It continues to amaze me how impactful a tired mind can be when managing a house full of chronically sick people. It is a marathon for the emotional structures within oneself and within the family. I also knew I needed to take a few steps back to gather some energy for what is ahead for us.
In part one of the series, Mending Mental Mayhem – Abuse and Disability I discussed the importance of making sure I had purged out those power intensive apps, needlessly draining critical energy necessary for other things. That is not just because I want to save energy for the sake of it. But because I know I have a list of tasks to complete, each needing something different. I can’t risk being empty for the urgent ones. The cost of failing is too dangerous.
I had a painful reminder of that recently when a distraction caused me too let down my typical guard. I really do have my moments where tiny pangs of panic create just enough friction that I stop moving. Stop the friction, prevent the friction burns, at least temporarily. That was the emotion I was feeling. I don’t get there often. When I do, usually I am utterly drained beyond measurable amounts.
The pause from fear allowed critical mail to slip past into old stacks dismissed as medical bills. I broke my own rules. Thus missing all the deadlines for Medicaid, food stamps and disability report forms in one sharp swoop. I felt the entire, full body contact, from missing the deadlines. It hit me all the way to losing each part of those supports until I can get the whole mess resolved. I have quadrupled my workload, and worse much of it has to be done in person where my physical disabilities cripple my functionality. I will need to personally go into these various government offices. That requires many long hours of standing in lines then sitting and waiting in hard chairs.
Ask anyone suffering a traumatic spinal injury and whose had surgery. What is the most painful thing you have to do? Sit, the answer is sitting hurts the most, and sometimes I can’t rise up. My feet are numb, and frequently I take a terrible fall suffering injuries. It’s a big deal. Not to mention those places are unfriendly, rude, intimidating and a hassle. I plan on trying to vlog it, just to make it more of an event to share than one to fear.
So where did I go wrong? What app process did I miss closing and shutting down? It really bothered me. How can I advocate ways to manage if my own faltered so severely? The answer surprised me but also comforted me. That answer was literally staring at me saying, “What do you mean lady? I have been yelling at you for 2 months!” Ops, my bad.
Okay, I admit defeat once in a while. I mean contrary to what my life keeps demanding of me. I am not superwoman. There is a problem when people keep telling you that. You start to expect it of yourself, and that is utterly ridiculous. Personally, I do not attempt life without a prayer for guidance and recognition that calamity is only escaped through God’s grace. That doesn’t mean I kick back with expectations no work is required as well.
For those of you who do not believe in God or have other religious beliefs. I know we all look to something or someone for the ability to be more and do more. To forever transform into better versions of ourselves. That is the bond here. Working towards something better while respecting others. Matters not to whom you count on to get there. Let’s just do it together.
Yet, I forgot it’s equally important to know what you already have in your emotional iCloud storage that is of some help. Those fantastic coping skills and structures of encouragement your current crisis has caused you to forget. I can’t tell you the total number of apps I came across that at the time had exactly what I needed. But, due to distractions of stress never completed installing them for use.
That’s it, the answer, sitting taped on my fridge. A big ole list of apps I found to help me keep mail and document deadlines in order. Along with a bunch of references to check out. I had researched a bunch of things a few months ago and saved them in my search files. Ugh, why Pamela, why? No sense in kicking myself. Social Services and Social Security got that covered.
My job now is to get up. Just get up and don’t worry which foot to stand on first. Thinking about it freezes you sometimes. Dang it, I fell for it. That over-thinking app sucking all my energy and taping into my background resources while I tried to make sure the right foot was stepping out first. You know what? If moving forward is the goal, who cares which foot goes first!
We all do it without realizing it. We purchase that emotional app, save it to our internal iCloud intending to complete the download and installation, only to ultimately forget why we looked for it in the first place. Knowing this is important for several reasons. But the biggest is survival. Now that seems a bit alarmist I know. However, if you are a member of a medically fragile home, dealing with survival is much more literal than others are often willing to accept.
Listen if a distraction causes a missed bill, it’s frustrating. If it suspends all forms of income, it’s devastating. Especially if its the same day those life-sustaining medications are at the pharmacy and your next dose is in an hour. Yes, the picture is indeed far different.
In a household where the urgent needs of one, pits itself against the immediate needs of another, keeping track of what the first priority is can become nearly incapacitating. That was how I had been living.
It was my mental and emotional baseline before trauma therapy, and family therapy to help us deal with the hurt and loss our broken bodies tie us to. This recent event caused me to accidentally revisit bad habits by way of pure weariness.
When an overwhelmed mind and feeling heartbroken freeze your feet, having visible, simplified guide posts is a must. Like on a plane, or in a school where there is a box that says break here for fire, or pull for an emergency. I need to add those guidelights to the nearest exit. Geeze, common Pamela, set up those mental emergency track lights already! Okay, consider it done this time!
In my professional life, most of my skill and promotions were a result of delegating correctly and that included appointing some of my own personal internal strengths. When charting out the timeline of large projects, I found that at some points I needed to disregard peoples past professional background in favor of their present mental and emotional skill.
