In order to have a peaceful, serene, well organised home, you need a peaceful, serene, well organised mind. And vice versa, really. The two go together like a hand in a glove.
That's where depression, for some, messes with that whole idea, I guess. I've heard it described as having all this white noise in your head, all this stuff going on, that you just can't bring to heel and make behave, right? I know in my life, when I've felt overwhelmed, at the end of my tether and out of my depth (which wasn't back then, but is now, called 'Depression'), that's been an accurate description for me.
Your ability to manage your thoughts and therefore the day ahead is impaired because you simply can't make those ideas line up in an orderly fashion. In frustration, you just go 'Nup. Too hard. I'm just going to sit here instead.' So you have a day of just sitting, and nothing of a practical nature gets done, and then you realise when you wake up the next day, that nothing has changed, that everything still needs doing but you still can't decide where to start, so you do sit around all day again. It's the inactivity that's the fiend here. That's where that 'spiral' that my friend Annabel mentioned in the comments of my previous post, starts. And it doesn't take long to gather momentum.
In that recent post, offering tips to overcome this paralysis and procrastination, which you can read here, I mentioned a strategy that my Mum gave me back in those days. I was a young, overwhelmed Mum of two little babies under 3, and later a single Mum of three sons, the youngest of whom had just been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and I was chronically overwhelmed. She used to say 'Just do one thing Darling, then do one thing more. Try to keep going for as long as you can, just doing one thing and one thing more, and before you know it, things will start looking better. I promise.'
This is such great, and fundamental advice, because mostly we don't start a task because it seems too huge. If you're only starting and finishing one small thing at a time, it's easy to see the end in sight, and feel a sense of accomplishment. And she was right. Even if I only managed a dozen things in my day, it would make a difference and things would look and feel more under control very quickly.
The other thing she used to drive me nuts with, but that I am eternally thankful to her for, was to make an effort to look nice. This also falls under the heading of 'feeling more in control' for me.
Mum was European, and one of her favourite things was dressing up, even if she had nowhere to go. She would do it for herself. She had a vast collection of spectacular costume jewellery, and never left the house without several pieces on show. To this day, I can hear her saying to me 'aren't you going to put on your earrings and a bit of lippy, Darling?'. A 'bit of lippy' and some 'earrings' were apparently the salve to soothe all souls according to Mum.
Strangely, this too, worked. The mere act of making an effort to put on earrings and lipstick made, and continues to make me feel more human, and capable.
So this week, set yourself these three little challenges.
1. Every day for the next seven days, dress up. Do it for you. Like yourself. Value yourself. Wear a bit of lippy. If you don't like lippy (lipstick) then use lip balm or Vaseline, or find another way to look nice. A favourite pair of earrings, a pretty hair ribbon, or paint your fingernails and toenails. See if it makes you feel a little bit more in control. These are after all things you can control. Work on those, rather than trying to change what is beyond your control.
2. Get all of that stuff out of your head, and on to paper. Write down all of the things you need to do so that they do become organised. Quell that paralysing fear that you've forgotten to do something important, by then noting each thing down in order of importance, and numbering them. Number 1 means urgent, overdue or the things you fear most. Number 10 means things that need doing but that can wait. We'll deal with them all soon.
3. Each day for the next seven days, do one thing that nurtures you physically. Drink your eight glasses of water, eat your 5 veg and 2 fruit, go for three 10 minute walks in the sunlight. Buy your favourite fruit, hug a loved one for a long time, pat your pet. Re-read a loved childhood book, write a letter, plant a favourite herb in your garden or in a pot on your windowsill. Look through your favourite blogs, make a Christmas list, plan Christmas dinner. It's up to you. But make that time to be kind, healthful and healing in what you do. If you could step outside of yourself, and pretend to be someone else, what would you say or do to comfort the 'other' you? Sometimes we are so busy offering support and healing to others, that we forget to do it for ourselves. Me? I'd tell myself to slow down, to not worry about outcomes for my troubled relative because I cannot change them. I'd give me a hug, and a rub between the shoulder blades and say 'You've done enough. Rest. You deserve it'.
So that is what I am doing for the next hour.
Meet me here next week, and we'll compare notes and set up a new challenge, okay?
And thankyou all for the completely overwhelming response to my recent post offering tips to overcome Depression and Disorganisation. I am pleased that my humble scribblings helped so many of you. Thankyou to each and every one of you, for your lovely emails and comments. Bless you.