I wake up in the morning and before I even open my eyes, there it is: a weight resting squarely on my chest. I cautiously feel around my thoughts to see what this weight is before jumping to conclusions. It’s possible that I just had a bad dream.

Oh, right. I’m just not quite awake yet. Sometimes when I first wake up, I have left over thoughts flying around in my mind. And some of them could be left over from years and years ago. They are just shadows, tiny endings of experiences that hurt me or things that made me very sad. But they aren’t happening right now and that is what I need to focus on.

I imagine a light. Yellow and white but not too bright. It’s warm and healthy. It’s healing. It starts in my chest and expands until it fills my body.

Some of the remaindered and leftover thoughts try to stick around. They pop up and tell me, ‘You are such a failure’ and ‘Nothing you do matters’ and ‘Nothing will ever get any better.’ Some of them go far, far back and are more like, ‘No one cares about you so you better concentrate on surviving’ and ‘People want to hurt you and take advantage of you’ and ‘Everyone is a liar.’ But as soon as the thoughts come up, I look at them, evaluate them and see if they are true or not. They aren’t. What a relief. And I send them on their way.

I know that if I think too much about what I have to do today, it will feel too hard. I’ll start feeling overwhelmed and probably not get out of bed. Once I allow myself to go down that downward spiral, it’s very hard to climb back up and could take me days. The best defense is a good offense. Some days I do better than others.

There are days when catastrophic thinking is hard to shake off, but it doesn’t happen very often. I thank God for that. And The Universe. And Love. I know my meditation routine by heart and slip easily into a place where I feel only Love and a connection to everything and everyone. It’s beautiful. I stay as long as I need to and then climb out of bed.

I don’t think about getting up or showering or even what I’m going to wear. I don’t think about any of those things because I don’t really NEED to think about them. I know how to do them all without thinking. And if I make the mistake of thinking about it, I might not do it. So, I just do it.

As I finish up washing my hair and shaving my legs, I smell the soap. It smells clean and invigorating. I’m looking forward to the coffee. I grab an outfit from the two that I laid out last night: one is for slightly warmer weather and one for colder. That way, I don’t have to think about it when it feels too hard. Of course, I can always change my mind and get something else from the closet if I want. And sometimes I do. But mostly, I stick with what I prepared the night before.

A thought of work will come up and for a second my heart starts to race. I feel behind. I feel like I’ll never be safe and secure. I feel like everything I’ve worked so hard for could be taken away in a second. My breathing gets faster and faster. I start to sweat. I can’t breathe. Iā€™m going to die. But then I catch myself. I tell my heart to slow down. I remind myself to take some deep breaths. And I tell myself that I’ll think about all of that in about an hour when I’m more awake and I’ve eaten some protein and had some coffee.

I go downstairs to begin my day and do stuff.

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  1. Very poignant. You’re very fortunate to have the tools to keep your demons at bay. Think of all the pour souls out there who don’t have that level of understanding and who are powerless to stop their “voices”. I hurt for them.

  2. Thank you. This is good. That is something I am trying to work on as well. One thing that is helpful for me is to think of things from a “manageable time” perspective. I will inevitably be doing SOMEthing with my time, why not choose what that something is on a minute-by-minute basis, instead of becoming incapacitated by my own inhibitions for hours on end. My head game = “Why not type a little more on my work? What else am I going to do with the next 2 minutes? Anybody can type for two minutes.”

    And I totally agree about the easy things – don’t think, just do. The hard things – one manageable moment at a time.

  3. to see myself on this blog was soooo scary ………. you made so much sense pf my chaos ………….. what is it called …….. they tell me PTSD and anxiety

  4. I love the way you can put words to the “ick”. I get that myself and when I was in the last weeks of my pregnancy, I got it all day long. It was terrible. I was not able to ‘splain it to anyone. I’m going to have my husband read this post and maybe he can understand a little better. My nickname for it is “ick”.

    And I love how you explain doing the next right thing and not thinking for too long on it b/c then it will earn it’s power over you.

    I think you are the cat’s meow šŸ™‚

  5. I feel EXACTLY the same way when I think about work. As if my very existence is in peril; as if whatever minute mistake I might have made could cost me everything. It’s a smothering kind of fear. I have to do deep breathing to get past it, too. Running also helps.

    I also know what you mean about not thinking about the mundane things too much. Because if we think of all the energy that goes into moving our bodies in the same way every single day – to the shower, to pick out clothes, to wash the dishes – we’ll get in bed and never leave, because it seems like all that repetition and effort is so absurd.

    Thank you for writing this.

  6. i love this. you are very talented at putting words to feelings. i especially love it compared with ‘bad days’. it’s all a journey, isn’t it?

  7. This was really helpful to me. I just finished your book. It was beautiful and brilliant and sent me into a funk like I have not been in awhile.

    Depression and anxiety plague me but I also have tools. It helps so much to hear about others’ journey, I gather the stories like a blanket and they help keep me whole too.

    So Hey, Thank You. You are an amazing human being and I really honor all that you have been through and share here.

  8. Ree – me, too. i hope they can find the help and clarity they need.

    nate – 2 minutes. perfect. i can do just about anything for 2 minutes.

    lilmisstypo – ptsd can create an environment of reliving things from the past for sure, which creates anxiety. but there is no way i could ever know if that is what is happening in your case. do you know of a therapist you could go to?

    piglet – thanks. ick is a great word for it. ick, ick, ick.

    Painterbeachgirl – that is exactly what i try to do, too – focus on the now. it works for me about 8 times out of 10. but i have to admit that i pray a lot and not usually about worry. when i’m super depressed, it doesn’t even cross my mind to pray. but when i’m feeling not-so-depressed, i thank God/the Universe for just about everything.

    Lawyerish – does walking work for you as well, or is it the running/endorphins?

    TiffyWiffy – thank you. i meant for them to be closer together on the blog, but it didn’t turn out that way. i think i need to create a new category for stuff like those posts so they can be found together.

    Deb – i’m glad the book was good for you. i hope the funk was a good funk…..
    the imagery of a blanket is a really nice one. i might use that myself. thank you.

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