Mind, Ian @ Unsplash

Not a failure… it’s your mind

Sometimes the smallest task is daunting. Starting a new email. Or a new book. Writing a new blog. Preparing a new podcast. Journaling for a new month. Calling someone. All simple things that have always brought me joy seem unsurmountable at the moment. Some would argue it is the time of the year. Or that I am just tired. Or that maybe the year has caught up with me at last. Maybe all of the above. Whatever the case is, I don’t like it. It feels like a failure. My mind is playing games.

Breaking habits

The breaking of habits is the first signal that the mind starts to falter. I have been hanging with all my strength.

  • I am keeping with my morning yoga, but no longer at 6am and I rarely make it to be ready before the kids even get out of bed. Productivity hour thrown out of the window.
  • Long are the days where I also close the day with enough time to do sport, hula hooping or just hang out with the children. Often the kids are starting dinner with me still looking at one last bit of work and cursing that I never played the game I thought of playing or had a single break through the day.
  • I do my gratitudes still, but no longer every day, rather 3 or 4 days in one go when I am finally able to catch up, if not even a full week.
  • My sleeping hours are erratic, with weeks where I feel I can’t walk another step at 9pm quickly ensued by weeks where I can’t fall asleep at midnight on the adrenaline of what I was just working on.

I mean really, if I wanted to write a blog about bad habits, this would be the perfect start right?

Looking for the North

There is some lost sense of direction in me. My mind drifts often. Maybe the commuting adds to my mental health more than I considered. I did enjoy the boat rides through September and October, getting my inbox in order, having time for my writing, reading my books and listening to my podcasts. The longest walk I get now is when I come back from Baby S school for about 10 minutes. Little Girl C is about 45 seconds away from home so no time to self when I take her. Maybe I should start having a detour after school drop-off and take a walk through the park. But it always feels late. Late for what?

After months of super successful working from home, I have adopted the bad habits of working from home. Bad schedules, no breaks, difficulty in switching off and just constant exhaustion. No getting out of the house almost. And the more I don’t leave, the harder it is to leave. It takes too much effort. And what for?

In some way, it feels like I have lost direction in the last 2 months, where is this article even going? Who knows. I write in an effort to recover my habit of writing weekly, thinking I am only 2 days late and I can still keep up with my promise to self. So I let my brain mumble the only thing that my mind wants to write about.

But what is it that you are writing about Sara?

Falling deep

A few weeks back, I fell to a dark place. It had been years since that happened. 5 years more precisely. And I hated it. I hated knowing that I was falling and not holding myself. And I hated knowing that I was falling and not finding in me all the tools of personal growth and development that I built throughout the years. I hated having a weak mind. I was angry and, deep inside, I wanted to fall. It was easier to fall then to fight. Perhaps if I would fall I could just curl into a ball and sleep for hours without end, do nothing, observe the nothing.

Why did I have to fall, my sister asked me. Why did I have to make it fail? What point was I making? It was a long hard thought that came after that. I did not know the answer, but it came to me through the days that followed. Why did I have to make everything fall? Deep inside, I knew I could do it, but I just did not want to do it. It was just too hard to succeed. What sort of thought is this? Surely enough someone like me should always find enough strength to take the next step. Oh the word should.

The mind stages of grief

At first I was in denial. Surely, this was not happening. Someone made a mistake about sending me on this downward spiral and it would be soon course corrected. I don’t fall on spirals right?

Quickly, I just got angry. I went back to the way I thought before all this journey started. Life was happening to me. Someone was doing this to me. Who that someone is? Hard to tell. In fact, life does not happen to us. Life happens. We have a mind of our own. And we choose to react to it. I chose to be angry.

Now, you may not know me well, but one emotion I don’t deal well with is anger. I hate anger. It makes me angry really. And it frustrates me that one can have so many emotions to deal with life and anger is the ones that comes out. It brings out the worse in how I think of myself. It makes me unable to be kind to myself. Or to anyone really. Maybe I hate it even more since the times Little Girl S had anger tantrums and screamed or punched without end. And now yet again as Baby S’s tantrums are out of control and he kicks and punches for no apparent reason other than you opening the curtains or refusing a sweetie.

I don’t like anger. Given the choice, I don’t choose it. And I like to believe we all have a choice. And look at me, angry. The joke was on me. Weak mind. I only realised this anger when my sister asked why I was trying to fail. Anger wanted to find a reason, a fire to allow it to burn. But it got found out. So I took a deep breath, and I embraced it. Hello mind, I see you now.

Sticking my head out

Since then, I have started having days where I can stick my head out and see the light of day. At least I am not angry anymore. I switched off the machine and stopped running on the treadmill. Whilst I was not trying to achieve the unachievable, I am now intentionally deviating from it. I am dropping more balls in my life than I ever did before, and I am accepting that this is just temporary. I will find ways to pull it through, but right now I may not be there yet.

Last week, as the clouds were starting to clear, I had a good talk with my coach (yes, I have a coach now, very timely). She was worried, I could tell. I wanted to re-assure her I was going to be ok, but honestly I did not have much to say on that. I told her I believed this was transitory, and whilst I did not know the exact way out of the way I was operating in, I knew I would get out, because I knew my true north.

As I said it, the smoke cleared. Years of life returned to my body. Indeed, I have found my spark. I know where my energy lies, where my strength can be found. All the rest is noise. From now until year end, I will work with her on ensuring I focus on staying close to it. This too shall pass.

The mile ahead

As I look ahead, I feel like I am happy that Christmas is coming soon and something forces a break. Not a break that will resolve it (as I had a break a month ago and it did not). But a break that will allow the mental distancing that one sometimes requires. And even physical distancing. With quarantine rules changing we are hoping to go home to Portugal for Christmas, and that would certainly be a mood enhancer.

Don’t get me wrong, all in all, I am doing ok. I am not in the best shape as I have been in the last 5 years, but this comes after what was one of the best years ever for me. I know it is weird to say that in the same year as Covid, but indeed this year has brought me so many good things that I want to remember it as a special moment in time for many years to come. Which was part of the reason I was so angry – because my recent mood has been affecting the way I see this year and making me want to see it behind me.

Losing my mind?

Why am I writing about this you ask?

The simple reason could be because my brain can not process anything else other than this at the moment. But the real reason is that I made a vow of authenticity. I rather not write than not be authentic. In the past, being vulnerable has brought people closer. It has helped others understand that sometimes, we are not ok, and that’s ok too. So if you where I am right now, be kind to self. You are not a failure.

Photo by Ian on Unsplash

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