Category Archives: motivation

Afraid to do Things

When I was a little girl, my parents took me to a nearby art gallery, www.albrightknox.org, for a tour.  I remember coming home and NEEDING to make a painting.

My father gave me a piece of wood from his workshop and some house paint and a brush to use for my masterpiece.  And I still remember thinking that even just a plain, two-color abstract painting was really hard to do!!  At the gallery I had seen paintings that looked like nothing!  Just squares of one or two colors!  But I guess there was more to it than I thought.

I have been wanting to visit the gallery again for quite some time.  All that wonderful art less than an hour away from my house.  But something always comes up and I still haven’t gone.

Then a few days ago, when I was feeling restless for the millionth time, a thought came to me.

I could just go to the gallery by myself.  Technically, I have a lot of freedom since I don’t work.  I don’t have to go with somebody.  It would be during the day.  It would be safe.  I could go at my own pace, lingering if I want or racing through the place if I want.  I could eat in the gallery cafe and have museum-y food to choose from instead of Wendy’s or Burger King.  It’s easy to get directions ahead of time.  I have money for parking and admission.  Nothing is really stopping me.

Except that I get scared now when I think of doing things.  Before I could just force myself to do things even if it made me anxious.  Now, not so much.

Someone I grew up with in the old neighborhood flies to San Francisco every year all by herself and she thinks of it as her time to heal, re-charge, and be 100% herself.  And I envy her those trips.  I want that for myself.

I’m not used to thinking of doing something and then just doing it without first considering the millions of possibilities and needs of the whole rest of the world.  Without “awfulizing” the whole endeavor first.  Without remembering past failures.  Without remembering past triumphs and thinking, those days are long gone.  And while this sounds like a ponderous process, it actually is so natural and automatic for me that I can do it without even realizing what is happening.

Ah, sweet Clinical Depression and Chronic Anxiety, you are terrible companions and it is high time I break up with you.

The gallery is closed on Mondays so tomorrow is my first opportunity to take what I hope is the first of many such field trips.

I hope that it feels good to do this and to be there.

I really hope this idea means I am turning the next corner.

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Filed under anxiety, art therapy, decision making, decisions, depression, emotional health, growth, healing, journey, motivation, planning, pressure, progress, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized

Loose Ends

One of the sources of my anxiety is the lack of completion in my life.  Everything is half-started or half-finished or however you want to look at it.  The yard, the house, my hobbies, obligations, wishes, desires.  It’s everywhere I look and everywhere I go.

It’s overwhelming.

I made a decision that I would start finishing things.  It didn’t matter what it was or how small a project.  The idea was that finishing things would be satisfying.  Satisfaction would ease my anxiety.  And so I began my quest.

There was a bag of baby yarn that had been bothering me for a couple years.  There was a couple of untouched skeins in there and many scraps and partial skeins wound into balls.  Uneven amounts of each colors.  Some with sparkle and some were plain.  But I looked in the bag and determined there was enough yarn to make one baby blanket.  If I made the blanket now, then when someone has a baby, I already have a gift.  If no baby is born in my circle for a couple of decades, then I have a gift for my first great-grandchild.  I finished the blanket a couple weeks ago and it did feel so very satisfying.

Next project was going to be a cross stitch throw.  I pulled out the bag it was in expecting to organize myself for a few minutes and begin.  Ha!  Inside that project were six more tucked away.  Damn!  For some reason, I put away the throw and selected a bell pull instead.  It was farther along, so perhaps that is why I picked it for completion.

That project is fairly aggravating but I’m working on it every day anyway and interspersing it with tinier projects so I don’t lose hope.

One of those tinier projects is a pillow I set aside about twenty years ago.  Yep, it has been sitting in a drawer for twenty years.  I pulled it out with fresh eyes and thought to myself, are you kidding???  It was almost finished!  Why in the world did you put it away???  It took me all of 15 minutes to sew the edges, stuff it, and close up the opening.  Yes, this is what I’m dealing with.

It turns out I was right about this being a way to heal my anxiety.  I feel satisfied and accomplished.  I feel encouraged and motivated.  My mind is feeling a bit like its old self.  There are times during each day that I actually look forward to some aspect of my life.

If I weren’t as healed as I am, this would probably not be possible yet, this tying-up of loose ends.  Basic self-care is crucial when it comes to mental illness.  A certain amount of healing is necessary to be able to move forward even a little bit.  Permitting myself to live this way is an important component.  Not judging myself is very important as well.

So there was ground-work that had to be laid in order for me to take this next step.  And this step, this finishing of things, is also part of the healing package.  It brings me back to myself, who I used to be and what I used to do.

I lost myself over the years.  I became completely externally focused.  I didn’t know how to do my life any other way and I did that until I had nothing left to give.

How glad I am that I am no longer living like that.  I will never again live my life that way.  Before, disappointing others was the worst thing I could do.  Now, disappointing myself would be the worst thing I could do.

