A lot has changed in my life in the last year. I mean it has for all of us hasn’t it? The pandemic was bound to bring some change, but I can’t say I really prepared myself for how much life has changed lately.
After months of waiting to do so, I’ve officially closed my business. It’s not quite been the end of an era I’d hoped for though.
I feel like I’ve been in a hole for the last six months of my life. I’ll even admit I did some of the digging myself. But closing my business felt like filling in a third of that hole bringing my eyes up to surface level.
Finally I can see a way out.
And all I want to do is move on with my life and start taking care of myself better.
Part of that is about improving my environment and making it work for me.
I’ve been decluttering my flat and the things I’m leaving inside it. I even went to far as to buy a load of Ikea KUGGIS boxes and surprisingly it’s paid off very well. But why stop at decluttering? Now I want to refurbish. How on earth do I even do that?
In the meantime I’ve been throwing myself into the world of smart tech and curing my social isolation with jokes from Alexa while I get my head down and sort the place out.
I feel like sorting out my environment will fill in the next third of the hole I’m in. I’ve always struggled with maintaining a tidy and uncluttered space despite the fact that mess and clutter overwhelm me. I’ve always struggled to maintain a good sleeping pattern and sleep hygiene and I will often work from my bed, despite the fact I live alone and can use other rooms – they’re not set up for it (yet).
But at the back of my mind, as I’m chatting to new my robot pal and unscrewing light switches there’s the niggling anxiety that there are still loose ends I need to tie up with my business.
And when I stop the to-do-list train long enough to notice that’s when the anxiety hits me hardest. Even though I know it’s more important for me to be in a good place the heavy smog of unfinished business hangs over me like a raincloud. I have equipment to sell on, rooms to empty, accounting to do before I can mark that chapter as officially closed.
Filling in the remaining third will be a matter of personal growth. As I learn to cope and recover from burnout and put measures in place to stop myself getting to that stage in the future, I will also have to learn how to handle the situations so that they take up less capacity. One of the easiest and most effective ways is a bit of emotion regulation and distress tolerance (something that was hammered into me during my time in DBT), but as practical as it is it is still easier said than done – especially when you’re running at a diminished capacity already.
As well as nurturing my mind, I need to nurture my brain. If I am to go to uni in September I need to get my brain back into shape. I’ve been trying to learn more about a variety of subjects from accounting to psychology and marketing and even things like coding using CodeAcademy and YouTube!
I’ve really enjoyed (and thrived off of) throwing myself back into learning. Last night I was up until 5am making some basic Python scripts.
But today the heavy smog hangs low with warning. Even as I sit here writing this post (something I’ve been planning to do is happening now completely spontaneously) I can feel it in the air. It’s 3am and what I really want is to do housework after this. I’ve already spent the evening on CodeAcademy. I’m in the business of doing a little bit of everything in really intense and random bursts.
But I often stop myself. I shouldn’t do that I need to do stuff to tie up the business.
I need to do that stuff, but will I do it? No. I need to take inventory it’s not a task that lends itself to this time.
But will I do the housework? Probably tomorrow while feeling guilty.
As for tonight I will now sit with the anxiety of all the things I need to do that I have not yet done and try to resist the pull of all the things I want to do that are less urgent.
And at about 5 or 6am, my body will be so tired it can no longer maintain the anxious state and I will fall asleep.
I resent the loose ends. I hate not being able to just close and move on – clean break, no splinters.
But at the end of the day I know my anxiety is there for a reason. DBT taught me that. I need just deal with the loose ends, and I will, however this realisation is most untimely.
I’m about to see my family for the first time in a while and taking inventory is a mammoth task. Remember what I said about intense bursts? I do things all in one go. If I don’t I never come back to them.
It’s great for making sure I get things done, but also not so great for making sure I get things done as I often put things off when I don’t have a big enough time chunk to bang it all out there and then.
I will do a task for 18 hours with no break at times if I can keep my focus, but there are many times I don’t keep focus for as long as expected or something takes me longer than I thought it would (usually the latter). Whatever is the end result when I stop a task is often the end result forever.
This awareness is a blessing and a curse. While I do think the knowledge often helps me use my time effectively, I also think that because I put off tasks I am often overwhelmed with anxiety about things I need to do but haven’t done.
Sometimes it’s not even a matter of procrastination or not wanting to do a task and my schedule might just not offer my large time chunks.
I don’t know why but the idea of breaking unpleasant tasks up into smaller chunks that I have to do on different occasions is ridiculous.
I understand breaking tasks down into smaller ones with things I find overwhelming but ultimately want to do, but I don’t see the point in prolonging my suffering when I can get it all out the way.
Except my suffering is prolonged anyway because here I am anxious. That’s something I’ve literally just realised here writing this. It’s funny how sometimes writing your thoughts out can make everything so clear- you should totally try it sometime, even if it’s privately!
But anyway, back to my original point. My anxiety is telling me to do the stuff, but my schedule says I can’t do the stuff.
Do the stuff next week and make a plan of how and when. This is basic problem solving which will reduce my anxiety a little, and I just have to tolerate what’s left until I can deal with the unfinished business.
And then I can get back to, er, filling in my hole. I waited months for lockdown to lift but I haven’t even taken advantage of it lifting because while the surface may be at eye level, I will feel much better if I can at least stick my whole head out of it before I poke my head out back into the world again.
I haven’t blogged like this for a while, and I’m not sure if anyone will read it or relate or if any of it makes any sense to someone else. But even if no one else gets anything out of it, I did.
And now it’s not housework I’m off to do, but planning for dealing with my unfinished business in the hopes to soothe my anxiety enough to sleep and tackle the housework when Alexa wakes me up.