In life, no matter the difficulty, trial or tribulation, many roads are open to us. We can act without thought, run away from having to make a decision or flee mentally with unhealthy coping strategies (alcohol, drugs, reckless abandon in spending, overeating, undereating, throwing up, overexercise and a whole host of other things which only you know about).
My current trial is dealing with the physical reality of recovery (imminent post) as well as the depression which seems to rear its head every so often in my life. And while in the past, I would have resorted to one or more of the ‘unhealthy coping strategies’ mentioned above, I am now inclined to just sit and let it be. I don’t need to ride it out with a distraction or fight it. I just let it be, like a petulant child in the middle of an almighty tantrum.
One thing which I disagree(d) with in eating disorder institutions is this drive and push to get people to DISTRACT, DISTRACT, DISTRACT. You’ll be given a long list of things to do after having eaten (play a game, do some knitting, ‘stand’ on your head (ridiculous, I know), phone a friend as if this were a came of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire etc). Whilst these tools have their benefits, what you find upon leaving such settings is that distraction is a temporary solution which brings you back to the same place of agony.
The main tool which is helping me deal with the reality of recovery is to exercise Patience not Panic. This came to mind this week because I realised how much eating disorders are actually a manifestation of the internal panic or sometimes a response to the panic going on in our heads. For me, it was an eating disorder but for others, it is alcoholism, sex, burying oneself in social media or online activities. These are all manifestations of something internal – panic, anxiety/worry, frustration, dissatisfaction etc.
The only cure for all these emotions is PATIENCE. Patience doesn’t make the problem go away and exercising patience is not procrastination. Patience gives you the mental space and time to confront the problem, to come up with solutions. Patience prevents you from acting rashly or irrationally. Patience is devoid of all the chaos of panic. Patience and panic are like brothers from the same mother but you wouldn’t believe it from looking at them. Patience is the confidence that all things will and do pass. It’s the faith that emotions pass, that situations change, that solutions can be found, that joy whether fleeting or enduring can return.
In past days, I would have distracted myself from depression but these days, today, I accept its presence, I acknowledge it but I also exercise patience because I know that it will pass, like all things that have come and that will come.
Clouds are a well-worn analogy for depression. But sometimes, there is no need to re-invent the wheel. I like nothing better than to lie flat on my back on dewy grass on a warm day and watch and smile as the wind slowly moves each new cloud on. And so it is with the difficulties of life. Sometimes, a brisk wind will blow it away so quickly that you barely get a chance to decide whether the cloud resembled a tyrannosaurus rex or a diplodocus. At other times, you will look up and wonder whether that cloud has even moved an inch. It remains in the sky for so long that eventually, you fall asleep watching it. Upon waking, you will find yourself under a clear blue sky and wonder how long you were asleep for and wonder how in the world that stubborn cloud disappeared out of sight. The answer, Patience.