You know how things get busy and you don’t have time to do things you like to do? Well, that happened to me this past week. I had to come up with a blog post on the fly so I thought, “I’ll write something about anxiety or depression. I always have lots to say about that.”
Then something came up in my Facebook memories to remind me about a great blog post my son Max had written on this very topic. “Why re-invent the wheel?” I thought. So I asked Max if I could re-post his work and he said, “Sure.” So here it is. I think you’ll agree that it’s good.
The labels we put on ourselves are not only limiting but also destructive. If you say to yourself, “I’m depressed,” “I’m anxious,” or “I’m a failure,” then that’s what you’re setting yourself up to be. You are what you eat, and thoughts are no exception.
“But, Max, depression and anxiety are the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain!”
Yes, I’m aware of that but hear me out.
When you say to yourself, “I’m depressed,” you’ve gone and attached a big fat label to the chemical imbalance in your brain and welcomed the negative emotions. You might as well say, “Hey, depression, the party’s over here. Bring friends!”
Your attachment to the label is holding you back from healing. To heal, you first need to separate yourself from the label and understand that it’s not YOU.
YOU are beyond your experiences. YOU are your soul. Nothing can compromise your soul for it is pure and far greater than the tortured brain. Instead, imagine that depression and anxiety are clouds – mind you dark ones – passing along when suddenly they begin to pour rain on you.
By seeing depression and anxiety as clouds, you’re able to separate yourself from the associated emotions and simply watch them pass. It’s not that you stop feeling these emotions. It’s that you’re able to watch them from a higher place thus giving you the upper hand.
We all experience dark times, and yes, there are chemical imbalances on some level or another, but with a shift in mindset, you can improve your quality of life. Whatever it is you are experiencing, remember that just as clouds pass, this will too.
I’ve dealt with some dark clouds and the rain that comes with them. I’ve been overcome by fear, doubt, and anxiety to the point where it took every ounce of my energy to talk with a friend while trying to hide behind a fake smile.
I’ve spent many nights awake in panic as I moved from the bed to the floor, wondering how much longer I could live, my mind occupied solely on surviving these episodes. I’ve spent the day fearing another burst of anxiety. It would always heed my call, because fear loves attention.
It was as though I was the only person in the world who knew a terrible secret that couldn’t be shared. I lived a vicious spiral of insomnia and panic which was sucking the life out of me. I was hardly eating, becoming run down physically and mentally.
At one point, I accepted the fact that I was going to live life suffering in the prison of my mind until I eventually died from one of the many things waiting around the corner to get me.
But things change. Things get better. I started looking deeper. I reached out to some loved ones. I made healthier food choices. I started taking walks and letting my thoughts flow through writing. I didn’t keep a fast pace, which seemed crazy, as I used to pride myself on my athletic ability. However, I managed to put my pride aside and accept that I needed to start slowly. This was going to be a lifelong commitment.
I became more aware of my thoughts and made it a practice not to label them or myself. We are not our illnesses, our thoughts, our fuck-ups, or what other people say we are. We are something more than all that, something which is not attached to labels, constantly learning, evolving and changing, gradually awakening to purpose and potential.
I haven’t gotten rid of the dark clouds, but I’ve learned to separate them from the thing they pass by: my soul. You see, the dark clouds may pass through your mind but they pass by your soul. So that’s where I watch them from now.
If you’ve experienced dark clouds, know that you’re not alone and that there are ways to feel better. I’ve never opted to take medication, but if it feels right for you, then by all means do it. If you’ve never experienced dark clouds, I’m happy for you. Just remember that they exist and not to judge anyone for being caught in the rain. You never know when it might be you.
I am grateful for my experiences and credit them for making me stronger, for making me dig deep within to find my truth. What I’ve lived has given me a greater appreciation for the sunny days. Life is beautiful. Be kind to one another. As Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.”
(The information in this blog is based solely upon the research and personal experience of the author. It is not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician or other healthcare provider. Any attempt to diagnose and treat an illness should be done under the direction of a healthcare professional.)