“For an adult, the big, difficult feelings are expressed a little more quietly… Instead, we backslide on our smoking, spend too much money, eat potato chips even though they give us gas. We let the dishes pile up, stop washing our faces, cycle through the same three grungy outfits day after day. It’s not just laziness, or self-indulgence, or fatigue. It’s self-expression and protest: I will act miserable because I am miserable and I want to act the way I feel, and I don’t need to act like I feel better and you can’t make me. It’s a way of externalizing feelings that may be too big to communicate or contemplate on their own: maybe I can’t deal head on with the void of the future, but by god I can sit here refusing to get up until I need to pee REALLY bad. It is, in its own way, a kind of self-care.”
I have had moments in my life which I don’t look back on kindly where I just balked hard and refused what was on offer. But maybe I shouldn’t beat myself up for those moments of listening to myself and admitting I don’t wanna, even if they didn’t turn out well.
“‘All my coping strategies are failing,’ one person told me recently. ‘I am coming undone.'”
“What’s changed is that our surge capacity — the body’s ability to process stress — was depleted months ago. We have so much grief and nowhere to put it. When you can’t process something, it builds up, like bile. And no matter how creatively or diligently you try to ignore it, it’s still there, slowly festering. At some point your body begins to betray your best compartmentalization strategies. Our dreams have become vivid and terrifying because sleep is one of the places we allow ourselves to confront our sadness and fear.
This sort of chronic instability, and the burnout and exhaustion that accompany it, fundamentally changes us.
— Anne Helen Petersen