It has been a year since I began seeing a therapist for depression and anxiety. A year of getting over hard things, moving forward and self-discovery. The depression is gone. Anxiety is a bit of a different animal. Something I now realize I’ve lived with much longer than I care to acknowledge. But it also is much better.
I am still learning new things. The latest is the importance of recognizing when I am tired. What is it about saying, “I feel tired,” in our society? Even to ourselves?
The other day, after teaching children at VBS, I came home and did some more things. That evening I was physically and emotionally tired. But I still thought there were some business things I should take care of that night. Or something. Shouldn’t I always be doing or thinking about something?
But as I concentrated on the thoughts rolling around in my head, I realized I was ruminating and obsessing. Lots of “you should” and “you need to” thoughts were coming up. Along with “you never…”
I noticed a difference in how I felt. Not only was I tired, but now I was starting the spiral. You know, the spiral from feeling vulnerable (uncertain) to shame (you are not enough) to depression (why even try?).
Now, I know from experience what happens when I go down the spiral. Those thoughts would stay with me throughout the night and I would wake up the next morning with a huge helping of anxiety and depression.
This was the first time I connected being tired with going down the spiral. Being tired contributed to my run-away thoughts.
So I stopped.
- I accepted that I felt tired. Exhausted.
- I made the choice to stop my thoughts. Everything I was thinking about could wait until the morning when I wouldn’t be tired and could think more clearly.
- And I relaxed. I sat in silence watching the sunset, watched some tv with my husband, took a bath and went to bed. And I didn’t think about anything.
- Most of all, I realized when I rest and relax when I am tired, I am treating myself with grace and compassion.