Every morning, I open my eyes. I visualize getting out of bed, but there is a bridge between waking up and actually getting dressed.
The troll living under that bridge tells me that it’s pointless to get up and get dressed, because I’ll still be useless, and I should just come back to bed and hide. It tells me my incompetence will surely reveal itself, and I’m on borrowed time until that happens. So why even try? Why risk being open to criticism when the bullshit that comes out of my mind most days is more critical (and harshly so)?
I get the impression that people who use the snooze function on their alarm clock use it to delay getting out of bed. To lay peacefully and enjoy the silence, pet the dog and start to plan their day. That when it’s time to get up, they at least have a purpose. Getting showered and dressed, feeding starving pets and/or kids, making lunches for you or a crew, and making sure you have your phone charger, just in case.
This sounds like a fairy tale to me. Allow me to invite you into a bipolar mind dealing with Bad Brain at all hours.
Bad Brain is how I refer to those negative, interrupting thoughts that arrive in my mind in my own voice, so it’s doubly hard to assign fault to them. It’s my inner dialogue and it is compelled to perpetuate the negative in any situation. And, in case nothing dramatic is happening, Bad Brain is well-skilled at making drama out of nothing. But it never *feels* like nothing. It always comes down to weakness, my personal failures, the inevitability that my loved ones will grow sick of my bullshit and tell me to take a hike. How do you deal with your own inner voice telling you that you should end up alone because you’re too much effort?
You hit Snooze, you nuzzle your pillow and relax in your 9 extra minutes. I hit Snooze and have to fight the imaginary bridge troll that stands between me and accomplishing anything at all. Today, I almost didn’t make it. Today, the troll was particularly clever and was content to poke at my fear of inadequacy until I wasn’t even sure I could make it to work. I sat in bed and cried softly as I put my socks on, determined just to get out of the house and let whatever happens after that, happen. Some days, that’s the best I can do.
The torture continued in the bathroom as I tried to style my hair and apply my makeup. I couldn’t handle looking in the mirror, so I applied waterproof eyeliner by touch and styled my messy hair with a comb and a bobby pin and that was it. If I didn’t have such secluded office space, I’d say people might have picked up on it by now, but my desk at the office is quite private so there’s no one to compare one day’s look to the next. Bad brain kept up its commentary, telling me how stupid I look, how I try too hard with minimal results. But it helps me feel finished.
At this point, I am dressed and ready; I let the dogs out and fed them while packing my lunch. I was already going to be a tiny bit late – surely an extra five minutes wouldn’t hurt. I thought I would try something I’ve been meaning to try for a while: Review my Core Desired Feelings (h/t Danielle Laporte and her Desire Map program) and try to make my to-do list based on how I want to feel today.
But Bad Brain wouldn’t have it. For every feeling, there is a pesky way for Bad Brain to undermine it. I long to feel resilient, to believe I am resilient, to acknowledge that my fight is worth something. In my life according to Bad Brain, I am not resilient, I am a doormat. I was meant for people to walk all over. It’s all I deserve. And it plays out over and over as I sort through how I *want* to feel and try to determine how to make that so. Not only am I fighting this Bad Brain battle that exaggerates my fears, it sets me up to be a continual disappointment to me and everyone around me.
This may seem a bit unconventional, but I’ve found that my ECT sessions help quiet the ever-present interior monologue enough for me to quietly tell Bad Brain to go f*ck itself. Or, perhaps more entertainingly, have my Mummich tell it to go f*ck itself.
On days like today, I somehow find the strength to overcome the Bad Brain and work as the original, creative, resourceful, kind human bean I’m striving to turn into. I can believe in my CDFs (Resilient, Creative, Authentic, Kind, Joyful, Connected, Grounded) and can choose to do my work in a way that supports those feelings. But it was tense getting there today. I almost lost it and went back to bed to finish crying. I almost gave up. I have a love/hate relationship with the snooze button and a hate/hate relationship with the Bad Brain’s exploitation of my ambivalence by making things more pessimistic and telling me not to bother trying.
Trying to live.
Trying to love.
Trying to silence this motherf*cker with my sheer awesomeness. (Ha! Can’t blame a girl for trying)
And oh, what a difference between me this morning, perched on the edge of the bed, one purple sock in hand, Kleenex in the other hand, dabbing away my tears, and me now, ready to write. I made it through the day. I did a damn fine job, actually. Too bad the Bad Brain will try its damnedest to make me feel inadequate and useless when I open my eyes tomorrow morning. Bad Brain is difficult to fight… but not impossible. Listening to my Core Desired Feelings, along with planning the simple tasks I can do to create those feelings, takes a huge amount of pressure off.
Ok, Bad Brain. Provided you’ve been vanquished for the evening, I shall read and write and do laundry like an average woman does. And then, when I’m hopefully rested and able to ride a magic dream carpet until dawn, I shall see you in the morning. Only this time, I’ll be ready to fight back.