If you don’t live in a hot dry climate, you may never have seen a dust devil. They are like a mini tornado that come out of nowhere, spiraling dirt and other debris into the air and then are gone. Once in a while they cause some damage but usually they are just a nuisance.
So, what does this have to do with me and mental health? I think it’s a perfect description of how I respond when holidays or trips are close. I’ll be going along fine, all excited about the event, and then it happens. I wake up one morning and panic sets in.
I will NEVER get all of the things done. That is a given according my brain. Yes, I can postpone doing some of the less important things but that means next week will be playing catch up and then I’ll be behind again and I spin. Just like the dust devil.
Snake always knows. He can feel the stress level in my body go from my normal buzz to an almost palpable one. He knows me and that in my head I have to be responsible for doing every last piece for some completely unknown reason.
He’s learned not to offer help at first. I can’t even think about delegating at that point because all of it is spinning around in my head in one giant mismatched monster that has 50 heads. So he waits a bit because he knows exactly what I will do.
Lists. I live by lists. I write several a day on an average day. And in spite of the fact that I work on the computer hours each day, I like my lists on paper. I may not ever be able to decipher some of the words, but I like SEEING them on my desk and being able to scratch things off by hand. Checking them off on my phone just doesn’t feel like I accomplished anything.
I start the list making process on today’s to-do list. I dump ALL of the things out of my head on to a piece of paper and realize that yes, it is a lot but I can knock off a couple of easy things and cross them off the list. Yes, the turkey is now in the refrigerator to thaw. Cross that sucker off the list.
Like clockwork a few hours later I will get a message from Snake. You don’t have to do x today if you don’t have time. And always, this is both of us and I can help. By then, I can actually talk to him and we can figure out where things can be cut and what I actually don’t need to be the one to do.
This morning my brain decided that Thanksgiving this week meant that cooking, Thanksgiving, decorating for Christmas, buying presents, wrapping presents, mailing presents, getting to the airport for the trip (December 23rd, btw), dance performance, work and ordinary life stuff all had to happen today. Of course. I was already behind and why can’t I be organized like my mother always was?
I’ll never be organized like she was. My brain doesn’t work that way, but she did teach me the art of the list. And Snake helps me balance the rest.