Posted by: cg00n | October 28, 2008

Me and my demons

So much for buoyancy 😦  I feel rather like the stock market right now, although perhaps not quite that bad.  Like my mini-crash back in mid-August I am anxious and edgy a lot right now.  Inevitably this results in more postings to the blog – no news really is good news, in general!

We have been doing a lot of thinking and talking about death and dying over the last few days.  That is not because we feel it is imminent nor because we are morbidly fascinated by it but because we feel that if we look it full in the face and accept it we will no longer fear it.  P led the way here.  She has been reading quite a bit of Buddhist writing on the Web and it was one of these pieces that suggested we take this approach.  It makes good sense to me.

For the last little while I have been working on an alternative perspective:  in times of uncertainty be optimistic since I have nothing to lose and will feel better by so doing.  This has been working very well but it does have its limitations.  In particular if, for some reason, Bad Things appear closer or more certain the whole structure can crumble very quickly.  Then the demons show up, nicely timed for Halloween.  I think this is partly what happened on Friday, although I also seem to be congenitally disposed towards anxiety. It is not death itself that scares me:  it’s the process of getting there.

As long as I am in this state and not dysfunctionally anxious I might as well try to take advantage of it, so I have been trying to analyze the thoughts that appear to trigger anxious feelings.  I have managed to catch two of these demons today:

  • being a burden to my family, or even just not contributing enough
  • pain and discomfort resulting from the cancer or its treatment

I bounced the first of these off P earlier on and was assured that she is quite accustomed to my low energy state.  When I get around to doing stuff I can get a lot done.  When I am feeling low (as at present) I feel tired and heavy; even mental exercise is an effort.  Anyway, from her point of view this is pretty much a non problem.  We have been together now for long enough that she knows who I am and appears to love me anyway.  This is a big relief, so that’s one demon exorcised.

The second demon is trickier because there is no way to banish it completely – AFAIK.  It tends to appear in many different guises.  I have to examine it in detail until I am used to whatever horrible form it has taken on each occasion.  This can get very tiring.  It feels as though I am constantly on high alert, expecting it to crash my consciousness at any moment.

At this point various other things may prove to be of service to me.  Firstly there is mindfulness, the ability to engage one’s mind totally with whatever one wishes.  Used in Buddhist-style meditation, the object of mindfulness is typically one’s breathing.  This keeps all thoughts at bay providing a little oasis of calm.  If I could manage to be mindful 100% of the time there would be no room in my mind for the demons, but this is a very tall order.  Still, the more I practice the easier it will be to put my mind where I want it to be, not wherever it happens to want to go.

Secondly, there is the observation that it’s not what happens that matters; it’s how you feel about it (paraphrased from the Greek Stoic philospher Epictetus) which separates the demon itself from one’s reaction to it.  My sessions with the hypnotherapist attempted to take advantage of this, with some success.  If I had enough control over my own mind I could choose how to feel when the demons show up.

In any case what all this boils down to is that all these demons are products of my own mind, so that is the only place where I have any power over them.  Damn it, it is my mind! It’s the only one I’ve got (I think) and I don’t want it overrun with creatures from the dungeon dimensions!  I am training hard and hopeful that I will soon be able to clean up this mess which I have allowed to fester for far too long.

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Responses

  1. Watched ‘The Fountain’ (2006) last night. Recommended.

  2. When we speak of demons in our minds, my thoughts are that they are the things that we feel are not completed, challenges that we feared to persue or acts that we have not been able to justify in our lives. This is the joys of life and they will continue as long as we choose. Keep questioning the thoughts of your existence and live life to the fullest. If we knew when we were going to die then we would waste so much time worrying as the time approached. The only real truth in our world is that we live and we die. Have no regrets! You know this is how I live my friend. Thanks for dropping in!
    I am here always.
    Kim

  3. As you have gathered from my Facebook page, I am clinically depressed at the moment, but I have grown used to Fall recurrences of doubt, dread, fear, panic, grief, rage and similar relatives of your own demons. There’s gotta be a factory out there making a killing on world anxiety, so I do what I always do; I use my light box every morning, get lots of outdoor air and some exercise, go someplace I have never been before, play with lots of dogs and children, start a project that will require meditative effort to complete, and also, most importantly, find someone who needs compassion and help and then focus on them for a part of every week. Demons feed on your undivided attention. Depression and anxieties thrive on cyclical thinking and pick up speed unless you get distracted. So distract.

    What good does it do to analyze these things to death? You have plenty of time to do that with your doctors so in the mean time, go focus on something or somebody else and it will derail the momentum of your anxieties. And that’s the suggestion from this Miss-Smartypants-who-knows-whats-best-for-everybody-else!

    I send you lots of love and hugs in return for the love and hugs you sent to me! Tashi Delek!

  4. […] Read the original here: Me and my demons « Melancholynoma […]


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