It’s 11:45, and I have 5 hours until Adam comes home, and we go to the gym.
I know that it is my responsibility to fill that time with things to do so that the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) don’t get the chance to drag me down. The only problem is the ridiculous anxiety I feel all over, as I try to convince myself there are things to do. I haven’t even eaten breakfast yet today. It’s so silly that I’m actually afraid of being alone with my thoughts. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? I feel bad. I cry. Not like I haven’t been living through that scenario consistently for several weeks now.
I think it would be easier for me to give myself tasks to do if I had any goals at all, aside from staying alive and not harming myself – though, to be fair, those are important goals that require vigilance and real work on my part right now.
Detaching from the Sofa (and the Computer)
For the last 5 years of my life, or so, I’ve been basically chained to the couch or the bed because I had so many seizures throughout the day that leaving them seemed like an unsafe idea. That has meant that I’ve spent the majority of my time surfing the web, being on Facebook, blogging, meditating, and listening to music.
Prior to those 5 years, I was in law school for 3 years, which meant sitting on the couch studying… and prior to that I was a web designer who sat at a desk, working on a computer. Sitting on the couch, working on my computer honestly feels like the only thing I can do.
The hardest (and probably most important) thing for me right now is learning to just get off the couch and to recognize other activities as valid uses of my time. I know that right now, just sitting here creating this blog entry is the opposite of that… but at this very moment, I’m more concerned with eating away at that 5 hour chunk of time before the gym than I am at immediately breaking habits that have taken my entire life to create. (Let’s be fair – before I was a web designer, I was a child who chatted on BBSes for endless hours while her parents were at work. I have always used sitting at the computer as a way to make time pass less painfully.)
So what can I do?
That’s where I’m stuck today, and to be really honest with you, I’m having to seriously brainstorm as I’m writing.
The only things that I can think of to do are as follows:
- Make the bed
- Fold the clothes
- Do the laundry in the bathroom
- Take the dog for a walk
- Mop the kitchen and bathroom floors
- Practice guitar and piano
- Create some Spotify playlists (which puts me back on the couch and on the computer)
- Create business cards for Mom (which puts me back on the couch and on the computer)
- I should probably eat sometime today too.
I wish I understood why these tasks feel punitive… as though my inner-Mom voice is ferociously yelling at me to do them, as though I’ll be in serious trouble if I don’t. There’s some kind of childlike, rebellious, whiny, “I don’t wanna” thing going on inside of me. Keeping busy is how to escape the terrible pain of wanting to kill myself… so how is that a punishment? I feel genuine, earned pride when I see what I’ve accomplished… and that’s good for my self-esteem, so clearly doing these things is good for me, and on an adult, mature level, I know that.
I think the hardest part of making myself do these activities is that my brain is repeatedly telling me to just go back to sleep, as opposed to doing anything at all — and really, what that means is “lay in bed and let the ANTs attack you.” And I know that’s the worst thing I could do.
Something’s seriously wonky with my attitude if I can’t get myself to buck up and do at least some of these chores. Then again, it’s now 1:00 p.m., I still am in pajamas, haven’t eaten breakfast, and am sharing my struggles with depression, MS, and seizures with the universe-at-large. There’s a cogent argument that my attitude is wonky as it is.
At least, I’m trying. I got out of bed this morning. That was difficult, but I did it. If I could do that, I can make myself some cereal, and take my morning medicine, albeit several hours late. And if I can do that, I can make the bed. And if I can make the bed, I can fold some fucking clothes. I just have to take the steps.
Less thinking, more doing.