Avoidance has long been my method for coping with overwhelming and/or difficult things. Things I didn't want to do. This list is long, but (part of) it looks something like this:
waking up in the morning
doing my homework
doing my chores
cleaning my room
paying my taxes
finding a job
making a decision about health insurance
deciding on a topic for my thesis
applying (for anything)
etc, etc, etc
Here's the thing about avoidance: It's not a great coping mechanism. It doesn't get things done, and it's not productive. (Though, to be both honest and fair, some times when I'm avoiding one thing (i.e. a final paper), I get a lot of those other things done, like cleaning my room.) It makes the last minute incredibly stressful. (Take, for example, the time ~cough~lastsemester~cough~ that I was finishing up my last week of classes, taking all my finals, writing all my final papers, and packing and preparing for a marathon cross-country drive home. All in the same week. Yeah, I didn't get much sleep and I was pretty much a wreck. It wasn't a good time.)
I had an epiphany just now, while boiling water to cook up some ramyun for my dinner. Two of my non-shared New Year's resolutions were to be more self-compassionate and to try to deal with hard things promptly instead of avoiding them. My epiphany involved the intersection of those two goals. Right now, I'm really struggling with that second goal.
My life is exceptionally hectic-feeling right now. I'm trying to juggle making some professional contacts, nailing down a research question for my thesis (thankfully I think I've finally found a topic), dealing with getting the ball rolling so I can do research for my thesis, four classes (each with a not-insignificant number of expectations), homework, a new church calling, beginning research for important papers for each of my classes, new responsibilities in regard to a possible (unexpected) future career, finding something to do and some way to support myself this summer, and all the other mundane stuff like taxes and healthcare insurance and feeding myself. Honestly, I think at this point it might be a tender mercy from the Lord that I'm not in a relationship, because it would just be one more thing to juggle.
But...do you know what I did yesterday with my day off from school? Instead of catching up on all the things I'm responsible for, I went to Home Depot and dropped some cash on some materials to make myself a headboard. Yup. That happened.
Here's where my epiphany (finally -- were you getting bored? sorry) comes in:
Okay, that's not the huge epiphany. I've been struggling, off and on, in one way or another, with depression for a long time. The epiphany came when I realized, Maybe I'm not lazy. Maybe I can stop berating myself with that label and realize that my procrastination and avoidance are symptoms, not part of who I am.
That being said, there are definitely times when I deliberately make poor choices with my time. ~cough~all-nightkdramawatching~cough~ But right now? Struggling to finish or even start my Korean homework (normally a class I love)? Not answering emails for days and dreading checking my inbox? Starting decorating projects instead of catching up on work? Making ramyun and grilled cheese and eating cereal at almost every meal because I can't work up the motivation to cook? Falling off the wagon on my calorie-tracking and not even wanting to try to get back on? That's depression. Situational depression, yes, thank goodness, which means that at some point it's going to have to end. But what an amazing moment of self-compassion to realize that all that stuff I'm not doing? It's not me, it's my situation. And I can fix that. I can get help to fix it. And it can end.
How grateful I am to know that my Heavenly Father loves me, because lately, that's just about all that's getting me through the day.
(For more on this topic, I suggest reading Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk, "Like a Broken Vessel". It's marvelous, and gives me a lot of hope and strength.)