Archives for posts with tag: anxiety

I’m always on and on about beginning again. (New beginnings are awesome, just as they are, so it makes a certain amount of sense to embrace the opportunity.) It’s not a matter of the clock hands moving a notch and calling it done, though, and I guess maybe it’s been awhile since I looked more closely at what I mean, myself, by “begin again”.

I mean, it’s mostly obvious, right? Isn’t it? …Isn’t it?

Is it?

Look, I fuck stuff up. I make mistakes. I succumb to my own bullshit. I overlook details that could give me clarity in a moment of confusion. I forget stuff. I get attached to an assumption or expectation, or cling to some pet idea, and find myself stressed out, feeling “attacked by life”, or just weird and broken. All of that and more. Each and every time I fall for my own nonsense, or overreact to some moment (or person), and every passing mood or moment – I have the chance to start over with that much more experience in life, that much more perspective built on that experience, and that much more real wisdom, built on perspective. Wow, right? I mean, fuck – every bad bit potentially builds a future of greater wisdom, balance, and resilience, if I view it from the perspective that I will have learned so much more, and be that much more able to make wise choices in life for having learned from my experience. That’s powerful. It implies, though, a missing step. I should clear that up…

Thing happens. I learn from it. Life improves. Okay, sounds easy enough. Here’s the thing. The “begin again” piece falls between “I learn from it” and “life improves”, not immediately after “thing happens”. The critical piece is definitely the learning. Without that step, I just keep repeating “thing happens” over and over again, without change or progress – because I’ve clearly set myself up for it, with that passive voice, right there, in my own thinking, lurking in the background, waiting for me to experience a failure or setback – “thing happens” is expressed such that I can so easily overlook who, or what, happened it; I’ve left out my agency. “Learn from it” reliably brings my agency back to me, even in the most bleak and broken moments. It’s an important detail, most particularly because of how often my own choices are a distinct part of any moment of suffering. (And yes, this includes my fairly difficult day, and experience, yesterday.) The bit about beginning again is my reminder that taking what I’ve learned from each experience allows me to move forward in life choosing my words and actions quite differently, perhaps, and most definitely based on that refined understanding. Forward momentum. Growth and change. Choosing wisely.

So many verbs involved. I’m not saying this shit is easy. I am saying, maybe, that looking back on it, it feels somewhat less difficult than it may have felt in the moment. Not gonna lie, though, it’s been a difficult journey in spots. That’s what makes each new beginning its own tiny triumph, too. Each time I fall, each time I fail, each time I cry, each time things just don’t work out for some reason, I can take another look at things, learn a bit more from what I’ve been through (or put myself through), and make (new)(different)(other) choices that get a better result over time. It’s just fucking slow progress, so I’ll call that out right now. Change is. We become what we practice. There are verbs involved. We each walk our own hard mile. Everyone’s results vary. There are no shortcuts. Incremental progress built on experience and reflection is sort of slow. Hard to see in the moment, easy to spot looking back, after a while.

Be patient with yourself. (How many times have I looked myself in the mirror with that advice?) Things didn’t work out? Begin again. Each and every time you begin again, do your level best to be the human being you most want to be, yourself, for you, based on your own values. Your results will vary. That’s just real. So start over. Yes, again. I know. Omg – so many beginnings. It’s almost like… it’s a journey. Up a staircase. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you just stand there at the bottom, staring upward at all those god damned steps, it’s pretty massively overwhelming. So, just take one step. Give that some thought. Take another. Don’t be fixated on what’s at the top of the stairs, so much, and focus more on taking that next step. Consider your missteps, and maybe don’t do what didn’t work last time, when you take that next one. It’s honestly that simple, and it’s worth some repetition, and I found, for myself, that those two simple words communicated enough; begin again.

