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  • Lindsey Van Wagner

Bare Minimum Days

I have been really out of whack for a few days, feeling down, defeated, and depressed - I'm talking about dipping to DARK and LOW places. Like "I've got friends in low places..." you know the song? Well I feel like I've got friends, in my head, in low places, and they ALL come out to play on these days. Like there is a committee up there telling me all of the worst things about the world, about myself, about everything.


Earlier this week, a few hours after having an extreme episode, after having cried for (what felt like) no reason and feeling that I didn't want to do anything anymore, someone asked me what I did to make myself feel better, to calm myself down. I looked back at my texts and this was my response to them word for word:


"I think I just kind of like took a deep breath and said my only task for today is to not cause harm to myself or anyone else and so I am just doing the bare minimum of like what needs to be done. And just reminding myself that this will pass."


Based on my history, that is revolutionary for me to get through a moment like that. I am proud of three-days-ago Lindsey. I started thinking about some things that I do, including the bare minimum, to get through these times. I made a list. Sometimes I can only do one of these things, sometimes I can do none of these things, but it helps to have a list.

Shit List.

~ For when you're feeling like shit.


Breathe / Bare Minimum. Just do what you need do to get through the day. I call these "bare minimum days" (BMDs). To me, on these days, it is a victory to get through, to keep breathing. Even if the only productive thing I did was take out the trash. So breathe. And take out the trash if you can, but if you can't it's like totally fine. Just do it tomorrow.


Reasoning. I have to reason with myself a little bit here, when I am ready. I have to talk to myself. I tell myself that just because I am having a bad day and I feel awful doesn't mean that all my good days don't count. It doesn't mean that all of the hard work I put in means nothing and that I am back to square one. It means that I am having a bad day. That's fine. It. is. fine.


Gratitude. I will just sit and scribble down things I am grateful for, in no particular order. "The existence of Chipotle" and "my sister" and "school supplies." Keep it simple.


Self-Like. When I get in these dark moments, I can only see the negative - especially the negative things about myself. It gets kind of scary. And yes yes yes I have been working on the self-compassion thing, guys. It is so hard though. They call it "Self-Love." But I am not there yet and I need it to feel genuine. Right now I'm just working on LIKING myself so I call it Self-Like. I try to think of a few things that I like about myself, or things I can tolerate. I have to write them down for it to be real. Some days the only thing I can think of is that I sometimes like how my hair looks.


Kindness. Just doing one small, tiny, little, bite-sized thing for someone else can help me to get out of my head. A couple days ago I wrote a letter to my grandma and just the act of writing the letter, sealing the envelope, and leaving the house to take it to the post office helped me feel a little bit better. Note: Sometimes when I finally decide I am going to leave the house, I will even put on some fancy earrings to feel like I have my life together. Even if they have nothing to do with my outfit. (Bare minimum.)


This Too Shall Pass. I have to remind myself that this feeling is temporary. In the moment, it doesn't feel that way. In the moment, it feels like I have always felt this way and I always will feel this way. There is no way out. I can't see any light. So I have to remind myself that "This Too Shall Pass." On the really rough days, I have been known to sport the letters "TTSP" on my hand, written with a Sharpie.


Pray. I know people get weird about praying, I used to get weird about it too so I get it. It doesn't have to mean kneeling with a rosary, chanting, and clutching a cross that looks like the one from The Exorcist. (But, like by all means, do that if it works for you.) What I mean is just choose something greater than you - a Power greater than you - that you believe has your back. It could be nature, a feeling, the wind, the universe. My conception of a Higher Power is Johnny Cash and often times the way I talk to him does NOT look like praying. I'm driving and crying and hitting the steering wheel like "DUDE ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?" (Sorry, Mom. I said "fuck." This week I get to say all the things I want.) Knowing someone/something has your back helps with trusting the process of life and feeling that there is someone or something else in control. I don't have to do it all by myself.


Go Somewhere. This one is tough and sometimes it is just not possible, but if it IS possible and you can find one ounce of willingness to leave the house, then go for it. Even if it is just to get a juice at the gas station. (I feel so bad for the gas station closest to my house and the conditions they have seen me in.) Or maybe just go for a drive with no destination, blasting your favorite sad music and chain-smoking cigarettes. (I quit smoking over two and a half years ago, but I really miss it and I fantasize about it on these sad days. So if you still smoke, like obviously one day quit. But not today. Not on BMDs. Today smoke them all.)


Connect. You are not alone. Talk to someone even if it is just sending a text. If you can't send a text and that feels like too much, then scroll through Instagram and find one of those inspirational quotes that resonates with you. If it speaks to you, it means that someone somewhere has felt the way you are feeling now. And that they got through it. We have to remember in these times that we are not alone, because when I get this way, it feels like I am the only person who has ever felt this way in the history of the world ever ever ever. I start to think there is something wrong with me and it confirms ALL of those bad, negative, nasty thoughts about myself. Then I feel worse and worse and it is just a downward spiral from there. Also, opening up to people allows them to open up to you and then we realize that we are all just helping each other to get through. It is kind of beautiful.


That is all I got right now on this BMD (bare minimum day). I am putting this list down on paper (on internet paper) to remind myself that I can get through these times, and also to release this out into the universe in case it might help someone someday somewhere to feel better.


You are not alone.


-Linz

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