To Do Lists

I’ve been trying to get through each day by way of to do lists the past couple of weeks. Often, they go something like this:

  • Organize request list at work
  • Do songwriting homework
  • Look for new therapist to help with anxiety management
  • Remember to eat actual meals (like a normal person)
  • Breathe

I’m trying to stay on top of things at work (because I just accepted a promotion that takes me from direct user support into project management), and that’s a struggle. I’m also trying to stay on top of my social media engagement and news intake (because I don’t want to be paralyzed by the deluge of horror coming out of D.C. these days), and that’s a struggle, too. Self-care fits in there somewhere, which isn’t any easier than the rest of it.

I’m tired. This level of anxiety isn’t sustainable. I’m doing everything I know how to do in order to manage it, but I’ve never had such a prolonged, physical reaction to anxiety before.

And I’m not just anxious. I’m also increasingly angry. I have always had a strong, ingrained sense of justice and fair play (Hufflepuff FTW!), and this administration of rich white folks walking all over every marginalized group they can reach is maddening. I will never understand why it’s considered okay to sacrifice people in the name of profit. I will especially never understand the people who are supporting this and still claiming they have the moral high ground, but that’s perhaps a post for another day.

I would love to hear what all of you out there in the great wide world of the interwebs are doing to manage your own anxiety and anger, or even better, how you’re channeling it.

Juggling

I’m exhausted. It’s been less than two weeks since our new president was sworn into office, and the whole time has been a never-ending deluge of bad news. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next handful of  years with this ever-present knot in my stomach (not to mention the knots in my neck and shoulders and elsewhere in my body).

I’m struggling to find balance. I want to stay informed, about the resistance and the things we’re resisting. And I want to help spread information around. But I feel like I’m so inundated with information every time I open Facebook or go pretty much anywhere else on the internet that I just end up paralyzed.

I feel guilty about this mental paralysis, too. Because I recognize that I have a lot of privilege, and the ability to take time to feel paralyzed and not act is, in itself, a privilege. Yes, I struggle with anxiety and I’m Bipolar and deal with chronic pain, and those all have an impact on my ability to react to things productively. But I wish I was doing a better job, and I know that wishing doesn’t count for much, really.

The sheer number of different destructive things this new administration is doing is, to put it mildly, overwhelming. I know that I’m only likely to be able to stay on top of two or three issues at once, but I care about all of them, dammit, and they’re all related, really, because they’re all human issues. Picking a place to focus feels like I’m letting down whatever group I didn’t pick, and there are few things that get under my skin like feeling as though I’m a disappointment.

I added this article to the end of last week’s post, but I feel like I need to keep rereading it to keep from going completely mad, so I’m sharing it with you all again: How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind.

Fighting to Focus

It’s been an anxious week. I got some good news on a personal front (that isn’t official enough to fully announce here yet, sorry), but the time leading up to that news was extraordinarily stressful. And the actions of the Dorito-in-Chief in his first week in office have been nothing short of horrifying.

I’m struggling to balance my intake and output of news-related information on social media, as well as the effect of that input and output on my mental health and general ability to function in my daily life. As a white dude, I have immense amounts of privilege that I want to leverage for good. To do that, I need to stay informed, and use my voice in the hope that I can help to inform other people. However, I also deal with chronic pain, anxiety, and the joys of being Bipolar, which means that the deluge of horrible news can be particularly paralyzing.

I don’t have answers for this yet, but I’m looking for them. I’m taking steps to get my life more organized, and am trying to exercise other methods of anxiety mitigation as well. Despite the fact that the last week has been more than a bit of a political dumpster fire, I’m determined to do what I can to make 2017 a year of forming better habits and breaking out of unhealthy patterns. I’ve struggled in the past to do this for my own sake, but I’m  hoping the sense of urgency I feel now to reach out and create change in the world around me helps to propel me on to greater success.

