Sure, I can give you all sorts of great tips for managing anxiety — stuff I’ve learned through therapy, reading, and experience — but sometimes I’m just flummoxed by my own moods.
Call this “ars bloggetica”, if you will. Am I, as a mental health blogger, obligated to stay on the shiny side? Am I allowed to be pessimistic and negative?
What? Whaaaat? I can barely plan for tomorrow and now, suddenly, I have to think about five years down the road?
While soaking in all of this information might help to make me more certain, it definitely jars my nerves.
It’s the Contrast Principle in effect: during the day, there are so many sounds in nature that we’re unlikely to hear a tiny mouse scurrying near our feet. But at night, with its absence of light, dull orchestra of crickets, and an imagination open wide, tiny sounds get amplified by our minds.
As we learned in my last blog post, in a tent full of scared eleven-year-old Girl Scouts at summer camp, a field mouse scurrying through the leaves = a big hungry bear searching for a late-night snack. At the right (or, well, wrong) thoughts and a tiny mouse becomes a big bear.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be dark outside for our mind to amplify the wrong message. When anxious, small things sound like big things. When sick, small things sound like big things. When depressed. When overwhelmed. When tired.
I mean, think about it: when’s the last time something small — say, washing a load of dishes — seemed like a gargantuan task? Maybe it was yesterday when your nerves were already abuzz thanks to your colicky little one screaming her head off.
At night, the nature sounds were glorious: crickets, whipporwills, and the occasional owl. These sounds lulled me to sleep. Well, most of the time.
Maybe this is where I just need to let go. Just let go of my thoughts. All of them. All of my worries. All of everything.
Only a few days left, and I’m still ruminating about everything that could go wrong on the big day. Let’s see how many of my worries I could formulate into a list or two.
There’s the obvious stuff, like unexpected rain. Then there’s the klutzy stuff, like tripping and falling face first while walking down the aisle. And then there’s the panic-related stuff.
There wasn’t a single place I could go during a rainstorm and feel safe. There wasn’t a single place in that damn office where I could allow my panicky feelings to de-escalate.