Dealing with Impossible Tasks

Last week, leading into a huge Labor Day Sales weekend (and I’m currently in sales, so I had some trepidation going into that weekend) I came across this post about a “never-discussed symptom of depression” called The Impossible Task. This started when Twitter user Molly Backes (@mollybackes) posted some tweets talking about the fact that depression commercials never talk about this. From the article:

The Impossible Task, as outlined by Backes, cannot be defined by a specific. It varies from person to person and hour to hour. What to others seems mundane and simple appears insurmountable to many who suffer from depression.

To further explain one of Molly’s tweets:
The Impossible Task could be anything: going to the bank, refilling your prescription, making your bed, checking your email, paying a bill. From the outside, its sudden impossibility makes ZERO sense.

YES. THIS ALL DAY YES.

For me, it’s not just depression but also a symptom of my anxiety disorder. I freeze with certain things. For instance, if my anxiety is really bad, it’s not uncommon for me to get a full blown anxiety attack in the frozen food section of Shoprite, feeling like the biggest weirdo in the world because I’m staring at frozen pizza, crying, feeling like the world has crashed in on me. This can happen in any large store or venue, actually. It’s happened in Walmart, IKEA, other large grocery stores, malls, large Goodwill shops, events, concerts, festivals. Any place that has a lot of people, a lot of choices, and nowhere for me to quickly retreat to feel safe and reset my brain will freak me the fuck out. And it makes little sense to most other people. I was once left in a record store on my birthday by a former partner because I couldn’t stop an anxiety attack.  Them telling me to “stop it” (and getting angry at me when I couldn’t) didn’t work, so they left.

Thankfully I now have people in my life who understand anxiety and depression a little bit better and know that telling someone to stop is not a helpful solution. I’ve learned (and tried to teach those closest to me who want to help) what things might could help when I’m in the throes anxiety and depression. But to people who don’t understand or have never had to deal with it, it makes NO SENSE.

Another Impossible Task I used to have a lot of consistent trouble with was making phone calls. I had what I would almost consider a phobia of phone calls. It didn’t matter how simple the call was, or how much I liked or loved the person on the other end, phone calls used to terrify me. Every once in a while, I could use fewer spoons to make or take a phone call, but generally, it took MANY if not all of my spoons. And many times, I just couldn’t do it. This one has improved a lot in the past few years, and I’m grateful to the person who magically helped with it. And while it’s come back a bit, it’s no where near where it used to be.

What fucks me up most, though, is when the Impossible Task is driving. This has only happened a few times in my life and it’s been brutal. Driving is my freedom. It’s how I cope with stress, depression, and anxiety. My car is the safest place I know and to not be able to get in my car and go…fucks with my head and makes everything else feel impossible.

Last week, right before I found the article I linked above, my best friend had invited me to join them for Vietnamese dinner as their treat. I’d been battling anxiety and depression for days at that point and this was an incredibly welcome invitation…except dinner was 45 minutes away where my best friend lived. And at that moment, I could not get in my car and and make that drive. A drive I’ve done countless times. Because I love to drive. I’ve happily driven four hours to see a partner, three hours to go to events, over an hour to see friends and visit the ocean. But on this day, even though it was to see my best friend for one of my favorite types of food, I could not make that drive. It was Impossible. I contemplated trying to mentally strong arm through it, and that almost threw me into a full blown panic attack, so I sent my regrets and asked for a rain check. Thankfully, my best friend is someone I can tell directly that I couldn’t do the drive. They were wonderful and gracious and supportive.

It’s incredibly frustrating for me, though, because I can usually multitask like a mofo, I’ve worked hard to become good at emotional labor for myself and creating a safe space for others, and pride myself on being competent and reliable and able to do complicated things quickly (well…depending on the things. I’m not an astrophysicist). My last job was all about that. Someone would be asking me a question, while my radio was going off, while I was on my way to do something else. And I would get into a zone, a flow state, working with synchronicity and trusting the Universe to guide me. The things got done. The questions got answered. Granted, I also had an amazing team helping me, but I was also confident and most comfortable (it only took about three years to get there…).

