Procrastination

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I am procrastinating.

The things I’m procrastinating on are little things, but they have a very big impact on my life.  The things I’m procrastinating on will set in motion things that will literally change my life as I know it, and all for the better.  I had to ask myself this morning why on earth I’m procrastinating on improving my life.

The answer is simple:  I don’t like change.  I’m probably afraid of it.  Yes, it’s going to change my life for the better, but it’s still going to be change.  It means choices, decisions, actions… more things to do.  I have linked the simple action of taking two photos and sending an email to the whole big scary mess, like by doing this I will immediately have to do all these other things.  Which is a load of crap.  All of the rest of it is still months off.

But my brain is ignoring me and panicking nonetheless.  It’s leaving me paralysed with anxiety and the need to run away.  This anxiety is causing my muscles to tense, which is causing a fibromyalgia flare up, which is making me even more inclined to procrastinate because it hurts to do things.

I’m going to do it today, because I need to get it done and out of the way, but I really really don’t want to.

My Head Is Not A Safe Place Right Now – And That’s Okay

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I went on holiday last week to the most beautiful place on earth, the one place that has stayed with me throughout my life.  The one place that I truly feel at peace.

I had this grand idea that I would spend my days relaxing, spinning, and otherwise existing in a zen-like state.  In my head I was going to become one with myself and reach … while not quite a higher state of being, certainly a more peaceful state of being.

It, um, did not go well.

The first two days I was just so relieved to exist in my little slice of heaven that it filled me with a false sense of security and achievement, because I was almost zen-like.  I was decompressing, and I was able to spend a good 30-40 minutes just staring at the ocean in a state of quiet.  I think it was more that I was shell-shocked at the sudden change in stresses that my brain just blanked out on me, leading me to a false quiet.

Then my brain came back, and with it my anxiety, and oh boy it was not a nice place to be!  I hadn’t brought any reading material with me, so I vainly scrambled for some fanfiction escapism, but even that fell flat.  I had a burning need to be doing anything but what I am currently doing in my chest, and my brain bounced around the walls of the cabin maniacally.

But I continued to push for that zen aesthetic, that peaceful state of being.  I was firm in this belief that this is the state I should be in, it was the correct state, and I was wrong for not being able to achieve it.  It took me two days of struggling to correct my thinking.  My head is not a safe place to be in alone, and that’s okay.  With that admission, with the acceptance of this fact, I was able to relax once more and implement my distraction regime.

Distraction helps.  Depending on how bad my brain is depends on what kind of distraction I use – I have ‘high value’ distractions and ‘low value’ distractions.  I chose to hit it with all I’ve got.  I’m on holiday, after all, I want to be enjoying myself!

So I cracked out my gaming laptop and put on Two Point Hospital (the spiritual successor of Theme Hospital, my favourite game ever) and listened to podcasts.  With their powers combined I was not left alone in my head and all the bad thoughts ricocheting around quietened down.

Sure, I felt guilty about spending my time inside playing computer games instead of sitting peacefully and admiring the beautiful view, but I realised that my mental health needs were more important than my belief that I must make the most of my location.

I’ve just realised, as I’ve been typing this out, that I have a big Fear Of Missing Out.  It has been drilled into me that I must make the most of every opportunity I have been given.  If I am in a new place, I must always be out exploring it.  If I am in a beautiful place, I must always be out admiring it.  If I am invited out to dinner with friends (which never happens because all of my friends are students, so we’re either too broke or too busy), I feel like I must go to not miss out.

It’s all a lie.  Because while I may be constantly out exploring a new place, I am also missing out on wellbeing and ensuring my physical needs are balanced.  While I may be constantly admiring a beautiful place, I am also missing out on ensuring my mental health needs are met.  While I may be going out to dinner with friends, I am missing out on storing energy to deal with things the next day.

So I guess what I’m saying is – it’s okay to not be okay.  Do what you need to do, regardless of where you are.  If you can’t do the zen thing, don’t force it!  Work with what you have, rather than what you think you should have.

And anyone who says otherwise is wrong.

A Big “Fuck You” Kind Of Day

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It’s a beautiful day.

The sun is shining, the breeze keeps it cool enough to wear pants, all the animals are curled up and snoozing, and I have a large break from university.

I just want to scream at the world and hit inanimate objects and swear at the sky and flip off the butterflies.

