Voices in my head

Anybody who's managing even mild depression or seasonal affective disorder knows about the voices in the head.

"He doesn't really love me."

"I'm no good at my job; they can tell I'm not happy; they're going to fire me."

"What if I left the stove on and the house caught on fire and the cat ran upstairs and the dog was stuck in her crate and the flames were leaping?"

But I can rob those voices of their power. (I wish I'd known this in my 20s. Would have saved me some lonesomeness.) It helps to start by calling them what they are. When I start to whirl into that tornado, I interrupt myself kindly but firmly: "This is something I am making up. This is coming from me. I am making it up."

This mantra reminds me that I have some say over what goes on in my head. And it buys me time to investigate and address the physical conditions that make scary thoughts harder to fight:

  1. When was the last time I drank a glass of water?
  2. Do I need to take some deep breaths?
  3. Did I get any exercise in the last 24 hours?
  4. Did I eat sugar or milk in the last 3 hours? (Or whatever intensifies your own stress.)
  5. Did I get enough sleep last night?

While I work on choosing one of those remedies as a course of physical action, I begin to be calm enough to think about what stress I am responding to by creating fearful thoughts. What is it I'm really afraid of? If I can name it, it's never quite as scary.

(Cross-posted from A Sunny Hello.)


jen said...

i love this - thank you for the reminder - always needed.