On Being Consistent – A Meditation

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So often with mental illness being consistent in our daily tasks and responsibilities is difficult. We want to shower everyday, but it is not always manageable due to severe depression. We want to finish the tasks we start, however, mania keeps us frantic and unfocused. Showing up for family events and dates with friends can be daunting when anxiety takes hold and won’t let go.

Yes, being consistent, “a man of your word,” so to speak, is not always possible when you have a mental illness. Guess what? That is ok. Really, it is, because having a mental illness is not a choice; it’s not a matter of will power, or want, or preference, or feeling like doing this or that or not. It is a medical condition that directly affects the centers in our brains responsible for decision-making, motivation, concentration, and emotional regulation, just to name a few.

Today, I will remind myself that my mental illness is not a choice, but a disease I did not ask for nor that I want, and the effect it has on the consistency of my behaviors is sometimes more than I can control. I will be kind to myself and cut myself some slack when I do not live up to my own expectations consistently.

How Positive Thinking Can Be a Crock

On a path to clearer views, I find myself looking up and realizing that life is nothing more than an illusion of what my mind (ego) tells me it is.

I am baffled by people who are always up-beat and positive; who love life even when things are tough; who see the good in even the most painful events.

I am writing this post and my husband, who is in the other room, just started taping up some boxes he needs to mail. Now, all I can pay attention to is the god-awful screeching sound of the tape being pulled from the tape-gun as he wraps it around the damn boxes! Like nails on a chalk board, I tell ya!

ok, I think he is finished. Like I was saying, my reality is nothing more than what my mind tells me it is. Let’s look at my outburst about the tape-gun just seconds ago. My thoughts went something like this: “Well, that made you lose your concentration which is extremely annoying! When is he going to stop doing that? I want to write and cannot with all of that racket going on!”

*uck – he’s at it again. I’ll be back…

ok, now I know he is finished because this time when the silence returned, instead of continuing to write this post I asked him nicely if he was done using the tape-gun and he said, yes. Now, I don’t have to worry about being interrupted and startled by that horribly loud sound.

One of the disadvantages of being a highly sensitive person is that what may be an average stimulus to most people is an overpowering stimulus to me. I am particular sensitive to noises. My sensory system gets overloaded if I am around too many people for too long, if the TV is too loud, if the kids have friends over playing, when car commercials come on the radio (I have to keep from going ballistic until I can turn it off), when people come in and out of the house repeatedly, when kids are outside playing loudly or a dog continuously barks… I just can’t seem to filter these things into the periphery of my awareness. Instead they dance obnoxiously in front of my face until I feel like I am going mad. Can anyone relate to that?

I am also extremely sensitive to temperature changes, bright lights, and odd smells, like when the dog needs a bath or the hamster cage needs to be cleaned. Maybe the smells are just a mom-thing, but while these noises, tactile sensations, sights, and smells are noxious to me, no one else seems to even notice them. And by noxious I mean that I get highly agitated and sometimes feel physically ill because of them.

Well, this post turned from how my mind decides what my reality is to how my sensory system is highly sensitive.

There is a fine line between what we can and cannot control. In my experience, mental illness is a biochemical phenomenon that cannot be entirely relieved by positive thinking because a large part of the illness involves the inability to control my thoughts.

Thus, “thinking positive,” “being grateful,” “pulling myself up by my bootstraps,” “getting over myself,” and other such platitudes are often ineffective. For me, until medication rearranges my brain chemicals, cognitive behavior techniques are useless. Honestly, for me, they don’t even work that well when I am properly medicated.

What works for me is getting out of my head completely. Excessive thinking is like poison for me which is why I have cut way back on my blog posts. I love reading other people’s writings, listening to positive speakers share their experiences, and creating fine art because the voices in my own head go away during these times – times in which I am completely in the present moment, not thinking about the past or wondering about the future, but experiencing exactly what is going on in the moment – as it is with no judgment of it being “good” or “bad” or otherwise, but just noticing and experiencing.

I did this with the tape-gun incident the second time around. I stopped writing, closed my eyes, stopped thinking and just listened to the sound. To my surprise, my agitation subsided.

Acceptance is the key to relieving most, if not all, of my suffering. Acceptance is the key that unlocks the door to inner peace within me no matter what is going on around me.

Now, if the TV was on, the kids were fighting, and the dirty dog was lying at my feet at the same time my husband started taping up those boxes, I am sure I would not have been able to do this. But, I believe with practice, someday I will be capable of it.

How’s that for positive thinking? 😉

 

My True Self is NOT Mentally Ill

A list of what I like about my self:

  • caring
  • loving
  • smart
  • creative
  • funny
  • attractive
  • willing to learn
  • a good listener
  • compassionate
  • driven to improve my spiritual life

 

What is one thing that you like about yourself?

How Can I Be the Self if I’m Taking Pills that Remind Me that I Am Mentally Sick? from Mooji Answers on Vimeo.

 

What do you think of this video?

Codependent No More – Book Review

Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More, How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself, defines a “codependent” as:

one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior

She details specific examples from her personal experiences and those of others to connect with her readers and offers practical solutions to those whose lives are affected by a loved one’s negative, often destructive behaviors.

The dominant theme across Beattie’s solutions is a therapeutic tool called detachment, which she describes as a separation of ourselves from a person or a problem in a loving way.  To disengage mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically from unhealthy people, from problems we cannot solve or ones that are not our responsibility to solve.  She goes on to say:

Detachment is based on the premises that each person is responsible for himself, that we can’t solve problems that aren’t ours to solve and that worrying doesn’t help.  We adopt a policy of keeping our hands off other people’s responsibilities and tend to our own instead.  If people have created some disasters for themselves, we allow them to face their own proverbial music.

Sounds like a tall order for a world that has its nose in everyone else’s business or a country, whose attitude is often one of pass the buck, point the finger at the other guy, and cover up or, worse, buy a way out of facing the consequences of one’s own actions.

So, does this mean we are to stop caring, helping, and loving?  Is this a barbaric, every-man-for-himself type of detachment?  Beattie says not:

(Detaching) means we learn to love, care, and be involved without going crazy.  We stop creating all this chaos in our minds and environments.  When we are not anxiously and compulsively thrashing about, we become able to make good decisions about how to love people, and how to solve our problems.  We become free to care and to love in ways that help others and don’t hurt ourselves.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? 
I thought so and my next thought was, “Where do I sign up?” 
Or better yet, “Where do I get a prescription for this detachment stuff?”
If only it was that easy…

Have you read this book?  If so, what did you think about it?

 

        Do we do things we don’t want to in order to please others? When we say “no” do we often feel guilty? Martyrdom is for saints. We are not saints. We are also not bad. We are sick and we are trying to get well.

        Unless we are doing for others for “fun and for free” we are harming ourselves as well as lying to ourselves and others about our motives for helping them.

        Today, I will give freely that which I can afford to give. I will not risk my physical, emotional, or mental health by saying yes when I want to say no or by feeling guilty for making my health my top priority.

Mental illness often runs in families.  Our parent or grandparent or other relative may have had or does have a mental illness.  Some of our family members may have been diagnosed and may be getting the treatment they need to recover while others may not.

When dealing with our family, whether they have a mental illness or not, they may hinder more than help our progress because of our deep emotional ties to them and theirs to us.  While they may love us, they may not know how or be unable to help us.

         Today, I will evaluate my support system.  I will call someone who is outside of my family; someone who can offer objective, unconditional support to me and I will know peace.