Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Life, Writing

The Things I Can Control

For those of my friends who follow me, forgive me for turning off the comments. I’ve been fighting myself about updating, and I think this might be a solution to my trepidation. I promise it’s nothing anyone has said or done, or those who I know who read this blog. It is nothing against you — it is my own scaredy-cat attitude right now. Let me ‘splain.

Despite gaining greater confidence in some areas of my life, my emotional fortitude online has been lacking. I rarely post on Facebook anymore, and while I feel slightly less encumbered posting on Twitter, I’m not as nervous about screaming into the void there. Blogging, though… I want to feel, for the moment, like I’m kind of talking into the mirror. I’ll have an audience I can see (sorta), but won’t be worrying about pleasing my readers for replies, or angsting over comments on potentially sensitive or controversial topics — at least until I can rebuild the comfort in saying what I want to say when I want to say it. Again — the only thing personal about this choice is that I’m completely skittish about online interaction right now, and fighting with my own self-doubt.

As much as I used to love the idea of being read publicly, and the honest repartee with friends or strangers over my bloggy blather, much has changed since I first started blogging. I have far greater emotional investment in the world now, and in life, probably because I have kids to raise and protect (and I’ve kind of grown out of much of my past idealistic naivete). But the very business of blogging has changed a ton, as well, and the stakes are much higher now — not to mention I just don’t have as much time (or mental capacity) to spend on it as I used to.

I started blogging in 2001, after I graduated college. I’d been married for almost a year, my husband finally had a steady job, we’d moved into a better place, had some screamin’ dial-up internet that I had access to all day — and, for the first time in ages, I had no pressing schedule to adhere to. I also didn’t have a job, let alone career ambition — and I wasn’t expected to. I just had an apartment, a cat, and a husband to take care of. That was my job. I was a fantastic homemaker back then. I had a youthful, child-free brain and loads of time during the day.

But I was also kinda bored. I’d just finished up seventeen years of constant schooling. My brain needed something to do while I transitioned out of academia. When a friend of my husband’s started up a blog server, I was all over that, sometimes posting several times a day. It was online storytelling, and it was fun and kept my mind occupied.

I’ve had about four or five different blogs since then, but I was a much more honest writer when I first started, because that was pretty much it for social media. Well, that and message boards. I spent a lot of time on those, too. I was much less self-aware, however, and certainly less humble… Or maybe just more comfortable expressing myself back then. I hold my cards much closer to my chest these days, am far more cynical and skeptical, and less trusting of the intarwebs at large. And so scattered. Mom-brain is for real. So is ADHD. “Focus” is hard-won most days…

Whatever it is that I’m fighting against now, I feel like I’m trying to force myself to swim again after a near-drowning experience. Not that posting online has been that dramatic, but the mental block is there. I’m dipping my toes back into the deep end and feeling trepidation.

Or maybe it’s more like swimming in a lake versus swimming in an indoor pool. I can see my feet in the pool; I’m safe in the pool. I know the strokes, I can stay afloat, and even when I flail with anxiety in the middle of it, I can still dog-paddle to the edge and get out until I catch my breath. I’m competent enough (and somewhat insulated). It helps cool me off, at the very least. That’s how I feel in short-form posting, in relatively anonymous social media sites like Twitter — it’s safe and who cares if I’m dog-paddling? I’m not competing in the Olympics, or anything.

But lakes full of darkness, fish, weeds, and jagged or biting things scare the crap out of me. I’m a fairly competent swimmer, but I just won’t go swimming in a lake, creek, river, etc. Ocean, maybe, but rarely more than waist-deep. I need to see my feet. I need to see and prepare for threats. Little, nonthreatening things look huge or can be blown out of proportion (in my mind or others’), and I can’t justify the risk — despite being a grownup who should be able to handle it. The truth is, I know many, many people who feel very strongly about some things I am opposed to or disagree with, and my emotional capability for online debate (which is truly a joke right now, anyway) is 100% nil, not to mention I don’t want to strain those relationships just because I think I might be right about something or want them to see it my way. I will post in my safe groups on Facebook and link to pictures from my Instagram, and that’s about it. (I actually had to make Instagram private recently, due to an onslaught of weird strangers and creepy private messages, and I wasn’t even posting very often there.)

I’m a chicken, I guess, and not a duck. 😆 I’ll stick to my familiar roost on solid ground, thankyouverymuch.

(This analogy is breaking down, but maybe it makes sense? Do I care? Jury’s out.)

Suffice it to say I’m drowning in self-doubt, and I just need to pretend I’m in an empty room for awhile, until blogging feels comfortable again. I could give up blogging and journal privately, instead, but I do enjoy telling stories in a format where I can’t be interrupted. I do like to entertain, and maybe what I have to say could be interesting, eye-opening, relatable, or have some other effect on a reader. Aside from that, I want to train myself to be satisfied with what I’ve written for public consumption simply because I wanted to write it — not because of the response I want to receive.

And it’s not at all that I’ve been receiving uncomfortable attention, either, or had a bad comment experience — nothing like that. This is probably the hardest thing to explain, and I’m not even really sure I can. For a not-really-all-that-shy kind of person in real life (just introversion with à la carte social anxiety), I’ve been afraid of opening up online, and even afraid of friendly commenting. Trust me, I recognize how silly that sounds. I wish I could understand the anxiety.

But I also feel like I’m losing my mind, not being able to express myself in a long-form medium like I used to — telling funny stories, venting, saying stupidly random things… I wonder if part of the reason I stopped was to protect the future of my children and husband. So much of my life revolves around these other people (and blogging is so widespread and far-reaching now), that telling personal stories, even funny ones, online can backfire in catastrophic ways, and I want to protect my family from that. But there’s also a lot of deep, personal stuff I’d like to work through, that others might be able to relate to (like dealing with ADHD and my kids’ eating disorders), that I want to make people aware of, but carry a great deal of emotional vulnerability.

