Today was a slower day at work and because it was quiet I was able to work through some of the emotions I’ve been feeling. Primarily, doom. And shame. And fear of failure. When I get like this I completely lose my self-confidence and think that nothing good is happening, and nothing good will happen.
It is important to work through these feelings because not only are they distressing, but they also effect my behavior and I can very rapidly spiral down. I think the depression started a few days ago, though I only identified it as such today and fortunately I was able to stop the downward spiral. At least for today. This is a skill I only started developing a couple years ago and my mental muscles are still somewhat weak.
I started by wading through my emotions to identify the thoughts behind them. Each thought: Okay, so that is a thought. And, Wow, these thoughts are very self-destructive. It’s as if my brain is trying to sabotage my life.
My thoughts were almost entirely future-oriented. I was judging myself for things that have not yet happened, and anticipating horrible outcomes. Wait, I’m in this moment right now. None of this has happened.
You mean this in only my mind right now and is not reality?
What makes some of these thoughts particularly clingy is that my brain takes slivers of truth from my past experiences and uses it as “proof” that I should be unhappy, ashamed, scared, etc in the present and that the future contains only despair. What helps me deal with these slivers of truth is acknowledging them and saying, So what?
With each passing moment the facts from the past get futher behind. I change and my circumstances change as well. The future has not happened yet and I’m a fool to predict it. All I have is this moment and if I let my predictions consume me my present will be destroyed.
I got all this from doing some mindfulness practices in the silence today. As much as possible I’m supposed to be fully present.
I have to admit, that is hard for me to do. I either want to problem-solve (in which I end up feeling despair from feeling stuck) or I want to distract. Distracting can be helpful…up to a certain point. When I lift my eyes up from my screens I’ll find that things haven’t gotten done and everything is going to shit because it’s gotten neglected. That’s not good.
This is part of what I was talking about yesterday that the smaller things are stressing me out. Here is where I need to take that “To-do” notebook my mom gave me and put it to good use.
I hate To-do lists. They give me anxiety. Does anyone feel this way? Sometimes I put things off. No, often I put things off.
I think it’s the checking off of the items that bothers me so much. I don’t feel satisfication in a task being completed, unlike most. Everything I do opens seems to open up more doors. The more I do the more I have to do. I don’t know if that’ll make sense to anyone. Let me know if you also feel this way.
What I can do is use the To-do notebook just as a reminder. Like a journal, minus the feelings. I don’t have to check off the boxes if I don’t feel like it. I don’t even have to write neatly. Sometimes just writing things down helps me remember. It’s my f’ing To-do list; I’ll use it how I want.
I went off on a tangent. The main thing I want to share is that we don’t have to give in to our feelings or let distorted thinking control us.
Even if you can find some “proof” for your harsh judgments against yourself or anticipating future anxieties, challenge your brain to question it’s importance based on what you value in your life. If the thought is interfering with what’s important to you, try to defuse from the thought by naming it and watching it float away like a leaf on the water, flowing downstream.
As I typed that I realize that’s a lot easier said than done. It takes a lot of practice, but it is worth it. The thought will come back again and wave it goodbye: Goodbye, my precious thought.