I inadvertently did something that turned out to be stupid and caused a world of pain before I figured it out.
When I wrote last a few weeks ago I was struggling with the return of the Beast Anxiety, which I had thought I’d dealt pretty well with. Not so much, though. A few weeks into working really hard at my attitude and understanding, and not seeing as much progress I would expect, I finally realised it may have something to do with the whole going off my meds thing….yeah. Little slow on the uptake maybe, but to be fair, there was a lag in the withdrawal effect hitting me. On googling the thing, I found people’s experiences differed wildly from the advice from my GP, which was along the lines of, oh, when you feel well enough just stop – don’t do that. Turns out when you drop your anti-depressant meds you should do so very, very slowly. Like, really slowly. Going from half a tablet to none doesn’t cut it. I have ended up, after all that, back on the meds, planning to go off them slowly this time – reduce to crumbs, is the advice of lived experience to avoid unpleasant side effects.
It was a very difficult few weeks, but still, the experience was instructive. For one, I was motivated to all the CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) one doesn’t have the motivation for when feeling well. I found an excellent online course of CBT at CT Info. In fact, he’s a WordPress brother. The course deals specifically with panic, but is easily adapted to anxiety, and even depression, I think. It was absolutely invaluable – that knowledge is what will take me beyond the meds. I completely recommend it.
Furthermore, it was a time of constructive introspection. I am usually pretty introspective, but more in an observational, oh my gosh, look what’s happening way. This time, the introspection, guided by CBT and Robin’s videos at CT Info, produced a sense of control – I realised for the first time I am not at the mercy of my feelings and thoughts – it’s possible to step back from them and view them objectively, and then choose whether or not to “buy into” them.
It was also something of a spiritual renaissance for me. I’m putting aside my philosophy books – skepticism has its limits. If the only thing one can truly depend on is that there is something thinking my thoughts right now, it follows we have to make some sort of subjective decision as to what level of skepticism we employ in real life. And why remove hope in something greater (and nicer) than oneself? The world is a lonely and echoing place enough. Besides, someone said – I forget who – the spiritual is something that has to be experienced emotionally, not intellectually, and despite that I’ve been trying to approach the thing exactly that way. But who says life is validated intellectually – why do we minimise the emotional, as if we’re ashamed of this thing we haven’t tamed, and “makes us” do things a “rational” person wouldn’t? Who says we’re so rational anyway? According to some psychologists, humans are rationalising, more than rational, creatures. In other words, we prefer to justify or explain – make excuses for – our behaviour, attitudes, feelings, etc, rather than acknowledge the truth and feel the discomfort of being in the wrong – which is the opposite of rationality. It’s ok to admit it, we all do it! It’s not to say we don’t have rational capacities.
In any case, I have a feeling we’re very wrong in our habit of trying to subjugate the emotional part of our being so completely to the intellectual. Perhaps we should embrace our emotional being instead of fighting it; learn to use it properly. Stop just experiencing emotions and tune in. Maybe it’s ironic for me to say this, given the most unpleasant nature of my emotional experience these past weeks, but on the other hand, just because something is unpleasant doesn’t make it bad or destructive in itself. Just as the ability to feel pain keeps us in one piece, those emotions have led me to new understanding of myself, to growth. The unpleasant emotions were still a product of my body trying to do what it does best; keep me alive. It may have been overreacting under the circumstances, but my emotions were telling me something, and understanding them correctly has led me into harmony with myself – and isn’t it really all about harmony?