Pulling Weeds …. and Muscles

First off, let me just say that despite the lack of sunshine these past few days, the temperatures have still been in the high 20-30’s (Celsius) and although overcast days are ideal for outdoor activities because they tend to give one a perceived sense of being cooler even when they aren’t, I still managed to convince myself that I was much better off indoors. So, for three days I barricaded myself in the living room, closed the curtains and turned the ceiling fans on ‘Lift-off’ mode in an effort to avoid having to face the truth: that it was lovely weather to do stuff. I used the excuse that the high humidity (actual fact here, it really was high – between 70 and 90 all weekend and still hanging in that same range so far) made me feel droopy and heavy-limbed and I just couldn’t move around. In all honesty, my headaches were manageable and my knee and shoulder weren’t too problematic so I really didn’t have an excuse at all, it was just my ‘quitter’ self taking over and shoving my ‘doer’ self out of the way so that my childish ‘lazy’ self could have control.

After three days of letting ‘lazy’ self have the wheel, I finally admitted that ‘stuff’ should be getting done. I wasn’t really sure just what ‘stuff’ exactly, but I knew there was some ‘stuff’ I was avoiding and I needed to force my ‘lazy’ self’s butt off the couch and get to it. So yesterday I made the decision to do ‘Stuff’.  I put real clothes on* (*translation = “got out of pajamas”) and had a breakfast shake, then grabbed my gardening hat, gloves and knee pads and then…. (wait for it!)…. I Went Outside!

Yes!! I went outside! Into the fresh air and the almost-but-not-quite-shining sunshine. I hear you gasp in shock and surprise. Oh ho ho, yes! Yes, she did just say ‘outside’! Amazing and remarkable, isn’t it? Well, okay, maybe not quite so amazing or very remarkable, but still, a bit of a smallish achievement nonetheless. Once out there, I stood looking at the garden that spans the front of my deck. It used to be a lovely, organized and colourful raised bed displaying a variety of blooms. Over the last two years it had turned into a disaster and the only things still evident from the planned arrangement of yesteryear were the spiky leaves of my Gladiolus bulbs sticking up through the tall grass. With burning determination and a steely glint in my eye… at least I think there was a glint in my eye… it could have been a bit of pollen though… or maybe a small bug… there were a lot of them flying around… uh, what was I saying?… oh yeah… burning determination… I knew at that moment what my plan for the day was going to be: Weed Eradication! Yup, it was time to liberate my garden! Hang in there my darlings, Mama’s come to save you!

And just for posterity, I wisely remembered to take a before picture:

garden weeding before

Ugh, that is sad!  Now, this is actually only half of the garden bed. I weeded the other half (beyond the left side of the image) a month ago and never got back around to finishing but it didn’t take much to pull out what little had regrown in it before I tackled this end.

As you can see, the grass has been having a lovely time of it, living in my nice warm, healthy, fertilized garden soil, nastily choking out my Gladiolus, Primrose, Black-eyed Susan’s and Honeysuckle. But I really can’t blame the grass. It’s my fault for allowing it to grow there all this time. I didn’t stop it when it first started. I should have plucked it out when it was only a few small blades, a bit here and a bit there, while it was only a little grass, easy to pull out.  It would have only taken a few minutes every few days or so.  A simple task that I could have done with barely any effort at all. Looking back, it’s so easy to say ‘I don’t know why I didn’t just do it’, but really, I do know why.  It was because my brain convinced me that it would be an insurmountable effort to complete such a task.

And now you’re slightly chuckling, or smirking, thinking, ‘Oh come on, seriously?’ but sadly, yes, that’s one of the worst things that depression does to a person. It convinces us that doing even a small thing will be too difficult and so we give up before we even try. This is what my brain did to me:  (looks at the few patches of grass growing in the garden) “Well, I guess I should do some weeding before it gets any worse. (looks at the sky) It’s probably going to be hot, I’d better put on that SPF 60 so I don’t get burned and I need to get my hat too.  (looks at what I’m wearing) Oh I’ll have to go change my clothes into ones that I can get dirty, then I’d have to find my gardening gloves… I think they’re in the closet. (looks back up at the sky again) Wow, that sun is really hot. (looks back at the patches of grass in the garden again) Hmm.. I don’t know, there are a lot of weeds.  Maybe it can wait another few days.  (looks back at the sky again) Yeah, I should wait for a cooler day… or an overcast day, that would be better.  If I try to do all that today I’d end up with a migraine. (puts palm against forehead, suddenly feels like there may be a headache coming on even though there really isn’t) Yeah, it’s just too much for one day, especially when it’s so hot. I’d better wait for a better day.” (goes inside, puts cold pack on forehead and lies down for remainder of afternoon because now there really is a headache coming on after creating worry over nothing from feeling guilty about not doing the weeding).

Kapow!  Right in the epiglottis.  The manic-depressive brain wins again. That is exactly how it happens. The scariest part of all is that somewhere in the back of my mind, I actually know that it’s happening, I can hear my inner voices whispering to each other in argument, one trying to be louder than the other, eventually shouting and in the end it’s the depression’s voice that convinces and wins because on a lot of days that one is the strongest. But slowly that’s changing and the depression’s voice it getting quieter while the confident and self-loving voice is getting stronger and louder. Yesterday it won and kicked the depression’s butt into the corner while the rest of us went outside and yanked grass out of the garden. After three hours (with a 45 minute rain shower break in the middle) the results were very satisfying:

garden weeding after

When it was done, and an overflowing wheelbarrow was off-loaded at the compost pile, I enjoyed a nice cool shower followed by a lovely dinner with family, followed by an early-to-bed night’s sleep. All in all, a very good day.

This morning, however, I woke up to the aftershocks of yesterday’s earth-shaking achievements: aches… everywhere, every joint, every muscle, everywhere. Again today, the humidity is 90, the temperature is mid 20’s (Celsius) which doesn’t help with the aching. I feel like a walking ache. However, (Yes! There is a ‘however’!) despite the pains, the tiredness and the heavy limbs, today I am still feeling awesome! I still have residual achievement happiness left over from yesterday’s weed defeat! Despite having likely done a bit more damage to my already slightly torn rotator cuff, I still feel like high-fiving myself for getting that garden bed done because I know how hard it was for me to do it, I know how long I avoided it, how long it took me to get motivated, how difficult it was to keep going when I was almost finished and wanted to quit. Even though it was just one garden bed, and I have two more bigger ones that need doing, I’m still so pumped about getting it done that things which would normally bring me down into a deep blue funk today are failing to do so.

I know for a lot of folks reading this, you can’t understand how a person’s mind could convince them not to do things that they should be getting done. I know that it’s hard to believe that someone’s thoughts can be so overwhelming that they can actually bring on physical reactions, but it’s frighteningly true. That one chore, that one simple small chore of pulling a few weeds last year seemed to me then to be so daunting that I had convinced myself I was incapable of doing it without bringing extreme physical hardship upon myself and so I didn’t get it done. This year, having not done the weeding when it was less of a problem resulted in more weeds and a greater job than it should have been, but this year, after giving in to that voice of defeat for three days, I finally stopped listening to it and pushed myself to break away from it, I got past it, went outside and got the job done.

And let me tell you truthfully, I’m so very glad I did… even though it still hurts, it was worth every single ache.

“We all have a path to take; sometimes it’s hidden under the weeds, so you might have to work a little.” ~Mike Dolan

PS. I’ve been scribbling like a madman today! Ten new poems under the Poetry pages, including “She Lives in Dreams”, “Under the Surface”, “Plaything” and “Victorious” among the lot. 🙂