Prioritizing is hard.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately regulating a real schedule. Now my work days shift constantly, I’m working two jobs, and this is the first time in my life I’ve had my own home that I’m responsible for while working and whatnot. I’ve had to decide what deserves my attention the most, and what I can accomplish with the energy I have salvaged by the end of the day.
I’m not neurotypical. I have bipolar disorder, which is a really misunderstood diagnosis (many are, to be honest). Bipolar isn’t just ‘mood swings’. The psychiatrist that diagnosed me (after an 8 year battle with what I thought was depression) explained it like this: with depression, you can’t ‘turn on the water’ to produce the right amount of chemicals and hormones in your brain. With bipolar disorder you have trouble turning the water on, and then sometimes once you get the water on you can’t shut it off. Basically, the worst case scenario for a leaky faucet. This leads to a fun variety of symptoms. One symptom that neurotypical people have a difficult time understanding - if you can’t turn on the water, motivation pretty much goes down the drain. It almost becomes a physical restriction to perform even simple tasks like taking a shower, cooking a meal, or doing laundry. God help me if its a day I have to be productive and deal with people. Some days are easier than others. Some days are impossible. And there is little you can do about it, no matter how hard you try. Back to how prioritizing though, because I know a lot of creative people suffer from some sort of mental illness - may thats why we create such beautiful things?
I have to commit to whats going to happen that day, and I can’t make the list very long. If its a work day I’m happy if I brush my teeth, remember my meds, and make it to work on time. If I come home and do the dishes or actually cook? Thats just a bonus. Lately I’ve been building better habits, or trying to. One of them is to come home and write every night. Even if its just a line or two, or I work on the playlist, or the character posts, or this blog (which is suprisingly hard to do, but I’m in too deep into this to quit now) its something. For creativity, thats important. Prioritizing a little bit of time each day and forcing it sometimes (a lot of the time) builds a habit. It makes it easier to turn the water on. Habits like this, little ones, help my brain do the thing better. And overall, these habits help me with prioritizing the important things.
Having a brain like mine, and coming to terms with it, has also helped me decide whats worth prioritizing and what isn’t. Writing, thats a big one for me. Like turning a computer off at the end of the day writing is how I process and decompress. The horses, they’re more vital to my mental health than many other things. Wife time - the most important. Everything else falls away when it comes to this. Work is of course important, but really at the end of the day no job is going to be more important than my family - so its lower on the list. Chores do come below work. Below family. If the last two years have taught me anything, its that in the blink of an eye someone can just be gone from your life. Its heartbreaking. Devastating. And the reason why I would rather play a game with my wife than turn my attention to a sink full of dishes or a dryer full of clothes. Those things can wait, the world will not end if go to bed without these things being done.
No one should add unnecessary stress to an already stressful existence - everyone is stressed to a degree, don’t fight me on this - and worrying about something that could be left until tomorrow, its a struggle. Especially for me, for people in my family, because I’ve always been held to a higher standard of living. I come from very Type A parents - and I love them, don’t take this the wrong way! - but the longer I live by myself the more I realize that I am very much not type A. If I can sit down and write for three hours instead of sweeping the floors, I may just have a little more dog hair and dirt for the next day. If I get off work early one day, I may not go home and do two loads of laundry. I may do one and go read or paint. I may not even do one and waist five hours watching one of the interesting things my wife finds on our TV. (Current favorite, watching a youtuber named Gameedged playing multiplayer games with his friends. Our two most watched are Subsistence and Phasmaphobia. I never understood watching other people playing games but its just so funny, we never get bored.)
I’m working on my priorities. I’m working even harder on not associating productivity with self worth (thats a fun topic I will not be discussing, yet at least). I’m working on building my life, step by step, as I grow along the path ahead of me. In my marriage, my writing, my horses, my family, my career(s)… I am not good at it yet but I am trying.
And that’s enough.
Here have a picture of my son because I am very tired and was supposed to be off today but I worked anyway. Happy Sunday.