Being Not Doing

Mindfulness has been key to me recovering from BPD, managing my anxiety, and also, more recently, managing my mood disorder.  It is something I continue to practise and will be starting to train to teach mindfulness in 2014. At a Mindfulness for Stress course I attended via Breathworks in Manchester recently (a prerequisite for the teacher training), one of the instructors noted that we are human beings, not human doings. I know this phrase is fairly common knowledge but it occurred to me yesterday that I am struggling with this quite a lot right now. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to explain this but I’ll give it a go:

I’ve noticed that since being off work for Christmas leave that I have been resorting to my old habits of late without even realising. I always need to be driving for something more.  Before leaving for Christmas leave my line manager asked me to consider applying for a team manager position within the access team I work. (There will be outside applicants and the best applicant will be chosen so it wasn’t a given or anything like that). I know that it isn’t really right for me at the moment – it would be an increase to 4 days a week when 3 days is already wiping me out, and amongst other things, managerial type roles always involve dealing to an extent with other people’s problems, for which I am not ready yet. It would be too much too soon. I am enjoying doing assessment/advice work. I have to remind myself that I only started back at work very recently and that although I’m vaguely well right now – I have been struggling with a minor low the past few weeks, and my current aim is to obtain some kind of stability. Yet something within me just screamed that I should go for it. I felt for some time physically uneasy. I know why. I want to be always achieving. I can’t stay still. I’m not comfortable just being. I have always been a high achiever but right now achieving stability is the only achievement I need to be aiming for and that is really challenging for me.

Also since I’ve been on leave, I’ve found myself ill at ease. When I’m working I feel that I am doing something of value and purpose (achieving even) and that the other days of the week are legitimately easy days for recovery – although I even struggle with that. I worry about returning to work in the New Year and people asking me what I did with my leave and having nothing to ‘show’ for it. I haven’t ‘done’ anything. Why can’t I just ‘be’?

I’ve not been sitting down to meditate as often the last few weeks. I’m trying to get back into the habit. I’ve been putting it off because I don’t feel at ease with myself at all right now. Last night my meditation session was really difficult and physically uncomfortable. I had to sit with the urges to ‘do’ something instead of sitting and meditating. This is even though I have seen the tremendous help meditation has been in my recovery and life.

I need to try and ‘be’ more often. I’m falling into old habits that haven’t been helpful. I need to be able to sit with me just as I am. I need to learn to let go of the want to always be achieving. I need to learn to accept me for me and not me of conditional worth – my value is not based on my achievements. I am me and that is fine. Being me is just fine. Even writing that is difficult because virtually every little part of me disagrees with that. But that’s OK because I am a work in progress. For now, gently reminding myself that objectively that it is probably true is OK. Hiding away from myself and constantly doing certainly didn’t help me before and I need to change things to stay in recovery. I need to learn to ‘be’ more often.



About Carrie Quinn

I'm a former solicitor whose life was turned upside down due to problems with my mental health. I'm now aiming towards recovery, which to me means rebuilding a meaningful life - not necessarily disorder free.
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4 Responses to Being Not Doing

  1. Borderlion says:

    You’ve done well to recognise this pattern. It’s a timely reminder for me as well, so thank you.

  2. Sarah park says:

    Thanks for sharing. Reading your post made me realise how I am feeling. I have felt guilty and frustrated over last 12 months from not being able to do or other days I want to do nothing. My big wish for 2014 is to “be.”

    Do less focus on my health and creating a sustainable life for my future.

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