Shoulds and Anxiety


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Photo by Kat Jayne on

Fair warning ahead.  This post will have a lot of “should” spoken throughout.  I know I’ll be “shoulding on myself” but it’s kind of the point of what’s going on.  I want to talk about the lack of motivation and how it contributes to my guilt issue.  There are a ton of things that anyone may think they should be doing.  How they should look, how they should eat, how they should feel, what they should do in certain situations.  On and on and on.  I don’t know how anyone would not feel like they should all over themselves.  However, I feel that some/most people may not have such an issue with the shoulds as those with depression (side note, my spellcheck hates shoulds).

When I’m in the throes of depression, or what I think I’m entering now, my mixed state, my motivation to do things goes close to zero.  My shoulds go off the charts.  Right now, I have about a month before I go back to work.  So I should be doing the rest of my list of things I wanted to get done around the house, because I won’t have the time or energy to do them.  Am I doing or starting any of them?  Nope.  Nada.  I should be though.  I know I just deep cleaned my house last week, but I should do a room a day in order to keep it this clean; nope, not happening.  I still have things on my last list I wanted to do, like clean my fridge and organize my utility closet.  Still dirty and a disaster.  It’s almost time to get the Christmas decorations down that I don’t even particularly care for generally, and I’m dreading it.  I should read the 8 books on my nightstand and can’t even get myself to do that, and I LOVE to read.  I should give my dogs a bath.  I should get a craft table downstairs.  I should learn more about my new craft toy so I can play with it.  I should finish decorating my step-daughter’s room.  On and on and on; you get the point.

My point is, that with all these things on my theoretical plate, I have even less motivation to do any of them.  I feel overwhelmed and that makes me shut down and not able to do any of it.  I could have done something small today as I had about an hour alone.  What did I do?  Color.  Maybe I needed it.  I have been really anxious recently, mostly about going to work and my lack of sleep.  How will I get up at 6am when I wake up at 2 every single day?  I’m not even going to get into all of my anxiety about going back to work, they are crushing me too.  I will have the day tomorrow to myself to get some things done, so I may do one.  I do have a rule that I have to do one productive thing a day.  Perhaps since my washer is still broken, I can put away the three clean baskets I do have ready and clean.  They’ve been sitting for weeks, perhaps it’s about time.  Maybe because I’ve got so little motivation I should pick something smaller and more digestible to do.  Pick a thing, any thing.  I’ve been crocheting random scarves with this pretty green wool yarn, but I have a billion scarves and have no need of it, so what’s the point?  To keep my hands going and moving to deal with being anxious, and not using my phone to do it.  Coping?

The other part I’m dealing with is clearly my mind is going at top speed.  You can tell if you look up at my shoulds.  There is so much there that is spiraling around and doesn’t stop.  It hasn’t been that way for a while.  It’s only done this for about 3 days, so I cannot really confirm I’m in a mixed state, but I’m assuming this is what it feels like.  I spent an hour when I woke up pretend shopping so that I don’t impulsively spend money on amazon.  I just shop and find things I want and add them to my cart.  I’ll then hit “save for later” or add to a shopping list.  That way I still FEEL like I’m shopping, but don’t spend my money.  I do that on a lot of websites, it’s the only way I could find to stop my random compulsive nighttime shopping.  And it’s worked for the most part.  There are a few things I messed up on, but that I decided I NEEDED to have.  And one of them, I had in my cart for a week.  I want a retractable baby gate at the top of my stairs.  My dogs have been good about not going downstairs if I’m not there with them, but if I go down, I can’t keep them upstairs.  Downstairs is where the good kitty surprises are as well as cat food and pieces of wood to chew up (which I still haven’t cleaned from the other day).

So with all of this swirling around in my head, how do I pick one out and do it, so I don’t go down into full depression?  When I’m in full depression I feel worthless when I don’t do anything, and that just triggers a whirlpool of worsening despair.  What am I going to do when I go back to work and don’t have the time nor energy to do any of this?  When I work, I get home and am just mentally exhausted and can only take care of the minimum of chores, like feed everyone, make dinner and clean up.  By then, it’s 8 pm and I can’t/won’t do any more.  Weekends are for adventures and seeing the kids.  I’ll have to continue to do the next right thing and just pick something and force myself to do it.  And hopefully I can get out of this mixed state somehow.  Though I don’t have any clue how or when that can happen.

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