09 March, 2014


Sometimes I try and come up with new frames to explain the decisions I make (or not-so-voluntary things that people think are decisions).  Sometimes this is for other people but more often it's just so that I can be okay with myself.

Today let's talk about being a mushball. I am a mushball.

If you want to know what a mushball looks like, take a piece of soft bread, squish it into a ball, and get it wet.  That is approximately me.
  • droopy
  • doesn't react to new situations
  • doesn't like talking
  • is not up for reading anything difficult or unfamiliar
  • probably isn't good at writing, either
  • likes to eat, read simple things, and watch TV, while propped up with pillows so it doesn't have to suffer the indignity of trying to sit up on its own
Actually, if you know me in person this might not be your impression of me! That's because I can usually corral myself if I have to be around people or do tasks that I need to focus on.  I'm glad about that because a full-time mushball life would be boring (I also would not be able to have a job or anything), but I still need to return to my natural mushball state or everything gets totally out of control.

Being a non-mushball (like if I am going outside or interacting with anyone in person) kind of feels like being in crisis.  It feels like have to tense every muscle in my body so I can be alert and anchored in time and try to respond to everything that is going on.  It's not really that bad, but trying to be tense and alert permanently would be the same as trying to stand up forever.

When I've been in situations where I can't mush out for really long periods of time (like when I was working 12-hour shifts with a 4-hour commute) what happens is just that the mushiness spills into everything.  Like, usually mushballing happens when I'm by myself in my room, and the rest of the time I'm more or less tensed up.  If I don't have any mush time, then I end up being mushy in situations where it's problematic and could even be a danger to me or other people.

So, mush is important is what I'm saying.  But not mush is important too.  It's depressing and not very satisfying if all I do is lie in bed, eat, and not talk to anyone, but if I stay at home that's probably what is going to happen.  It feels like my body hoards mush time and is pulled toward my bed like a magnet, although it probably has more to do with cueing.  If there are cues making me feel like this is mush time, then my body/brain aren't going to be ready to tense up.
  • dressed = non-mush
  • pajamas = mush
  • in my room = mush
  • outside = non-mush
  • speaking = non-mush
  • makeup = non-mush
  • contacts = non-mush
  • glasses = mush
This explains why certain things upset me and make it hard to focus, like talking on the phone in my bedroom or going outside without makeup on.  I had a lot of trouble a few years ago because my eyes were being irritated by my contacts and I was supposed to wear glasses all the time, but I just couldn't do anything very well when I was wearing glasses instead of contacts and started having mental health issues because I was so frustrated by my inability to do things.

I feel like a lot of people must feel this way to some extent, because they go to coffee shops to work on the computer or to study.  I think it's more extreme for me, because people don't seem to understand some of the aspects of my mush situation, but I like to use coffee shops for the same thing.  Something that I'm trying to address these days is how to keep as much mush time as I need, while making sure that I have free time that isn't mush time.  I want to have free time when I am alert and can really devote myself to things I'm interested in, instead of just floating.  I'm trying to spend some time alone at coffee shops and diners whenever I have a day off.

This brings me to the original subject for my post, which is that I've made a 2014 resolution to never prepare food for myself in my house.  If I'm eating with my housemates that's an exception, and so is if I'm not doing well and need to have a full mush day.  But otherwise, preparing food at home just leads to me lying in bed, eating super slowly and spacing out, sometimes eating way more than I intended to because I don't want to get up to put the food away, and finally surrounded by a bunch of dishes that I'm too mushy to take care of.  It's gross and depresses me.

I wanted to write about my resolution because I always get the message that going out to eat and not preparing your own food is lazy and a waste of money.  To me, it isn't laziness because it prevents mushy eating.  In the short term, it definitely costs more money--I can't afford to spend more than $14 a day on food and it's hard to keep to this eating out, whereas I could easily spend much less if I was only eating at home.  But I feel like it's worth feeling better, and it also has meant that I never get food delivered anymore, which was even more expensive than going out to eat.

Anyway that's all I have to tell you, and now it's time to return to that of which I speak.

a children's book called mush sled dogs of the iditarod


  1. We used to email each other back when we were both in the UK and afterwards and basically I always miss you so I check this blog almost every day, and never say anything because I don't really know how, I guess?

    I feel compelled to respond now because I just really like this post and I genuinely think it can help me in figuring out how to explain things to people around me. (I'd normally refrain from explaining myself but I've been quite sick for a long time now and I guess it makes the balance between mush and non-mush more important because I'm just always very tired.)

    So I guess I just wanted to say thanks. Partly for this post because it helps me, but mostly for how much you meant and mean to me. I know we haven't really been in touch but to me you're still a friend.

    x Nicky

    1. Hi Nicky!!! I miss you too. I wish you would email me. We could just email random letters back and forth to each other instead of having a conversation.


  2. I feel the same way. It's like the service dog who knows they are on duty when they are in the vest. I find that for me I wear my watch when I'm in situations where I'm expected to be social and not weird.

  3. This is a really good description of something I experience too, but have never been able to put into words quite as well. For me also, the most non-mushy thing is to do anything new or out of routine, which is probably why I have a hard time with those things, and why I find routine so comforting.