Anatomy of a Downward Spiral

Rumi always helps.

Shortly after posting on Saturday, I felt myself slipping into the old familiar downward spiral. (Which I can now admit to myself happened because I was looking at all those pictures from five years ago... and yeah. That was a really shitty time, in many ways. I felt so unprepared for the difficulty, for the fact that it wasn't easy. And it's made even harder now by the fact that we didn't catch Remy's stroke -- when did it happen???? I don't know and I don't think I'll ever know and that is hard. So very hard.)

It was not a fun feeling, and I am not (yet) at the point where I can welcome my "bad" emotions in, saying "hello old friend, I missed you. Come have a drink of tea and tell me what's going on."

Instead I found myself up to my old tricks. Hiding. Repressing my huge snapping (and totally unwarranted) anger (and then having it bubble out inappropriately anyway). Stuffing myself with social media and trying to distract myself from feeling what I was feeling. Sigh.

Then I went to bed early (which was a good thing, a kind thing, for I am still trying to kick this virus I picked up last week). And I hoped I would wake up in a better mood, but no go. 

I had to actually acknowledge and feel the feelings and treat my sadness and anger gently. 


I brooded for most of the morning, being stuck (and not feeling my actual feelings) and it got me nowhere. 

Then I turned to facebook:
"I am in such a bad funk today. I need hugs and suggestions: how can I feel this funk and help myself through it? It's spiraling... I just feel worse and worse."
My  friends, being awesome friends, sent me their love and kindness immediately (and suggestions). 
And I finally reached out to my husband (who I spent most of the funk Very Mad at, you know what I mean, right?) and we brainstormed things we could do before our already-planned play date later that afternoon. 
Walk? Well, it was semi raining and I'm still sort of sick, so that seemed unappealing. We decided on going to Costco. Which we did in the spirit of "this is gonna take awhile and everyone else will be in a bad mood, so let's lighten our moods so it isn't so irritating." (It could have gone the opposite way, but having reached out, both to my online community and to my love, and most importantly to myself, by acknowledging how I was feeling, I was already on my way out of the spiral.)
I put on a cute outfit. (Rainbow leopard socks and  jean capris, with a colorful top.) Dressing up colorfully brightens my mood. 
And getting outside, even from inside the car, also seemed to help a lot. (Jersey is so green and alive right now!) 
And I had a short but important conversation with my friend B while we were walking into Costco, where she totally called me on the real issue: "is this from looking at all those photos yesterday?" and I totally had to acknowledge it and get clear about it to myself.   
Which was the most important part of this particular downward spiral's ending. I acknowledged to myself that my feelings of overwhelm in that time were valid. I am sad for the feelings I had then, but I am not that overwhelmed parent today. I am doing so much better. (And can still be kind to myself when I do get overwhelmed.)
And the last thing was that I decided -- just made clear decision -- that I would just buy a printer and get the whole thing over with. (I've been researching them since last fall. Stuck in a rut, completely.) Instead of waiting for some magical permission that never seems to come, I just made a decision. Awesome.
And lo and behold, Costco had a great deal on a printer that totally works for me. (Costco's price is $50 cheaper than amazon's, but I can't find it online.) 
I am absolutely not advocating retail therapy, but making a decision about something I had needed to make a decision on for more than six months? Was very fulfilling. 
(And to be clear: I had money budgeted for this expense. The biggest issue that I just couldn't decide on was, do I buy a very fancy large format printer, or a cheaper printer that has more features --a scanner, which I don't own, being the biggest one -- but that still has great photo printing? I decided to go with my gut: in a year, or whenever, if I need the large format printer for big prints, will I feel guilty for buying this smaller printer first? No. But if I don't use the large format printer "enough" I would feel guilty for having it sit there and not be of use. Whereas a regular printer will be useful even if I do end up with a larger format printer. And we won't have the room for the large format printer until after we move anyway. And if I wait and end up selling more prints because of the new printer, and things look like they're going great, I can maybe buy the even better fancy-schmancy large format printer. An artist can dream, right?)
Things I didn't do but would also have totally helped: 
* Take a bath (oh, I miss my old tub! When we move, that will be one of my first big home improvements: new soaking tub. Our current bathtub does not even cover my tummy, it is extremely shallow and frustrating). 
* Writing in my journal. 
* Photo-ing or video-ing: my husband's best suggestion was that we should go out and take videos but my 8gb iPod is already starting to fill up and I need to synch it with the computer and when I'm in a funk that just seems too hard to do. I could have used the other camera(s) but my iPod has a fun Super8 app that I am really DIGGING at the moment... Anyway, I think just the suggestion from him that we go shoot videos helped tremendously because it was evidence that he was seeing me.
* Awesome music. (Parliament was my friend's recommendation, which YES! Is so awesome!)
* Exercise - I just have this thing against exercising when I'm sick. I know exercise helps with the immune system, but I'm particularly prone to secondary infections (because of my asthma) so I rest instead. Plus, I just don't feel great. (I guess walking through Costco can almost be considered exercise, it's such a huge store!)
So, there you have it. The anatomy of last weekend's downward spiral. 
I hope that this might be helpful as a reminder in your journey.