I wanted to share that one of the things I really struggle with is catastrophizing. I know it is a learned response for me and it gets worse with the cycle of my depression. But it is incredibly hard to fight (for me) and it can be very overpowering.
As an aside, I think I have drifted to theologies that agree with my catastophizing – “the end is near” type ideas. I have been attracted by the holy elect type of thinking. But, in reality, it only leads to ghetto-type thinking and “us and then” actions.
So today I am struggling with seeing the light in the midst of the darkness I have created. And I am sure that the light at the end of the tunnel is a train!
I never used to get those “Trigger Warning” starts to social media posts. Yet, recently, I have become more aware of triggers in my life. And I finally get the warning. When I am alone I am better but various people and contexts trigger me in various ways. Mostly they make me doubt myself, feel anxious, and then depressed. Of course, that is the start of it.
So now I have a problem: I know the trigger so should I avoid the people and contexts? Or should I simply be aware that the trigger is on the way? Should I simply prepare for the trigger and hope for the best?
I know I need to stand up for myself – say things that I need to be said. I need to be open about triggers and open to people that trigger me. And not be defensive about being triggered. But I feel I have hurt someone whom I care about by being triggered. It is not personal but it makes it hard for me to be around that person.
My past has made me hypervigilant – I am always on the look out for being a disappointment and a burden to people. I read too much into people’s words and actions, and I need to stop double guessing every situation. The double guessing triggers me! I do feel the normal reaction people have to me is disappointment.
Today has been an interesting day. I read some spirituality that I really needed to read. It has put me on an interesting path. I spent time with some nice people. But I have also had to face a major trigger and now I am struggling.
Last night was the last Bible Study for this term. I have mixed feelings about it. The night before I had another meeting. Both ended up being more stressful than I had thought – my fault not the meetings. I have a full day of meetings some of which I have no desire for. So I did not sleep well and I have woken with a headache (a by-product of the medication I am on).
I woke thinking about the above song. I was especially thinking about the line, “life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone”. In my 50s I am forced to completely restart. I have literally come back to my teenage years sleeping in the same bed, working in the same room, living in the same house. And I am not sure I can do it again!!!
I woke up sad. Some to-and-fro last night that left me emotionally exhausted. And I am struggling with the guilt of not doing more or trying harder. Simply getting through the day has been a struggle the last couple of days. It is all numb and emotionless. Yes, I am someone else’s villain. But the constant struggle is exhausting. I want to move on but God has other ideas – or, a least, I hope He does.
I have been thinking about stress. And what things trigger my stress! Often, for me, it has to do with uncertainty and sense of losing control. I get a feeling in my stomach that simply will not go away.
Currently I am sitting in the car, reading, and waiting for my parents who have gone to a medical appointment. My dad has had some health issues and I am glad I can be of serve to them. And I like that I get out of the house, especially in lockdown. The sun is out and I have music.
I am hoping to have a day of doing nothing much. Well, actually, I am hoping of doing some things that I want to do. I really want to work on my Rule of Life and I have a book I would like to read about the process. I am hoping for some clarity about things in my own mind. At the moment I feel very disempowered by the system which is not helping my mental health.
I did not sleep well. I had nightmares all night. And they were extremely vivid. I was having an argument with someone – maybe a discussion I should have in real life. The people in my dream were people who have hurt me or supported me recently.
Sleep for me is a “hit and miss” endeavour. Sometimes I can sleep really well but often I have vivid nightmares that leave me emotionally exhausted when I wake. I have woken with tears on my pillow. The dreams often follow me into my day. And the dream becomes part of my reality.
So I will try to be me today even with the emotional weight of the nightmare. I will try to simply be!
I have been feeling the absence of a friend in the last few days. The interaction, conversation, and intimacy of friendship. The friendship was not perfect and did not end well. My depression and anxiety, and my not facing them, did not help. But it was a long friendship with many shared experiences.
Sometimes life calls us to give up something good for a greater good. A sacrifice of love, surrender to Jesus. An emptying that is fundamental to following Jesus who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness”.
I had an insight this morning: Jesus calls me His friend so I need to learn to call Jesus my friend. Look for the intimacy, interaction, and conversation with Jesus rather than a human being. Friendship with a human being is a great good given to us by God. But “friendship with Jesus” is a greater good. So: spend more time with Jesus – pray! – and more time in serving others. More time to be a follower rather than an admirer. Make Jesus my friend.
I saw this on Instagram and instantly thought of the Merton quote: “who am I? I am loved by Christ”.
The above do not define me unless I allow them to define me. And they all call me to turn to Jesus and simply receive His love. I always have a choice to wear the mask that I am given by others or simply to be me.
I follow a number of “depression” themed Instagram pages. They are often extremely helpful. They echo what my counsellor says to me. But it is good to be reminded everyday. Of course, what my counsellor adds is Jesus. And I am thankful to have a faithful Christian who gives me guidance.
I have some real balance at the moment. I still feel “down” at times but I have learned to live with it and not let it stop me. I am still anxious but have some a “bigger view” that allows me to put it in a greater context. Most of that is thanks to a magnificent counsellor who has spent lots of time on me and has encouraged me. And a counsellor who has pointed me beyond myself to Jesus!!!
So what does balance look like for me?
I am by nature quiet. I am not a great talker and like to observe. In fact, I like to sit and read in silence! In the past, with anxiety and depression, I tried to act like I was the “life of the party”. And often looked like an idiot, which, of course, made me more anxious and then more depressed. I have accepted (and that is the real insight) who I am and that sometimes I like to sit and not talk. I like silence and alone time. I try not to be rude – I say “try” as I think I am often very rude. I need other people. But I would rather an intense conversation for a few minutes than a long conversation about nothing much.
I am weird and intense. I think the two go together. My interests are outside the norm. In the past I have tried to come back to the mainline. But, to be honest, the things that interest “normal people” simply do not get me excited. I can keep a conversation going about a particular sport or politics but that is not the conversation I seek. I like ideas, strange people, and intense conversations about Jesus and theology. I like talking about books on philosophy or theology. I will quote with a reference in a general conversation and I know that is really weird.
I have changed a lot over the last three months. And I am not sure where the next three will bring me! But the insights I have gained are a gift from God. And my personality is a gift from God. I might be quiet, weird, and intense but that also brings gifts that I can use for other people. God will reveal where things are going in His time. At the moment I am called to be open to Him and to live now for Jesus.