Living in the now

A great deal of my time over the past few weeks has been spent reflecting on my past, looking at the finite details that may give me greater insight into how I have managed to function with this illness for so many years. I came to realise yesterday that I really hadn’t taken the time to work out a few of the basic reasons as to why I was doing this. I am aware of the obvious one, my desire to try and piece together those moments in time which I could attribute directly to the depression. But do these reflections really help or were are just hindrances to accepting that this is how it is.

During my first group workshop on DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) yesterday, I made some notes on how I was living in the now, the present – that very short term reality. I am not sure how comfortable I am with this. Yes I admit that given my current set of circumstances it is a safe place for my mind to be. The immediate is free of the guilt and regret that my inevitable reflections bring. For so long I have dwelled on my actions and their outcomes, forever manipulating the circumstances to provide many ‘what if’ scenarios, seeking outcomes that I emotionally approve of and that only compounds and fractures my fragile self esteem. Then to the future, anything more than dealing with the immediate requirements of what I physically have to do next, what processes I have to undertake to get from one hour to the next is beyond me. The energy that it takes me to even contemplate the medium to long term objectives of my life is beyond me. It causes me distress.

This distress in turns leads to one inevitable point, a negative mood swing.

I say to those close to me that, if by December I can have standard day after standard day where I have little or no illness related dramas or dilemmas, I will be pleased. To achieve this I realise that I need to learn how to find time that can be considered a distraction from this almost constant pain of emotions bought on by reflecting on my past. I seem to have no tolerance for these negative emotions, as soon as my mind perceives or experiences them during a reflection I seem unable to stop or control the rapid decline towards anxiety, self loathing and despair. What I need is a time for me to think about the pink elephant. As they say, ‘Whatever you do, don’t think about a Pink Elephant’ and sure enough all you can think about is the Pink Elephant. Well that is me when it comes to this illness, whatever you do, don’t dwell or focus on the illness, just try to live your life, but sure enough, you start and then don’t stop thinking about this illness. If I can find a space where I accept that it is OK to feel and think about my illness, where I can contain it from impacting on the everyday and accept that this is how it is right now and not how it was, not how it might have been or how it should have been, not how I wanted it to be or how I hoped it would be then that is what I will accept as progress. I will at least have the chance to get on with my life the best that I can.

One of the group leaders made the remark, while attempting an observational exercise of mindfulness, she found it hard to just observe, all the while there was a descriptive conversation occurring in her head of the sights, sounds and feelings of the focal item. This was something that I have previously had trouble articulating, trying to explain the noise in my head, the constant conversation that my inner mind has. I realised that if I am able to slowly but surely train the mind to just observe without this running commentary I may be able to attain a level of contentment that I so desperately seek. Because when I have applied distraction techniques it has been fleeting. I know I am removed from the sadness, quiet for a moment, but all the while as I try to see myself as happy or accept that it is the way it is, the sadness is waiting to return almost immediately.

This makes me feel at times as though I am my own great burden and this sadness permeates everything and everyone around me. I feel at times as though even my own mind cannot contribute to its wellness. It’s a paradox as I find myself ‘doing’ more like cooking and simple things around the house and in the garden, but yet again even acknowledging these tasks seems to confirm and then compound the fact that I such diminished mental capacity thus lowering my mood and bringing the depression back to the fore. For days on end I am then faced with zero motivation towards the tasks and goals that I know may make it easier, not better, but easier. Instead I get stuck willing myself mentally towards the end of the day so I can sleep, secure in the knowledge that for at least a few hours I am not confronted with all this self induced melancholy crap and negativity.

So as each day passes I can only hope that I start to see and feel the benefits of just being in the moment, being in the now. My aim is to ensure that meditating, taking the time to practice mindfulness, leads to a positive that I can use at times of distress. Rather than reverting to the focus on negativity.

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~ by Rob McClintock on November 15, 2010.

One Response to “Living in the now”

  1. I am sending you hugs today Rob. Never stop trying no matter how hard it gets or how menial or simple the tasks may seem. Each and every day see the menial tasks as small baby steps for you to achieving what you need. I know you will get to living in the now, it may just take some time. Be kind and gentle on yourself. x

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