans more than the average person. It’s black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, broccoli, and cauliflower tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, turmeric, and Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning. I toss everything together and pop it in the oven to roast until it’s nice and crispy.
While this is happening I cook quinoa, and once the veggies are ready, I combine the two and mix in mozzarella cheese. All the spices add a nice warmth and since it’s so full of protein and carbs, it fills me up for a long time. I already had the beans and spices in my pantry, so the only thing I bought today to make this meal was the broccoli and cauliflower. It was delicious and I was happy that I spent time making it! ($7)
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10:30 p.m. — One of my favorite ways to end the day is with a mug of hot chocolate. I’m a massive dessert person and also perpetually freezing, so it’s the perfect drink to curl up with at the end of the day. I grabbed some Milk Chocolate Swiss Mix at the grocery store earlier today when I bought groceries. My apartment is very close to the store, so I stop in almost every day to buy what I need for dinner and spend around $30 each time.
Hot chocolate always reminds me of being a kid walking through Christmas displays in my local park, so drinking as an adult is a nice nod to those memories. Plus, it’s delicious. After I make hot chocolate, I grab a blanket and curl up on the bed and put on Gilmore Girls. I watched it for the first time in 2020 and fell in love with it. Just like hot chocolate, Gilmore Girls envelopes me in a feeling of content.
Daily Total: $111.60

Day Three

10:30 a.m. — I used to read all the time when I was younger but stopped around the end of high school because homework and school obligations took over all my free time. College was a similar story and when I finally did have free time, I would watch Netflix instead of reading for fun. But this past year, I decided to start reading again! In 2021, I read 101 books, which is 39,674 pages according to Goodreads. Today, I make a milkshake with Breyers chocolate ice cream and sit down to read my current book, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It’s magical realism with witches, vampires, and demons. I love supernatural fiction and this book came highly recommended to me by a friend. Normally, I read a book in around three to four days depending on the length, but for some reason this book is taking me forever to finish. I’m not sure if it’s the plot or the narrative structure, but this book is exhausting me. After each chapter, I take a 15-minute TikTok break before picking the book back up. I read only about 100 pages before deciding to call it quits.
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4:45 p.m. — The weather is beautiful, so I go for a walk. Even though my walk two days ago wasn’t that successful, today is a new day. I walk to the community park near me and watch people play soccer, baseball, and throw birthday parties for their kids.
I get sucked into the podcast I’m listening to called Noble Blood and walk for an hour. It’s a show about the lives, scandals, and deaths of royalty throughout history. The episode I listen to today is about Mary Tudor (the first child of Henry XIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon). It breaks my heart to learn about her early life separated from her mother and how she was used as a pawn in other people’s power games. Noble Blood has taught me so much about history, and I’m obsessed with it.
I go to the grocery store to reward myself for exercising. (I am incapable of leaving the house without spending money and I’m not ashamed to admit it.) I buy Spicy Nacho Doritos, Strawberry Sour Punch Straws, molasses cookies, and a ginger ale. I had never had ginger ale before until a couple of weeks ago on an airplane, and it was so good that I quickly became obsessed. I bring my snacks back home and feast while finishing the Noble Blood episode. ($12)
9:40 p.m. — I’ve been on the hunt for a good everyday sunscreen for a long time. I have super sensitive skin, so more than half of the skin-care products I try cause an allergic reaction. I always put on sunscreen when I go to the beach, but I’m less careful about putting on sunscreen when I’m casually spending time outside. I was out with a friend last week and she recommended I try Supergoop. It’s a little expensive, but if it works for me I’m okay with splurging because it’ll pay off in the end. I buy the 1.7 oz bottle of Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF and to my surprise, they’re running a special right now where every order gets a 5 ml bottle Bright-Eyed 100% Mineral Eye Cream SPF 40 for free! ($40)
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Daily Total: $52