They’ve done nothing to offend me, I’m just having a big “fuck you” kind of day.

It’s one of those days where I feel itchy inside my own skin, as though it’s wrong.  It’s one of those days where my elbow aches and my stomach won’t unclench and I have a permanent unimpressed bitchface going on.

I’ve done some woosah.  I’ve listened to my relaxing music and done my best to let it sweep me away.  I’ve done some stretches to ease my sore muscles.  I’ve stretched my back.  My last port of call is going to be a few minutes out in the sun.

Even though I’m doing all of these things, and they’re not quite working enough, I’m not fighting the feeling of almost manic anxiety and frustration.  Not fighting it takes conscious thought and effort, because we naturally want to push away the bad feelings and not feel them.  Unfortunately, that makes the bad feelings worse, because fighting them is also a negative feeling.

So when I’m having one of these days and I notice myself getting pent up trying to fight off the bad feelings, I take a big deep breath and relax my stomach as I exhale.  I take another deep breath and relax my stomach further, then work on my shoulders, my neck, and lastly my face.  I make ridiculous faces as I stretch out my muscles from their scrowl and reset my eyebrows, the muscles around my eyes (which always pinch when I’m stressed), my mouth and my chin.

And I just do this every time I notice I get pent up, which is every few minutes.

It’s interesting how much of an impact your facial features have on your mentality.  Or the way your body is, how clenched your stomach is, how tight your hips are.

Mental state is tied intrinsically with body state.  They influence one another, and a change in one produces a change in the other.  So it stands to reason that in order to relax the mind, one must also relax the body.

There are many methods of relaxing the body.  I find using music helps, as it gives me an external thing to focus on while I work my way through my muscle groups.  I also find lying in the sun helps, as the sun warms tight muscles and helps them relax.

It’s difficult to not go boneless like a cat in the sun!

 

Photo by W A T A R I on Unsplash

The Power of Music

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I’ve been having a bit of a crappy weekend.  Things went, but things never quite went well.  I was tired, technology wasn’t working, there’s too much clutter in the house that I just don’t have the energy or motivation to sort out, and I’m feeling a bit sulky because I feel like I’m the only one who does the dishes.  Which is partly true, and something I’m slowly working on.

I’m supporting a friend through a particularly rough period involving a narcissistic friend, and it’s bringing a lot to the surface because of how we’ve both been abused.

I mistakenly watched “Abducted in Plain Sight” and watched a narcissistic psychopath paedophile seduce the mother, sexually abuse the father, and then horrifically sexually abuse the daughter, all the while abusing and manipulating everyone.

I think my amazing human is a wee bit depressed – he’s holing up a bit.

Then It messaged me.  I just about backflipped.  I was not in a headspace to interact with It at all.  I could feel myself beginning to escalate into an anxiety attack.

I decided I didn’t have time for that and went straight to Youtube where, bless their algorithms, they had We’re All We Need by Above and Beyond on my front page.  After the first 20 seconds of letting the music flow over me, I was in a wonderful state of relaxation (okay, there is probably also a lot of emotional repression going on) and able to manage the less than pleasant interaction.

I’m still a bit antsy, it’s one of those days, but I’m a lot more relaxed than I was.

Being Open

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I have slowly but surely begun to come out of my shell of …  some of it was self pity, most of it was self care.  Regardless, I have been unclenching myself and allowing myself to be more open and honest with everyone around me about my difficulties.

Some days it’s harder than others.

Some people say “I can cure you, I promise!” and I ignore them, because there is no cure for fibromyalgia, generalised anxiety, and PTSD.  There is only management.

Some of them look at me strangely.  I am sharing too much of myself, and the honesty has made them uncomfortable.  Even the superficial information makes them uncomfortable – I’d never want to see their faces if I were to describe anything in any detail or depth.

And then others say “I am walking the same path you are, and it sucks, and I am here for you”.  They say “this is what I have found useful for me, it may be useful for you”.  They say “I know what you feel”.

It is worth the other reactions to find the ones who understand, the ones who are going through something similar to what you are going through.  Because you need people who understand you, and you need people you understand.  Who speak your language and intimately know the trials you are going through.  There is such compassion in those people.

But there’s another benefit to being open – you’re not bottling it all up.  By letting it out, you’re owning your trauma and releasing it in some way.  I’ve felt lighter since being more open about everything.  It’s a relief.