Two weeks ago I started a project: identify what concrete things in my life are causing me the most anxiety (e.g. a messy spot in the apartment, a pile of mail, looking for a new phone) and start tackling them, but no more than one or two at a time!
I made notes on my progress or lack thereof, and started work on a vague timetable of things I NEED to do, and started allocating slots of time to things I WANT to do as well. And it’s ACTUALLY WORKING!
Even though I’m not sure WHY it’s working!
I KNOW it’s working because 1) I’m actually completing projects and 2) the defeatist internal dialogue that usually accompanies my upticks in anxiety and depression has become much more vague, even in light of the tasks I haven’t yet started on (which means that I subconsciously believe I’ll be able to accomplish them). That is to say, instead of the thought of my “failures” triggering a wave of self-loathing, I only have the vague notion of “things are going well but IT CAN’T LAST! SOMETHING LURKS! SHIT’S GONNA GO DOWN” which, at this point, is much easier to deal with.
As to WHY it’s working, I can only guess. My depression hasn’t significantly improved, but I’m more comfortable accepting the bad days (i.e. instead of just saying “it’s okay if you accomplish nothing today” I actually BELIEVE it, and move on when my mood goes back up). So, it might be that. It might be that I’m actually sticking to the schedule. It might be that—autoimmune diseases aside—I’m actually in better physical health. It might be that I’ve gotten better at organizing. It might be all of the above, which becomes much more obvious when I write it out like this. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And hopefully this will help someone else, too? Not the sparse details of my project, but rather the idea that not only can you live with mental illness for 18 years—SURVIVE it—but you can still surprise yourself.
Anyway, that’s my life currently. As my “need” list becomes less daunting and more regular, I’m allocating more time to my “want” list, and I’m excited to see where that will take me.