Confession: I have been on practically every known anti-depressant and anti-anxiety med known to man. I've been on some that have made doctors go, "They put you on THAT? They don't make that anymore!"
This is OK. IN those times, I needed those things, and 20 years ago, no one knew how to treat depression and anxiety in a high-achieving, Ivy League, fly-by-theseat-of-my-pants-and-thrive kind of girl. People associated those things with Sylvia Plath and Robert Smith. I didn't fit the bill, and so the docs and therapists and health center and general practitioners did the best they know with what they had.
Medication. And so I wandered in and out of all of them. Some tipped me towards manic. Some tipped me towards numb. Some tipped me towards really, really, REALLY "normal" (or what I imagine it feels like inside of "normal"). Some gave me shamanistic vivid dreams. Some gave me horrible digestive issues.
In the end, I never felt myself on any medication. It always felt like someone else was occupying my brain. So in the end, I always took myself off (not advisable. Brain zaps, anyone?!), feeling like I'd rather have genius + madness, than stability + someone else living on my shoulder.
Then I read A New Earth and everything, everything, EVERYTHING changed for me practically overnight (thanks, Mom, for pressing that orange book in my hands despite me shaking my head and kind of scoffing). I learned about the present moment... and dropped into it. Insomnia - gone. Anxiety - wayyyyyy less. Depression - tackled. A New Earth was the start of my inner work journey, almost 10 years ago. Since then, I've had ups and downs, and a couple debilitating years of postpartum depression + anxiety... but I want to share with you the #1 thing that brings me back into the present moment and full enjoyment of my life, right now.
Someone once said, "Depression is living in the past. Anxiety is living in the future". While that's a pretty gross generalization, there's some truth to it. When my clients and I want to get at the bottom of their anxious feelings, we almost always have to tackle this:
(CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO SHARE WITH YOUR ANXIOUS FRIENDS ON FB/PINTEREST/TWITTER)
THE WIFFI. The What If Flowchart oF Insanity. (Give me poetic license there). The WIFFI is the flow-chart of anxiety that trickles through anxious thoughts. It's our attempt to predict and control every possible outcome, and our reaction to it, as a way to reduce anxiety.
Except it almost always causes MORE anxiety, friends, because we start to realize the infinite ways things can go, and that we have NO control, and that we can predict NOTHING... and so enter INSOMNIA... where our brains try to create EVERY. POSSIBLE. SCENARIO. So we're totally prepared like awesome Girl and Boy Scouts.
And then? Whatever it is we were so anxious about almost NEVER theres to any one of those WIFFI paths. In the meantime, we've made ourselves insane, lost night after night of sleep, and still aren't "prepared".
Believe me, I'm living this right now as we sell our house and buy another. I want to be prepared for everything, and I seem to believe that with enough research, googling, calculating, scheming, and WIFFIing... I can be totally prepared for ANYTHING! and EVERYTHING! No matter WHAT! Even if the buyer wants us to install a shark tank! Or buy her a dog to go with the house! I got this! I GOT THIS!
If you want to reduce anxiety a thousand fold, all you have to do is RECOGNIZE THE WIFFI when it starts to eat your brain like a crazy, manic parasite. Here are the symptoms:
1) Inventing scenarios. As soon as you are inventing scenarios, you're down the What If Flowchart oF Insanity. You don't know what you don't know... so let it go.
2) You're uber-googling. In my case, I'm uber-Zillowing, making sure I haven't missed ONE SINGLE PROPERTY that would be a BETTER VALUE even though I've been stalking the market for months. I'm good. I found the house. I gotta let it go and give it up without a backup plan.
3) You're telling the story of whatever it is - boyfriend, job situation, house search, house sale, parenting thing, PTA thing - in gory detail to the whole world. That's the WIFFI trying to find some more paths to go down. Maybe someone ELSE will find a path you didn't uncover yet!
4) You're still anxious. You've turned over EVERY possible rock. EVERY reason he didn't text, every possible scenario with your boss, every possible response from your buyer... and you're still anxious. Who could blame us... we've now taken ONE anxiety producing situation and turned it into 50 anxiety producing outcomes. D'oh.
How do you stop a WIFFI?? HAHAHAHAHAH. When you figure that out, can you let me know? Because I'm in WIFFI-ville without a flashlight or a compass.
Just kidding. I know how to stop a WIFFI... shine a light on it. That's it. You say, OMG, I'm going down he WIFFI. Then do something else to occupy your brain. My favorite thing to occupy my brain?
Pick a category. Animals. Girls' names. Cities in Europe. Types of flowers. Types of fish. Then, name all the things from A-Z, NO SKIPPING. Anna. Barbara. Carmela. Delilah....
ZZZZZZZZ. And... a good night's sleep to you, my friend.
I hope it helps.