Less Real Responsibility = More Pressure to Get Better

As I wrote about last week, the boys are in daycare full-time now.  This means I’ve got 8 hours of my day to do with as I please, relatively speaking.

The point is not for me to become a lady of leisure.  That’s not the point at all.  I desperately miss feeling like I contribute to society and to my household.  I was a workaholic type not so long ago, in fact.  But that’s another post altogether.  The point is for me to better concentrate on doing things that help me get out of the foggy depression so that I can get back to being a more productive human being.  The point is for me to better concentrate on coping techniques.

My morning today was consumed by the following:

  • yoga
  • chai tea and knitting

and…

my beloved piano, which I've had since first grade
  • a little light “music therapy,” a.k.a., messing around on the piano

Those have been the coping techniques for the morning.  I’ve got a whole book full of coping techniques I intend to call on over the course of my lifetime, from my time at the Friendly Local Mental Ward.

As an example of what my depression has reduced me to recently, let me tell you about J’s requests for the day, today.  All he asked me to do before he went to work is to sort the laundry and run one load of dishes.  He doesn’t even want me to worry about doing any loads of laundry, just sort it and get it into baskets.

A couple of normal chore-type tasks that everyone has to do, right?  Not so bad at all, right?

I only managed to get most of the laundry sorted, no dishes done.  But as my psychiatrist says, right now each productive thing I do, no matter how “trivial,” has to be rewarded.  So, I’m trying not to beat myself up about the dishes.

Two weeks ago, asking me to do those things at all would have reduced me to a sobbing ball in the bed.  Today I can do it, but that’s how bad the depression has been lately.

I feel so bad about my inability to do normal activities of daily living like chores without some sort of prodding to get it done.  Luckily, I do feel accountable for my time spent at home by myself.  I do feel like I should be working, it’s just that working right now means taking care of myself and putting forth the effort to do what I can to battle this horrible mental illness of mine.

What I can do:

  • don’t miss therapist and doctors appointments (I NEVER miss those…good for me!)
  • take my meds as prescribed (I’m pretty good at this one, too)
  • coping techniques (this one I need to work on.  I know what they are but I forget to do them a lot)
  • eat a more balanced diet (hard, but not impossible, within the confines of what I like to eat and don’t gag on.  I haven’t been good about this one lately)
  • exercise (I’m better and better about this one each day.  I’m up to yoga four days this week and as the weather gets better, Stella and I will go on long walks)
  • do small chore-type activities daily to get myself used to doing productive things again (this one is the hardest and the one that I’m worst at doing right now.  This is the one where I have to remember, “action before motivation!”)
  • don’t isolate myself in this house; get out and do something social daily (this one is really hard for me, too)

On a related note as far as doing things I don’t want to do, I did have a big boost of self-esteem last weekend:

J left town for three whole days.  I’m talking, left his cell phones at home, didn’t even drive himself.  I had no easy way to get in contact with him.

I absolutely had to take care of the boys by myself.

Now, it’s not entirely true that I had to take care of them by myself.  I had help from good friends if I needed it.  And good friends kept me company at times and helped feed and entertain the children.  Thanks, ladies, if you read this!!  But, it was up to me to stay with the boys at night.  It was up to me to get Be-Bop on the school bus last Friday morning.  It was up to me to entertain the boys Saturday during the day and to get them to church Sunday morning.

I am fiercely independent and I can take care of my family just fine when J’s not around.  In fact, the boys and I had a lot of fun, just us.  We went to the aquarium!

Rock Steady insists on making funny faces at the camera these days

A good time was had by all and I survived a full 72 hours without J.  I can take care of myself and my boys; I can pull it together when pressed to do so.  I may not keep a clean house while I do it, but it can be done.

The bottom line about having less responsibility and feeling pressure to get better is that all this pressure is self-inflicted.  It’s dawning on me now that my self-loathing and anxiety are part of the illness, which means I just have to work harder to overcome it.  And I need to give myself a break once in a while and just sit and knit.  Or make beads.  Or whatever.

Because I am convinced that I will indeed get better some day.  I don’t want to go back to working at the pace I did once upon a time with the ambition I had once upon a time because that was part of the illness, too.  However, I can contribute.  I will contribute; I insist on it.

That’s really where not wanting to do housework comes from:  when I worked outside the home, no one really cared whether or not we were behind on the laundry or the dishes or if the house was a little dusty.  It was expected because I didn’t have time to get it all done.  But now that I have all this free time, it’s worse to spend all my time at home because I pressure myself to do silly housework.

Someone told me this weekend, when I invited her into my nasty little house, that “no one cares what your house looks like but you.”  I hope I can carry that one around with me for a while, and I wish she were right.  However, I know a few people do actually care what my house looks like.  At any rate, thanks, B!

 


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