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Large Pile O’ Procrastination – Advice?

So here it is:

It’s not my entire WIP pile – I’m much too ashamed to share that with you. It’s the quilt I should be working on and the bee blocks I still haven’t made.

Since my knee surgery, I haven’t felt like sewing. Granted, for a long time I didn’t even feel well enough to go downstairs without careful planning and much effort. But I’m much better now (though not at 100%) and I still don’t feel like doing any sewing, or even knitting.

And I really need to get those bee blocks finished. They’re all going to be late! I hate being late for bee blocks.

One problem is the weather. While it’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fantastic summer in England, it does get warm in the conservatory. Even if it’s fairly nice in there, an hour of having the little travel iron on is enough to raise the temp noticeably. And seriously, who wants to sweat and sew? Yuck city.

But I keep wondering if I’m falling into a depression. Actually, when I think of it in my head the word looks more like this: DEPRESSION. My bipolar disorder, or whatever they’re calling it now, seems to have calmed down quite a bit in the last 3 years. Partly that’s because my life is settled and happy, and partly because I’m no longer young. (Bipolar tends to calm down in later adulthood.) If you’ve ever suffered from depression or been around someone who was ill with it, you know what it’s like. It doesn’t just make you sad. It takes all the things you were living for and kills your enthusiasm for them until you feel nothing but apathy. And worse, you feel like you have to put a cheerful mask on for everyone else. I’m really confused as to why I’m feeling low again after all that time, but then I guess these things aren’t predictable, let alone rational.

You remember in history they told you the medieval period had a ‘mini Ice Age’? I kinda feel like I’m having a mini-DEPRESSION. I don’t feel like getting the house ready to put on the market, even cooking dinner is a major ordeal. And I feel like I don’t have a creative atom in my whole body.

I genuinely don’t know what to do. Do any of you have experience with this type of thing? Do I just force myself to start sewing again and work my way through it? Do I curl up on the couch for another week? I’d really like to be my old self again soon, but I’m not sure how to go about finding her…

Thanks for listening! 🙂 You guys are the best.

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© J C Excell, 2012

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38 thoughts on “Large Pile O’ Procrastination – Advice?

  1. Oh Jenna, I really feel for you, the sensible me says ‘have you talked to your doctor?’. Erm if I don’t feel motivated to sew I don’t, I do something else that takes my fancy but sometimes nothing does. I hope that someone else has some more constructive advice and/or experience that will help but I am thinking of you during this tough time. xx

  2. Jenna,

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Normally I would say to just give yourself some time, but when you said this…

    “It takes all the things you were living for and kills your enthusiasm for them until you feel nothing but apathy. And worse, you feel like you have to put a cheerful mask on for everyone else.”

    … I immediately thought you should call your doctor. I’ve had someone close to me experience depression before and what you wrote sounds so familiar.

    Take good care of yourself. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  3. Yes, I agree with the others. Go see your doctor and nip this in the bud before it gets any worse. I have a similar pile of bee blocks lying on my sewing table, and I find the best way to tackle them is to simply pick one and get started. The worst thing to do (which I know from experience) is to sit there staring at the pile, fretting over how you will ever get them all done. Like I said, pick one, get going, and momentum should soon kick in. Take care and happy sewing!

  4. they say i’m suffering from “situational depression” stemming from medical treatments. the psychologist said i should be doing things for me that make me happy – i told her that i’m an avid sewer but it’s just not “doing it” for me… she said that’s okay and it’s normal. don’t force yourself to do it if it’s not what your really want to do, or you’ll just hate it which is counter productive. she told me to just do whatever you need to do to get through this patch right now, and it’ll get better later. i usually try to sit down for at least 10 minutes – some times i get really into it and keep going and sometimes i walk away – but i try not to make myself feel guilty for either.

  5. ((((Jenna))))) I have totally been where you are. I struggled after my knee surgery too, wanted to be 100% FAST (still not there. sigh). Are you exercising? I bought a recumbent bike & force myself to hop on it & ride 5 miles every morning & it has helped both my knees AND my mood! Hang in there….

  6. Jenna, I can only echo the advice above. You are such an inspiration to so many people, myself included, that there will be lots of good wishes heading your way when this post is read. I hope you find a way to get your enthusiasm back, we are all rooting for you!