Day Four

10:45 a.m. — I wake up late today with a headache and sore joints. Part of having chronic pain and mental health issues is that you never know how you’ll feel the next day. I’ve been trying to get better at accepting when my body tells me my limits, so I cancel my hiking plans and curl up in bed. I put on Gilmore Girls and watch episode after episode for hours. Even though I enjoy the time I spend watching TV, I still struggle with feeling guilt over “wasting” my day. I’ve brought this up with my therapist before and she said if I enjoy watching TV or reading a book for hours, then it isn’t a waste. She makes a great point, but I still struggle to internalize it.
9 p.m. — I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and additional undiagnosed abdominal pain, which means there’s a 99% chance that my stomach hurts. I’ve tried dozens of treatments to help with the pain from prescription meds (which made me shit my pants in public) to elimination diets (not fun when you’ve already got dietary restrictions) and nothing’s worked. In fact, every treatment I’ve tried has made the pain and IBS worse rather than better. Ironically, even though IBS is a common condition, there aren’t many treatments for it aside from avoiding foods that make you bloat or cramp and a few medications.
One of the other treatments is taking capsules filled with peppermint oil balls. I’ve taken peppermint oil capsules before but the average price is about $30 for a week’s supply, which is a bit too expensive for me right now. The alternative to this is drinking peppermint tea, which I love! I didn’t notice any benefits when trying the peppermint oil capsules, but I’m holding out hope that the peppermint tea helps. And if it doesn’t, I still enjoy drinking the peppermint tea so no harm, no foul. Tonight, I brew a mug of peppermint tea and read A Discovery of Witches. I’m crossing my fingers the tea helps soothe the stabbing stomach pains.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Five

11 a.m. — I decide that today is a “give in to every whim” day. I get a Starbucks Mocha Iced Shaken Espresso and swing by CVS to pick up my refill of Wellbutrin and Zofran, a med to combat nausea. While I wait for the prescriptions to be filled, I browse the aisles of Easter candy and buy two mini Russell Stover marshmallow chocolate eggs, a box of mini Cadbury eggs, and a mini bag of Starburst jelly beans. I always buy candy or a snack when I refill my medications because it turns something boring into a fun outing. ($17)
I had planned to grab bagels and head home, but as I’m walking to the store, I pass an Urban Outfitters Surplus store that I’d been meaning to go into. Unlike a regular Urban Outfitters, the surplus store has out-of-season clothes at like 80% off the original ticket price. I buy a black babydoll shirt for $6 and a white and blue herringbone shirt for $12 for a total savings of $124 off the regular retail price! I’m starting to get hungry so I drive down the road looking for a place to stop to eat lunch and come across Salt & Straw. I get a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream and eat while walking around and window shopping, then decide to head home. I love spending time like this without any preset agenda because it feels super low pressure and I can just do whatever I want. ($23)
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5:45 p.m. — It might seem counterproductive, but I’ve been trying to go on walks the day before I go to the doctor’s office so I can prove that my knees are super swollen. I’ve had dozens of doctor’s appointments over the last couple years, and I’ve learned that unless I exaggerate my pain or make the problem glaringly obvious, it will get overlooked or brushed aside.
Instead of listening to a podcast on today’s walk, I practice for an audition that I have coming up. I started acting at a young age and went on to complete a four year Musical Theater certificate at a local performing arts conservatory high school (I always compare it to the school in Nickelodeon's TV show Victorious). In college, I was part of two different theater clubs and assistant directed two full-length plays as well as acted in a variety of short scenes. When I graduated college, I moved to L.A. and have been working as a professional actor ever since.
This audition calls for a proper British accent, which I haven’t had to do in a while, so I need to work on correct pronunciations and intonations. To do this, I practice a monologue while I walk around the neighborhood. I pop in AirPods to make talking to myself look less crazy and more like I’m talking to someone on the phone. I keep cracking myself up at how absurd it is to be doing this in public, but I’ll never see any of these people again, so who cares.
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12 a.m. — Last week I bought a KITSCH Ice Roller and it arrived in the mail today. I popped it in the freezer, and now I’m trying it before bed. According to the package, you’re supposed to roll it away from the center of your face to help with fluid drainage. Ice rolling is also supposed to help minimize redness and shrink the appearance of pores. I’m honestly not sure if any of that is true, but I’m willing to give anything a shot that says it will minimize redness because my face is always red.
Daily Total: $23

