The Weight of Inertia

by Ginger on March 12, 2012

in I'm a Disaster

It’s the end of another day, and the list of things I didn’t get done–hell, that I didn’t even START–weighs on me.

It weighs on me during the day too. But it’s like I’m incapable of movement. For every one thing I manage to get done, there are 10 more I should have done, and the guilt and the embarrassment that I’m not DOING WHAT I SHOULD push down to make me throw up my hands and say “ah, to hell with it all.”

I’ve gotten really good at ignoring the chaos around me.

Except that’s a total lie. I’m not good at ignoring it, I’m just good at pretending I’m ignoring it.It’s a battle in my head–on the one side going, “hey, you have these 92 things to do, why don’t you DO any of them?” and on the other side going, “hey, there’s 92 things to do. You’ll never get them all done, so why even bother starting?”

I can’t even tell you how stupid I think my head is being.

I’m talking with my therapist about all this nonsense, but she has things for me to do too:  exercise for 30 minutes, take 1 hour before bed for a relaxing pre-sleep ritual, and FTLOG woman SLEEP. Those all take time. TIME.

The “simple” answer would be to eliminate things. Stop blogging. Give up TV. Nix reading. Don’t try to have a social life. Do the things I HAVE to do, and eliminate all the extras.

But that doesn’t feel simple. That feels like a slow descent into madness, to give up all the things I enjoy, just because everything else in my life takes time too. The line between practical and utterly giving myself up is one I’m not entirely willing to cross.

The thing I’ve had the hardest time explaining, to anyone (even myself), about all this is that this isn’t about not getting things done. It’s not about time management skills, or lifehacks. The rational part of my brain knows that the only way things get done is if you…do them. Pick a task on the list, and do it. It’s simple, or it should be. But it’s not for me lately. Instead, it’s about how my brain is mixing everything into one big scary completely insurmountable task list complete with dire consequences should even one thing fail. It sucks my soul, my mind, and my willpower and leads to nothing but inertia. The effort to even begin climbing the pile of nonsense I feel like I need to do is more than I can manage.

Today at least.

Maybe, maybe tomorrow will be better.

Carolyn West March 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm

So many days I feel exactly like this. The things I need to do overwhelm me and I end up worrying about them instead of actually doing them. I tell myself there is always tomorrow but then tomorrow comes and I want to crawl under a rock and stay there forever. Sometimes it really is a matter of unplugging and just doing one thing at a time. Imagine the weight that will be lifted when you start crossing stuff off the list. Things are always easier/better/simpler than the drama we make them out to be in our minds.

Robbie March 12, 2012 at 9:47 pm

WOW,,,This is EXACTLY how I feel. I can’t get stuff done b/c I can’t just start the tasks and actually do them. Then I am so overwhelmed and pressed for time and I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off…and the disorganization, inability to focus and complete things kicks in.

Ginger March 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Chicken with my head cut off–that’s such a perfect description. Complete with flapping and feather’s flying.

Cloud March 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Don’t you dare beat yourself up for feeling this way! This is how depression makes you feel, right? You’ve only just started dealing with the depression. Give yourself time!

I’d say the exercise- even if it is just a lunchtime walk- is more important than anything on your to do list right now. When I get super busy, I find that the best way to dig out of the hole is to stop flinging dirt around and take the time to let my brain unwind a bit, and exercise is great for that. So, paradoxically, the busier and more hectic things get at work, the more I force myself to take a break and go for a walk at lunchtime.

Hang in there.

ARC March 12, 2012 at 11:41 pm

I *so* know where you’re coming from. I think it’s important to keep doing the things you *want* to do. Re: the “have tos”, pick just one. Even if it’s tiny. Give yourself a break.

Also +1 to Cloud’s suggestion – sometimes getting outside and getting moving really helps.

Christa the BabbyMama March 13, 2012 at 7:05 am

I go through this in phases – I’m just trucking along, then suddenly I am feeling the weight of every undone everything and it stinks. Usually the only answer is, like you said, to do a thing. One checked off to-do makes the next one a little easier and so on. But still, it stinks. And I do feel like I suddenly don’t have time for anything I actually enjoy (the perils of working and ALSO freelancing). But exercise helps, too, so I can’t give that up.

Jess @ Dude and Sweets March 13, 2012 at 7:31 am

My brain does that too.

“I can do this!” “Ah, no I can’t! It’s too much! BOO SELF!” “Stop being a lazy ass and DO SOMETHING, SELF!”

Even now. I have sooooooooo many tasks that I really need to complete. I needed to do them yesterday, and last week. So I do a half of one, and then Oh! A baby needs me! And then I’m all “whoa, this was exhausting…computer!”.

