Anxiety And Depression On The Range

Deconstructing a lifelong pattern of negative thinking.

In addition to stories of our adventures, I sometimes like to talk about some of the other challenges I face. Following is a somewhat metaphorical account of the way I see anxiety and depression and one way towards wellness.

Always there.

I’ve written from time to time about the fact that I suffer from chronic anxiety and depression. I’m accustomed to their constant presence. Anger is supposed to be the base emotion beneath them.

They run like a background program on a computer in my brain and haunt me to a lessor or greater degree at any given time.

Like an overly thick wool blanket they drape heavily over my soul.

All I see is cast in shadow: my perception tinged an ugly grey. I struggle to part the dark material to get a glimpse of the world but the fabric is too heavy and dense. I’d like to take a pair of scissors and cut the cloth wide open and rip the mantle into two.

But these sad things have not been content only to cover me: they have grown into every fiber of my brain. They have curled around every neuron and imposed themselves into every synapse to form a mosaic of gloom. They’ve woven themselves into my grey matter – making us one.

I might have been infected in utero or before. Perhaps I was assigned the burden of these mental disorders in order to learn lessons I didn’t learn from a previous life (if you believe in that sort of thing). Nothing like a walk in someone’s else’s shoes to learn empathy. Was I not kind to someone at some time in the past?

However anxiety and depression came to inhabit me – they have a stranglehold.

I want out. Rather, I want them out but the growth is so thick I have to be careful in extricating them. Too fast and they might notice what’s going on and tighten their grip – perhaps around a vital organ.

The first step I made was to see them.

The shadows had assumed their position so carefully, I was completely unaware of their existence. Disguising themselves well, I accepted them as a part of myself.

The sunlight grew ever dimmer over the years; too slowly for me to notice. Like shades drawn down in tiny increments – imperceptive as the advance of the hands on a clock.  Suddenly it was twilight. Where had the day gone? It was just dawn!

Then the day came when I saw through a tear in the shroud.  Light. I had finally seen something radically different and in that glimpse, I knew there was something else I could feel.

I wanted more. The gig was up. Awareness of what I was missing drove me to face my oppressors. I could now see them.

I could now call them by their names.

Knowledge is a powerful thing but a lot of work would be required to peel back the years and layers of self deception that had formed my paradigm.

I became aware of the effect my negative thinking was having on me. I had a moment of clarity one morning when I saw for the first time, how absurd it was to spend my time in such a state of mind. It was pointless. It ate away at my energy and left me feeling drained.

But I was comfortable being miserable. That’s all I knew. Anything but being pissed off felt dull. I believe am addicted to the dark side.

I started to pay attention and when I began to fall so easily into the range of self-defeating thoughts and emotions I have come to know are grouped together, I stopped myself. Anger is an emotion of pride and it isn’t easy to quell. I had to ask myself why I wanted to hang on to it with such ferocity. What made spite so attractive to me?

I’m learning to recognize the moment that electrical impulse zaps down that familiar path towards self-loathing and despair and I’m jumping in with affirmations such as “this is made-up – it isn’t real” or “this is nothing but an old lie I believed”.

I question myself and do my best to replace chaos with reason. The amount of mental effort is tremendous and it doesn’t always work but I fight the fight when I’m strong. I put my sword down in times of vulnerability and cry.

But I’m making progress.

The very writing down of my thoughts and feelings is a gentle sawing away at the chords. Tight knots are loosening – nerve strand by nerve strand.

Like the way they insinuated themselves sneakily into my world, I’m methodically undoing my old ways of thinking and building new neural pathways that serve me rather than break me down. I sew up the old rotten holes left behind – hopefully for good. I carefully rip the seams apart one by one so as not to destroy the host.

It’s a process, and not an easy one. It requires discipline and a desire for a better, happier life.

What you believe is reality so change what you believe.

Anxiety and depression may forever be a part of my physical makeup but I’m using the tools of awareness and mental discipline to take control. I believe that I can change now. I try to pay attention and I say “NO” when the heaviness creeps in. I am now on watch.

Today, for four minutes at a time – maybe ten – twenty, I decide what is allowed to flourish in my head. The results might be imperceptible like the motion of the hands of the clock but I believe there will come a time when depression and anxiety will become a threadbare remnant of the past.

 

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Photo by Elias Tigiser on Pexels.com

The Definition of Perfection

What is perfection?

Most of us strive for it but never fully attain it because we’re human and because the idea of perfection is so intangible.

Is it being better than or having more than someone else or does perfection lie in one’s behavior, actions and conscience?

It seems to me as if society measures perfection by accomplishment but I believe a truer measurement lies in our attitudes and conduct, including being honest about ourselves.

I struggle with my self confidence a lot because I tend to succumb to society’s version of what “perfect” is. I see myself as falling short if I don’t perform as well as others or have as much.

When I’m working on my blog, I try my hardest to stay grounded until I go on the Internet and suddenly see hundreds of great looking informative blogs that seem better than mine. Its intimidating and makes me feel inferior when I compare my work to others.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband who sees perfection in ways I sometimes can’t.

When I recently told him about my insecurities, he said he thought my quirkiness and personal foibles made for interesting stories and that he valued originality.

He ventured that having a successful blog is about more than having a professionally made logo, being an authority on something or landing an early placement in the search results. He said personal stories can’t be stolen or duplicated.

He also likes my stick figure drawings.

The pep talk brought me back to my senses.

I understand hard work is necessary to build a successful blog or no one will see it but I’m going to concentrate on seeing myself and my blog as perfect the way they are.

Perfection is ultimately subjective and if we see it as being human, we’re already there.

Meditation and Mushrooms

It’s not what you think.

