By Laqwanda Roberts-Buckley
“Rice. No, she wants rice.”
Those were the thoughts drowning the inner depths of my mind as I watched my 14-year-old daughter’s hand pull the bag of rice from the cabinet. She had been sick the night before and was lacking the strength to make breakfast herself.
Although it seemed like an easy task, my mind which rotates between manic and depressive episode was screaming to me. “You can’t do this! You just want to go to bed. Ask her to choose something else. You are tired.” I know you may be wondering if it was a big deal, but I too had woken up not feeling well.
Unlike my daughter, my illness was mental instead of physical. For some reason that morning, I did not have the get up and go to get up and go. I knew from the moment that I opened my eyes that all I wanted to do that day was stay in bed. Besides, it was one of my rare days off from work. My goal for the day had been to eat a salad then lay in the bed surrounded around adult coloring books, color pencils and puzzles- cannot forget about the puzzles.
However, that all changed when I saw 7 missed calls from her as I checked my phone. I had to do a quick switch-up and pretend just long enough to check in with her to make sure she was okay. But that check-in became a new task for the day and my mind was not having it at all.
When she selected her breakfast of choice, she looked at me and said, “I have to go back to bed.” I smiled and kissed her forehead and that’s when the real work began. Instantly, I began to tell myself, “10 to 15 minutes. You can stand for 10 to 15 minutes.” Although the conversation to myself sounded good, I couldn’t do it. I had to change my approach. “10 to 15 minutes you can sit and wait for 10 to 15 minutes.” While this self-talk was going on, I found myself also fighting negative self-talk regarding my abilities as a mother. Questions of why I couldn’t just complete the task at hand and why I couldn’t be “stronger” when my daughter needed me most.
In order to help myself through this moment, I ran downstairs and grabbed a puzzle out of my self-care bag. (Yes, I have a self-care bag.) I sat there patiently working on a puzzle that usually takes 15 minutes for me to complete. At the end of the puzzle, I got up and guess what??? Breakfast was ready! I did it. I made it through the emotional turmoil of cooking rice for breakfast.
I felt good about it even though I felt like shit when I started. I know that I can’t be the only one that can find the simplest of tasks difficult to manage at times. I know I am not the only whose heart drops when their mind begins to attack them with little to no reason. Well, if you find yourself in this boat with me, here are some things that I remembered to get through that little task at hand.
- Be Honest with Yourself. One thing I would suggest to anyone finding small tasks difficult is to be honest with yourself about how you are feeling at that moment. Don’t try to fake it. If you are struggling, acknowledge that struggle. When you acknowledge the struggle, you now know what you are fighting and can develop a plan to make things more manageable.
- Talk Back to Your Thoughts. During my morning, I was bombarded with negative thoughts. In order to get through, I had to fight against them. I had to tell myself different things because the thoughts didn’t want to stop. You must learn how to do the same thing. Stopping negative self-talk is a skill that can be learned. It also helps when you trying to get from point A to B when it comes to the tasks at hand in life.
- Develop a plan and change it if you need too. I had attempted to encourage myself to stand for 15 minutes but that didn’t work for me. I had to change my plan and include sitting and working on a puzzle to get through it. When you are feeling shitty, it’s important to remember that your plans may need to change at times. Don’t get discouraged if what first comes to mind falls short. Try shifting gears and see how things work out.
- Celebrate the small stuff. Yes, I know that I am talking about making rice. However, I spent 15 minutes fighting thoughts that would normally have me down for the count all day. The great thing about it was I won that round. You must give yourself credit for every victory that comes your way even the small ones. You must remind yourself that all your fights even when you struggle to do little shit sometimes can add something to our lives when we win.