Episode 7. 'Sort Yourself Out!'

This is something I regularly say, very quietly to myself, when I'm overwhelmed - or procrastinating until I can think of a strategy to deal with the overwhelm. I've said it frequently this week, whilst ordering my thoughts, to write this episode. I hope I have proved to you, that I managed it.

My Dad often used to advise me to do this. He knew, without order, structure and routine - life is hard. I suppose he learned the hard way too. Dad knew I would remain in unproductive, anxiety driving, depressing chaos. He was right.

My thoughts were chaotic too, Muddled, unclear and unhelpful thinking caused more external chaos, cycling into yet more internal chaos. Another good example of being on the 'Merry-Go-Round-Of-Stupidness.' (See episode 3)

On days when Dad was especially eager for me to sort myself out, he might even prefix the statement with an 'Oi!' He knew the urgency of the situation. I know he was trying to help guide me to a way, that would enable me to help myself.

Although on first reading, 'sort yourself out' sounds harsh, akin to 'pull yourself together.' There are important differences though. To 'sort yourself out' wasn't an order, it's was a  piece of advice to begin the process, because that's what it is - a process.

'Pull yourself together' on the other hand, in my experience, is an unhelpful phrase uttered by someone, who wrongly believes they are being helpful. A clear show of disapproval and judgement, used to try to shame me into magically curing myself. Believing that I must be completely unaware of my own desperate, solitary, lonely, internal struggle, to control a serious emotional disorder. One I was aware of, from aged 3. These people, greatly angered me. If they are too stupid to understand that, someone suffering in this way, will have personally tried everything, to control their their symptoms, then surely they are way too stupid to be offering up pointless, useless statements that are not helpful? The irony of course, is that sometimes, you will encounter people who are too stupid to understand, just how stupid they are. The anger has gone too now, with all other negative thoughts. I focus on what I need to stay well and healthy.

The decision to sort myself out, was taken the week before my 50th birthday. Enough was enough. My wonderful Dad helped me to move house, to my current home in Mid Wales. Once the drama of moving was over, and a resemblance of a home was forged, I set to work on me. I was new in the area, I needed to make friends and rebuild my life. A new chapter.

So where to start, with sorting yourself out? Well, it can be as hard or as easy as you decide it to make it. Personally, I can't stand living in clutter. My Nan (Dad's mum) and thus Dad, both advocated, 'a place for everything and everything in it's place.' Folks don't say this stuff for nothing! Why spend hours, every day searching for stuff you need, when it could be put in the exact same place each time it's not being used, so you can easily locate it again?

Before I began my recovery, my brain didn't register clutter or disorganisation, but as my mind and vision cleared, it got on my last nerve. So I tidied up. I ditched stuff I didn't need. Old projects and old possessions, trapped me in the misery of the past, collecting dust and a visual reminder of old pain. And now, there they are - gone! Very liberating. I did manage to throw out my electric whisk, but kept the whisk and kneading attachments. Very annoying.

Next, I tidied myself up. I found a great hairdresser, a kind dentist, and started to swim.  I got a gym pass on prescription. I was unable to work, so took this chance to try and lift my mood and feel a bit fitter. Everyone feels better if they know they look good.

Writing to-do lists and assigning times to tasks, also helped me. Even if I was too ill to perform all my 'to-dos,' I knew they were written down, so I didn't have to fret about carrying them around in my repairing brain. On days when I couldn't do much, I had to shut 'Inner Idiot' up from rabbiting on, about how much of a failure I was. I'd tell him 'I won't give up, I will try again tomorrow!'

I built myself a routine. (Not too strict, because of Inner Idiot.) Routine kept me grounded and present, helping me to live in the moment. It also enabled me to: eat regularly and sensibly (as I had a slot for shopping,) take my meds regularly, sleep better and keep my space clean and clutter free. 'I'll do it later' was also shown the door. 

Practising my new way of life enabled my life to grow. Not long after, I was able to join in with events, in my new community and I found some helpful free charity-run courses. I made friends and after a while, found a job. Making more friends. Invitations started to appear. I'm still careful with accepting them. I know my limits and have to protect my mental and physical health.

Setting boundaries became important then. If I didn't clarify my  rules of engagement, someone would unwittingly cross the line. It's best to be clear.

Eventually, all these things and others, such as, journalling, yoga, meditation and  mindfulness, breathing techniques and spending time with people I love, all helped my recovery to grow wings. I've re-adjusted my go-to thinking default setting from zero to The Rainbow Nanny. The more I learned and practiced, the more I was able to do. Building self-respect, self-confidence and self-belief as I progressed.

The one thing that slightly softened the huge blow of Dad's passing, was that I'd already begun the process before he left us. Our very last conversation (we were both unaware it was our last one,) entailed him telling me, just how proud of me he was, that I'd sorted myself out, that he no longer needed to worry about me.

Since then, my confidence has grown further, I feel contented about my path. Bleak thoughts about my own future are dispelled. My life is purposeful and meaningful. I am self-sufficient and productive. A life that I once, only dreamed of.

'Sort yourself out!' A perfect process. Self-determined and tailored to your needs. Go at your own pace. It doesn't matter how long it takes. The important part is that you begin.

© Gillian Cullis 01/07/2018


Popular Posts