Thursday, January 1, 2015

Activities I'm Willing and NOT Willing to Do When I Feel Bad

I've been figuring this out about myself for a long time now, and I think I've finally got it.

When you get sick, no one expects you to be able to do all the things you can do when you're not sick. Well, if I'm not feeling well emotionally, I am NOT willing to do all the stuff I'd do when I am feeling well. Here is a picture to explain what I mean:

The pink circle labeled "good" represents all of the things that I am willing to do (things that I am just not willing to do aren't on this chart). This shows that I am willing to do all of the activities that I will do only when I am feeling good. When something is a little wrong and I am feeling so-so, the number of activities that I am willing to do decreases. When I go from feeling so-so to feeling bad, the activities I am willing to do decrease again, and when I go from bad to horrible, they decrease another time.

Here is a list of the activities that fall into each category. Keep in mind that the outer circles are inclusive of the inner circles. When I am feeling good, I still really enjoy doing the things that are in the "horrible," circle, but when I'm feeling horrible, I have absolutely no interest in doing anything outside of the "horrible" circle, even if those things would interest me when I'm feeling better. Each level up is an *increase* in the activities I will do, but still includes what I was willing to do when I felt worse.

When I'm Feeling Horrible:
Talking to a close friend about my feelings for a long time.
Writing about what's wrong in an incoherent, not-thought-out way.
Watching TV or movies.

When I'm Feeling Bad: 
Writing about what's wrong in a more coherent way.
Writing about stuff not related to the problem. Working on my writing projects.
Reading books that make me feel good.
Coloring, drawing, doing quiz books, any kind of solitary creative activity.

When I'm Feeling So-So:
Doing quiet activities with friends who understand that I'm not feeling well. (Even if we are not going to spend the whole time talking, I am only with people who understand what is wrong and are not expecting me to be functioning normally).
Doing physical activities that are mostly in my comfort zone, such as jumping on the trampoline.
Going to small group events where I feel comfortable around most of the people, and at least one person in the group understands that I'm not feeling well. This could also mean hosting an event.
Going out and doing sort of mellow things, such as bowling or mini golf.
Visiting new places that are on the mellow side, such as trying a new restaurant or walking through a new park. 
Doing more stimulating activities that are well within my comfort zone, such as going to the trampoline park. I wouldn't call it quiet or mellow, but it is completely in my comfort zone because I go there all the time.
Meeting a few new people who I have a reason to believe I will get along with. (A reason meaning that a friend said, "You should really meet so-and-so, you'll like them," as opposed to meeting new people I know nothing about who happen to be at an event).

When I'm Feeling Good:
Any kind of big group event where I'll be interacting with lots of people I don't know.
Anything that involves being only with people who I'm not close with and can't talk to if I feel bad.
Anything extremely stimulating, such as going to an amusement park or walking around a big city.
Any physical activities that are out of my comfort zone.
Anything that involves being out all day and not being able to just go home when I feel like it.
Anything that involves sleeping away from home.

There is a lot of grey area between these circles, because there's a lot of grey area in terms of how stimulating something is or much it's out of my comfort zone, but this is a pretty decent guideline.

I do not always adhere to this list strictly. Sometimes I will do an outer-zone activity that I'm not up to if I've already committed to it, if I'm desperate to see someone, or if I have a reason to believe that the specific activity might make me feel better or accomplish something good for me.

An important thing to keep in mind is that, while I can go from good to horrible if something extremely bad happens, I generally will not go from horrible to good if something good happens. I will travel through the phases of bad and so-so before I reach good. So, if I was feeling horrible recently, I am not going to be interested in good-zone activities anytime soon.

Also important to keep in mind is that this chart sort of serves as a priority list, or a list of how much of these different kinds of activities I want in my life. The activities I'm willing to do when I am not feeling well are the most essential things to me, and are the things that I want the highest concentration of in my life. (With the exception of watching TV. That activity is only in the center because it is effortless and something I am *able* to do when I can't do anything else, not because it's a high priority). I definitely love a lot of activities that fall into the good zone, but those things are not as important as cuddling, talking about feelings with friends, spending time with friends, and doing the things I like to do by myself. If I'm not able to do the things closer to the center of the circle, my life will fall apart completely. But if I cannot do the things in the outer circle, I can live on the inner circle stuff for a long time before it would start to become a problem.

And most importantly, the only way that I move from one level to the next is by getting my emotional needs met at each point, which means lots of cuddles and talking about feelings. If I do not have those needs met, I will not feel better and will not become interested in outer-level activities just because some time has passed. 

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