I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I experience life much differently than most.
I’ve always felt everything deeply (with the exception of my years of numbing via alcohol and drugs), and I’ve always dealt with random mini-films in my head of fucked up images.
I see faces everywhere. In trees. In the folds of blankets. In the creases of a backpack sitting next to a bench with intricate markings in the wood slats, which also inevitably hold faces.
They used to be dark and evil-looking faces. I’m excited to report that the faces I see now are normally cartoon-like. Oftentimes they’re cute animals.
That’s a win for me.
There are times when being in public is easy. Most of the time, though, I have to prepare myself. I’ll take deep breaths before going into Publix. I’ll visualize a colorful patterned cloak (different each time), and then pantomime putting it on my back, pulling the hood over my head, and tying its fancy tassels into a double-knotted bow to be sure it stays on.
Noises become overwhelming pretty easily. I’ve spent years in therapy to train my mind out of this “obsession” and sensitivity. I’m a lot better than I used to be.
Breathing is the most helpful addition to my tool kit. Mindful, deep breaths, in and out through the nostrils.
Stillness is key, I’ve found. Stillness and breath.
When the thoughts and the rapid-fire images of darkness and death flash behind my eyes, I am learning to stay still. To breathe. To continue going about a normal day-to-day life to the best of my ability. Refusing to let this stuff control me.
Same thing with noises. Or bright lights. Or lower vibrating entities. Rather than react to the anxiety, which shortens my breaths and further perpetuates the cycle, I breathe deeply, and I do my best to find something else to focus on.
It’s not that I’m ignoring my feelings. I acknowledge them. And then I continue breathing, knowing that the thoughts and feelings will eventually cease, or move on, or release.
I’ve also discovered that each time I successfully survive a bout of depression without reacting to the thoughts or fucked up recommendations stemming from my panicked mind, I am paying it forward to my future self. I am reinforcing new, healthier behaviors. New, healthier neural pathways.
Of course it’s more comfortable to give in to the fucked up thoughts. Of course it’s more comfortable to drive erratically or scream at myself or people. Of course it’s more comfortable to punch shit until it or I break.
But it’s not healthy. And it’s not the way I live.
And I have to hold onto that, even when I’m feeling lousy. Even when the alarms are going off in my head and it seems that the only logical response is to run or hide or die.
I breathe, and I trust that my sitting still and observing the wild roller coaster of my emotions and thoughts is helping me toward a stabler, healthier future.
It’s exhausting; I’ll tell you that much. I’m exhausted tonight, because the last few weeks have been a long, arduous ride on the struggle bus for me. Bumpy. Very bumpy.
I am proud to say that I reacted to zero of the hateful recommendations stemming from my mind’s fearful programs. When I was told to hide and that I should be ashamed, I reached out to someone. When I was told to starve or make myself throw up, I’d eat chocolate with almond butter. When I saw visuals of me driving 110mph without a seat belt and then yanking the wheel, I instead put on calm music, buckled up, and drove in the slow lane.
This is incredibly uncomfortable.
This is what “embracing the unknown” has been for me lately. Not quite what I expected going into this 365-day journey… And I’m trusting it.
What other choice do I have? Fight it?
I’m too fucking tired. 🙂
Onward I stride, breathing deeply and trusting that everything is happening just as it should… And somehow… SOME-FUCKIN-HOW… this pain and struggle is leading me right where I need to be.
Keep breathing, friends.