I have a shut down problem.
I firmly believe the term “shut down” should be added to that big medical book of ailments. This condition is real and completely underrated. It is more powerful than originally thought, because it does not affect the physical body but the MIND.
Reminds me of Einstein’s famous theory: “ An object in motion stays in motion.” Quite brilliant this gravity thing. If only my mental gravity could catch up with my physical gravity. I used to blame things on my “older” body, but I experienced a light-bulb moment recently.
My mind is just as weak as my body. I think, sometimes, even more so. Many times my body is quite willing to do the work, but my mind just experiences SHUT DOWN.
Let’s explore the theory.
I had a hard day. Crawled out of bed at the crack of dawn with a hint of the common cold. Amazing how I can take a stomach virus or kick ass flu better than the annoyance of a common cold. Seems so insidious – like a snake that slowly slithers through your body, taking out one organ at a time. It’s slow torture and makes you feel like a big baby for wanting to sink into bed and drink chicken soup and watch soap operas. But of course, you can’t because you are not REALLY sick, you just have a cold.
Sorry, I digress.
Anyway, up with the cold, and find out my son has once again wet his bed. I smell pee all the time. In my sleep, at work, the scent clings to me no matter how much I bathe him or myself. Both my kids wet the beds: my bed, their beds, the couch if they fall asleep. I do laundry a million times per week, and change the sheets every day. So, I get him up, change the sheets, do my thing, get caught in traffic so it takes me an hour and forty five minutes to get to work in a tropical storm while my little red car shakes on the edge of the bridge and I still drive 80 because I am late AGAIN. Bad day – no repeat needed. Come home in the same tropical storm with flooded roads and trucks skidding around me. Greeted my adorable kids in half naked state wielding fake swords and smashing everything in sight. Eat, clean up, and take stock of the house.
Trashed. Toy boxes upended in the creative need to make a fort. Art boxes dumped with an amazing display of crayons, markers, playdoh and unnamed things that crunch underfoot. Clothes limply hanging out of the drawers in an effort to find the right pair of pajamas for their stuffed animals to wear. The boys begin jumping on beds since the day wasn’t enough time to get out the energy needed to be emitted from two little boys. Check email – over 50 messages from the previous evening. Blog to do, other blogs to check, short story deadline at midnight that never got done, marketing proposal for another project, and research reading to still accomplish. Husband asking me when we can start the new Netflix movie so he can return it promptly tomorrow to receive another one I won’t have time to watch.
And I feel it coming.
I sat on the couch, pulled the Spiderman blanket over me, and just stared at the wall. My husband skidded by, eyes wild, asking me when I was going to help clean up, get the kids undressed, finish my work and settle down. I told him I was done, the kids could stay up as late they want, pee all they want, and I would not remove one thing from the floors. I have decided I will be on the show Hoarders, because that is the beginning of what my house now looks like. My physical body, cold withstanding, could normally accomplish these feats in under an hour.
But my mind waved the white flag.
I surrendered. I was depleted. Done.
I promptly found the carton of ice cream, used a bowl because of my germs, and dug in. Then hit my list for the 100 shows I have DVRd but have not gotten to yet. Say yes to the Dress, Project Runaway, Parenthood, Survivor, the list was completely delicious and went on and on….
Shut down has happened to me before. My husband truly fears this ailment like the sinking of the Titantic. He even watches my eyes glaze over and yells at me “Please not the chair- don’t do it – don’t shut down!” But by that time, it’s usually too late and he ends up alone.
Too much going on and too little time to do it. My boys have beaten me. How they are able to imitate actual gremlin behavior while still looking cute like Gizmo is beyond me. But they manage. So, tonight, I surrender.
I will write another night. I’ll miss this short story deadline, but there will be another. Maybe next week I will clean my house. I may even cook again. But not now. Probably not tomorrow. I need to hit the restart button, like my poor little computer who gets overloaded with all the searches and Bings and Yahoos I consistently ask her (my computer, my best friend) to manage. Sometimes, she just goes blank, with a little flashing logo, and after the panic attack, I realize I just need to SHUT DOWN and hit RESTART.
This is an important writing lesson, which we normally term burn out. When you try to write consistently – every day is the ultimate goal – sometimes you reach a point where the mind cannot keep up with the constant lure of ideas, deadlines, and various calls for creative inspiration and time. Sometimes, you really do have to take a day or night off and come back fresh. The key is not to wait too long, or the wonderful gravity thing just blows up in your face. Watch a movie, read, eat ice cream. Just one day. It is amazing what can be accomplished tomorrow, and how you realize a few hours lost in productivity can be a real trophy in your life.
And boy, sometimes I love a good sulk. Poor me. Poor, overworked, tired, mommy me needs a night off.
I am watching Alice in Wonderland with the boys tonight. Then I’m going to finish my romance novel, take some cold remedy (my grandmother used to give me whiskey, they now call it Nyquil) and sleep like a baby.
For now I am SHUTTING DOWN.
PS: Don’t leave me out here alone guys. Please admit you do this yourselves or my husband really will convince me I am crazy.