Day Six

1:45 p.m. — I have my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to discuss my knee pain. He looks at my knees, takes X-rays, and then declares that my symptoms don’t make sense and therefore he’s not sure what’s wrong, which is frustrating to hear. As a person with chronic pain that still can’t be diagnosed after almost four years, being told that all the tests came back “normal” is gut-wrenching. I barely heard the doctor as he recommended I try a prescription anti-inflammatory and six weeks of physical therapy.
I walk out of the office and immediately start sobbing in the stairwell. I’m so frustrated and I’m in pain and I just want an easy solution for once. I’ve been in pain every day for years and although the knee pain is new, it’s just one more thing about my body that makes me feel broken. It’s not fucking fair. I’m just so tired. (The visit combined with two X-rays cost $142.33 after insurance.)
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3 p.m. — I started this tradition a couple of years back where any time I do something stressful, I reward myself with an inexpensive treat after it’s over. After crying in my car at the doctor’s office, I drive to McDonald’s and order a small fry and a Diet Coke. I park, eat the fries, and listen to music as I stare into space and process everything the doctor had said. I read over the physical therapy referral form that they gave me, and it looks like they suspect that my pain might be kneecap-related, which is better than nothing, but still not an actual diagnosis. Emotionally spent, I decide to drive home and call the physical therapy office on a different day. I’m worried that if I call today, I might start crying on the phone and that makes it pretty difficult to talk. ($4)
6:45 p.m. — To try and cheer myself up, I make my current favorite meal: Cajun alfredo pasta. I love fresh vegetables, so I cut up a red bell pepper to have on the side. After I make my dinner, I turn on Gilmore Girls and settle in. I’ve watched far too many episodes of Gilmore Girls this week, but it’s so comforting and I always feel better when I’m watching it. For dessert, I have a mini ice cream sandwich. I’ve been trying to be more mindful about food and have been following the “intuitive eating” practice, where I eat the food I’m craving when I’m hungry and stop eating when I’m full. It sounds simple, but it’s a new mindset for me. I’ve also found that intuitive eating helps to reinforce the idea that food is neither morally good or bad, and that it is simply fuel for your body. It’s peaceful and I like it.
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Daily Total: $146.33

Day Seven

10:30 a.m. — Before I lose my nerve, I dial the number of the physical therapy office my ortho recommended and schedule my first session for next week. I’ve been referred to physical therapy a couple of times, but never went because it stressed me out. I hate being touched so the idea of physical therapy has always freaked me out. Plus, I’m a fairly active person who is constantly stretching and doing different exercises, so what did I really need physical therapy for?
I look over the paperwork I got after my ortho appointment and the doctor wrote down that I had a “suspected patellofemoral (kneecap) injury,” so I Googled that — and, to my immense dismay, it will not heal by itself. All the articles I read say that you need physical therapy to restrengthen the muscles around the knee and without it, it’s very unlikely you’ll be pain free going forward. I’m still really stressed about going, but if it can take the pain away and let me run pain-free, I’m willing to do it. I’m forcing myself to have a positive attitude about this so I don’t psych myself out and cancel the appointment.
2 p.m. — My doctor told me to limit the amount of high intensity exercises (like running) I do until completing physical therapy, so I need to find a new way to exercise. I grew up swimming competitively but haven’t been able to swim since moving to LA three years ago. I’d been debating joining my local LA Fitness to use their pool, but something was always holding me back. Now, since I can’t run, I decide to go for it and sign up. The initiation fee is $49, and I also have to pay for the first and last month’s dues, which are $79.98 together. Monthly dues will be $39.99 going forward. ($128.98)
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I head to the locker room, put on a swimsuit and swim laps for the first time in years. It feels fantastic. I warm up with freestyle and then swim laps of breaststroke to cool off before switching to backstroke. I even swim a couple of laps of butterfly, which has always been the most difficult stroke for me.
10 p.m. — Even though I love reading, trying to finish my current book is so hard. While the plot is fantastic, the pacing is so slow. When I open the book tonight, I’m determined to finally finish the last 300 pages. I make a mug of hot chocolate and hunker down to read. I take a five-minute TikTok and texting break between each chapter and stay up way past my bedtime, but I finally finish the book at 3:30 a.m. It feels like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders because I can finally move on to my next read. I haven’t picked out my next book yet, but it’s gotta be something light and fun — probably a contemporary romance.
Daily Total: $128.98
Weekly Total: $484.91
Reflection: I want to prioritize my happiness and wellbeing over everything else. My life is already hard enough with chronic pain and multiple mental health diagnoses, so I want the rest of it to be easy and enjoyable. I want a calm, happy mind and I want to do things that make me happy.

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