It’s odd but i feel like I’m under a spell, like in the song That Old Black MagicÂ
When that elevator starts its ride
Down and down I go,
Round and round I go
Like a leaf that’s caught in the tide
Unlike in the song, in my case it’s not love doing this. It’s terrible listlessness, lack of focus, inability to concentrate (hence the lack of posts here recently). Although this listlessness is a symptom of depression, IÂ don’t feel particularly low. Frustrated with myself maybe, but not low.
So, how to snap out of it? My routine has gone to pot. Raisin has developed a (sporadic) hopping limp that makes me nervous for her recovery, so no early morning runs. No cleaning small areas of the bathroom after each trip to the loo. Very little trombone practice. Minimal mindfulness practice.
Last week’s mindfulness class was all about disrupting old patterns of thought and behaviour using the CBT theory that thoughts can make you feel bad, which makes you behave in ways that aren’t helpful, which makes the thoughts worse and so it goes, in a spin.
The week before we looked at how thoughts are just random neurons firing in your head (my words, not official mindfulness-speak), with no inherent power to do anything. They can’t hurt you if you don’t let them. So one technique in this disruption strategy is to see thoughts for what they are – miniscule arrangements of dancing chemicals or whatever. Not big, and not scarey.
Another technique is to change your behaviour when you feel bad:
- don’t withdraw socially: interact with other people
- don’t mope around: do something that gives a sense of achievement
- don’t just feel miserable: do something you usually enjoy
I baulked at this advice in the class because it’s really difficult to do this stuff when you are depressed. During my recent low patch these things – usually part of my routine – became impossible, even though I believed they would help. The answer is simple, I was told: lower your expectations. Don’t expect to be able to get out for a run – think of a short walk (or whatever) as an achievement when you are not well.
So there we are.
My snap out of it plan for today is to listen to Ella Fitzgerald doing That Old Black Magic, really loudly, every time I start to spin.
Take it away Ella