I feel like crap. My head hurts, I don’t know if I have allergies or a horrible cold that is expressing itself just loudly enough to be recognized by me but not loudly enough to warrant missing work. I am tired. I am lightheaded. And I have zero interest in writing or in researching housing or studying for a quiz I have to take tomorrow on Sociology 101. I don’t even really want to read my happy book (right now, Blue Zones by Dan Buettner). I just sort of want to sit with my cats and perhaps take a nap. Where has all my energy gone? All my curiosity and zest? I am worried I am entering a winter-slump, although it is only fall. Could the changing light effect me so much already? I usually don’t feel like this until after the clocks change and darkness falls at 4:30 and the temperature drops to coat-  and boot-worthy levels.

If I were a friend, and telling myself these symptoms, I would advise indulging in a nap. I would remind myself that it is ok to be tired. That sometimes a little relaxation is allowed, that productivity is not the only laudable goal.

Writing here feels nice.

No judgement. Just my words. They make more sense when written out than when kept inside my head.


Update: after posting this, I took a 15 minute nap, ate an apple, hugged my boyfriend and made it to work feeling at least marginally better. Proof that self-care works! 

Side-note: I realized yesterday on my commute I have had significantly fewer commute-related urges toward self-harm. This is huge progress, because previously I had them almost daily when leaving my apartment. Even now memories of that time make my chest tight. While I never indulged my urges (except for two or three scattered and brief relapses I haven’t cut myself in more than seven years) even desiring to hurt myself brings in a cascade of stressful emotions and physical reactions. I can transport myself back to my feelings of constant panic simply by thought. Removing these episodes from my daily routine is freeing. I love feeling calm. 

I credit this change to mindfulness, self-awareness and meditation. Also a change in the amount of time I give myself to prepare to leave the house. Rather than planning for he minimal amount of time, I give myself sometimes hours to prepare. While this takes time and more planning, the process has become more ingrained and less difficult. And the resulting calm is totally worth the effort. Even on days when I am late due to traffic (like yesterday), I remain unflappable. Obviously, there are exceptions and days when when I can barely keep myself together but on the whole I am so much better than I was even a year ago. Recognizing my progress is delightful. 


No need to change, and a list

As I consider my next steps in my life/ career I have written an endless supply of lists to gain a better idea of my objectives. This sounded better, and more profound, in my head. Now it just sounds hollow and trite: the idea that a list can make my decisions easier. I write the lists to help foment change in my behavior. I want to spend less time wandering and more time being purposeful. I feel guilty for indulging in my self and ingoring what I have decided to call my work.

The thing is, I don’t always feel the need for a big change. Most of the time I am mostly happy wth what I do. ¬†Sometimes, like this past weekend, I become mad at myself for not achieving more. I make money waitressing and that, ostensibly, is supposed to give me time and resources to write, write, write. Instead, I am so tired from dealing with people for hours on end that I do not always have the energy to hop out of bed bright and early to write groundbreaking stories about affordable housing. Nor do I have the time or energy to schlep from the suburbs to activist meetings or protests in the city. I am tired, and that makes me feel lazy. And then I grow depressed and full of self-directed anger. And then, because I am also working on self-acceptance and self-care, I engross myself in activities that make me happy but are not outwardly productive. And then I accomplish nothing. And then I wonder which is worse/better: feeling like crap but pushing though and writing a ton to feel super accomplished (but still physically and emotionally like crap) or caring for myself, which takes more time than I would like and yeilds slmost no writing but feels super good and makes me very happy.

These days I seem to prefer the self-care mode. I spend free time reading, cleaning my apartment, snuggling with the cats. I haven’t written a new blog post for my main site in over a week (at least). ¬†It isn’t that I no longer find the topic interesting, but that I don’t hear my voice in my words anymore. My writing seems hollow and uninteresting. It does not call me or keep me up at night or occupy my thoughts. I have actually found myself avoiding articles about housing or housing-related issues. This is in stark contrast to my typical mindset of tying all current events to the lack of affordable housing.

Ignoring this topic and avoiding what is usually an integral part of my life makes me feel incredibly guilty. I know I shouldn’t judge mysef by quantity but shouldn’t I at least produce something? The answer, of course, is no. My livelihood does not depend on how many words I can write per day or per week. Nor, to a certain extent, does my happiness. I am sure, after so many years of writing and then not writing, that I will again cycle back to writing daily. That time just isn’t now.

Instead, I will do what makes me happy, and wait for the rest of the pieces to fall into place. And now, a list of things that bring me joy (in no heirarchical order).

  1. Sleeping
  2. Running
  3. Reading about habits, diet, lifestyle
  4. Cooking and eating vegan food
  5. Reading about social change
  6. Writing here
  7. Family and friends
  8. Sitting and thinking
  9. Cleaning
  10. Bike riding
  11. Gardening
  12. Meditating
  13. Smiling
  14. Playing with my cats
  15. Laughing
  16. Loving
  17. Feeling gratitude

I think that if I accomplish even some of these things every day, my life will be happy. And really, that is what matters.