Wednesday, October 31

Interwebz Overshare: Happiness loan

This image is from sometime in 2010. I have been looking over older paintings of mine because I like to have a clear direction in my painting. If I don't know what I am working toward, then I don't paint well. This becomes a problem when I have a huge event like a show, and it zaps me all up. I have to learn to become a painter again. Sounds crazy right!

Speaking of sounding crazy. I just had a conversation with O tonight I thought you guys would find interesting. 

Me: I am super duper stressed out. I don't know why, but everything in my life feels like a chore, and just thinking about the next day, and interminable night where I will get spotty sleep makes my throat feel closed up and I can't breath!

O: Ok, you either need to zone out and re-spawn, or you need to really focus, get down into it and commit yourself. You have to just think good thoughts. You have to get down, and do it, and work...

Me: Total melt down. How can I do anything when I feel like I am drowning? How can I work harder?

O: I am trying to help! What do you want from me? I don't know what to do for you, its limbo!

Me: I am to express exactly what I need? Wait, what do I need? Suddenly I see it... 
I need a happiness loan. Thats what I need, a 0% down happiness loan. I will feel shitty for a bit, but you counter that with smiles, love, hugs, kisses even though I won't initiate the happy-fun-time-goofy-playtime at home. Help me remember to have fun, even when I am gloomy. Bring laughter and lightheartedness into my depths of despair. Then I proceeded to offer concreate examples of what he could have done that evening that would have been helpful. Do you have to be super technical with your man? I mean, like with outlines and triangle graphs? Cuz that is how O understands, I have to make a clear-headed point and offer solutions and time frames. If I am freaking my shit out, then he shuts down.

I felt really selfish saying this. I mean, I basically said "I am going to be shitty, but you can't be shitty. You have to be strong for both of us for a little bit. I need to lean on you." But then I remembered that when you are in a team, sometimes you lead, and sometimes you lean. And if he said the same thing to me I would totally do it, no problem. And more importantly I would not get second-hand stress as easily because I had a plan to follow.

This reminds me also, that the most important thing when I am feeling overwhelmed, is to take the situation into control, even just by defining it. Also, let me just say that this is your common cold variety stress and upset. This ain't SARS stress, and O and I are as usual effective communicators, and fundamentally happy people.

1. Pinpoint what you need from him (or another person in your life, anyone). Together you can create an environment where you can calm down, and figure out how to solve your problem. I have to use visualization. When I saw myself unhappy, I saw O hugging me, smiling, and making me smile too. I felt soothed just by seeing it in my mind.

2. Offer a concreate example. I said "If we have plans for something fun after work, don't abandon them if I am low energy. Take control instead of defaulting to me." or "I need you to hug me a lot, and no funny business."

3. If you recognize that you need something more from him (for me it will involve a chart detailing dog duties, and other chores. Potentially involving gold stars), then clearly outline those as well later when you have had time to outline some tools to help you feel better.

4. Set a timeline for results. I want to be sleeping better in one week. I want to feel more calm in the evenings and I want to do three enjoyable things a week after work within one month. (Very important: visualize, or have a very specific example in your mind as your goal. Mine is that I will be sleepy at night, with no thoughts in my mind, and I will take pleasure in O's company, and I will know that feeling in my gut, and my heart.)  I also want to have a written down series of helpful activities to turn to when I get my ass cheeks in a wad next time. Do you loose the ability to remember basic things when you are under stress? I sometimes can't remember how to drive home.

5. Stop thinking about it. I wrote my goals down. I have a plan. Now I can just take a hot bath, or anything else that will symbolize moving on from that low point.

I mean, you can't rationally address your problems with a hope of crafting a solution if you can't be rational right? So these steps will help us calm down, and then we can work on changing our perspective, or eliminating some stressors that are toxic. You get the drift.

* Coco can tell when I am upset. She hears it in my voice, and she knows her sweet love will heal me. She stops, spots me, comes over fast, insists on getting in my lap and licks me all over. She does it every time.

How do you communicate with your loved ones when you are past your limits? Do you have a plan of action that you turn to? Any advice? I would love to know how you think about this, and how you approach communicating clearly in the midst of a middle school style hissy-fit? hmmmm?

Wow, this post seems so silly today. I can't believe the amount of devastation Sandy brought. That is SARS stress for sure.