I worked very hard to utilize others current level of functioning, current skill and assign tasks best matched to those. The result was a very organic self-organized project team. The process allowed people to capitalize on their own natural talent and therefore they each enjoyed personal success for the assignments they had.
I saw a group of individuals really energize themselves and tapped into creativeness I had a hunch was there, more than they did. Staff seemed happier and less stressed trying to produce something outside of what felt doable at that time.
Not that we were all sitting around a campfire singing kumbaya. I still had a few who were awkward, unhappy in life and resistant to doing anything they felt beneath them. I get it. None of us want to be asked to do a bunch of things, that seem or feel as demoted assignments.
I did feel for them, I really did. It’s hard to know your qualified but still incapable. My success was in sharing just that. Reminding team members, I know they are qualified, but not up to the task that round and to ensure them I count on their skill, even if not utilizing it right then.
There is a considerable benefit to capitalize on the hard work previously put in to identify a need and even having located a possible solution to try. It’s such a terrible waste of precious energy reserves to lose grasp on those, and something I now try to avoid at all costs.
So when I discovered I was doing just that, recently, I wanted to kick myself in the backside. Not sure how that would work, or look? I am sure it would become great Youtube fodder, destined to show up under those, “Try Not to Cringe,” videos my children are forever showing me—ugh.
But the home plate message to me was my mind was not as organized as I needed it to be. All the wrong power-intensive apps kept running around in my increasingly confused mind. While at the same time, those once useful apps I installed weren’t doing their assigned job. And I am embarrassed to say, not only was there not enough emotional power, the storage space was too low.
Typically this scenario is no roadblock to me. It was not as if I was seeing it for the first time.
Life, however, is ever-changing, morphing and mutating regardless of its prior state, life moves on. That does mean something can look unfamiliar, even when you have beat it before.
I just let mail processing slip by me. Ah, so much for getting mad when a company blames a mail sorting error. Turns out it is more legit than it appears. I really am chuckling right now and with genuine amusement. I am not even past this emergency, but I am more at ease than 3 days ago. My feet are moving forward in the right direction. I choose for that to be enough to be happy today. It’s enough.
Exhaustion is a capable gravedigger. Stealthy in how deep it digs and often right under our nose. I admit I fall into that trap sometimes. Thankfully I do have some standby First Aid to pull me out before too much dirt is dumped on me. I really hate looking up, catching dust in the eyes, mad realizing, “darn it, fell in again.” Getting out is obviously urgent. Worse, you still have to clean up after rescuing yourself.
What I learned about myself was that the days of me being able to keep up with everything going on had ended. There is a real difference between mental fortitude and organizing thought. Even as I write today, I am refining how I delegate my emotional task list.
I now choose to prioritize things not only based on urgency but also how intensive the work relating to it is. I say that with a newly added “caution.” Have a prepared mental/emotional plan for when you get that slightly wrong. It will happen, but let’s try together to minimize those moments.
This delegation practice is mainly an effort to keep me accountable. I have made a mistake in the past of taking on too much even back in my healthy days. I was always the workhorse, capable of cranking out triple what others did. What first surprised me was that was not a good thing—for me. The work was stellar, the results just were excellent, but I was crumbling the longer that pace stayed unbroken.
Being honest with myself, that the list was too long, I had to request to get more people involved. The second surprise was how quickly my request was granted along with a raise and promotion. A truly, “…say what?” moment. I should have been jumping for joy, but at the moment was madder at myself for not asking earlier. My thought was, geez that raise would have been useful over the last 8 months. The imparted lesson professionally speaking is that you can actually get ahead, asking for help.
Apparently, this was unique to my work situation and the type of employment I held. But, that experience has stayed with me, and I refer back to it as a lesson to tune into your emotional workloads. Current day, the load of constant care has the same risks and fallout when considering those with fragile, chronic conditions.
As the years have sped past, the combined emotional drain is severe. Yet the needs of my family and the need for high-level management often results in delegation being difficult.
Returning to the discussion of those researched emotional iCloud apps that would be helpful. I was glad I had a list to refer to once I got up off my butt. Its no longer time to be mad at myself, but grateful I at least had the foresight to search out options during calmer moments. Which are rare. I feel blessed to have put it where it was quickly found and moved swiftly to begin the corrective work.
Today as I write. It’s not all sorted yet. But the significant things needing to be done, have been completed. My household will suffer some temporary blows, and I can’t predict fully how long the effects will last.
It’s a great thing to have solutions that got me from stuck on my emotional floor to up walking towards progress in my functional life. My household faces some unpleasant months. God knows how some financial breakthroughs would ease those multiplying burdens. But my true goal is the ability to reach out and help more people. A life aspiration and one I push towards.
Delegating your emotional workload is crucial. I now know that even if I fall, or “stumble crumble”, I’ve got a response plan that can take over that emotional work and delegate according to the needs. Sharing the work across other parts of my life, even if it is still all me. It will at least be utilizing my own app drawer, specially tailored to my home.
What emotional work has caused you to think, “aw man, not again” or surprised you?Comment below and let me know.
Part-Three will be posted soon. Make sure to follow the blog to get updates on content. Meanwhile, if you missed part one you can catch up by reading Mending Mental Mayhem – Abuse and Disability
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