On The Edge Of Mount Doom

Photo by Izaac Elms from Pexels

Do you ever feel like your brain has been thrown into a washer/dryer and put on an aggressive spin cycle? It’s not trying to get out deeply set stains or add extra fluff to the squishy bits. We’re not quickly warming up a blanket on a cold day. It’s scorching hot, erratic, and someone threw a cheese grater in there for good measure.

It feels like I’m walking along the edge of Mount Doom. Rocks are raining down, and I’m bodysurfing hot lava. Ouch. Ouch. Hot. Hot. How do I get off this ride? I get horrible motion sickness, and yep, there’s the vertigo. This isn’t funny anymore! Someone make it stop. This is the last time I take travel advice from…

It’s an extreme sport I didn’t sign up for, and it’ll never become an Olympic event. Then again, it wouldn’t be the weirdest sport to make it into games. Live pigeon shooting, tug of war, and tandem bicycle sprinting were all Olympic events at some point in history. Yes, I looked it up because curiosity is a byproduct of the spin cycle.

The spins aren’t that bad, are they?

Let’s crunch the numbers. In my experience: it’s 90% horrific, 8% annoying, and 2% useful. Someone check my math, but I think that adds up. I’ve never been good at counting. My brain has a Tasmanian Devil setting. (The cartoon creature. Not the Island near Australia.) It’s wild and unpredictable. One, two…Damn rabbit!

Lava surfing and cartoon critters aside, there are still positives to the spin. Probably. Maybe. You might have to squint real hard. Listen, I’m trying to find the rainbow before the storm has ended. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Think happy thoughts, and everything will be okay.

Who wants to roll their eyes with me?

Happy thoughts won’t stop the spin, but they might take the edge off or slow it down. Redirecting the momentum could give us enough time to catch our breaths and still our queazy tummies. It’s a brief reprieve, but when you’re stuck in the cycle, any relief is welcome. 

So I’m forcing myself to find the positives. I put on my thinking pants, squished my face, squinting my eyes, and concentrated really hard. It lasted about three minutes, but I came up with two good things about the spin cycle. The first one is an increases curiosity. I ask more questions, and I can’t rest until I’ve found the answers.

It feels like those questions are nibbling on my brain, and there’s only one way to stop it. I have to give them something else to eat. Do a quick google search, phone a friend, write it down on a blog until something miraculously appears. Appease the weevils in the brain and sigh with relief. It’s done, the question has been answered, and I’m wiser for it.

Well, wiser might be a stretch, but I’m not as ignorant as I was. I did a little investigating and learned something new. Imagine that? Asking questions and openly searching for answers makes us more well-rounded people. Why is no one talking about this? Shocking. I’m well and truly flabbergasted. 

The other positive is a bit of a double-edged sword. I can’t relax or settle down at all. I become a restless insomniac with hyper-fixation. I have to do something, move, accomplish something, anything. I’m motivated to the max, and I get tunnel vision. The only thing I can see are the problems that need solutions. Right now, I’m looking for a new job, and the restless spin is forcing me to actively search and apply. I can’t settle down until I’ve sent off some resumes.

The cycle is making me so restless that I’ve cleaned my apartment and gotten rid of a lot of junk. It still looks like I’m trying out for a reality tv show, but I’d get rejected. It’s not as bad as it has been because the restlessness is forcing me to do something about it. Yay progress!

In these instances, it’s a tool that I can use to help me move my life forward. I’ve said this before, but my life, the way I’m living it right now, isn’t making me happy. The exact opposite is true. I’m miserable, and I spend half the day crying or on the verge of tears. I hate my life as it is, but the cycle is working to my advantage. Weirdly, it’s forcing me to actively pursue change.

Which is a word I despise, by the way. I can’t believe that I actually want to do it. I want to change. I’m chasing after it like a rabid Pikachu. Is that how that game works? Clearly, I don’t know anything about anything. But the point still remains; the spin cycle is fuelling an active pursuit of change.

It’s also uncomfortable, it makes the cycle spin faster, and we’re back to Mount Doom. If it was a force used solely for good, then I wouldn’t complain about it. It would be my hidden superpower. I could wear a cape, talk in a gravelly voice, and glare aggressively. Would I get my own theme song? I wouldn’t say no. Who’d say no? It’s a theme song.