There’s no point in lying and saying I’m super hopeful, because I’m not. I’m struggling with some pretty crushing despair and questioning where we’ll be as a nation in four years, or if we’ll be anywhere at all. But I’m clinging desperately to the hope that this is a wake-up call for a lot of people, not just for me, and to the belief that We The People are stronger than any attempt at autocracy.

Hang in there, folks. And stay alive. Sometimes that’s the greatest revolutionary act we’re capable of.

Edited to add: my partner pointed me to this article yesterday that is related to all of this and was really helpful to me. I hope you also find it useful: How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind.

Resist

Well, folks, it appears it really is happening. Tomorrow, a thin-skinned, grossly underqualified, misogynistic, xenophobic nightmare is being inaugurated as President of the United States of America. I’m terrified, and I have relatively little to fear. I have spent a large portion of 2017 in denial. I have not been good at getting off my ass and doing anything about the growing nausea and terror within me.

I plan to join the Women’s March in Chicago this weekend. I’m overwhelmed by the idea of marching with that many other people, but I’m going to do it anyway. And after that? I’m going to look for ways to get involved in local political movements, because that is where you and I have the most power.

If you’re feeling hopeless and paralyzed, I get it. I’m struggling with the same feelings, and it’s really, really hard to push past that. But we owe it to ourselves, and to our fellow human beings, to try. It may feel like the apocalypse is imminent, but all signs point to this being a reality that’s going to be here for a while, so we need to do what we can to keep fighting. I’ve decided that giving up is not an option.

I’ve seen a bunch of helpful and empowering articles and videos around the internet the past few days. Here are a handful of them:

Pushing Through

The post-holiday plague that I managed to come down with last week is continuing. I didn’t make it into the office at all last week. I worked from home Thursday, Friday, and Monday; I made it into the office on Tuesday, but just barely. I’m definitely improving, but it’s slow going.

Monday night, I had a gig. By the time I got sick, it was too close to the gig to try to get out of it, and I really wanted to go, anyway. I practiced over the weekend, and prayed I could get through the 25 minute set without going into a coughing fit.

It started off a little rocky. I felt shaky, and not just from the usually performance-induced butterflies. But as I continued to play and to sing, I felt myself falling into a groove. The longer I pushed through, the easier it got to keep going. By the end, I felt pretty good about how the whole thing went. As soon as I sat back down to listen to the rest of the performers, of course, I felt completely wretched. But what I want to focus on is the idea that doing the work is what makes the work easier to do.

I feel like this is going to be an important lesson to remember as the year wears on. There is no pretty picture to paint about the political landscape of America right now. There’s a lot of work to be done. I feel totally overwhelmed by it. But if I can just push through and take the first few steps toward sustainable action, the sense of overwhelm will, if not lessen, become easier to deal with. Just like practice improves ability at anything else, forcing myself out of my comfort zone repeatedly will expand what’s included in my comfort zone.

I’m not saying that I’m doing a good job of applying this lesson right now, because I’m not. But it’s a thing I’m going to work on. I hope you’ll join me.

Welcome to 2017

It’s a new year, and one in which a lot of things look scary and uncertain. And I’m sick. I’m writing this on Wednesday; I’ve missed two days of work and I can’t breathe through my nose. Not exactly how I wanted to start the year off.

Still,  it hasn’t all been terrible. Here’s a short list of nice things that have happened in the last week:

  • My partner and I had a low-key New Year’s Eve – we had ribs and mashed potatoes for dinner, and then spent the rest of the evening playing Scrabble, drinking wine, and watching a movie. It was a lovely way to ring in the new year. And I actually made it past midnight, which hasn’t happened the past couple of years.
  • I’ve gotten a lot of knitting done. This is often the upshot of being sick and missing work. I finished the sweater I agreed to knit for my coworker’s kid, and started on a blanket for my nephew, whose birthday is coming up in a couple of months.
  • As much as being sick is no fun, I’m trying to see the bright side of it, like the fact that I was able to catch up on a bunch of sleep and get some much-needed time to myself (even if most of that time has been spent in a sort of feverish haze).