Today’s project to finish was a very tiny one indeed.  We have a cupboard with a very stiff door on it.  The knob was hard to grip so opening the door was a pain all these years we have lived in this house.  I went to the hardware store, bought a new ceramic knob with a good edge on it, came home, and installed it in one minute.  Voila!  The cupboard door is no longer hard to open.  Since it’s where I keep some of my half-finished projects, I can be proud of myself and satisfied every time I open that door from now on.

I think I came up with a good plan for myself.

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Filed under anxiety, art therapy, boundaries, decision making, depression, dysfunction, emotional health, growth, healing, history, journey, motivation, planning, pressure, progress, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized

Creativity and Depression

Alanis Morrissette once said that depression feels like you’re covered in tar.  Of all the imagery I have come across for describing depression, this one resonates with me.  I experience depression as a cold, suffocating illness that weighs me down and prevents me from accomplishing anything.

I’m just coming off a week of self-care.  The previous week was hectic because family stayed with us during a house-hunting trip.  I knew I would have to recuperate afterwards because madly loving your family is not enough to compensate for loss of sleep, routine, and personal space when you have mental illness.

These are the kinds of things I now plan for.  Remember, Gale, you need to sleep or lay down when your body tells you to.  Remember to eat several times each day.  Remember to breath.  Pay attention to your stomach, your neck and shoulders, and just give in if any body part is aching or tense.  Look at your messy house just one tiny little mess at a time and tune out the rest so you don’t get overwhelmed.

I wish I had known to look out for these things a long time ago.  But I thought I had to be tough.  And you do have to be tough if you live your life according to external demands.  Until you can’t be that tough anymore.

Today I feel good.  Headache is gone.  Stomach is pretty good.  I am finally caught up on sleep.

And viola!  Now I feel like making things.  Last night I finished a big, fat tassel I started a couple weeks ago.  It consists of leftover bits of yarns that I thought might be pretty together.  I had it all cut up and arranged before the kids got here.  Now, two weeks later, I have completed the final steps.

This morning I got back to work on some cute little Santa hat fascinators I’m working on.  I’m not following a standard procedure because I wanted to use some bits I already had laying around.  I like to upcycle and repurpose which requires mucho creativity.  I started that project over a month ago.  Depression and anxiety stalled my efforts several times along the way.  Today, with the melting away of the depression “tar”, I’m back in business.

Life is just so much better and easier when the depression recedes.

I am so much better now that I understand how to take care of myself and now that I understand that this is how it will always have to be.

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Filed under anxiety, art therapy, depression, emotional health, family, healing, motivation, self-care, stress, Uncategorized

Three Good Days

One of my goals is to change from being the kind of person who is externally motivated to being one who is motivated from the inside. I have always been one to respond, to act responsibly, to over-achieve. If your motivation comes from outside yourself, then you’re pretty much a puppet of every single person and circumstance in your life. And if you’re trying to please others all the time then you are doomed to failure. Many people have very, very high standards when it is someone else who is doing whatever it is that needs doing. What an excellent way to burn yourself out.

My life is much quieter now than it ever was before. I have cut out a lot of people, activities, and obligations. I had to get my life down to some very basic activities and relearn to honor my very basic needs. Am I rested? Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Am I warm? Am I cold? Stuff like that.

I’ve been working on this relearning for over two years now and more and more often am seeing some good and real changes.

This week I was pleasantly surprised for three days in a row. Thursday, Friday and Saturday I got up at my usual late hour and noticed that I felt good. I felt strong. I wanted to get dressed for the day, eat and drink a bit and then get some exercise. Exercise!!!! That is huge. I never feel like exercising. I have always instead found an activity that I needed to do anyway and made it extra physical and counted that as exercise. Again with that external motivation. Doing something because I “had” to.

Nope, on these three days I drove myself to a newish park in town that has a quarter mile paved track. I just wanted to go there and do some steady walking. I wasn’t sure how many laps or miles I wanted to do. I’ve walked there before and knew what to expect as far as the facility and how many people might be around. But to actually want to just go and move my body was very cool.

As it turned out, I decided that nine laps would be reasonable. Two and a quarter miles felt good and like a work-out at the same time. I was very impressed with myself that first day. Then the second day, I almost couldn’t wait to get out of the house and do it again. And the third day I felt the same way.

Today, I didn’t feel like going and I know it is because my depression was triggered last night and that led to me having a great deal of trouble getting enough rest. So, instead of forcing myself to go, and probably kind of ruining it for myself, I decided that I need to make sure I get enough rest today and tonight so that I will be ready for exercise come Monday morning. And just typing that out and thinking about it that way has brought back my excitement, and I am once again looking forward to walking my nine laps again tomorrow.

All this time I had been hoping that my healing method would lead to something like this–real growth from the inside out. This feels so different from anything in my life before. I have really gotten lost along the way and been lost for a very long time. Learning to really listen to myself, and respect the answers I am finding, seems to be the ticket.

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Filed under anxiety, depression, exercise, healing, journey, motivation, self-care