Crisis Fatigue

I have been realizing that there is a problem with my support system, in that unless I am melting down, I can’t seem to get anyone to understand where I am emotionally.  If I say “I’m depressed and numb” it doesn’t seem to get anywhere.  I wonder if I’ve inadvertently connected with people who only respond to perceived crisis, because that is how they generate their own momentum.

It’s taken me a while to realize that I have a little bit of crisis fatigue.  I feel like people where I live have a tendency to react to normal everyday issues and problems on a level that I try and reserve for actual super crazy out of the blue stuff.  It seems so ubiquitous around me, that I adopted it.  I’ve worked really hard this year so far to step outside of not only my reaction to it, but also my instigation of it. I’ve listened to my friends say similar about other people when literally in the middle of doing it themselves, so I know that I have done the same.

I’ve also seen my friends in actual crisis not getting the response that they actually need because of this crisis fatigue (either from me or from other people).  I never, ever want to get to that place. I want to know that I can rely on my community if I need to, and I never want people to feel put out or burdened by me.

Not that I don’t have loving, caring people around me, but I think since everyone has this weird crisis mentality, there’s a tendency to ignore what is happening around you while shouting the loudest.  Or to conflagrate something into a bigger issue than it is.  I start out telling my friends a crazy situation, and they jump right on board with how bad and unfair it is and I end up feeling so much worse.  And since I know we attract what we are sometimes, I have to do that too.  Have I bought into a weird hipster empathy that is hollow?  Probably.  But I have great power to change and influence my life and community.

There is a chasm in my friend circle here, and it is that I will always be walled up about things.  And that is no one’s fault but my own.  I should not be the person who tests the waters, but I am, and when it turns out they are too cold, I don’t jump in.  And when it comes to what is important to me, the local waters are frigid.

I don’t want to go back to having no friends here.  The idea is exhausting.  I don’t want to cut myself off from friendship.  I know I probably need to widen my circle and find people with similar values, interests and ambition as myself.  I just don’t think about it too much until I’m too tired and I need that person already.  I miss living in a place where I can just call someone to come pray with me, or to sing over me, or to study with me. I miss living in a place where people call me to do those things for them.  It’s the only thing that matters to me… why haven’t I put more effort into finding those people?

Part of it is probably fear.  I really really miss my friends.  Larky, Stephy, Liesl… I left pieces of my heart behind and I feel them, cheesy as it sounds, just like Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre said, affixed to my rib cage and the heartstrings pulled so tight.  There’s a thousand times a day that something wonderful occurs to me and maybe I should pick up the phone and write letters and send emails more often, but it hurts to be so far away, it’s hard to make myself feel that hurt every time.  I’ve never been good at it.

I know that makes me keep people at arms length, and I know that those friends I’ve had for over a decade will always be unmatched.  But does that mean I have to go on through life without someone to collaborate with and adventure with here?  I don’t even know how to meet someone like that.  I’ve been crazy lucky in the past, and just made some divine appointments with kindred spirits.  How much can one person expect that in a lifetime?

 

Let Me Sleep

I’ve been dealing with uncommon for me exhaustion, and (maybe more common for me) depression, lately.

For a while, launching The Theopathy League website was helping, now it’s just reminding me how much time I’m not dedicating to drawing and painting and bookbinding, and it doesn’t mean that I will give it up, it just means I don’t know what to *do* with all that.

I mean, all I can do is try to solve the tiredness problem so that I can steal time to make art and work with my hands, and the space to do it in, and oh goodness I’m already tired just typing that out.

There was a little quiz thing on Facebook recently, and it asked what I’m looking forward to, and I thought of things that would have come off more dramatic and depressed than I feel them.  Or I thought of saying “Literally there is nothing to look forward to”, but that sound really bad. I don’t feel really bad. I just feel almost nothing at all.

I have two settings right now, work or wanting to be asleep.  Anytime I’m not at work I just want to be sleeping and I low level resent everything and everyone that represents me not being asleep.  I’m legit not just sleeping all the time, but that’s mostly because I feel like the people around me would be judgey if I did. But I don’t know for sure.

If I lie down to sleep, all the ideas come to me.  It’s not a lack of inspiration.  It’s the lack of ability to do anything about the inspiration that is tiring, that is exhausting to hold all of this in my head.

I should maybe go back to counseling, but I’m not even sure how I’d manage that.  It was hard enough to take the time off to do it last round, and everyone is so weird about it. But I don’t know. Maybe I’m just hormonal.

Every day I dream of getting away to a monastery for 3-7 days.  There are a couple in Oregon, and I desperately want to book some time at one, but it doesn’t look possible for me.  Normally, I’d try and problem solve that, but I’m too tired to think about it right now. I’ll get back to it later.

Things will look up, I’ll make sure.  But until then, why can’t anyone just let me sleep?

How To Burn Down A Life

There’s a moment where you realize that the more you try to help the process of getting your life together, the more it falls apart.  One morning, you wake up, you drink coffee, you listen to the birds, and you realize the answer was there all along: switch teams and burn your life down. 