Oh, hey, look at the time! It’s a worthy moment for a beginning, on a Friday morning, and… as it happens… I’ve just now finished my coffee. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

*Note and reminder and words of thanks; we’re not in this life alone, we’ve got help, if we choose to accept it. Yesterday evening, my Traveling Partner pointed out choices (of my own) and recent circumstances that were very likely to result in a difficult day (for me), which I had entirely forgotten could be significant. That bit of additional insight and perspective were helpful and grounding. Definitely don’t forget that you are not alone. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not really – there are millions of us on this mud ball. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s the Monday after Daylight Savings Time ends. I woke up an hour earlier than my alarm was set, because, of course I did. It’ll be weeks of it before I adjust. I got ahead and get up though, and take advantage of the opportunity to more gradually delay my morning medication. It’s the sort of thing I should take at the same time each day, so I’m sure it’s helpful that I am making that change gradually.

Seated on my meditation cushion, enjoying that quiet time soaked in contentment, my mind strayed ever-so-briefly to the recent work project consuming my consciousness for so many weeks. Well, shit; my blood pressure increased, and now I have this knot in my stomach radiating tension through the rest of my body. Oh yeah. Probably gonna be weeks of that, too. Fucking hell. I breathe. Relax. Repeat. Bring my mind back to meditation, and do that again, repeating the whole sequence a number of times. Working to steady myself in this moment right here, instead of allowing my consciousness to creep forward in time, preventing it from creating a new reality of disaster that doesn’t exist. Halting the process the terrorizing myself using my own insecurities and anxiety and stress about change.

I begin again. Actually, I begin again a couple times, in a very short period of time, before I am really back to meditating.

Weird morning. There’s no real way to determine how much of my anxiety this morning is truly about the completed work project, and how much is actually the literal physical experience of the end of DST. Quite probably a mix of the two, with some extras thrown in. Sitting here at my desk, I’m forced to consider more of the minutiae of what is driving my anxiety when I get a polite automated reminder from my healthcare provider to schedule some routine maintenance. This, too, causes my anxiety to flare up in the back ground. So much adulting to do! Fuck.

Did you vote? Will you? Please? Fucking hell, please don’t let’s have to go over, again, why it matters (so much). I know, I know, it’s a rigged system – but if you don’t at least vote, you get literally no opportunity to participate in the most basic of processes that is useful to change it! Just vote. Then do all sorts of other stuff, too: write letters, emails, make phone calls, protest, vote with your dollar by supporting the merchants who also support the candidates and changes you do – right now even fucking businesses count as people, so support only those that truly support you.

Another Monday. Another moment. Another chance to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

We become what we practice. I keep saying it. It’s a thing you can learn more about. There are even actual experts in the field of becoming happy. No kidding. Right here.ย You’ve got this. There are just some verbs involved. A path. Some choices. A lot of practice. A bunch of beginning again. It’s a journey, and the journey itself is the destination.

You don’t have to choose to endure endless relentless misery. You. Yes, you. However bleak things feel in this moment right here, you can choose differently. Your results will vary – and incremental change over time can feel infernally slow, but you can choose to practice practices that improve your experience of life (and self), overtime, and maintain it long term. No kidding. This is real. Doing it. It works.

Maybe read a book? Got an entire reading list for you right here. ๐Ÿ™‚ Watch a video? How about this one?ย (Be sure to also watch the less tongue in cheek follow up, though… ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

You have choices. Maybe you chose poorly some recent day and you’re feeling sort of defeated. even now? Maybe you haven’t yet understood just how much of your misery you are not only choosing, but also working very hard to carefully craft and maintain it? Just begin again – please. Give yourself that chance. Be your own best friend on this one.

Be real with yourself. Be who you are. Be authentic about where you are in your life right now. It’s a place to begin. Now?

Begin again.

I woke a bit early. Not early enough to go back to sleep. I got up.

I dithered a bit with my morning routine. One thing at a time. Got through it. Great. Fine. Necessary. Completed.

I sat down, eventually, with my coffee. It’s been awhile. Mostly just… sitting quietly. Scrolling. Done with that, too. Bored? No. Ennui? Not that either.

Anxiety.

Just garden variety anxiety on a Wednesday morning, without specific context or cause. It is the nature of an anxiety disorder, of any sort, really, to deliver some anxiety, however “well-managed”, now and then. Must be my morning for it.

