Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, March 12

My challenge to you last week was to:

  1. Go for a walk with a friend. You don’t have to talk or solve the world’s problems, just be there for each other.
  2. Reach out to someone in your life that is a little more distant than your heart tells you they should be. Call them.  TALK TO THEM.  If you need to break the ice – shoot them an email or a text – but then follow up with a call and speak with them.  Connect with them.
  3. Spend 10 minutes each day just being. Just being.  Let your mind go where it wants to go, let your body feel what it wants to feel, let your heart glow.  Just be.

So – I didn’t do very well with the walk with a friend piece… I found myself “hermitting up” somewhat this past week.  Not really certain of why – but I do know I have to work on that… it’s not a good thing.

I did take some time and contacted a friend that is a bit more distant than I’d like for them to be.  The conversation was clumsy and a bit awkward at first – but became more relaxed as we reconnected.  I could tell there were things… sensitive things that were hanging around in the conversation – but I didn’t press them on any of that.  It was simply good to reconnect and to let them know that I missed them and that they hold a special place in my life.

Taking time to just be – – – so that didn’t work very well for me either.  The past week or two has been WORK for me.  I have had to push this way and that… It would be fair to characterize the past couple of weeks as a struggle for me.  Just being doesn’t happen very well for me when I have that underlying feeling of angst that just doesn’t go away…

Well – maybe life is telling me that I should share about this pervasive uneasy feeling that I am up against. 

This “cloud” is certainly not new for me.  I seem to go through patches of this “ick” that feel almost impossible to shake.  The whole negative tone of the “cloud” is difficult for me to nail down as well.  I know that this is a part of my reality that isn’t rational.  I face a really persistent sense of “impending doom”.  But then – I’m not certain that that is an accurate description of this mess either… Maybe it’s more like the feeling I had when I was a kid and I did something wrong and just knew that I would be found out… and OH THE TROUBLE I’D BE IN THEN…  

Anxiety – that’s what the books call it.  If it was only that simple… a little six letter word… but in my life – anxiety wreaks havoc… a whole dictionary worth of havoc…

It’s not fear… it makes my body react in a number of the same ways, but its not fear… anxiety for me is this twisted stomach, sick, diarrhea inducing, headache churning, focus stealing, happiness thieving force that I simply can’t understand or control.  I know fear… I’ve been in situations in my life where I have been afraid of real dangers… afraid of being hit, beat, screamed at, cussed at… etc… I’ve been afraid I might lose my wife to illness, or my child to – well – bad things too… so I know what fear is… and this isn’t fear.  To me being afraid has a reason – a cause… anxiety is the fear feelings – but without the rationality of the cause.

I end up in this space from time to time and I don’t really know how – or why.  I know that when I am in this anxious space that I tend to hermit up… socially isolate… I find it super difficult to concentrate effectively… I have ZERO patience and ZERO attention span – (this in an ADHD brain that already struggles with focus)…

I work to ground myself.  I do my 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 exercise as many times as I have to in a given day to stop from coming out of my skin… Sometimes I find a place to just SCREAM… as if maybe the SCREAM will release whatever energy is stuck and making me feel the way I am.

There… that’s a piece too… there’s a dichotomy of energy… one part of my being experiences this over abundance of energy that I can’t get rid of making me feel jittery, itchy, twitchy, buzzy, tense, short, cranky… while at the same time there is another piece of my being that experiences… well… like an empty tank, a total lack of energy to do anything.  Its like there’s no way to get the surplus to the deficiency….   Again, I know this isn’t rational – and I know that if I force myself to get off my butt and do something, I sometimes feel a bit better… but it’s just convincing myself that I need to get off my butt and do it.

