Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Block Schedules

When you are a little (or a lot) OCD, you might like to live by lists. I have lists for everything. There is nothing more gratifying than deleting something off your list. I would say 95% of the time, I don’t finish the list, but I usually come close.

On spurts where I have too much on my plate, I know completing the list is hopeless. I don’t even set up the expectation in my head. I know a big chunk of the list is getting moved to the next day. The next day is already over-filled but it’s getting another chunk of stuff anyway.

This last spurt has lasted a while. Because I know I have a tendency to be a workaholic, I also build things into the list to balance my life. The problem has been that many of the things that recharge me are not practical during a pandemic. All things added together, it’s a sure-fire recipe for my “Treatment-Resistant Depression” to flare up.

Sigh.

Today I sat for a while just looking at the lists. You know you’re in trouble when you spend more time rearranging lists than doing anything on them. I didn’t do that today though, I just looked for themes. Ok, I did rearrange the lists, but that wasn’t my endgame.

So I’m trying block scheduling like they do in high schools now. I divided all the desired (and not-desired) tasks into categories. Then I’m giving each category a block of time. There are a bunch, but some of them are work (thus this blog finally being written), the house, the yard, and yes! Personal care. I’m figuring out even little things like having a cup of tea to somehow get my gas tank off of “E” where it has been hovering for far too long.

You know that feeling when your gas light goes on and you know you need to stop soon so you don’t end up stranded. If you’re like me, you hope you get to that one gas station you really like so you push the envelope a bit.

That’s the feeling I’ve had inside for over a month now. I’m on “E” and I’m not sure if I’m going to make it to the station in time before the car dies. It’s an awful, anxious feeling.

There is a silent retreat weekend coming up for me. I don’t know when/where it will be, but I hope to set it up today. It’s on my “self-care” block. It will kill me to be alone and silent, but I think it’s the surgery I need.

So here’s to block scheduling. At least for the weekend. I’m hoping it has good results for this Type A, OCD, Workaholic, Treatment-Resistant Depression, worn out girl.

Isn’t it ironic that it’s Labor Day weekend?


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Plodding Along

They say that the most-read blogs have catchy how-to titles. I have to laugh because the older I get, the less and less I feel like I know “how-to” do much of anything. Maybe I could write one entitled, “How to have no brilliant earth-changing ideas” or something like that.

My schedule is usually over the top. I’ve probably blogged about it a few times. Last week I spent some quality time talking with my peers, friends, and counselor about it. A couple of themes emerged so I’m pretty good at figuring out it’s time to listen to the message when it gets repeated in my life. Over the weekend I spent a pretty large chunk of time conceiving and implementing a new scheduling system. I knew it wouldn’t make me more efficient necessarily. I’m already the efficiency queen. But I was hoping that it would help me be less exhausted at the end of the day.

It wasn’t terribly hard to implement. It was just a re-shifting of ideas and priorities, not a massive lifestyle change. Almost a week in, I’m sorry to say it was a dismal failure. It hasn’t made my life harder. It hasn’t made me less efficient. It just plain didn’t make a difference.

I’ve been so excited (and frankly, shocked) that I’ve been off anti-depressants. Acupuncture has really made an impact. I think that is why I’ve been telling myself so adamantly that I’m just having a bad day. I didn’t want the wave to crash. The end of last week, my acupuncture doc and I decided that perhaps I needed two sessions this week, even though we had made the encouraging decision to go down to one treatment a week.

Yesterday I went in for my second appointment this week. I was laying on the table waiting for her and it started to happen. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide it. I couldn’t hide it from myself, and I couldn’t hide it from her. She walked in the room and asked me how I was doing. Then it happened. I just started crying. Not sobbing or anything worthy of a good drama film. The tears just fell down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed. In spite of my best efforts, my life was getting the better of me again.

She poked me up good and then told me she left me on the table an extra long time. Kind of made me laugh. Ya think? I laid there and was unable to sleep, but the stress did start to lessen. I started thinking a bunch of different things. In her cute and simplistic way, the doc said I just have too much to do. She also said I need a vacation. I reminded her that I was ready for the cruise that she and I have been talking about anytime she was ready. She said I need more days to myself. Yep.

I started thinking about a simple but wise statement a friend made to me recently after I had described my grand plan to reschedule my life over the weekend. I wanted to pop him in the nose, but I knew he was right. He said ever-so-gently that no matter how you slice up a hundred things to do, you are still left with a hundred things to do.

I also started thinking about some of the gifts that had come my way over the week. I hadn’t ignored them. I was deeply grateful for them when they happened, but I need to post them in my eyelids.

1- a client brought me in a beautiful framed Wizard of Oz picture for my office wall. The occasion? She said there was none, but she was thinking about how special I am and she thought she should do something special for me. AWESOME.

2- a student emailed me after our three hour class and said it was the best supervision she had ever had and that I had a gift. MELTED ME.

3- after a conversation about my struggles with diet and weight (which have been lifelong, by the way), a friend texted me and said I was beautiful, inside and out. HIT A RAW NERVE.

When the timer went off and the needles were removed, I still had the same 100 things to do. But I had stopped crying. I was breathing easier. I still am overwhelmed. But I’m trying to remember the gifts I have. And I’m trying to remember that when I can’t possibly waste a second with all I have to do, that it might be time to invest a minute or two to close my eyes and relax. I just don’t have to poke a bunch of needles in my head. (The doc didn’t have to say, “Don’t try this at home.” I actually know better without being told!)

Keep hanging in there. I will if you will. There will always be circumstances and people who will want more from you than you can give. There will always be those who look at you and not realize that one small thing they want from you is the straw that might break your strong camel back. But it’s okay. There are also people who love and encourage you. And it helps to focus on those moments.

Here’s to plodding along. Forward, backward, and hopefully forward a few more. Blessings!