Taking life one little bit at a time…

20180509_150012.jpgThere was a time, before, when I didn’t need lists. Stuff needed to be done so I did stuff. It was that simple. Now I get overwhelmed so easily. I forget to do things or get halfway through and just stop because there’s too much to do. But I’ve found a way to help. I wouldn’t be writing this post except I know I’m not the only one in this situation. The solution I’ve found is to micromanage and make lists.

When I was in grade school and when Colin was as well, the teachers set up something called “chunking”. That’s taking a big task and breaking it into little tasks. Let’s take a shower for example, because I’m pretty sure that almost everyone with a mental illness struggles with this. Don’t write down “have shower” if you know you’re going to really struggle. Write down get undressed, put clothes in hamper, turn on shower, shampoo hair, rinse, condition hair, shave legs and pits (optional), wash body, rinse hair and body, turn off shower, dry off, get dressed. It’s a lot of stuff but it gives you a chance to work through every step so you’re not stuck just conditioning and forgetting to wash or missing shaving one leg.

As you can see from my list above, I’ve done some minor chunking. Laundry has three mentions because all three steps are separate and, as you can also see, the chore chart is almost done. All that’s left is dinner, which is still cooking as it’s only 3:30pm. I even got my 10 thousand steps in on the Oshawa Creek Trail and doesn’t that leave a sense of accomplishment.

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Everything’s so green! I didn’t even need a sweater today!!!

 

If I’d been left to my own devices, without a list today, I don’t think I’d have got nearly as much done. One thing chunking and writing a list does is help you maximize your time. For example, I had laundry to wash today. It takes an hour and 38 minutes but in reality I’m only spending 5 to 10 minutes down there total. So my lunch was eaten while the laundry was in the washer and I made the biscuits while my laundry was in the dryer. By the time it finished, I’d not only made the biscuits but washed the dishes and taste tested two biscuits (the second just to be sure of course). My two heart shaped biscuits are in the fridge, ready to go for tomorrow, and my favourite tea cup is tucked safely away in one of my favourite bags, also for tomorrow (we’re having tea and biscuits).

Making a list gives you some accountability. It’s easier to put something off until tomorrow when it’s not staring you in the face. Also, pro tip, you will not want to do that thing tomorrow either. It’s better to get it over with unless you’re totally out of spoons. No one wakes up with a smile on their face and says, “Yay! I can’t wait to scrub the toilet today!”

The other side of micromanaging is don’t add too many things to your list. Just because they’re in smaller chunks doesn’t magically give you more energy. Listen to your inner voice, or in my case, the scribble in my stomach, that says “whoa there, I’m going to be crying in a fetal position halfway through dealing with this list”. I don’t care what your Mom, your uncle, or your friend Sarah can do in a day. Unless they’re coming over and doing this for you, plan for your limits. I could throw scrubbing the bathroom onto my list today no problem. Would I have the energy to do it? Hell no.

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For my fellow spoonies

So try taking your life in baby steps. It might seem overly simplistic when you first start but when you’ve got a day that requires a lot of spoons it can be a real lifesaver!

Kathleen in blue

Yay! My chores are done!!!

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Some days parenting is less “I love my kid so much” and more “I cannot strangle my sprog. I’m too weird for prison”. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jeremy but that love gets buried when I walk in the door after a 9 hour shift to discover zie’s done nothing around the house (again). Especially when Jeremy’s excuse is that zie was too tired followed by a retort that zie doesn’t see me at work so zie doesn’t count it as me doing anything. Seriously, this kid is 18 years old and still thinks I disappear out of zir life and do nothing until I appear again.

The excuses I hear for the lack of help are varied. Basically zie’s much too tired/dizzy/overheating/headachy to wash dishes, pick up zir stuff, or take the recycling downstairs to the blue recycling bins. However Jeremy has more than enough energy to rearrange zir room, shuffle around computers/monitors, and rearrange zir plant stand (including moving the entire 6ft shelving unit). As you can imagine, my patience for zir varying issues has faded appreciably.

