I recently came upon an old note where I'd recorded a nightmare. Apparently, I was cleaning, organizing, and fixing my life in this dream. It sounds like a wonderful dream, right⸮ Soon, the landlord and some workers came over. At first, I was immensely relieved that I had already been organizing my apartment. Here it was! Clean and ready for company. I felt great.
The mundane quickly became the stuff of nightmare, however. They needed to get access to an area that I hadn't cleaned yet. I started feeling anxiety and frustration as they moved things out of the way. Someone else was organizing my place! Then they handed me a stack of sticky notes that they taken off of something that they needed to work on. I thought, “I can handle this,” but then I noticed the sticky notes were loaded with things still left to do. They were all now jumbled around, and I realized it would take some time to sort through all of them, but the workers were needing me to move other things out of the way. I had one of those moments where my brain froze with indecision—overwhelmed by too many emotions and decisions to sort all at once.
Thankfully, I woke up at that moment. But it left me with a sense of dread that my waking life wasn't too far from that nightmare. I jotted the note down electronically (I actually don't use sticky notes exactly because of what happened in the nightmare. Odd that I dreamed about using them.), but forgot about it over time. How funny that I came across it again today. I've just experienced one of the hardest two weeks in a long while. I came down with the flu in the same week that my daughter had a seizure at school. The paramedics let me take her home instead of transporting her to the hospital, but on Sunday she had another seizure. This was a tonic clonic, requiring rescue breathing. She was brought to the ER in an ambulance where she was put under observation for a while. She was eventually released without an overnight stay, but I wasn't quite over the flu and, therefore, relapsed. Today, she is sick, too. She is behind in school; I'm behind in all my writing assignments; my bank is negative; my home looks like a tornado whirled through it; and both sinks are filled with dishes. To find this note about the nightmare today was the straw that broke the camel's funny bone. I started to laugh. Now would be the perfect time for unexpected company.
Life is stressful for everyone. Where my depression and ADHD contribute is that one makes coping more difficult, and the other adds to the chaos. I tell myself “I can do this,” a favorite mantra of mine, and so I will, but it isn't a simple matter of repeating the words. Coping strategies are more than mantras or prayers of hope. They are action plans.
Today's action plan for myself will start with this blog. I needed a moment of respite from the chaos, and this blog was the perfect choice. I'm calmer and more in control of my thoughts. I feel more relaxed. Now I'll attend to those sinks. I need dishes for dinner. Then I'll make three important phone calls I've been putting off. Then I'll make a new list of ThreeDos for work, and get busy!
When you find yourself overwhelmed, learn to take a moment to pause the maelstrom in your mind. Calm the anxiety. Cool the panic. Stop thinking that you're doomed. It will all work out in the end. Just break things down into smaller steps, then put that first foot forward. You can do this.