For several days now, I’ve been thinking about how “serious” and “heavy” my first post may have been. Well, depression and anxiety are both of those things…but I don’t exactly want this blog to just be about the dark and twisted (lucky you!). So, while I still have more to share about my personal experiences and perceptions, I would like to take a moment and share some insight around the silver lining.
Don’t get me wrong! Finding the silver lining in the middle of this craziness, is at times “THE” silver lining…the constant nagging in my ear that there might be hope is sometimes the only thing that gets me through a day.
Sometimes I feel as though I have tried everything to get to a stable ground. Prescriptions, therapy, meditation, prayer, massages, thinking of the things to be thankful of, acupuncture, acupressure, group therapy, reading about clinical studies, breathing techniques, self-rationalization…and the list goes on, and on, and on. In the last year, I just became tired of it all. Yet each time I get to that moment of wanting to give up, that annoying thought that there might be hope, still lingers.
Do I have a recipe for the perfect combination for fixing me? Nope. In fact, I might even be in a worse place now because the pure exhaustion of it all is starting to ever so slowly, suck the hope away. However, there are a few things that help me or at least peak my interest enough to want to learn more! Here’s some…
TACKLE ONE DAY AT A TIME
I’ve always been a planner (aka worrier). I’m typically already thinking about the next 10+ plausible scenarios in relation to a hypothetical event, in a matter of seconds. While on a good day, I can still do this…I have learned, for the most part, to only focus on the day at hand. On the really bad days, I focus on the hours or even the minutes. At first I really struggled with being “ok” with this. I saw it as a weakness; that I was somehow less of a person…or worse, that other people would think that I was an incapable, unintelligent person.
Truthfully, focusing on just one day/moment has been a blessing, because it takes the unpredictable stress of tomorrow off your shoulders. If you try to focus on the past, today and tomorrow…you’ll run out of bandwidth; it’s not sustainable.
Basically, by letting people know that “I haven’t started thinking about that day yet”, has helped to compartmentalize my thoughts and has removed the daunting feeling that I have a gazillion things to do…now it’s whittled down to just a million 😉 Plus, it sets proper expectations with others.
BE IN THE NOW
For the longest time I didn’t “get” what being in the moment really meant. I couldn’t grasp how to let go and be present. Now, I know what the “now” means (only took 30+ years to figure it out)!
My biggest problem with being in the moment was all the thoughts avalanching in my brain. I couldn’t quiet them, and I couldn’t ever relax because of it…I thought in order to be in the moment, you had to have no thoughts in your mind. Clear your mind, people say.
I’ve learned that this does not work for everyone, and takes practice…and that having no thoughts isn’t reasonable, for me.
HOW I GET IN THE NOW
There are lots of methods/techniques…find what works for you; it may take a long time, so don’t give up. For me, it clicked from a video in a group session about work-stress. I walked away with a visual approach to mindfulness breathing, instead of physical. In the past I couldn’t focus on breathing because I breath every second of the day…I couldn’t conceptualize something that is an instinctive function. After that video (which I cannot find online), I began to imagine that air was visible. I imagined that air was made of relaxing colors that swirled and twirled (think of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night) in at the nostril and wrapping itself up through the curves of my nose ascending into my chest. This abstract visualization gave me something to “see”, and by doing so it allowed me to block everything else out…if even for a split second.
I’m slowly learning to accept the wandering thoughts that flood in, but to randomly grab one of them and think through it. If I try to prioritize all the thoughts, I’ll never find one to focus on and then I’m back to feeling overwhelmed but not really knowing what is stressing me out. If I pick one, whether it’s productive or not, then it takes one more thing off my to-do and bit-by-bit I can pick through them all.