I would like to give my brain a makeover.

Ginger March 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I was telling my husband last week that I wished we could switch brains just long enough for me to get some things done 😉

Ann Wyse March 13, 2012 at 8:26 am

I’ve definitely felt this way before. I think you did a beautiful job describing it.

It sounds you feel the therapist is just adding more to your list – or at least, that’s how *I’D* feel. But I second what as already been said here, start with the exercise: MOVE: because that’s the great thing about inertia: it works both ways, right? Once you start moving, you won’t want to stop.

Also, I read this article in the NYT:
Don’t read the whole thing unless you want to or have time, ha ha. What was interesting began on page 8; what begins: ‘When I met Andrew Pole….’ It’s about habits (cookie eating, in this case) and how to break those habits. When I read it, I thought to myself: ah ha! This is how I need to think about some my bad habits and motivate myself….

Ginger March 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm

That whole article is pretty fascinating (as a marketing geek in particular!), but that part you pointed out about breaking habits is really timely. I may sit down and try that same exercise myself!

jenn @ so this is love March 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

Having one of those feelings lately myself. The overwhelming-ness of it all. I think it’s all a process of letting go of control. The fact there are only so many hours in a day. We are only human. We can only do so much. Big hugs to you!

Alyssa S March 13, 2012 at 10:59 am

Sometimes you just have to concentrate on the things you ARE doing rather than the things that aren’t getting done. I’m a “try to do it all” kind of girl and the hard faced reality is that is a lie. No one can do it all. So every day I make sure the daily things I know NEED to be done are done and then try to do one…only one other thing…some other thing I promise myself I will get done that day and do it. Sure, things get left undone, but you know what, it’s OK.

Rachael March 13, 2012 at 11:14 pm

I get exactly what you’re talking about. Some days the house is a disaster and it stays that way because I just don’t know where to start and can’t make myself do it. Oh well, it will still be there tomorrow…

oilandgarlic March 14, 2012 at 11:21 am

As much as I like reading and following blogs, I think it is a good idea to step back from computer time even if it can be social. You’re just starting your journey out of depression and simplifying is good. That doesn’t mean you can jump back in when you’re ready. I second that exercising is good advice!

Ginger March 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I agree. I’ve (shockingly/surprisingly) cut back a good amount–leaving only the pieces that I draw strength from right now: writing when I want, answering comments when they speak to me/I want, and removing any goals of “growing.” It’s been good, leaving me the therapeutic parts and dropping the stressful parts. Even letting go of that has been really helpful.

Jennifer March 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

I think you just have to get to the point where you accept that you can NOT do it all. We just can’t. Most things on our lists will not get done most days. We just have to make sure the important things do. It is up to each of us to determine what those important things are. For me it is snuggling on the couch with my kids, blogging, reading a good book… the dishes can wait.

Ashley @ It's Fitting March 14, 2012 at 1:26 pm

When did you step into my brain? I’m the same way girl… a laundry list of things to do goes untouched and then I beat myself up for not doing them. I’ve tried to set manageable goals for myself lately… Things that I can cross off the list that were actually EASY to do, so at least I get the inertia going in another direction. But some days? Eh. It doesn’t get done until I feel well and truly motivated to do it. So my house isn’t clean right now? F*** it.

Sheila March 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I get that way a lot. What’s helped me in the past month or so has been to have a set time every day (first thing after breakfast for an hour; you might only have 15 minutes to spare, but that’s okay) during which I do something productive. Anything. I usually pick the easiest item on my to-do list to start … it makes me feel SO MUCH better. I feel productive and efficient and on top of things! And when I feel that way, I start feeling that maybe I can tackle the next hardest.

Of course I shouldn’t lecture you, because I have three scary phone calls to make this week, and here it is the end of Wednesday and I’m still putting them off because they’re scary. Sooner or later I will have to bite the bullet and do them. But with smaller things, they are getting crossed off my list and it makes me feel SO GOOD.

Hope March 15, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Sometimes I get so far behind that I reach a tipping point where my anxiety over everything I have to do makes it really, really hard to get anything done. I usually force myself to start with the stuff that’s small and easy, but it’s still overwhelming!

Ginger March 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm

That’s the point where I have been shutting down–that point where it feels like there is NO way to get out from underneath it. I’m working really hard on not shutting down and instead doing ANYTHING, even if it’s the small stuff.

It’s a lot harder than I wish it was.

Classic NYer March 23, 2012 at 11:04 am

OMG I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE!!!! I hate about myself that my response to stress is to feel overwhelmed and fatigued and that looking at my list of things to do just makes me want to crawl back into bed and hope they’ll all do themselves if I just stay out of their way…

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