For the last several days, maybe a week, I have been getting more and more depressed. A lot of things have happened since the beginning of the year, and if they had happened seperately they would have been manageable, but happening right on each other’s heels like this they are slowly but surely overwhelming me. Some of these things are external and some are internal, but ALL of them are stressful.
First. The holidays killed me. My long-term boyfriend and I decided to do Christmas with his kids this year, which meant that we basically ADDED a Christmas to Christmas. We had one with his kids and my family, then we each had our own Christmases with our own families. December was a jumble of stress and anxiety.
Second. Then, in January, we broke up. It was both predictable and totally unexpected, in that weird way that those things sometimes are. But it hurt like a bitch, and for various reasons the breaking-up process dragged out over about 2 weeks. I’m still not totally over it, which is to be expected, but the hurt crops up at unexpected times and in unexpected places.
Third . I decided to recommit to acting, and joined a group of women in film who get together and set goals and talk about what exactly they’re doing to move their careers forward. Since I have a tendency to sabotage myself, I figured this would be a good thing, and it has been. But. The reason I sabotage myself is because I’m afraid (what I’m afraid of is a topic for another post, too lengthy to go into here), and joining a group where I’m held accountable, even in a loving supportive way, means I have to actually DEAL with my fear and work on moving past it, which is ya know . . . stressful.
Fourth. My friend got promoted. Woot! Her bosses asked me to take her job. It was very flattering, but her job is quite demanding, and it would have meant giving up the acting altogether, which I’m not ready to do. Since that particular job rolls over every couple of years (it’s the “get-promoted” job around here), I opted to try acting for a couple of years and then see about moving into that position. But in the meantime there was a lot of pressure, both subtle and overt, for me to take her job, and I had to figure out how to say no without shooting my prospects down for the next time that job comes up.
FIFTH. My friend who got promoted organizes our department to go to major film conventions twice a year. She books the travel, makes sure the hotel rooms are right, sends out our promotional materials for display, makes sure people have all the appropriate access, tickets, reservations etc. One of those conventions is happening in two weeks, and since she doesn’t have a replacement yet, they don’t have anyone who will know how to do the second convention later in the fall. So they asked me to do it. I’m actually really excited (it means I get to travel with them and go to dinners and play golf and meet major film “players”), but there’s a LOT to learn, and not much time to learn it in. So I’m also hellaciously stressed out about this. I just bought a suitcase, because I can’t really pack work clothes in my trusty duffel bag. ::::sigh::::
All of that stuff I could probably handle, but then I added ANOTHER layer on top:
SIXTH. I’m trying to change the way I think and feel about myself and my body. I know that for me (actually, I think this is true for most people, but since I don’t personally know “Most People” I will limit my sweeping generalizations – ha!), changing a belief system like that happens from the top down. Which is to say, I grasp the concepts intellectually long before I can really internalize them in my heart. And I “get it” in my heart long before I can really incorporate it into my gut feelings. Basically I go through 3 stages of change.
In the first stage, I say, “My body is fine just the way it is. It’s beautiful. It’s healthy. It’s perfect. It doesn’t have to lose 20 pounds (or 30, 0r 40 or fill-in-the-blank). I’m healthy, therefore I’m fine.” But while I’m saying that, I’m having a hard time believing it in my heart. While I’m saying that in my head, every positive thing is countered by the voice that looks in the mirror and shouts, “Cow! Fat! Gross! Disgusting!” My head becomes a very noisy, chaotic place to live in.
In the second stage, I start to really believe that there is truth in the words I am speaking: “Health is the only goal. Losing weight doesn’t matter. Beauty comes in all sizes, regardless of what Vogue says.” I believe that in my heart, in PRINCIPLE – but I don’t think it applies to me. The name-calling voice is gone, but it’s replaced with a smaller, quieter voice that says, “All of that is true, but I WOULD be a little prettier if I lost some weight. Is it really so bad to want to be pretty? I could get so much more acting work. Health is great, but why do I have to stop there? Why can’t I be pretty AND healthy? I know other people are pretty at every size, but I’M DIFFERENT.”
And in the third stage, I finally get it. The voices stop. My weight does what it wants to, and I don’t worry about it, because I’m too busy thinking about how great life is, and how healthy I am, and how good I feel. I might gain, I might lose, but it never matters.
I’ve gone through that process before, with other attitudes, so I know that’s the route it will take. But that doesn’t change the fact that right now, I’m still in the first stage. I can spout the “party line,” but I can’t pass a mirror without thinking I’m gross (even though I know intellectually that I’m NOT). So right now, the fighting in my head and heart is intense. And of course, stressful.
I have more on this in “Cognitive Dissonance, Part 3,” but for the purposes of this post, suffice it to say that I am depressed. And I’ve progressed from sleeping too much to not sleeping enough, which means the depression is starting to snowball, because I am exhausted. (I can GO to sleep just fine, but I wake up at 4am and can’t go back to sleep.) Things that wouldn’t have bothered me before are starting to get to me. And the cognitive dissonance that is created by trying to change my attitudes is not leaving me much emotional fortitude to deal with everything else.