I’m not a patient person. I’m okay with that. I don’t want to waste my life waiting for things to happen or mulling over decisions; when I get an inkling that something might make me happy, I jump on it without second thought. That’s how I wound up going into CreComm, starting Cockroach and taking in three lovely cats.
Dealing with anxiety takes patience, which I haven’t been prepared for. I thought getting it under control—at least to a point where my joint pain isn’t debilitating and my breathing is not regularly laboured—would take no time at all. First, I acknowledged that it’s something I struggle with. Then, I monitored my thought patterns and took note of what was causing the anxiety. Following this, I expected to immediately have the ability to stop thinking in ways that were causing me all the issues.
“I haven’t heard from this person in a few weeks because I’m boring and they don’t want to spend time with me anymore.”
Dwelling on thoughts like this is anxiety inducing. Suddenly chopping them off and beating myself up for thinking that way is almost worse. Still feeling rejected, I’m also feeling like a failure.
Dealing with my anxiety is forcing me to be patient. It’s also teaching me to be gentle and kind to myself. Over the past three months, I’ve completed the free 10 day trial of Headspace, a meditation app (as well as being inpatient, I’m a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to anything that involves taking care of myself). I’ve tried meditation before, but it was never helpful. At least, I didn’t think it was helpful because I didn’t understand the purpose. Headspace was different in that it explains what meditation does for those who practice it. It also gave a few helpful visuals and metaphors.
While doing the 10 minute guided meditations, the speaker suggests we calmly push away thoughts as if they are white, puffy clouds. Thoughts aren’t good or bad; there’s nothing to get upset about when one comes about during a meditation. Just acknowledge their existence then encourage them to float off. This visual has helped immensely when it comes to dealing with my anxious mind.
Some of my thoughts need to be dealt with and shouldn’t be blown away.
“I haven’t heard from this person in a few weeks because I’m boring and they don’t want to spend time with me anymore. Or maybe they’re busy with their child, their parents, their work, their own life. Maybe they have a lot going on and haven’t had time to get in touch. Maybe they’re waiting for me to reach out first. Perhaps they tried to send a message but it didn’t go through. Or maybe we’re just drifting apart and that’s okay.”
Some don’t need any of my attention.
“That cashier was so rude and snappy to me. What did I do to make him dislike me?”
Those thoughts can simply be pushed aside, like cute, fluffy white clouds, without emotion or further thought. Something about this image makes ditching the harmful thoughts easier (and cuter).
I’d expected that acknowledging these thoughts are causing my anxiety would lead to me not having them anymore. That’s not a realistic expectation. At least, it’s not realistic that I’ll immediately be able to stop them. Hopefully I can learn to have a bit more patience throughout this process. And find a few more adorable visuals to keep me smiling along the way.
This is going to be a long, slow healing process. As I’m popping my head back into the virtual world, I’m getting a lot of lovely messages asking how I’m doing. However, being on a screen for more than short periods of time sporadically throughout the day gives me The Headache Of All Headaches, so I’m having to leave most unanswered. Instead, I’ll add little updates to the bottom of my weekly posts until I can send my thanks and love to each online well-wisher individually.
Over the past two weeks I tried out some work and learned a lot about my limitations. At the suggestion of my doctor and physiotherapist, I started back two hours a day. We all decided that I would work 15 minutes at a time with 45 minute to an hour breaks in between. I only lasted one day of this. I was in so much pain, the fogginess returned along with the dizziness and its accompanying nausea. All of this had me wanting to go to bed at 5 p.m. when I closed my laptop for the day.
Turns out that 1.25 hours is all I can tolerate. And I can only work that much and continue cooking for myself, going on short outings and taking care of some of my own housework if I leave two hour breaks between sessions.
This is frustrating. It also ties me more to my home, making it difficult to see friends for the short morning and afternoon walks I was being taken on before I started working again. A few lovely folks have reliably been here for me though and others have popped into my life from time to time, either via my IRL mailbox or by taking me on short outings, so while I feel even more isolated now, I’m not quite so lonely.
Thanks for all the love being sent my way.
Featured photo by The Aucitron.