Today and Every Day, I Choose Rest
When it comes to vendettas, I have two.
One is against Sigmund Freud. Freud, the “father” of psychology, who’s known for his unbelievably misogynistic views. Google “Freud misogyny” and you’ll get a laundry list of jeremiads decrying his influence on the mental health profession. Some of my favorites include “Was Freud right about anything?” — the answer, of course, being no — and “Sigmund Freud: Fake, Charlatan, Liar.”
Suffice it to say that I have words for Mr. Freud, many of them expletives.
My second vendetta is against cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is one of the most prevalent therapeutic modalities, and hinges on the claim that changing your thoughts, including how you talk to yourself, can change your life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a supporter of positive self-talk. CBT has its benefits; therapists use it as their default modality for a reason. My issue with CBT is its gross oversimplification. A happy mind doesn’t necessarily equal a happy life. Positive self-talk can’t overcome the variety of isms that pervade modern life. Telling marginalized folks their thoughts are to blame for their disenfranchisement is problematic, to say the least.
That said, positive self-talk can make a difference.
A week or so ago, I woke up feeling off. I wasn’t just tired (and grumpy, and frustrated, and a million other things), I was burned out. I gave myself a couple hours in the morning to putz around, hoping I would snap out of it, but 2 p.m. came and went and I had done, uh, absolutely nothing.
Eventually, I reached a decision point. Should I force myself to be productive, kicking myself all the while for wasting the morning? Or should I give up? Give in? Take the easy route, and give myself the day off?
The grumpy little capitalist in me wanted to push through it. I have a book to write, Reels to record, Ko-fi content to create! Just because it was a Sunday didn’t mean I could slack off.
The therapist in me remembered the wisdom of The Nap Ministry. Instead of saying we “wasted a perfectly good day,” could we say we “chose to rest”? Could our language more accurately reflect our priorities of health and wellness, as opposed to burnout culture and “the grind”?
It didn’t feel right. I’m constantly bombarded by markers of productivity. I finished a draft of my novel! I signed on with a literary agent! I did x and finished y and everyone should celebrate my propensity to hustle!
It didn’t feel right, choosing to rest. But my body knew better. My heart knew better. I was burned out, and I needed to rest.
So, I did.
In this case, it is a matter of self-talk. Slacking off, wasting a day — negative connotations. But choosing to rest? That’s powerful. That’s how we stay alive as folks with SMA. We listen to our bodies and drown out the voices of everything that doesn’t serve us.
I rested. And it was a relief. A gift to myself — acknowledging the stress of the past few months, and more importantly, giving myself permission to stop. I didn’t have to check social media, I didn’t have to update my fall-themed Notion spread. I could just be.
And it was liberating.
Summer is blurring to fall. The world outside my window is hazy with sunshine. I could write another 200 words, because the capitalist in me likes her columns lengthy, or I could celebrate a job well done and read at the park.
I think I’m going to rest. Again.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.