To make life that much more complicated, I do think zie is struggling with serious issues on top of zir drama queen attitude (zie rocks a tiara for a reason). Jeremy’s sleeping is chaotic at best. Zie’ll spend several weeks going to bed early and sleeping all night then several more weeks will pass where zie sleeps in brief patches, often staying awake for 24 to 36 hours at a time. Some days zie’s chattering and happy, talking non-stop to anyone and pretty much anything.

“Who are you talking to hon?”
“Oh no one, just my laptop.”
“Okay hon. Umm, please let me know if your laptop starts talking back.”

While others will have zir staying in zir room almost constantly, playing video games and watching videos with headphones on.

Then there’s the days zie gets angry. Jeremy’s whole personality changes to the point where zie reminds me of zir father. Zie’ll barrage me with questions, give me no time to answer, then claim I can’t answer them because I’m a) too stupid and b) obviously lying. Zie’ll bring up purchases I made years ago to prove that I’m incompetent at buying things. After all, I bought a computer in 2013 that doesn’t have nearly enough speed for zir current video games. Plus zie knows zie could have fixed our old computer now. Zie’ll swear, call me names, and…

“Mom, I just want you to know I’m not rational when I’m angry,” Jeremy explained in an abashed voice. “It’s scary because I don’t even remember a bunch of the time I’m angry. There’s gaps in my memory.”

I asked my doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist back in September for both Jeremy and myself then double-checked that one was sent. Last Tuesday I decided to call the psychiatrist’s office myself to see where we were on the waiting list. His receptionist called me back while I was looking at coconut milk in the grocery store.

“I always call people within a month of their referral,” she assured me. “Oh yes, I see you now. I called you back in October and left a message.”

October. I tried to remember when I changed my cellphone. Was it October or November? I stayed with the same carrier but maybe the call happened when the phone were being switched. Could she have called right at that time? Did the voicemail disappear during the transfer?

“I have you down as number 905-240…” she listed off a number while I listened in disbelief.

“That’s not my number,” I replied. I changed my number with the doctor when I got rid of our home phone over a year ago. He’s called my on my cellphone to return test results.

We set up a phone interview date for me for the end of June, which I have to call and confirm because a) I was standing in the grocery store holding a tin can and no pen and b) the next batch of information knocked it right out of my mind. I asked her about Jeremy and it quickly became apparent they had no record of zir being referred even though the referrals were sent at the same time. Our doctor is great. He’s patient, friendly, a good listener, and willing to take time to discuss issues with his patients. He’s also really close to retiring. I have no idea where Jeremy’s referral went. The receptionist is going to check with the psychiatrist to see what they can do and call me back. She’s got the right number now.

As of this week I’m not arguing with Jeremy over chores. Zie knows what needs to get done and zie has the choice of doing them or not. The flip side is zie now has a sheet of financial responsibilities that come from zir disability cheque. Once the bills are paid, zie has exactly $100 to spend on zirself. Zie can buy junk food, computer parts, or save it. Meanwhile I have my money. If zie helps out around the house, I will buy zir treats (soft drinks, video games at Dollarama, yet another RC car from Value Village). If zie does nothing, zie gets the bare minimum. Basic healthy food, clean clothes, medication, and a home to live in.

The one chore zie’s not ready to handle is zir daily medication. I gave Jeremy zir pill organizer last week and zie lost it after one day and still hasn’t found it. Then I told Jeremy twice on Saturday to take zir morning medication only to be informed zie’d forgotten while we were at the drug store. At least that explained zir sudden dizzy spells and headache. The down side to me controlling the medication is zir pill schedule is not at regular times. Some mornings Jeremy gets zir pills at 4:30am and other mornings it’s closer to 9:30am, but it’s better than not taking them at all.

Both yesterday and today Jeremy worked on cleaning up zir balcony (we have two) and zie also went on a long walk through our local conservation area with me. Jeremy brought zir laptop and put a webcam on a stick then took pictures from varying perspectives. Hopefully the warm, spring air and sunshine will provide some energy and optimism to zir… and the lure of Dollarama video games and potting supplies will convince zir to wash the dinner dishes!

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Jeremy taking a picture of the other side of the tree.