Self-Caring Your Way Out of the Pit of Despair

img_5705Beware! Or at least be prepared. You’re about to encounter my neurosis at its finest.

Last week, while I wallowed in the mud, I decided to take a walk. Walking serves two purposes. First, the beauty does something pleasant to my frazzled insides. Second, it helps me think.

A little eavesdropping is necessary in this case. So, here’s the general conversation I had with My Mind.

FYI, My Mind is bossy and blunt.

My Mind: Let’s start with the obvious fact that you’re unhappy.

Me: *Scoffing.* No, I’m not.

My Mind: No arguing. Unhappiness begs the question: Why are you unhappy?

Me: I can’t be unhappy. I have a beautiful family, goodish health, I get to do what I love, amazing friends (you all know who you are).

My Mind: Stop. Just stop. Accept it. You’re spiraling into the Pit of Despair.

Me: *Pauses. Thinks. Sighs heavily.* I’m unhappy.

My Mind: *Poignant silence.*

Me: I’m unhappy about a ton of things. My health, my rut, not getting anything accomplished. Work work work, all the time. Never feeling like I’ve accomplished anything.

My Mind: Ding, ding, ding. Break it down for me.

Me: First, I suspect my physical issues have to do with the inability to process anymore stress. I need to find a doctor that can help me with this naturally. I have a ton of options in Chico, but I am scared.

My Mind: *Pointed look.*

Me: *Rolls eyes.* Yes, year of bravery, I know.

My Mind: I didn’t say anything.

Me: You were thinking it! Second, I’m in a rut? Really? What does that even mean?

My Mind: *Irritatedly taps metaphorical foot.* You tell me.

Me: Fine. Everything I do. All my old systems and ways of doing things are outdated and no longer serve me, but I’m too stuck in a rut to even attempt changing my patterns. Starting with mornings. I’ve known this for months and still haven’t done anything about it.

My Mind: And?

Me: *Gives My Mind a dirty look.* Third, all I do is work. Even what used to be fun has become a chore. And I feel too lousy physically and emotionally to get up and do something fun. Thus, digging an even deeper rut. And, I have old goals and methods of measuring success that no longer serve me, so I never feel like I’m making progress. Even the most successful days feel like they’ve been wasted.

My Mind: What are you going to do about it?

Me*Crickets.*

And now you’re all caught up with my insanity. I hope you enjoyed it more than I did. Because I did not.

So . . . What am I going to do about it?

I have no doubt that my wallow in the mud aided and a bedded the tailspin into the Pit of Despair. Some days, I need to stay in the mud. But most days I need to function. And the Pit of Despair . . .

Wait, let me backup and define the Pit of Despair. I don’t know about yours, but mine looks like heaviness and a sadness so deep and so pure that moving becomes a chore. Emotions swirl into thoughts swirl into worst case scenarios swirl into lies about myself.

The thing is, I can wallow without tailspinning. But sometimes, there’s just enough yuck to send me plummeting for the Albino.

*Crickets*

Oh come on! Really? The Albino! No? Go watch The Princess Bride immediately. Or at least watch this clip.

Moving on.

When I start tailspining for the Pit of Despair, I know I haven’t been taking stellar care of myself. My emotions and body won’t let me get away with ignoring my needs for very long.

Which leads us back to My Mind’s question: What am I going to do about it?

From the lovely conversation I had with My Mind I identified four steps to self-caring my way out of the Pit of Despair.

Step 1: Play everyday.

Step 2: Take care of myself—body, mind, and spirit.

Step 3: Get out of my rut, starting with mornings.

Step 4: Redefine productivity.

How I got to these steps is another long, neurotic, boring conversation that, believe me, you don’t want to read. The importance lies with the steps anyway.

For the next four Wednesdays I’m going to focus on each of these steps.

Wait, hold up, Rachelle. This blog is about bravery. What does self-care have to do with being brave?

Everything.

First, it takes courage for us to admit that we’re descending into the Pit of Despair.

Second, our raging emotions, mean thoughts, and physiological heaviness makes it virtually impossible for us to do much more than sink lower. It takes bravery not to buy into the yuck of it all and to reach for the sunlight we can’t see, but know exists. That stretching and standing and climbing may be the bravest part of all.

Third, it takes guts to have an honest conversation with ourself. To be an objective observer of our life for a moment, instead of an all-in participant. Denial is so much easier than admitting our failure, our unhappiness, the need for change.

Fourth, creating a plan. So hard. Committing to a plan. So brave.

I’m no expert on self-care. I fail at it as often as I succeed. But I feel like an expert on myself. I know what I need to thrive.

You’re an expert on you.

I have two challenges for you over the next month:

  1. Take a walk, have a neurotic conversation with yourself, come up with your own tailored self-care plan. Then share it with me, either in the comments below or at Acts of Bravery.
  2. For the next four weeks, be a voyeur in my life as, each Wednesday, I add a step. I have no doubt they will be entertaining. Hopefully not painfully so!

6 thoughts on “Self-Caring Your Way Out of the Pit of Despair

  1. Wow! Every time I read your Blog that is usually my first response. My second is, has your brain been conversing with mine? Your “neurotic” script is often scarily close to my own, only much more clear and concise. My conversation has a LOT of interference; is not unlike radio static. I love reading yours because I feel as though the static disappears for a moment. I’ve been feeling the strong poking and prodding of my mind to look at self care. This is what I was mentioning to you Saturday when I said (more or less) that I need to find out what things are driving me into my ‘pit of dispair,’ so that I can climb out. This was exactly what I needed to read this morning! The struggle(s) for me will be to identify my steps and to rearrange my life enough to follow the steps. This was so perfectly written, Rachelle; comedic, captivating, real and honest and beautiful. Like you!

    1. Wendy, aka pongman, thank you so much! Your words are such an encouragement. I’m glad I can clear the static, even for a moment. I’m also glad I’m not alone in my neurosis. Heehee. Maybe we can take a vacation to a mental ward. On second thought, I vote for just the vacation. Maybe a beach somewhere. I wish you clarity and wisdom identifying your steps out of the pit. And I wish us both the fortitude to walk them out. Love you!

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