When anxiety or depression hit, though, or when they both hit at the same fucking time, it fucks me up royally. Because if my productivity gets hit, then I start to feel worthless. Like….what the fuck is wrong with me that I can’t make this ONE phone call? That I can’t complete a fucking grocery shopping excursion without weeping on my frozen green beans? Or why the hell can’t I put away that laundry? Why am I feeling a seizing panic when I think of sleeping anywhere but home? Why can’t I can’t just get in my car, crank up the music, and drive it all away?

And if I can’t do these things that I always am able to do, will people still care about me? Like, what good am I if I can’t perform basic human functions? And how will I ever see people I care about if I can’t fucking get to them? Also, how will I eat if I can’t even buy groceries? I tend to be really hard on myself and then I get locked in this loop of yelling at myself “what’s wrong with you; just stop it!” and trying to remind myself that it’s just anxiety, it’s just depression, they both lie, the world isn’t ending and I’m not losing everything and everyone. And yet, all people see is a weird person staring at a frozen food case or who just bolted out of a room.

Molly Backes says that we should try to apply the gentleness and empathy that most of us with depression (and anxiety) generally have towards others to ourselves. Which is waaaaay easier said than done. Especially in the middle of a full blown anxiety attack or depressive episode. But I’m working on it. And I’ve got wonderful people around me to remind me and help me with it.

Here’s to anyone else who also has to tackle the Impossible Tasks. You are not alone.

 

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[New Year, New You] Week 2 – Goals (and little victories)

And welcome to my second entry in The New Year, New You Project, an experiment in #MagicalRadicalTransformation (or the longest hashtag ever….no that’s not a challenge. Although now I’m curious…aaaaand now I’m back. Nope. Not even close to the longest hashtag ever.) Did I mention I have a tendency to procrastinate? And that it sometimes gets in the way of my goals? Why, what a timely…time for this experiment to feature a blog post about goals. For those of you who want to see where challenge/experiment came from and missed my first post, check out my dear friend Deb’s original blog post for this week. She’s the creator of this experiment and has done all twenty-three of the writing prompts (with some damn impressive results, I might add) so I’ve decided I got a situation what needs fixing, so this is part of how I’m gonna do it. I’m likely gonna come up with a more succinct and uniform way to explain these and link to her posts but for now, we’re still beginning the beginning, so longhand it is.

What do you want to accomplish in 2012 using both magical and mundane means?  

From here, as she did with the first, she lists some helpful influences: dieties/moon phases/days of the week/inspirational song for your brainmeat. For me, though, I generally let the universal mind guide me. (Well, y’know, once I’ve managed to control  my urge towards procrastination, and kick my own ass out of a depression/anxiety spiral.) But she had to go and mention music. Oh, the music for this one. I read ahead a few days ago to prep for what was coming next and saw the song she suggested. Florence + the Machine’s What the Water Gave Me. Most times, when I’ve read the title and listened to the song, cause I’ve been a fan of Florence + the Machine for years, my associations are mostly with bodies of water. And I feel very akin to bodies of water. I adore swimming. I was a water fitness instructor. I go to the ocean when I need to find my inner zen. So that’s what I normally associate with “water”. So I was thinking about that this week, but it never really stuck. Until today. Do you know what happened today? A BOMB CYCLONE of snow. And y’know what snow is? D’ya pick up what I’m putting down?

Snow has not ever been the first thought I had when listening to this song, but today…it just fit. And the snow/water gave me a lot today.