I didn’t make this decision because I’m sad or because it’s hard to Do Things.  I’ve made this decision while I’m mentally very well (neither depressed nor manic).  There is no space for any life amid the half constructed/destroyed rubble of what I have been trying to build ever since I left Michigan with a backpack and a dream. I have not gone fully toward any of my goals (except school, and that broke my heart to stop going, even though I knew I should) and that is so much worse than not doing it at all.  All of it needs to be ash.

The minute I gave the plan a name, I felt hope for the first time in a very long time. 

Someone once told me that a dream dies three times before it comes to fruition.  I don’t know if that’s true,  I don’t know if I even believe in having a dream any more,  but if it’s true then I am in the home stretch.  At night, I dream of those pinecones that only propagate where there is fire.

I’ve been plotting the arson of my heart for a while. I started seeking an answer in earnest on a weekend at the ocean with my best friend, a month ago. The other week I was horribly sick, and could not read or watch TV I was so ill… and so my mind churned and it all crystallized. So now I have a plan.

Step 1:  Get rid of all the things that are attached to the definition of self you have been living. 

For me, this is getting rid of visual white noise, getting rid of projects I haven’t finished, getting rid of decor that has to do with who I want to be.  Not making things uncomfortable or getting rid of everything, but stripping down to essentials.  Getting rid of anything that I find uncomfortable.  I’m systematically getting rid of things that I don’t want to clean, things that are linked to my journey of creating. I’m going to trash the collage by my bed of things that comfort me, the ideals that I would like to enjoy and live.  They are done.

Step 2:  Let go of people who are not allies. 

They don’t have to be bad.  I just have to pare down my time and attention and increase quality.  Anyone who treats me like the Giving Tree and sits on my stump… i’m burning the stump.  Go sit on someone else.  Anyone who talks about collaboration but really means control.  Anyone who can’t receive love (we are burning a life down, we don’t have time at the moment to teach anyone).  Maybe it’s not forever, but it has to be firm for the foreseeable future.

3. Give up the idea that you are doing your job “just for now”.

I had dreams of doing all sorts of creative things for a living.  Then I thought that I would go to work and use the work to fund creative things.  What this meant in real life is that I did not ever buy into what I was doing.  Even when I found the work interesting and recognized that there was a potential for fulfillment,  the fact that I wasn’t doing what I felt I was meant to do undermined everything whether I knew it or not.  So I have decided to Buy In.  This Is What I Do Now.  Maybe I’ll never do anything else in my life, maybe I will… but as far as I’m concerned, This Is It For Me.  I’m going to figure out how to not only do it better, but do it the best.

4. Stop Being A “Good Wife” and “Good Daughter”

Because I am an enabler.  I am a worrier, I feel guilt that has no basis. I have unrealistic expectations of how I should be.  I have to get rid of all that mess in my head and emotions and daily life and leave a blankness.  I’m not saying to not love and support my husband and parents, but that my ideas of that are broken and can just be leveled.

5.Say No to Everything For a While

This is the one I haven’t really started yet.  I want to get further with steps 1-4.  Once the beautiful blankness arrives, I will Decide What To Do Next.

6. Externalize A Little Bit 

I have never been someone who spent a ton of time on hair and clothes and nails and makeup, but I’ve realized they can be armor.  My natural transparency can be a little obscured by it, and it gives me some breathing room.  It gives me a creative outlet without undoing what I’ve been working on.

7. To Be Determined

Not sure what G-d is going to do with all this, I’m just very sure He is orchestrating all of this.  I’m very sure that I am guided and that I am empowered to make these decisions and that there is a Hope and a Future even though I’ve given up any notion of what that looks like.

All of the sudden, I feel like I can almost breathe again without sharpness in my chest.

Nice to meet you 2015… shall we be friends?

There are times where I am just tired of the constant motion of life.

Usually this frustrates me and I fight it and it increases.  This week I’ve tried a new tactic and let myself off the hook. What this looks like is lounging with kitties playing video games on New Years day instead of packing up Christmas, organizing and reading.  All things that I enjoy, that must happen… but the momentum they create was a more exhausting prospect than the execution.

New Year’s Eve I took a bath and decided it was time to have a little luxury.  I cleaned the bathroom,  lit a guava candle,  poured the hottest bath I could, dropped in a Lush bath bomb,  slapped a face mask on, and read the first chapters of “Yes, Please” by Amy Poehler.  It was lovely.

While in the tub, I promised myself that I would treat myself gently, and that I would practice some self care in January.  I really believe that self care is important when you have people to serve…and I do.  My mother in law is coming to town to recover from a hip surgery in a few days,  work is amping up, and this community has a lot of people who are in need.

I want to be kinder this year,  to be more connected spiritually,  to practice humility, and to truly enjoy successes.

My intentions this year are to carve out more time alone with G-d,  to drink more water, to practice yoga regularly,  to find ways to be kind,  to create less waste, to send more packages and letters. I feel these are all do-able.

Be kind to yourself, reader.  Serve G-d, serve others and remember to accept love. ❤

At some point, I’m sure I’ll Learn Not To Read a Book In One Sitting…

… but it won’t be any time soon.  I finished White Fire (an Agent Pendergast mystery) and had some of those moments that you read for.  The kind that put you so fully in what is happening that maybe you cry a little, and laugh, and do that laugh sob thing.

