I haven’t been feeling terribly well, lately—particularly in the mornings when I eat. I suppose I could just stop eating all together and that would really help with my weight loss goals, but the cramping in the stomach, the nausea and other related issues seem to indicate that something bigger is amiss. I don’t know what that something is, but I have an appointment with my doctor to see what we can do about it. My fear is that the medicines I’m taking are affecting my liver, and I want to nip that in the bud if that’s the case. If it’s something that will pass and I just need to press through it, then so be it.
Meanwhile, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in my bedroom either sleeping or sitting in my chair reading, or watching Good Omens on my laptop. The cats, Anastasia and Raku, are thrilled for me to be there, inasmuch as a cat will ever express that they’re thrilled about anything. I have a new-to-me chair that I’m happy with, and I cleaned up another one that I’ve had, one that I’ve never actually been able to use because the cats claimed it immediately. So, new life, new me. I have chairs.
The other day I came in to find this:
I’m not trying to start problems or anything, but Anastasia has already established that this is her chair when I’m not sitting in it. I fear that Cleo is either inadvertently going to cause a war, or that’s precisely what her plan is. To be honest, she’s my partner’s cat, so it’s not like she wandered in out of nowhere, but this is not a room or building that she comes in, until the past few weeks. All I ask if if there is fur shed in this fight, let it not be on my chair, and let my chair not be collateral damage.
I decided that we needed to walk around West 6th Street and check out the galleries. I turn around and Tamara, @davincibox, is hugging the Treaty Oak.
Allow me one more entry in this vein, and then I’ll move on to happier things.
I sit, and write while I can sit. I'm not feeling my best; stomach cramps and other symptoms of a stomach bug are bothering me these last couple of days. It's maybe a good time to sit with myself. Usually when I'm sick I sleep through it, which is fabulous. Sleeping for 36 hours straight is a dream come true. Yesterday I slept until noon, then got up and putzed around. Today I got up around 8 AM, so there's no avoiding myself or my life.
Last November I challenged a couple of friend of mine. Barry has been an artist (a jeweler) for 35 years, and he is searching for a new direction for his art. Our friend, Tamara, is a graphic designer, but when we met almost 30 years ago we were both aspiring artists. It's our bond. She has always, ALWAYS, been naturally more talented than I. I make up for some of it through persistence. Barry wants to take his art in a new direction, Tamara wants to take her life in a new direction—as do I. So, I suggested that the three of us together work on an exhibition of artwork. Barry suggested the Elgin Art Studio Tour in May 2019.
At first we sat together with 15-30 minute sessions, then we critiqued. We talked about what we wanted to accomplish, gave suggestions about where we thought each other's work was going. We worked. Tamara came to the studio regularly and it seemed like this was going to be taken seriously. We took field trips to art supply stores and came back to work on our stuff. I live here and am able to work during the week. Tamara has come during the week, but it's mostly weekends for her. Barry works every single evening of his life on jewelry.
This has to be taken in context of my life. My previous post about beginning on the path is not separate from this art that I'm working on. It's all connected, especially in my mind. My thoughts about what I wanted to accomplish were very much addressing the demons that haunt my mind. I've addressed these demons off and on for most of my life; it appears that it's going to be a lifelong battle.
Sometimes I feel that perhaps there is a problem when we keep things together. This made itself apparent in my last job. We all worked very hard (and learned so very much.) But, perhaps our working to keep things together, however tenuously, was enabling the company to continue to put off investing in the necessary infrastructure changes. While we worked (“Did whatever it took”) to help the company fulfills its promises, the company kept promising more and more until the balance shifted and we couldn't keep up. Most of us felt, though, that we HAD to keep up, that we HAD to make it work, and as we lost more ground, our stress increased to dangerous levels.
I think about that experience in my current job, where I keep a more firm stance on what I can and cannot do. And major changes are happening because things are not working as they should. Departments are being created and facilities are being established to handle the mountain of paperwork that we work with, to eliminate the problem of lost documents that has plagued us. The phone center is being beefed up and redesigned to allow the processing teams time to do our jobs, rather than spending our days answering calls. Things are changing because problems have been brought to light. This, as opposed to us working furiously against time and logic, blaming and flagellating ourselves to "make it work".
But, what of myself? I look at the years that I've wandered through life making choices that I knew were wrong and that I would one day pay for. But, I have not ever been homeless. I've not ever, really, been hungry. I've always taken a loan from my future self to pay for sloth and gluttony in the present, knowing that at one point it would all catch up with me. I've always managed to keep it together just enough to get by. What's catching up to me now is anxiety—paralyzing anxiety that has an affect on my daily life. I feel I'm losing my grip. Some days, for no reason I can put my finger on, I can't get out of bed. I literally get sick and tremble under the covers. It's coming for me.
