I wake up and in 10 seconds it’s already here. A foreboding ripple of a wave, starting quiet from the back of my brain, it leaves a brief glimpse of the peace I had felt for the days first 9 seconds. By the time I’ve poured a cup of coffee the stress has settled over me like a low hum, the fight or flight of second ten has subsided and the fog has rolled in to remain until sleep comes again in 16 hours or so. This is just life.
I started to say this is just life with anxiety, but while anxiety can be a bi product, stress seems to be the driver. I’m not a natural worrier. I want my wife and kids and family to be safe but I don’t worry constantly about them being out in the world. I know that crazy things can happen, but I also know I can’t control that without keeping everyone inside and hope we don’t just kill each other.
You don’t need to be a brain scientist to connect the dots from stress to anxiety to depression, and I also believe the dots can be connected different ways, but the three are almost always connected and the order is just semantics in the end. Feeling any of them is usually feeling all of them.
When I was a kid I had more of a straight up depression thing going on. I mean sure there may have been stressors, but mine was the usual teenage angst and longing backed up with my dads addiction and a penchant for falling deeply in love seeming beyond the scope of my age and experience. I’ve always been a weird mix of class clown and super intense. I still am.
As I’ve gotten older it’s more self/business inflicted stress which causes anxiety, which causes me to constantly criticize and feel like I’m never going to amount to shit. Rinse. Repeat. Over and over it’s like a bottle of Prell you unknowingly wash your hair 20 times in a row with. “IT SAYS REPEAT!!”
But enough with playing self psychologist. There ought to be something more to this and there is. When it comes to stress(ors) I’ve found my go to method of dealing with them is to ignore them. Like a petulant 3 year old I stick my lip out and turn away instead of dealing with them. I pack it down really well into that “I’m not dealing with this” corner of my brain and go to sleep hoping I’ll wake up to a different reality. My word, the idiocy. If this isn’t the ultimate “repeat” in the shampoo cycle, I don’t know what is.
Luckily (mostly painful reality), we can’t ignore things forever. Those first morning ripples that can ruin your day before it starts will eventually turn into giant waves. And giant waves crash and that my friends is the power of reality. Sooner or later you are going to have to quit ignoring and start figuring out how to ride on top of the waves instead of getting crushed by them.
Again my advice is simple. You don’t have to stand up on the first wave, lay on your board and ride it in. Pick something you’ve got to work through that’s leaving you empty and work on it. Pick a little wave, one that gives you a little bit of that exhilaration of confidence and speed and ride it in. Paddle out and ride another and another.
Take the things that cause you stress. Maybe some you’ve ignored, and you handle them instead of vice versa. Relish in that feeling of being in control, even just for a moment and remember it. Let it be the new wave that creeps in 10 seconds into your day.