From one of my 5th graders who feels my pain…
“One Friday night, Chloe was at Liz’s house hanging out. They were talking about work.”
“The thing that will give you your body and nervous system back is physical exercise. I can’t stress it enough. That’s how I got my body and nervous system back. You have to go to boot camp. It makes you feel better. It’s the only thing that does. Eventually, it scours the devil out of you.“
James Taylor on his addiction to heroin and alcohol
I’ve avoided watching/listening to news for two weeks now. I didn’t realize how frequently I was checking it and how awful it made me feel.
Since I’ve stopped checking in with CNN, NPR, Fox News, etc., I have:
- read a book (my cousin’s (!) – Beloved Sa Mi)
- made major headway with my second children’s book
- voted early in the general election for Mesa, AZ
- completed the pre-candidacy phase of the National Board Certification for Teaching program
Most importantly, I’ve felt clearer and more centered.
If the news is getting you down, why not cut it out of your life?
She stole my most precious entity
through thoughts of pointless excess
midnight worries, daytime anxiety
the cost was heavy and sobering: my success
My prescription to the current blooming?
Don’t stare at screens and mirrors
Narcissus was constantly grooming
and, your destiny looms ever nearer
“Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.”
THICH NHAT HANH
Thich Nhat Hanh goes on to say that we are so afraid of facing our suffering (worrying, anger, despair, fears, loneliness) that we go look for something to eat, or drink or watch TV. And many people do all of those at the same time. Even if there is nothing interesting or satisfying to watch, we are afraid to turn the television off, because then we will be left to face our suffering.
But it is necessary to face it.
It makes you stronger.
It makes you lighter.
It leads to happiness and nothing else will.
When you’re a kid, you think everyone’s home and family is like yours. This changes when you “spend the night” at your friend’s house and realize that she doesn’t eat kimchi and rice. And her family goes bowling on weekends. And her parents don’t make her do extra math problems after completing her homework.
It took me a long time to discover that anxiety and depression are not normal – that, in fact – they are states of suffering. It took me a long time to learn this because there was so much disquietude and tension everywhere: in my house, in her house…
It is everywhere:
“Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in the U.S. They affect over 40 million adults (18 and older) or nearly 20% of the entire population every year.”(ADAA)*
“Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.” (ADAA)*
I know that all kinds of people have all kinds of disorders and that medication might be the only solution for a small percentage of the population. But I also believe that far too many of us want a quick fix in the form of a pill.
Anti-anxiety drugs, or “anxiolytics,” are powerful central nervous system (CNS) depressants that can slow normal brain function. They are often prescribed to reduce feelings of tension and anxiety, and/or to bring about sleep. Anti-anxiety medications are among the most abused drugs in the United States, obtained both legally, via prescription, and illegally, through the black market. These drugs are also known as sedatives. (Mind Disorders)**
Before considering drugs, let us try all the other options:
- cognitive behavior therapy
- getting more sleep
- a better diet
…just to name a few natural alternatives!
*Anxiety and Depression Association of America (https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics)