March 7, 2014
I'm Unplugging for 24 Hours (And It's The Scariest Thing I've Done)
At the last hour, I'm making a monumental decision: I'm unplugging.
(for 24 hours)
I was scrolling through my personal Facebook feed during my lunch break when I noticed a friend posting about National Day of Unplugging.
[Editorial note: How embarassing, I didn't even know today was March 7. I was like... oh this is interesting... when is it... *opens calendar on laptop* *mouth drops* gulp, it's today.]
I started panicking. No joke. In that very moment I started sweating. I felt my armpits get hot. My throat went dry and my body tightened into a dead stiffness. I had the urge to vomit...
And that was it, I decided to take part.
Since starting Happy Herbivore in 2006, I have never taken a day off. I mean yes, I have had periods where I was on an airplane, or my internet on the island went out with a storm, but someone was still usually keeping an eye on HH for me.
It wasn't until last month that I finally, in SEVEN years, let a day go by without a new blog post.
I try to be as honest about this as I can: I have OCD.
Really, really bad OCD.
I've been in therapy for almost two years now, working on how I can, of all things, work less. How I can stop obsessing and being paranoid.
When I first started getting treatment I blogged about it. I openly talked about how I used to check my rank on Amazon hourly (sometimes waking in the middle of the night freaking out). How I cried and obsessed over mean spirited emails for weeks. How I would check sales reports twice an hour, and freak out when I lost followers or likes, or sales were down by $5, among other obsessive compulsive behaviors.
(I also micromanaged like crazy, double and triple checking my assistant's work. As you might have guessed, I burned through a lot of assistants. I was an absolute, TOTAL, control freak.)
I remember telling my therapist in our first session, "I don't know! I have to check! I have to! How else will I know if something is going wrong! I have to know! I have to know so I can fix it! OMG! What if someone leaves a nasty comment on my FB page!"
I was babbling mostly, but there was some kernel of truth to my words.
It wasn't easy to... improve
but I have.
I am comfortable delegating and almost never check my assistants' work, unless they ask me to. I don't go on Amazon anymore (authors: do not go on your Amazon, ever), and I can't remember the last time I checked a sales report, which I think is both good and bad.
I've tried to live with "do your best, and if it's meat to be, it will be." attitude that my yoga teacher drills into my head every time he sees me. (Yoga has done wonders for my OCD-- I can get out of my head when I'm in a pose and the world gets quiet).
Since starting therapy, I obsess a lot less. I am very proud of the progress I have made and my team has noticed. My publisher has noticed. My parents and friends have noticed.
In therapy, I finally admitted a very honest truth: Because I worked so hard, and for so long, while being so pitifully broke, I developed a fear that if I took a nap, or I didn't post something ("keep Instragram/Facebook/Twitter, etc well fed" were my words), that it will all go to s#!t.
I felt like I was that little Dutch boy with his finger in the hole, and if I removed my finger, a flood would engulf us all.
This is ridiculous. At least, I hope it is ridiculous.
For all the progress I've made, I'm still always connected out of fear -- even when doing so hurts me. Even when I sit and cry and scream that I want to work less. That I need to work less. (I really do).
My therapist pointed out to me how someone else -- an actress specifically -- basically "disapppeared" for months and it was fine.
I retorted quickly that she was a multi-millionaire, so she had the luxury of "disappearing". I do not. I have to keep my business going because it supports me... and not just me, but my family. My husband. My dogs. My team of employees. Business can't die! I have responsibilites! How nice would it be to be a millionaire and not have to worry about turning a profit and selling your stuff!
My rant continued on for several more minutes...
After crying about money, I cried about how she was mega famous. Everyone knew her name. I'm no A-list celebrity.
I then called my therapist a buffoon and questioned why I ever listened to anything he said.
(NOT my proudest moment).
(and I did this name calling in my mind, never said it to his face, though I suppose he's reading this now...)
I calmed down eventually, and my therapist said, "Maybe you should let things go off for a whole week. You will feel better when you see your business did not die."
But I had no faith. And thought that was the most crazy thing anyone could ever say. "Clearly you don't own a business!" and with that, I walked right out the door.
Yet, despite all my monumental improvements (and I did go back to my therapist...eventually), I still feel the urge to hyperventilate when I have to get on a plane and they don't have wifi.
Even on vacation I'm dialing my assistants, asking "is FB okay?"
I even write some 20 to 50 possible status updates for them to upload in the case I disappear, or my phone dies, or I have no internet.
(Yes, everything you see is crafted by me, though sometimes when I'm on a plane, other people post it for me).
I once didn't check email for 48 hours (because I had food poisoning and was physically unable) and hyperventilated that I had 168 emails unread (and also worried everyone thought I was a capital B for not answering).
I recognize this is crazy.
But then I justify my crazy a la "but my fans love me because I'm available!"
I can't keep being so crazy. I need to just do it. No time like the present... and a social, public challengs...
SO I made the monumentous decision to partake in this unplug event.
I then told Scott, and the pugs, they had to unplug as well because, if I see technology around, I won't be able to help myself. I will have to look... check in... make sure everything is okay.
If you'd like to join me, visit the National Day of Unplugging website.