Tomorrow I show you the afters of our swamp pit!


  1. This list is honestly awesome. Sometimes we really NEED to keep these things in mind in order to communicate properly. Also, dogs are the absolute best medicine when sad. Point finale. That smushy face could cure anything.

    1. Thanks Elyse. Dogs are indeed the very, very best.

  2. I love your ideas here; my trick is lots of lists. Just the process of creating a list makes me not only take a mini-break from whatever's stressing me, but also helps me itemize what I need to focus on first and what can be put off to another time. A concrete list also helps me communicate to my bf what are my stressors at that time--like, 'hey, I need to get the dog to the vet and do this this and this'...and he feels better because he can jump in and volunteer to help with the dog, or whatever. Menfolk love fixing problems :)

    1. Lists! Oh yes. My mad loves to fix things. Sometimes I just need him to be lovey though, and not give me information when I am overwhelmed. But, I have to tell him every time, bless him.

  3. I agree with your thoughts on painting & not having direction. I've finished many paintings without a clear direction & felt myself unsatisfied with the final product. I'll paint over the canvas over & over again until I feel confident about what exactly I'm doing.

    1. Oh dear. I have done that soo many times. I have a special place where I store my crap paintings, and then I can't paint over them when I have forgotten painting them in the first place.

  4. Coco's sweet face just slays me. She's like a person to me. Kisses to you both!

    1. Love you! That picture is from when we first moved in, like a few months. I love her sweet little face.

  5. Coco's sweet face just slays me. The cuteness...and those eyes... I can't wait to see her (and you)! :)

  6. Oh Michelle,

    There are few blogs that I so adore I drop everything to read the new post.
    It feels like you're writing from the throat and stomach.

    I don't know what's up with this feeling of an overwhelm but it's in the air. A lot.
    Religious or not, 2 months ago I've decided to start my days with 15 minutes of just sitting with closed eyes. It's hard, because I'm so hyper and I need that damn coffee, but I do sit and ask for inspiration and so everything will be accomplished. This intention is my steering wheel. Whenever I forget to sit down first thing in the morning (after I wash my face with really cold water, otherwise I'll fall asleep again..) the day seems scattered.

    So far so good.
    And I write those post notes on the computer :
    "Did you have enough water?"
    "Did you go for a walk?"
    and those post notes stare at me.

    Anyways. Adore you.

    1. You are so dedicated! What a great idea, I am totally going to copy you.

  7. Ha! You are too funny! I have had many a similar experiences.i have a melt down, expect or need my husband to react the way I have played it out In my head, get frustrated when it doesn't happen, try to communicate when emotions have been hijacked.... Needless to say I probably don't have to tell you where this is going. Anyways, after 25 years of being married, I've found that when I get overwhelmed and think I've lost it and need support, which has happened more times than I like to omit, I find that if I just let go, become weak, fall into my husbands arms when I see him, he actually becomes surprisingly compassionate and understanding and helpful. It's a much easier approach and a lot less draining.

    (just a side note)
    I recently purchased your painting "blue cup" and I just love it. Thank you.Geri parisi

  8. Geri,
    I just read this out loud to my husband, and we both really appreciated it, and had a good chuckle too. My husband thinks you are brilliant!

  9. That's a very generous compliment! I'll take it! It's not often( who am I kidding), to my knowledge no one has referred to me as brilliant! Ha ! Made my day O!

    Geri xxxx

  10. my sister and I constantly laugh how lucky we are to have found the only two men that can put up with "our crazy." I often need a mental-health drive....just a quick spin around the neighborhood to cool down. Husband is totally aware of what I'm doing...and appreciates the better me when I return. Thankful he allows me to have my fits

    Happiness loan...the term alone makes me relax a little...thank you for introducing that term into my vocabulary

    1. what a great idea! A little drive to sooth the nerves. O always reminds me to just go to the gym :) Perfectly matched husbands are the best aren't they.

  11. This is a pretty damn awesome post. I like the way the two of you work together to try to stay happy and healthy. I have dealt with depression for years, so everyone who is close to me knows what to do when I start getting distant. Leave me alone for a little while and if it doesn't get any better, force me to do something social. It helps to be really honest about your emotions and what you need from those who are closest to you.


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