mind over ice cream

I don’t know if I am on the same page as my therapist. Yesterday was an awkward appointment. I had very little to say and didn’t want to be there, and he seemed like he was stumped, trying to find something to talk about. Neither one of us seemed prepared. Granted, I’m the one asking for help, so I guess I should be the one with questions. I would have been fine if he had let me go home early.

After flailing for a few minutes, he started talking about mindfulness as a tool for reducing anxiety. He described what mindfulness is, and I was having trouble concentrating … as he’s telling me how to concentrate on acknowledging distractions then coming back to the moment. My brain was tired but bouncing all day yesterday, so it was a particularly poor time to have to listen to someone talk.

I have to admit I don’t get the mindfulness thing. I thought it was more about doing something to distract you from everything in your brain, allowing you to have a little reset. I know how to be totally present in the moment, like while listening to my favorite music for the 100th time, or when being by myself in the woods, or reclining with a purring cat. But either I get distracted by something or someone, the moment is gone, and I start thinking about all the things I took a break from.

I asked him if mindfulness was blocking everything out and just clearing your mind for a few minutes, and apparently that was incorrect, because he was trying to convince me that something like eating ice cream or the act of standing up can be the object of a mindfulness exercise. (Really? Does pooping count?) I asked him what did that solve, and I never really got an answer. He said he wrote a dissertation about the subject, so I decided not to tell him I didn’t get the point.

Then he started talking about Buddhists and India, and honestly he lost me at that point. Nothing against Buddhism, but I just need something I can understand. However he did refer me to a book on mindfulness for anxiety, so I’ll get that from the library and see what I think. He also told me about some guy’s videos, but I told him I can barely sit through an episode of a TV show on Netflix. My brain moves way too fast to listen to some dude drone on for an hour about how to enjoy ice cream.

I don’t know if mindfulness exercises are going to work for me, but I guess I will give it a good faith effort to see if I can get something useful out of this. If anyone has any tips or references for helping me understand this, I’m willing to listen. Comment or email me if you have something that might help.

overload

Once again, it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. When I wake up it is from a dream, from my wife coming to bed late, or from my CPAP mask not fitting properly. Sometimes I can adjust and go back to sleep, but not this past week. My brain is instantly wide awake. I give it 30 minutes to try to go back to sleep, but if I don’t succeed, I get up.

During that 30 minutes tonight, my brain was on fire. I had fragments of up to 10 songs playing in my head. I started thinking of three or four blog posts I wanted to write. I remembered I need to call my doctor. I was thinking about medication side effects. I remembered an abusive voice from the past. I was still irritated about an unfinished word search puzzle. I was thinking about what snacks were in the kitchen. I can’t tell you any of the other 40 things on my mind, because they came and went so quickly that I barely had time to process them.

So I’ve been up for almost two hours now, snacking, listening to the music in my brain, and feverishly writing all my ideas before I forget them all.

I don’t know if this is mania or attention deficit disorder (a topic for another post), but it isn’t good for my sleeping schedule. I’ll stay awake until my brain slows down a little, then probably just sleep in my chair again until morning.