by Susan Schwartz
Like Glennon, I have dealt with depression and anxiety for a long time. My anxiety started when I was a young child. It kicked into high gear when I went away to college. It was all-encompassing and I didn’t understand what was happening to me. College was also the time that I began to feel depressed.
That went on for about three years. With therapy and some fortuitous situations, that nightmare ended. Since then, I’ve had some bouts of mild depression and anxiety, but nothing even close to those horrible three years. In the last several years, one of the main ways I work at self-care is to keep anxiety from coming on in the first place. I know what situations stress me out so I avoid those as best as I can. I know how to plan my days so as not to overbook or “underbook”. I know what I can do (create art, exercise, listen to music, etc…) or who I can reach out to in order to calm down. I know to ask myself if there is something I can do to change things or prepare for what I fear. I recognize that if the situation is beyond my control to remedy, then all I can do is control my feelings and reactions. Spending time in agony worrying about something I can’t control is a waste of time. A miserable waste of time.
It does take work though, to pull my brain away from the negative thoughts and engage in something better to do. I have found that over time, it usually gets easier to do.
An outcome of keeping anxiety at bay is to live in the moment. As Glennon writes, “… living with anxiety – living alarmed – makes it impossible to enter the moment, to land inside my body and be there. I cannot be in the moment because I am too afraid of what the next moment will bring. I have to be ready.”
I regret all the time I spent stuck in anxious thinking or a state of depression. With nature and nurture, I guess those were the cards I was dealt. I have worked hard to improve my mental health and I have reaped the benefits. And instead of spending a lot of time regretting the past, I feel grateful that I was able to turn things around, to live in the moment most of the time, and to feel joy or contentment most of the time. Of course I experience tough days and tough times like everyone else. One big difference between the past and the present is that the tough times I experience now arise from outside of me, like the pandemic or my dad’s poor health, whereas a long time ago the pain and struggling originated inside of me.
What resonated with you in this section?
Reminder: No book club next week. Happy Holidays friends.
We'll be back the following week with our final book club installment, and I'll ask for comments/suggestions/opinions for a zoom meeting.