Okay, so it’s been a year since I blogged… so what??? What have I been doing? Well, continuing recovery, of course! And I must say, it’s been an instructive year. I think I’m finally learning to “go with the flow…”
I may be a fast learner academically, but when it comes to understanding my limitations and adjusting my lifestyle accordingly, I’m miserably slow. Up until October 2015, I think it’s safe to say that I had little to no comprehension of the new boundaries in my life, and absolutely no idea how to start working with them rather than against them. That’s seven years of being clueless – count them, SEVEN YEARS!!!
So what changed in October 2015? Well, simply put, I was more or less forced to focus on something other than my situation. At work, things got more demanding and for once, rather than shrink away I plowed through and discovered that (when I wasn’t looking) I had become more capable than I thought I had.
This is not to say I didn’t continue to have setbacks – I definitely did. I didn’t even make it home to see family for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and it’s the first time that’s ever happened in all these years. But even my mindset about such setbacks has changed… I’ve started to accept them as temporary bumps in the road rather than looming obstacles, and now I just wait them out calmly and patiently, rather than lament them and allow them to sink me into depression. Basically, I changed my emphasis from “focused recovery” (which was repeatedly driving me too hard, too fast… inevitably resulting in a crash and lengthy setback) to “going with the flow”…
So, instead of trying to make it into the office for meetings (which almost always triggered episodes to some degree), I started scheduling a couple of lunches a week with friends I hadn’t seen in those seven years. Instead of trying to get a grip on all household tasks (which inevitably resulted in failure and depression), I set my mind on getting my kitchen straightened and clean (just moving things around or wiping them down while waiting on the microwave), and then just maintaining that room (the same way).
I moved my cats’ litter boxes into the bathroom so that I could scoop them when I needed to go, and on nice days I started letting them outside more. These changes made them much happier, and therefore a little more cooperative… which reduced the effort required to care for them.
Focusing on the kitchen resulted in other things falling behind, of course. Instead of doing laundry, I took a big bag of clothes I’d outgrown to Goodwill and bought clean outfits for about $5 each. Instead of shampooing the carpet, I picked up cheap rugs at Dollar General. Instead of weekly grocery shopping, I spent a small fortune stocking my pantry and freezer from Costco.
These choices ran up my credit card a bit, but since I am able to work more, I’m able to increase my payments too. I’m viewing it as a small investment in learning to “go with the flow”.
And it’s been working. After a couple of months of maintaining the kitchen, I found I was ready to do some vacuuming. After a few weeks of having nice rugs to look at, I found I was ready to tackle setting my bedroom back up. (I’ve been on the couch for all 7 years.) After a couple of weeks of wearing “new to me” clothes, I was ready to get my hair done and take some photos.
Being able to do those small things (on top of working) has made me start to feel like I’ve achieved small goals, which in turn makes me feel healthier. The food from Costco is healthier overall too, and has gotten me cooking again rather than eating out (which has saved a lot of money, further helping to offset the other cost increases).
Sleep and exercise are still the biggest challenges. Some days I sleep all day; others I don’t sleep at all unless I take medication. I have enough energy to do the things I’ve already mentioned, but the mere thought of walking or bike riding makes me want to climb back into bed. So I just don’t think about it… yet.
I’ve learned that’s essential when “going with the flow”: stop thinking about what makes you want to regress, and instead do something small that feels like progress… And don’t worry about how it looks to others – it’s not their “looking” that is holding you back… it’s your feelings and your thinking. You can’t change other people’s’ tendencies to criticize – what you can change is what you think about and do, moment to moment.
So now, if I feel like I want to sleep in the middle of the day, I do… regardless of other things which can wait an hour or two. (After all, they’ll have to wait for weeks if I crash and burn…) If I feel like I want to work, I do…
even if the cats have knocked things over in the other room and I know there are bills in my mailbox at the Post Office and there’s 10 loads of laundry in the guest room and I need to package up stuff other people need and… and… and… All of it can wait another day… (after all, it will all wait weeks if I crash and burn.)
And… if someday I feel like I want to exercise (and I know eventually I will), I’ll do that too. Until then, consider me just a-flowing…