This is something I wrote over a year ago when I was at a very low point. I was depressed, upset that my novel wasn’t where I wanted it to be and I had no time to work on it.
I’m probably at my lowest point since getting off mediation almost 2 years ago. It’s been a gradual descent into constant tension and anxiety due to multiple stressors in my life. It’s as if my world has suddenly contracted because I can no longer go as many places or do as many things as before. It’s a miserable existence. Even work has become a trial and normal everyday situations are suddenly fraught with anxiety. I’ve been here before. I know what this is like and I am hoping that it is only a phase that will pass.
I’m almost as miserable as I was 11 years ago at 18 when I had my breakdown. But I’m older now, and luckily I have more ways to cope and more people to help me than ever before. But that still doesn’t make it easy. I know I’ve said that I can live without pills and I hope that is still true. I don’t want to get on medication. It’s the last resort for me. I’m still holding on to my clean living philosophy and those things are all still helpful, but they aren’t everything. I don’t think there is anything that can magically make this all go away. At least not anything that I’m willing to do. I don’t want to be “medicated”.
Through the last several weeks, I’ve learned a few new things. Coping methods that help. One of them is meditation and relaxation. The key to each is to search out the tension in your body and let it go, relax it away. I’ve found tension in places I never imagined. I was aware of the surface tension, of clenching my stomach or feeling like my chest was tight. But I never realized that anxiety was giving me occasional headaches from scrunching the muscles in my forehead, or that even deeper in my abdomen I was clenching muscles that made me physically sick. The key is to breathe deeply, release the tension. Force yourself to relax. I’ve been calling it forced relaxation. It doesn’t sound pretty or comfortable, but it is necessary and does work, to an extent. It’s really the only thing keeping me going right now. I’ve been listening to a CD on the way to work. The woman tells me, I am in control of my body and my mind. I am in control of the way I approach or react to any situation. I need her to tell me this. But I forget these things during the day when suddenly thrust into a situation that sets my heart thumping and my muscles clenching. Then I have to force myself to let go of the tension. But it’s hard work. It’s very hard to stay vigilant, to not let yourself slip further into anxiety. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to think about death as a kindness. It makes me think about my novel and how I wish it were ready, how I wish I could speak these things to the world and be understood. But my novel is not ready and I have no time to work on it and so my voice is stilted.
I’m happy to say that I no longer feel stilted. I feel like I’m almost ready. I read over several chapters of my novel today and I feel good. I feel like I have accomplished so much, even just writing that many pages and sticking with the story through changes and edits has really taught me a lot and that alone is worth something. I hope to make it worth even more. My editor told me today that she was reading a portion of my novel that really got her wondering what was going to happen next and to hear that is exciting for any writer. It gives you another little push in the right direction. I hope this new year is full of such pushes for me and that I continue to reach for my goals even when it seems hard.