When you stand in front of a huge mountain to overcome, it is a good idea to get an overview of what awaits you before you start climbing. This overview will necessarily be incomplete because you will face new, unexpected situations as you start and move on, but it is a good thing to have at least a slight clue of what to gear up for. In a case like mine, with the mountain consisting of a bunch of undefined, entangled issues related to the own self and biography, this means to identify some of the things you will have to turn to.
It is not important to name all of them already, because they are usually piled up in layers so that the deeper issues are not immediately assessable. You just need a place to start with, and since self-related issues are by nature also related with one another, the deeper issues will surface anyway along the way. This may lead to the feeling of being overwhelmed – once you open the box, things continue flowing from it. You may feel like a mess because you realize in how many regards you are in a miserable state. However, the positive side of it is that when you start working on one thing, other things will improve as well, due to their interrelatedness.
I believe in self-reflection as a good means to start with for an overview. With this I mean looking at yourself and assessing what you see. This sounds easy but can be very painful, because you will probably not be happy about what you see. In the grip of negative thoughts and poor beliefs of your own worth and capability, you are often blind for the things that are okay or even fine about yourself, which you would be able to acknowledge if you were in a better place. Then, everything you see just makes you angry or sad or want to run away as quickly as possible.
So, it is important to remember that reflections are always bound by subjectivity. Just as your image appears differently in a window, a puddle, or a bathroom mirror, due to different qualities of the mirroring faculty, your view of yourself is contingent not only on your values and beliefs, but also on your current life situation, which again is influenced by the thoughts, feelings, moods, and topics actualized. It is not an objective image of youself that you see, but one that is perceived through the glasses of depression, harshness, disgust, and the like.
I have often experienced that when I am just by myself, it easily happens that I am captured by a downward spiral of negative thoughts, ending up frustrated and desparate. For this reason, I have come to consider it crucial to seek out for the support of others who are trustworthy, reliable, and kind. People like a good friend or a therapist can be mirrors as well, although by nature subjective, but they will contribute their own, peculiar perspective and can help you to remember what you forgot when caught up in negative thoughts, to look at yourself from a different angle, to put things apart that should be separated, and to tie other things together that belong to each other.
~ train window snapshot ~
Besides getting supportive input from others, it is helpful by itself already to just express your thoughts. It often happened that I felt stuck pondering on my own because everything seemed to messed up inside my mind, but when I started speaking about things, I suddenly got a greater clarity about them. This is because verbalizing forces you to put the whirl of thoughts into a coherent, comprehensible structure, arranging and sorting them. Writing does the same. And there is more about it: Once you give your thoughts a material body and put them out there, they become real. They are no longer locked up in your head but part of a reality that can be perceived by others as well. This is the power of words, and it is stronger when you share them with others. It is magic.
So, I have decided to write on here, about all the things that seem to matter in my unwell-being. What encouraged me to do that were you wonderful and kind reactions to my breakdown post. Thank you so much for that! I cannot express how much that means to me.
I will not write this just for myself, but also for my friends out there – you know who you are! – and for everybody who happens to stumble across here and has an interest to read. You will probably be able to relate to some things I write, and to others you will not, but that does not matter. Getting an understanding of yourself works by a dialectic process of identifying yourself with certain things and setting yourself apart from other things. So I have the hope that you will find some of the things I will write here helpful for yourself, in whatever regard, or probably you will find them just entertaining. Whatever it will be, it will be fine.
~ the surface ~
Speaking with my husband Peter, I have identified a number of things I want to look at and and write about. These things include tension and exhaustion, emotions and emotion regulation, depression, eating (still and again, yay ), performance, obsessive tendencies and perfectionism, control, high intellectual ability and high sensitivity, ADHD, fundamental self-beliefs, connectedness, family relations, my relationship with my body, meaning in life, and faith. I would not be surprised if there were more …
These topics deserve several separate posts but of course they all belong together. It will take some time and space to write them, but now I am at a point where I can finally face up to them, and they are too important to let this opportunity pass. I cannot go back anyway, so going forward is a much better idea. And I am very happy that I do not have to go alone.