July was a really tough month for me. As in total-anxiety-and-depression-relapse-and-out-of-control-disordered-eating-patterns tough. There were a lot of reasons for that – some tangible like major deadlines at work, struggling to take care of our pets and home, not sticking to my half-marathon training schedule well, etc… and some not-so-tangible because mental illness is annoying and stupid. The more I sunk into my anxiety cocoon and turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms like disordered eating, the more disheartened I felt – and the further I sunk into my anxiety cocoon and turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms (again, mental illness is annoying and stupid).
It’s frustrating to feel like you’re losing the foundation of wellness you’ve begun to build (especially when it seems like you just started building it), and (at least for me) it’s hard to take it easy on yourself when you’ve binged for the third day in a row and have shin splints so bad there is absolutely no way you can do a distance run to “atone” for it tomorrow. Also when there are five loads of laundry waiting to be done and a dishwasher to be unloaded and carpet to be vacuumed and grocery shopping to be done and the dog barking at some unknown villain again and you really just want to not have to clean pee off the floor again or watch Netflix by yourself because Boyfriend is working the night shift. Also did I mention you’re probably going to get fat if you eat another one of those goddamn Oreos?
I’ve felt trapped in this shell of disappointment, and somehow felt simultaneously incapable of doing anything correctly while being responsible for everything. I haven’t prioritized my own wellness or been clear about my needs (to be fair, I am still struggling with being assertive enough to articulate what I need unless practically forced to – which is another issue we’ll talk about some other time). I’ve focused on how I need to “punish” myself for the missteps I’ve made in caring for myself – which isn’t a great mentality for exercising self-compassion.
I wasn’t going to write a post this week because I have had absolutely no emotional energy to do anything besides feel anxious and confused (and cry in my car to Flo Rida on my way to and from work). But then one of my Facebook friends posted this picture:
and (you guessed it) I cried some more.
Guys, forgiving yourself for being human is so fucking hard. Last week I talked about how hard prioritizing your own wellness is, and it is – but forgiving yourself when you fail to exercise self-compassion or fall back into destructive habits is harder. Telling yourself “I love you, it’s okay” instead of “You’re so fucking disgusting and I hate you and you’re a failure” after going on a binge is almost impossible. Telling yourself “It’s okay, try again” instead of “You can’t do anything right and you’re a terrible employee and you suck at everything” after going back to the drawing board to reimagine work you know was not your best is more work than the work itself. Telling yourself “You are not perfect, and that’s okay” instead of “You are not perfect and you are terrible because of that” during times of insecurity so often feels like a lie (even though it’s not).
Telling a friend, parent, or partner “I am hurting and I need you” instead of “It’s fine, I don’t want to bother you, I’ll take care of everything on my own” when you need support and companionship feels like asking the world – especially when you’re busy counteracting all those voices that refuse to let you put down that unhealthy decision, that panic attack, that botched deadline. Especially when the people you love are coping with struggles and stresses of their own. I haven’t asked for help because I have felt like I deserve to be isolated in my perceived failures. I treat myself like a footnote in my own life, so it’s hard to know how to ask to be a priority in someone else’s. There is a reason why even Flo freakin’ Rida has been making me cry – and it’s because I have been forcing myself to carry the entire burden of my emotional stress, professional stress, personal stress, and mental health stress without letting the support of others in.
Low is not a sad song, and normal people do not cry to it.
This week I’m going to try being more assertive in prioritizing myself and being clear about what I need – and do Flo Rida justice so I can go back to rapping along (or trying to) on my commute instead of acting like I’m in a 90’s emo pop music video. I will try more times than I will succeed, but I hope I will succeed more times than I fail.
And when I do fail, I will tell myself:
I love you, it’s okay.
It’s okay, try again.
You are not perfect, and that’s okay.