I’ve been feeling low since Friday, with rubbish energy levels and little motivation. Meeting up with friends and going to choir have really helped, but as soon as I’m at home faced with a to-do list, lethargy creeps in again. I think it’s partly the fallout from therapy, which has left me feeling much more aware of my own ‘brokenness’, and partly the prospect of having to write a research proposal for my PhD funding when I don’t have a clue what direction my research is taking.
I’ve been thinking about what my therapist said about my lifetime of ‘pulling myself together’, and he’s right. As I look back over the years I can see a pattern of falling apart then picking myself up and putting the pieces back together again. Sometimes this is in very big ways (breakdown during finals, took years to rebuild my life), sometimes very small ways (oops, I took on too much last week, I’ll take it easy this week), and everything in between. I suppose the question is how much of this is normal. I’ve observed before that trying to find a balance in life isn’t something you can do once and stick with it; things constantly need reassessing and adjusting. That has to be normal, because a tightrope walker can’t just find his balance at the start then plough across the rope regardless. I guess what concerns me is how difficult and counter-instinctive it is for me to find balance and how much I’m still wobbling around all over the place. Does this mean I need more therapy, or is it just a question of practice? I feel I’ve been practising for years and not improving.
This is what the cycle looks like:
The references to bingeing and purging are because my therapist compared the way I manage my life to bulimia – definitely one of those ‘ouch’ moments.
I can be in different phases at the same time with regard to different areas of my life, but right now I’m mainly at the ‘falling apart / taking care of myself’ stage. This never feels good. Even when it’s more about self-care than falling apart, and I’m taking time out in a responsible way, I feel a sense of shame and loss. Today it seems to be ‘burying my head in the sand’ territory, which is worse.
I love the feeling of getting back on track and starting to pick up the pieces (which is where I am with my debts right now), but then I get carried away and take on too many things, and the cycle repeats itself. Perhaps what worries me most is when I first realise it’s all too much, I force myself to keep going and it’s very difficult to acknowledge I can’t cope.
The problem is that now I’ve recognised the cycle and committed it to paper and black and white (or blue and purple) I don’t know whether there’s any point in dragging my head out of the sand and putting myself back together, because I know what happens next. This is one of the issues that therapy is supposed to help me with, but the waiting list for ongoing treatment is about a year.