  7. As Celtic Thistle said, “I can only echo the above advice.” I try to sew for at least 10 minutes every day, even when I don’t really want too. It usually makes me feel better especially if there is something that I know I need to get done but don’t want to start. Take care of yourself.

    You have a lot of good thoughts coming your way.

  8. Jenna….I’ve dealit with panic and depression for years. I’ve had it “dormant” for up to 10 years at a time, only for it to rear it’s ugly head for seemingly no reason. I know the feeling of it taking away your urge to do things. It helps me to just try to get back into my hobby or whatever. Maybe just something small, for yourself. Take care my friend. My thoughts are with you. Feel better.

  9. I have no PHD so I cannot give you good advice – depression I am familiar with having lost my husband a year ago to a very long illness just one week after our first grandbabies were born (triplets) that live over 3500 miles away. Your projects and tutes have been very inspirational for me this past year and I am saddened that you are in such a deep funk. Sometimes we just need to discover and accept what our new normal is to be – hang in there.

  10. I very much feel the same way these days. I think part of it is that I have found myself doing a lot of obligation sewing and it is sucking the creative energy out of me. I have decided to finish up my obligations and then not sign up for anything else next quarter. I think I need to get back to sewing and creating for myself and the people I love. I have a feeling that will really help get my creative juices flowing again. I hope you can figure it out Jenna and please know I am here if you ever need to chat. I am definitely going through something similar over here. Sending you great big hugs!

  11. Agree with others. Seek help soon. We’ve had our share of mental illness in my family (immediate and extended). I know it’s much worse to wait until you get to a really bad spot. The surgery must have something to do with it. A family member had a similar experience… in our case minor surgery that almost instantly led to sever anxiety and a year of psychiatric therapy. I know for sure, that the surgery was some sort of “trigger”. Maybe it’s the stuff they give you to knock you out, maybe it’s the trauma and the brain trying to react, who knows, but it’s real. Hang in there… Try to find a way to climb out of that hole so you can feel better…

  12. Are you taking medicine already? It may be time to change it or up it. We have to watch my husband’s and change it when it gets ineffectual – every few years or so. Don’t spend another week on the couch. If you can get up and make yourself do something, do it. Set a timer- sew for 30 mins, then see how you feel. Staying in your rut will make it harder to dig out of it. Bake some cookies; get your friends to get you out of the house. Of course, if it’s chemical, nothing will help until you are all balanced again. “Better living through pharmaceuticals” isn’t just a cute slogan – sometimes it’s the truth! Good luck!

  13. I agree with so many of the others. Doctor then Baby steps. Pick up a bee block (one that you don’t have to think about – the pattern and fabrics are chosen for you) and make it. You’ll feel better about accomplishing it even if you didn’t enjoy the process as much as you’d like. Please don’t give up and please don’t just wait for improvement. Each of us have to take that first step in whatever our challenge is in life.

  14. it seems you’re at a change in life, your knee surgery results aren’t satifactory yet, you’re putting your house up, so your blue funk seem to have a solid base. think back to what worked before when you had similar feelings of depression and go from there. if you had medication then, see your doctor now. then pick up one bee block and work on it; then do one thing for the house … sitting in a blue funk is easy; digging out of it is hard, but worth the effort. have faith in yourself … we do!

  15. I haven’t ever had depression. Melancholy, sure (the blues)
    I don’t know why society doesn’t let people be depressed anymore. You are only allowed to be happy or they put you on drugs. I do not want you going down into a deep pit so do make sure it isn’t hormonal or enzymey. If that all checks out, my advice is run with it; feel it all the way through; yell at the heavens, the neighbor’s dog and tv commercials. Give yourself a time limit…say something 30 days or less and be depressed until you just can’t be depressed anymore.
    It will be a bad habit by then, so you will have to go through the motions of happy until you are!
    If you have a religious affiliation, pray and know depression happened back in the day too.
    Every day, write down one thing that even gives you a glimmer of a happy feeling…then two….pretty soon you will be back to your old self!
    I know, I know, I can find joy in depression…my son says I am terminally optimistic. He’s probably right. 🙂

  16. one more thing…..I can not stress getting sunshine enough. 10 or 15 minutes each and every day….no sunblock and as much skin as you feel comfy exposing (okay keep a few parts covered, you don’t want everybody seeing “your business”)

  17. I can’t add anything to the advice above, other than to re-emphasize – doctor before you get worse. But I’m thinking of you, and praying for you.

