Someone asked me how long I’ve been seeing my new therapist for the other day and I estimated I had probably seen her about seven or maybe eight times, demonstrating my current total lack of connection to both the idea of counting and the concept of time itself. I checked my calendar in the meantime and it has in fact been 10 weeks since my first appointment. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Psychotherapy isn’t really that fun, but with my new therapist it isn’t extremely not fun either. The 10 sessions went by a lot smoother and with far fewer counter-productive results than those with the counsellor I saw before Christmas, probably because she doesn’t say anything dogmatic and / or offensive.
I felt the need to follow my last post with something more positive, so it is a good thing my mood today is being cooperative. I think I am feeling better because I am starting to get a little bit more comfortable knowing the difference between the things I can and can’t control at the moment. Par exemple, I can control what I eat. I can eat healthier foods that fight stress and depression, and I can decorate the shit out of them if I so wish – like this porridge I festooned with fruit because it looks nice and is good for me.
Not getting enough sleep for any reason is unpleasant, but being physically unable to sleep can really fuck with your mind. Anyone who has seen Insomnia knows this. A lot of people probably also know that depression and insomnia are related. Each can be a result of the other.
I have an emotionally immature relationship with sleep at the best of times. I only want it when I can’t have it. I love it retrospect, but I am usually at my most anxious, or at least my most aware of being anxious, when it’s time to go to sleep. Continue reading
People with depression tend to think a lot about the past, with a particular focus on any and all mistakes they may have made. James Joyce said that mistakes are the portals of discovery, an idea I like. However, it’s easy to get stuck looking at a portal for a long time wishing it hadn’t happened, or looking at it from different angles that make it seem less like a portal, rather than going through it and learning the lesson that is there to be learned. With depression this is especially tricky, when mistakes seem so much like proof of an underlying wrongness, not our human capacity for error. Continue reading
Having Generalised Anxiety Disorder that you haven’t learned to control yet means living with fear. Sometimes you think you know the reason for the fear, and sometimes you don’t. The latter scenario is much worse. I, and I assume most other sane people, prefer to know the reason I’m afraid. Even if it’s ridiculous and irrational to most people, at least you have something to focus on.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to eliminate most of the things that used to be the focus of my anxiety (yay) but unfortunately this has left me in the land of nameless, faceless fear with no discernible actual cause – a place of pure mind fuckery. I’m trying to learn to manage the nameless, faceless fear through meditation, physical exercise and therapy. That’s my long term strategy, but I haven’t perfected it as quickly as I’d hoped, and so on the times when they don’t work I try thinking about kittens.
“No” seems like a relatively simple word. In terms of letter count it’s almost as short as it could possibly be while still being a word. It’s easy to pronounce. It has no silent k’s or confusing excess vowels. Compared to, say, “loquacious”, the word “no” should be a veritable walk in the park. And yet, it can be weirdly difficult to say.
If you want to hear the definition of a first world problem, I’ve spent the last week trying to figure out why I still can’t meditate properly. I can feel all the committed meditators and mindfulness practitioners in the world collectively smacking their foreheads and cursing my ignorance as they read this (and I of course assume they are all following this blog as a top priority, second only to enlightenment). On second thought, I don’t think enlightened people smack their foreheads, so I hope they just gently smile and let my idiocy wash over them like a warm tide instead.
Your mental health is precious, and should be handled with the utmost of care. I have very high expectations of my psychotherapists, as I would of my neurosurgeons – I do not trust just anyone with my brain. I firmly believe that the task of helping to rehabilitate it when it’s sick should only ever be entrusted to someone superhumanly clever and kind.
My Mum and I have just been to France, where we ate cake for breakfast and felt extremely French and cultured until we tried to order some pastries in a café and ended up with something else entirely. I always learn things when I go away. My brain seems to be more squishy and open to learning (I believe neuroplasticity feels like squishiness) when it’s on holidays.
Here is a small summary of the things that I learned:
I’ve been thinking about thinking, and decided I’m very grateful that nerdy scientists discovered neuroplasticity. (Offended scientists : here, ‘nerdy’ is a sincere compliment).
Neuroplasticity is fun to say because it makes me feel smart. It refers to “the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life, that allows the nerve cells in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or changes in their environment.”
So, throughout our lives we can retrain our brains like little dogs to change our thinking patterns and bodily reactions to stress.