I’m coming out of the other end of a very hard year. It culminated in me becoming frozen in place, unable to paint or do anything.
For someone who spends time being incredibly productive, being unproductive felt like little death. Not quite dead but certainly not alive in my normal sense.
I spent some time beating myself up over it. Over being unreliable. Over being unable to paint. Over being unlike myself.
And I told my coach, Martin Stellar, about how I was feeling and he came back with a response I wasn’t expecting:
“If you were sick with the flu, would you be angry with yourself for being unable to get out of bed?”
Of course not.
The flu knocks a body flat. You’re lucky if you can get out of bed, much less stay awake. Nothing else matters in the middle of the flu but being asleep. Healing. Resting.
“So if you wouldn’t be angry at that point, why are you angry now?” Martin asked me. “Because you have the mental equivalent of the flu. Mental flu.”
And this observation made me stop and take a look at myself. At my failings recently. At how I was feeling.
Most importantly, it made me forgive myself. I’ve had a fucked up year. And prior to that, I painted a lot (300 paintings in one year), did a comiccon tour and still worked full time as a programmer.
What happens when you wear your body down? You get sick. I completely wore my brain, and soul down.
As I come out the other side of it, I’m allowing for hiccups. For days when I don’t have my full energy. For times when I just want to lie in bed, metaphorically, and pull the covers up over my head.
Because recovery from any flu takes time, there are no exceptions here for mental flu.
I just wanted to say, if you’re going through this too. Losing the ability to continue as you have before, be gentle with yourself. Be kind. Mental flu is a thing.