  18. Sunlight makes a huge difference for me. I agree with the talk to your dr bit. At the very least, it sounds like things are a bit overwhelming. (And I’d have trouble with just the house bit WITHOUT depression.) As for the sewing, if you want to make the pile smaller, just start with one thing. Don’t judge yourself about being creative or not, or it being perfect or not. Sometimes the “just one” rule kicks me into gear. (And should be avoided in the case of chips, as it does that for me there with the eating too.) Tweet me if you need a virtual hug.

  19. Okay, let’s do a little life assessment here – you’re falling apart – knees, arms, the lot, you’re trying to sell your house, right up there as the most stressful thing you could be doing, the weather is utterly shite with the constant rain, and obligation sewing is the absolute pits! So, take a step back, doing something entirely unrelated to all of that, just for fun (drag Savi along to to whatever it is) and have a chance to recollect yourself. No-one is going to die if the bee blocks are late (just give them a heads up).

    If that doesn’t help, time to re-examine the meds – I totally know when my flatmate is off his, not least because his paranoia level notches up beyond his boss being out to get him to the entire world being out to get him (other than me, oddly) Plus he doesn’t get up unless he’s going to work. Think about your previous signs, and if they’re worse than usual after you’ve taken a step back, then off to the doc again for you.

  20. Sorry to hear of your dilemma. What “Katy” says, totally!
    Remember what the flight attendants tell you when the plane is taxi-ing on the runway: In case of the loss of cabin pressure, put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attending to other obligations. xxoo

  21. Hi Jenna,
    I am, by no stretch, an expert of any sort, at anything (except getting preggers, good grief I have 4) I’d say you’re entitled to a little “down” time. Dealing with stressful issues (surgery, selling your home) is a lot to handle! Don’t feel obligated to get back to sewing right away – take your doggone time – you’ll get back when you’re ready and I’ll be excited to see what you’ve come up with – I haven’t been disappointed yet.
    Francine of Nottingham, soon to be Francine of Koln, Germany – practically neighbors!! 🙂

  22. Hi, sweetie. I hope that it helps to hear all of these voices saying, “Please consider a visit to your doctor” and knowing the care and concern that is behind them. It seems like the best next step.

    I’m wondering whether the meds you may be taking as a result of your knee surgery are affecting your motivation as well. I have chronic pain and there are times when I know that pain meds are dampening my enthusiasm at the same time I know that it’s a trade-off I have to make at the moment.

    In any case, know that we are here, we are rooting for you, and that won’t change.

  23. My heart is going out to you my dear and I admire you for putting it out there. 1. go see your doctor and get whatever counselling and medication you need; 2. tell everyone, the more people you tell, the more people will try to help to lift you out; 3. get rid of all your sewing commitments – tell you bee mama what’s going on and ask her to ask the bee members to cover for you – if they won’t, mail the packages to me, I’ll get them done, mail them back to you and no-one will be any the wiser; 4. cut back on every single commitment you have; 5. force yourself to do all the things you don’t feel like doing – meeting a friend for a coffee, going out for some fresh air; and 6. ignore all advice youre given except any that makes sense to you.

    I’l be thinking of you and I’m here if you need anything at all.

    Lynne (Lily) XXX

  24. I have no personal experience with diagnosed depression, but I get into more of my fair share of funks and bad weeks and I have the 3 S rule that helps me that you might try: Stop. Simplify. (regain) Sanity. Put away all the crafty stuff for awhile. Hide it so you don’t see it and it doesn’t remind you of what you feel obligated to be doing but don’t want to do. Maybe ‘out of sight out of mind’ might kick in for awhile. Then simplify – ask some friends to come over and help you get the house ready in exchange for pizza and beer (you know they’ll do it – I certainly will!). Order food for dinner. Say No to things you feel obligated to say Yes to. Then do things to regain your sanity. Book a spa weekend somewhere nice, bring your favorite books to reread, unplug and enjoy some peace and quiet. Get out of the house and have a pub night with some girlfriends. Plan a trip to London and do all the things that *you* want to do there (and take a taxi between each spot so you don’t kill you knees). Maybe a nice getaway with just hubby. Any money you’re afraid to spend to do it is completely irrelevant if it helps you regain yourself.

    Most of all, don’t worry about what anyone else (outside of family) needs or wants right now. Devote time to you.

