I giggle every time I run across someone on my social media complaining about “adulting”. “I don’t want to adult today”, or any number of hilarious memes dedicated to the subject. I laugh, but totally agree that it is rough at times. Mt. Everest-scaling-status some days (ok, not that challenging, but pretty damn tiring). And on those extra-special doozie days I really would enjoy for someone to say, “Good job for doing normal adult stuff today (i.e. brushing your teeth),” then giving me a gold star (and maybe a bonus brownie).
As you may or may not experience, adulting is on a whole new level when there is mental illness and/or addiction involved. I am guessing from the numbers (1 in 4 adults), that many of you can relate to trying to complete basic daily tasks while having anxiety, depression, or a more serious mental condition (I applaud those of you who have some super serious shit going on upstairs, 10 gold stars to you for getting out of bed today!). Furthermore, 1 in 10 adults is struggling with addiction in our country; roughly 23 million Americans! All this chaos while still trying to maintain a “normal” and productive life. Everything is more daunting, more despairing, more dramatic (etcetera, etcetera) when the brain isn’t firing all cylinders properly. It’s exhausting in and of itself to battle with yourself in your own head, then add in grown-up responsibilities, the madness!
I have wasted away many a day in my jammies on the couch because I was too distraught about Chad, or too tired from being up the entire night before letting my mind reel with insane projections (simultaneously social media stalking searching for clues that Chad was indeed incarcerated while dead). But I am proud to say I have come a long way over the past three years, rarely anymore (well never now that the Andy Bear made his grand entrance) do I have those days where I sit (well, mostly sleep) on the couch in my sweats because anything else would take too much effort. Now don’t get me wrong, there was a day last week where my husband gently steered me to the point of making me realize that I was wearing the same clothes as two days prior (progress not perfection, people), or the day I ate a sleeve of Saltines and bone broth (yum, make some!) for dinner because I was pouting that he got to attend a work function sushi dinner. Postpartum brain has done a number on me for sure, it’s actually been more work keeping myself in check than learning the baby ropes, sorry I digress! Anyway, my point is that some days my mental issues take the wheel and it makes everything else such a struggle (#thestruggleisreal).
Now onto the goods: how to recognize those days and work through them. First of all, adult gold star for even caring and wanting to work at making yourself a better version of you, that takes mounds of effort alone! Second of all, I can’t and don’t do it alone, it’s good to talk to others about any issues and let caring people into the circle of nuts. Personally, I make sure if I wake up and feel off (maybe didn’t sleep well, eat enough dinner-see here), I hit my morning prayers, then get my butt up and busy. I will force myself to take a walk, actually eat breakfast, and get cleaned up (three gold stars before noon!). I work extremely hard not to get sucked in and wallow through those days because by about 5 p.m. I will feel like total poop. I usually also force myself out of my shell those days to take Andy to play with friends and get some grown up time. Even something as simple as grabbing a yummy coffee and going to the park to watch his joy while he swings. It feels as if I am swimming the English Channel (again, not really, but kind of!), but I push onward and let others’ good energy help snap me out of the funk.
As far as preventing those days when adulting with crazy brain tries to kick my ass, I have learned some days just are what they are. Some days nothing really makes me feel 100% better because I am truly overtired, under worked-out, or have too much on my plate and my brain chemicals take the win. So on those days I go to bed when Andy does with the intention of trying again tomorrow, rather than fighting a loosing battle with my brain. It won’t be the end of the world if I wear my clothes to bed and don’t brush my teeth. Gross, yes, but not world-ending. I don’t throw in the towel completely however, I still take some inventory (thank you Step #10) and note what was missing from the day that could have made it more manageable. The usual suspects are: sat around, didn’t eat well, spent too much time on social media, and felt sorry for myself (*scarecrow singing* if I only had a “normal” brain ). I meditate on letting it go and not beating myself up for it (gold stars for taking inventory and letting it go).
I also let go of the paranoia that a day home here and there will not damage my son. We still play, he gets fed and changed; it’s me that gets beat up on those days. I am (as most of us are) an Oscar-worthy actress when it comes to hiding those days that aren’t riddled with gold stars; nobody usually knows it sucks except me and my HP. Thankfully,with constant mindfulness and work, those days are pretty far and few between. Recognize it, work at it, and I believe I can adult through any day.
And hey, if all you did today was brush your teeth and take a short walk, that’s better than nothing. Here I am to stick your shiny gold stars on your hand and hope you have the courage to tackle it again tomorrow. A final nugget to send you on your way: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'”-Mary Ann Radmacher
-Be Good, Do Good