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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