First attempt at traffic lights

So, a while ago I came across the idea of traffic lights as a way of checking how you’re doing (with all that stuff *gestures off to one side*) and I keep meaning to get around to writing down my traffic light critea but not doing it.

I start thinking about it but then I wonder which way to write it, pick a symptom and describe it in green/yellow/orange/red phases in turn, or pick a colour and then write all the symptoms. Either way, how to choose what goes where, what counts as red and what is merely orange.

Am I procrastinating, agonising, too much of a perfectionist? So, here is a start, it’s just a start, so I don’t need to beat myself up about whether I’ve got it right or not. (And by the way, it’s also a distraction from something else). So I’m going to arrange groups of symptoms in a better to worse sliding scale for now, no attributing colours, so no getting it wrong, just ordering.

Telephones ringing – this is a biggie for me. On a good day the telephone rings and I answer it without thinking. Then there’s looking at the number first, having to take a deep breath, reminding myself to answer it. Beyond that is letting it ring unless I know what it is and then checking the answerphone afterwards. Then there’s letting it ring and not checking the answerphone, whatever you do don’t check the answerphone, for days, weeks, months even. Other people being around affect phone answering too. If I start making excuses to other adults rather than answer, that is a bad sign. Of course, my husband shares the landline with me and will probably answer it even if I don’t want him to and if it’s for me he’s unlikely to lie to them, so when things are getting bad I ask him to lie / go and hide in the toilet or worse still, walk out the front door as he answers the phone, my all time low being hiding behind the compost heap snotty and sobbing. Oh, and somewhere around hiding in the toilet, I have been known to unplug the phone and then claim to know nothing about it when it’s discovered, hoping the kids will get the blame.

Post/emails are similar to phones, but less urgent. There is a similar sliding scale for checking/opening/having to steal myself up to opening (and covering the screen/my eyes with my hands upon opening)/ignoring.

Physical signs, go from none noticable at all, to fidgiting, tapping/wiggling fingers and toes and general agitated movements. Physical feeling of dread in my stomach.

In the mornings I go from just waking up and getting up (like normal people), through snatching every extra moment in bed I can, to my husband having to shout at me that he’s leaving for work NOW and the kids have to be at school in half an hour and he’s leaving them eating their breakfast.

Simiarly at night I go from going to bed at a sensible time and sleeping through staying up a bit too late noodling on the internet to staying up until silly am and making myself overtired, see the last point.

Parenting wise, on a good day I’m on fire, I see off tantrums, negotiate solutions, have creative ideas to get the kids on my side. Other days I just about hold it together and get everyone to the right place at approximately the right time. Some days I just want to hide from my kids, they’re too noisy, they don’t let me do anything, they seem to be constantly arguing and pestering me. Really bad days I am werewolf mum, I shout a lot, I lay down the law, I don’t listen, I don’t compromise, not much fun for anyone and not very effective either.

Cooking wise I go from having a few days worth of healthyish meals planned in my head that use up what’s in, to cooking up something on the day, to heating up something from the freezer, to emergency buying pizza at the 11th hour / phoning husband and asking him to get fish and chips on the way home. That’s all family meals by the way, meals I have alone are a degree more erratic and tend towards the “whatever” end of the scale, but are replaced by snacking randomly on junk during bad patches.

Housework is similar, I go from on top of things (as much as you can be with kids around) and sorting out the backlog, to just managing the essentials, to letting it all pile up.

And writing all that, I think in the space of 24 hours I’ve jumped from greeney yellow to orange. Hmm.

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3 thoughts on “First attempt at traffic lights

  1. Pingback: Double Trouble | A is for Anxiety
  2. I think this is a tremendously useful exercise. Or at least it seems that way to me, as I sit here comfortably and read about all of the things that are difficult for you. 🙂 What would be really tremendously useful is if I did this exercise myself. So thanks for triggering that idea for me. And being brave enough to write down the things that torture you.

    I wish that we could all just write about cooking and kids craziness and the wonders of being such enlightened people…but if we must deal with this mental health garbage, I’m at least glad that I can read about your experiences as I work through mine. 🙂

    • What a lovely sentiment. Still, it’s nice to be able to write about the good things along side the mental health stuff.

      I’ve been meaning to do the traffic light thing for about 6 months, and I don’t count this as done as I’ve not put them under red/orange/yellow/green headings (I’m being to thing that being a perfectionist might be one of my problems) – so see if you can beat my time in getting around to it!

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