Subtle Threads (On Anxiety & Depression)
The more and more I listen to myself, the more I give myself permission to pay attention to my subtle shifts in thoughts and emotion, the more I realize that anxiety and depression don’t come out of nowhere, as they used to seem to. They’re natural responses to an idea or belief I think, feel, and get tangled up in. This process of listening has been strengthened by:
• Realizing when I’m either anxious or depressed
• Knowing my natural state is joy or eagerness
• And focusing solely on feeling better in some small way.
This might look like distracting myself with funny videos, giving up on whatever I’m trying to force, opening up to someone in my life about what I’m feeling, swinging in my hammock, etc.
This has allowed me to catch the “thread” of anxiety or depression earlier and earlier. I know the feeling of it coming on, and I’m catching it sooner and sooner.
As soon as I catch it, I stop what I’m doing, focus on my breath, and release the emotions that I can feel winding or bundling up. When I’m able to do this, I’m usually still close enough to whatever subtle thing started the anxiety in the first place.
The thought can be tiny, not even formed into words: I walk into a place with a lot of people and have a quick flash of feeling out of place. If I don’t catch that flash and say, “you’re okay; you belong; and you’re fabulous;” then that tiny thought might get distracted and go nowhere or it might snowball when I fumble with my card, catch someone staring, etc.
By the time I leave, my nerves are full tilt anxiety and my instinct is to blame being around people—instead of the thoughts and feelings that come up for me when I’m around people.
However, when I get too far down that rabbit hole and the emotions overtake me, that’s okay too. My job is to A) choose a better feeling thought. Or if that’s out of reach,
B) create a better-feeling environment for myself as soon as possible while talking kindly to myself the whole way there.
This is what I mean when I say bipolar is a gift; feeling bad is not a sign something is wrong. It’s a sign something can be better.
This is a lifelong journey of discovery and learning; I imagine the subtle only becomes more so. But here’s the thing, my darlings, that I don’t always tell people because it’s none of my business whether they’re ready to dive into it or not: this is how we change, create, transform our selves, our reality, and the world. The universe is a house of mirrors, y’all. ❤️