“What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.”
I take a deep breath. The storm has passed, this time. The acute depression has lifted, the anxiety has receded, I am resting in a time of peaceful calm, something I have not experienced for some time. It is such a relief. Tomorrow I see my psychiatrist for an evaluation and adjustment of my medications. I am switching to decaf coffee, and I will be working on eliminating sugar from my diet. I am doing everything that I can to take care of myself, but I know that the answers that I seek are not out there somewhere, they are in me. How can I find them? Where do I begin? Begin here…
I am smiling because just as I was typing the above I looked over at a gift my daughter Rachel brought me yesterday. When I was at therapy she came and left a gift bag on my porch and texted me to tell me to look for it when I got home. Inside the beautiful bag was a big pot of purple hyacinths, one of my most favorite flowers, some soup, a beautiful card saying that she loved me, and a bag of treats, dried peas, called “Inner Peas,” the perfect food for the journey. I felt so loved. Perhaps one of the first steps to healing is to open our hearts and let the love in. There is so much more than we remember when we are in the depths of despair, or caught in the grip of anxiety. But here is this beautiful young woman, my daughter, in the midst of a busy life and work and raising her son taking time to shop for these things and bring them to me so I would have them when I got home from therapy. First I will open the door to my heart, then give thanks for this precious daughter of mine, and all the people who have loved and supported me. And there have been many.
Next I am reading more than I have in a long time. Sadly in the last years I have spent way too much time online and not enough time reading. All my life I have been a voracious reader, my house is full of books, I have a Kindle and books in my Kindle library, even audio books, but I haven’t taken the time to read. Now each afternoon I move away from the computer and curl up with my pugs and read, and I get off the computer and read for at least an hour before I go to bed. I listen to audio books while riding my stationary bike. You have to fill your brain up with good things other than thoughts of anxiety and the things that depress you to leave less room for them to take over. Reading is good food for the brain. And I am taking time, now, to read books that can help heal me. I am deeply enamored of my current book, a book on anxiety by Sarah Wilson called First We Make The Beast Beautiful. It is so good. Next I am reading her book about quitting sugar. It was a best-seller and is now a classic in the field, I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook. Feed the mind, and tend the body, my current plan for mental health and well-being.
I am looking now at the things I need to eliminate from my life as well as what I need to tend to. I have stopped doing my podcasts, and I am pulling back from the creation of a business for awhile. I was trying to push ahead in so many areas all the while teetering on the edge of anxiety and depression, it was like tightrope walking over the mouth of a volcano and I was frighteningly close to falling in. There is a lot of stress involved in starting a business and it is hard to make the decisions that need to be made with a brain that is in a muddle. And anxiety and depression are like two dinner guests who won’t leave until they’ve been fed. You can’t tend to all the other guests and ignore these two because they are going to stay. What can I feed them so that they will be satiated and go home? And there’s a bipolar guest at the other end of the table who would love to flip the whole table over if she’s not tended to. I need to serve these parts of myself heaping helpings of self love, that’s a good place to start. I have been battling them for so long, medicating them, dragging them to therapy, and talking trash about them everywhere under the sun so that I have made matters worse. I need to sit down with them and have a heart to heart talk. I need to embrace these parts of myself instead of throwing things at them or running from them. I need to love myself as I never have. I’ve talked a good game about self-love but it was just words. Actions speak louder than words.
In Gift From The Sea Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “Every step, even a tentative one, counts.” It is time to begin to take those first tentative steps. I feel a bit like I am stumbling in the dark but I am determined to find my way. I will navigate by the light of the moon. My journey to healing has begun.