I want to be a real boy. Or girl, in this case. And for me, “real” means whole and cohesive and I’m not. It’s one of the things mental illness does. I’m working on getting it back.
I’m not anyone else so I don’t know what goes on inside other people. I don’t know if I’m unique or one of millions with respect to this sense of being made up of little bits and pieces. No one knows how anyone else is, not really, though we want to. That desire to know and be known is what drives us to seek intimacy. Yet I’m afraid to share too much of myself, afraid to open up; I’m unwilling to risk being rejected over something so fundamental as my basic nature.
I wonder if non-mentally ill people’s brains work the same way, all fractured and compartmentalized. I suspect there are similarities; differences are probably due to degree.
I can identify some of the different players in my head. There’s anxious me, depressed me, OCD me, eating disorder me, and PTSD me. There’s also the me-me and her strength and presence can vary significantly.
I’d like to ask my friends how cohesive their brains are but I’m afraid to. Afraid that if they truly understood how fractured and broken and unsteady my brain can feel sometimes, they’d abandon me.
It has happened before so the fear is not wholly unrealistic, despite my faith in my friends.
But it’s a goal I’m working on. Achieving a brain and spirit that are more unified.
I find that unity sometimes in meditation.
I like meditation though I don’t do it nearly enough especially considering how helpful it is. But my behavioural ruts are well-worn and if I’m not determined and vigilant, I slip easily back into old and unhelpful patterns.
Meditation is like clothing; you have to try it on to see what fits. I’ve tried a variety of different techniques. I’ve done it with music and without. I’ve done guided meditations and practiced it self-directed. I’ve done it sitting up and lying done. Eyes closed and eyes open. I’ve used apps and read books and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no one true way. You go with what works best for you.
For me, it works best if I do it early in the day – first thing after I get up, before coffee even. I like listening to music because I can set it for a predetermined amount of time, thus ensuring I won’t get anxious about when I should stop. Stopping is important. If I go to long, the hyper-focus actually stokes my anxiety. Ten to fifteen minutes is best.
I like to be self-directed. I do a body relaxation at the beginning of the time. Scan and release tension, starting at the head and moving down. Once that’s done, I count. I count to ten and then start over. However, if I thought comes that I start to attend to or follow, I have to start the count over.
I never get to ten. On a good day I can get to seven or eight though.
I like my eyes closed. Some books I’ve read suggest having them open because you learn how to find ease in the real world more readily that way; you’re used to pulling back from the anxiety of visual stimulation. However, I find it too distracting to be helpful. My OCD kicks up and I start thinking about tidying, and re-organizing, and re-arranging the space I’m in and before you know it, my numbers drop to ones.
I used to like it best lying down. Sitting up I was too aware of flesh, too aware of my legs and body, to busy feeling fat to focus on letting go and simply being. I’m better with that now which is a good thing; sitting up means I’m far less likely to drift off to sleep.
But the best thing about meditating is how whole I feel when I’m done. During the later stages of the session and for some time after I’m aware of a sense of cohesion that I lack most of the time; it’s an agreeable and much-desired state. Feeling like a whole person brings about an ease, soothes my anxiety. I move slower, talk slower, think slower.
It’s nice. Peaceful.
I avoid it often because of a conviction I’m doing it wrong. That feeling lives inside of me most of the time, regardless of what I’m doing. Judgmental and negative.
It is not at all productive so I’m trying to just let it go. Hear it and then move on. If you stop feeding things, eventually they’ll starve to death, at least that is the hope.
So, like recovery, I will strive to be content with doing meditation my way, regardless of how I think it looks to others.
Truthfully, others generally don’t care about what we’re doing as much as they think we do. It’s the negative inside voices that are the problem.
Do you hold off on doing things because you’re afraid you’ll do it wrong, make a mistake?