Absolute Rest

Missed blogging last week. I didn’t write anything. I had nothing in me. I can’t miss two weeks in a row, but I still don’t feel I have anything in me.

I have been on SSRI’s (antidepressants) for 17 years. Now and then a lull happens. Probably due to the meds. I haven’t figured out whether it’s due to too much medication, eating better or getting lots of exercise, but sometimes I get a hit of calm. Absolute rest. And when these times come I don’t feel like being creative. I just want to hang out in the peace. A psychic vacation, if you will.

That’s where I’ve been for two weeks.

It’s times like this I wonder if this is how other people get to live. With better control of anxiety. No ticking. No obsessive thoughts. If it is? I’m jealous.

 

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Fun with Free Writing! (ugh…)

I thought it might be fun to post one of my “1000/day-5 days/week” free writes. This one is about maybe writing a memoir. (Note: no editing has been done on this piece. Punctuation and grammar may be bad. Really, really bad.)

One thousand words, one thousand words, one thousand words…

Yep, I know I should write 1000 words per day, but I honestly have no idea what I should write. I am reading a book on memoir right now and that seems to be how I am leaning, but memoir can be about so much. Do I write about mental illness or family or something funny about relationships? How about a spiritual memoir? That’s how I am leaning, but I don’t know if I have lived enough life to write about the spiritual stuff. It’s a start, I suppose. My first initial thought was to write about being uncomfortable. That seems to be the reoccurring theme in my life. Uncomfortable due to TS, or anxiety, familial breakdowns, uncomfortable in my own skin due to body issues. This is getting closer to the heart of what I want to say. I am Christian, but I am not certain I want to make it a wholly “religious” story. I can see writing something more humorous like Anne Lamott’s memoirs. I guess I am getting somewhere. For now, it seems to be a list of stories and challenge of discipline spurning me onward. Discipline first – I know, I KNOW the initial stuff will be horrible! (Stephen King says to avoid adverbs, so I removed the “absolutely” from that last sentence. See? I am trainable!) Where was I? Oh yeah, discipline! One thing “they” don’t tell you (“they” being other writers) is the more you write the more you want to. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, I can honestly say writing is the hardest job I’ve ever had. And I’ve mixed cement by hand in Thailand! I think the difficulty lies in the self-doubt. So far, I’ve gotten around that by convincing myself that none of what I write will be published. I can’t face the idea of real publishing. I know, I know, I publish a blog, but who sees that? Okay, back to the memoir idea. (Side thought: 1000 words? Per day? Sigh.) Memoir. Memoir… who am I kidding? I haven’t led an interesting enough life! In fact, I could write a book on the chances I didn’t take, the adventures I didn’t go on, all because of fear. That and the idea I might look like a fool while doing it. Hmm. I might be on to something here…

First the discipline – check! What about the stories? Do I write about being little girl and my mother forcing me to wear scratchy white tights to church? Tights that always sagged in the crotch because even at three my legs were longer than the average girl. What about high school when no one talked about Tourette’s syndrome or even knew what it was and I was tormented by new tics every day? When one tic was rolling my wrists so compulsively that my doctor said I had the wrists of a person who had handled a jack hammer for ten years. Yep. That was fun. (507 words! Half way there!)

And the sad stories. Depression. Is there anything more uncomfortable than not being able to force yourself out of a funk? Mine lasted ten years. Ten years I don’t really remember all that well. What are my stories from then? Wishing to die, but not able to make a concrete suicide plan because I couldn’t do that to my parents. Work, a saving grace and curse at the same time. A privilege to serve those with developmental disabilities – but OH! The politics. So much crap. I never did understand how a workplace (a “Christian” workplace!) could be so dysfunctional.

Then, finally – relief. Not a cure, but still a balm to my broken spirit. The wonders of modern medicine: ANTIDEPRESSANTS!! After when they are really taking effect, being in wonder that this is how “normal” people have always lived! Felt like a bit of a rip off, to be honest. At least I finally had some insight into the why of my behavior. Why I couldn’t do life so easily. The relief being at rest. But then the realization that drugs – legal ones – didn’t fix everything. Underneath it all I was still me: low self-esteem, anger, a wee bit of entitlement. A lot of work still to be done. Although God was with me all the way, the realization of His love was clearer. Now the real work started. Real work that was just as uncomfortable as pre-diagnosis days. Now truth came out to play. That if we peeled away the layers of mental health, I still had some pretty unattractive and uncomfortable issues. For a while I pushed away my issues and lived how I wanted. If God wasn’t going to come through for me, I was going to do it myself, dammit!

