This week I told my therapist that I was exhausted. I told him I was mentally exhausted. I find myself exhausted many times. Sometimes it happens multiple times a week and at times I have a good six months between my slump periods. Tell me if you can relate – this exhaustion is simply a state of having a paralyzed mind, where no information is able to enter, be processed nor is accessible. It’s like reverse meditation, where at the end of the session, you find your head heavy, overcrowded and dark. It’s chaos so immense that neither fight nor flight kicks in; neurons just take a break from firing.
The year 2020…let’s just say I pray each day to remain alive, employed and afloat. I’m grateful for my privilege; makes it easier for God to fulfill those three wishes (God may have created man but man created capitalism so who’s mightier, you think?) Despite the privilege, each month in 2020 has been a new onslaught of troubles, both globally and personally. Each month has either tested the strength of my privilege or attacked the legs upon which it stands. And hence, my frequent mental exhaustion, the focus on my musings here today.
So much has happened in the past year that it is beginning to look like a constant stream of bad luck. As a pragmatist who likes the occasional dip into astrology, I know by the alignment of the stars that this is supposed to be a good time for me. I suppose I grossly misunderstood what “good time” or “good luck” meant. It’s not about receiving, just having near misses. It’s just “it will be bad, but not as bad.” It’s apparently all relative. Takes the charm out, doesn’t it?
So what do I do? Do I talk to my friends and family who have problems of their own? Do I constantly whine about how bad is it for me? Do I engage in my delusions of times past? Do I give up?
I suppose I’ve tried each one of the above. I have spoken to friends and family but I’m too aware of their probable judgment and exasperation. This of course is exaggerated by my sincere belief that no one is coming to help me. Furthermore, I am not in the mood for tough love. I do not need someone to ask me to pull myself together. I’ve been through enough that I know how to get back on track. But as it so happens, finding an ear, a shoulder to cry on, a patient sympathizer, is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Whining is another thing I have tried and it has worked for me many times. Whining has a negative connotation to it. What I mean is “venting.” It does feel good to wallow in self-pity, sit pouting and simply complain for a while. I find that once I’ve done that, the feeling of sadness dissipates and I’m motivated to overcome the challenge. Sometimes I add a good cry or good food to the mix. Sometimes I blame it on PMS and enjoy the time off from keeping it together all the time.
Delusions of a past life were easier to engage in when I could leave my apartment and visit places that mean something to me. I’ve done so in the pre-pandemic era. I’ve visited the first apartment I moved into in the States, walked along my favorite paths, met old friends or flames, allowing myself to pretend as though time had never passed, that nothing had happened in the interim. Today, staying indoors, it is harder to pretend, harder to physically reminisce. I rely on phone conversations and deja vu’s now.
And giving up? That is what I did this past week. I just let myself be engulfed by a paralyzed, heavy, overcrowded mind. Sometimes matters of the mind are so overwhelming that they take a physical toll. I just laid there, on my bed, staring at the ceiling, blankly. I then assumed the child’s pose, my preferred version to “head between your legs/knees.” And then I just decided to sleep on it. That is my idea of giving up, momentarily.
I’m not ashamed of having tried any of these techniques. It is the reality of the situation. I believe it is even healthy to engage in these methods, in the right amount. After all, excess of anything is not good. I woke up the next day, renewed and fresh. Sure, times are tough, but this too shall pass. Had I not taken that break the previous night, I might not have reached that realization the next day. Had I not spoken to my therapist in a judgment free zone, or the oldest friend, about what’s bugging me, I wouldn’t have felt better today. Had I not cried that weekend and had a cheeseburger with fries, I wouldn’t have have felt satisfied and content today. It is all these tiny acts of self-care that let me absorb tough times and grow stronger out of them. These matters of the mind, matter a lot, I tell you.
Someday, maybe, I’ll look back on these experiences and appreciate them. Perhaps I will be grateful for them. Experiences have shaped me into a better version of myself, a version I am truly proud of. I hope to look back without resentment. I do wonder what it must be like to not worry or be stressed, to have it a little easy, or easier still. Perhaps there will be resentment. Perhaps there will be longing. Longing for a better youth. Or maybe it’ll get better, who knows? Just like it’s tough to see the long-term benefits of healthy choices today, it is tough to see the eventual benefits of today’s hardships. I suppose I am growing strong enough to know I can handle every curve ball that life throws at me. Maybe I’m not strong enough yet. But I do have these experiences to rely on, to draw more strength from, if need be. For example, I was and am still scared of needles. When I was younger, I would tell myself that I can take hours of having my legs waxed, I can take a two second shot. Today, I have an array of painful and bad experiences to choose from. I suppose there are at least those benefits to hardships – makes blood tests pain-free.
I’ve also learned to react differently to situations. I am still defensive, but a little more considerate. My circle of concern has shrunk. My circle of influence around my own reactions has definitely increased. I could probably also say I am more proactive. I definitely seek to understand first. I am more considerate, more forgiving. Of course, I am bordering on being a pushover; my assertiveness needs more work. Nevertheless, I am making Stephen Covey proud.
To conclude…I don’t have a conclusion. This rant is probably more for my future self. Or for anyone who can relate. To my future self, the message is that your mental game is strong; to those who can relate, you are not alone. It may or may not be fine. This too shall or shall not pass. But writing it down on a blog read by my Dad and a friend or two is definitely worth a shot.
Happy brewing, happy reading! 🙂