A few years ago a person very close to me surprised me. I got a call that there was a problem, a possible drinking problem that I was clueless about. Before the evening was over, that person had been arrested for DUI, and a couple of weeks later was in a rehab facility. At the time I was so overwhelmed and under so much stress that the idea of going into rehab seemed like a vacation. But, I had managed to keep it together enough to put that off, for the time, anyway. This person continues to battle demons and alcohol, two years later. Nobody said that it would be easy or that change would happen overnight. And I have moved on to a better place of employment and a better place in my life.
Was holding it together really the best thing for me? Its' all catching up to me anyway, have I just been putting off the inevitable? I wonder about that as I navigate a job that is going through an incredibly stressful transition, and as I work on the paintings and mandalas that will be a part what I present in the exhibition. As I barrel toward a nervous breakdown, I listen to Chill-out Lounge Music and imagine that I am on a beach, in a cabana listening to the sound of the waves and watching happy people enjoy their vacations. I wonder what my therapist would say about this. Maybe, after all, it is time to finally fall apart.
Not to belabor the point, but I’ve been going through some issues lately. I write about them because I feel people can relate. The same way I relate when I read other people’s writing about their similar issues. So, here I continue to write about my journey. If you feel that these posts speak to you, please feel free to mention that in a comment below.
I would like to blame it on my cell phone. Or, as Milli Vanilli offered, to blame it on the rain. In this case rain makes an excellent scapegoat; I love sleeping in the rain. I mention the phone because it is very easy to spend hours looking at it, interacting with other people around the world that I’ll probably never meet in person.
I always have excellent plans for a day off. I have a list of things to accomplish—either written down or in my head. Then comes the day. I don’t have to get up to go to work, so the alarm gets silenced as soon as it goes off. (This might be my favorite thing in the entire world.) Then, I fall back to sleep until it’s embarrassing. I get up, make coffee and read while I drink it.
Between sleeping in, morning naps and afternoon naps nothing gets done. Nothing. If it weren’t for lunch with Barry I might not even eat. He was out of town the other day and I started shaking from low blood sugar around 2PM, because I hadn’t eaten that day. Fortunately we had left-over tacos. And bagels & cream cheese.
Today I woke up from my nap, stepped over the unwashed clothes, around the furniture that is waiting to be emptied and removed from the room, right past the clean clothes waiting to be folded, and out the door. I came into town because of a 70% off custom frame deal. That ends tomorrow. So, I could have waited until tomorrow, except that I couldn’t stay at home any longer. I didn’t bring my computer so that I could write, because I suck at life. I did, though, bring my journal because I’m not a heathen. Now I sit and contemplate all that I could have already accomplished. I sit in a coffee shop in Austin, not home where I should be and where I pointed run from.
I had my first therapy session yesterday—post-assessment, that is. I was really looking forward to working through a lot. He gave me some things to watch for, and a few things to think about as I go through my day. Not sure how much I expected from the first meeting, but I feel like I’m not cured yet. I haven’t had another episode, but I still feel not-completely-cured. I need something to work on from one session to the next. I do know that I need three exercise sessions per week. I was told to watch how I talk to myself (such as declaring that I suck at life) and to learn to have a more constructive dialogue with the more hysterical, irrational voices that scream at me. I’ll watch for that.
In the meantime, I think setting up better routines would be beneficial. I’ve already begun straightening the bed as soon as I’m out of it. Now I just need to do something else before my coffee, because that’s where the slow-down really starts. And I should make it a habit to fold a load of laundry every day.
Barry is the example to look at. He is working from the moment his feet hit the floor. He sweeps before his eyes are completely open. I don’t necessarily want to be a workaholic, but I can spot where things begin to stall for me, and I can intercept. Twitter and Facebook are time-suckers, but it’s not all in vain if it helps build a following who might someday buy a book. And I enjoy interacting with all of the people I’ve met so far. So, when I get home I should immediately sweep or vacuum, then I can look at Twitter. Tamara said that her rule growing up was that they had to clean at least one thing before they could leave the house. That is a good life plan.
These are great habits and I can visualize myself incorporating them into my life. But, depression is real, and the thought of laying down, seeking the escape of sleep, is too easy, the need too strong. I rarely am able to resist it.
Nobody has said that this would be easy or that change would happen overnight.