There is never a good time to start
At the beginning of November, I moved to a new apartment. Unfortunately, a lot has gone wrong with that.
Deliveries and installations being late sucked, but all of that stuff kind of passes with time. Since my second week (so I guess six out of the eight weeks I’ve lived here so far) I’ve been dealing with a bit of a bigger problem: bedbugs. I didn’t bring them with me: they’ve come in from another unit in the apartment and come to make my life hell.
To my landlady’s credit, she’s done all she can to fix the problem; I’ve had three treatments place so far. However, in preparing for those things, I’ve put off a lot of other stuff because it “isn’t worth starting.”
For instance, I have a dresser in my living room. It’s still not assembled. It’s been sitting in its IKEA box, unopened, since it was delivered seven weeks ago. My rationale has been that if I put together, it’s a risk to get infested.
It doesn’t help that I’ve also had to basically keep my clothes in giant ziploc bags in between massive laundry sessions to make sure those aren’t hiding places, either. I’m allergic to the bug bites, which just escalates the stress of the situation; there’ll be 4-5 days when I think the problem is over with, and then I’ll find another bug, or get another round of bites.
That dresser is kind of emblematic — I’m in this place, but not settled. I’m telling myself there’s going to be this time where everything is neutral, so that will be when I can truly start to feel more comfortable. I’m putting off doing a lot because I’m exhausted from what is essentially background stress; the itching, the feeling of being “unclean” (even when I’m not), and the worry about people not wanting to visit my place. This all adds up.
I feel like the general sentiment of “there’s never a good time to start” is something you’ll see commonly repeated in mental health stuff because it’s an encouragement to just start. However, starting and failing is discouraging in itself; it feels like you lose the small bits of enthusiasm that you have to begin in the first place.
It takes a bit to be able to say “well, this isn’t perfect, but I’m going to try anyway.” It takes courage to know that you’ll be able to balance this new desire or responsibility with all the other stuff in your life, especially if those things feels overwhelming.
For people with mental health issues, they may not have the confidence in themselves to believe that they’ll be able to come out on the other side. Wanting something deeply, yet doubting your ability to chase and seize that desire in itself reinforces that lack of confidence. While there’s truth in “you never know until you try,” there’s a thought that eats at you: you do know, in a small way. And getting what you think is the final confirmation to your fears is in itself scary.
This isn’t an argument for not trying, but a framing of what someone might be thinking. I feel like I’m maybe 75% of the way through this; I feel as if I get exhausted from keeping myself from trying, and the desire to change slowly edges out that place of comfort. The thing is, I’ve done this dance before. I know how it feels to constantly be in a cycle of starting, stopping, and losing momentum. It disappoints yourself.
The positive take on the situation is that for some things, you kind of have an infinite amount of tries to start. For example, I want to try for the seemingly-100th time to stream and write regularly again. I know that my work schedule and personal needs conflict greatly with what I would want that end goal to look like, but I want to try anyway. I want the safety net of secondary income. I want to build something for myself.
I want it, but I don’t know if I want it bad enough to keep going when things get difficult; I don’t know if I’m in that right state of mind yet, and I know that it contributes greatly to whether I push towards success.
This feels like one of those situations, though, where I’m trying to figure out everything (and how it will go) before I actually start. I’m trying to plan for contingencies that haven’t even come up — I’m planning on how to explain my disappointment at failing before that even becomes a problem. The lack of confidence rears its head again.
Sometimes I kind of wish I could cut this process off at its legs and blindly just go for it. It would make this process a lot easier.
Maybe the first step is assembling that fucking dresser. It’s a pretty blatant metaphor; there’s a lot of “could happens” that would suck about it and derail some happiness, but at the same time it’s keeping me from actually enjoying the place I moved into. It’s keeping the place from feeling whole and put together.
My 2018 resolution is to kill the last little bit of me that gets angry/bitter/depressed at others for living the kind of life that I want to.
They have nothing to apologize for.
— Matt Demers (@MattDemers) December 19, 2017
That fear is keeping me from things that would increase my overall happiness. Raising that floor is important; it allows me to be resilient and keep spirals from happening. Instead of things and possibilities carrying so much weight, it makes falling back down to a default less painful. It means that default is pretty good, rather than a place I’d rather not be.
And I guess that acting with the aim of changing that default is a good place to start.