Pushing Through When It's Difficult

It's been a rough few weeks. 

I've had a lot of work, which as a freelancer, is wonderful. 

However, I've had a lot of work, which as one who struggles with several invisible illnesses, is terrible. 

Yesterday and today I've felt especially rough. I would almost swear it's the flu, or even COVID, except that 1) I'm not running a fever and 2) I've felt this exact way before and was tested, and was negative.

I'm in a low cycle right now with my bipolar though because of my tremendous work ethic, I've been able to get any work with deadlines done on or before those deadlines. 

But that's where it ended. All of those other things that I want to do when I have time, like work on my book ideas, research some more in-depth articles I want to write, or get more done on personal projects, simply aren't getting done. 

I can't help but think back to a few years ago, before I found a medicine that helped my mental health issues, when I wrote an article for "The Mighty" about not being able to make myself go to the pool to work out - https://themighty.com/2020/01/worst-frustrating-symptom-depression-force-yourself-do-things/ . It was the most well-read of any article they published that week. It has gone on to have over 2,000 likes and who knows how many have read it without officially liking it.

Recently I did an update on that article - https://themighty.com/u/spotlightonstigma/content/615c2859bc0e5d01f90b8dba?utm_source=engagement_bar&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=thought_full_card.engagement_bar/ -  saying that things can change. For almost a year, other than those times I was sick, injured, or had more work than is typical for me, I've averaged getting to the pool around 2-3 times a week. 

I thought I had conquered that struggle.

Turns out, I haven't.

I'm back in that same boat. I MADE myself go back to the pool last week and I could only stay in there 45 minutes (and that was a huge fight). From lasting only 20-30 minutes a year ago, recently I would usually stay in over an hour, sometimes up to an hour and a half. 

I was going to try to get one more time in last week. 

I couldn't make myself go back.

I thought that this week I could get at least 2 times in, maybe 3, because I don't have much work to do (being Thanksgiving week). 

It's now Tuesday afternoon and I haven't been able to make myself go yet. I extremely doubt I'll be able to go today... and I'm pretty doubtful I'll make it tomorrow.

When I first had the idea to write about this topic this week, it was about how it is possible to accomplish what you need to even when depressed. I do it all the time with work. If I have a scheduled shoot, I can't cancel if I'm depressed or if one of my auto-immune diseases flares up (not if I want to get more business, that is). The same goes for a deadline for an article - it has to be done no matter how I feel.

But those things that I don't consider necessary, like working out, I just can't do. 

The best way to describe how I feel when I'm like this is like "swimming through molasses." All movement is a struggle. Even though my vision is physically fine, I can't see what's ahead. I feel sticky and yucky and like there's a weight pressing in on me from every side.

Last week I shot a conference. I got there Sunday night and left Wednesday afternoon. It was almost non-stop. I shot maybe between 3,000 and 4,000 photos and edited/submitted between 550 and 600. 

Remember that I'm experiencing a low cycle right now. I cried a LOT last week. I got frustrated easily. Tasks that usually aren't hard were really difficult. 

But I got the job done. I didn't cry around others. I didn't show my frustration (much). I tried my best to make taking photos this time look as easy as any other shoot.

Then why can't I get to the pool? I know that in actuality, neither event nor at least the amount of effort I put into it, is "necessary." I could have done less and still gotten paid for the conference. I could get to the pool and only stay for 15-20 minutes and it still would help my joints and my mood. 

On the other hand, getting money to live on is definitely needed, though not technically necessary. However, so is my health.

I just realized something else. I feel like spending the day in bed. However, I am at my desk typing this. I'm not getting paid for it. I'm not even sure if anyone else ever reads it. 

Maybe I put a higher priority on it because it's somewhat work-related, more so than exercise at least, which isn't. 

I don't have the answers to these thoughts. I do know that writing them out has helped me organize them so that I can work through them easier. 

Meanwhile, I'm still going to try to get to the pool this week. Maybe this heavy, numbing depression will leave and I will want to go. Or maybe the depression won't leave but I'll make myself go anyway.

But whatever happens, it's one more reminder that in this journey of mental health issues, you never completely "arrive." 


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