This weekend really exhausted me. Last week wasn’t a good week. I’m not doing so great today. It seems like I say these things more and more often – perhaps even more than I did back in March and April. Maybe its just because I expect myself to be “better” now. Whatever “better” means in the world of infant loss.
Things have just been yucky – I feel stressed out, overwhelmed, sinking in the quicksand of everyday life.
I feel like a victim, not of my circumstances, but of myself. I treat myself poorly. I eat badly, I don’t get fresh air, my house feels cluttery, my thought patterns are negative. I don’t spend time doing things I enjoy, and most of my evenings right now are booked solid or are spent zoned in front of the TV. I am daily beating myself up physically, mentally and emotionally. And like the therapist from an old comedy sketch, I want to yell at myself: STOP IT! (If you like Bob Newhart and/or need a good laugh, click the link and enjoy).
Of course, all humor aside, I don’t really know how to stop it. I’m not sure its possible to stop it. Quite honestly, I’m not sure that I want to stop it.
Change, no matter whether its a positive change or a negative change, is stressful. It means reshaping habits, restructuring thought patterns, and doing something “other.” When your life feels full to the brim of stressful situations, who wants to make a change and add additional stress?
At some point, however, it becomes less stressful to change than to keep doing exactly what you’re doing. Maybe I’m getting close to that point. I’d like to think I am, because life as I’m currently living it feels unbearable.
Yesterday, I took a mental health day. I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t on vacation. But Sunday night I was up until 2, doing the usual things I do when I’m sleepless. Crying. Praying. Talking to my husband. Staring blankly at the wall. Trying to forget everything by focusing on something trivial (thank you, Angry Birds). At about 1:30, the husband declared that we were taking the next day off. It was a wise declaration, because between exhaustion and the aforementioned unbearableness, I’m not sure I could have made it through yesterday.
We slept in until noon. Literally, noon (and not in a Joe-Biden-literally-sense). I don’t think my husband has done that a day in his life. We ate way too much breakfast-for-lunch. Way too much. We watched movies until we couldn’t think.
Honestly, it was a waste of a day. It was restful, in a sense, and today my thoughts are relatively coherent. So I guess “waste” is a bit superlative. But it wasn’t the best use of my day. I don’t know when I’ll take another mental health day, but when I do, I’m making some rules. Sort of like when my mom wouldn’t let me watch TV when I was sick.
Here’s how I’m going to make better use of my next mental health day.
- I’m going to do a little yoga. Something simple and gentle.
- I’m going to take a walk. Unless its 35 degrees and raining. Because cold and wet can’t possibly cheer anyone’s spirits.
- I will not turn on the TV. TV is a good way to “zone out,” but its also overly stimulating and can be stressful.
- I will take a nap. No matter how late I sleep, I will put down my book or craft, turn off the music and just be silent for a while, sleeping if I’m able.
- I’ll use the opportunity to examine my heart. Why am I feeling the way I do? Am I doing anything to make these feelings worse? What does Scripture have to say about my feelings and my responses to those feelings?
- I’ll eat something that will feel good about both while I’m eating it and 45 minutes after I’ve eaten.
What would you add to my Mental Health Day check list?
Have you ever taken a mental health day? What did you do?