I fell off the face of the earth again. I’m sorry. My excuse this time? The same that it is every. single. time.
I was afraid.
Anxiety has this horrible ability to get in the way of any and every daily function. It overtakes our priorities. It convinces us that we’re not up to the challenge.
Add depression and you might as well just crawl under the covers and never leave. That’s what your brain tells you. Not only is it all too big and overwhelming, but no one is ever going to appreciate your work. No one is ever going to like your results. No one is going to want your art or your music. Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah. It drones on in your head until, suddenly, you’re drowning. There’s a rational side of your brain back there tsking at you because it’s ridiculous. You have plenty of air. The dog and the cat are both cuddled up next to you as you make your way through an entire tray of Double Stuffed Oreos. You have a roof over your head you have managed to convince yourself to go to work every work day to pay for. There’s food in the cabinets.
But you’re still terrified.
Add social situations and then you pretty much wish you could just give up and die. People are hard. You keep hearing that you’ve offended someone or that they’re annoyed that you called out again this week because of a panic attack. You want to have people over because you’re much more comfortable in your space than you are in theirs, but the place is a wreck and, instead of cleaning, you’re glued to the bed or the couch, still eating those Oreos.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had weeks…months even, where I felt like if I moved I might fall off the earth. Everything was stressful. I was exhausted. Truly couldn’t keep my eyes open. Food was complicated. I ate like a 6 year old at a birthday party just so that I could say I had eaten something. Showers were stressful- am I going to accidentally cut myself with a razor again? Am I going to have a major allergy attack again? Should I plan to have an allergy attack? Should I get up earlier so I have time to have the allergy attack before I drive to work or should I take all my showers at night so that the physical weariness that follows an allergy attack will help me sleep through the night? Let’s not even get started on grocery shopping.
I used to be an honorary “member” of a local AA chapter. I drove a true member there 2-3xs a week because they’d lost their license for a term. They let me sit in and I’m going to tell you right now that some of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned in my life I learned from recovering alcoholics. Odd, since I’ve never been truly drunk. Tonight I’m sitting here, looking at the baby steps I made over the past year that have accumulated into such a huge difference in my life and it’s like I’m hearing them encourage one another around that table all over again. If you don’t think you can make it through the week, make it through today. If you don’t think you can make it through today, make it through the morning/afternoon/evening/night. If you don’t think you can make it through that. Make it through the next hour. Make it through the next 30 min. Make it through the next 10 min. Make it through the next 5.
I am still alive because I made it through quite a few 5 minutes in my lifetime. Now, I’m stepping it up. Instead of just existing for the next 5, I’m going to make something happen for the next 5. I’m going to clean a sink. I’m going to fold socks. That’s it. Just the socks. I’m going to clean out the kitty litter box. I’m going to put away 5 things. I think I’ve leveled up some way, because I look around my incredibly overwhelming and stressful apartment and I just can’t “can’t” anymore. I can’t handle another evening of just making it to the night so I can escape into the hopefully blissful darkness of sleep, only to awaken anxious the next morning because my apartment looks like a FEMA supported disaster area. There’s no room to have people over. There’s no time to go visit them because I’m coming home and fighting anxiety in an effort to clean it all up so I DO have room to have people over.
This is not a sustainable lifestyle.
I don’t want to miss out on the life I want and the things I want to achieve because I was afraid. It’s going to be hard. It already has been. But if I can go 5 weeks with less than 10g of sugar in my diet per day, I’m pretty sure I can wake up and choose that morning to get out of bed instead of hit “snooze”. If I can stay in a room where a man is yelling and throwing his arms around because he’s angry about something and I don’t run and I don’t flinch, I can choose to wash my dishes. If I can co-design/build a Wendigo costume for the local LARP, Badlands, in 6 weeks with a ridiculously low budget while working a full time job, I can choose to put away the laundry.
You have to remember that life is a series of choices.
Life is a series of choices. Choices have consequences. Are you genuinely exhausted or are you just really tired? There’s a difference. Get real with yourself and clean the toilet. Are you genuinely sick nauseated or are you anxious nauseated? There’s a difference and since you can’t really make the second go away maybe try washing 5 dishes instead of worrying about whether this nausea is going to get worse or better soon.
I suck at rebuilding my lifestyle. I’m not going to lie to you. But I wanted to post this to encourage you to make the choices. I wanted to do this together with you so neither of us have to do it alone. I want you to know that if you fail for 5 min you can win for the next 5. You can choose to not sink into that rut.
I want you to believe with me that it can be done.