I am feeling overwhelmed.
I googled “feeling overwhelmed” and opened the first half dozen links – surely that is a good tactic, ha. One of the results had the headline “Feeling Overwhelmed is a Common Anxiety Symptom.” You think??
Anyway. I already tried breathing. I tried tidying up a tiny bit. I prepared a page where I can brain dump distracting ideas to revisit later (such as what countries have decent weather, have decent equality and civil rights, and aren’t likely to get involved in a ridiculous nuclear war that will destroy us all, thankyouverymuch Mr. President).
It’s a little funny that “Madame President” is thought to be the proper title for a female POTUS, even though madame in the U.S. pretty distinctly refers to a female pimp. I wonder what that means, but I don't have time to think it through today.
Anyway, back to the point.
One of the articles, I don’t know which one because I have a few dozen tabs open right now even after closing several dozen others yesterday, says that journaling helps with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed. I already had 5 Word documents open with unfinished writings on this computer – just on this computer, there are one or two more open on my Surface downstairs – but I guess what’s one more? It’s not like my computer is freezing up or running slow with all these tabs and all these Word documents. God forbid I try to open Spotify too, lest everything crash and I lose my unsaved docs (but I can’t save them yet because so far I have no titles for everything, you see?). So the only music I have is the dryer re-tumbling the clothes I haven’t yet emptied out, so that they don’t wrinkle. Eventually I’ll empty it and hang up the clothes, but first I should put winter coats in the washing machine so I can finish that this afternoon too, but first I’d have to sort through everything and check all the pockets and whatnot, and who has time for that when I’m learning that feeling overwhelmed is really a common anxiety symptom, as if I didn’t know that, as if it makes me feel less overwhelmed or less anxious or less hyperventilating-y.
The next article recommends, “only do what you can do.” Okay, right now I literally feel like I can do nothing. Not “right now” as in just this minute, just this hour, but more like the past several weeks or months (possibly years?) with the exception of a few hours here and there of feeling normal. Oh wait, I read it wrong – it actually says, “only do what only you can do” (emphasis mine). I see, so this is about delegation. Well that…doesn’t help at all, in my case. I am not feeling overwhelmed in the sense that a workplace manager feels overwhelmed. This is not relevant to me…what’s the next suggestion? “Make meetings count.” Ah, I see that this article is from Forbes, so this is clearly directed at a niche population of overwhelmed-ees who are managers in companies-larger-than-mine. I’m just going to skip the rest.
The next article has 17 things to do. Is the procrastination by reading a bunch of articles helping me yet? I’m sure it is. My problems are feeling more distant already, though as soon as I remember my massive list, everything floods back to me in a wave of nausea.
Back to the article. Go to a movie, it recommends. Because I am not pinching pennies and can totally afford a movie, and since I have plenty of discretionary funds and free movie-going time, I don’t even have to stress over the choice of movie, it’s not like I have to make this one count or anything, because I have time to see all of the great movies and even some flops.
It talks about breathing again, and recommends an exact amount of seconds to spend on it. I don’t think they understand that that just adds more to my plate.
Now it’s talking about being thankful that I’m “alive in the United States or another great country.” I’m done.
The next article has a cartoon at the top. I can’t read it, because I’m too distracted by how the left side is cut off and the right side is not, so not only did they not get the dimensions right, but it’s also not aligned properly, and also the text is kind of blurry, can we please stop posting super low res stuff?? Damnit. Every headline on this page is in all caps, so the website is screaming at me, “WHAT TO DO WHEN FEELING OVERWHELMED WITH LIFE” and in the sidebar, “HOW TO HAVE A PRODUCTIVE DAY” and “HOW TO ELIMINATE FEAR TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS” and “HOW TO RELIEVE STRESS.” Step one of “WHAT TO DO WHEN FEELING OVERWHELMED WITH LIFE” is “RECOGNIZE OVERWHELM.” Is overwhelm a noun? I highlight, right click, and search Google for “OVERWHELM” (all caps, remember). Google’s dictionary indicates that it’s a verb only. Have I ever heard anyone use overwhelm as a noun? I really don’t think I have. Hmm. I don’t think I like it.
A news headline pops up on my phone – Orrin Hatch has disgraced humanity yet again. I’m angry at him and wistful for the days when I didn’t know his name, and perhaps even more wistful for the days before Utah. I’m appalled by Hatch, I’m appalled by Trump, I’m appalled by a whole lot of things having to do with politics and privilege and the cisheteropatriarchy and white supremacy. Fuck the kyriarchy.
