Waiting for the world to slow down
As Prior Walter reminds us, “The world only spins forwards,” and sometimes it does so at an alarmingly fast rate. This past week has felt like a wave of homework, research projects, and work that will wash me away with it. I emailed one of my professors this week and reminded her that stress tends to exacerbate the symptoms of GAD (the persistent worry, inability to move on to the next project for fear of what will happen with the current one — then worrying so much about the future one you can’t get the current one done). We talked in person later that week and over a series of messages. I think she got it, if for a little while. My PhD mentor been really good about encouraging me to take things one project at a time, even if that means it will take me longer to get assignments to her desk. I think she’s beginning to realize how often I feel like I’m falling apart this time of year — when everything seems to be due, and I find myself wanting to watch a lot of escapist television. Thank goodness Mad Men is back! I also emailed her an article about the intersection between mental health programs and people with mental health conditions in those programs (1). Maybe that helped.
I find in these moments how much Rudy Simone’s statement that ritual and routine are an Aspergirl’s R&R (rest and relaxation in the usual nomenclature) resonates with me. Weeks like this, I spend hours at my favorite cafes in town writing papers and finishing up research assignments, all the while convincing myself it’s going to be okay, eventually anyway. I’m also in the process of looking for a summer job right now, so it just seems like a lot to balance. I like to think I’m ruining woman stereotypes everywhere because of my inability to multitask. I can do one task really well, if left alone to ponder and organize it before attempting to start that project, but add another in the mix, and I already start to feel a bit scattered. Going familiar places and doing familiar things helps me feel like I’m piecing myself back together.
I find myself scheduling my life more when my anxiety is running especially high. Even if that just means that Friday nights are “homework and everyone leaves me alone, so I can finally do all those household chores” night, as I catch up on Grey’s Anatomy between the laundry and the dishes. I love going to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. The produce is nice, but I think more than anything else, I like making conversation with the familiar vendors there — the bread lady, the gardening co-op guy, the hippies who share cups of herbal tea, and the people I know from town whom I randomly see while I’m wandering. Saturday’s are also usually animal shelter days. My therapist has reminded me plenty of times not to take a dog home with me who’s just as anxious as I am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t comfort the frightened ones while I’m there. I love to see previously nervous dogs look completely calm after we’ve walked around the shelter trails for a while. I calm down as I talk with those dogs.
So dear readers, it’s the beginning of another weekend where my plans are always more extensive than time could possibly allow, and I’m realizing that I’ll probably never accomplish all the projects I set out to do when Friday arrived, but that’s okay. I’m learning to live with that meanwhile.