I often write about expanding my own horizons, and testing my boundaries. Recently, I have written about not caring so much what people think, or if I get feedback from others that seems to support my choices. Then, as luck would have it, or probably not really luck if I am honest with myself, but rather just the way my neurology operates, I am hit with a bout of acute anxiety.
The day before yesterday I got a haircut. It wasn't much different, and I felt okay, and comfortable about it. I was feeling overwhelmed in general that day, but nothing that would rise to my attention as noteworthy. I posted a picture of my new do on Facebook. Then, my husband came home, and seemed not to even notice, or give much thought to my new haircut even after I asked about it. This made me feel really anxious. I began to fret. I immediately felt like i should not have posted a picture of it, and I deleted it from my timeline. Anxious thoughts filled my brain from thinking that I was wrong to make a big deal out of something so small as a haircut to feeling like maybe it didn't look very good. "Just who do you think you are to feel like anyone wants to even be bothered with something so minute as seeing your haircut?" That was one of my main thoughts Which spiraled into feeling like a fake for feeling this way, but always promoting healthier thinking. How in the world can I talk about something with any kind of authority if I can't even do it? Oh, my.... I think I'm a fraud. I think I am ugly, and probably fat, and maybe a bad person, too.
Then, I paused. Literally. I hit pause on my brain, my thoughts stuttered to a halt as did my whole body.
"Hello depression." I said to myself. "I see you are sneaking in behind your buddy anxiety."
I recognized all the the bad thoughts that lie to me until I am living in a shadow of who I am as a symptom of depression. They convince me that I am not worthy, and when they sneak in behind thoughts of fear I am so vulnerable that I believe them.
Not this time.
I saw all the signs, and recognized all the tricks. I sat with all those feelings as they swirled around me, and didn't push back. I didn't let them pull me under by engaging, but I didn't act out in desperation as I tried not to drown. Instead, I just waded there. I waded gently in knowing that my brain was just having a moment. It was a scary moment, and one that didn't feel good, but tomorrow, or the next day, or even possibly the next hour it will all pass. I'm okay. I've been here before, and I can't change how my brain always has it's moments, but I can choose how I respond. I felt like I could simply make a note of it, and if it continues I need to see about getting a medication adjustment, because I don't deserve to live this way.
When people read a lot of what I write they may come away with an impression of someone who is always together, and courageous. I am not that person. I have so many moments of grueling depression, and breathless anxiety. I am not always in control of things, but I am always trying. I try, and then share with others what works, and what hasn't in hopes that maybe they'll be able to apply some new tricks to their life.
I'm learning to live with my less than stellar qualities, instead of waiting for that day where everything is the way I want it to be to be happy. People might think that sounds like a hokey fix to a real problem, but I assure you it isn't. I take meds. I am not at all saying to just accept despair, and fear as a norm in your life. I am saying that acknowledging it when it's there, and not wasting so much energy being afraid of it, and fighting against it will loosen it's grip. It's taken me years to reframe the way I address my anxiety, and my depressive episodes. Lots of therapy. Lots of trying different things. This reframing is the cultivation of all those things. It was hard work, but worth every effort I put in.