If depression was uncomfortable, being in a relationship with the wrong person was excruciating. I was determined to “make” it work. Looking back, that relationship was doomed from the start. I should have followed my gut. Adding to this I tried to “make it happen” with other men a few more times. Fabulous results. (Note: sarcasm)

Then humility. And learning. And tears. And forgiveness. Myself and yep, I had to forgive God! I had some idea that He was supposed to make it easier than this. Ha! Instead of making it easier, He had made me gentler. Some stories about how that was achieved? Probably.

(Ninety words to go!) I might have a story here – about being uncomfortable. Physically, mentally, spiritually. Ouch. This is going to hurt! (I don’t like to dredge up memories – but at least I get to put my own personal slant on history – it’s called Creative Non-fiction and it’s a real thing! Google it!) Onward we go…

 

(Total words: 1007)

Goals vs. Themes

I read this response to a goal achiever on Reddit today, and it really makes sense. (The person who wrote it is not named, however the do admit they are in sports psychology.):

“In my life, I never set goals. Instead, I adopt “Themes”. A goal is outcome based. A theme is processed based

Goal – “I want to lose 5 pounds this month”

Theme – “For the next 30 days, I want to immerse myself in living a healthy lifestyle and enjoy it”

Following themes is infinitely better. There’s no pressure, no sense of “succeed or fail”, and it doesn’t make the activity seem like a monotonous task that’s nothing more than a means to an end that I’m forcing myself to do in order to meet some arbitrary outcome.

Lastly, decades of scientific research has conclusively shown that being results-oriented (goals) and being driven primarily by extrinsic motivators is bad in the long term, as it creates the “Overjustification Effect” where one’s desire and motivation to continue doing something decreases over time, both when you don’t reach the outcome and when you do.

Once I understood that a result was nothing but a side-effect of a process, and that I didn’t need to focus on the end result or worry about it because of that, everything became so much easier to do.

Highly recommend this approach, to every aspect of life.”
Any comments or opinions?

Balance: This One’s For Me (but feel free to read it anyway)

rock-1209443_1920This is one of those weeks I want to post a cool video and leave it at that. Or maybe a meme.

Truth be told I’ve been reading a lot about writing for the past week and a half. I’m a bit terrified.

1000 words per day. Minimum.

Ouch.

I have never been the most disciplined person. In certain things I can be quite rigid and routine – sleep for instance. (My much maligned university “sleep goals” have continued for 20 plus years.) I’m good at being a member of the working class: arrive on time, do the job well, go home, repeat. Don’t even get me started on cleaning – OCD in recovery, here! What I’m not consistent at is reaching goals.

This past week I was reminded of several personal dreams/goals:

  • Health – achieve a healthy lifestyle of eating right and exercising regularly. (also: thinner!)
  • Complete my degree.
  • Write a book. (Note I said “write” – whether I publish or not is a completely different thing.)

All three are absolutely within my power. There is not one thing that can stop me from reaching these goals. Well. There is one thing…

I can be a bit “easy” on myself. I suppose that’s a nice way of saying I am somewhat lazy -sometimes. Or maybe it’s not so much laziness as entitlement:

“I worked so hard today, I deserve a 4000 calories Starbucks specialty coffee!” (I’m also prone to hyperbole.)

“Singleness sucks!  I am going to waste my time on Reddit rather than writing my daily 1000 words. I need some me time!”

“Ugh. My boss sucked this week. I can put off studying for a few hours/days/weeks. I’m too stressed.”

I’m not content with these excuses anymore. I know myself. I know there will be days I’ll need to put away the goals and engage in self-care. Yet, I also recognize I am strong, courageous and capable of realizing my dreams. So my hope is:

  • Gym – every week day; 2 days with the personal trainer from, well you know where… (I love you, Ray – wink, wink!)
  • Lectures and papers and evaluations – Oh my!!!
  • 1000 words per day/5 days per week. (See Carolyn See’s “Making A Literary Life”)

I recognize that my issues haven’t been completely been about laziness or entitlement. It’s been more about balance and planning. Plan meals and workouts. Balance rest and relaxation with a writing practice (I am currently writing from my comfy bed!) Listen to course lectures whist on the treadmill. It’s doable – let’s see if I can put this into practice long-term.

Prayer:

God, I’ve never been the most disciplined person. At least when it comes to personal goals. It’s always felt like something has been pushing against me when I’ve tried to move forward with my dreams. But You are the God over the universe, so You can certainly help me achieve greater discipline in my life. I ask for balance – that I will listen to my life and walk out my hopes with Your help. And in Your will. Amen.

(If any readers have made it to the end of this personal post, please feel free to help keep me accountable! Community is so important when it comes to any life change – ah, but that’s a post for another day! Cheers!)