Articles

The 99 Percent Rule Of Mental Exhaustion

From the outside, it may seem like I don’t do much. I don’t work a job (outside of this blog) and I’m not taking classes. Except for regular therapy appointments, I don’t consistently go anywhere. I have time to watch TV every night and I sleep as late as I need to.

It sounds like a luxurious lifestyle. However, despite the fact that I’m physically doing next to nothing, my stress levels are maxed out all the time. When my emotional struggles are taken into account, I have very little energy left over to devote to anything else. This is because of something I call the 99 percent rule.

At any given moment, I am exerting 99 percent of my energy just staying alive. Even if I’m sitting perfectly still and staring at the wall, a raging battle is taking place in my mind. Depressed and distorted thoughts are always waging war against the battlements my rational mind has created to protect my brain from spiraling into insanity.    

Even few moments, a new diseased emotion washes over me. Sometimes they’re almost imperceptible, but they’re certainly there. Maybe it’s an anxiety from something I saw out of the corner of my eye, or an unbearably angry thought about someone I used to know. Maybe the regulatory chemicals in my brain just decided to go on strike for a few nanoseconds, and I can feel the consequence of that. 

Like waves in an ocean, these unpleasantries are always washing ashore in my mind. I have to deal with them, one by one, using some intricate amalgam of skills I’ve learned in therapy and quick-fix coping mechanisms I’ve gathered from experience. I have an arsenal of thoughts and behaviors saved at the ready to ward off painful emotions, but the menu of skills is long, and it takes effort to find the right combination to treat whatever upsetting emotion is rushing through me in a particular moment.

And that’s just finding the right skills to use. Executing them is a whole other struggle. If I’m lucky, I might be able to banish one moment’s disordered sensations, but more are sure to appear on their heels.

I am exhausted. Hence the 99 percent rule.

When the emotional toll my personality disorder takes has been accounted for, only about one percent of my body’s total capacity to function remains. I can put that speck of energy toward whatever I like, but there’s so little of it that I can often only do one thing a day, and not for very long. I just don’t have it in me to accomplish multiple tasks in a short time frame. And I have to sleep between accomplishments to recharge that one percent of myself, and take a break from being aware of the other 99 percent that has been spent just surviving.

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