when i wake up, my body is present, but my brain is not engaged. i like those moments. once my brain goes online, i find out if i’m going to be anxious or depressed or what. it’s apparent within minutes of rising if the day is going to start with a struggle. but those quiet moments of calm before the storm? i embrace them.
i hate mornings that presage mental health challenges and yet when they do show up, i generally do things to make them worse. how utterly human.
social media, for instance. generally, it does not make me feel good. ugliness abounds. if you want to be convinced that the world should be cleansed by fire, read the comments. if you want to make yourself feel worse, stalk social media first thing.
honestly, though, i don’t need social media to make my head feel like it’s going to explode. i also don’t need the coffee which can screw me up if i have more than a couple of cups, nor do i need the guilt which comes with smoking too much.
sometimes, it’s just there, this feeling that my thoughts are too much for my body. the pressure is too much, life is too much.
in those moments, i’m resentful. i resent the demands of my life and the people that keep me here. in those moments, i wish i could just drift away.
i’m jealous as well. jealous of people who wake up and are happy about it. jealous of people who don’t wake up feeling pressure and panic pounding in their head first thing. who don’t struggle to find a reason to exist for one more morning. whose brains have the appropriate level of neurochemicals.
i’m learning though. i’ve been making changes and i’ve discovered that there are things i can do that will make it better. even knowing that is an improvement, even if i don’t follow through, because it used to be that i’d only acknowledge the negative choices. i’m trying, however, to avoid the whole starving myself thing, and the throwing up my food thing, and the cutting myself thing. different choices, like the ones that follow, are better.
avoid social media.
it’s really that simple. to say, that is. it’s harder to do. most of us have become a little reliant on checking in, whatever the platform.
i like to meditate but it’s not good for me when my head feels like there’s tiger trapped inside, shredding my brain. focusing deeply on my body tends to send me into a panic if i’m already triggered, so full-on meditation is out. a few minutes of deep and mindful breathing, however, seems to be okay. i focus on the end of my nose and note the breaths coming in and flowing out. it slows me down and sometimes helps ease the pressure and pain coming from deep inside.
writing helps, whether it be crappy poetry, a journal entry, or a blog post. getting something out onto paper, whether real or electronic, eases. it makes things feel better for the moment, and when you feel like you’re spiraling out of control, better moments are met with gratitude.
i’m lucky. i have a lovely deck leading off from the family room and it has chairs. if i’m feeling particularly grim, sitting out there, feeling the weather, watching the trees, and listening to birds chirp and squirrels rattle branches as they jump from one to the next satisfies and brings me ease.
not bran reading, not “good for you” stuff. i read a lot of “helpful” literature; i consider it to be part of my recovery program. i enjoy it, but it’s a kind of work. i have to concentrate and think and focus when i pick up those books so using them as a distraction doesn’t work. instead, i pick up something escapist. something lighter. something with a happily ever after. there’s a slight risk; i have some latent jealousy towards authors who are doing what i wish i was doing, but generally, that fades as i get lost in the story.
when things are going very poorly, i use it. not a lot, and not enough to get high, but enough to quiet the thoughts. i feel guilty about doing it a lot of the time – it’s a behaviour i tend to apply “shoulds” too, as in “you should get through this without a crutch” but really, isn’t getting through the point?
this is another one of those things works, and the fact that it does annoys me, because, reasons. probably because it’s one of those things that i could’ve been doing all along. it really helps if my eating disorder is acting up. practicing being grateful for the food i eat, thinking about where it comes from and all the things that have to happen for food to be on my plate calms me down and warms my heart. it really is kind of a miracle that i can eat a peanut butter sandwich. much has to work together to make that possible.
go back to bed.
when all else fails, there’s the reset button. sometimes, nothing works. sometimes, everything is too hard. i’m aware of the things i could do to mitigate my struggles but i’m paralyzed by inertia. i’m trapped by the mental and emotional mess i’m floundering in and sometimes, positive movement seems to be beyond my abilities. i’m spun up, and not just in my head. my body feels it too.
my face gets taut, my jaw gets tight, and my shoulders lock up at a point just below my chin. those are the moments when i can’t bear it. those are the moments when i’m tired and afraid. those are the moments when i know i should reach out but can’t make myself do so. i’m too trapped in the “i’m okay” persona, even now, even when going to a rehab facility outed my mental health issues to everyone.
on those days, i give up. i give in and head back to bed. i go back to sleep and try again in the hopes that the second waking will go better. often, it does.