A love of making things, and a predisposition to panic
I have come to a point in time where there are so many things that I want to do and seemingly not enough time to do them all.
Of course, that is ridiculous. I have a shocking amount of free time while I am not working. But it is filled with things that I want to do.
I am working on a new writing project, totally unrelated to this blog. I have started a new crochet project. Not to mention necessary things like trips to the grocery store, and laundry. I still have a basket of nothing but clean white socks that I have not paired and put away. Plus I have been cooking almost every meal when it is time to eat it. When I was working, I would cook once or twice a week and pack it all up.
It’s hard for me to think about what I got done when I worked. It was different. Mostly what got done was work. It would take me months, not weeks, to complete a crochet project. And my projects then were much simpler. This blog got written on one of the few days that I had off. Usually on the day that I did not cook all of my meals for the week.
There are so many things that I want to do all at the same time. Even, or maybe especially, when I am not working, and I feel like I should have time to do it all. It’s frustrating. Sometimes when I am doing the mindless part of some errand, like pairing socks, or walking home from the grocery store, I can feel myself getting worked up, almost like a panic. About the next scene in the story I’m writing. About how to attach the sleeve of my new crochet sweater. About which I should do first, and what I will do if they don’t turn out right. I start breathing heavy and my mind starts to whirr. I have to tell myself that it all doesn’t have to be done right now. I have to remind myself that these are not life an death decisions. I have to accept that nothing has to get done in a day except that I have to keep my eating boundaries.
Most of this is stuff that I have gone through all of my life, with one glaring exception. In the years of my life before I put boundaries around my eating, I was never able to calm myself to the extent that things could continue to get done. When I was eating compulsively, I was never able to manage my panic.
My addiction to sugar and my compulsive eating manifested as a kind of manic-depressive disorder. I would have great ideas. I would be overwhelmed with the desire to learn new things and create beautiful art. All kinds of art. I would have great bursts. I would have artistic binges. I would write in a frenzy. I would crochet through the night. I would read until I passed out and then wake to immediately continue reading. I would not want to stop for anything. I was a salve to the panic. I was trying to keep up with the whirring in my head.
And then I would crash. A mistake, or problem, or a block would rear up. And I wouldn’t know what to do. And I would eat. Sugar. And I would be so exhausted from the whirring that I would stop. I would get so high on sugar that I couldn’t do any more. And then would come a period where I would just get high. I would’t write, or read or crochet. I would just get high on sugar and crash from sugar. And this period of nothing, this depressive part of the cycle, would last so much longer than the manic period.
I hated this part of myself. I was deeply ashamed of what I viewed as my laziness. My sloth. My disgusting waste of energy and talents. But I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t will myself to start back up again. So when I got a new mania, I seized it. I jumped in and pushed myself to exhaustion. I manic-ed myself into a new depression. The whole thing made possible by a steady stream of sugar and carbohydrates.
Now I don’t have the sugar to fuel my panic, or stop my flow. And I have the capacity to see the whirring, and calm myself. Because I am sober from sugar and compulsive eating, I have the tools to accomplish things at a manageable pace. I know how to stop temporarily. To regroup. To calm down. To do life things in between, like laundry and cooking and showering. And I have the knowledge that I never had before. That tomorrow is another day. That I will eat three meals tomorrow. I will write some more, and crochet some more. That there is more than enough time to do everything that needs to be done. And I know that if, on any given day, nothing gets done but keeping my food boundaries, that’s ok to. It isn’t a crash or a depression. It’s just a day where I take a rest.
I think I always thought I was a little crazy growing up. And I can see now that I was…sort of. Sugar made me a different person. Kate on sugar was Kate on drugs. I was a junkie in a totally legal and mostly socially acceptable way.
Sure, I’m still pretty neurotic. But I am not a person I am embarrassed or ashamed of. And I am not tormented by “sloth” or “waste.” I am just a woman with a love of making things, and a predisposition to panic.
Beautifully said. The other way – the way fueled by addiction, every bump was a cataclysm. Having boundaries around my addictive substances allows me to catch myself when I lose my balance.
A life that allows for bumps and untouched to-do lists is the only real life, my best shot at accomplishing a project.
Kate, you get me thinking. You bring up good questions. This post said to me that aiming to get everything done now – or yesterday or in one day – is what keeps this perfectionist scrambling to get on the lowest rung of the ladder so she can start to move up.