Day 24: Write about a lesson you learned the hard way.
Note: I took off yesterday. I started a new schedule at work and it’s taking some getting used to. It takes me a while to settle into routines, and they do not like to be disturbed.
“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.”
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Family, friends, therapists, and coworkers tell me all the time that I worry too much. That my “soul sadness,” as I sometimes refer to my depression, is a result of letting my thoughts get away from me.
You have too much free time if you’re worrying so much. Does anyone else get told that a lot?
So I fill up my free time, stuff it to the brim with jobs, classes, friends, projects, and chores. I don’t know how to sit still. In the shower, I am making lists for my day. I read on the bus, in waiting rooms, when the internet crashes. I read while listening to the news, while my babysitting charges sleep, while the plumber works in the other room. When I watch a movie or a TV show, I’m writing, drawing, crocheting, cleaning, giving myself a pedicure, mending my clothes. I listen to podcasts while I vacuum, wash the dishes, take the garbage out, mop the floor. As I’m settling into bed, I study French, scroll through endless social media, review my progress on my lists (I have dailies, weeklies, monthlies, and yearlies. I’m never satisfied with the day’s progress.)
I can go like this for days, sometimes even weeks. But eventually, it catches up to you. A flare prevents the morning stretch-and-exercise routine. A headache makes you turn off the music, the laptop, the television. An eye twitch makes you close the book. Aching wrists and fiber-burned fingers make you put down the crochet. Frustration puts down the pencil. The social media is too sad, too bitter, too angry. Your friends are busy, or not getting along, or you’re running out of things to say and money to spend on adventuring.
You’re burning out.
And then when the worry and the “soul sadness” settle in, you don’t have anything left to fight it with. Every thought and feeling you’ve been crowding out with outside noise under the guise of productivity creeps in, first as stray intrusive thoughts but soon as a deluge that pins you to the bed with its force. Suddenly, you feel everything, and the result is overwhelming and so painful.
Sometimes, it’s okay to just let yourself feel it. It’s okay to be in a bad mood. It’s okay to cancel plans sometimes. If you have one day off this week, you don’t have to fill it. Curl up on the couch, wrap yourself in a blanket, put on a movie you may or not pay attention to. If you need permission to feel sad, put on a sad movie. Let yourself cry. Let yourself sleep. I know the dishes need to be done, and the laundry, and the floor. You can do them later, if it’ll make you feel better. But right now, you need to acknowledge that there’s a feeling to recover from at all.