Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Survival Mode. How to keep it together when everything feels like its falling apart.

One of my very sweetest friends asked me the other day "How do you keep yourself motivated when everything feels like its overwhelming....how do you keep from just giving up and having a drink?" I had a LOT of those overwhelming moments in the last couple weeks and it reminded me of a time about 18 months ago when everyday felt overwhelming.

Because I have ADD and GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) it is really hard for me to keep a grasp on overwhelming situations...a small bump in the road to some people is a giant road block to me...my brain just can't figure out how to work through the problem and get to the solution on the other side. So most of the time I would either become very apathetic about the issue and take on a "oh well, I didn't really care about it anyways" attitude, or I become a flustered mess and have one of those ugly tears crying fits where I wonder why on earth I can't just be normal. 

Back to that time 18 months ago...let me set the scene for you. I was recently seperated from my ex husband, playing single mom to a kindergartener and a young toddler and taking on a new lifestyle as a stay at home mom. I had just moved from what was supposed to be my stepford wife dream house, The Red House, into a teeny tiny 2nd story apartment. I had strained relationships with family members and I was also trying to foster a new relationship with the bf. It was a LOT of changes in a small amount of time and there were a lot of days where I just couldn't handle it. I would find myself sitting idle on the couch staring out my windows for hours on end. Replaying how I had made it to this point in life...then I would curl back up in bed and waste entire days away.

After a very rare Texas Ice Storm that kept us literally "snowed in" our apartment for 4 days the BF and I were supposed to be leaving for Las Vegas for our first trip together. 5 days hulled up in an apartment with 2 kids and no way to get out and the thought that our upcoming Vegas trip might be derailed due to the weather...that is when I hit rock bottom. I sat on the kitchen floor and cried and did the "its not fair" "why me" pity party.

Then I came to terms with things. 

I made myself come to terms with the fact that I was in the middle of a BIG life change...and that it was going to be HARD. I came to terms with the fact that I could still do ANYTHING...but I still couldn't do EVERYTHING all at once. And I finally came to terms with the fact that for a while, life was just going to be a mess and I needed to survive. 

And that is when I came up with the Daily 10.

This was a list of 10 basic things that I needed to do every day to maintain enough sanity to live to see the next day. They are basic. These are things that any normal person, on any normal day would do without thinking, but when you feel like the whole world is caving in around you...these are the things you have to push yourself to do. 

My list looked like this:

1. Get Dressed.
2. Pick up 10 things
3. Do a load of laundry
4. Get outside, exercise, cardio
5. Figure out whats for dinner...get it or make it.
6. Have at least one quality conversation with each of the girls
7. Take at least 30 minutes of "me" time
8. Talk to someone else - Facebook, Text, Email, Call
9. Make the bed
10. Write it down - A list, a journal entry, blog.

It sounds easy...and almost redundant to list these things but I could take this list, and as my day went on feel a breif sense of accomplishment by having some tasks checked off my list. Of course, my "to do" list grew by the day but if all I did in any given day was the above 10 things, I got to feel that sense of accomplishment 10 times when I checked things off. 

This kind of list is exactly what I would suggest to someone going through a big life change...like moving...or having a baby at home...or even having your 3 school aged children at home with you for the summer. The truth is, when your normal routine is about to get big time disrupted, it might be time to go in to survival mode.

After answering my friends question about how I stayed motivated...and telling her about the time that I could barely make it out of my ratty pajamas for an entire day...I told her another secret. Sometimes the answer is to just "give up and have a drink." No, I'm not condoning being an alcoholic...its more of a figure of speech. Sometimes you just need to take a break, turn your mind somewhere else and then revisit the situation with a clear head. Nothing good will ever come of dwelling, worrying and stressing. If you find yourself getting worked up over a task, its time for a break. Don't make a martyr out of yourself to push through something causing  you grief and angst if its not worth it. Weigh your priorities and figure out if its worth your energy, and if it isn't you just need to let it go and get back to just making it through your day with the ability to lay down in bed and say "today was not awful..."


  1. THIS is what keeps me coming back, Shelly. Your honesty. Who hasn't hit that bottom and been afraid of what will happen today or tomorrow or yesterday. I like that you keep this real and aren't sugar coating it all!

    Keep those spirits up...you have come so far and it is sunshine out there! And you will get it done, your motivation and simple steps...I have been there and your outlook is so great!

    Happy to hear the ankle is looking better too!

  2. OMG...I love you for writing this and can't believe I am just now seeing it. Truth be told I am catching up on all of your blogs tonight. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much for relating to the every day young mom who feels like they could still easily be in college, but is definitely at the age where adulthood has slapped them on the back and said, "Let's do this." it is blogs like yours that keep me feeling sane. This is why I love you, and why even though we may not see each other often, we will always be close ;-)

    Love you like a fat kid loves cake!