When I was a kid I often worried about the future. All kids do. Except I took it to another level when I was younger. I’m not sure what outside sources were contributing to my worried mind, or if it was the beginnings of my bipolar disorder. Either way, it was bad. I would sit up all night watching and worrying about the next nuclear apocalypse or asteroid bound for earth on PBS infomercials. So much so that I would lose countless hours of sleep and be groggy and tired the next day at school. I even had paranoid delusions of being video taped after seeing a movie (saved for another blog post). That just gives some insight into the mind I had back then.
The reason I bring this childhood memory back up is because of the current political climate of our world, and what it is doing to my mind once again. I recently started medication for my bipolar diagnosis, but even with that I have been having paranoia creep back in again. I know many will say its justified, given the current state of affairs in this country, but it goes beyond that for me. I have flashbacks to those childhood nights staring and worrying at a TV about whether I would be alive the next morning.
Once again I am left wondering what’s next. At the same time I type this up, I understand how foolish the thoughts may be. But I will still most likely go to bed tonight worrying as I try and fall asleep. I could possibly blame it on the meds, since they are new, but I had these same thoughts as a child without medication. Unsurprisingly, doomsday phobias are very common among people who suffer from mental illness. I just so happen to be one of those common people.
I never really tried to help myself back when I was a child. Simply because I had no idea anything was wrong with me. I thought everyone else had the same fears. I also didn’t have the resources as a child to be able to get help for an illness I didn’t know I had. So every night I would watch as long as it was on TV. It eventually went away. Those commercials stopped airing around the same time. Coincidence, I think not. My mind can be very manipulated by outside sources, as is the case with most other bipolar diagnosed people. I didn’t know what to do.
Fast forward 20 years…
One thing I have on my side this time around (always there but unbeknownst in my childhood) is God and access to a plethora of resources. I have the mindset of an adult that knows what is irrational, but also one that can’t actually help itself to overcome feelings, thoughts, and emotions like these on its own.
What has helped me tremendously this time around is meditation, prayer, and Bible study. The combination of these three has been a lifesaver. Although it doesn’t rid me completely of it, it does help to push the thoughts back a little.
When one of these thoughts starts to emerge, I take a breather. Literally, a breather. I take a few moments to breathe in heavily and ground myself. I use the Breathe feature on my watch. This can be a quick go-to if you are busy at the time of your thoughts. It allows oxygen to enter the system easier and also helps clear your mind. It’s a mini-meditation.
During these times I pray to God to help me through the moment, but I also take time to reflect on all He has done for me, and what He has planned. We can’t at all pretend to know the path God has chosen and set into motion for all of us. I make sure to thank Him for everything I have been able to experience in this life so far. I also take the time to verbalize that I know if the world does end the next day, I have established a connection and reliance on God.
Using the Bible to redirect my mind is crucial as well. It helps me dive into The Word and understand everyone has had trials, mentally and physically in their life. And in most cases, way worse experiences than mine. Soaking in the words in the Bible can help you set your mind at ease and also remind you that everything happens for a reason and that there is comfort from God Himself for us. Filling your mind with good thoughts can help drown out the negative background thoughts.
Staying occupied, as you see, can help in some ways. In closing, I will share my favorite go-to verse for times like these. I hope it helps you too.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry abnout itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 (NIV)