Saturday, a day for a lie in – not for me.
I’m rudely woken at 6am with the same familiar dread in the pit of my stomach; I have things to do today so my body starts to panic about them nice and early for me. I’m sure everyone else who has a to-do list just gets up and does it, but not me. “I must get this done, must do that today, can’t forget about that” plays on repeat in my head, reminding me that I must be productive today, even if I don’t want to be. And if I don’t get shit done, it rolls over to the next day, and the next day, and it goes on and on until I’m so overwhelmed that I hide from all my responsibilities instead. I’m feeling so sick with anxiety that I’m not comfortable anymore, so I get out of bed.
I’m off to a good start, I’ve fed the dogs and put my clothes in the washing machine (I didn’t have the energy to do it last week so I have two loads to do today). Today could work, I feel like I could accomplish everything on my to-do list:
- Wash & dry hair
- Wash & hang clothes
- Wash dishes from last night
- Walk Angus
- Put clothes away (these were washed about a month ago, still sitting in a pile waiting to go back in the drawers)
- Buy birthday cards for Mum & Joe
- Drive to Ollie’s
I was due to be at Ollie’s house for 12, so I had to have all of this finished by noon. Tight deadlines don’t motivate me, they stress me out and encourage a breakdown. I went upstairs to put my empty laundry basket back and I see my bed: it looks so inviting, the sun pouring through the window onto the mattress, scattered with pillows. “I’ll just have a lie down” I thought.
I wake up at 8am. I could be so angry at myself for wasting time sleeping when I had chores to do, but I felt so tired, so heavy, even a little bit sick. I wanted to stay here all day, even considered cancelling on Ollie today and just laying here, alone. I had to drag myself out of bed – for the second time today – because my to-do list was still incomplete. My counsellor says that I’m too hard on myself, but it’s how it’s always been. Skipping activities or stopping to sit down or being too tired was seen as lazy when I was growing up. If my mental health hinders me in doing basic chores, I’m lazy.
Fighting all my conflicting emotions, ignoring my own needs to ‘get stuff done’, I started hanging my washing out, daydreaming of a better life where things could be easy. I think it perked me up a little bit. Finishing a task and ticking it off my to-do list felt so good. I had accomplished something, no matter how small. What was next on the list?
Wash dishes from last night.
Anyone that knows me knows that this has got nothing to do with my mental health; I despise washing dishes. I’ve always hated it, so you can imagine my joy when we bought a dishwasher years ago. I open it up – and it’s full. “Oh no” I thought “Two lots of work again, I’m going to have to empty it”.
Now this is when depression gets silly, you let things pile up for days or even weeks, and all it takes is one small thing to push you over the edge and you’re on the brink of tears about unloading a dishwasher. My head was pounding, I felt so stressed, I was exhausted beyond belief, I didn’t think twice about trailing off to the living room and collapsing on the sofa. My heart thumped in my chest like I’d just ran a marathon. I felt so ashamed of how tired I was when I knew there were so many people out there with much busier and more stressful lives than mine, and yet I couldn’t cope. I felt so embarrassed. I was supposed to walk the dog, where will I find the energy for that now? It’s like no matter how many hours of sleep I get, it’s never enough. I’m always tired, too tired for anything. I haven’t done any writing for weeks because I’ve never had the energy, and writing is something I love, and something that helps me in times like these. So I knew as I closed my eyes and wished my headache would stop, that when that little voice in the back of my head said “You’re struggling, write it down” That I had to fight through this one, and find my notebook.