“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
I threw my phone across the room in disgust. I was just on twitter, reading up on the daily happenings of the day, and no surprise there, but everything was just negative, negative and more negative. There was an occasional flash of positivity somewhere in the myriad of negative hate posts and comments, but it was sporadic, and certainly not enough to lift up one’s spirits in these trying times.
I sat down on my recliner, and an overall feeling of dread, of overwhelming tiredness, enveloped my mind. Right on cue, my ‘friends’ showed up.
Over in the corner, a disheveled figure was slumped in dejection, weeping bitterly.
“The end is nigh! The world is going to burn! I’m moving to Canada!”
I rolled my eyes up. That was reminiscent of what I’ve been hearing, not from just one side, but from both sides of the political spectrum.
I looked at the figure of Anxiety pacing back and forth in my room, and I sigheddd inwardly. “Oh wonderful, they both showed up,” I thought to myself.
“No one is wearing face masks. People are blaming the Democrats for causing a widespread panic attack to prevent the POTUS from winning his re-election!!!”, he said as he tried to fix the sleeves of his shirt, to no avail.
“Uh huh,”, I responded dryly.
“People are getting sick in our city!”, wailed Depression.
“They are holding rallies!! Can you believe that?”, Anxiety raised his arms in exasperation.
“And no stimulus package is forthcoming!”, continued Depression in yet another bout of hysterics.
“Not…yet.”, I responded.
Anxiety skidded to a stop and stared at me with wide eyes. “Theyaremoreworriedaboutelectionsthentheyareaboutpeopledying!!!” he exploded.
I took a deep breath. All this, and much more, was running through my mind, exacerbated by my own mental health failings.
Trying times indeed.
I rallied back and tried to make the best of an ugly situation, “Okay, first.”, I held up a finger. “People are being unreasonable. They can’t just get up and move to Canada on the sly. There are protocols in place, plus Covid, yanno, keeps people home. Humans are just drama llamas.”
“Now, secondly,” I continued on bravely, “While I question the origins of the coronavirus, I highly doubt the Democratic Party made Covid-19 because…it’s just absurd. People everywhere are getting sick, regardless of political alliances, and not only that, it’s hurting the American economy as a whole. They stand to lose by allowing a virus to spread in their country.”
“Sure, Covid is scary, but it’s not that hard to stay safe. Social distance. Wear face masks or some facial protection. Don’t go to gatherings of six or more people. It’s not so hard. We can’t control what other people do, so let’s just protect ourselves, and our family.”
“And lastly,” I paused and thought for a moment, “I am pretty sure the stimulus check will happen sooner or later. But that’s the least of my concerns right now.”
I side-eyed my ‘twins’ and saw that Depression was looking at me, wiping away his tears, while Anxiety hemmed and hawed as he smoothed out his wrinkled shirt. I sighed in relief as I managed to quiet down my rising panic.
“I know things look like shit, but as I’ve mentioned to someone before, this too shall be a memory. We just need to think this through, take it one day at a time, and we’ll eventually make it to the light at the end of the tunnel. Panicking, and allowing ourselves to get anxious and depressed over things we can’t control does us no good. So, go away, and let me rest in peace.”
And with that, my twins disappeared. I sighed in relief again.
A few years back, I first learned about CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. At the time, I scoffed at the idea, and that was only because I was too deeply mired in the throes of feeling sorry for myself, aka Anxiety and Depression.
But then a life changing event happened, and I found out my brain was mimicking the effects of petite mal seizures. With that knowledge in hand, all of a sudden I stopped having seizures, period. Why? Because simply knowing that I can control that part of me was a huge relief. Knowing that my neurological system wasn’t causing me to have seizures was big. And also knowing that it was my own anxiety that was causing me to have seizures was also a big factor as well.
It was a simple case of mind over matter, in a way. But it opened so many doors for me. It paved the way for me to explore the concept of CBT therapy.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, you may ask?
In it’s simplest terms, it’s all about changing the way you think. And it’s harder than it sounds.
Our brains are hardwired to think the worst of things. When something bad happens, we tend to think of the really bad. When something good happens, we tend to believe that something bad is going to happen to negate the good that happened.
While there are, and always will be, exceptions to the rule, I do believe that is what causes Anxiety and Depression. It’s the never-ending cyclical way of thinking that pulls us down into a funk.
Ask yourself this : How often does your mind go into a repeat…a replay, if you will, of things that happened in the past? And it just keeps getting worst, and worst as the day progresses, until you are being pulled down into the quicksand. You can’t breathe. Your chest is feeling heavy. Your mind is numb. Your thoughts are jumbled, or repeating the same thing over and over again.
Happens a lot, doesn’t it? It does me too.
This past year alone, I have managed to stave off bouts of depression and anxiety by keeping myself busy. It’s one way of changing our behaviors or the way you think. When I start to find my mind drifting, off I go. I find something to do. I go for a walk, or I write. Or read. Or play a game. Or call my mother and aggravate her on the phone. I don’t sit there and stew over shit. I take action.
And I change my behavior. And the way I think.
As I said, it’s way harder than it sounds. And far beyond my capabilities to teach or to advise on. I’m not a therapist, just someone with tons of experience and a willingness to help others. To share with others my own experiences, and hopefully reach out to others who suffer the same things I do.
And if you believe in me, then believe me on this.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works. It really does. I have made so many great strides this year in changing my life around, and it was all because of one simple mechanic.
Don’t think about it. Just DO it.
And here is a link to some CBT Worksheets you might find useful in PDF Format.