First, it gave me…a NON-snow day! I had to go into work. But honestly…it didn’t bother me. Last night, my boss changed our training destination to a place that was more Northern than our usual Southerly Thursday training location because reports were coming in that the BOMB CYCLONE (side note: first THUNDERSNOW, now BOMB CYCLONE. I don’t know when weather phenomenon started being named like Coney Island rides or metal bands, but I am All In for this trend.) was going to be worse lower in the state, so that was nice. And though the roads were a little rough, I don’t mind driving in the snow, so I got in fine. We had a slightly abbreviated training and then got sent home in the early afternoon.

And once I got home, I decided to make the most of what the water was giving me:

Time.

Clear as literal day Opportunity. Daylight where not only did I not have to go anywhere else, I truly shouldn’t go anywhere else. Hours to do things I’ve been trying to get myself to do, and have only barely begun to do, the things I know I NEED to do to really kick this magical radical transformation into high gear.

So. I ate a quick, weird lunch (a chicken cutlet and a banana), grabbed a bottle of water, and told my husband (who’d also got sent home early) that I was going upstairs to do some cleaning.

AND I ACTUALLY DID IT!

Slowly, organically, I listened to what the water was telling me. I lit incense and a candle. I put on Florence + the Machine. I drank the water. And started cleaning. My bedside table. The top of the chest at the foot of the bed. The cluttered area with a random tote of costumes and shoes. The stack of suitcases from the former life/old job/previous year’s events that I had at least finally emptied out weeks ago but hadn’t managed to actually put the suitcases themselves away. All done. Also decked out my new uke hardcase with even more buttons than my old one had, which, incidentally, was now the best specialized toy bag for my long impact toys that wouldn’t fit in my other two, smaller toy bags. I took pictures the incense and candle on my altar. I danced. I texted a few friends. I cleared space and physically started moving myself into the future. I’m not fully sure what I’m moving towards, but finally, finally the gnawing calling is stronger than the fear, the procrastination, the depression/anxiety, the grief.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s still a fuckton of grief. There are relationships that feel like they’ve entered their last dying gasp and not ending the way I ever wanted or thought they would. There’s so much loss that I’m constantly struggling to process. But I keep pushing through. And thankfully, this challenge is one of the things helping to push me through.

Speaking of, we’ll get back to what else the water gave me today. But let’s actually cover the meat of this week’s prompt: Goals.

Here are the four top questions (and all their important sub-questions) that she listed for the prompt:

How are you going to accomplish these large goals in your daily life?  You need to start breaking it up into bite sized pieces.  Our particular Experiment goes until Valentine’s Day.  What can you reasonably expect to accomplish by then?  How will you do it?

  1. What magical acts (rituals, spellwork, whatever it is you do) can you do to help you accomplish this goal?  If you are into Planetary magic, you may want to consider looking into the Gates work that RO does to help you accomplish your goals.  Thinking strategically in magic isn’t something that comes naturally to a lot of us either.  Check out Jason’s books on Strategic Sorcery if that’s something you need some guidance on.
  2. Use your preferred method of divination to figure out both what you can do to make sure these goals will happen and also to figure out what road blocks keep you from this.
  3. Consult whatever inner or outer spirits you may work with as to what’s blocking you from achieving your goals.  If you’re the meditative type, when meditating consult your spirits there.  If you aren’t the meditative type, when you are just about to drift off to sleep when your mind is relaxed, ask what’s preventing you from achieving these goals.  In terms of “who” you’re asking, you can ask personal spirit guides or god/dess/es, your Younger Self, Talking Self, and Higher Self or even personifications of the traits you’re either trying to emulate or discourage.  Whatever works for your personal cosmos.

For #1, since I started a few weeks after she did, I’m gonna be going to the end of February…or possibly the beginning of March, which I think is appropriate for me. I’ve been gearing up for a winter of Work, inner and outer, and as I said before, this will help guide me. But breaking it down into more bite-sized pieces is going to be a challenge in and of itself.

In my last post, I wrote that these things are the most important to me:

music, writing, spirituality, authentic connections, emotional support, constructive selfishness (a phrase I learned from my therapist today and holy fuck, is it a great concept. Like self care, but…bigger.), kink, creativity, becoming healthier.

