For a very long time, I’ve been unwilling to be alone in my own head by choice. Things swirl around in there and get really weird. I’ve said that much, but not more, to people in the course of conversation, usually to justify why I fidget and am always seeking some sort of cerebral input. This is partially why I’m incapable of shutting the hell up most of the time. There are things going on in there that I’m trying to drown out. “I can’t be alone in my own head” is usually the phrase I use. It’s been so long since I’ve bothered to analyze this quirk, that this is all it had become to me. Yup, can’t do it, can’t be trusted, lah-de-dah.
I have been analyzing this phenomenon lately. For a few different reasons. One of the trains of negative thought I had been drowning out has resolved itself, so that particular channel of emotional saltwater(thank you, Merlin Mann, for that wonderful phrase) was closed off. I have recently listened to a few different podcasts that mentioned mindfulness or the anxiety brain chatter that keeps feeding itself in the brain’s echo chamber. (the anxiety brain chatter stuff is mostly from a Stuff to Blow Your Mind episode from January 2013. it’s wonderful. If you have any interest in the science of anxiety, that particular segment is definitely worth your time.)
So, eventually I begin to understand that just because I’m not tuning in to the bullshit my brain is trying to feed me, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m not being affected by it. And there have been other things I’ve been consciously thinking about. I have a newly acquired friend who has found herself in a situation she isn’t fond of. When I was in her shoes I found a way to cling to the cliff I was falling off of, and I found a place to survive, and I have existed there ever since. She, on the other hand, after she found her survival spot and recuperated, has essentially said, ‘screw this’ and is climbing back up that damned mountain.
Why didn’t I think of that? Seriously. It’s inspiring as hell. I’m just sitting here on my little piece of rock, and she falls down next to me, and is all, “Hey, what’s up?” And I’m like “Just hanging out”… and she’s already figured out how to make herself a rope. So now, (and lets stretch this stupid metaphor just as far as we can now, shall we) I’m looking around me at all the little bits and pieces of stuff I have on my little niche on the cliff, and I see that, really, I have the stuff laying around to make myself a rope, too. Looks pretty easy, so why not? I’m smart enough, I’m a tough little chick. Let’s do a little thinking about climbing up there myself…
And this is my general state of mind when I decide to try a bit of mindfulness. I decided to tune in for a minute to see what that voice in my head is trying to tell me. I don’t intend to actually heed these words, but I’m curious. I’ve been struggling mightily with the anxiety/depression monster for a while now, and I wonder how much of it has to do with that muffled bitchery I can hear in the back of my head.
Hooboy. It goes something like this:
“Well, that’s fine for Jamie, she gets up and does stuff. She has drive and she’s smart and SHE actually uses her potential. What have you done with YOUR brain lately? You never follow through with anything. You can’t even get up early in the morning and go for a walk. You can’t quit smoking, you can’t do anything that requires more effort than a load of laundry. Why are you trying to be like her, anyway? Can’t you figure things out on your own? Pretty sad that you have to be a copycat and do stuff other people are doing because you don’t have any friends. Think this is gonna make people like you better? You can’t control your emotions, what makes you think YOU are capable of controlling anything at all? Much less your future. You’ll pick the wrong thing to focus on anyway, you always do. You’re going to disappoint everyone, and you’re going to make things worse for yourself because you don’t have the sense to leave things alone”
And on, and on, and on. It was actually much worse, much more abusive, and much less coherent. It was a battering ram of all the reasons why I shouldn’t even bother. With any of it… ever. It was brutal.
And now I’m not cowering under anything scared to proceed so much as wondering how on earth that nagging bitch managed to devour the little voice that’s supposed to be there. You know, the one who whispers, “you can do it” and “don’t give up” in your ear when you are having a tough time. Where did THAT one go? How can I find her and save her? This is an intolerable loss. No faith in myself at all. NONE. What happened? And why does this whole thing make me feel so sad and confused and cheated?
And then the actual, relevant question becomes something even more confusing and just as crippling as that troll voice. Perhaps even more so. Because who wants to climb up a cliff using a damaged rope? I’m going to sabotage anything I try to do unless I make that troll shut the hell up. And I don’t know of a way to make her shut up except to go ahead and try to make the rope anyway. Which means I will fail. I have no idea how to break that cycle, but I’m certainly going to try. Not cool, brain, not cool at all.