This guy is fantastic! I think he’s been skulking about in my head…
I’ve been thinking again!
This notion that things are supposed to be any certain way, that we are supposed to feel good, not feel bad, not have bad things happen, not die. THIS is the enemy. This is the root of all suffering. Can I learn to be present with my anxiety without trying to change it? Can I learn to witness my panic attacks without attachment? Can I stop arguing with reality and allow my panic to just be? This is the paradox. By releasing my resistance to panic, panic goes away. That which you resist persists. Why do I think I should not suffer? Why do I believe I should not have problems? How could I live in this world and NOT have problems? Everyone has problems, this one is mine. I have had others and likely will have more. So what? Life isn’t supposed to be about dodging bullets! I’m supposed to be more powerful than that, smarter than that, cleverer than that? I have failed, I am now stupid and fat and lazy and unworthy of love because I suffer? That apparently is EXACTLY what I think. And I’ve just had the lovely realization that panic is going to stay with me until I can sit through it infinitely without attachment. It is the perfect teacher. Anyone can meditate in isolation on a beautiful mountain. Can you sit and meditate in anguish? Then you have achieved enlightenment. (Can I now declare that I don’t want to be enlightened after all?!)
I’ve noticed some things about myself this week. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten caught in the “bargaining” trap. I keep thinking I can do enough right things to avoid this suffering. When I feel like I’m doing all I can and I’m still struggling then I spiral out of control pretty rapidly. I’ve also realized that I’m afraid to feel happy and afraid to relax. This seems to me to be classic victim thinking: I don’t dare let my guard down for an instant lest some Bad Thing take notice and pounce on me, snatching away all that is good in my life. So, I go along unable to feel all the good things around me! (Am I the Bad Thing, myself, perhaps?? I am clearly playing the role of Taker-Away-of-Good-Things as it stands…) I look at the lives of others. I can name real problems real people, both strangers and personal friends, have that would be much worse to experience than anything I’ve dealt with. I am afraid I haven’t suffered enough! What sickness is this??!! Those who know me well also know how ridiculous this is. I have experienced bad things, and enough of them; I have all that minimized in my mind such that my perspective is perhaps severely skewed.
I’ve hit on a string of erroneous beliefs here. No doubt we all have these: coping mechanisms, misinterpretations, rules learned as children that don’t hold water. What are yours? Do you see faulty beliefs or patterns of thought that exacerbate your suffering? What is your suffering like today? What would bring you relief?
What if the blocked mind is always the same? What if the same tricks to unblock the writerly mind can also be applied to unstick the panicking or anxious mind?
I can count on writer’s block like I can count on my anxiety– constant companions that will never abandon me, like warts and aching joints. However, I need to write to feel right, so I have to find ways to push through or go around. I have some ideas for getting around the dreaded writer’s block that sometimes help; perhaps someone out there in cyberspace will also find something useful here:
Do I have something to say that I’m afraid of saying? I give myself permission to write something and not publish it or share it in any way. Then I can say whatever comes out!
Often all the ideas I have throughout the day (which, you know, were all exceedingly brilliant and insightful) elude me when I finally have time to sit down at the keyboard. I don’t have a solution for this yet (although a recording device might be useful, but only if I actually use it, which I probably wouldn’t), but picking out something to start on, even if it’s seemingly off-topic or perhaps completely unrelated to a project of mine, can sometimes work as a jumpstart.
Type random gibberish. At least I’m hitting keys!
Form thoughts into sentences and type them out. Even if I’m repeating, “I don’t know what to write. I can’t think of a thing. I just feel anxious. AGAIN. Blah blah, that’s boring. I can’t write about that again. I should go to bed. But what if I can’t sleep? I might as well sit here. At least then I’m not panicking about not being able to fall asleep…” etc. Classic application of the adage, “Begin where you are.” Sitting at my kitchen table, unsold dozens of eggs from today’s market all around me, my stomach growls from too much adrenaline and too little food. (Yes, that’s literally where I am.)
When completely and disastrously blocked with no useful direction and nothing is working, perhaps a list: First Ten Things I’d Do With Lottery Winnings, maybe. Or Things I Wish I Understood (that could take hours!).
I’m sure there are more tricks to play on the blocked mind. Writers, what are your favorite tried-and-true ways to get unstuck?
This is a rant.
I am fed up with feeling crazy. Fed up with feeling like something is wrong with me, like I’m doing something wrong, like I can’t talk AGAIN about how I’m still having a hard time.
I’m sick of having a hard time.
I’m sick of having negative things to say. Sick of being such a big baby. Sick of my own excuses. I don’t need to feel ecstatic, I just don’t want to feel anxious or panicky, and I’d prefer to feel kinda content and peaceful, not depressed.
I don’t think that’s asking too much.
I don’t think it’s asking too much to feel like my husband doesn’t mind listening to me. I don’t think it’s asking too much for my kids to not drive me batty and to occasionally give me some space. I don’t think it’s asking too much to get to exercise and do yoga every day. I don’t think it’s asking too much for me to write two blog posts a week. And get good sleep, and take my supplements, and eat nourishing food.
Yet somehow all of these things are things that don’t happen. In fact, I haven’t exercised in several weeks. My kids climb all over me all day every day and I never do any yoga. I don’t feel like I can talk about my anxiety because my husband freaks out about it and constantly wanders off when I’m talking to him. It’s infuriating and isolating and makes me feel worse.
I have anxiety. I don’t respond well to elevated stress. I am not resilient. I am stressed. On days like today, everything makes me anxious and short of breath. I worry that I’ll have to have a panic attack later tonight to release all this tension. I’d really rather not go through that.
I am in perimenopause. This will come to an end one day, but probably not for about ten years. Still, that gives me hope. My hormones go up and down and my mood goes with them. I am not enjoying being such a ball of hormones but at least it makes sense. I am so tired of being so high maintenance. I can’t find the time for taking care of myself like I apparently need to. What is it going to take for me to find time for me?
I am not writing this for sympathy; in fact, sympathy would most likely infuriate me. I am writing this to admit it. I am writing this to de-pathologize it. Not everyone has anxiety and panic, but lots of people do. And even without the anxiety most every human being out there has days that feel like my day today. I am writing this for every other mom out there who is struggling today, because I know we all do, perhaps in different ways, but we all struggle. And I’m not crazy or even unusual for struggling, and neither are you.