That’s a lot to tackle in twenty-one weeks. I’mma group things to make it a little more manageable:

  • Creativity – music, writing, drawing
  • Spirituality – practicing more, meditating again, yoga
  • Kink – honoring all sides of the slash, seeking out play, educating myself more about the scene, honing my classes
  • Health – mental, physical, emotional
  • Authentic Relationships – better communication, being my most authentic self, fixing my own fuck ups and holding others accountable for theirs, seeking better connections and not settling
  • Cleaning – organizing, downsizing, not living like a trash panda

Eventually, I’m hoping following these things will help me get on the path to my next career and back on my Path towards the Destiny I have. I’ve gotten so many signs that lately that I have one, I just don’t fully know what it is. But I’m working on it.

So! Let’s go even more bite-sized.

  • Creativity
    • music: practicing uke 5x per week for at least 20 minutes, making at least one video a month of uke playing/singing and posting it somewhere on the interwebs, crafting new burlesque routines
    • writing: this prompt will take care of once a week for twenty-three weeks. I’m also signing up for Cannonball Read
    • drawing: I’m planning on announcing a project I have for myself on FB soon that will help with all the creativity and the authentic connections.
  • Spirituality
    • these writing prompts are helping me practice more
    • reading Deb’s book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (which will also help the creativity, as I’ll be writing a review of it for Cannonball Read)
    • seeking out tarot and continuing with my Angel divination deck
    • intentionally visiting nature more
    • trying to find another yoga instructor/class
    • meditate again (this one’s hard because it’s tied to kink for me in that I meditate best on my knees. But I have some difficulty with kneeling currently, from a combination of knee pain I should try to overcome and some recent grief associated with some relationship issues)
  • Kink
    • seeking out play that will put me on both sides of the slash
    • seeking out people I can bounce with
    • actually writing up and posting my class descriptions
    • applying for at least one event
    • reaching out to people in the scene to learn more
    • reading more
    • taking more photos
  • Health
    • mental/emotional – therapy, letting go of the past, allowing myself to feel my emotions as they happen, all the others help with this one, too
    • physical – more activity. Current job will help with this. Once I am out of training, walk around floor for at least 20 minutes a day. Eating better. Taking gluten, sugar, and dairy mostly out of my diet. Drinking more water
  • Authentic relationships
    • seeking out the people who are authentic in my life
    • moving away from those who aren’t
    • making sure I am clear to the universe that these two things are my intention
    • making myself vulnerable
    • work on holding space for myself and for others in pain
    • personal responsibility
    • gratitude. Endless gratitude and expressing it to the authentic, glorious people in my life
  • Cleaning
    • organizing costumes
    • organizing closet
    • donating items
    • selling things
    • coming up with a schedule for regular household cleaning

So this is a lot. And I haven’t even fully gotten to numbers three and four yet. But I think those are things I’m gonna think on for the next week. Also going to have a smaller, more manageable list of quantifiable goals by next week, as opposed to this ginormous, all over the place list.

For now, I just want to list some of the little victories I’m seeing as I feel myself redirecting back on the Path towards these goals. Today I:

  • made myself a hot breakfast before work instead of not eating or buying crap from Dunkin’
  • went to work in BOMB CYCLONE
  • ate a reasonable, if not weird, lunch
  • started a pile of clothing I’m giving away/selling
  • relocated a few things that’ve been laying around the bedroom to their rightful places in the house
  • cleaned off my bedside table
  • cleaned off the chest at the foot of the bed
  • had tea and finished reading the first book of 2018
  • practiced uke
  • wrote this post
  • did laundry (might’ve ruined a new pair of pants in the process, but we’ll see)
  • texted/messaged some friends
  • talked some to nesting partner and spent some quality time over dinner with them

This is long. And I’m tired, as it’s 1:41am. But I’m doing it. Slowly, surely, I’m getting back to it all. For me, this time. Not for anyone else.