I also realize that this is frustrating for those closest to me in my life.  They don’t/can’t see the struggle – the “shit” that I am walking in.  The “colour” of the world I see isn’t congruent with the “colour” of the world they see – even though we are in the same world.  Big issues to me are trivial issues to them.  They might even offer some support like “Oh, it’s not like that at all, it’s not that bad.”  All well intended.. but from my perspective – that little, well intended comment can seem dismissive or even patronizing – and I have to be really really careful to watch how I react.  I think this is a big part of why I hermit.  If I don’t have to make reparations to relationships, its one less thing I have to consider… (but I’m not really sure of this approach either… it has its own problems)  I don’t think I intentionally hermit – I just do.

You see, I have been playing this anxiety game long enough to recognize that what I am feeling or the feelings I am having based on my current experiences aren’t rational.  The emotions I experience, the physical discomfort I experience – ya – those things are real and happen.. so then – I suppose it’s maybe both???

The folks that I have to interact with, family, co-workers, students have no idea what my experience is.  I have learned that in so very many cases I just have to really bite my tongue and say nothing…because I just make things so very much worse for myself when I don’t watch my p’s and q’s…   This is a place where folks sometimes call me “distant, unpredictable, moody” and I guess I am…

I have to honestly say that I am grateful that I have learned enough about my “life and my experiences” that I am now mindful that I am in a place where I am struggling and that I have to be extra vigilant to make sure I don’t let my boat smack into others or that I don’t let my little boat get rolled over sideways because I react improperly to a rescue line tossed my way… (kind of like grabbing a thrown rope while standing up in a canoe).

So – I know what I need to do… This might sound like a broken record, but I need to get back on my model – my road map.  I know that I need to start being more intentional about ALL of the things that I do.  And, I know – 100% – that a part of my ending up in this anxious place is because I haven’t been doing something in my model.  I’ve been ignoring something or maybe letting my ship run on autopilot.  Getting out of this “funk” or this nervy anxious place isn’t as simple as “OK Kev, get back to that road map of yours and you’ll be fine in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”  I wish…  but wishes don’t get me there.

I think I’ve mentioned this piece about my anxiety… its not rational…  so even though my model/roadmap can help keep me from getting lost in all this “stuff”.  All the rational thought in the world doesn’t mean that I’m going to abate this feeling of doom or dread quickly… and even if I do – I KNOW that I WILL face it again…

I also recognize that there’s an ADHD “imposter syndrome” piece at work here some too.

I know what I have to do… now I just have to do it… consistently do it…

My path is my path.  You might see pieces of my path that look familiar… and if my sharing my path helps you on your path – that’s great… and really… that’s part of the reason I share my path.  For me – I know I need to get busy with my model – I need to dig in and work it.  I’ve been learning that each time I work my way through something like this current –“cloud” – I am in – I learn more about myself… but the learning isn’t easy… so I have to do MY work.  My model helps me with MY work. 

The paradox is – I know what I need to do – but I know I need to do it… and the doing it isn’t easy or fun… so it is resisted…  and then I feel anxious because I am resisting the work… (round and round I go… )  The rational part of my brain says “just get off your ass and do it”… the anxiety isn’t rational…

I’m a work in progress…

My challenge for the week.

  1. I’m going to put this one back on the list for the week. Go for a walk every day… even a short one, go around the block on day one, round the block twice on day two, three times on day three – then maybe even venture out to the park… you get the idea.  I’m going to do my best on this one too…  I know it helps with the way I am feeling.
  2. Be grateful for something every day. Little things.  Big things.  BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT THIS.  Write it down.  Put it on a sticky or in a book or a whiteboard or a window… (they make awesome window markers you know…)
  3. Intentionally refrain from negativity for the week or even just a day. Do you best to keep your thoughts, words and your actions out of the negativity space.
  4. Practice quieting your mind. Be in a safe space, take the time you need.  You can use the “5 things I can see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste” process, or the rooting process that goes something like “put your feet flat on the ground, feel the ground through your feet, feel the ground anchoring up through your feet to your ankles, feel the ground anchoring up through your feet, through your ankles to your calves… etc” or any of the myriad of grounding techniques that are on the internet or in books.  Quiet your mind and stay there, in your safe, quiet place for as long as you feel comfortable.

That’s it – I challenge you!