One of the realities of having a mental disorder is the mind goes places the individual does not want it to go. One of the places it can go is to suicidal thoughts, as I discussed in one of my previous posts, and other times it just simply replays negative thoughts and feelings over and over. Some describe it as the mind turning against itself, others describe it as a downward spiral, I describe it has a hurricane. Often these thoughts are what compel the depressed individual to never leave their bed for the day. It can be quite crushing.
This happened to me last night, or rather in the early morning. About two years ago this happened all the time: I got a hurricane of negative, hopeless, and self-defeating thoughts whipping through my mind at 200km/h. Those days I mostly stayed in bed and tried to forget reality. Who would want to face a day after their mind paints it as hopeless? No point, and with that no point I had no desire to get out of bed.
When I bring up the thoughts to people, many of them ask, “What happened?” The only answer I can give is that I started to wake up. Nothing happened the day before, no nightmares happened during the night, and I can’t think of what could have happened during the week to trigger such thoughts. Sometimes they simply come and sweep me away.
On a good day, this happens in the morning. On a bad day, this can happen when I’m just walking down the road. If I am lucky, they are just fears of the future. If I am not so lucky, they dance around the idea of me having no future at all and I should end things before the future can even get here. Since I am typing this, I have not given into the latter thankfully.
Today, though, I am confused as to why my thoughts went there. After going through 8 weeks of dialectical behaviour therapy in the spring, should I not have the skills to weather the storm? Furthermore, after taking an anti-depressant for months should I not even be capable of such thoughts? These questions are good, yet they too can lead down the spiral to the point where I think it’s proof that I am hopeless, and am incapable of crawling out of my current mental state. If anything, this is like my mind’s way of punishing me for daring to hope for better, and daring to think God has a future for me.
Yet I will dare anyway: God does have a future for me, and I can stand underneath this! It will be difficult, and I will struggle to climb out but God does have a future. If not, why would Jesus have died for me? Why would he direct me to the skills to get through it and why would I be moving to supportive housing in a few days?
No matter where or why, one of the skills I learned in DBT is radical acceptance. In this case I need to radically accept I will get these thoughts. Once I do that I can find ways to better mitigate them. For example, I can distract myself until the hurricane goes a way through colouring, reading the Bible, and playing video games like or Pokémon.
Another example is I can use my emotion regulation skills to mitigate it. First step is Check the facts: is my life hopeless, and the anxiety justified?
The facts would say no:
- God is my Creator, and Jesus died to save me, and in the Holy Spirit God will never abandon me.
- I have a family that loves me, and I have friends both online and offline that care about me.
- Went through the therapy to learn how to control my BPD
- moving to supportive housing on Wednesday that will continue where DBT left off
- I have a Master’s Degree
- Thanks to Pokemon Go I have walked almost 20km, and I can feel my body getting fitter with each km I go.
- I have been improving my eating habits.
A perfect 7. Well a perfect 7 for now :). So to combat the anxiety and feelings of hopelessness, I listen to more upbeat music and read verses that bring me up. Sometimes it works, sometimes I need to take more drastic action.
Yes, I love classical music. The right music can change a mood from bad to okay to good. I am going to need all of it, I think.
Another form of distraction: Write it down in a blog, and discuss the ways I manage through it. Who knows, might fall into the right hands and be able to help someone through a difficult time.
In closing for this blog post, I will end with some Scripture because I’m a person of faith. If you do not care for religious texts, scroll down to the comments now.
Colossians 1:9-23, NIV
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Psalm 139, NLT:
O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
(Note: for me, I would pray 19-23 about the unseen forces of darkness that roam the earth.)