New Year, New ME, bitches. Let’s do this.

Tonight, I chose the pineapple.

So, there’s this thing I don’t talk about often. My anxiety manifests itself in various forms, most of which I’ve tried to transcend over the past three decades or so. Most commonly, it’s the “if I just have something sweet, I’ll be fine.” The sugar boost (usually with chocolate) helps calm me down, especially if there’s chocolate. I mean, c’mon. You can’t argue with Harry Potter AND Science.

If I’m going somewhere overnight that I’ve never been before, or I don’t know what the food situation will be, I’ll make sure to have something in my purse that will help me with anxiety. And sometimes, when I’m fighting an anxiety attack, or depression, I’ll crave something sweet. A cupcake, a brownie, a cookie. Rarely anymore do I crave regular candy. I’ve phased out and grown up out of most shit forms of sugar. Now I crave real bakery items, or high end chocolate, or other types of rarer things I have to make a special stop for.

Thankfully, I’ve left binging behind in my teens and mid- to late-twenties. It’s not that the feeling of a chasm in me that needed to be filled ever fully went away, I just gradually found other, better ways to fill it. Maybe some of them even helped to heal and close it a little bit at a time. Kink. Real, authentic connection to humans I liked. Music. Art. Dance. A job that at one time was one of the most fulfilling jobs I could’ve ever imagined. Being desired. Being partnered. Being married.

Some of these are great ways to heal old wounds, when applied well. Others…not so much. And lately, I’ve been taking stock of my life. My choices. Everything that’s led me here. It’s the holiday season and yet again, I’m left with very little holiday spirit and even less money than last year. I have no idea where to go from here in terms of finding fulfilling things in a career, in terms of kink, in relationships. There are big, scary things I have to deal with and I don’t know how.

But slowly…slowly, I’m finding answers. Slowly….slowly, I’m rediscovering the spirituality I allowed to be shamed out of me. I’m realizing that there are things I don’t want anymore, which is a step closer to figuring out what I do want. I’m grateful each day for the community of Amazon sisters which has sprung up around me over the past few years.

Still, each day is more of a struggle than I think most people know because I’m trying not to put it all over social media. I get that mental health awareness is and totally should be a Thing, but I also…don’t see the point in posting about all the negative things constantly. Especially when the intellectual part of my brain knows that anxiety and depression are lying to me and there isn’t much that is going to help by way of Fb comments of hugs, thoughts, and prayers. I’m not saying there isn’t healing and helping power in people putting good energy out for you…but there are also studies now showing that diminishing returns of social media. I want something real. My soul is desperate for connection and touch and creativity and kink. These things fuel me, help me burn bright, give me life. I feel like I’m suffocating lately from a dearth of them.

So every other day or so, I fight the urge to get a cookie. Or a cupcake. Or a brownie. Or ginger ale. Most days, I’m not happy to say I don’t win the fight. But I’ve been noticing recently that eating the cookie or the cupcake or the brownie has not been assuaging the anxiety anymore. In fact, I feel either the same or worse AND it tastes cloyingly sweet. Things that I used to adore. Are now…nothing to me.

I’m also not craving regular foods much anymore. Used to be that Vietnamese or Thai food would be my go-to, I-have-no-idea-what-to-eat-but-I-need-comfort meals. That’s not even there right now. I feel like I’m loosing touch with everything I used to hold dear and am floating somewhere, untethered.

Tonight, after a rough depression day, I steered my car towards a local bakery with THE BEST chocolate chip cookies ever. (And a cupcake that a metamour called “life changing”). I got there, parked right outside and then…then I remembered the fresh pineapple I had cut up in the fridge at home. For some reason, that seemed a helluva lot better an idea (1. free 2. my mouth said it would taste better 3. free) so…I went home. And had the pineapple. It’s not a major victory, but it’s something that I wanted to remember for myself and share for anyone else battling depression and anxiety.

