Ok, lets do this. I don’t want to do it but I am going to do it anyways. I would rather do anything else. I would rather sit in my garden and watch bugs and birds fly. I would rather take a walk, read a book, go spend money, listen to music- anything but this. This is hard. It is not what I want to do but I am going to force myself to do it anyways.
“Write it out man. Just write it out……” I know this is what some of my literary heroes would tell me.
Ok. I’m going to write. Let’s see what happens.
I have been dwelling a lot in my mind. Like a person lost in a dark cave I have been wondering around a lot in this cave of my own mind. My mind is rarely a pleasant place to be. When in the cave it is filled with thoughts about potential falling rocks, deep holes in the ground, threats behind every corner and of course being lost in the cave forever. Some people may be able to walk through the cave of their own minds and have a rather pleasant experience. Not I. For me it is a continual stream of worry and fear about what terrible or harmful thing could happen next.
This is not helping. I really don’t want to be thinking about any of this. I want to just go do something that will help me to forget and maybe even feel immediately better. Pop a pill? I don’t want to do that. Have a glass of wine? Too early. Overeating at lunchtime did not work. Now my stomach just feels upset and my upset stomach is only making my anxiety worse. I know that making my suffering an object of my awareness can help. Take a step back from myself and observe it in the same way that I would observe a protagonist in a book or an actor on a screen. This could help. This is why I am writing. Carl Jung often said that a way of reducing suffering is to find the meaning in a difficult event. Ok, that is what I am doing here. The way we make meaning out of our suffering is by taking a step back from it, becoming aware of it and turning it into some story we are reading, writing or watching rather than being all caught up in it.
That is what I am trying to do now. My stomach feels unwell. I hear sounds of birds. Sirens (I don’t like the sounds of sirens but always feel grateful that they are not coming for me). The sun is starting to come out. I have been dwelling in negative thoughts about the end of life. Sudden loss of control just around the corner. This is what all anxiety really is right? The fear of death and/or complete loss of control just up ahead. Isn’t this why we really preoccupy ourselves with work, drama and other things? Isn’t this why we drink booze and use other substances? To forget about death. But sometimes this is where my mind goes and it is difficult to stop it.
I am beginning to feel a bit better. I am going to keep writing this. I am going to keep trying to pull myself out of my head. I am starting to see a sliver of light up ahead. Phew. I thought his one was going to be bad. There it is up ahead. Light. Ok, keep carrying on. Keep writing. Maybe the more I can step back from the thoughts in my head, the more I can begin to feel better. This is what I am trying to do by writing. It can also be done through meditation or anything else a person can focus on outside of their own head. I am working hard here. I am really trying to stay with this. All I want to do is get up and go do something else. Go sit in the garden. Go sit on my couch. Go do something else. But I know that if I go do these things I will only get pulled further into the negative machinations of my own mind. I will write.
“As long as you unconsciously identify with the sufferer and remain unaware of the pain creator, you are stuck in a anxious state.” This is what Arnold Mindell wrote in Working On Yourself Alone. I am writing so that I can keep myself from becoming unaware that I am the one creating this anxious state. The moment I forget this and get sucked back into the dark cave of my mind, I will be suffering. So I need to keep trying to pull myself out. The pain creator is the one who is identifying with all the negative thoughts in my head. By writing (and mediating) I am stepping back from the sufferer. I am becoming aware of the sufferer in an objective way. Just making a story out of the suffering. That is what I am doing by writing here. Just making a story out of it. Turning my suffering into a story. Ok. Is it working yet? A bit. This kind of thing doesn’t happen on my time. It takes its own kind of time. I just need to be able to breathe, write remain as aware (present) as possible and be patient.
I will now go into my garden for a bit and just breathe. Just take a step back from the sufferer for a bit. Be back in a few minutes.
Without a doubt, getting stuck in one’s own head, is a real illness. When we feel anxious or worried it is difficult to keep it from happening. People who do not deal with so much worry or anxiety do not have to really worry about being lost in their head. Wondering through the cave of their minds can often be a very pleasant and sometimes magical experience. But for those of us with a predisposition to worry and feel intense fear, getting lost in our heads (unconsciously identifying with the sufferer) is the worst possible thing we can do for ourselves. We need to get better at not doing this if we want our anxiety to go away.
I am feeling better now.
My wife made me a cup of chamomile tea. Talking with her about what I was feeling helped. Writing this also seems to have really helped me become aware of and take a step back from my suffering. The sun is coming out. I am doing better now. Everything is fine right here, right now.
It is interesting how anxiety can be like waves. It comes on strong and threatens to suck us under. Years ago when it came on strong like it did when I began writing this, I would have freaked out. I would have panicked. I would have reacted negatively. But by just doing whatever it takes to stay present and as out of my head as possible, whether it is banging my fingers on a keyboard until the intense feeling of anxiety begins to diminish or by talking with someone, drawing, painting, meditating, cleaning the house, reading out loud, deep breathing and on and on, I am able to hang in there until the terror and fear pass.
……..and now I am beginning to feel normal again. Writing my way out worked.
I think I am almost out of the cave. Phew