Monday, 13 May 2013

Out with the Old and In with the New

For the past 6-9 months I’ve known things weren’t right yet been unable to pinpoint what’s wrong. This feeling has been bubbling along beneath the conscious level.

Gradually I realised what the problem was but was unable or unwilling to admit it.  The framework that I have used to run my life since I began to develop it some dozen years ago, that I have invested so much effort and energy in so that I could maximise my life safely was no longer sustaining me.  Such an overwhelming sense of loss and fear was too painful to acknowledge and hence left unaddressed.

Fortunately this realisation coincided with a periodic appointment with my consultant.  In the freedom of this time when I don’t have to cope and can actually say that I’m struggling I was able to let go and admit the extent to which I was floundering.

As with everything I need a way in to get my mind round things and this my consultant gave me.  Having to alter the pattern of one’s life is normal, the causes may be different but the need to alter is not.  This gave me the ‘permission’ I needed to scrap what has been my life saver and go back to the drawing board.  However I was returning with knowledge gained from the experience of the last portion of my life.

Breaking things down into smaller and smaller areas is essential to be able to identify the smaller targets that can be achieved more easily.  With these targets in place the whole framework will, I hope, be rebuilt securely to support me as I move on.

And this is how I’ve started.  Those things that haven’t been working can be split into two, the external and the internal, in order to spot the weaknesses.
The external – well that’s the stuff that doesn’t start with me but even so does have a direct impact on me.  Of those extra demands some are temporary, others are permanent but will I be able to tell which is which?

Since I can’t control these, I can’t create a totally protective framework.  At last I’ve learnt this.  What I can do is assess how much of my mental stamina and strength is needed for those permanent demands.  Next is to guess what spare capacity I need to enable me to cope with temporary needs. In the past I didn’t consider this.  I set up routines that required too much of me so when the irregular or unexpected occurred I wasn’t able to cope thus pushing me down.  Am I going to get this assessment right first time?  Well no, as always trial and error come into play.  However through knowing and acknowledging this I still retain control even when I make a right mess of things.

That there are going to have to be changes to my routine is unavoidable.  I simply cannot continue with all the things I have worked so very hard to incorporate into my life, things that I still want to do.  But there is no alternative and being in an unwanted position is an experience that would have occurred even if I’d never been ill so for once I can apply the word ‘normal’ to myself.  How strange!

The internal is stuff that emanates from me.  Over the last 30 years I’ve learned a huge amount about how my brain works and it’s an erratic little machine that in the flick of a switch varies from the extremely high powered to one that in the time it takes to stand up has forgotten what it stood up to do.  Through analysing and experimenting I’ve enabled myself to do more than is/was expected.  I’ve found ways to manage the limitations I have and the tendencies to overdo things when I’m most able so that I don’t pursue them to such an extent that I collapse.

Yet for all this I’ve found myself coping less and less well.  Proven abilities have been letting me down.  I’ve tried again and again, making myself more and more unhappy.  How much of this deterioration is due to me and how much is it the consequence of having to handle these extra demands?  Once I wouldn’t have known what to say but today I’m pretty confident that it is the latter.  I don’t consider that I am the fault but rather that I have failed to identify and address the problems caused be external factors leading to a very damaging cumulative effect.  I’d been trying to maintain my old routines whilst incorporating more things into it.  As always happens when I get to a certain point of exhausting my mental capacity I go to pieces and then have to deal with that too.

So I’m now faced with three drawing boards or rather three heaps of post-its and scraps of paper.  To the left are the daily and weekly lists that I’ve used pretty successfully in the past but lately have been a bit of a blur.  Do I need to do everything listed on them?  Have I omitted things?  What needs to be added?  Shall I start with the basic basics and then add tasks onto them so I gradually build up to the all singing all dancing version?

In the middle I’ve listed the existing, regular commitments I’m able to retain alongside the newer things I need to build into my life.  Where is there flexibility?  Am I spacing things out enough? Am I allowing for the irregular stuff?

Reminders of the things I know so well but regularly forget or don’t want to heed, notable the phrases “Oh it’ll be okay this time” and “I’ve just got time” are on the right.  It doesn’t matter how much time I put into managing the other two boards if I sabotage them by mismanaging this group.
I reckon it’ll take a couple of months to get this really sorted out but if it helps for a few years that’s nothing. Oh yes have I answered any of the drawing board questions yet? Not exactly.  Well not really. Okay not at all.  But am I chuffed at having worked out what the questions are.  Most definitely.

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