It strikes me as odd to write a post about writer’s block, about struggling to write, and about not knowing what to write a post about, but that’s what this is. I have gotten into a routine since starting this blog, where I start drafting for Friday’s post sometime between when the previous week publishes and Tuesday, generally speaking, with a nearly final draft by bedtime on Wednesday. I use Thursday night to proofread and do all my pretty pictures, and then schedule it to publish on Friday. It seems like a lot of time on each post, but, honestly, between being a wife, a mom to an almost 4-year-old, having a full-time job, therapy, managing my depression and self care, and all the other “stuff” that’s been going on in life, it’s the best I can manage at this point, and it’s been working well for me.
Then there was last week. I was rushing out of the office on Monday afternoon, trying to beat traffic to my therapist’s office, when my phone rang, and it was my mom and the hospice nurse. They wanted to let me know that, based on his vitals and everything, we were looking at hours, maybe days until Gramps passed. This occupied what little free mental bandwidth I had for the rest of the week. I am blessed to be able to log-in remotely and work from nearly anywhere if I absolutely have to, so I worked from the house on Tuesday. Each night last week I went to sleep wondering how many hours of sleep I’d get before my phone would ring, telling me he was gone. Each morning, when I woke to my alarm clock, I would feel my body tense, knowing we’d be waiting yet again, but not knowing how long the wait would be. I had to take Wednesday off, because I got so little sleep the night before, and then spent the afternoon at the house. Waiting. It’s a horrible feeling to sit in a room down the hall from someone who is at death’s door, wondering if they’ll be breathing the next time you walk down the hall, but not wanting to just sit there, praying and talking to them, because, at some point, everything you want to say has been said, and it’s emotionally draining to sit with a dying person, hearing them gasping and coughing, seeing their eyes glazed over, on the rare occasion that they’re open, waiting for God to take them, for them to let go, and for their body to finally succumb to the inevitable. Thursday I worked from home, my home, because I wanted to be close enough to come by, but I also needed to focus as much as possible on work, rather than the wait. Each night, by dinner, I was drained. My mind was the equivalent of the static between stations on the radio. To use the spoons theory, there were no spoons left for writing, or for the blog. It felt perfect, then, when mom found that beautiful poem the morning before Gramps passed, because I could think of no better way to pay tribute, and I could think of no other post to put up.
Fast forward to this week. My brain is still static. Tonight, by the time I was taking the kiddo to swim, as I described it to my husband, not only was I out of spoons, I was pretty sure I was in debt to the house, as it were. Focus is overwhelmingly challenging right now. I’m trying to be as reliable a worker as I can be, while still managing to care for myself and my family and help as much as I can with funeral preparations. I’ve been wanting to start new devotions, to help deepen my spiritual life, and I’ve been wanting to get back on track with my food, and I’ve been wanting to go to the gym more and get more walks in. Right now, though, I’m trying to keep things realistic. This week, my goal has been manage the week, day by day, hour by hour. I’ve realized that, for me, I have a basic 4 when it comes to self care tasks, which are:
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep
- Get outside for 20 min a day
- Have at least 20-30 minutes of activity a day
- Eat nutrient-rich foods that can help me meet my health goals
These four self care activities are in rank order of importance, too. That is, if things are really stressful for me, then I aim for at least the top 3. On really bad days, maybe it’s just the top 2. For me, though, sleep is the most important thing, because sleep issues, especially insomnia, are so closely entwined with my depression spirals.
So, I focus on the basic self care tasks as I can. I ask for help as I need it. I give myself some grace if, for a couple of weeks in the midst of this overwhelming time, I don’t take as much time for writing as I would like. I accept the writer’s block, and acknowledge the mental static, and remind myself that everything in life is temporary. I won’t be where I’m at forever, and, as time passes, some of it will get easier, some of it will just become more of a “normal” part of my life, and I’ll have more mental bandwidth, more energy, more “spoons” to get back to where I was, and maybe even more. I’m not there today, and that’s OK.
What is your #1 priority when it comes to basic self care?