I’m writing this post on a good day. I slept well last night, I woke up before my alarm with time to workout and meditate like I promised myself I would.
I took some time at lunch to scribble in my journal. I’ve conquered some work to-dos that have been looming. I feel good.
I’m even tempted to skip my post-lunch walk around the block that I’ve dubbed my “stupid mental health walk”. I’m inclined to “celebrate” my productive work day by ordering those giant cookies from the store that’s dangerously close to our house. But I know, if I skip the steps, eat a ton of sugar and throw back a glass of wine – tomorrow will be a disaster.
It’s like when you’re feeling great on the medicine the doctor prescribed you, so you stop taking the medicine. Then days later, you realize the reason you were feeling better was, in fact, the medication you were taking.
It’s one of the more annoying things in my life that I have to work so hard to just maintain a level of … normal (if that is even a thing). I mean, I’m having a good day but I’m not exactly skipping down the street singing show tunes. Me on a “good day” is just … fine.
It’s laughable, really. My husband’s default setting is “radiating sunshine” while my internal wiring seems to be set on “vibrating with despair”.
To adjust those calibrations, I have to do all the things and, I’ve learned, avoid some behaviors that I used to claim as self-care:
A big dessert at the end of a big day? IT’S LIKE A REWARD!
A glass of wine (or two) on a Friday night? I EARNED THIS!
Scrolling TikTok during lunch? IT’S ME TIME, GIRL.
I’ve noticed all the little “rewards” were contributing to some undesirable days. The day following a massive dessert, my body is more achy. The day after a couple glasses of wine, I find myself incredibly anxious. If I spend too much time scrolling and not enough time doing the things I know serve me, I can start to feel the familiar vibrations in my chest. Don’t get me wrong, I still have an occasional glass of wine and even more frequently, a giant cookie. But I have to look myself in the mirror the next day and say, “You feel like crap today because of the decision you made last night. This too shall pass.”
Work Isn’t Instant
I was always a good student but not necessarily a fast learner. It’s taken me this long to realize that this stuff is work but that’s exactly why it works. The effort I put into the walks and the workouts and the eating right and all the other things that are NOT cookies and wine is what makes the work … work. Struggling through meditation when my mind is racing is developing that muscle. Putting one foot in front of the other, especially when I don’t feel like I need it, is what makes the next day a good one. It’s so annoying that this work isn’t instant. It’s even more annoying that the results don’t last forever.
Okay, I have to go do the things I told myself I would do even though I don’t feel like doing them.
Thanks for being here,
PS: I also need to acknowledge the obvious: It’s an extreme privilege to have the time to devote to my mental health. A few people have accurately commented that taking time for all the things I need to do to keep my anxious mind in check is a luxury. It’s true. I work full time, but I work from home and most days have the opportunity for a lunchtime walk around the block. I have a partner who does half (or more) of the driving and scheduling required of this stage of parenting. I don’t always feel like I have an abundance of time, but I do have options on how I spend it. And that is an extreme privilege.