One day at a time

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During our honeymoon we went to Trinidad, where the majority of my Mum’s family are. My eldest Aunt had been ill and we arrived the day after she passed. Our short time in Trinidad was dominated by the funeral and I spent more time singing hymns than I had in a long time.

I am not Christian, I identify mostly as pagan but I guess I am open to most forms of worship and Divinity. This one hymn, ‘One day at a time sweet Jesus’, stuck with me for a while.

I’ve been trying to get on with the thesis writing for my PhD. I had a pencil, target deadline for a chapter as the end of Feb. Lab work didn’t go to plan and I got a bit held up, but with a concerted effort I hoped to make a good enough dent on it this weekend to send something to my supervisors. I tried, I really did. I got a bit stuck on how to analyse and present my results so looked at some papers for inspiration. I just couldn’t follow them. The words were on the page but they wouldn’t make sense in my head. I was reading but not understanding. I felt stupid. I’ve been yo-yoing a little lately and my mood has been majority mildly depressed this weekend. I got more and more frustrated staring at the page.

I hoped music would help and ended up listening to Beth Orton’s version of ‘Oooh Child‘ on repeat. After a while I realised that today was not my day. ‘Some day, yeah, we’ll put it together and we’ll get it all done, some day when your head is much lighter’. I will get there but not today. I got up and did physical things, laundry, dishes, cooked dinner. Moved around to burn off the frustration that had grown.

Sitting and staring at the papers my head had told me how useless I was, how stupid and pathetic. That I was a fraud for even attempting a PhD when I couldn’t manage something as simple as reading. I wanted to curl up in a dark corner and hide. My head told me I needed to cut and bleed and just wither away and die. I had no use at all in this world. All because I my concentration was poor.

I’m not gonna say I felt magically better for doing housework, because when your head gets like that nothing will make it magically better. As I did the housework my head told me how rubbish I was at it and how much better I could do everything if I wasn’t so lazy. I recognised the potential for obsessing as I was on my knees scrubbing the cupboard doors ‘just as quick tidy before cooking’. But the physically doing something helped use the frustrated energy, it kept me from working myself into a state and possibly hurting myself.

Sounds good but it took a lot for me to get up from that table and leave the thesis work. My head told me I was a failure, lazy and a quitter. I felt guilty for doing housework rather than continuing to re-read the same paragraph over and over. But the lyrics of the song reminded me things would change and get easier, one day, when my head is lighter, I will get it all done.

As I folded laundry ‘One day at a time’ came into my head. I think the two songs have something I need to remember. I am only human. Some days my head will be heavy. It is ok to take it one day at a time. I will get it all done.

So this evening I release myself from any guilt for recognising my limitations, doing something positive with my time and looking after me. It may not sound like much to most people but for me that acceptance is a big thing.

I’m hoping for a lighter head tomorrow, but if not I’ll take it one day at a time.

PS sorry for the poor quality of the video


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