The semester has begun. The holidays gave me loads of time to get some stuff done, but I feel pretty tired at the end of it, because I had a much more difficult time trying to take care of my family than I had anticipated. My mental load is really heavy these days. I don’t really feel that rested, and I didn’t achieve my uni holiday goal. I only had one, and it was to fix up the patio. I feel like I might as well have done summer school. If that’s how summers are going to be from now on, I’ll probably do summer school next summer. Let’s see how I feel at the time.
I spent the uni summer break learning how to try and do nothing and be nobody. It sorta worked, but the thing is… I have kids. So it’s really not possible to achieve a state of total nothing even if you’re managing to be a zen master either side of taking care of your family. It’s possible that I’ll never really know what it’s like to be at peace, and maybe that’s something I need to sit with. If only I had somewhere to sit by myself.
I love an outdoor project. Before Christmas, I was in such a lovely state of pleasantly obsessing over it, and I got as far as building two very nice (if I do say so myself) dry walls out of stone that raise the level of the first terrace and welcome the family up into the main body of the yard, out of the patio. I’d been operating on the understanding that there would be at least a tiny bit of money to use on fixing it up, but I was mistaken. Nay. I was corrected. I got kinda depressed for a good many weeks after that. I had pulled the whole area apart, thinking I had the money to do the basic structural work needed to re-floor the patio. But once I had completely dismantled it, my husband told me we couldn’t spare the money to fix it. So I just have this totally destroyed patio now, instead of any patio at all. I just stared at it in despair all summer, and really didn’t find my groove for the entire remainder of the holidays. I just felt really demotivated… like the air had been punched outta me. I need my surroundings to be calm and ordered or I become depressed. After twenty years of learning this the hard way, I just know it to be true, and I know it to be something to put effort into.
I’d been so excited and got myself through the entire semester looking forward to doing it. I couldn’t do anything else because it all costs money, and I was getting scolded for even thinking about a weekly drive-thru coffee. So I couldn’t even spend $5 on this project. Nothing at all. I’d been anticipating being allowed to spend something like fifty bucks a week on it, and I’d been talking about it for ages. When I wasn’t permitted to spend even a small amount on it, I went and earned the money for it. Then I was told that I wasn’t even allowed to spend that. And now I had yanked the whole patio to pieces thinking I’d be able to reconstruct it. So it was like…. sitting out my kitchen window, in pieces… just mess everywhere. I felt VERY triggered, and sad, and deceived. I was depressed because I would’ve just not done any of it if I knew we weren’t going to spend money over summer. I had just been led to believe that it was all approved by The Household Budget Sergeant and that I was fine to proceed with the project. So when I was lectured about why I was no longer allowed to do any of this thing I’d been dragging myself through assignments and exams looking forward to – in fact I could not even spend the $5 note in my wallet that I had earned myself – I just sat and cried quietly for some days, and then focused my efforts on trying to teach myself to sit down without getting up again for at least half an hour. That’s a very difficult goal for me. Also, it doesn’t cost anything.
I still have confused feelings about this controlling behaviour. And it is very much controlling behaviour. It just comes from a very different place. There’s nothing I can do for someone to achieve a bit of balance and perspective in their thinking and their projections of their anxieties before they’ve recognised within themselves that it’s a problem. So I felt stuck. I still feel pretty stuck in that.
I picked up my art supplies and began to draw. I have now drawn a picture every day for 20 days. I call it my “daily doodle”, trying to protect myself against my perfectionistic vulnerability. Whether the drawing is to my liking or not, and whether it’s finished or not, I share it online for friends to enjoy. The idea is that I just do something casually without making it “perfect” and then share it to let it rub unpleasantly against my perfectionism. I even shared my PayPal donation page and earned $40 from doing my drawings. That’s pretty nuts considering it was just an exercise in achieving a bit of mindfulness every day. Even though other drawings were more popular with people, this is probably the one I like the most.
And that $40 is mine and I’m keeping it.
I’m struggling with depression right now. I got my hair cut yesterday and I felt a bit better. I might put some makeup on too before I start my readings. Making my external shell look pretty helps me feel better when I’m sad. I use bright colours and try to make the outside look the way I wish I felt inside.
I just feel pretty lonely going into the uni semester, and it’ll be the biggest semester of my undergrad career. One of my classes is the stats class, and I find it very loomy and mysterious and too-large in general. That’s a common experience to a great many psychology students. But it would be nice if I felt more secure about things in general.
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