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A Bit of Knock, But We Rally
So, here’s an interesting glimpse I got into my brain today. My insomnia has improved to above crisis level for the first time in months, and even though that’s technically a good thing, it’s still a change that can be difficult for us to adjust to. Getting our land legs again, so to speak. So this morning I woke up at a pretty decent sleep at a pretty respectable time, and my delusions of grandeur had me spending hours cleaning my room, doing a self-care routine, and making a time-consuming breakfast, all the while floating on the feeling of finally having “beaten” my demons. It feels weird to feel so good at this point in my cycle, but I’m going with it. And I did have the brief thought that, “This doesn’t mean I will never sink to the bottom again,” and I knew I was at a high risk of protaskinating. I had a goal of going to the gym and then the library before church this evening, and trying to get some work done before I go bankrupt. So, as much as my anxiety was telling me to vacuum my room and get rid of my dead plants and clean my bathroom from top to bottom, I reminded myself that I had done enough for one day, and that it was time to move on to the next activity.
In a way, I was operating on a semi-depersonalized basis, which seems to be the only way I can do the things I’m avoiding. At least for now. Essentially getting the emotional anasthesia (that allows me to avoid things to the point of crisis) to work for me instead, like I used to do when I was younger. So, when the thoughts about how I would rather clean to avoid my problems creeps in, I shut it down before it gets a foot hold. Which in theory is a great idea, until we realize that this entire system is flawed. Only being able to operate when running on autopilot and putting on blinders to how we are really feeling is a recipe for disaster, because we can end up doing emotional damage by overexerting ourselves or ignoring important warning signs that something is wrong. Or, like what happened to me today, if something pierces this bubble, we can be left floundering and completely exposed to a relapse. We lose control over this dubious coping method, and eventually, it starts turning on us once again.
So there I was, cruising along, immune to everything that was knocking at my door and demanding to be processed and dealt with, knocking off tasks, and taking names, when I ran into a couple of problems. First, for some reason, I decided that it would be a good time to wash my shoes. In the morning. Before requiring them to go to the gym. Looking back now, it feels pretty dumb, but at the time, I guess I was trying to slay something that was on my list and interfering with the goal I had of cleaning my room. I’d brought a pair of shoes up there to remind me to wash them days ago, and finally, finally, I was doing something about it.
Except, of course, the shoes still weren’t dry by the time I needed to leave.
Then, there was another problem – I lost my water bottle, which I also needed for the gym. I went up and down the stairs looking for it for quite a while, knowing it could literally be anywhere, because I will put something down “just for a second” and then never see it again. Finally, I laid down on the floor for some much-needed grounding, and then found it.
Now, to most people, losing your water bottle and having wet shoes is not a big deal. You just move on. But for people relying almost exclusively on emotional anesthesia to perform basic tasks, these little hiccups can knock us completely out of orbit. If I was in a different state of mind, I don’t know if I would have made it out of the house today (but I DID!) Essentially, I was at a complete loss for about an hour. I had a very specific plan about how I wanted the day to go, and even though technically I could have still accomplished some things in a different order, at a different place, or at a different time, the hiccups left me feeling completely untethered, and the anxiety was getting pretty high. I can feel it now, actually, as I write this, and as you know, there’s nothing worse than persistent, mid-level anxiety that is resistant to your strategies.
So, in my state of unbalance, I wandered around the house, watched some YouTube, and spent a lot of time eating. For a while, I wasn’t actually able to identify that I was dysregulated, not until I realized I was avoiding answering some text messages. Then, when I recognized that warning sign, I tried to figure out what was going on. At first I figured it was because I’d done too much this morning, and needed a rest, which I think was partially true. But then I realized that it had to do with my plans being disrupted. Even though I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I was feeling like a colossal failure for not being a better planner when it came to washing my shoes. The funny thing is, most of the shoes I washed actually got destroyed in the wash, but I’m not even upset about that part. Not yet, anyway.
Fortunately, I wasn’t so distressed that I was beyond self-talk and self-compassion to battle the perfectionism. I told myself to sit on the couch, put on a TV show, and read a favorite scene from my book, at least to get me doing something productive while my shoes dried. As much as I wish I could just do stuff because it needs doing, sometimes it takes some bribery while I’m still building myself up. And I decided that I would finally, finally get started on some paperwork that I’ve been needing to complete for weeks so that I can get some government assistance while my brain decides whether it’s going to let me live or not. AND I DID IT! The process was even more traumatic and demoralizing than I thought it was (hence why I was avoiding it) but each time I wanted to give up, I told myself to just get done the next step. And I kept going, even if I didn’t think anything was going to come out of it and was convinced that I’m going to get rejected so hard my shoes are going to fly off. I did it. I finished it. I even sorted through some emails and followed up on another government agency that I’ve been avoiding on and off for months, and as I’m sure you know, that was HUGE because I only avoided following up for a week or so. Then I made some more food and decided to try again to dry my shoes while I cleaned up after. I finally perfected a dish I tried a few days ago and it was DELICIOUS, and even though my shoes are still damp, it’s barely noticeable and I packed some extra socks to change into afterward. I’m not sure if I’ll make it to church after the gym, but I’m prepared with a full belly and a rain slicker if I do end up with the energy (I’m also dealing with some conflict with them at the moment, so if I do go, bonus points if I can at least mention it to them without biting someone’s head off!)
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13