I deal with something often (and have my entire life) that I call “Anxiety-Induced Paralysis.” It’s not that revolutionary of an idea and I’m certain someone else came up with it long before I did, but it’s something I talk about a lot and use to explain my life-long dependence on To Do lists. The general idea is there’s just so much I feel like I need to do or worry about that I can’t even tackle on any of it due to an overwhelming feeling of anxiety from life as a whole.
SO! I make lists to help me break it up into small chunks of conquerable tasks.
(PSSS…here’s your reminder that I have an entire website dedicated to the management of those lists.)
However, some days it’s still hard to push past the paralysis and I feel like I’ve been stuck under it for several days. It’s not like I’m not doing anything, I was super-productive at work yesterday. But I find myself opting to do things like veg out watching Gilmore Girls with NikkiZ or reading a book that is neither for book club OR for self-improvement. (My free time is minimal so I find myself only reading books in those two categories.)
And I find myself on the fence: Is this inability to be productive even when there is tons to do…is that a good or a bad thing?
Sometimes, when I’m feeling really anxious, I know it’s a bad thing. I’d be less anxious if I’d complete more on my list instead of spending 5 straight hours in Stars Hollow. But then I think about how this show has giving Nikki and I many moments of great discussions about growing up and relationships. Or I finally am reading the book (The Nightingale) everyone has been recommending to me for ages. I mean, those things are both enriching in their own way.
BUT…am I allowed to whine and complain about crippling anxiety if I don’t take the easiest course of action to rid myself of it by: DOING THE THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE.
I don’t know. Like I said – this is why I call it Anxiety-Induced Paralysis. It’s like I’m so overwhelmed some days that I deliberately choose to do things not even close to my list of Things To Do for the day. I watched 2 episodes of Gilmore Girls last night and read for an hour. And that covered basically all of the hours between getting home from work and going to bed, meaning I didn’t do anything productive so I slept restlessly and woke at 3:15am.
I have found another thing that contributes to Anxiety-Induced Paralysis. Usually it’s when some sort of event has occurred that is making the news that has triggered my need to respond/address things on a platform of some sort. Sometimes I end up discussing Trans Advocacy on my blog. Other times I use Facebook to promote empathy of Moms who lose their kids at Zoos. But in either situation, if I see something I feel the need to respond to, it will keep me from focusing on anything else until I get the response out there somehow. It’s a weird compulsion which is part of why I’ve had no problem in the last several years calling myself a “writer”. I mean, I don’t make money off of it, but the compulsion to write is so strong it is something I can’t ignore.
And while I did post something on Facebook promoting empathy for the family who lost their child in the Gorilla enclosure, I still saw so many responses the opposite in other places that I find the issue has not resolved itself in my heart. There’s still discussions about the Dad’s criminal record (why in the hell does that mean we can show empathy, I don’t understand) and whether or not parents were staring at their cell phone. There’s still people who argue that getting distracted at the Zoo and not watching your kids is NOT excusable and NOT the same as losing them at the grocery store.
So while I did post a general status on Facebook discussing my empathy, the opposite message is still being delivered so I feel like it didn’t suffice and I find it distracts me terribly. It’s weird. I actually thought about writing an entire post this morning about how I don’t make people “deserve” or “earn” my empathy. I thought maybe writing a whole blog post about it (instead of just a FB status) would clear out my head, but half of my social networks are also filled with people complaining about hearing about the damn Gorilla story so I figured the horse was dead so I could stop beating it.
But still…I had to at least explain how those type of issues do contribute to the paralysis. Many times an entry on this blog is specifically to help me move past an issue so I can move again elsewhere in my life.
The final thing that tends to contribute to Anxiety-Induced Paralysis is when I am just simply feeling gross. I’ve talked about this before, that when you’ve gained weight it’s an easy snowball effect because the mere fact that you’ve gained weight, makes you lethargic and therefore (of course) causes you to gain more weight. I’ve been feeling gross and lethargic since I stepped on the scale and saw a number I haven’t seen since I started boot camp in 2011. I’m still making better food choices, but I’m having trouble being motivated to exercise because I feel like I have so much to do, but of course I’m not doing any of it and so I could run but then I’m like Yeah. But I feel gross. so it makes me unproductive in multiple different ways.
So, I’m not going to run today because I have too much to do (HA!) but I am going to at least try to be a tiny bit more productive and maybe allocate 45 minutes to read and allow myself 1 episode of Gilmore Girls just so I have those joyful moments in my day…BUT THE REST OF THE DAY I AM GETTING SHIT DONE. Do you hear me?
BE GONE, ANXIETY-INDUCED PARALYSIS!