My depression and unhelpful thinking is much more subtle than house flies.
I’m sitting on the porch, enjoying my first cup of coffee. Then I notice something tickling my leg. Just below my knee is a house fly. It looks up at me with all its eyes as if to say “what?” Then I sweep my hand down near it and if flies off.
Before I can grab my coffee cup, another has landed on the same leg, down by my ankle.
Instinctively, I reached down with my hand to brush it away. Now there is a fly buzzing around my face. His cousin is going after my other leg. This swatting and rushing lasts until my coffee is cool enough to drink without having to take just a sip for fear of burning my mouth.
My depression can be doggedly persistent in the same annoying way.
Unhelpful thinking can pop up at a moments notice. And I find myself brushing it aside almost instinctively. This is such a change from a year ago when I did not even understand what unhelpful thinking styles were. Learning about unhelpful thinking, then acting on the new information has been one of the cornerstones of my recovery.
Filling out the “here’s what I look like when I am well” worksheet from WRAP has given me a tool to measure myself through.
The next worksheet I have lists possible triggers. One example is road rage, which I kindly listed as traffic. But it is way stronger than just traffic. And it can set me off, creating frustration and anger where none existed. Having made a conscious decision not to get upset by New Jersey drivers some years ago, it surprised me that I had reverted to being angry.
Passing what I perceived as a slowpoke on a moonless night, on a curve, at over 80 mph, I saw oncoming lights.
Pulling back into my lane, I could feel unhelpful thinking all around me. I was almost shaking at my near miss. Why had I made the decision to pass there, on a curve? If I had really needed to pass, I travel the road enough to know that after the curve there is a long straightaway. This is a very safe spot to pass, even at night.
But I had projected my anger at the truck in front of me and blamed him for my actions.
That driver, like the house flies pestering me this morning, are only doing what they can do. Big rig trucks can only go so fast on curvy back roads. And flies buzz and land wherever they want to. I’ve lived with house flies for over 60 years. I know how they operate. When the air is still, they want to be on you.
Now that a slight breeze has begun, the flies are not as aggressive.
Depression triggers are a lot like these house flies. There are times when I cannot get away from them, and times when I do not see them at all. By taking a step back, I can look at these and see what’s really going on. I can do this without getting angry or frustrated.
Well, most of the time.
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The flies are back again, landing on my ankles. A reasonable person would either continue to swat at them or just go inside. Wanting to enjoy the first part of my morning on the porch, I choose to not get impatient and angry at the flies. They are just being flies. And the breeze is becoming more consistent, keep the flies on the wing.
Although, on the top of my laptop, a fly is cleaning its multiple legs, while contemplating its next move.
I will not give in to the flies, but rather will go get my second cup of coffee and return to the porch. The cool morning promises to give way to a hot and humid afternoon. Enjoying the cool of the day, I am making a conscious decision not to let the flies get the best of me.
READ MORE: Recent Raccoons and My Depression
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