The List Girl
Every night, before I [try to] fall asleep, I make a list.
A list of things I want to do, need to do, and that haven’t gotten done yet. Sometimes it’s a physical note, other nights it’s a never-ending mental scroll.
And as it would seem, each night, the list grows longer.
Lately, I’ve been writing down what seem like very silly things, like “make coffee,” and “find debit card,” even “post picture on Instagram.”
Because, lately, daily tasks have gone undone.
Lately, the days have been a little harder.
A lot more dull. A little bleak. Slightly empty.
Tired, long days and nights.
Yet, here I am, up at 1:24 AM.
Making my list.
And tomorrow will come. And I will get up, and do the same handful of things I usually do—vacuum, dishes, start a load of laundry, and feed the baby.
Then I’ll spend the rest of the day beating myself up about all of the other things that still haven’t been done. I’ll think about how I really would love to put on a full face of makeup.
But I don’t deserve it.
You haven’t done enough around here yet.
I’ll think about how I would like to run to the store and pick out a new spring colored nail polish.
You don’t have the money because you haven’t worked hard enough.
I’ll look at all of the unfinished projects, forgotten phone calls, and the overall mess of a severely disorganized home and just feel an overwhelming sense of failure.
Feedings, naps, babywearing—it eats up the day. Then bedtime comes, and here we are again.
Anxiety-ridden and compulsively making another list.
I have great intentions. Creative ideas, plans, desires. But never enough energy, wherewithal, nor drive to get the things done.
Couponing. Makeup. Crafting. Thrifting. Flipping. Selling. Cleaning. Coaching. Learning.
All things I want to do. I have started them, but don’t find success. So I stop.
When I was in my final weeks of pregnancy with Izabella, I was having severe antepartum depression, intrusive thoughts, and obsessive compulsive tendencies—the most prevelant one being list making.
Deep down, God wired me to be your typical “Type A” firstborn child. Goal oriented. An achiever, focused on perfection, self-disciplined and extremely motivated by accolade and reward.
So when I started struggling to get up each day and do anything, it really started to mess with my head.
But the more I’ve looked at it, thought about it, and sat with it, I realize that I haven’t actually changed that much—I just tend to struggle with cyclical behavior. This is just my fancy term for getting stuck in a rut of routine.
Depression and anxiety are both mental disorders characterized by somewhat repetitive, or cyclical behaviors and thoughts. It’s hard to get out of bed, because you have reoccurring thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. It’s hard to get things done because you have reoccurring thoughts of worry and panicked paranoia. It’s hard to do life because you’re stuck in a downward spiral that you don’t know how to get out of.
And guess what, I don’t have all the answers. Because I’m still in the thick of it, just like you.
But I do have some ideas that might help you, my fellow List Girl:
1. Start making lists of positive affirmations and things you are grateful for.
Okay, so I know how super cheesy this is, but if you’re like me, and you’re going to keep making lists, start making lists of truths instead of lies. The Bible is full to the brim with advice on how to deal with anxiety and depression, you just need a guide to know where to find it (I’ll share mine with you next week!).
Something as simple as making a gratefulness list can really turn around those cyclical thoughts and give them a positive spin.
2. Reward yourself a little.
Now I’m not saying to be irresponsible, but once a day find something. It doesn’t have to be big, but if you get out of bed in the morning, reward yourself with a fresh cup of coffee and a little whipped cream on top. Being alive and able to get up is something worth celebrating!
3. Turn to mindfulness, prayer, and meditation.
These are disciplines that take some serious prectice. Someone once said it takes 21 days to create a habit...or something like that. Well for me it takes at least a month or two.
It may not seem like it helps in the beginning, but stick with it and give it time, even for just five minutes a day.
And please know you have me. You are not alone, and it will get better.