When you’re depressed, stuff piles up. Mail goes unopened. Paperwork goes un-handled. Clean laundry lives in piles. Dirty laundry lives in different piles. The piles begin to….merge. You just don’t have the energy to deal with any of it.
Then the meds start to kick in, or therapy starts to work, or for whatever reason you get a little better, and you get some energy back. Good!
Except between you and being okay is the giant shitpile of things you didn’t do for so long that all need to be done now. So instead of momentum, healthy new habits, great leaps forward….it’s hunting down old paperwork, cleaning science experiments out of the fridge, calling the student loan people, and 6 month’s worth of unpleasant chores and administrative tasks. It’s all way harder and more fucked up and more expensive than it would have been if you’d just done it when you were supposed to, so even though you are theoretically doing better everything sucks proportionally more.
Which cues a giant shame spiral. Because you have no one to blame but yourself, and those blamey voices are well-rehearsed and have been waiting in the wings, ready to go back onstage at any moment.
If this shame spiral is indulged/not checked, it will lead straight back to depressionland and rob you of all momentum. This is my life right now. I’m “halfway out of the dark.” I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel but I believe it’s there and remember what it felt like to feel it on my face. But there’s a lot of tunnel still between me and it.
I shared this with some friends, and one said something that slapped me in the face with its obviousness and perfection:
Over the last couple years I’ve developed a strategy for dealing with exactly that: Make the Job Smaller. Have the energy to do a little bit of something productive, but the tasks facing you are huge? Don’t even try to finish a whole task. Instead, consider that your assignment is simply Making the Job Smaller. Folding one item of clean laundry out of the pile and putting it away = success. Answering one email you’ve been putting off = success. And so forth. If I try to tackle the entire pile of whatever, it’s overwhelming and I feel like a failure. But Making the Job Smaller is not so hard! I can do that! And then I get to feel better about myself for accomplishing something, however tiny, plus now the job facing me is slightly less huge and scary.
This is possibly the most useful method I’ve ever come up with for managing my own crazy.
MAKE THE JOB SMALLER. WHY DIDN’T I KNOW THIS?
Make. the. job. smaller.
What is something simple and beautiful and obvious that changed your perspective or made you finally understand something? Links to other blogs/Poems/Stories of great teachers and wise grandmas welcome.
BRB need to put away a single folded piece of laundry and declare victory for the day.