I work 40 hours a week at my desk job, at least 20 hours at school, and at least 20 hours as a tarot reader in Salem this October (I’d work more if my schedule allowed). While lugging my laptop across a classroom yesterday, colleagues gasped in horror when they saw the color-coded monster that is my Google Calendar. “How are you doing that?” they asked. The secret is suffering.
As I prepare for an incredibly busy September, my anxiety has been creeping up...a lot. I mean, there's a fine line between anxiety and excitement, but my body is very good at being anxious. To cope with getting married, taking on more responsibility at work, and going to grad school, I've definitely been flexing the organizational skills. Thanks, past me, for having on eye on the future.
When I moved to Boston in 2017, I wanted to be a clinical psychiatrist. After working as a therapeutic writing facilitator, I was so intrigued by the thought of helping people heal that it became more important to me than being a novelist (plus no one was interested in a fictionalized account of the French Revolution, despite its cultural and political relevance). Add in my new job with Harvard Medical School, I realized there was a lot of growing I still needed to do before spending any more time as a student. My life had to start, so it did.
It’s been a few weeks since I ended a year-long habit of going to therapy on a regular basis. The last time I ended my session, it was because graduation loomed and there was nothing else the counseling office could do for me. This time, though, I ended things because I felt that I achieved the goals that I’d set out for myself. For now, there is nothing else to unpack or dissect. Life can’t always be about introspection, sometimes it’s about living. That being said, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I learned over the last twelve months because maybe it will help someone else see therapy as a viable path to healing.
Maintaining motivation is hard. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and it sort of put my whole life into perspective. The diagnosis doesn't really change how I feel about myself, but is more of a "huh, I learned how to cope really well" sorta thing. Pandemic time threw all of my skills right out the window because there was no structure to my day other than wake up, walk dog, turn on computer. I've always been the sort of person who has needed a jam-packed schedule to keep all systems functioning at average speed. Now that this new normal (hate that term) is on the horizon, it looks like life will shift again. And I'm wondering, how will it go?
I need to write something. It needs to be 500 words. It needs to be posted today. At first, I was going to post a poem because I have lots of poems stored in the archives, but then I decided that would be cheating. So, here we are at the edge of burnout. This week marks one year in quarantine. One year of sitting in my bedroom, day after day: wake up, walk the dog, work, eat, work, walk the dog, work, walk the dog, eat, scroll, sleep. Intersperse that with some major dissociative episodes kicked off by mindlessly checking social media, and you’ll have a good idea of what this pandemic has looked like for me. It’s probably been the same for you, too. Or maybe you’re one of those people who had the personal strength to get super into CrossFit and cut carbs out of your diet for good. If you are one of those people, good for you. I am not.
Pen clicks mark time / in a unit where no gets / to leave.
Healing is a complicated journey. You can think that you’re all done, but then something happens to remind you that more time is needed. The worst part about that is that the wound doesn’t need to tell you that it’s there because you’ll check for yourself. Like with a bruise that’s turned green, you poke at the pain to see if it lingers. “Hm, does this hurt? Let me test it.” You apply more and more pressure until you can feel the pain again. It’s never as bad as the initial injury, but it’s still there. Different, but there.