On Mental Health


Yesterday I had a date with a business coach at a local “incubator” type organization that guides you through entrepreneurship. (Speaking of that – Any of y’all live in Billings, Montana? I have a weird need.) This meeting required a lot of prep as I was going to have to be explaining something I’m finding hard to explain and so – OF COURSE – I was anxious. Everyone gets anxious in those situations, but take someone who has dealt with various levels of anxiety disorders for decades and it becomes almost debilitating.

So I didn’t log my food. Mainly because if I logged my food, I would feel worse about eating all of it. Also? I spent way too much time on social media.

Days like yesterday really highlight the “DISTRACTION” needs that my anxiety creates in me. I mean, I know this on a theoretical level as I use that term a lot in discussing my anxiety – about how I’m constantly searching for distractions from it. But seeing it develop on a practical level in real-time yesterday was fascinating because part of my brain was saying, “Look. You are turning to unhealthy distractions to cope with anxiety. You should not do that.” But the part of my brain that actually controls my actions – the part where the anxiety-produced chemicals do all of their work – was just saying FIND A DISTRACTION! ANY DISTRACTION! WE MUST COPE WITH THESE FEELINGS IN SOME WAY AND THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT IS TO DISTRACT OURSELVES! EAT THE FOOD! GET ANGRY AT THE INTERNET! BE SAD!

I tried to find some new podcasts to listen to this morning, I’ve discovered I’ve got a very specific need when it comes to podcasts lately, and I haven’t quite figured out what that is. There’s also always a book that I need to be writing and research I need to be doing and I’m backing up all of my flickr photos to Google Photos and that takes a chunk of time so WHY AM I HAVING TROUBLE CHOOSING BAD DISTRACTIONS? I have so many good ones I could be using!

I think it’s the mindless distractions that my anxiety requires. The ones that don’t engage any parts of my brain that might direct focus to my actual anxieties. Social media and Eating. Those two things seem to be the perfect Go To for occupying the part of my brain drowning in worry. When I try to distract myself with actual productive activities, it seems to allow the anxious part of my brain time to take over.

It’s very strange because I can talk about it theoretically until I’m blue in the face, but trying to analyze it practically is frustrating because I know it’s happening BUT I CAN NOT MAKE IT STOP.

Today is a new day! I’ve got a few big “tasks” looming that really could use my attention. Everything from writing my book, to cleaning up the back yard. I wasted all of that time yesterday distracting myself from worry when I could have been researching various types of articles of incorporation and examples of bylaws. Instead I surfed social media and ate everything in the house.

<insert long dramatic sigh here>

It’s only 5am, I have plenty of time to start my morning with a better framework. I’m going to sit down and read a little and map out the rest of my week and try to hold myself to some sort of schedule to choose certain hours to focus on certain goals/projects. Not “productivity” so much, but just FOCUS. I just haven been so scattered lately that I can’t even create task lists. So we’ll try again today with a little more self-love and some planned focus to try to built up the wall against distractions before I…well…get distracted.

3 thoughts on “Distractions”

  1. It doesn’t help that both social media and junk food have been engineered to work exactly as you’ve described. It’s not an internal failing on your part. They’ve been made to take advantage of everyone’s flight tendencies on the fight or flight spectrum.

  2. I am sitting here reading this eating conversation hearts. They said they wouldn’t be available th is year- they lied. apparently they were stockpiled from last year

  3. I completely feel you on the eating as a distraction thing. I find that when my to-do list includes tasks at which I feel confident doing, I dont get distracted as easily. I don’t get distracted when I practice, or study for a test. When I need to do something which causes anxiety – emailing my students’ parents – filing taxes – job hunting — the “thin” mints and sugary lattes are oh so appealing. And Pokemon Go and Facebook stays open…. Are we scattered because we are simply disorganized? Because we just don’t have the discipline or focus? Maybe there is a fear of failure and the distractions keep us from confronting those anxieties.

Leave a Reply