CHICKENS AND EGGS

© Vicky TH, 2012.

November was a month of magic. A month when I decided I was going to do a handful of things and actually did all of them. It left me feeling invincible and with the certainty that in December I could continue with this same insane progress. And I believe that to be true. But I started noticing symptoms of things I’ve been fighting hard to avoid slowly slipping into my life.

By the time we were heading to my folks’ house for Thanksgiving our fridge was empty. A combination of already-eaten leftovers and neglecting to go grocery shopping. My writing was still happening, but I noticed I was feeling uninspired by it. Everything felt repetitive and anything but prolific. I figured I could chalk it up to holiday jitters and I just went on living.

Then Monday happened. That tiredness and lack of motivation that I always try to blame on my thyroid, but know that if I took my medication then the accusation just doesn’t really stick. I managed to shake it off and get most of the things I needed to do that day done anyway. I finally went running, I showered, I made dinner, I did the laundry. I just never really got dressed or engaged in anything particularly meaningful.

That’s about the time it struck me. All these seemingly inconsequential and unrelated things are exactly the things that happen to me when I’m falling into a depression. I gritted my teeth and braced myself. Shaking me head and breathing heavy I tried to see if I could outrun it, but I couldn’t help but wonder if it already had me. Do the symptoms show themselves after the depression has set in or do they serve as warning signs that I have to up my efforts to avoid its grip?

This is a new approach for me. The idea that these episodes are something I can support myself through rather than immediately giving in to. That my biology, my chemistry are not things that I simply fall victim to. I’ve recently been grabbing hold of this belief that if I pay attention I can minimize the damage of these things. I can sleep more. I can eat better. I can connect with friends and write furiously. I can run harder and lift heavier. I can take more vitamin D and keep lists of things to discuss in therapy. I can make sure I’m taking my thyroid medicine and doing all the things my doctors tell me I should be. I can’t cure this, but I can support myself in a way that makes every day more tolerable than it used to be. And these symptoms, these clues don’t have to mean anything. They can simply serve as a reminder of how easy it is to lose track of these believes. A reminder that if I lose focus I can easily be right back where I was last winter. Right back to where I don’t want to be.

Goldilocks

© cuppyuppycake, 2013.

I get to the point where I’m ready for something new. When everything feels like it’s in a pretty good place and I have a nice handle on all the things I’m doing. A good routine is set with exercise and eating habits that work well for everyone involved. I’m getting up early and writing. Lately I’ve found myself in a place completely different than I thought I’d be at this time last year. Somewhere that I didn’t think I’d be staring at for years. But here we are. Settling in to an equilibrium that I’m happy with. So I start thinking that I’m ready for a new topic, a new addition.

But, of course, that thought immediately paralyzes me.

Adding more to my plate is the most logical thing. It would keep me growing, prevent stagnation. But it could also go so far in the other direction that I lose all the freedom and inspiration that is responsible for me thriving currently. There is such a gentle balance to strike there that I have never gotten the hang of. I suppose that’s the crux of being a truly all or nothing girl. Add too much and nothing gets done. Add too little and I’ll feel like it barely counts and just want to add more. More until it’s too much again. Add to that the seemingly endless amount of things I could choose from and I’m stuck constantly second-guessing. I feel like there must be a relevant story in Greek or Roman mythology for this. Some dude that had his choice of most everything and didn’t want to choose because he would lose the ability to choose the other things later. Never choosing anything at all and never growing, never changing.

There must be a balance there. Where giving up a little of my freedom for my betterment doesn’t seem so daunting. A logical decision out of all the possible choices that doesn’t make me lose sight of all my other options. I feel like I’m looking for more no-brainers in my life. When I spend my time writing or exercising I never wonder if I should have spent my time doing something else. When I commit to weekly appointments with a therapist I never wonder if I’m missing out on something better those mornings. When I married Mason I never thought for a second about not dating any of the other guys out there. Those weren’t hard decisions. But they also weren’t decisions I mulled over or debated, so maybe that’s the only real problem I have.

Forever cursed to think too damn much.

Wrapping Up

It’s starting to get quiet again. All hands on deck and fists in the air for months at a time. I’m ready for some stillness. To hide out in our apartment and read, write, not answer the phone. I just want to fall into a new cookbook, longer and faster runs, and heavier weights. Ready to sit down and write with more consistency. My body, my brain, they’re craving the ability to answer only to me. A break from the commitments and the chaos that is the holidays. The holidays that—even though we just barely celebrate—we get wrapped up in every time we go to the grocery store. Every time we realize we need a new pair of jeans. The days that we can’t leave our downtown apartment without being surrounded by people in a hurry, all frazzled and angry.

I’m ready for the quiet.

An entire workday was spent cleaning our apartment. Everything was pulled out the closet and sorted into piles. Things to keep, things to throw away, things to donate. We’ve lived in the same apartment for a year now and somehow stuff just starts to accumulate. Clothes that we’ve lost too much weight to fit in anymore, things we bought but never used, a collection of keepsakes that I have pictures and memories of so no need for the physical thing. Everything was sorted. Cardboard boxes labeled and all the extra cords, cables, and wires are now in one place. I scrubbed out the refrigerator and the tops of the kitchen cupboards. Every square inch of our home was inspected and wiped down. I left only the clean and the things that we really want or actually need. It all got so much calmer.

A year’s worth of baggage, of callbacks to a person I wouldn’t recognize, all stacked up nicely ready to be passed along to someone else. Maybe the calendar rolling over doesn’t mean anything really, but using the moment as an excuse to clear out the clutter changes everything. The piles of things that weren’t benefitting me finally being let go is such a reminder of the bigger things. Things that I have rattling around in my head. Commitments I made to myself that don’t hold any significance now. This whole thing is nothing but an opportunity to reevaluate how I spend my time, my money, my life. Reexamine the whole with fresh eyes and strip it down to the things I really want to be focusing on. So I started re-compiling the list. The plans and projects that I’ve let sit on back burners or buried underneath a pile of time-sucks I don’t have any particular passion for have been pulled to the front or unearthed. It’s time to focus.

The great mystery is always how these things ended up buried in the first place. Knocked down by all those times we say yes just to be agreeable. Covered up by a simple lack of motivation. Forced into deep drawers and dark corners by the idea that we just have too much to do right now. We always just have so much to do. There is so much work to be done, so many projects and deadlines. Houses that need cleaning and dinners that need to be made. We have bosses to answer to and family that needs our attention. And somewhere in there we’re expected to sleep, to relax, to just be. We’re constantly overworked and we find ourselves left with no time for the things we said we wanted to do around this time last year.

Bullshit.

That is the intention we set. The precedent we ourselves created and then lived under. We’ve been sorting our lives into piles of the have to dos, like to dos, and we’ll do when we finally find the times. We make the decision where any one thing belongs in an instant and then never think to reevaluate that decision. That’s why it took me until I was 25 to ever run my first road race. That’s why I didn’t write my first short novel until last month. That’s why my blog gets updated sporadically. We’re constantly putting things that should be mandatory in our “when I have time” piles. And we never have the time. We’re building our lives out of good intentions we never follow through on and I’m fucking sick of it.

So let’s move on.

Let’s head into a new year with the understanding that we will do the things that we make time for. That we will accomplish only what we prioritize. That all our great ideas and grand plans are meaningless if we lack the follow-through to make them happen. If we let another year go by collecting things, habits, and experiences we’re only going to toss out this time next year we can’t tell ourselves we’re making progress.