Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Saving myself from the edge of despair - my new life philosophy is tested

A few days ago I wrote a post on how I combat sadness, anxiety and mild depression by focusing on all my blessings and everything for which I can be grateful.

Who would have thought I'd be putting my new life philosophy to the test within the following few days of writing that?

Over the weekend I had a really negative experience involving another person. Since I am a people-pleaser who cares way to much about what other people think of me, this encounter left me devastated. Shock became sadness, which then started to turn into depression - when, fortunately, the iota of rationality I had functioning within me at the time, acted as my lifeline.

I thought about the abovementioned post and how, theoretically, I should be placing this negative encounter in perspective by just looking around me and appreciating my blessings. Filled with overpoweringly negative emotions, I found this exercise to be quite challenging.

On a congnitive level I knew that I had a plethora of blessings surrounding me at that very moment. But the depth of my sadness was such that I really battled to appreciate them on an emotional level.

Fortunately I persisted - looking around at my kids, hubby, our home. Why was I letting someone who was completely insignificant in my life blind me to what I have?

My kids have been giving me so much of which to be proud - it is formal assessment time once again and I have had very few problems with getting them to study. The feedback which I received on the papers they have written, has been really positive. Mo has had to work less, since his project has been completed, so is around more to help with the kids. We joined the local gym, which I have wanted to do for ages. More importantly, everyone is healthy and getting along relatively well. We have a roof over our heads - this may seem like I am grasping at straws to find things for which to be grateful, but it is always present in my mind, since we live very near to a tiny squatter camp, which we drive past almost every day.

On Sunday night after our usual prayer meeting (which helped somewhat), we drove past this squatter camp. There were people (including kids) sitting around a fire - which is their only source of heat at night. I'd witnessed this sight so many times before, but in the state in which I found myself that night, this sight brought tears to my eyes. I was fortunate. I was really really fortunate. There, but for the grace of God, go I.

I got home and we sat down to the last of our daily prayers, during which - I am ashamed to say - my mind often wanders. But after witnessing those people trying to glean every bit of warmth from that little fire, my heightened emotions caused me to be more present and focused in my prayer than I had been in a while. All my efforts (throughout the day) at repeating and trying to truly appreciate my blessings were rewarded. My skin tingled and I had to fight back tears - so overcome I was with gratitude at what I had right before me - surrounding me.

The person, who had caused me such sadness, faded into insignificance. Everything that mattered in my life, was right there.

Although I awoke on Monday morning with a pit in my stomach, just from the memory of the interaction with that person, that feeling didn't remain. I felt lighter and less burdened by sadness. The overwhelming appreciation of everything, with which God has blessed me, was strong enough to wash away all remnants of the awful feelings, which had pervaded my soul.

Admittedly, within the last day, there have been moments when I'd experience momentary lapses into sadness, but these were not strong enough to make me lose perspective.

For now, I am just enjoying my much-too-fragile state of peace and contentment.

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