Social illness

Getting Back to the Present Moment – My Brain’s Not Broken

Earlier this week, I reflected on some of the challenges of going on autopilot. Though it can be helpful when I’m dealing with anxiety and depression, going on autopilot can also make things more difficult. I can get too focused on accomplishing my goals, and rush into doing something. I am not always the most decisive person (and I know my friends and family would agree), and being on autopilot often exploits my indecisiveness. I tend to feel best about my decisions when I am in the present moment, I understand what’s in front of me and I know the various possibilities. That being said, it’s not always easy to get back into the present moment, and I’d like to talk about that today.

I’m sure I’ve written about being in the moment before, but it really is a challenging concept when managing mental health issues. Some of the most challenging symptoms of mental illness result in loneliness, isolation, de-personalization and solitude. When it comes to mental illness, people often feel like they’re on their own and that no one can understand their pain. If you’re unable to figure out what kind state you’re in mentally, how can you expect to get out of it? If you are looking to escape or distract yourself from the challenges you’re facing, how can you get back to the present?

I’ve written before about getting back to center, and I feel like the goal of being present is a similar concept. However, the differences in the ways my mental illness symptoms exist can make this a challenge. As much as my depression and anxiety are linked, they manifest themselves quite differently. When I am experiencing depression, I don’t often think about grounding myself because it’s not what I need. Depression creates challenges like low energy levels and anhedonia, and so grounding myself isn’t as easy at it sounds.

When our mental illness proves to be a challenge, getting back to the present can be vital to our wellness. Being in the present means acknowledging what’s going on around us, and validating our experience in it. Struggling with mental illness can make people not feel like themselves, and being present directly combats that. There is no other ‘us’ except the person in this moment, moving to the next moment. But it’s so easy to forget that in favor of the thought spiral and negative thinking that can feel habitual.

It’s not always easy to get back to being in the moment, but the effort is worth it. Life is difficult and challenging, but there are so many moments that make it all worth it. Sometimes, it’s the effort and patience to wait for that moment, to make it through a hard time because a good one is coming, that are the sweetest of all. So whether you’re on autopilot or in the moment, I wish you all the luck, care and strength in the world that you get where you need to be – because every single one of us deserves that.

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