lack of variety and interest; tedious repetition and routine
synonyms: tedium; dullness; boredom
sameness of pitch or tone in a sound or utterance
synonyms: flatness; drone; tonelessness
… … …
When I wake up every morning, there is a general list of things for me to choose from to do with my day:
Work my new polish business
Help my cousin with her handwriting (because we’re both lefties)
Play on the sports field across the street with my cousin
Take the dog for a walk
Go to the post office & run other brief errands
Practice my vocal repertoire
Do some blog writing
Add to my current diamond painting project (usually while watching Disney Plus)
Talk to my mom or one of my best friends on the phone
Brainstorm for my musical (although I’ve fallen off that bandwagon again recently...oops)
Looks like a varied and interesting set of tasks and activities, right? Indeed!
I love my new polish business (although my fast-paced natural state of being is having a hard time coping with the slowness and steadiness of getting the ball rolling on a new endeavor such as this), and writing as communication and expression still brings me great joy and fulfillment! I love hanging out with my cousin and getting to spend time with her both in ‘school’ and out, and I have never in my life loved singing as much as I do right now. For the first time in my entire lifetime of vocal practice, I finally achieved an entire week of daily practice! That is an accomplishment for me! I discovered gem painting a month or so ago, and it has now become my new favorite hobby (if you haven’t heard of gem/diamond painting, think cross-stitch-meets-mosaic-meets-color-by-number). I have time to relax without putting pressure on myself to always be out and about and doing things.
I am actively learning to choose joy and self-care, to resist the desire to fall into my depression again when I look at the circumstances – and I love that I can do that now, because even a year ago, I don’t think I had the tools and self-awareness to make that choice.
But despite having joy and feeling excited about passionate about my life and the routine I have right now, something strange has been happening to my sleep routine. I’ve started going to bed between 1:00 and 2:00 am again and I’ll stay in bed until 10:00 am. It takes tremendous effort for me to get out of bed before 10:30 am.
You might be reading this, wondering why I’m telling you this. What about this is so significant? I’m not on a schedule right now, so wouldn’t it make sense that my sleep schedule is off? I’m still getting eight hours of sleep, so why does it matter when I go to bed and when I wake up?
These are all valid questions, and on the surface, I wouldn’t think much of this. I used to stay up this late all the time in high school and college: I have long accepted that I am a night owl. But there is something more to this that makes it meaningful.
For a few fleeting minutes, as soon as I wake up, I absolutely dread getting out of bed.
I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to get on my computer. I don’t want to work my business. I don’t want to sing. I don’t want to see anyone. I don’t want to go outside. I don’t want to do anything.
I’ve started waking up with every muscle in my body feeling sore and tense. After a week and a half, I still can’t open my jaw all the way because I’ve stared clenching my teeth in my sleep (which I have never done before). I take my phone out to play Nonograms for at least a half hour every night, even when I’m exhausted, because I know that as soon as I fall asleep, the next thing that happens will be waking up with such a lack of energy and excitement that I want nothing more than to burrow an actual hole in my bed and never come out. All I want is to stay in my bed doing nothing, my body feeling afraid of something that my conscious minds knows not of.
And it’s distressing because I don’t know what I’m reacting to and why – and I therefore do not know how to take care of myself.
I tried talking to my mom about it, but I found myself unable to even articulate what I was feeling. This funk was so nebulous that I couldn’t even put words to my experience. And I will tell you, after all the work I put into my healing and self-awareness, this was a disappointing discovery.
How was I supposed to respond to something so indistinguishable?
Then, my mom hit the nail squarely on the head: she suggested that maybe it was because I had nothing to look forward to in my life. With no end in sight to the shelter-in-place, I am stuck living essentially the same day over and over again. I have no shows to look forward to, or dates, or jobs, or projects, or groups. Everything has been canceled or postponed, and the possibility of meeting anyone is slim to none. All of the plans I had coming to NYC have been put on hold, and while I am at peace with that because I trust God’s greater plans for me, the monotony of my life right now is weighing on me, like a sack of bricks that adds one more each day.
This in itself is a new lesson for me: learning how to take care of myself in repetition and monotony. I have always been such a do-er, and my general speed of life is so fast that I am used to balancing many swirling plates in the air, but I am certainly not used to slowing down so much and living in tedium.
There’s nothing wrong with it, either. It’s just not my preferred way of being, and if I stop and think about it too much, the sadness and grief of the plans that I had when I moved creeps in just a little too much. Perhaps that’s why I avoided any inquiry into my funk for so long: I didn’t want my depression to come back, and I didn’t want to go through the cycle of bringing myself back to baseline. It takes tremendous effort, and I don’t want to go there if I don’t have to.
Then again, the depression never really leaves me. It’s always there, just to different degrees each day. Like today, it’s a little bit stronger than usual. My brain is a little foggier, and my inner critic is a little louder. Writing this blog post is a little harder.
How do I keep going when I feel like there’s nothing to look forward to? Or when my body is reacting in way I don’t understand, for reasons I’m not aware of?
I’m learning to actively choose joy every day – sometimes multiple times a day – and allowing myself grace for some trial and error in self-care. Today, I sit on my bed, my little Worry Woo Monster of Insecurity by my side (he is an actual stuffed animal – his name is Rue Raisin), eating jellybeans while typing out this blog post. Right now, it’s what makes me feel just a little better. I’ll probably go practice my voice lesson music after this, just to counter the sameness of pitch in my life.
Each day is more or less the same, and that’s hard. It’s hard to keep going when it feels like I’m turning my wheels but moving nowhere. But that’s where I’m at right now. So I choose to feel the joy and gratitude, knowing that one day, it won’t be like this anymore.
If you are feeling hopeless, bored, and exhausted from the monotony of life right now, know that you are not alone and, if you can, remember that one day, this will end, and life will feel like it’s moving forward once again.
Cover image photo credit: Zidonito McBrain from Unsplash