The guns of her mind aim a line

It’s been an interesting experience, this past month or so, forcing myself to really re-calibrate the negative pathways in my brain. Discovering that anxiety is at the core of basically everything that I struggle with has been a major illuminating factor, though that still doesn’t allow me to be lazy; understanding the ways in which my brain makes big things out of little things so easily if I don’t check it carefully isn’t enough to actually stop it happening. I have to listen to what it’s saying, recognize that it’s essentially lying to me like a big, neurotic jerk, and focus instead on the things I know or trust to be true.

Though I think everyone on earth must struggle to some degree with trust, I suspect it particularly affects those of us who grapple with anxiety, only because anxiety means there are a lot of things your brain is going to try to convince you of that you fundamentally cannot trust. It’s unsettling to have to recognize that your brain is, in many ways, the most effective liar you’ve ever known. (And I once knew a girl in junior high who literally pretended to be twins. And it worked, for, like, two weeks! That was so insane it was more impressive than anything, though.)  It’s hard work to learn when to stop yourself and say, “No. This is a ridiculous thing to think, and here is why.” With anxiety, your brain likes to lie because it is easy, and because it has gotten very good at it. And who doesn’t like doing what’s familiar and easy?

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Essentially, what I’m learning to do now is teach my brain an almost entirely new language, or at least a different dialect of what it’s been speaking to me for a very long time. It’s a bit of a steep learning curve, and I have stumbled a few times along the way, as those closest to me no doubt recognize, but I just keep pushing. Which is why I’m able to, today — even after entertaining a thought that was painful, then grappling with the realization that I had no actual reason to believe such a thing in the first place; even when dressed in a rush and not looking my best by any means — smile a relaxed smile, and breathe easier. It is a process, but it feels as though those atrophied muscles up in my big, silly head are slowly getting stronger.

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2 thoughts on “The guns of her mind aim a line

  1. I love what you say about having to teach your brain an “almost entirely new language, or at least a different dialect of what it’s been speaking to me for a very long time.” I feel like I was doing that for a while, doing pretty well at learning it, and then it was as if I stopped learning that language and got “busy” with other things, and then I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the little of that language I’d learned and it felt like I’d have to start over, except for maybe a few random words. *wry smile* Sometimes it really is two steps forward, one step back… again and again.

    A former therapist (had to stop going because I couldn’t afford it anymore) once told me to look at it like climbing a mountain or a big hill. It may feel as if I’m going up and up and the top will never be reached, but I need to stop myself every once in a while when I hit a plateau and allow myself to look out and down and see how very far I’ve already come. 🙂 Then it won’t feel like such a torturous journey because I know what I’ve already accomplished and it’s worth something, even with the stumbling every once in a while.

    It’s hard to remember that when in the thick of the emotional struggles, though. 😉

    At any rate, I love your term “recalibrating.” It’s like we’re trying and learning and doing what we can, but sometimes the screen starts to waver and we need to recalibrate it to get a clear picture again. I may need to remember that word when I feel like I’m not doing enough and I’m beating myself up for it or feel like it’s pointless and I’m stuck. Just… recalibrate and keep going. ❤

    Again, I admire you for taking these steps for yourself. I KNOW it is not easy. But I hope you see slivers of goodness coming from it anyway. Thank you again for sharing your journey and your lessons as you go.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, that’s very true! It’s something you really have to remain vigilant about, just like anything to do with mental health, really. It can be so easy to get lazy, and think that everything is fine and will remain that way, and then get tripped up (even sometimes by something really small!) somewhere down the line. That’s another lesson I learned as the year progressed, after writing this; the initial epiphany I had would do me no real good in the long-term if I treated it as though that was the end of the work, when really it’s just the beginning.

      That’s good advice! I’ve noticed that in other areas of my life, too, not just mental ones (e.g. working on skincare, and thinking the progress is slow/hardly noticeable, but then happening to see an old photo, and realizing that it’s actually improved a lot!); it can be easy to lose sight of progress when it’s something you deal with daily and seems to move so slowly.

      I’ve seen a lot of goodness come from it, even more than I expected/hoped for, really, and that’s been the main factor in encouraging me to stick with it. Friends have noticed it, it’s greatly improved my most important relationships (including the one with myself), and I generally feel much more at ease than I used to. And again, you’re very welcome.

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