Credit where due, especially to yourself.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I've been in counseling for 3 years and on meds for nearly that long. I have learned more things than I could likely even put into words. One of the bigger things is to give myself credit for the things I do right or correctly or well, credit for the things followed through on, credit where credit is due.

I tend to make these ridiculous to do lists. I have crazy high expectations of what *I* can get done in a night after work or a Saturday afternoon or even over a lunch hour. And even if I do half, or a quarter, or ANY of the things on that list, I feel like an absolute and abject failure if I don't complete the ENTIRE list. It doesn't even matter how long the list is, because in my mind I "tried" to keep the list reasonable for the time frame I've got, but I also have a bone-deep terror of being bored, so the list is never going to be too short. With that in mind, I've been setting myself up for constant failure. But technically I digress.

After a year and a half or more of counseling and having a wonderful counselor very gently ask me why I have to clean the house this certain way or why I have to do so much writing every night to avoid being a failure or whatever other list or task or goal or expectation I've set for myself I have finally started to ease up on myself.

I have a friend moving in with me in January. I have lived alone for 10+ years and in my current apartment for 4-5 years. It is a lovely 2 bedroom place, so I've got space for her, but I've also expanded to fill up my space in the years I've been there. So, the list of things to do before she arrives is monumental and pretty much impossible to fulfill, if for no other reason than I literally do not have space to clear that entire closet out because those things have nowhere else to go. Regardless, I continuously get down on myself for not already having more of her space cleared and utterly ignore the work I've already done. Not to mention, she has little expectation of what it will be like when she gets there and certainly not as as high an expectation as I have for myself. Last night I moved the plants out of that room, moved my "collection" of 3-ring binders off a shelf in there, and cleared 2 shelves in a kitchen cupboard for her. But all I can see is the mess of crap in this corner that needs to just plain get put away, the mess of crap in that corner that needs to go to my basement storage*, and the mess of crap still covering the desk I've told her she can use which means I need to clear it out. *and the basement storage also needs to be cleared out in order to put those things down there in the first place! Last night I forced myself to see those 3 things I DID accomplish instead of the list of crazy I haven't finished yet.

I do this all the time. I was going to bake a bunch of treats for Christmas last night, but instead got one baked item done and half beat myself up all night and part of this morning as a result. However, I utterly ignore the fact that I did my dishes, bagged up my recycling, and wrote out the chili recipe before I tossed the cans I used in the recipe. The dishes had to get done before much baking could be done regardless, but I had *expected* to be baking, not doing dishes. So the fact that the only baking I got done was the simplest treat I make was disheartening.


Why does it matter if I did all my baking last night or did my dishes? I did SOMETHING! Isn't that what "they" are always telling us depressives? "Just do SOMETHING."

Well I did . . . . .
but it still wasn't good enough.

Maybe that's another layer of depression we need to address. At its worst depression is debilitating. I can look around and see the mess around me and the myriad of tasks to be done. But literally do not have the brain power to figure out where to start, because sometimes it does matter where you start. I couldn't bake well or easily last night with a counter full of dishes, therefore dishes must get done first. But in a depressive mind, not only is that too much to wrap your brain around, it also becomes, well but to do the dishes i need to get an index card to write down that chili recipe, which means going into the other room that is full of the mess I haven't taken care of for my new roommate. It also means cleaning out those cans so I can throw them away (which I don't truly have to do, but sometimes that becomes one of the things on the list that is too much to figure out.). Then I look at my recycle can and it is overflowing, so now I have to bag that all up in order for those cans to have somewhere to go. I don't recycle at my own building because it is a pain, I take that big bag and usually give it to my sister to put in her city recycling bin, but now that means I should get ahold of her and see if and when she's around that I can get the bag to her.

Now, if you can imagine that, you can probably imagine that for someone who has already used 80-99% of her full energy allotment for the day working to keep her paycheck and apartment while concurrently working to not have a breakdown or psychotic break at work, that entire thought process is too much. That is more than we can wrap our brains around. We'd rather mentally shrug our shoulders, grab some comfort food and settle into the couch with some Netflix or Candy Crush.

It is a conundrum. We don't ever give ourselves enough credit for what we DO manage to accomplish and at the same time non-depressives don't give us enough credit for not killing our coworkers. Where is the understanding? And compassion? As a Christian I have often wanted to declare to the churches I've been in "Where is the grace??? Where is the mercy??? Where is the frigging help? Love your neighbor as yourself??"

So, I say to my fellow depressives, again, as we are often told and counseled, ignore those naysayers. If you don't know what this journey is like, then shut your mouth. I won't give you child birth advice, you don't give me depression coping advice. I say to my fellow travelers, focus on what you did get done, no matter how small! Give yourself credit for that. Like whenever I get around to picking up the 4 receipts laying on my kitchen floor, I get credit for that! Becuase they've already been laying there for over a week, but I don't care. They don't take no hurt to lay there a few days longer. So i get credit when I do pick them up. Figure out ways to make simple tasks even easier. I put an extra toilet brush inside my shower and when I feel like the tub is getting too gross, I swish it around in my draining shower water and "clean" my tub. Good enough! Who says you gotta get a scrubbing sponge and cleanser and get down on your hands and knees??? Why is that the "only" way to clean a tub!

Give credit where credit is due,
and ignore the ignorant pie-holes who don't want to give you credit for not committing a homicide at work, or on your drive home from work.
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