I retreat to the laundry room as an escape from the news (which was an escape from procrastination, which was an escape from work). The dryer has stopped tumbling, but I don’t know for how long, so I’ll wait for it to re-tumble before I empty it, for maximum non-wrinkledness. I start emptying pockets of the winter coats, proud of my self for making some progress. I find $10 in my husband’s coat pocket and shout to myself, “haha, finders keepers, bitchez!” even though we’re a full partnership and there isn’t “my money” vs. “his money” and even though I reject the use of the b-word for any purpose.
I load the laundry and decide that since I’m clearly on a roll, I’ll refill the handheld detergent bottle from the giant-sized one that I have hidden away in the corner next to the dryer. I sit on the floor in front of the dryer and prepare to refill. The giant-sized container has that spigot thing that always runs so slow, even when you unscrew the other end for extra airflow or whatever. Anyway, I unscrew the other end for better flow, and realize, wait a second, why don’t I just pour it from this end? I am a freaking genius, though I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t think of this last time. I start pouring into the smaller container, and it’s going much faster, and suddenly the dryer starts up right in front of my face and startles me, and I jump a bit but I don’t spill anything, and I am obviously now the Jedi master of refilling Tide. So then I hang up the dried laundry, while running my thoughts over the list of things I just did so I can write about them when I get back to the computer. I consider leaving my laundry post for a minute to write, but decide that would be counterproductive and unnecessary. Instead, I finish hanging the laundry while I write other things in my head, some of them in different narrative voices, because my mind literally never shuts up.
One of the things I read about dealing with feeling overwhelmed is to differentiate between things you “need to” do and things you “should” do. On my whiteboard, I noted this for thoughts and internal discussion later as “must vs. should vs. could.” I think about the laundry. Did I “need to” do it now, or was it just something I “should” have done? Did doing the laundry really take me away from my litany of things that I “must” do today? I mean, I guess technically, yes. The laundry could have waited until tomorrow. But isn’t that what I said yesterday? And if I do that more than a day or two in a row, it’ll pile up, and suddenly my husband will be out of socks, and I’ll be out of tank tops or shorts (but we’ll both always have underwear, because somehow we have enough for several months of time, which I guess is something to be applauded for the apocalypse), and that’ll probably happen during a time when I’m legitimately busy or need to be out of the house, and on that day the laundry would become a “must” on a day that wouldn’t allow for additional “musts”. (Insert joke about “musty laundry” here.) Plus, I have 4 laundry baskets for sorting, and “winter coats” is not one of them, so the coats were just kind of hanging out on the floor, along with some extra towels that didn’t fit in the “towels” basket, and who can live with the visual stress of extra towels AND winter coats lying around on the floor?
My left ear has a sudden pressure and I go deaf in that ear for a bit. Does this happen to anyone else? It happens to me periodically. I also have tinnitus constantly, sometimes worse than others, but I legitimately do not know what pure silence sounds like or if it even really exists. People say silence exists, they even say they have experienced it, but that’s something I just cannot conceive of or truly believe in.
Anyway, even though the laundry today was a technical “should,” there certainly must be times when it’s good to complete the “shoulds” even in advance of the “musts,” lest the “shoulds” become “musts” and overwhelm you further on an overly “must”-y day. And one could argue that, therefore, what appears today to be a “should” really is already a “must” or at least a fraction of a “must,” a “should-must” hybrid if you will, because at what point would the “should” cleanly transition to a “must” anyway?
It’s the laundry of Theseus.
I’m worn out. And there are more thoughts that have run through my mind several times while writing this, but I’ve already thought about them so many times that why would I think about them again just in order to write them down? I’m exhausted.
Here is it, y'all: love changes things 8/7/20
Good Friday in the Midst of a Pandemic 4/10/20
Wrestling with Faithfulness and Transformation (a sermon) 10/21/19
Healing of the Outcasts (a sermon) 10/18/19
Reckon-ciliation (a poem) 7/19/19
The Road to Recovery 6/26/19
Perpetuating Sins of the Church 8/16/18
It's Tuesday and I'm Overwhelmed 5/8/18
Music is a Language 5/3/18
Skipping a Meeting 4/10/18
Spark (a poem) 4/5/18
A New Old Song for Holy Saturday 3/31/18
Good Friday? 3/30/18
Who are the Leaders in Your Church? 1/2/18