Strike that, reverse it.
When I was little, I never really understood this quote by Gene Wilder as the title character in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Now I find myself using it frequently as I move through my daily life. At first it was funny — I used it during the Christmas rush, or when planning a vacation or party and I was ready to pull my hair out. But now I’ve realized that this phrase seems to describe my life on almost a weekly basis, and it’s not really funny any more.
If you read my blog regularly (thank you, BTW), you know that 2019 has been simultaneously overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. I won’t bore you with the details again (if you’re interested you can read more here and here), but for most of this year I’ve felt like I’ve had two settings — either so busy that I couldn’t see straight, or so bored/stuck that I got in a depressive funk.
So what am I getting at with this rambling?
To be honest, I’m not really sure. Maybe I’m just venting. Maybe I’m hoping that by writing everything out, it’ll help clear my head a bit.
I haven’t had much time to write recently, and anytime I did find myself with a few spare moments, I’ve been too tired, depressed, or anxious to do anything productive.
But I have the remainder of this week off work, and instead of seeing the next three days as an opportunity to relax and get my creative juices flowing again, I’m obsessing over “to do” lists.
Right now, there’s a “writing to do” list sitting next to my lap top with 8 items on it. And there’s also a “non-writing to do” list on my kitchen counter with 9 items on it. I don’t doubt that I can get everything done with three days off, but it does make me re-examine my state of mind.
Shouldn’t at least some time off be spent doing absolutely nothing? Shouldn’t I have at least one day where I stay in my pajamas all day, reading and watching TV and eating junk? Shouldn’t I just go sit on a patch of grass in a nearby park, watching the clouds and listening to the wind? (that answer to the latter is unequivocally YES because somehow Pittsburgh is going to have three straight days of clear skies and temps in the low 70s. To not take advantage of this extraordinarily rare occurrence would be a sin).
To be clear, I do plan on relaxing this week. I’m going to force myself to just be still and do nothing. Because I need it. I need to clear my head, listen to silence and nature, and not constantly be multi-tasking and running myself ragged. I hope that even a couple days of this will help me re-focus so I can streamline my goals and not feel so overwhelmed all the time.
It’s a difficult balancing act for someone with mental health issues — if I have too much to do, my anxiety becomes overwhelming and I can’t get anything done. Or if I run myself into the ground in order to cross everything off my “to do” list, I start to neglect my basic needs like healthy eating and sleeping. The flip side is having nothing to do and becoming depressed. I personally struggle with a guilty conscience — feeling like I’m lazy or that I’m wasting my time or opportunities or nice weather. It can also be a slippery slope — if I don’t have big plans, little things will fall by the wayside — cleaning, laundry, paying bills. I get too depressed to do anything beyond reading or watching TV, and this isn’t healthy either.
I’m proud of myself for everything that I’ve accomplished and what I continue to accomplish on a (mostly) daily basis. Having a full-time job, a part-time job, and this writing gig that doesn’t pay (yet) is difficult to wrangle. But I also have a house, a husband, friends, and family that need my time and attention. While things could certainly be worse, they could definitely be better. I’m hoping I can use these days off to take my time deciding what I want to spend time and energy on and what can be placed on the back burner.
While I consider myself relatively disciplined with my schedule when it comes to writing, I think I have to be more specific about what I’m spending time doing, and that may affect this blog.
I still want to post regularly and I don’t ever want to stop talking about mental health. But I also have some new goals I want to focus on and some old ones that I haven’t paid any attention to at all recently.
So if you see me posting a little less regularly, just know that I’m reevaluating some things and working on other projects, both writing and non-writing related. I will, of course, keep you all updated any time I have any news, and hope to always be part of the blogging community that focuses on the importance of talking about mental health.