Monday, November 15, 2010

Have You Gone Mental? (LXI)

My time at the beach last week was wonderful. There is nothing like a mixture of solitude and grandchildren to refresh you. My daughter's home is beautiful and affords a great view of the ocean on both levels of the home; nothing was present to obscure the view.

I've spoken about "tools" necessary for recovery but it seems like I've left one out... water. The ocean has a unique look and rhythm of its own, far different than a river, lake or stream. I love rivers, etc, AND I love the ocean. I grew up going to the "beach" every year for vacation with my family. I grew tired of this and came to the point where I dreaded every trip. In fact, I would go to the beach and never, never even go near water.

I guess I didn't know what I was missing; and didn't care. Over the years I have come to the point of loving to observe the waves flow toward the shore. I have also enjoyed looking out over the small waves to the large ones. The water rises out to sea to display the power and the fury of those waves and then abates as it reaches the shore to show the gentler side of its "personality".

This reminds me one of my anxiety attacks. Looking out to sea, one witnesses the sea in its tumult, angry and powerful. If one tried to walk, swim, or paddle out in this part of the ocean I can only imagine being tossed to and fro. I can imagine being submerged until I am gasping for air flailing and trying to get on top of the waves so I can ride them to calmer waters. The truth is, they ride me. They carry me along and finally throw me on the shore exhausted and injured. Then I am overjoyed to be out of the power of those waves and being able to take a breath and enjoy the gentleness of the water as it makes its way toward the dry sand.

If you suffer from depression-anxiety you know this feeling. You know what its like to feel the brunt of anxiety (which seems to have a mind of its own). You know the experience of the pounding heart, the increased pulse, the sweating, the shaking inside and out. You understand the fear and the terror of those times. You understand being this powerless. You know you need to reach into your bag of tricks and grasp a tool that will help you to the surface among the angry waves. You realize the harder you try to fight your way to the surface, the more difficult this terrible "ride" becomes.

Somewhere in the back of your mind you begin to realize that fighting is not the way to the surface and will not allow you to reach the top of the waves. You realize you need to let go; to surrender yourself to the mercy these waves and of God. You are thrown up to the surface and take a breath. You allow yourself to ride along and take a breath whenever you are able. As you submit to the flow of the water, over which you have no power, your mind begins to tell you, "every thing is going be ok"; you take another breath, then you hear: "this too shall pass". As your mind begins to feed you with these words of hope you find yourself in shallower and shallower waters until you, mercifully, are able to take breaths more frequently.

When you reach the shore the ability to breathe returns. The gentle movement of the water around you as you lie on the sand looking up into a partly sunny sky allows you to take deeper and deeper breaths. You feel the symptoms leaving your body as your breathing becomes more and more natural. The deep breathing is calming you, your positive self talk begins, and you start to feel safe, almost tranquil. This takes a significant period of time, but you begin to feel hopeful.

The remnants of the "attack" over time become a memory as you continue your deep breathing, self-talk and positive thoughts. You've been through the worst of it and have come out wounded but recovering.

I now love to walk along the shore feeling those gentle waves lap at my bare feet; I begin to draw peace from the waters that once tried to over come me. I whisper a prayer of thanks and continue to walk slowly on as my breathing becomes more natural and the power my mind takes over once again. This a feeling of relief and joy.

If you've had an "anxiety attack" you know the experience. The ocean, the waves, and finally the relief as you allow the angry power to move you toward shore as you submit to those waves.

Not knowing how to end this entry, I urge you to develop positive and effective self talk that will allow you to have hope instead of despair when these times come.

I now love the ocean as I sit in my daughter's living room,safe and warm, and cast my gaze to those angry waves and watch them dissipate into shallow water on the shore AND I am in awe and thankful.

Typos and all ... God bless you.

No comments:

Post a Comment