It’s one thing to have a logical understanding of something. It’s another thing entirely to experience the emotions of that thing. And it’s yet a third thing when emotion refuses to capitulate to logic, no matter how badly you wish it would.
The other day, I wanted to go to the movies. I was going alone and this caused me some anxiety.
Me: I’m going to see a matinee of Little Women after work. I keep meaning to take myself to the movies more but I’m nervous about going alone. I keep having anxiety thoughts about someone molesting me.
Friend: Ooh…enjoy! No one is going to molest you silly.
Me: There’s the logical brain, and there’s the emotional brain, and ne’er the two shall meet. Like, of course nobody is going to molest me (logical brain) BUT DO I REALLY KNOW THAT? (emotional brain)
The conflict between the emotional and the logical mind is intense at times. It’s like two magnets repelling each other. They each recognize the other is there, but there is no possible way for them to conjoin and blend.
This was the case for me as I drove home yesterday.
The sun is setting a little later. The afternoons are longer. Yesterday, it actually wasn’t raining or horribly cold, and I didn’t have a ton of things I needed to get done immediately.
And thus the conflict began. It’s one that winds up plaguing me throughout my depressive season, the time of year known to normal folks as spring and summer.
It’s the conflict between should and want to. Between what I believe normal, healthy, better than me people do and what I decide to do. It’s self-judgment, and it’s harsh, mean, and horrible.
As soon as I felt the warm temperature and saw the sun was still up, I fell hard into the old anxious self-judgment trap.
“What can I do that will get me outside? I should be outside!”
Pay attention to that word… SHOULD.
I hate the word should. Try as I might to banish it from my vocabulary, it creeps back in and it never brings anything good.
Yes, I enjoy being outside. But I’m an introvert. Outside and alone are almost impossible to accomplish. For me, right now, in my current abode, being outside means encountering other people.
Where there are people, there is anxiety and self-judgment. Uncontrollable thoughts about all the flaws others see in me, all the snickering they are doing or pity they are feeling, hammer my brain without interruption.
I have to do battle with these thoughts, these imagined negative assessments of me. Quieting them requires extreme effort, and I am not usually successful. It is hard, unpleasant work, and outside winds up being an exhausting and upsetting experience.
I dream of the day this will be different. When either I’m better able to control my mind, or I’ve found a home where I have a walled off cottage garden to tend, with benches and cozy chaises for reading and dozing.
Or, both. Both of those things would be lovely.
The reality of right now, though, makes spending time out of doors unpleasant. And yet, when the weather is nice and I want to be outdoors, spending time indoors is unpleasant, too.
That’s what spring and summer mean to me. Day upon day of sitting inside looking wistfully at sunshine and blue skies, longing for the gloomy, short, dark, rainy days when I feel at peace with myself.
All winter I’ve hoped I was setting myself up so when spring arrived I would be better equipped to handle it than I have in the past. I realize now the only thing I’ve worked on is awareness. I have a much better sense of the cyclical nature of my depression and some of the triggers. This is a good thing. This is an achievement.
The next challenge is figuring out what the fuck to do about it.