An evening of coping with anxiety, despair, and depression

Phase 1 – Denial. Rushing around. Doing things. Doing your job. Going on a run.

Phase 2 – Shit hits the fan with no escape. God no this is real. This is happening. No, no, no, no. Not this. A thousand nos. Sitting on your floor with racing thoughts. Could I turn to this person? This person? That person? Him? Her? Them? No…no…no…no. Alone. I am alone and I … this is all fucked up. I’m fucked up.

Phase 3 – Brief wonder about what my preferred method would be.

Phase 4 – In the shitstorm of despair that is my mind, there are flashes of the ideal group of friends. Flashes of the ideal mentor. Flashes of being loved by my own self. A smile. A denial. At first I feel completely disconnected to it. I am just observing, pushing away, and then seeing the flash again.

Phase 5 – Flashes / Imagining of the ideal become longer. Maybe there are glimmers of feeling in the body. This is the turning point. The internal screams become softer.

Phase 6 – Feel my body again. Feel my aloneness. But I am surviving. Despite my situation, my body doesn’t care – it wants food. I am alone, but I can take care of myself. [Pause for a moment to see my privileges – I have shelter, food, access to a shower, able-bodied. The crises are all internal. No less agonizing, but it could be much worse.]. Get up and take a shower.

Phase 7 – Amidst fits of crying, ups and downs, then sitting on the floor of the bathtub as water spills over me, looking up at the spout, feeling the moment. The warmth. The water. My body. A breath. All these sensations. I am alone, but I am not dead, and I am in company with sensation and breath.

Phase 8 – New ideas. Introspection. A kind of calm. The anxiety, fear, and pain are still there, but they are now shadows. I see the reflection of their eyes, and maybe a silhouette or two, as they wait in the darkness at the edge of the light of the fire. What is the fire? Is it hope?

Do animals have hope? Is that how they fight against depression? Are animals existential? Rhetorical questions?

A message to anyone reading this struggling with despair / loneliness: I am sorry. I am so sorry. It fucking sucks. It feels like the worst thing in the world. I wish I could take your pain away. Things that have / are helping me:

  • Therapy (this develops the ability to comfort, see, accept, and understand yourself when you are alone. I think there comes a time when even your therapist is not able to give you the kind of seeing/understanding you need. But when you have developed critical introspection tools, there is an ability to stand beside yourself, even in really dark times.
  • Exercise (I think a lot of anxiety is partly the built-up unused and excess energy of the body due to a sedentary lifestyle. There’s also a lot of science to back up the health / mental health benefits of exercise
  • Music, shower, writing, breathing, hugging yourself – anything that creates a kind of positing stimulation to begin to anchor you to the moment
  • Imagination: visualization of the ideal of whatever you need being there right with you. Make sure it’s a need and not just a craving / want. What do you desperately need right now? What would it feel like to have that right now? Feel it.
  • Recommended music:
    • Against the Sky -Harold Budd & Brian Eno
    • Even if You’re Never Awake -Stars of the Lid

Honesty.

Courage.

Good luck friend.