I used to be the one family and friends hit up for a phone number or address before we all had that information in our pockets via smartphones.
Now, there are days when I have a hard time remembering my OWN phone number, much less anyone else’s.
Grief brain and RA fog have wiped my mind clean of not only important facts but also the ability to keep track of what I’m doing and where I’m going.
So I talk to myself.
It’s one way of keeping me on track and on task.
I use lists and sticky notes and phone alarms as well, but something about talking myself through the day helps more than all those things.
I also talk myself down from anxious moments. I repeat, “This is not an emergency, this is not an emergency” over and over when a truly non-threatening trigger ramps up the adrenaline and sends my heart into overdrive. It is so easy to be driven by urgency if I don’t remind myself of this truth.
I remind myself out loud to be careful when walking on slippery mud or working with horses. Even when I’m not conscious of grief, it can make me careless and inattentive. I sometimes find that I’ve wandered into a situation where extra attention is absolutely crucial if it’s to end well. So I say, “Pay attention!” or “Watch out!” just as I would to a roaming toddler or feeble senior.
Complicated tasks have to be broken down now. I can’t do two things at once. If I forget and wind up juggling things when I shouldn’t be, I declare, “One thing at a time, Melanie. One thing at a time!”
Driving, I’ll calm my nerves in traffic by focusing on my own lane, humming a tune and sometimes saying, “It’s not a race. Slow down. Take the easy way and don’t try to get around them.” My house is 13 miles from the nearest traffic light, so when I have to go to the city, I almost always feel nervous.
And when I get out of the car at each stop I repeat the mantra: “Keys, phone, list, purse.”
I have a running conversation about what I need to do next as I walk from room to room, tidying up. I chant, “Lock the door. Turn off the fan. Feed the cats.” before bedtime.
The good thing about cell phones being everywhere is most times folks probably think I’m talking to someone else.
What I like best about cell phones is that I can talk to myself in the car now and nobody thinks it’s weird.
Either way, I don’t really care.
It’s how I manage to get through a day without locking the keys in the car, falling on my backside or melting into an anxious puddle on the floor. ❤