Saturday, December 7, 2013

Umm... This all sounds messed up, even to me... but it didn't sound messed up two hours ago

In the therapy world, there is a skill called "Opposite Action". Generally, it's a good skill to use in coping with depression, anxiety, and other intense emotions.

Basically, the idea is: Do the opposite of what you feel like doing.
If you feel angry, serve the person.
If you feel tired or depressed and want to stay home in bed, get up and go to a party.
If you feel sad and want to cry, watch a funny movie and get yourself laughing.
If you feel anxious and afraid, do what you are afraid to do.

It's a pretty good skill to have, and is effective if emotions have no justifiable reason to exist.
It is not very effective when there's a good reason to feel angry, sad, tired, sad, or afraid. I lived most of my life always doing the opposite of what I felt like doing - pushing myself to do things I didn't want to do, because that was the "right" thing to do. Combine that with ill-applied advice from therapists, and I'm a mess.

This morning I should be at orchestra rehearsal. I love rehearsal most of the time. I go because I love being there. I love playing my part. I love hearing all of the parts come together to create music. I love spending time with other people who are there just because they love the orchestra and being a part of it. And yet, the mere thought of rehearsal this morning made my head spin... and forcing myself to drive there anyway was causing a melt down.

But I HAD to go...If I didn't go, I was letting depression win. I was letting my stand partner down. I was letting the whole orchestra down. (And now as I write this, I think, "Ridiculous. I'm a second violin, and not a very good one at that... And my stand-partner is out of town for the next two weeks. My guess is few people will even notice that I wasn't there...") I usually love going to rehearsal, and because I don't want to go, there must be something wrong with me. I HAVE to go so that I can fix what is wrong with me... How can I get back to enjoying it if I don't make myself go?

The roads were icy and snow packed. It was foggy. I was having a melt down that included teary eyes and hyperventilation. Luckily, this time I could think clearly enough to know it was dumb to drive in these conditions.

So, I came home.
Once again, I realize that forcing myself to do things is very rarely the best answer for me. I was afraid if I didn't go to rehearsal, I would never want to go back. I was afraid if I didn't push myself, I was lazy and weak and "letting depression win".

In a moment, I will go out in the 5 degree weather to shovel shit out of the horses' shelter, give them hay, and try to give them water. Not because I have to, but because that sounds like a wonderful way to spend my Saturday morning. Later, I'll go to work because I want to get some new products up on the website and to work on what our display will look like for the next trade show. Again, not because I feel like I have to but because I am excited.

And tonight, I plan to finish decorating the Christmas tree and play games with BJ...
I've lived in a world that has told me my own inclinations, wants, desires, even needs are not okay. When will I learn that it is okay to just do what I want? Life holds a lot of joy if I just let myself be joyful...


  1. I'm glad you stayed home and did something you wanted to do. :)

  2. That's a really interesting concept, and in a way, it forms the basis of my random "beat anxiety days." Though, how I define my actions is to do whatever pops into my head and do it before my brain can try to think of a reason not to. It's built on the same concept of, "I'm in control, not my emotions, or chemical imbalances, or anything but me." Those days are the most cathartic days I've experienced. There is more endorphins released than even being on stage, or coming out of an audition.