Rumination: How One Word Takes Over Your Life

**note: I actually dictated this post on my phone while I was driving from a friend’s back to Philly. When I didn’t have anyone to take my mind off the stress, and nowhere to go, I turned to my phone. I knew I couldn’t write so I spoke it- forgive the stream of consciousness writing. It was written a few weeks ago so any reference to time may be a little dated.

If you’ve ever dealt with depression or anxiety, doctors or psychologists will often talk about rumination- or how your thoughts ruminate to the point where you can’t let them go. While I’m making big strides in my fight against depression and anxiety this is the one thing that still constantly comes back to haunt me. These thoughts are things I can’t get out of my mind. Whether their rational or not they stick with me consume me until I’ve worked myself up into a frenzy or completely broken down.

Generally it happens when you have a lot of downtime. For me I think it happens most when I’m trying to go to sleep. I’ll be tired all day, and finally lay down in bed only to start stressing about things from the past…things that haven’t mattered in years… or completely irrational things I know aren’t even possible. Even when I tell myself it’s OK there’s nothing I can do, it’s a struggle to try and let it go.

The other time it happens a lot to me is during long car drive. While I try to occupy my mind with music or podcasts, every once in a while driving down the highway I start to feel anxious. I don’t even know what I’m anxious about. There doesn’t really have to be a reason, but I feel anxious. The scary thing is there’s not a lot I can do. I feel trapped in a small box. I can’t listen to guided meditations because I actively have to keep this car on the road. I could of course pull over if I really needed to and take a few minutes, or stop somewhere along the way to get my mind off of things, but sometimes all I want is to just be home. It seems the quickest way to get there is to just keep going.

A lot of things in my life feel like they’re getting so much better. My panic attacks happen much less frequently and more days are good days, but this loss of control over what I think about is painful. More than the thoughts themselves, the anxiety comes from knowing I can’t shake it off. It’s something I’m working on fighting but it really takes a lot of my energy.

I’ve been so happy to work for some really great people who understand that work-life balance is incredibly important. I’m also happy that my schedule is so flexible. If I have a bad day I can take time for myself, and that helps the recovery.

But between trying to pay the bills and getting better one major thing has slipped through the cracks: this blog. I’m OK with putting it on the back burner while I try and get myself together but I really wanted to try and create a safe space for others may be going through something similar. I wanted to create recipes so that other people who also struggle with an eating disorder can maybe feel better about their relationship with food, but while the recipes are stacking up I’m either too busy or too exhausted to post. I tell myself it’s OK, and my therapist tells me it’s OK, but it still bothers me.

I know I’m not the only one who has to choose to prioritize how to spend their days. Many people struggle with the exhaustion and the rumination much worse than I do.We’re not lazy because we can’t work in an office every day and we’re not lazy because we take lots of naps, we do it because we have to.

This week has been especially hard because I’ve been very sick. My body doesn’t quite know how to shake it, and because I can’t be as active it feels like some of my symptoms of anxiety are getting worse. It’s funny that something as simple as a cold can feel like it’s derailed a lot of your personal growth. It’s weeks like this that remind me I still have a long way to go. And that might be an expensive journey considering Obamacare doesn’t have the best co-pays for outpatient mental health, but that’s a whole different blog post. (Trust me after I got my 2017 quote, I’m definitely writing one.)

For now I’ll just say that even when you think you’re doing so much better (and you are!) it doesn’t mean it’s over. It’s a much longer journey than any of us ever expect whether it’s extremely mild or severe it’s a long battle.

So for all of us suffering from some sort of mental illness- thank you to all of those people in our lives who are patient while we continue to improve. It means the world to have people who understand it’s not an overnight fix. And as for me I’m working on different methods to combat my ruminating thoughts this blog post was one of them. I can honestly say now that I’ve reached the end of it, that writing it (or dictating it rather) really did help.

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Struggling With Depression in Broadcast News

With some inspiration from a former employer and mentor, I decided to begin to talk about paying attention to how our co-workers are handling stress in the workplace. The post on LinkedIn is titled Struggling With Depression in Broadcast News. Check out that link. For those of you who want a little more background before reading the article, keep reading here.

B_UvXfxWsAEeZOHFor 6 years I worked as a TV producer at several local stations. If you don’t know anything about the industry it’s rough. Many of the shifts have bad hours, when breaking news happens get used to long days and on top of it all you’re often dealing with very sensitive and upsetting topics. It’s hard and it takes its toll.

The day of the Boston Marathon bombing, I was in the control room live on the air. Then the news broke. For the next four hours I was managing the details, setting up interviews, giving my anchor new information, guiding the production crew, making new graphics and getting new video on the air. I did have help, but still it was a lot. It wasn’t until after I was done for the day I realized the gravity of what had happened. The saddest thing for me that day, was that I didn’t even have any emotions about the events until after the fact. It was a job, but realizing how desensitized you’ve become to tragedy is upsetting.

And I only work for the news! There are so many people working hard jobs with long hours and stressful situations. Look at hospital workers, firefighters and policemen. That’s just a small number of jobs that can wear you out. And if you’re like me, you care too much about what you’re doing.

So we need to begin to help each other and look out for warning signs of depression. Many people look ok, but are suffering in silence. We should at least be able to talk about this more so people aren’t afraid to ask for help. I’ve gotten a lot of great responses from this article. So please check it out. Let me know what you think. Start a conversation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sad and detached, you’re not alone. Many of us have been through it. I’m not a doctor, I’m not an expert, but I’ve someone who has been through it who is willing to listen.

Kara