Ooh y'all. Remember when I was all, "OMG! I feel so much better! Life is good! Peace the fuck out, anxiety!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Admittedly, I feel about 1000% better these days. I no longer wish that all the people around me would get raptured up, leaving me to wallow in a sea of darkness alone. I'm rarely in danger of being so egregiously awful to my family that they lock me under the stairs. I feel happy and content more often than not. But feeling better also means that when I don't, it's a lot more obvious.
Yesterday as I was driving to work I was beating myself up for, once again, spending money on stupid shit. I'm a shrink, for God's sake, I should be able to figure out why I do dumb stuff. It's not like I haven't been doing this for, basically ever. I got to thinking about what was going on when I was absent-mindedly hitting "add to cart" this weekend. Here's the thing I figured out: I was SUPER anxious about Eli's wrestling tournament this weekend. Being a wrestling mom is by far the most stressful sport situation we've had. It's an emotional roller coaster for him, and it really is watching my sweet precious sneuxflake engage in hand-to-hand combat. And it's ALL DAY LONG. Saturday was 14 hours (post to come later when I'm not so angsty). Add to that that it's Girl Scout Cookie season, so my garage is full of cookies that the girls haven't had a chance to sell yet, which in my anxious brain equals out to cookies that I will have to buy (not true, but still). And then all THAT triggers a nice little dose of body dysmorphia where I decide that since I'm such a failure at all those things, I probably am also a gruesome, enormous troll who really shouldn't be seen out in public. AND THEN AND THEN I think, "Hey! I bet that if I bought Lady Gaga's new lipstick, all my problems would disappear! But that's silly to ship one tiny thing, so I should get some new tights and a craft kit and a set of silicone lids" And then, like Micheal Finnagin, we begin again, because now I've spent stupid money and failed at my arbitrary savings goal and I may as well climb under a rock.
Luckily I have a really long commute, and as I was driving I thought, "How would I work through this with a client?" So I started to think about what was going on and what I was feeling when I started to add things to my cart. I think I've come to the conclusion that when I start buying things or planning to spend money, I often am feeling like something needs "fixed" or nurtured. I bailed on the derby class because I'm pretty sure that I legit broke my butt, so I haven't been exercising. Most of my staff at work got taken out by the virus from hell so work has been especially stressful. I didn't do a good job of meal planning so we've eaten out more than I'd like, meaning that my body doesn't feel as good as it could (and see: stupid money). That also means that I start to feel like I'm not doing right by my kids, especially since Eli needs to be mindful of his fuel and his weight for wrestling. And this is SUCH a first world problem, but our housekeeper got hit by the same nasty bug that's making its rounds around here, so she hasn't come to my house in a month, meaning that we've devolved into our previously acceptable, but apparently no longer well-tolerated, level of clutter and chaos at home. On the other hand, when I am in a routine, when I am exercising and eating at home and keeping the clutter in check, I feel much more capable of handling the inevitable chaos and curveballs.
It's so annoyingly simple, and I think that in part that's why I, and I'd guess lots of other people, have such a hard time with it. I teach my student's that the first thing they should look at with their clients is "Are you eating well? Are you sleeping well? Are you breathing well? Are you exercising?" You can't do any deeper work until you've got those four components in check.
So here's my plan: I am going to mindfully prioritize the basics. Perfection isn't attainable, but I can strive to eat a sandwich at home instead of another night of drive-thru french fries. I may not make the gym every day, but I totally can find a few minutes to walk the dog. And I think that I'm going to start using my calm app (that I accidentally bought on Black Friday) as a buffer when I feel the urge to buy something on-line. I can do a quick meditation to check in to see if I really need more label maker tape, or if I really need to take a walk and eat a salad.
We'll see how it goes. I vacillated about putting this out there, but I think one thing that's hard for me when I get into this place is feeling like I'm an anomaly, the one adult who doesn't have her shit together, the one strong, modern woman who can still be crippled by thoughts of the size of her bingo arms, the single highly educated, well employed doctor that can't hit a certain savings milestone, the one mother who can't get it together enough to feed her kids a damn vegetable. That feeling breeds shame and shame breeds depression and anxiety. And once again, Dear old Micheal Finnagin, begin again.
I am both sorry you find yourself in this repeated spiral, but also so glad you have the training and self-awareness to recognize it and treat yourself as the patient you are (because we all are! and if we treated ourselves like we'd treat a friend or patient or client we'd all be a lot better because we generally care for others far more gently than we care for ourselves).
I know anxiety isn't rational and evidence doesn't necessarily help keep it at bay, but I can tell you with certainty that literally no one has their shit together. We all have our weaknesses and pitfalls and mental traps. Being able to recognize them is huge. Creating a plan to do better is amazing. You're doing great, I hope somewhere inside you you know that too (or can recognize that you'd see that in a separate, identical person).
This is SUCH GOOD ADVICE. I get into these funks, too, where I KNOW I am in it, but I just cannot stop. I think a check in of the 4 basics is SO HELPFUL.
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