Yesterday I had that experience of unraveling again. It typically starts with some feeling of physical pain in my body, something that has been recurring for years, and for a moment I get frustrated about how I have tried so many times and for so long to address it, and I don’t feel I have control over it. Or I start researching options to fix it, and I get overwhelmed, too many doctors, too many options, suggestions to do X and not to do X, what is a fair price versus too good to be true versus overpriced? Or I interact with a really happy moment or see a friend or colleague has become successful, then I drift into comparing myself with others, people who have been successful and it seems like they earn enough money not to have these issues, or they are confident and have a positive attitude, and I regret the decisions I have made that seem to have brought me to this helpless feeling and place in my life.
One advice that a friend of mine gave me years ago was that these feelings of anxiety or depression are natural, they just come and go, like an acne or like a cold. Some mindfulness practices also suggest just sitting with the feeling, watching with curiosity, and letting it pass. Other techniques are to distract myself with some other activity. I tried some physical activities at the gym, swimming, dancing, bodyweight exercises, and it was brief relief yet returned back to the sadness. Then I just needed to let the time pass, even take a nap to reset my mind.
Hours later, the next day later, I feel better. I was invited to a bachata dance class, and got to experience new choreography and steps with new partners who were gracious and welcoming. I stopped by a cafe and found one of my favorite treats from Vietnam, bắp xào tôm khô (sautéed corn with dried shrimp). Early this morning, I had more time to spend practicing with a new dance partner, enjoying the latin music, new steps, and physical connection of dance. Then we went on adventure finishing errands and exploring the city.
This is much better than years ago where a bout of depression could last several days, getting stuck in a mental rut about what is wrong with my life. Yes, there are uncomfortable moments, but they pass. And eventually the sunshine comes out again, and there are so many delights to enjoy.