It hit me today while I was attending a group meeting.
Very often the meetings are started with check-in. Each participant in the group has a chance to say how they are feeling or talk for a minute about something that is going on in their lives.
Participation is not mandatory, and anyone can pass if they do not want to speak. Lately, I’ve noticed, every time I check-in, I’ve talked about the newest problem I am having.
Realizing that today, I decided to think of something positive instead.
Not only did it make me feel better to share a success, it set the tone for me for the rest of the meeting. I found I was much more attuned to others and was able to listen to what they were saying. And, I was able to share personal insights that were triggered by what others were saying. Holly cow, what a great feeling.
And all I did was choose positive over negative, happy over sad.
This has me thinking, am I really that troubled by not being able to get out of bed in the morning? Is it so terrible that I sleep a full eight hours before arising to start the day? Possibly, but not likely. The whole idea that this is very, very bad is coming from me. I am the one who has labeled it a problem. And I am the one who agonizes over getting out of bed before the absolute last moment so I make it to work on time.
But am I really sleeping longer?
It would appear upon further investigation, that the answer is no. So why in the world am I making such a big deal out of this? I seem to be catastrophizing the whole situation. And I am doing that while at the same time, maximizing the negative aspects of getting a good night’s sleep.
Then, just to mess it up even further, I am minimizing all the reasons why I have been consistently getting 8 hours of sleep.
Before going back to work, I would go to bed around 10 PM and get up around 6 to 7 AM. Now, I am going to bed at 1 AM and getting up between 8 Am and 9 AM. Unless my math is wrong, that’s just 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Why in the world am I feeling like all I do is sleep?
I do know I am sleeping more restfully, not the short, fitful sleep I was getting before and for months after getting out of the hospital. That was agonizing, not being able to get a night of solid sleep. Going to bed at 10, waking up at 1, 3, 4, then 5 or 6 am, each time having a harder and harder time returning to some sort of sleep.
Lately, I have woken up from REM sleep.
I think that’s where you dream. Whatever it’s called, I have woken and remembered some intense dreams. Many dreams surround trying to accomplish something and being thwarted by a force I cannot see but know is there in the shadows somewhere. Hmm, could that be depression?
Back to the sleeping, I am feeling a little tired by the end of my workday.
These are now ending often at 11 PM, and then I have the 1 ½ hour commute home. I have gotten a few books on tape and a few CDs of historical books. These have been great company and I feel like I am putting the drive time to good use.
In an earlier time, I was convinced that listening to music or anything on the car radio was a monumental mistake.
I told myself if I relaxed and put in a CD or turned on the radio, I would come home to a catastrophe. Usually, this was a picture in my mind of my house on fire, with everything I owned destroyed in the massive blaze. So, for many months, there was no sound in my truck, other than the noise of the engine.
READ MORE: I stopped playing music while driving
I chose to do that and now I choose not to be afraid of the radio.
I put on all kinds of music, and sometimes even sing along. Heck, I might have been singing today as I passed you on my way to work. The point is, I had a choice and I had made one that wasn’t realistic.
Asking better questions and looking at the “I can’t turn on the radio” from a different perspective, I saw how I wasn’t thinking logically. And in my head, I had chosen to go to the negative, catastrophic idea, rather than ask a few questions and realize that turning on the radio in my pickup truck is not scientifically linked to my house burning down.
So now I have applied that new thinking to the information I provide during check-in.
And even more important, I am using this newfound enlightenment to fuel my positive ideas and put the brakes on all my catastrophizing. This is not a helpful thinking style and has taken control of my thoughts many times over the years. I am glad to be choosing the positive.
It makes the day go better and helps me get closer to living a balanced life with depression.
Join me on my journey and see what I’m thinking next because even I don’t know what it will be. No spam, just me.
My Concealed Depression is written under the pseudonym “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.