I had the nicest little emotional breakdown last week.
Now, bear in mind, when I say “emotional breakdown” I’m not talking about a “call the men in white coats” sort of breakdown. I mean that my emotions broke loose like a herd of bouncing, rampaging lambs who’ve discovered a hole in the fence and immediately gotten all hopped up on the high-fructose berries that were previously just out of reach.
I’ll pause just a moment while you enjoy the mental cartoon that image probably provoked.
I hate it when that happens. I wish I could be all calm, cool, and zen all the time. But the fact of the matter is, I’m not naturally calm, cool or zen. I’m an enneagram 4 (**cough**drama queen **cough**), an INFP, and you don’t even want to know how high I scored on the in-book test for The Highly Sensitive Person.
But the thing is, none of this is new information to me. Not only are the peculiar quirks of my particular mind-body combination not exactly a newsflash, I also have spent a ridiculous amount of time over the last 10 years learning the best tools for managing life as a somewhat neurotic, sensitive, emotionally-centered person.
I’m just not using any of those tools at the present.
I’m not calm, cool or zen as much as I could be lately, because quite frankly, I’m insisting on acting as though I’m a naturally extraverted, thick-skinned tough chick.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m considerably tougher and more extraverted than I once was. The person I was 5 or 10 years ago would be crying under her desk daily in a little ball of stress-induced hysteria if she found herself magically transported to my present life.
Going to do that “transparent, authentic blogger” thing and admit I’ve taken medication in the past to help deal with anxiety and cyclical depression. But what that experience mainly taught me is that I actually do much better when I manage those things through proper diet, exercise and self-care than with drugs.
It’s much like diabetes or high blood pressure. There are folks who absolutely have to be on medication. Then there are folks who can manage their health issues in a more holistic and natural way.
But you have to actually DO it. You can’t just stop taking medicine and NOT change the things you need to change. Which is what I’ve been doing. This is in part because I absolutely hate the idea of being “high maintenance.” I’ve heard those words, along with “sensitive” and “emotional,” thrown at me like a verbal hand-grenade full of character flaws. Perfect people aren’t high maintenance.
So I spent a large chunk of my life trying to prove I was “low maintenance.”
Which, evidently means “a doormat.” Which made all the people around me much happier–most of the time. Except for those moments when the stress built up to a point where I had a major meltdown.
Last week’s meltdown was a minor thing compared to the ones I’ve had in the past. Which prompts a few different reflections. First, gratitude that I no longer let things deteriorate the way I once did. Second, a wake-up call that I need to stop acting like I’m “low maintenance” and spend some energy maintaining my good health and wellbeing. I need to do the things I know I need to do, and stop making excuses that I’m too busy to care for myself properly.
I read once that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it.
So that’s what I’m going to do. Moving forward, I’ll be adding a new post every week to “The Juggling Act” category in a series about self-care for sensitive people. I’m going to be resuming some good habits I’ve let fall by the wayside, and share some helpful “Sensitive Person Lifehacks” with my reader friends here. I hope you like it–and if you’re a “sensitive person” of some stripe and want to share your own struggles and insights, you’re welcome to chime in on the comments.