One of my friends who was visiting recently has struggled with depression for a very long time. She was talking about her current experiences, and the things she’s doing actively to try to figure out how to best manage and control it. She told me about how she’s noticed that when she exercises, the next day she feels better, and more significantly, when she doesn’t, the next day she feels terrible.
I admire her ability to keep track of those things, because I’ve found it very difficult to not only notice how I feel day to day, but even more so to pay attention my actions and what might be contributing.
On some level, I think I always figured that emotions were irrational and subject to so many variables that doing so and trying to control them was useless, so I’d just ignore them and push everything down until I had time to sit down and analyze it. By that time, usually, I could trace the emotional causes of whatever reactions I’d had, but any actual activities, foods, events had faded away into oblivion.
I remember once, when I first started seeing my therapist, that he said something about mindfulness, and how that was a method he used. At the time, I wanted nothing to do with it, because to me, that felt like full on navel gazing. Something that would just make me dwell on what I was feeling, rather than figuring out how to fix the problem.
At the time, that was good, because there was an actual problem to be fixed – actions to be taken. Now, with Ian’s death coloring everything in my life, there’s not as much action I can take to fix the situation. The situation is beyond my control (which is a REALLY frustrating thing for a control-freak like me), so I need to figure out something else.
My friend’s experiences and struggles trying to do everything she can to improve her mental/emotional state have made me pay closer attention; be mindful. And I think I’m starting to catch some things.
More information will come forth from this, I think. And I hope that it is useful. Maybe mindfulness isn’t so much navel-gazing as paying attention to all the factors. Maybe I was just stupid or stubborn for not realizing that before. I get it now though. And I’m going to pay attention more.
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