โ€œAnxietyโ€ 10โ€ณ x 14โ€ณ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

It’s been with me awhile. “All my life” does not feel like an exaggeration. I take it much less seriously these days, seeing it for the fraud it actually is, and managing its presence more skillfully than I once could. Still… annoying to deal with, every time… and dealing with it is non-negotiable. Deal with it, or fall apart. Deal with it, or break down. Deal with it, or lose my shit completely in some very inconvenient or problematic way. Deal with it – or deal with the consequences of failing to do so. Fuck anxiety.

I don’t need to troubleshoot my anxiety. It’s got a familiar face; work, life, money, “the world”…ย  I’m real with myself about it. There’s more anxiety about more things than is entirely reasonable (it’s a scary fucking world right now, frankly, being a little anxious seems pretty damned reasonable). I take a deep breath and let myself relax each time I notice it surging forward, bubbling up from my consciousness to become part of my immediate awareness; it helps. It helps, too, not to deceive myself or play soothing mind-games to try to wish it away. I examine what seems to be driving my anxiety. I consider those things with care. Real? Exaggerated? Imagined? Sometimes anxiety is pretty legit, and functions to hold my focus on some concerning detail, until I take an appropriate action. Sometimes anxiety is just… wasted emotion. A reaction without a cause worth acting on. Disordered thinking. Sometimes, of all the irritating things, it is not anxiety at all – sometimes I have conflated the physical experience of excitement with the physical experience of anxiety, and don’t yet realize I’m just excited about something, and could enjoy that moment of anticipation much more, if I stop defining it as anxiety.

I breathe. Relax. Let it go. I let it all go. This thing over here? I let that go. That thing over there? Yep. That, too, I let it go. Another breath. Another concern. Another moment to let shit go. It’s a practice, and it requires practicing, and that means verbs, and that means choices, and that means… working at it.

Still.

So, yeah. Mindfulness is enormously helpful with managing my anxiety. It’s not a “cure”. It’s a tool, and a way of experiencing life, that can be very helpful. I feel much better when I maintain a rigorous meditation practice than when I don’t. I feel much better when I am able to maintain exceptional sleep hygiene, than when I don’t. I feel much better when I am open, authentic, vulnerable, and real with myself – and others – than when I am not. I feel much better when I get out of the house, get plenty of healthy exercise, and a good measure of both social and solo time. It’s not some one practice that eases my anxiety; it’s practicing the ones that work best for me in a consistent way.

Sometimes I fail.

Sometimes I succeed.

I just keep practicing.

It’s one of the challenges of achieving mental and emotional wellness; the work is on my end. I have to do the verbs. I’m going to be the one practicing the practices to improve my own experience. It’s my journey, built on my choices. Incremental change over time is fucking slow as hell, and can be incredibly discouraging; I still have PTSD, a TBI, a broken back, and a very human experience. All the improvement in my experience of self and life I could ever imagine will not change those things. No cure. Just practice, growth, and incremental change over time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sure. I’m anxious this morning. I have an anxiety disorder. I also, unrelated but metaphorically relevant, have a thyroid that failed years ago. I take medication for it, and go on with living my life. Anxiety isn’t really a lot different; I’ve got some fail sauce and messed up wiring in my emotional experience; I practice meditation, breathing, and other assorted practices for that, and go on with living my life. If my thyroid medication doesn’t work ideally well, I go back to my physician, and we make changes. If my anxiety flares up, I go back to my practices (and, in some cases, also back to my therapist), and make changes. “Easy”. (It isn’t, but it is generally adequate.)

I breathe. Relax. Run my writing through a spellcheck (which will reliably miss at least one error, regardless). Hit publish…

…And begin the day. It’s a whole new one, all my own. Fuck anxiety.

Damn. Fuck this week. Already. Shit.

I say “this week”, but in all reasonable ways, and well-considered perspectives, this has been building slowly, event by event, detail by detail, day by day, and stitched together by threads of good intentions, affection, kindness, and commitments. I’m still having some moments of major anxiety as delicately balanced circumstances teeter on the edge of not going very well at all, which is stressful on a level I don’t recall feeling in a long time. It’s hard.

