lizcommotion: A hand drawn spinning wheel covered in roses (spinning wheel briar rose)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
i have recently discovered/realized that most of my executive function runs on anxiety. or i should say, RAN on anxiety. this is...not sustainable. omg, is it not. but let me backtrack.

i've had trouble with anxiety since forever. in third grade, my teacher had a homework chart, where we got a sticker for each day we brought our homework in. the carrot was that any student who brought their completed homework in each day would get a free ice cream sundae at the end of the year. one day, i had done my homework but left it at home. i pretty much had a meltdown when i realized. my teacher said there was one "freebie day" which i'm pretty sure she only said so i would stop crying.

here's the thing: as much as anxiety pretty much shreds my ability to sleep, cope with unexpected challenges, or think positive thoughts about the future, it does serve a purpose. namely, if everything feels like a LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION, i get shit done.

in college, my fear spiral was this: don't finish this assignment. fail this class. fail all my classes. don't get degree. don't get a job with health insurance. can't afford expensive psych medications. die homeless [etc].

and people would tell me that wasn't a "real" fear, that missing one assignment wouldn't automatically lead to me dying in a gutter. but it felt fucking real, and it also didn't help that i've met people who are in similar situations, so it's not implausible. (hell, my aunt who OD'd was in a similar situation.)

want to know what's an excellent motivation for finishing your work perfectly, on time, and perhaps early? feeling like if you don't, you will die. maybe not now, but eventually, and it will be HORRIBLE.

i had physical issues even in high school, what with chronic neck pain (hi, extra ribs!) and later on wrist pain. i had strict instructions that i should rest my wrists while using the computer, NOT overdo it, not go on giant essay-writing binges. and you know, "not being able to use a keyboard ever again" is a real concern, and my body was YELLING at me to slow down. but you know what was worse than wrist pain? the overwhelming dread of not finishing my paper, perfectly, on time or early.

over time, for whatever reason, my body has yelled at me more. i don't know if it's a giant OMG STOP FIGHT OR FLIGHT IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. i don't know if it's something genetic like EDS. i don't know if it's c-PTSD or "just" fibromyalgia.

however, i have actually gotten MUCH better at dealing with my anxiety with time and age. that doesn't mean it's not there. it's just when my anxious brain goes "if you don't do this, your world will end!" my answer to it is "yeah, well, my world's ended before, and I've handled it."

(ymmv on this one, but "i am coping with multiple major disabilities, i think i can handle a parking ticket" works really well on my brain weasels. so does "yeah, pretty sure i'm handling PTSD and a pretty big badass about it, so I can handle this one person being mad at me if that happens.")

one result of this is that anxiety doesn't run my life so much. if i'm late for something? i do not have an anxiety attack. if i have a fuckton of Scary Bureaucratic Paperwork to do? okay yeah i might have an anxiety attack, but it's not SO BAD that I can't even open the envelope holding the paperwork.

want to know another effect? i can't weaponize my anxiety to get shit done.

me: so, we should really do the laundry
also me: yeah, i don't want to
me: if we don't do the laundry we won't have clean underwear!
also me: sounds terrible
me: i mean, we could...yeah okay, we can handle that
also me: yup
me: Netflix does sound really good right now...
also me: i told you
[6 hours pass]

i spent a lot of my life until my mid-20s with people marvelling at how ORGANIZED and PREPARED i was. i mean, if every day felt like the fucking zombie apocalypse, i think a lot of other people would be prepared too?

but my guess is that during that time period, people who were slightly-less-organized-and-prepared learned SOME way of getting shit done that was not "scare yourself into believing that if you don't, the world will literally end."

[i mean obviously if a person has OTHER executive function issues, be they from ADHD or meds or whatnot, this may not apply? or maybe they just have EXTRA GOOD coping skills i honestly don't know. i honestly don't know how anyone gets anything done.]

i'm trying shit with timers and reminder notices, because apparently my brain also relies on FEELINGS OF DREAD to remember shit. i mean i'm pretty sure my meds aren't helping with short term memory but ahahhahaha probably constant doses of anxiety for lots of years made some interesting neural pathways too.

+1 anxiety level-up, now there's a new boss to fight i guess

SO, here's some thinkythoughts and reflection, in case that helps anyone else.

but also, how does anyone get anything the fuck done? suggestions welcome, with the understanding that brains are different.
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lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)
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