All of us who struggle with some serious mental health issues or dis-orders know very well how afraid we are of our own mind. We have seen its potency and power to within seconds overwhelm us and rip our sanity and peace into pieces time and again. Most mental health survivors fear their own mind more than our specific sufferings per se. We shiver at those familiar nightmarish mental agonies we have faced again and again and feel if only we somehow didn’t have to go through them or face them! How to overcome these most painful conditions of our mind and how to never again have to touch them, go through them.
Yet the paradox I learnt through my last few years of rigorous psychotherapy under an equally rigorous and unflinching professional is this – we begin to clearly move towards that recovery stage or space of not having to go through or endlessly face our extremely painful mental nightmares Exactly BY GOING THROUGH THEM and FACING THEM PAINSTAKINGLY YET PATIENTLY! (I guess quite a few of you are now about to close this tab right away and hop onto some other window.. But.. wait!)
I know it sounds terrifying yet let me reiterate the bitter medicine much “cruelly” (a trait perhaps I have by now picked up from my mental health professional?! 😀 am sure any of us survivors working with the really committed and proficient ones knows what am talking about!) – There is NO OTHER WAY OUT! Having said that let me also say that it Isn’t That terrifying as our mind tells us it is. This knee jerk you might be having right now reading these lines are just the mind going on an ‘exaggeration of terror’ mode which isn’t at all accurate. So here’s a list of How to Face for a specific dis-orders that has helped me much and still does.
How to Touch Base with your..
Depression – One of the most trivilized-by-onlookers disorders, depression, be it chronic or cyclical or manic in nature, can be Extremely painful and debilitating. No “Oh, just cheer up!” or “Think positive! Get over it!” really helps. Depression lies deep inside the psyche and a depressed mind hardly heeds pep talks. So, besides a prolonged cognitive reprogramming of the mind and those depression inducing thought patterns, with therapy, the other fantastic tool is what famous writer Eckhart Tolle in his book Power of Now calls “watching the pain body” inside us. Popping pills and sleeping away and not facing that severe heaviness around the chest and head inside Will NOT help an iota. Instead, going deep inside, staying with, really feeling that heaviness and ache and touching it from an objective awareness helps Immesenely. Immediately an objective awareness takes the frontseat and as you distance your awareness from your feelings, a sense of empowerment steps in. Try it. I use it often when relapsing with my cyclical depression.
Anxiety and Hyper-restlessness – The biggest problem with anxiety is the obsessive nagging fear attached. We try to not think, not worry, distract our thoughts, grow extremely restless to somehow stop the anxiety from gushing on, put on the TV, pick up a book, plug into internet and social sites or run out to a movie hall or shopping mall. The relief is temporary. We all know that, don’t we? Anxiety too, like depression, is wired with faulty thought patterns and and clauses of the mind. Running away from de-constructing those real thoughts never helps. Here too, besides cognitively going step by step to find out which belief system is causing the anxiety, which in itself is another way of facing and touching it, the other method is to Stay with the incoming waves of anxiety, Watching one’s Breathing while even shaking in worry. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh frequently talks about “going Home to Yourself to attend to your inner suffering” and trust me it helps much. The irritating irony of anxiety that I realized is – firstly you’re anxious. Next when you start running away from paying it attention, the second layer soon becomes “Ohhh! Whichh present crisis or impending catastrophe am I not taking note of, what am I missing, which might come up from behind suddenly?” It’s a nuisance alright! So do just the opposite. Go in, stay with the waves of anxiety, look into its eyes, while Watching your Breath. As we watch the anxious thoughts from that same objective distance, the waves most likely will get lesser and lesser potent.
Derealization – Ouch! Hardest one to stay with and face! I go insane with mental agony trying to stay with each bout of reality blur. BUT.. if you’ve read my recent post on derealization (link attached right below this) then you know I long discovered there was No Way out for me than Facing my derealized images and world. No matter how terrifying. In fact, just last week I had to stay put with a strong blur of derealization for full four days, over 100 waking hours and just on my own. It was disturbing and painful but wasn’t That powerful or terrifying as initial days Simply perhaps because I have been over the years put to practise facing and staying with a blur more and more. The first layer of terror (of the very idea/memory of having or facing a derealization attack) having diffused by repeated facing and remembering that it wasn’t that deathlike, nowadays to tackle the second/actual layer of discomfort (of the blur itself) has become easier.
OCD – Toughest to face and stay it! Precisely because if you “touch” it the obsessive thoughts of contamination or catastrophe shoots up and the compulsive need to undo it by repeated rituals too rise. I till date haven’t been able to “directly” touch and stay with it. But here too “watching the mind and body parts” plagued by OCD while practising Mindfulness exercises do a lot good. Firstly mindfulness just lifts the attention from the thoughts of any “contamination or catastrophe”and fixes it to the Present Moment task at hand. Secondly the objective distancing of awareness from deeply identifying with the mind and body feeling contaminated releases the very discomfort of it. You could try it. It did help reduce my soaring OCD to a great extent.
Guess that’s all for now. But am also leaving a few very useful links to related materials that did help me a lot and might help you too. Do check them out. 🙂
2. Thich Nhat Hanh – audio series – Touching Life – Come Home to Yourself
3. Here’s a whole collection of relevant and quality talks of Hanh
Finding Your Inner Peace (through Mindfulness and watching the breath)
4. An earlier post by me – Deconstructing Depression https://takecaredearmind.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/deconstructing-depression/
5. Guided Mindfulness Meditation
Jon Kabat Zinn – Breathscape and Bodyscape
A very similar one and based on J K Zinn’s model
These varied resources have been of immense help in my journey and battle against my mental health issues. Hence sharing these with you all – of course with extreme gratitude to my professional mental health expert and caregiver who introduced me to most of these concepts, tools and people, in the first place. I do hope these will help you all immensely too.
Please feel free to drop a word in the comment box or to get in touch via the contact form to say if this was helpful. Or whatever else you want to ask/say for that matter. For the more we connect, share our experiences and our journeys through our battles, the more Light and collective strength moves right in.
As I say – Together we fight! Together survive!
Much love and healing Light to all dear ones,
© & Author : Nivedita Dey, 2017
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