I love everything about reading.  I love the smell of paper, or the novelty of e-ink.  I love bookmarks in all the permutations of kind; from fancy ornate metal bookmarks, to the receipts or small ripped pieces of paper people use.  I love finding things people have left in books.

For certain, I have more epic dreams if I’ve read before bed than if I’ve been watching a show.  I sleep better too.

One supposes it’s possible for one to read too much and not experience enough, but I rather think that reading sparks the desire for experience in ways other mediums do not.

I need a garret with a window seat, a basket of apples, and a cup of properly brewed tea… and the stack of books I have in queue to read.

Lipstick Dilemmas and Mascara Theology

I have a love/hate relationship with makeup.

Random, right?  This blog is usually not about makeup or hair or nails… and it still isn’t.  I’m getting there.

There’s this memory I have from youth group of this woman with some Serious Makeup going on… like, foundation, blush, blue eye shadow, and perfectly coiffed hair telling this goth girl that she needed to ease back on her black eyeliner and dark lipstick (the only makeup she was wearing) because it was ungodly, and wouldn’t God want her to look sweet?

I have another memory of watching church women discuss Tammy Faye Bakker’s makeup with disdain.  I was very little, and I remember thinking that she looked a bit like a princess and I didn’t understand why people were mean to her.

Sometimes I’m really not into the makeup thing.  I like it, but I’m not someone who needs it to leave the house. Sometimes I’m super girly and go on Youtube and figure out what I want to try and Full Face Makeup.  I have thrown out every cosmetic I own, and I have spent $50 at MAC without batting a well mascara-ed eyelash.  Usually, I feel very passionately on the subject of grooming and makeup.. namely I feel you should do what you want on that front.

RuPaul Charles said that “We’re born naked and the rest is drag”, and that’s pretty true.

Recently I visited this young, hip church in the area, and was reminded at how church culture has a Look, and how much you stick out if you don’t adhere to that Look.  I don’t know that the Look itself is bad, but I don’t know that it’s super genuine either. Maybe I’m too judgy about a Look that I don’t fit into.

This is all roiling around in my head because Self Care is such an important practice, and for me sometimes that means not spending any time on hair and makeup and focusing outside myself, and sometimes that means makeup and taking some time to take stock of myself and express myself creatively.

Makeup to me is like painting.  It’s not about anything other than creativity.  However, I have an awareness that it has an association with vanity, pride and selfishness. Is the medium really the message in this case, or is it possible to have a relationship with Appearance that is not too severe on either side?

Then, there’s an ethical component.  Are we using things to make us beautiful or even express ourselves that are slowly killing us, or our planet?  Trying to find even a basic cleanser without microbeads or a plastic base in it is becoming nearly impossible, unless you shell out for organic good quality products… and then one has to ask if that money is well spent?

Is paint a waste of money?  If not, is paint for your face a waste of money?

There is a lot to be said for humility and meekness, but are we using that to stifle?  There’s a lot to be said for the fact that “man looks at the outward appearance”, but are we using that to justify?

Am I going to come to a conclusion about balance once again?

Or am I going to decide that it doesn’t matter as long as I do what seems right before God for me?

Perhaps I just put a little more mascara on, and remember Tammy Faye, who was beautiful and didn’t need all the makeup… but more importantly was kind and creative and loving.

Lists Save My Life

When I say OCD, I get the impression that people think that this is extreme finicky-ness or perfectionism that I have as a personality trait.  But that’s not the case, as people much better at writing than me have pointed out.  I’m fortunate to have a pretty mild obsessive compulsive disorder, or maybe it’s just better handled because my parents were so aware of my genetic predisposition for it.  But the obsessive compulsive thoughts are always my hardest battle.

This morning was a bad one. Depression or stress or anxiety always ups the compulsive loops in my brain.  Sitting at my desk at work with a lot of uncertainty about my future and a lot of just generalized despair and I felt the thoughts go through, like some evil version of Buddhist prayer wheels, poisoning the air in my mind.

I learned a while back that if I made lists, it would fight it.  I figured this out because prayer solves a lot of things in my life, but because of the nature of these thoughts it is so difficult to practice, it become a religiously tinged negative loop.  Making lists works though.  It works as a form of prayer, as a meditative practice… something weirdly obsessive enough to disrupt whatever is going on in my brain.

These lists go from the mundane to the spiritual.  They can be lists of ways I can fix a situation, or things I’m grateful for,  of the LORD’s promises through scripture, they can be a shopping list.  I don’t know why it short circuits the compulsive thinking, but it does, and it offers me relief.

The tricky bit is to remember to do it.  When you are locked in what Allie Brosh calls a “Sneaky Hate Spiral”, thinking about anything outside of that spiral is hard, even without an OCD component.

I don’t know.  Maybe it’s time to go back to therapy, and possibly get medicated.  Maybe I shouldn’t make mental health decisions when I’m on my period and my husband has had a bad week.

But until then, I’m going to make lists, and remember to breathe,

A.C.

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