Meditation: Calm, 7 Days of Managing Stress: Interpreting Events Length: 12 minutes Where: Living Room, Los Angeles How It Felt: Inspiring! Who Joined Me: Tigre
A lot to celebrate today!
First of all, things have finally slowed down to the point that I was able to prioritize meditating earlier in the day, instead of close to bedtime. I’m happy about that because I felt like I had more time and mental energy for a “proper” meditation- meaning: sitting up, doing a full, long session, and having the energy to listen to and process the “lesson.” So happy about that!
Tigre joined me, of course, since he won’t be more than three feet away from me today. He is the most loving cat I’ve ever known, I swear. My heart.
Secondly, I’m actually writing this blog the day of once again, rather than the next day. I just feel so much better when I start each day fresh, without the last day’s undone tasks hanging over me, so this is a big win. I also tend to meditate earlier in the day when I do this.
Thirdly- I only have twenty blog posts left after today!! I am so excited to be done with this project. Please don’t get me wrong- it has been life changing. I am so grateful. I am so proud of myself, and truly happier than I’ve ever been. This entire experience has given me unbelievable confidence in my ability to follow through with what I start, and to do hard things.
Still… I am very excited to be done soon!
Ok, the last thing I want to celebrate is huge. As you know if you’ve been reading my posts, I’ve been a bit manic the past few days, but as my period winds down, so does my mania. Normally, I do crash for a few days, dealing with a bout of depression that feels pretty terrible. I’ve learned to manage all of this fairly well, and I definitely find every part of my Bipolar II easier to handle the more I learn, heal, and take care of myself. Still- this step was a big one!
The lesson from today’s meditation was about how we interpret events, giving ourselves way more stress than we need by filling in the blanks with our own worst thoughts. For example, if we send an email to someone with something we’ve worked on, and they don’t get back to us right away, we start telling ourselves they must have hated it, that they are angry, that we made a mistake. Then, when they write back a few days later explaining that they’ve been super busy and they love it, we’ve just wasted so much of our time and energy worrying about literally nothing.
Dale Carnegie talked about this in depth in his books, which I studied quite a bit growing up, so I am generally not the worst at this. I don’t tend to worry too much about things I can’t control, although I certainly do still stress myself out about someone’s reaction to something I can control, such as having to quit a job or disappoint someone. I’ve been working on that and improving a lot, however. Still, the other time the little voice starts going in my head is when I get a mean bout of depression.
Last night, I caught myself feeling insecure about ridiculously normal and simple things, and I knew the dark cloud was coming for me. I’m already so proud of myself for separating those negative thoughts from myself and the reality of my situation, but it didn’t occur to me there could even be another step! However, after listening to this meditation, I realized I can just tell my own mind that it’s being crazy, that those thoughts are not only based on nothing, and therefore not something I have to worry about, but that I can directly address each one and blow it up.
For instance, I was feeling anxious about upcoming dinner plans with someone I haven’t seen in a long time. Even though that person instigated the plans, and seems excited about them, the mean voice in my head started telling me it was weird to reconnect, that I didn’t have anything new to offer, that I was odd for following up to set the plans, maybe even seeming a little desperate. This is an incredibly kind human being that truly likes me, but that awful voice didn’t care.
In the distant past, I would have crumbled and felt terrible until the clouds passed, and likely given in to my fears and cancelled. Over the past few years, I would have been able to tell myself, “you’re just feeling depressed right now, be kind to yourself until it’s over.” That’s pretty powerful already.
But today, I stared the thought right in the face, and reminded myself of all the reasons it was ridiculous. I told myself all I have to do is be me- my positive, friendly, happy self- and how anyone in the world receives that has nothing to do with me. I thought about the last time I saw this person, and how absolutely thrilled they were to see me, how they did something really kind for me behind the scenes because they actually admire me. Suddenly, that thought seemed like utter nonsense. It held no power, no truth. It didn’t matter.
I wasn’t going to feel bad over nothing, even if only for a couple of days. There’s no point!
Now, let me be very clear. I am in no way suggesting depression is something you can just “decide” to stop feeling. That is gross and completely untrue, and blames mental health victims for the things that torture them. Believe me, no one enjoys feeling this way. My depression didn’t go away. I am still quiet today, still tired and antisocial and feeling a little crappy. If I stopped taking care of myself right this moment, I would fall apart to a certain extent, because I’m a little fragile emotionally.
What I am saying, is that, as we heal, truly heal, and work on ourselves, and practice getting quiet and still; as we read the books and listen to the podcasts; as we go to therapy and talk in our groups and understand ourselves more and more, we can take better control of our mental health. This might be though coping mechanisms, or medication for some, or cutting abusive people out of our lives, or whatever it is. It’s different for everyone. For me, when I can clearly see the root of something, I can usually deal with it head on to whatever degree is available to me. Depression takes away my natural optimism and positivity, so I have to work ten times harder to remind myself of the bright side, and to separate my reality from my anxiety. This meditation just spelled it out for me in a way that clicked. It might not always work. Some periods of depression are worse than others. But, today, it did!
So, good news all around! So much to be excited about. I’m a little heavy today, but I know this will pass, and I’m grateful it’s happening now instead of next week, when there will be holiday celebrating and family to see and Christmas parties! Plus, I actually have quite a bit of work booked! I need my energy and joy in full force to carry me through.
That means taking major care of myself now. Which is exactly what I plan to keep doing.