Baby Steps to Success

When you spend as much time as I do reading self help books, blogs, and pretending to consult the stars you tend to think about intentions and how to fine-tune yourself on a constant basis. The problem with setting goals and creating resolutions much of the time is that what is suggested does not necessarily work for those of us struggling with mental illnesses. While mental illness is not an excuse to not improve, I resolved this year to set my intentions with compassion for my struggle first and foremost.

A friend recently shared a list of admirable goals that for him I believe are entirely possible. For me? Ehhhh… not so much. Some of the things he had listed, like putting down the phone when surrounded by people he cares about, are not on the table for me. When I notice my anxiety escalating, sometimes the only thing that keeping me from snapping over dumb stuff is tapping mindlessly on my phone. Thanks to good ol’ ADHD I can still pay decent attention to my surroundings and can participate in the conversation around me and can actually match the energy of everyone else thanks to my phone. I do try and make an effort to put the phone down, but if I’m tuning into my screen more and more I am most likely not okay and need to zone out in order to function. This is okay. Many people make it seem like this is not how we should spend time with loved ones, but I assure you, it can be if the alternative is being a jerk to your loved ones without your phone. I noticed the old shame spiral sneaking up looking through this list and realized I could just… not do that. I could make my own list that corresponds with my life.

Rather than create a list my depression brain will turn into a series of mandates all the better to shame me with, I decided to look at what my life needs to run smoothly. I constantly have an extensive backlog of things I need to attend to thanks to a late diagnosis of ADHD. Things I previously believed were self-injurious behaviors meant to self-sabotage my life were actually lesser known ADHD symptoms. Despite having compassion for myself with regards to this backlog of executive function tasks, I know they still have to get done. My ADHD and depression like to put things off for as long as possible, so I also need to focus on making sure current stuff gets done to prevent it from gumming up the works. Having a host of comorbid disorders and diagnoses means that in addition to keeping up to date on my past faux pas, I need to take the time to prep tasks in the future to make my life easier. Thus the Past Me/Present Me/Future Me system was born. I try to tackle something on the list that takes care of problems Past Me created, while ensuring I do something today I would otherwise put off if I didn’t call myself out on it and acting kind to my future self.

In the example above, I mailed a piece of paper my insurance provider has asked for since February. Only took half a year, but BOOYAH they have it now. You’re welcome, Past Me. I would put off working out at home indefinitely with a mental paralysis spiral, so I added my agility challenge workout to my lunch break, cutting out my home entirely. I wore leggings and threw on a dress that is work appropriate, but feels like a tee shirt so I could do something I know Present Me wants to do but just… can’t for no known or logical reason. Lastly, I do not have a lot of spare time with my current schedule and my apartment lacks a laundry hookup. I dropped my clothes off at the cheap wash and fold, which is still too much for laundry, but Future Me doesn’t have to figure out a time to spend hours at the Laundromat.

I included a few different designs in the gallery above so I don’t get bored of the same image every day and stop filling them out. If your executive dysfunction is anything like mine, I send my thoughts and prayers while offering you these free graphics to test out. I will also share them on my brand new Facebook page that I pretend is to encourage me to write more when I fully know it’s basically for memes.

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