I’m gonna make a change…or twenty-something

Welcome to a New Year, where millions of people claim to become a new person, complete with new workout gear, new organizational stuff, new eating habits, and a brand new outlook on life.

Until somewhere around February or March.

I don’t mean to be pessimistic because further down, I’m gonna roll out some of my own resolutions for this year. But I’ve been through many years and many people I care about and many I don’t even know talking about how on January 1st, “everything’s gonna change.” And if that works out for you, mazel tov. More power to you. No, really. I want those people to have even more power so they can continue to do awesome things.

For me, I’m finding that January 1st is a fairly arbitrary day that only gains power to inspire change because we all buy into it. There’s nothing magical about the day. It’s a man-made construct of a new year. Others have different constructs. There’s a Chinese New Year, a Jewish New Year, and I’m sure there are more for different cultures and religions and groups of people. And while the specific date isn’t important to me, the New Year has led to some fairly in depth reflection.

My body tends to follow a calendar of Paganism, even though I’m not practicing currently. Winter tends to be the time of introspection. A time to take stock and plan for the coming year. What worked last year? What didn’t? What has been eating at me to change, what progress was made? It’s a time when cold, barren land protects the seeds within it that will, in a few months, spring forth with the season.

It’s happening at work with budgetary discussions and the dying of one event to make room for the life of another. It’s happening in my house, with taking down the Christmas tree, putting away the decorations and presents and being thankful for the previous year and going on a slow cleaning binge. We’ve got a new vacuum and everything!

And it’s happening deep inside of me.

There are things I know I need to do. Hell, my last post was a damn long rant about one of them: getting back into burlesque.

But there are others.

I’ve kept them close to my chest for a while, but I’m ready to let them out into the world. Potentially to create some sort of accountability, encouragement, and just…to make it real. Of course things can be real living inside my head. But change is motion, movement. If a thought is just in my head it doesn’t mean much until I put it out there – as a conversation, part of my writing, in song, working out, hugging, yelling, etc.

So here is my attempt to actualize.

It’s time to get my health under control. My blood pressure has soared with the stress of this past year and my doctor is concerned. I’m concerned. I’m working on it, but I need to do more than take my medicine as directed. Things like:

  • meditation
  • push myself and my students more in classes
  • eating better – which will likely be it’s own post
  • dancing, moving more, and stretching every damn day
  • Finding healthier ways to deal with my anxiety and depression, even if it means meds again
  • reach out to friends and loved ones for emotional support instead of bottling

I want to be more creative this year. As such, I’m going to:

  • Play my ukulele more – I’ve already begun to learn a new song!
  • Sing more
  • Write more fiction
  • Finish at least the first draft edit of my book
  • burlesque and dancing
  • force myself to learn to use the awesome gift my husband gave me last year, with the awesome gift he gave me this year.
  • Read 27 books in a year and write at least a small review about each. I did Cannonball Read in 2013 and actually made it to 52 books and reviews in a year (!) That was incredibly stressful (but still awesome) so I’m going for a half Cannonball which is technically 26 but I’m going +1 because I don’t like even numbers.
  • Post a blog once a week. Which, technically,the Cannonball Read takes care of half of that, if I want it to.

My body craves D/s and sex and attention and receiving ASMR. Therefore, I plan to:

  • Reach out to more people locally and regionally
  • Ask for what I’m interested in
  • Rejoin the local kink scene
  • Be clearer about what I want out of date nights
  • Seek out casual play at events
  • Try to afford regular massages. “Regular” might mean every few months, but still
  • If not always massages, pedicures. Never knew how much I loved pedicures until my sister introduced me to the wonders. So good. And toes so pretty!
  • Find friends who want to read to me for ASMRing. One dear friend did this at GKE last year while another gave me a massage. That was close to bliss, aside from the pain that was being worked out of my lower back.