…Every new responsibility adds to the burden.

…Every new need piles on still more to a growing list of shit to do.

…Every new moment of stress dials up the intensity of the anxiety in the background.

…Every day… each moment… add another… then another… now one more… still standing? Here, have a little more extra… and more… and again… and still… and even… and then… and now… wait…what?? No time for questions – go go go!!

I caught myself “screaming into the void” on the commute home – a solo rant, with some ferocity, something on the order of a spoken word performance, or poetry, only much less pleasant. lol Not tearful, not exactly frustrated – just mad… about feeling anxious. Mad about feeling ill-equipped to be fully adult, even now. Mad at circumstances that could be just the tiniest bit better and end up quite splendid. Angry just to feel these ancient-seeming feelings of “shouldering the load” again. It’s not any one thing. It’s not any one individual. It’s not specifically work orย specifically personal. It’s not lacking in context. I’m not “in it alone”. I’m just one human, having this human moment of mine, myself, and really feeling it. Which is… uncomfortable.

Mid-rant I remembered something I have been finding important; I don’t grow much through experiences that are comfortable, or reliably pleasant, or completely planned and predictable… or easy. That’s just real. Ease does not correlate with personal growth. That thought shut me down completely for a moment. I even stopped being so aggravated by that ludicrously slow driver ahead of me (15 in a 25 – one lane, no passing room) maintaining easily 3 car lengths of distance from the car ahead… during the evening rush hour commute… down a road with intersections more frequently than every quarter mile… with bumper-to-bumper traffic behind him for many blocks (I could see when I got a good view from the top of the hill in my review mirror). Yep. Even that stopped bugging me in the moment that I realized I’d been handed something precious – discomfort, anxiety, and a chance to work through those things and grow.

I’m pretty committed to my personal growth as a human being – I don’t know how much time I’ve got to complete this project, really, and I’d like to get as far along as I can toward being the human being I most want to be. It’s a real and true thing, that “doing better than I did yesterday” is a bit more complicated if the days roll by so gently that what I feel most of the time is delicious simple contentment, wrapped in the affection and high regard of those who hold me dear. I can choose change, but I won’t kid you; I’m not likely to choose to be uncomfortable, stressed out, anxious, fearful, worried, nervous, or in dread of what comes next out of this craze-tacular fun house of chaos and human drama. I like it easy.

Well it doesn’t feel fucking easy right about now. I’m having to bring a lot of attention to maintaining good self-care practices in the face of a lot more stress than has been commonplace for a couple years now. I’m having to skillfully practice “letting shit go” when holding on to it only creates more stress, and has no productive outcome. I’m having to really search for perspective, really work to find balance, and really practice the practices that have brought me so far in such a short time – as if failing to do so could send me crashing into a pit of despair (which it easily could). So many verbs. So little time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tonight I’m not doing beginnings – just practicing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

…A soft autumn rain begins to fall beyond the open window. I chat a bit with my Traveling Partner. The scent of petrichor wafts into the room, filling the space with fragrant reminders that this too will pass. Summer is ending. The tightness in my chest and shoulders begins to diminish. My breathing becomes deeper as a smile starts to transform my face. I’m okay right now. I let my thoughts glide over my day gently, finding a kinder truth in tense moments that are now behind me. I listen deeply to my internal dialogue, pointing myself to a compassionate path, reconsidering human beings in the context of their humanity. Reminding myself to assume positive intent, each time I note that perhaps I had not done so. I take time, too, for gratitude; a lot of people came through for me today, in so many small ways. My smile feels pretty steady, and I feel pretty much at ease; the anxiety in the background is subtle now, less a plague and more a pimple. (…Maybe if I don’t fuck with it, it will clear up on its own?)

I listen to the traffic go by outside. The house is very near to the street, and the walls don’t keep out much noise. Right now it isn’t bothering me; I am aware of the open window. That makes a difference to me for some reason. The noise doesn’t matter. The smile matters more. This gentle moment matters more. Taking a little time to enjoy the moment matters more. Following through on moments and smiles may not save the world, but right now, in this moment, it’s enough. ๐Ÿ™‚