Of late my to do lists have been piling up in a stressful way. I get home from work, and instead of jumping in to my blogging or editing, I just fall into bed and play Pokemon for 5 hours. Now I’m not one to knock playing Pokemon for 5 hours, but this is leaving me feeling like I’m being lazy and useless, and the things that I had intended to get done don’t get done…which means more on the list for the next day.
Of course my first impulse on seeing that is to get angry at myself. I berate my lazy self and ask why I can’t just do my work. I tell myself that I have tons of time, that I wasted time doing something unproductive. And I get more and more frustrated that I can’t seem to focus.
Now (totally unrelated) to all of this, I increased the dose of my antidepressants a few weeks ago and have been dealing with some nasty side effects since then. Serious exhaustion, twitchiness, anxiety, heartburn like a mofo (up to and including vomiting), and a complete inability to tolerate alcohol of any kind.
Wait, what’s that you say? Spending multiple nights puking and incapable of sleeping will affect one’s ability to get their work done? Messing with your brain chemicals takes time to adjust and might mean you have to cut back on other work for a while? Sometimes your body and brain require care that doesn’t allow you to keep going at your normal pace?
Of all the ironies in my life, I think my inability to recognize and validate my own mental health as an actual legitimate concern in my life is probably the best one.
Despite the fact that I’ve been bitching about these side effects to anyone who would listen for the past two weeks, it took until yesterday for me to realize that the reason I have felt so behind and had so much difficulty with my work recently is because making this transition is affecting me. And it took that realization for me to accept that I might need to take things easy until I can get my brain sorted out.
This is one of the most difficult things for people with mental illness, or at least I have witnessed people with mental illness struggling with it. We’re willing to accept when we need to make accommodations for ourselves, we can accept when our bodies start to give out, but so often I and others with mental illness discount external factors that might exacerbate our mental illness, or just make life harder. I’ve had multiple therapy sessions in which I walk in thinking I have nothing to talk about and halfway through my therapist will say “Sounds like there’s been a lot going on. A lot of stressors. How are you handling that?”
The question usually confuses me because I forget that much has been going on.
I suspect that for many others, just like myself, when you’re used to operating on full anxiety alert all the time, it’s hard to recognize when that anxiety really does match what’s going on around you. That means that it’s hard to cut yourself slack when the world really is making things harder for you. That’s one of many problems with living in a state of constant crisis. You cannot recognize and deal with actual crises.
With the realization that a change in medication is actually a pretty big shift and these side effects are really hindering my ability to do anything, I’m cutting back on extra stuff. Going into survival mode until I can get back in to my shrink and get a different med. That’s ok. It’s temporary. But I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t realized that bad medication is a minor crisis that needs to be dealt with.
So if you’re noticing that you’re falling behind and feeling overwhelmed with everything…it might not be the time to try to get rid of those emotions. It might be time to listen to those emotions and see if there’s something going on in your life that needs addressing. It’s far too easy for us to invalidate ourselves, since we spend so much time dealing with emotions that don’t make sense, but sometimes we do need to trust those emotions.
You got this friends. And so do I.
Now excuse me, I have more Pokemon to play.
Featured pic is me, self caring.
What you describe is well covered by the concept of locus of control. Quite a lot of research has been done on that, if you’re interested.