In my quest to better myself and my life, I’ve decided to take up meditation and in my husband’s quest for mushrooms (no, not psychedelics), he stumbled upon a whopper.

A Giant Western Puffball eight inches in diameter weighing nine pounds.

It looks eerily like a human skull and it’s now in my freezer.

I’ve known about puffballs for years and have collected and cooked them but I had no idea we had these enormous masses growing in the Pacific Northwest. They are edible and taste and feel much like tofu from what I’ve read.

We put it on Craigslist.

As for meditation, I need to learn how to shut out the gunshots as my neighbor is target shooting.

I’m interested in rewiring my brain and apparently meditation helps to accomplish that.  I previously saw it as a “hippy” thing to do but there’s research now that shows it’s super effective in changing for the better.

Meditating temporarily disengages your mind with the subconsciousness making it easier to replace negative with positive attitudes.

I’m starting off with short intervals that I can do while the neighbor reloads.

I’m No Authority

What you WON’T find here.

If you’re looking for authoritative pieces on this and that – keep looking.

You see, I’m no authority on just about everything. What you’ll find here are my personal experiences, thoughts on things, and some poetry with odd themes such as solar power and Halloween.

I’m the first one to admit I’m not perfect. I have a really bad anger problem along with depression and anxiety.

Neither me nor my husband have our shit together by any stretch of the imagination. When we made the big move from our suburban home to a wildly different setting, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about it but I am not offering advice because I probably shouldn’t.

We are self-professed eccentrics; responsible people wannabes. We’re secure enough with ourselves to admit we envy others who seem to have perfect lives. We are the ones who show up at the farmers market to sell something only to discover the seller down the row has four times the inventory, professionally displayed with matching business cards (that really happened).

I’d like to think that we represent the archetypal underdog -that part of our collective consciousness that we hide from each other’s view. I hope that by being honest about ourselves, we can reassure others who suffer from less-than-perfect syndrome.

As a matter of fact, we like being a little off. We’re intelligent and kind and we revel in our off-ness. We are castaways on The Island Of Misfits. In a nutshell, we have low self-esteem but we also think we’re pretty cool. Reconcile that.

I think we all struggle with the idea that we have aspects of ourselves we love and some we loath and they have to occupy the same space in our heads. Just stay on your own sides of the room.

So we’re not perfect, and we didn’t have the picture-perfect display when I sold necklaces at the farmer’s market. We’re the kind of people who’ll use duct tape when we’re supposed to be using electrical. Why?

Because we either can’t afford it, don’t want to do it the right way or don’t know how.

Someone Has Big Plans For Our Property

We were the last ones to know.

Last week, our new neighbor of one whole month approached me out of the blue and asked me if wanted to cut down our trees on the edge of our property or have him do it so he could move the cul-de-sac we share thirty-feet over and onto our property.

He was very casual about it – like it was a matter of an overhanging branch that needed to come down or something. It felt more like a shock-and-awe maneuver as this was the first I’d been clued into his plans.

I told him I would need to talk to my husband about the matter and I practically sprinted to the RV with the bad news. My husband was just as floored as me. We felt so blind-sided we couldn’t think straight.

Were we over-reacting or should we be wary of this person?

We scheduled a legal consultation and here’s what happened: Our neighbor had done his own survey and discovered the existing easement road was fifteen feet to the side of where it is shown on the survey so he decided he was going to move it – without consulting with us first.  The road, however, has been in it’s current location for decades and would most likely be considered an implied easement and remain in place.

To add to the confusion, the easement is also described as being the existing road in other parts of the same legal documents which would make it legally in the right spot. The contradiction might warrant another look by the attorneys to be sure.

We were advised that the proposed change would be to our detriment and the neighbor’s benefit. We would be the only ones out of the three property owners who shared the easement road who stood to lose acreage if it was relocated. A judge might take that into consideration if this ever goes to court.

The attorneys told us that it would save everyone a lot of money to negotiate rather than go through litigation. We could even propose a sum for the use of our property as an option.

Armed with this basic real-estate legal knowledge, we’ve decided to just watch and wait and hope the neighbor doesn’t push for this after we leave him a note informing him of our stance.

I could live without a freeway in my front yard.

 

 

I’ve Lost My Marbles

Cosmic meaning in slingshot balls.

Little white marbles – four hundred of them – lost.

Slingshot balls.

Out into the trees, into the ditch, under layers of pine needles and behind clumps of dirt. Like gold, they quickly find their way to the deepest recesses where I can barely see them. When I run out, it’s time to forage.

One day while I was wandering around looking for the balls, the act of concentrating seemed to put me into a trance. I became contemplative and wondered if the universe communicates to us through symbols and if so, could I learn something from rambling around looking for marbles?

What if each ball represented a truth? Then the following might apply:

  • They are sometimes easier to find in the darkness rather than the light.
  • The harder you look for them the more they seem to elude you.
  • Sometimes they are right in front of you and you don’t see them.
  • Sometimes you walk right over them only to spot them when looking from a different perspective.
  • Some get buried in the dirt but they still remain visible if you look closely enough.
  • They are all around you but you don’t always see them.
  • They seem to appear magically in front of you with the right frame of mind.
  • Just when you think you’ve found them all there are always more.
  • Although they seem lost forever, they are there, somewhere. Or are they?
  • Are they there when observed and gone when not?
  • They are more visible with an open mind.
  • Some travel farther than others.
  • Picking them out of the pine needles can hurt.
  • You can drive yourself crazy looking for them in the snow or you can be patient and wait till Spring when they will reveal themselves.
  • Where the hell do the ones I never find go? Does some gopher have a living room full of them?

Do you think I’m crazy? 🙂