I couldn’t sleep last night. I can’t say it’s because I “had a lot on my mind” or I’m “overtired” or (the biggest lie of all) “I don’t know.” Because I do know. I know exactly why I couldn’t sleep.
I was fixated. I couldn’t stop thinking about my actions (or the lack thereof) and what I could’ve done differently throughout the day.
I could’ve struck up a casual conversation.
I could’ve answered the question correctly.
I could’ve said something smarter.
I could’ve made eye contact.
I could’ve kept my mouth shut.
I could’ve been friendlier.
These “could’ves” turned into “what ifs” and birthed a world of fantasies. I couldn’t stop dreaming up what would’ve happened if only I’d made one small step in a different direction.
What if I didn’t freeze around people I don’t know?
What if I carefully constructed jokes to make more people laugh & think I’m funny?
What if I spoke up?
I kept jumping from elaborate fantasies back to the reality of my deadpanned eyes staring unfocused at my covers.
It was 12:36 a.m. It’d been 2 hours since I’d switched from the outer escape of Netflix to the inner escape of “what if.” From what aspect of my charmed life am I escaping, you ask? Depression and anxiety. They will always be swords pointed at me. That’s why I take Zoloft every morning. Maybe one day I’ll be able to wean myself off, but for right now, it’s a necessity. I need the chemical assistance.
Being on medication doesn’t mean the swords stop pointing at you, but it does help you to see them as swords instead of security blankets. And that’s how you fight the battles at 12:36 a.m. Last night I lost, but this morning I won.
I’m sitting in what I call my “morning nook.” It consists of a clay-colored chair that is comfier than a sea of pillows and a blanket that is softer than puppy fur. A coffee cup, breakfast spread, morning devotional, bible and journal are regular attendees. I don’t always spend time in my morning nook because I know it’s a one-way ticket into my thoughts – a terrifying thought in and of itself. I don’t want to deal with the reasons I couldn’t sleep last night. I don’t want to write them out in my journal because then they’ll seem silly & I’ll seem silly & the shame will multiply faster than rabbits.
But this morning, thanks to this little thing called the Holy Spirit, I spent time in my morning nook. Actually, I’m still here. I’m writing this from the aforementioned sea of pillows and puppy fur.
That’s why I won this morning.
I wrote out every thought I could remember from last night: the ones that scare me to even entertain and the ones that make me want to stop writing them down. By the grace of God, I filled 6 pages. Those pages are a direct “screw you” to the devil.
I don’t know what you think about the devil or if you’ve even given him a thought at all in your lifetime. I believe that there is this thing called satan (who I refuse to capitalize because he doesn’t have the power he claims to have). He knows I struggle with mental health so he likes to make my thoughts spin out of control. Isn’t that sweet?
And then, to make matters worse, he tries to convince me that unraveling them is a bad idea because it will only lead to shame. Like I said, such a sweet guy.
He’s wrong. Unraveling the thoughts is exactly what I need to do to fight the depression. I’ve been playing piano for 15 years and my fingers still can’t write out my thoughts as fast as my brain can create them. So, writing slows the process. It picks the exhausted hamster up off the wheel and says, “Take it easy, little guy.”
But unraveling is hard. There’s a reason no one likes to untangle a thin-chained necklace. When there seem to be more knots than not, it’s easy to give up and buy a new one. But, chances are, no matter how hard you try, it’s going to get tangled eventually, too.
You don’t have to go out and find something new every time you feel tangled. You’ll be spent (bank account + emotional energy) if you do that.
This morning I won because I reminded myself that I don’t have to keep burrowing. I’ve been doing that for so long that in my messed up brain, it makes more sense to keep doing it than to change now. I can say all I want that it’s “too late in the game,” but that actually doesn’t make sense. If I claim to be a logical person, then I need to apply logic here, too.
If I believe that I don’t know how long my life will be, how can I claim that too much of my life has gone by for me to change now? That’s not logical.
Let’s say I only have 24 hours left. If that’s true, then it’s clearly pointless to change now.
Wrong again. Who knows who will be a witness? If I believe that people can impact people in a matter of seconds, how can I claim that that couldn’t happen in those hours? If one minute out of my whole life were used to impact someone else, then that would be worth it. And if I believe that I won’t know when that minute will be, how can I claim that it’s too late for me to get ready for it?
If your head is spinning & your go-to logic just crumbled: (1) you’re welcome (2) the next sentence will make sense.
It’s easy to say that your own life isn’t worth it, but it’s a lot harder to say the same about someone else’s life.
Try it: There’s no point in my putting effort into today because making someone laugh that needs a few seconds of relief isn’t worth it.
I don’t believe that sentence I just wrote. Not one bit. So, the “it’s not worth it” myth is officially debunked. It has zero legs to stand on when depression calls its name.
I have to change the way I use “what if.”
What if there’s a minute today where the way I act impacts someone?
What if someone else will benefit from me getting out of bed today?
What if she needs to be asked how her day is going?
What if he needs to hear a joke?
This morning I won because I turned “what if” against the devil. I’m using his weapon on him for a change. I’m learning how to fight.