While I’ve been sick with vestibular migraines for the last few months, I’ve still been trying to engage with the world in any way I can. I am doing better and am able to actually write at this point. I find that when I get depressed or very sick I tend to withdraw from friends and life in general. When this happens I become depleted. This is when it’s time to fill my creative well. I go for drives, watch old movies, read news articles, get together with friends, and so on. It gives me a feeling of balance which then helps me to draw from my experience as I write my novel.
You don’t need to be an author to need to fill the well! A friend of mine is very sick and has a lot of crazy shit going on in her life. I saw her last week and she was saying how she couldn’t do anymore that day. I told her that she should go with her gut! Make the rest of the afternoon as much of a “me day” as possible. Replenish her energy. I could see that she was near a breaking point and sometimes you just need someone to tell you that it’s OK to take time for yourself!
Of course, you can swing too far the other direction and take so much time for yourself that you stop being productive. This is an especially difficult balancing act for those of us with depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues. And not every solution will work for every person. But allow me to make some suggestions that I have learned in various therapy sessions.
- Keep a Calendar!
Seeing when your appointments and deadlines are (either on paper or an app on your phone) can be both helpful and overwhelming. Sometimes I look at my phone and realize that I have booked too many things in one day. But because I can see my calendar I can simply call and rearrange things. Whether they be doctor appointments, work meetings, social activities, etc.
- Get It Over With!
If you find, like me, that you have a long list of to-do items, tackle them! I am a big procrastinator when it comes to setting up doctor appointments, car inspection appointments (oh ya! I need to get that done this week!) etc. Set aside an hour (or less depending on your need) and just make those phone calls so that you don’t have the weight of your to-do list weighing you down. Be sure and use your calendar to spread them out to keep from overwhelming yourself.
- Make a Destress Kit!
This may seem odd, but I learned it in a hospital and it has been a great tool. I believe I have mentioned this before. Honestly, it’s one of the first things I suggest to anyone who talks to me about being stressed! I used a shoe box. You can decorate your box or leave it as is, whatever your pleasure. Find something that can soothe all five senses. For example, in my box, I have a lavender lotion that feels good on my skin but also has a calming fragrance. I have a deck of cards. Playing games with them or doing crossword puzzles can take my mind off my worries. I have a variety of relaxing playlists to listen to (granted these are on my computer/phone not in my box). Hard candies to let me focus on flavor. Pictures of things that make me smile. I also have a stress ball and silly putty along with some lavender bubble bath. I think you get the idea.
Just think: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch
There are so many options for reading these days. It’s a great escape and expands our minds. I know it can be hard to make time when there are so many things to binge watch, but I think that reading really allows you to use your mind to picture the story you are engaging in. There are a LOT of classics that are
free on Amazon to download to your Kindle, or phone, or tablet. You can also listen to books while you are doing chores or driving. Audible is a great source for that! I have a sister in law who cleans houses and listens to books as she works. It really enriches her life and doesn’t take away from what she’s doing. There are also some great meditations you can find at google music, iTunes, basically everywhere! Find something to read and you will be swept away from your worries for a time.
- Talk to Someone!
This may be the most important bit of advice I’ve gained over the years. Sitting alone with our worries, whatever they may be, can become crippling. Find a friend, a family member, a support group, and or a therapist. I have to say that if you can find a therapist that you gel with it is the best thing in the world. They will listen, they have been trained in how to help you, they will have access to resources that you may not have thought of otherwise. Just don’t hold it all in or think you have to carry it alone. There are options for you!
So, yes, it’s hard to write on an empty life. It’s also hard to live an empty life or a life devoid of self-care. Go to bat for yourself. I know you won’t regret it. Don’t feel bad if these ideas don’t resonate with you either! We are all different. Rather than let it frustrate you try and let these suggestions be a springboard for ideas that do fit your life.
I would love to hear from you in the comments! Please let me know what you think of these ideas and what you would add to my list! I’m always on the lookout for something new to help me keep putting one foot in front of the other when things get rough. I’ll see you in the comments section!