Blog

Stories from a life in progress.

Catch-22

Last week I wrote that I was away to help a family with a member in the hospital for a few days.  When Patient X (whom I will so call to avoid personal details about the situation) came home, they were stuck for a little while in the Catch-22 place of recovery from illness: need to do specific things in order to feel better, don't feel well enough to do those things.  Need to start eating real food; stomach rebels against real food.  Need to take medicine several times a day; stomach rebels against that too.  Need to move around to help the body stretch out and start working better; have neither energy or motivation to get off the couch.  It's a crappy place to be, knowing the facts of what would help oneself feel better, but stuck against the reality of those things being either difficult or impossible to do.

I was tired but focused last week, with jobs to do.  This week I am unexpectedly wrestling with anxiety, and I don't know if it's holdover from all of last week's weirdness (lord knows there was plenty, between personal events and world events) or something different.  Whatever the cause, the fact is that I am anxious enough this week to make things difficult.  I'm not incapacitated, but I'm not really functioning at top speed.  I'm tense and distractable and lack focus.  I'm more scared of things than I should be.

This is my Catch-22 place.  I know some things that should help, but it's harder than usual to do them.  I know getting to work on something useful would probably be good, but I don't know what to work on and I'm overly scared of picking the "wrong" thing (which, to an anxiety brain, carries the threat of TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES).  I need to eat regularly, but everything in the world is more interesting than food, and it's easy to just plain forget meals, or to eat a tiny bit and call it good.  Stretching out and doing some light physical activity would probably help, but I just feel like curling up into a ball so nothing will hurt me (what would hurt me?  I don't know, but if I curl up and be very still maybe it won't notice I'm here).

It's hard to fight with your own brain.  It never goes well.

When Patient X was stuck in recovery Catch-22 territory, I tried to be encouraging while they worked their way out of it.  I don't know how successful I was, but I tried.  It's harder to have the same grace for myself while I'm stuck here.  I go so much more quickly to "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?  GET OVER YOURSELF, WOMAN."  Which, oddly enough, doesn't help at all.

I'm trying to be patient, trying to treat myself with a little grace and a little sense.  I need to give myself grace when I just don't feel right, and I need to do the sensible things that will help me out, and I need even more grace when I don't act very sensibly (because it really is hard to fight with your own brain, and my brain is messed up by anxiety too).  I'll walk out of this rough patch.  I've walked out of worse.  But I need a little grace and a little sense to do it.  A little encouragement.  A little patience.  A little time.  I need to remember this.