More Than I Can Chew

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Last post, I detailed the goals that I’ve set with my therapist in order to see They Might Be Giants at the end of March. That reward has pretty much sailed at this point, as I’ve barely done anything that I’m supposed to do in the week and a half between then and now. I’m doing better on all things, but still not achieving the goals that I had set.

I have a tendency to overshoot myself when it comes to goal-setting, especially when it comes to establishing new habits, which these goals are designed to do. I take on multiple changes at once without concentrating on one thing and being able to stick with it for the duration, and the result is not accomplishing anything.

It’s part of my perception of what people expect of me, which tends to be higher than reality. I don’t think my friends are expecting me to do everything all at once, and they would likely much rather see me succeed with one change at a time. I would rather see myself succeed, even if it is one change at a time.

So I’m going to talk to my therapist on Thursday about redefining these goals based on what I think I can actually accomplish. I think honestly my priority needs to be self-care before driving. (This includes things like regularly showering and shaving, the latter of these being something that I tend to put off for a month or more at a time on occasion.) That’s not to say that I won’t be driving, but I piled self-care and driving X number of times in a week and being somewhere where there’s the potential of being a lot of people once a week, and that’s a lot to process all at once, when you’re essentially rebuilding a lot of your habits from scratch. Maybe driving once a week is plenty. Maybe trying to go someplace public once a week rather than definitely doing it. Maybe, just maybe, I should concentrate on making a goal out of one of them and just try to incorporate the others the best I can.

I’m going to beat this thing, to the point that I’m capable of rejoining the workforce and holding down a job, but not if I’m trying to do everything at once. One thing at a time.

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Catching Up Again

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It’s been a busy couple weeks since I last wrote.

Most notably, our cat has been sick. One of the outdoor cats apparently caught a respiratory infection somewhere, and then passed it to our cat through the open, screened window. (Our cat’s a strictly indoor kitty.) She was in bad shape at the beginning, at one point sitting on my feet, head raised up as though she were looking at me, eyes half lidded, and breathing through her mouth, absolutely motionless for close to a half hour. We got her to the vet (we call it the kitty mechanic just in case she ever learns the word) and was prescribed four different medications to give her – two pills twice a day, an oral liquid once daily, and eye drops three times a day – along with questions about whether we were sure about giving her all this medication. We said we’d give it a try and took her home. During the next 24 hours, we got the eye drops in her twice, and one of the pills down once before realizing that if she was fighting us that much while feeling that bad, she’d be impossible to deal with once she got some strength back. So we crated her back up and boarded her at the vet for a couple days before picking her up again, with the instructions to give her the eye drops only.

I am happy to report that our cat is back to normal – in turns feisty and affectionate, eating and drinking normally again.

As far as my own situation goes, since we last spoke I’ve started doing something that I haven’t done in close to a year – driving the car with my wife in the passenger’s seat. I would drive myself to appointments if necessary, but pretty much didn’t go anywhere else on my own. Now I’ve started driving again in low-traffic conditions and doing fairly well with it.

There were also a couple instances where I managed to use the tools I’ve been given to combat negative and irrational self-talk. On Monday of this week, I went to go find my psych medication manager’s new offices so the appointment I had on Tuesday wouldn’t be tied up with me trying to find the place. My wife drove, and we went late at night, after her work, so there weren’t many lights in the area. I fought down panic about not finding the place on Monday night and continued to fight it down while we drove to the appointment itself on Tuesday. Turns out we found the place just fine, and in fact drove through the building’s parking lot, but the lighting was so bad I couldn’t see the street number and name of the building on the side of it in 12 inch high lettering, despite driving right past it. Then again on Wednesday, I panicked about dinner. I pulled the chicken out of the fridge (it had been thawing there for a couple days) in enough time to prep it and cook it before my wife came home on her mid-shift break, and discovered that it was still partially frozen. I spent a few minutes panicking and then realized that if I gave the chicken a tepid – not cold – water bath it would speed up the thawing without cooking the chicken. Dinner was a few minutes late, but well within her window of being home to eat. Panic once again averted.

