[CW: mental illness, depression, anxiety, eating disorders]
let me tell you something – mental illnesses suck. i mean, that’s no surprise, but they suck to an extent some cannot even imagine. they’re not just temporary cases of sad feels that will go away once you take a hot bath and eat a tub of ice cream or go for a 30 mins long run. mental illnesses can literally suck the soul out of you. while some make you manic and reckless, others turn you into a tearful mess unable to leave the bed. one way or another, they make it pretty difficult to focus on all your responsibilities and plans, which—guess what—sucks big balls.
in my case, my anxiety can make me listen to the same one song on repeat for 1 hour, not really doing anything but that. it can make me feel absolutely hopeless about simple tasks as washing the dishes or getting dressed after taking a shower, so i sit there, in my pile of mess, with old, running make up, a wet towel wrapped around my body, staring into the wall and crying because all these tasks are so overwhelming i feel physically sick. some days i break down after interacting with people i don’t know that well, even via email. it makes me starve for hours because i cannot get myself to the kitchen, and cooking seems like an unbelievable effort anyways.
unfortunately, the responsibilities won’t wait until you feel better, and who know when that will be, right? well, even though i can barely reach the level of productivity i used to execute on daily basis a year ago, i have figured there are some things and measures that can help me finish what’s needed in an acceptable time. not saying this will solve everyone’s mental health issues, it’s just a bunch of tips i have found helpful myself. let me know if there’s something else that helps you, thanks!
adjust your plans according to your health
do not overdo it. be realistic, and admit that you perhaps cannot do as much as you used to. if you really hit the rock bottom, start slowly. it’s ok to take things at your own pace, don’t worry.
that being said, try to keep strategic in your work. make lists; break it down to the tiniest tasks if you have to. i often write that i need to straighten my hair or wash the dishes, because it literally makes me feel better to tick off things of my list, and my memory tends to get awful on bad days, so it’s better to have it written down.
step by step, piece by piece
as i’ve said before, take it easy. so you’ve found yourself sitting in a pile of mess, surrounded by dirty dishes, clothes thrown on the floor, and a hungry stomach. what to do now? take one clothing item, put it into the wardrobe. then the next one. and then again. you can make it. it’s just a bunch of little steps.
do the worst things first
even if it’s incredibly hard, try starting with what feels like the biggest pain in the ass. in my experience, the longer you try to postpone something, the more you resent it, and the harder it is to start. and then, after a month of stressing out about it, you finally get your hands on it, and realize it’s actually not that bad at all. grit your teeth, take a deep breath, and try to delve into it as soon as you can.
get over with it asap
as i’ve said – n o p o s t p o n i n g. even when it comes to little things. come home and hang your clothes straight away instead of leaving them lying around. do the dishes right after you finish cooking/eating. etc. etc. the sooner you do it, the less you will stress about it.
plan in advance
if your plans involve a lot of running around the city, especially if you have to go to unknown places that make you nervous, make sure to plan your way before so that you minimize any uncomfortable, stressful situations. there’s nothing worse that being lost or disorganized, right? make a good use of Google Maps and similar to make your trip smooth and to make yourself feeling prepared and ok with doing it.
ask for help
you don’t have to be alone in this. and don’t assume no one cares. i know it can be scary. i know it can be defeating. but try getting someone to help you. maybe someone can help you with cleaning your room, or help you structure that awful thesis you need to write, do your groceries or go to the bank or post office or wherever with you – just try and ask!
drink a lot of water
water is good. water always helps. being dehydrated would only drain you more.
don’t forget to eat
food is also good. i know it can get hard to find the time or the will to cook or the appetite in general, but try to get some fuel into your body. stock up on healthy, nourishing, easy-to-prepare meals—for me, that’s hummus and carrots and nuts and a fruits and veggies for smoothies—and keep yourself replenished. also, if you need to run some errands outside, don’t forget to bring some snacks – anxiety can get really bad when you’re malnourished!
keep self-care props on hand
if you need to get into a situation you know can or will potentially make you uncomfortable, make sure to bring some little helpers to ease you through the situation. now, that’s gonna be different for everyone; i sadly have to admit it’s cigarettes for me, because they make me feel a bit more confident in such situations (please don’t start smoking, it sucks. it will eat your heart and wallet out. do not start.), but you can also go for pleasant scents or roll-on essential oils or candy or anti-stress toys to keep in your pocket or whatever that can make the stressful time a bit more easy to cope with.
turn it into pleasure
you know, it all doesn’t have to be such a dreadful chore. surround yourself by nice things as you work; make yourself a good cup of tea, buy a snack, put on a nice essential oil,… anything that will make it less of a pain. nice and soothing. warm and cozy.
once you manage to tick off all your tasks, make sure to treat yourself! do whatever you want/can; being it putting on a face mask, lighting up a candle, masturbating, cooking your fav food, buying yourself something if you can afford it,… whatever makes you happy, my dear.
don’t punish yourself
so what, you didn’t finish all you had to. there’s still tomorrow, and the day after, and like million other days after that. you are not lazy. you tried, and that’s what matters the most.