Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fearing the Funk

Sometimes We Don't Feel Quite Right

Returning to Equilibrium

Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa I've been a bit off kilter-
These past few days I have in such a funk. I've been feeling unsettled just in general. I have been lonely and restless and anxious. My mind and thoughts have been a jumble which was probably quite apparent in my post from yesterday. I've been feeling dissatisfied with my life as whole. I've been feeling kind of lost as if I don't belong anywhere. I've been filled with doubt and frightening uncertainty. I have just been confused in general. Depression has been making a brief appearance. I have been emotionally off kilter. And to put it simply I just haven't been feeling quite right. 
This funk came on kind of suddenly and is seemingly unexplainable. During the day I feel relatively ok but at night the negative emotions and thoughts, sadness, and loneliness become overwhelming. I am thinking it is a result of a combination of things. I have been spending a lot of time alone during the day and my days are long- doing work and attending class from morning until evening. By the end of the day I am just so tired of being on my own. I want company but there is not always a friend available to spend time with, especially because I have such a limited number of friends on campus. I have plenty have acquaintances and people to go out with but I don't have a distinct social circle and I have few people that I can turn to when I am feeling this way and feel comfortable expressing that I just need some company. The cold weather and change of seasons doesn't help. The bitter weather puts me in a sour mood and the early darkness makes night time seem as if it's coming earlier every day. 

But one my dear friends on campus made an interesting observation that could also be playing a factor in my funk and subsequently my concerns about or fear of the funk. I too had recognized the thought she expressed but failed to address the magnitude of its potential effects. It was exactly this time last year that I was falling deep into the pit of my anorexia. I was alone most of the time doing work and used my work load as an excuse to distance myself from people. It's hard for me to realize that my current behaviors are unlike those of last year. Although I am spending a lot of time by myself it is not by choice or motivated by my eating disorder. I have legitimately had a great deal of work on my plate recently and likewise my friends on campus are very busy as well. It is hard for me to differentiate my actions this semester from those of last semester because they are somewhat similar. This time of year is also difficult because as my friend put it, "it's an anniversary." It's an anniversary of my last full relapse. Now it seems obvious that this time of year would cause me to remember the hardships and pain that I was dealing with just 12 months ago and contribute to the funk I have found myself in.

It was this exact time last year that I was contemplating treatment, working with my team to plan assessments at residential, facilities, and preparing myself to reveal to my parents that I was not doing well. It was a time full of pain, fear, loneliness, and sadness. This time last year I was in a funk and it has resulted in me fearing the funk because I am afraid of what it could indicate-  relapsing, returning to old patterns, needing treatment yet again. However although I don't feel quite right I need to recognize that this is a funk of a different kind. I am not giving into the mood as I did before. In fact I am doing everything in my ability to fight it- reaching out to friends, sharing my thoughts and fears,  hanging out with people even when I am not in the mood, and striving to alleviate my feelings of sadness and loneliness. I am trying to understand that sometimes we don't feel quite right and doing my best to return to equilibrium.

"I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."

- Agatha Christie

We all get into these funks or bad moods or feelings of being unsettled but as Christie says we are still living. The funk won't last forever and as long as we are still living we still have the opportunities to feel good, back to normal (whatever normal is), and return to our own personal equilibrium. While I am struggling with my mood I am aware that it will ultimately pass. I am trying to focus on how far I have come since this time last year and how different my life is. When I think back about last Thanksgiving, last Christmas, last New Years I am filled with sadness because I was not with my family. I did not get to experience the holiday season. I was not surrounded by the love and happiness that these holidays bring for me. Going into this season I am still feeling this tinge of sadness because I remember where I was and what I missed at this point last year. But focusing on the past will only serve to intensify and extend my funk. In order to fight it I want to think of the positives that the present and future hold. I am doing my best to not isolate despite my mass amounts of school work. I am not isolating intentionally and I know this. Just because my actions bear affinities to those of last year does not mean they have the same meaning. 

My Uncle dressed as Santa ! (My family is big on Christmas!)
And this year I am going to be able to enjoy the holiday season- my favorite time of year- with my family, in my own home, surrounded by joy and love. This Thanksgiving and Christmas are sure to be the most special ones I have ever experienced. They will be dual celebrations. We will be celebrating their traditional meanings but we will also be celebrating my presence, my family's togetherness, and how far I have come in the past year. Thinking these thoughts and writing these words I am already beginning to feel my funk loosen its grip a bit. But I still don't feel quite right. I want to look at  a few quotes in the hopes that collectively they can help us return to equilibrium.

"If you're in a bad mood, take a deep breath. If you're in a good mood, give thanks to G-d."

- Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut

Although this quote is brief I wanted to include it because it touches upon two key actions: breathing and giving thanks. I focus on both these concepts personally and have repeatedly mentioned them throughout the course of my blogging. First Beta mentions the power of breath. Deep breathing helps to ground us, center ourselves, and find peace within our body and mind. In the latter part of his quote he mentions giving thanks. I strongly believe that we have no right to pray or ask for guidance from a higher power if we don't give thanks for the things we have and appreciate or express gratitude when we feel good. How can we expect to receive aid when we're in need if we fail to show thanks during times of prosperity or happiness? If you're in a funk breathe deeply and hopefully some of the tension will be relinquished. If you are lucky enough to be feeling good or even great today don't forget to be grateful and express your thanks. The next series of quotes are intended to help us to believe that we need not fear the funk and that it too shall pass. Read them all and see which one(s) resonate with you. Concentrate on the one(s) that are most useful or convincing to you and as always simply disregard those that serve you no purpose or are irrelevant to your life-

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

No need to be afraid !
- Helen Keller

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat.  I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!" 

- Dr. Seuss

"Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better."

- Kevin Henkes, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Tomorrow is a new day- 

The funks that we struggle with can evoke fear in us- fear of repeating a pattern, fear of never seeing the light again, fear of what is causing the mood to begin with. But it is in fact these mental struggles that strengthen us and we need not fear the funk because in actuallity it is these off moods that enable us to be the strong, passionate, and loving people that we are. These funks provide a beneficial service. And if you cannot believe this optimistic sentiment you can at least know that you are capable of battling your funk with your metaphoric "big bat." And I hope that you are able to find comfort in knowing that you can overcome your negative thoughts and that tomorrow is another day. Like all emotions funks come and go but I have faith that if I wait it out and continue to fight I will ultimately return to equilibrium.

Fight don't fear the funk,
Don't fear the funk, fight it !

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