  25. Sorry to hear you are having a bad time at the moment Jenna. I don’t think you should force yourself to sew as you’ll only resent it. What about curling up on the sofa with some inspirational craft magazines and books and then hopefully you’ll spot something that you really want to sew and it might get the creativity flowing again.

    The depression might be a reaction to your surgery, your body can go through a bit of shock afterwards, plus just not being 100% can make you feel weak and dependant on others so hopefully as you heal your mood will improve. If there’s anything I can do to help do let me know xx

  26. Been there. Do you have a good therapist? Mine really got me through it. I don’t suggest forcing yourself to sew, (you probably wouldn’t be able to anyway), nor curling up in a ball on the couch. You need to see someone and talk and work through it. For me that’s the only way. Good luck. xo

  27. Yep, I have tons of experience with it. First up, don’t be down on yourself about it. It doesn’t matter that you’re not sewing or whatever, take the pressure off. Only do what you feel like doing. For me, meds is the only way to go, but it depends on you.

  28. Hi Jenna,

    I follow your blog but not posted before. I too suffer the depression (suspected bipolar). In fact my log is about my crafting and how it keeps me sane (most of time) but inevitably we are going to experience that dip from time to time. I work in mental health and have done some nurse training and I know that post-operatively feeling a little blue is not uncommon. Especially orthopaedic surgery as your body has taken a real knock and been pumped with drugs etc. I too am suffering a little at the moment on procrastination front so your not alone. Feel free to email me if you want a chat :D.

    Jo x

  29. Jenna, I’m sorry that things are difficult for you at the moment. I too have issues with depression & have also recently had surgery which is keeping me from sewing (for me a minor hand procedure). I think that you really just need to go with however you are feeling on a particular day & not be too hard on yourself. I think forcing the issue & ploughing on regardless might result in projects that you’d not be entirely happy with anyway. I think that you are really brave for sharing these feelings & I hope that all of the support that you are receiving will help to make you feel a little better in the short term.

  30. Hello , Jenna sorry you dont feel 100% at the moment, Just go steady and do the best you can, The bees will happen later. You seem to have a lot on at the moment and that can make us feel a little overwhelmed. I also think that after an operation you never feel on top of things and its a bit challenging for a while especially when a vibrant person like yourself has come to a standstill, you will naturally feel like you do at the moment. Allow time to heal. Just hang in there and spoil yourself for a while, You deserve it. xo

  31. Jenna!

    You can do it! I know that sometimes when people tell you that you just want to punch them in the face. I suggest just trying one little thing a day – whether it is sewing related or not. For example – today I will lay out the design of my bee blocks etc. If you ever need to talk to someone who has been there (sort of), I’m around! =)


  32. I have been there too and your description of depression is spot on. It took a very good friend to convince me to go to the doctor but it was the best advice. It might be that this is a very normal reaction to the knee surgery but because of your past history you’re more susceptible than the average patient. I’d visit the doctor and take it from there. Hoping it all works out soon.

  33. No-one has stated the blindingly obvious then? It’s your brain reacting to the anaesthetic given to you for the knee surgery. Anyone with any kind of mental illness gets their butt kicked when given surgery. It arrives 2-4 weeks after the surgery and takes a while to recover. balance. Go to the doctor and explain that the above and he’ll be able to help.

    If you need to talk email or Skype me – I’ve been through it every time I’ve had surgery and I’m up to 16 and counting.

    As for kicking the funk, pick the simplest block and do it over several days. It isn’t a race but a simple staged recovery is possible. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.


  34. Give yourself time and space to feel what you’re feeling. Your block peeps will understand that you’ve just gone through surgery and that you’ve got to address the health of your mind and body first. Both of those have to come before sewing. Seriously, can you imagine any of those gals saying “Jenna, I know you don’t feel right, but I expect you to sacrifice your well-being to get a block done by a certain date.” NO WAY. No one thinks that way. Quilting shouldn’t feel like pressure. Quilting is for fun, so take the time you need to get in a good place mentally and physically so that it can be a joyful expression of life and not something that is adding to your anxiety.

  35. Just read this post, Jenna, I hope you are feeling better. I’ve had major difficulties with depression over the years. Sunlight and exercise do help; some days I just take a “mental health day” and read or do whatever I feel like doing. However, when it got to where I just couldn’t function (getting dressed was a major effort and sometimes I didn’t), my doctor prescribed antidepressants. It took three tries to find the right one, but I was able to enjoy my life again (most of the time — some days are still mental health days!)

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