I am consumed with the idea that the bridge will collapse and I will sink with my car and drown in the ocean. I talk a lot about my obsession with the bridge falling, looking for reassurance, but it seems that verbalizing it makes me more anxious. The other night, a former boss of mine called about something.
Have we always read silently? An interview with Professor Daniel Donoghue
He had no idea what I was going through. I filled him in on what had been transpiring. I got off the phone beaming. He was so understanding and encouraging. He knew just what to say. I am aching for more people like this in my life. I am searching for a support group. I sense that talking to people who are going through a similar experience will be comforting and soothing. I imagine that possibly I will even make some friends.
Maybe this is being too optimistic. At least I have some hope left in me. I write to keep going, sometimes to get going. In the morning, when my day seems overwhelming, I go to my computer and write from wherever I am at that moment. I keep the page open the entire day and periodically check in with the time and what is going on at that instance; how I feel, what I am doing and what I can do.
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Writing gives me an outlet for my thoughts and emotions. Instead of remaining trapped in my mind, with no place to go, I express myself on paper. It is basically a journal, although I do not save the page at the end of the day. My mom says that I should keep the entries, so that one day I can use them in a book. It is a good idea, though I think I will remember the events without a journal.
But she is probably right. What a boost! I received an email asking me to teach in January. My self esteem went up a few notches. Even the bridge does not seem as ominous anymore. I imagine being all better, but the reality is that improving is a process which must take its time. The truth is that this is not the first time I had an episode.
Last time, about five years ago, it was much worse and I did get back to myself, even better. There were many components to my recovery. One that stands out is that I got a job as soon as I was ready to get out there and work. Of course, the job was part time and flexible. The fact that my boss knew about my situation and was kind and compassionate helped enormously. Another piece of my healing was medication and therapy.
I was working with professional, empathic doctors, both a psychiatrist, as well as a cognitive behavioral therapist CBT. The psychiatrist prescribed and monitored my medication, and the CBT gave me tools to manage my depression and anxiety. The CBT helped me in very concrete ways. For example, when I started seeing my therapist, I was very fearful of riding the subway. Today, I actually enjoy being on the train. I find it relaxing and stress free.
Imagine that, therapy really does work! One more factor in my recovery was exercise.
Upon the recommendation of my doctor to do some sort of physical activity, I joined a gym. I cannot say it was easy to go. My motivation to go was sometimes nil. Often, I dragged myself there because I knew it was beneficial for my mental health. It helped me live more in the moment, which made it easier for me to get through the day as evenly as possible.
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After some time of feeling the benefits, exercise became more part of my routine. The climb continues to be an arduous one with ups and downs. There are good moments and not so good instances. There are people who are supportive and others who do not understand.
Sometimes there are flashes of my prior self and other times I wonder how I will ever be the same. Pep talks are a constant companion, both internally as well as from other people. Feeling depressed and anxious has made me feel unsure of myself. I feel like I lost my footing, like I cannot rely on the core me. I also do not believe that I will get better. Being in the midst of the fog of depression, it is difficult for me to see a brighter future.
The reassurance of those close to me; my parents and other family members has given me a base to rely on, some traction to stay on course. They also have provided me with hope and encouragement that I crave to move forward in my recovery. The journey is a challenging one. Sharing my story with others is a balm, healing my wound. The silent scream in my head is being expressed and heard by others. The noise in my head is quieting down as I let you in on my struggle. Time has elapsed. I have emerged victorious!
I no longer feel depressed. I came to realize how much our senses have to process most of the time. Silence taught me the importance of reducing the stimulation. Enjoy some quiet time everyday. The less you see and hear, the more settled your mind can become. People would come to the monastery and remark how quiet it was. But living at the monastery I knew all the noises, from frogs, to owls, to the sound of sandals on the sidewalk.
Silence taught me that the world is a rich texture of sounds. Sit in front of your house and close your eyes. During retreat I was surrounded by imperfect people who were doing their best. Some were happy, some were sad, but all were wonderfully human. Silence taught me that people display great beauty. Find a good spot to people watch with an open heart.
What you see may inspire you. For a long time anytime something difficult came up, I would just distract myself. But retreat taught me that if I avoided something it would never go away. Silence taught me that space helps me face hard times. I used to think love was this big thing. But in retreat I found that I felt love for so many things.
Silence taught me that love can be simple. I used to think courage was about facing danger, but during retreat I realized that real courage is about facing yourself. Silence taught me the courage it takes to be still. The next time you are afraid, stop and wait for it to pass.
There is immense courage inside your heart.