Or: How to keep creating when Colossal tosses your red-suited ass into a car.
Welp, it’s been a few months. And boy howdy, it’s been a few months.
Sometimes, to quote my favorite superhero, “shit goes sideways in the most colossal way.”
Yeah, that’s about right. You know it’s been a tough few months when you think it’s been six, and it’s only actually been three.
In summary, in the last 3 months:
- my brother in PA had a grand mal seizure out of the blue (he’s okay now, but that might be the worst phone call I’ve ever received)
- I suffered a Grade 3 sprain, including ruptured tendons in my ankle
- and A Very Sad Ending
But, like Deadpool, I do have some regenerative powers. Well, emotionally, at least; my ankle? That’s a whole other hot mess that will take a while to fully heal.
I know any artist’s life is characterized as being a tumultuous roll in the proverbial hay, but I don’t know anyone who works well under these circumstances. Maybe there are a few who emotionally survive on the drama, but I guarantee you they’re not thriving.
Which means since the end of January/beginning of February, I’ve had to find my way back to an equilibrium where I can work, write, produce, and overall keep moving forward.
How does one do that, you may ask?
Get back to basics
I’m talking about the super simple basics. Eating right, exercising, showering, and getting enough sleep all became my top priority. Sleep was the most difficult to get, as sleep and I have a love/hate relationship anyway, but after a few weeks it finally evened out. I journaled, I meditated, I practiced what little yoga I can with a messed up ankle. They all helped contribute to my ability to emotionally handle these dramatic changes in my life.
Keep Your Tasks Small and Achievable
I actually had to call in many friends for help with this one. Because I knew if I had people to help me stay accountable to myself, I had a greater chance of success. Sometimes it was just telling a friend that I got up, took a shower, and put clothes on that weren’t pajamas. Sometimes it was just that I needed a moment to be sad and someone to hear my sadness. And that was fine, but I refused to let myself wallow in my sadness.
Forget Your Feelings and DO THE THINGS
There were plenty of days where I wanted nothing more than to crawl under my covers and forget everything.
But I had deadlines. People to see. Commitments to myself and others. Promises to keep. So I asked myself, what’s the most basic thing here? Keeping my due dates and deadlines. Hell itself could have been banging down my door and I wouldn’t have cared. I was meeting those deadlines.
Even when I didn’t want to do anything, I knew that Future Jess would be so happy I did them. Sometimes that was the only thing I could say to myself to keep going. And you know what? Future Jess IS happy she did those things. Because Past Jess kept her promises, to herself and others. Past Jess didn’t let things derail her, no matter how they may have slowed her down.
Get out of your normal environment
At the beginning of 2018, I realized I needed to see friends at least once a week for my own mental and emotional health. I had been working too hard for too long and trapped in my apartment. I was going stir crazy, and by Christmas, I was burnt toast.
So in the last few weeks, I made plans with friends. A day trip to Julian, a few movie nights, even just lunch and catching up in a friend’s garden. Last Saturday was beer tasting at two breweries in San Diego that I’ve wanted to visit for ages.
It meant that I could hold my sadness/worries/anxiety/fears without being overwhelmed by them. I had fun and lots of it. When things go sideways, you need moments like that just to feel like a normal human being, instead of “the person who’s dealing with [X].”
Pet ALL THE DOGS
Okay, maybe this one is just for me, but dogs really do make everything better.
It’s all contributed to me being where I am today, which is pretty okay. Somewhere in the last month, I started writing regularly again on my own projects (like this blog post). I know so many people who are struggling in one area of life or another (or many), and it’s easy to tell them to keep going, keep your chin-up; pick your platitude of choice. It’s much more difficult to put these things into practice and to learn how to navigate your own life and emotional ocean.
I hope that sharing my experience helps anyone who’s in the throes of their own moment of being turned sideways. You’re braver and stronger than you know.