Battling mental illness on a conscious level is no mean feat. By this I mean being fully aware of the illness, the way your own mind works, the situations and people surrounding you, and the effects that they have, while attempting as best you can to maneuver the curves as they come along.
There is no controlling the people and situations that arise in life, but we can come to understand why they work the way they do, whether we agree with them or not. At times, especially for those suffering mental illness, there seems no controlling our own mind. You can see it coming, you know what it is and do your best to accommodate it, but feel powerless to stop it from happening in the first place. Thoughts race, the pulse quickens, the chest constricts and you feel the need to scream. Or on the other end, your energy dwindles, passion fades, tears well up, and you just want to sleep your life away. All this, either triggered from some unrelated event, or coming out of nowhere, without reason.
It gives credence to the philosophy that our mind is a separate entity from our consciousness. That we can be an observer of our own thoughts and behaviors, while not being completely in control and at times having a bare minimum of influence. Granted, we are still responsible for ourselves and our actions, and with no shortage of effort and practice, we can learn to adjust, constrain and perhaps even eliminate or control some of this. Depending on your spiritual viewpoint, you might even seek out divine intervention of some sort, but even that doesn’t preclude us from our own responsibilities and the action required.
I’ve dealt with depression most of my life in one form or another. More recent events have brought on bouts that I haven’t felt in a long time. As a bonus, I’ve experienced increasing anxiety, complete with the tightening of the chest, racing heart rate, shortness of breath and the supreme struggle to maintain composure under fire. That last bit is a new one, as in earlier times of my life, I never tried to maintain composure.
Coming at this from a new perspective, and being more aware of what’s happening with my body and mind, while being barely able to maintain a level head is something new. If I’m honest, I’ve always dealt with this, but now the physical manifestations of it are coming out of the woodwork, and I’m unable to deny what lies inside. The process of self-examination can be brutal, and I often seek distractions in order not to face what I find. In the process of reducing distraction and looking deeper within, all this is brought to light and cannot be denied.
If life has taught me anything, it’s that through divine guidance, or inner wisdom if you will, all things are possible. The mind and emotions are not beyond control, nor are the events in my life beyond influence and suggestion. There are times in life when I am better or worse at handling them, but it is no fault of those things on their own. Garbage in, garbage out is key in this.
Now I sit, watching, as my pulse quickens, and my breathing becomes rapid and shallow. Knowing that this is all generated within my mind, caused by self-centered fears that may never come to pass, or hold no real importance in the grand scheme of things. I can feed this, and focus on all the things to be afraid of, or pause, take a breath and hold it. Release it, and do it again. Continuing until the moment passes, while turning my mind to something greater than myself. Be that a prayer, a thought for the day, a conversation with a friend, the sun rising on the horizon, or even the patter of raindrops falling to the earth.
I am not these thoughts, I am not this situation, and it is within my power to separate myself from them. To choose to be a part of something greater. I cannot hide or deny that they exist, but I can reduce their power and control by removing their source of energy. It is my conscious attention that feeds these things, and there is no shortage of things in this world to be fearful of or depressed about. There is also no shortage of beauty and joy, if you know where to look.
This body may have a mind of its own, but I am not this body, and I am not under its control.