Feb 16- A Life Examined

Meditation: Calm, Body Scan
Length: 10 minutes
Where: Home Office/Guest Room, Los Angeles
How It Felt: Soothing

It’s play week again! There are lots of little things to do for the show all the time this week, plus regular life to keep up with. After a beautiful four day long weekend, I thought I might feel refreshed, but instead I have that feeling you get when you’ve paused your life for a bit, then you come back and find it wasn’t paused at all, and now you have to catch up!

Everything is good, honestly. Just dealing with some mental clutter.

Well, actually, I would say I’m experiencing a bit of a “downswing” in my moods. We all go through natural cycles, of course- some days feeling like we are bursting with energy, others like we just want to curl up on the couch with a familiar show, a good book, whatever it may be. I tend to get a little burst of depression around the “lovely lady days” portion of my monthly cycle, so I’m a bit slower and a little more emotional than usual.

Still, I have to note that things often feel much darker during this period than they currently do. I’m really able to detach from my negative thoughts and feelings, like I can float above myself and see that I’m just having a mental experience, and that my sadness isn’t rooted in anything real. I know it will pass, as cloudy days do. It doesn’t make it entirely pleasant- last night in particular I just felt sad for no reason at all- but it makes it a lot less unpleasant.

(I have to also take a moment to give my husband props. If you have mental health struggles, a supportive partner who understands makes such a difference. Steve makes a point to be extra kind and gentle when things get hard for me. That kind of patient love is so healing.)

There can be real fear in a bout of depression. I’m no stranger to that feeling that the darkness will never end, that maybe this is how I “really” feel. But, at the moment, it’s like I can simply examine those thoughts without feeling crushed by them. I can function properly, running rehearsals, cleaning the house, showering and doing my hair, going for hikes, planning surprises. Some depressed days it’s a challenge to even brush my teeth or get out of bed. This is really a high point, weirdly.

Part of this change can be attributed to staying mindful and really studying myself for years. Ever since I went off Lexapro during my eating disorder recovery, I have worked hard to manage everything naturally. I hated the way I felt on medication. (Standard disclaimer here: some people need medication to function- zero judgments!) A big part of managing mental health issues is paying attention to how you feel all the time. I now notice when I’m starting to swing up or down, and I’ve learned a ton of coping mechanisms for cushioning the highs and lows.

A cool side benefit of this is that I know myself crazy well now. Like, I can do a scan and find what’s bothering me, what I need, what that emotion is directing me to look at more closely…. It’s been super handy.

However, I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to separate myself so fully from my brain chemistry. I really think meditation is slowly training me to take out my feelings and thoughts and examine them without letting them take over. It’s a really cool side effect of the practice! I thought it would help balance my mental health in some ways, but I didn’t specifically think of this one. Pretty cool!

I chose to do a 10 minute body scan session yesterday because my brain started to feel overwhelmed and cluttered with my long to-do list, and I wanted to slow it down, find my breath, remind myself to just do one thing at a time. At first it was hard to sit still (so much to do!), but by the end, I felt better connected and energized.

Just stopping to take a few deep breaths is honestly so worth it.

I’m excited to eventually finish my abundance series (and definitely have some updates for the “manifesting” list!), SO excited for our play to go up Friday night (!), and also really excited to have some brilliant, quiet, unscheduled time for a stretch afterward. Steve is heading back to Michigan tomorrow, and I plan to max out my introvert card, letting my little brain power down fully for a few days.

Exciting times! Feels so good to be able to feel excitement underneath a blanket of depression. I hope, I hope, I hope that meditating regularly continues to help make these times easier!