Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Do what you know

This blog has sat dormant for more months than I'd like to admit. There are multiple reasons, I suspect. Having young children. Buying my first home. Accepting a job promotion. Running a (very) small business. My husband applying for graduate programs and eventually deciding to start nursing school. But probably the biggest reason, I'd say, is because I've been depressed.
It's weird for me to type that. It's weird for me to experience it, really. I've had an optimistic, cheerful outlook for most of my life. I've been an advocate for happiness. For sunshine. For positivity and joy. To feel the darkness of reality creeping in and settling in my heart has been and continues to be disturbing for me. I don't have full-blown Major Depressive Disorder, as far as I can self-diagnose from studying the DSM-5. But I do have some marked symptoms: feelings of emptiness and hopelessness, unexplained tearfulness, diminished interest in activities that used to bring fulfillment (ie. blogging, scrapbooking, journaling), restlessness at bedtime, energy loss, and excessive, irrational guilt. I am anxious a lot about things I have no control over. It is difficult and I've been putting off addressing it because the idea of addressing it makes me even more anxious. But, then. . . I went skiing.

I was at a resort in Utah with my family who was visiting from Texas earlier this month. Most of them were waiting at the bottom of a run for me to make my way down. The mountain seemed steep and a little scary for my comfort levels. I was starting to feel the anxiety bubble, but then I had a clear and direct thought: do what you know. I know how to ski! I know to move widely from side to side when the slope seems too intense. I know how to position my legs in "pizza" or "french fry" positions. I know to lean into the mountain and fall to my side if I'm going to go down. If I just remembered to "do what I know" and not panic in the rush of the moment, I would make it down the mountain. And I did. And then, when I got to the bottom, I continued thinking about this mantra. Do what you know. Do what you know. Do what you know. Light bulb! The impression and direction was about much more than my ride down that mountain.
I need to "do what I know" to make it safely down my growing mountain of depression and anxiety. It seems so overwhelming and I've been paralyzed looking at it, feeling it, experiencing it. . . not wanting to move. But I've got to start somewhere, so I'll start with what I know. I know I need to process through a lot of my feelings and have an outside perspective on coping strategies, so I scheduled an appointment with a therapist. I know I need to get adequate sleep and exercise, so I'm wearing a fitness band and tracking it with an app. I know I benefit from creative expression, so I re-arranged and organized my craft space and am hoping to carve out more time to scrapbook. I know there is value in writing things out, forming sentences, putting ideas into expression, so I logged in to this dusty ol' blog.  I know I need the Holy Spirit as a companion, so I am trying to be more intentional with my spiritual practices. I know I need to drink enough water, so I'm refilling my water bottle repeatedly. I know I need to spend quality time with friends, connecting and laughing, so I'm giving myself permission to go out. I know I need to maintain cleanliness and order, so I'm de-cluttering and purging and simplifying. I know I need to extend the same grace to myself as I give so freely to others, so I'm practicing. I know these things. So I am just trying to find the energy and motivation to do them, even when it's hard and I don't want to.
I'm at the top of a mountain. There is a voice in my head, reminding me: do what you know. Do what you know. Do what you know.
I can find my way down.

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