Another reason I want to turn off comments while I figure out what to write about, or open up about things I might not have before, is that I completely want to eliminate the feeling of doing it for attention. The Like button is what it is here, so it stays — but my readers are, for the time being, completely off the hook for expressing sympathy, advice, or anything like that. Not that I would need that in the first place (unless asking for it specifically, like I’ve done a couple times), but for now it’s an ego-balancing thing that I need to do to mitigate the part of my brain that wants to please people or seek attention from others. Like I said: I want to train myself to be satisfied with what I wrote. I want to have some fun with it, too, but not worry about feeling silly or that I’m performing for likes. I’m doing it because I want to.

Anyway, it’s a small thing I can control right now, in a time when I feel quite a bit out of control. I am grateful for the patience and consideration of those who read this. I really would like to make this a more social thing in the future, but until then I’m happy talking to myself in an empty room. 😉

Thank you! ❤

Posted in Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Life

Hindsight Has Been, and Always Shall Be, 2020

Here’s a quote from my last post:

Anyway, I hope 2020 is short on deaths, but long on growth. If I make any resolutions, I might post them. One of them is to blog more in 2020. But I think I’ve been recycling that one for years. Oh well! Maybe this is the year I actually achieve it?

Here’s another one!

It’s amazing what one can adapt to, given the need. I might not like the need, but I have no power over it, so I must accept it and adapt. And keep a sense of humor — if I don’t laugh, I cry. And I hate crying.

I’ve had to do a lot of personal journaling this year, because it’s just not safe to post opinions right now — and I’m so emotionally drained that even thinking about inviting debate by posting my own opinions is exhausting. This lockdown (aka “quarantine”) has been a big challenge, and I’m just not going to get into the particular reasons why here.

What I am going to talk about are the effects of this challenge. How all those behavioral (and physical) achievements I managed to just barely unlock last year are all but gone now. I have no regular exercise outlet anymore, nothing resembling a routine, and I haven’t been singing. I’ve actually felt a bit like I’m circling a drain — and I’m not even someone who’s economic livelihood has been affected, like so many who’ve been forced to close for months.

But, hey, my husband is home 24-7 now and has a steady job, and while I am grateful for more time with him (and more time for him to spend with the boys) and financial security, it was a big adjustment all at once. I’m somewhat grateful for the forced rest now that everything is cancelled, but it was not a choice I got to make by myself, and it only increased the anxiety and depression I’d managed to keep at bay. I had to fight resentment that I was suddenly less free to go do things sans children almost as soon as my husband got home, due to the statewide lockdown, because I’d been looking forward to going out with friends, hanging out alone in a coffee shop to write without guilt that the boys are at a babysitter or their grandparents’ AGAIN so I can get some alone time, and not spending so much extra time and mental energy being “on” all the time. It is sort of nice that I can more easily leave the boys home and go to the store for as long as I need to, but that small freedom has been stripped of its joy and doubled in anxiety, due to the thick layers of fear and judgment the public now bear toward each other.

On top of all that, my first year teaching choir didn’t get a final performance, and I will never get to have that same group of kids together to sing the songs they wanted to, or show off the work they’d put in. Granted, I will get most of them back next year — and more! I have twelve kids signed up so far — but I’ve decided on a different approach, especially since my oldest kids are 12 and my youngest is 7 (probably 8 in the Fall). It won’t be singing gorgeous harmonies and complex rhythms, but it will be fun. I want kids to fall in love with choral music.

But choirs are suddenly being viewed as vectors for disease, which, while true (and has always been true), feels slanderous and is exceptionally depressing. And our Symphony organization — just barely recovering from a major financial crisis a year ago — is now back on the brink, with very little revenue coming in until at least 2021 that is not donated or loaned.

On a happy note, this has forced us to become extremely creative in how we try to present music, but the virtual model will exclude a large number of those who are just not technically inclined, who have now all but lost their creative and/or social outlet. I am generally technically inclined, and will be able to produce virtual concert material — but it will never be the same as learning together and performing en masse, and that hurts a little.

I’ve been going through phases of feeling relatively normal again, but it doesn’t take a lot to start spiraling. I guess I used to bleed off a lot of excess emotional energy in exercise, social activity, and singing, and haven’t been able to do that, so I’ve been having gigantic mood swings with nowhere for those big feelings to go. And I realized today, while learning a virtual-choir song for the first time in months — I’ve barely sung anything for months — the lyrics of which are meant to bring comfort for singers and listeners, it will be a challenge to not get emotional while recording it. It embodies all the reasons choirs exist in the first place.

Anyway, I am currently struggling against my lack of motivation to try to channel any skills I have toward more personal goals: More writing and getting back in touch with my writing buddies, warming my voice back up again and braving my own individual musical pursuits (alone and in collaboration with my husband’s current music endeavors and those of my brilliant BFF, as well as virtual choral opportunities), purging my house of the metric crap-ton of clutter in every corner, and picking up some potentially lucrative new hobbies that my family can participate in, as well.

But I need to train my brain and body to welcome these changes as good, exciting new adventures, even when I’m mourning the loss of my former activities. Not that all are lost, but it’s going to be a very different rest of this year, especially since society lives in such divisive fear right now.

Anyway, I felt moved to write about it, and found the last post’s final paragraph a little ironic. So here we are.

In other news, I’ve been cooking a lot, we’ve saved tons of money in gasoline and bridge tolls alone (just as we’re making more money with Husband’s promotion), I’ve been growing plants inside, and I have a hammock I can retreat to in the backyard when it’s warm and sunny. In fact, I think I might head out there now… Bye.

🌞