Trapped mind

September 18, 2020 § Leave a comment

My mind is trapped in fear, and this is how I discovered it. We found out today that some friends are moving to Dehradun. I’m happy for them, but it put me in a deep funk for a bit because it brought home to me, my own unrealised dream of resettling in the hills of the Nilgiris. And now it’s too late. Our son is a pre-teen and very attached to his friends circle here in the city and his video games — that he plays with them, and discusses endlessly — and so on.

In my mind, all evening, I blamed my wife. She was the one who steadfastly refused to move to the Nilgiris with the refrain ‘what will we do?’ I always felt that deep down, she just didn’t want to go, because she had been happy with her life with a good job in the city before our son was born and that is what she wanted to get back to. There were complications in the pregnancy and she couldn’t work and she was only able to get back to a full time job many years later.

In the interim we didn’t move, when our son was still a small child and when it would have been easier, partly because we hadn’t saved enough money, and partly because my wife remained steadfast in her determination to not go. ‘What will we do?’ was the refrain. If she had shared my enthusiasm, the question could have been overcome. We were both journalists, and quite possibly, I could have convinced one boss or the other to let me be based in the Nilgiris — covering not only the region, but also working the phone for stories from the cities.

But I’ve also changed over 15 jobs in my career and my wife’s pointed out more than once that I never seem to be happy anywhere. ‘You’ve never been happy anywhere’ she pointed out today too, suggesting that going to the Nilgiris would have been no different.

Anyway, I spent the entire evening in my funk and in my mind, bitterly blaming my wife for our lost chance at going to the Nilgiris. I also kept on thinking about it as I started and got into my evening walk. At one point it occured to me that my funk wasn’t simply about learning that these friends were moving to the hill station in the north and we were stuck here. It was really because a big part of my mind is convinced that I’m going to die.

So it was really about feeling that these friends were going to a fun new chapter of their lives while I was going to be left behind and that I would die as well. I think my mind has gotten this way ever since an intermittent fasting experiment went badly wrong nearly three years ago and my anxiety related heart palpitations started.

Today’s immediate trigger for the thoughts about death was another incidence of something that happens to me once in a while. This is that during afternoon naps, just as I’m about to fall into sleep a kind of explosive sound happens inside my head and I become fully awake simultaneously. ‘Explosive sound’ like the sound of a cracker bursting is the best way to describe it. There’s no pain or other physical sensation, but it really scares me each time.

This is why I want to get off the anxiety and depression drugs. They are messing with my brain chemistry too much.

The bursting sound happened today afternoon too and I was already in a depressed state of mind because of it. And then I learnt about the friends going away. As I kept thinking about it all, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it wasn’t about my lost chance at the Nilgiris, but that a big part of my mind is trapped in the cycle of thinking that I’m going to die which depresses me and it’s a negative feedback loop.

On the brighter side, Jon Kabat Zinn’s book Full Catastrophe Living documents how walking meditation has done wonders for many people who attended his mindfulness-based stress reduction programme, and I’m determined more than ever to keep up my walking. I walked for two hours today, back and forth in our living room.

I started walking in the living room towards the end of March, and by July the heart palpitations were gone.

Kabat Zinn suggests a quiet lane, but the living room is just fine too. Because this isn’t the kind of brisk bracing walk one takes on a winter morning or even the kind of walking one does outdoors. This is a very gentle walk, always being mindful of the whole body walking. I normally do this for about 90 minutes every day, but today because I was so disturbed, I wanted the extra time to get my bearings back and feel a bit okay.

And also figuring out the real reason behind my funk helped.

#anxiety #depression #mindfulness #walking

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