Yesterday at my therapist’s we started setting goals for my therapy for the next quarter. I’m to continue driving and getting out of the house and around people, as well as putting more emphasis on my own self-care. We’ve implemented rewards for this. For instance, my daily checklist is organized more or less chronologically throughout the day, so I can’t do anything leisurely until I get everything done that should be done before a certain time on the checklist. The overall reward for sticking to this plan for the first quarter of the year, or what’s left of it, actually, is both a reward and exposure therapy – tickets to go see They Might Be Giants in concert at the end of March.

We’re also planning a bit of exposure therapy a week from Sunday, when we’re going to our favorite restaurant/bar to watch the Super Bowl. We’re going to have a plan B in mind that’s a little quieter, just in case, because for the first time in 12 years, my team’s in the Super Bowl! I’m excited for that, but Denver is going to be a dangerous, dangerous opponent.

Anyway, I’ve blathered on about a lot of things that are on my mind; apologies for the ramble through my thoughts.

Transmission Trouble

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Recently I’ve been kinda coasting. I make these grandiose plans that in reality aren’t so grandiose at all, and then wind up not doing anything about them.

It’s kinda like my gears are grinding, and power isn’t making it from the engine to the wheels. I’ve got a lot of great intentions, but I’m not getting far with them.

Just last week I professed that I was re-engaging the use of my checklist, my little black book of survival, to help right what’s wrong. I was very energetic about getting everything done and starting a new streak of completion days.

That burst of energy lasted all of a day before I came crashing down to earth.

To be fair, I’m doing better than I have been in the past when in similar situations. There was a time not long ago that whenever I would have an off day, I’d be longing for a pain-free way to just slip away, and lamenting the fact that ending it would require one more burst of suffering, and even then success wasn’t guaranteed. Lately the suicidal ideations have been replaced with an extreme malaise and a sense of just going through the motions to get through the day. Used to be when I was really down, I’d often forget my medications – not on purpose, I just wouldn’t have the follow-through mentally to remember to take them, even with an alarm set. Now I can’t remember the last time I missed a dose – October, maybe; maybe earlier? – and it’s so hardwired in me now that it would likely throw me off for days, not because of the missing chemicals in my system, but because the status quo had been that deeply upset.

So, once more, I find myself explaining my recent shortcomings and recommitting to doing better.

This time, though, I’m not starting with a grand scheme to make TODAY the day I turn my life around and improve everything that’s wrong with my life. I think that I’m not at a point where I can realistically look to the future and see a lot of progress. I just need to make it through today. And that’s my goal. I’m going to see today through. I’m going to do my level best to complete my checklist today, without concern about making it into the beginning of a streak or the start of the next era of greatness in my life.

I’m just going to try and make it through today.

Then tomorrow, I’ll see how I feel about making it through tomorrow. And so on.

It’s a little humbling to know that I can’t look beyond today to make plans or goals. My last post was all about being ready to seriously look into returning to the workforce part-time by the end of the year. I still intend to do that, but that doesn’t mean that I need to figure out that plan by the time I go to bed today. I just need to get through today, and worry about today, and today only.

I can handle a day at a time. And really, when you think about it, that’s about all any of us can do. I’m no different than anyone else in that respect. The difference comes in what I can put into a day. Right now, that’s not very much, and I need to acknowledge that I’m not going to be able to do as much with my day as most other people, and I need to be okay with that. But I’m doing the best that I can, even when that’s just going through the motions long enough for it to be an acceptable time to go to bed. And my best is all I can do. Today, the goal is to be better than yesterday. (With the news of David Bowie’s death yesterday, surely today has got to be better. I’ll write more about my thoughts about the Thin White Duke in a subsequent post.)

One day at a time. And today, I can handle today.