But alas, I’m just a person sitting on a sofa, typing words on a laptop. An undercurrent of anxiety is bubbling in my stomach. The weevils are getting peckish. I’m restless, barely focused, and I have the strangest urge to go for a run. I don’t run. I can’t run. My legs are held together with metal rods and stubbornness. 

Sit still? Write these words? Focus on a single task without picking up my phone, checking my email, or scurrying off to do an unnecessary chore? Ha. That’s right, I ha’d. I’m so caught up in the spin that doing one thing is almost painful. I mean that literally. My eyes are throbbing, there’s a bitter burn in the back of my throat, and I’ve clenched my fist so hard I bruised my palm.

Usually, this cycle comes and goes. I can ride it out because it’ll end, and I’ll return to a pace that’s more typical for me. However, life is chaotic right now. There’s a lot of stress and intense emotions fuelling the spin. While it has triggered a few positives, the negatives are quickly becoming consuming.

If you’re a new internet friend— hello, nice to meet you— I should fill you in on the last few weeks. Don’t worry, it’ll be a quick recap for you OR’s (Original Readers?). The last six weeks have been exceptionally difficult for my family. Someone we love very, very much has been in the hospital fighting for their life. They’re still there, and we don’t know when they’ll come home.

The ups and downs have been…I don’t know how to describe it. Painful. Exhausting. Intense relief quickly followed by a soul-crushing setback. I’ve never prayed so hard or so much in my life. I want to have hope, but I just can’t do it anymore. The thought of being hopeful makes me flinch. It’s been too much for too long.

If you believe in prayer or positive energy? Please send it this way. This person is loved and needed. Please, if you can spare a second, it would mean the world. And to everyone who sent prayers and well wishes, thank you. I mean that with the most heartfelt sincerity.

The restlessness I’m feeling flows right into anxiety, and that sets off my imagination. Typically I’m a classic over-thinker, but when the stress intensifies, it turns into catastrophic thinking. I imagine the worst possible outcome, and that becomes my reality. I’m convinced it will happen. No amount of logic or rationalizing will change my mind.

I can feel it in my gut. Something bad is about to happen. I know it with every fibre of my being. Contrary to all evidence, madness defeats reason every damn time. Does it matter that this way of thinking is proven wrong almost every single time? Nope, not at all. 

And it has been wrong more times than it’s been right. Those rare occasions when it said, told ya so? It was probably a coincidence or glaringly obvious like those old cartoons. You see the thing running towards the cliff. Eep, it’s going to fall. See, told you so. Well, duh, the damn thing falls over the edge every episode.

Oh no, something horrible will happen eventually. Again, duh, that’s how life works. Good things happen and bad things too. Using predictive text to determine the future is a bad idea. Also, my gastrointestinal system isn’t a psychic. It’s unreliable, and that’s especially true when it’s on the spin cycle.

Yesterday morning, if you’d asked me how the day would play out? I would’ve told you that I’d receive some bad news, lose everything, and my life would be over. It honestly felt like a dire situation was about to unfold. I could feel it in my gut, and I could see it playing out in my mind.

It turns out my imagination is worse than reality. There was actually some good news from the hospital. A slight improvement is a small blessing, and I’ll gratefully accept it. I went for a drive along the Fraser River because I just didn’t want to go home. I watched the clouds roll in over the mountains, and damn, we need the rain. I took my dog for a walk, and it felt wonderfully stormy outside.

The day ended, and nothing horrible happened. I’d been on the spin cycle all day, and it didn’t play out like I knew it would. I was absolutely convinced it would be a horrible day, but it wasn’t. I worried about everything, and nothing happened.

I wish I could say that the lesson had been learned, but the root cause of this problem is a mental illness, and that’s a nasty bugger. If you struggle with your mental health, then you know what I’m talking about. We argue back, try to shut it up, but the stories it spins seem so real. We employ all the self-care tricks we can, but somedays it just isn’t enough.

It did, however, feel really good to go for a drive and walk through trees rustling in the wind. Looking out at the beauty of the world around me was better than focusing on the darkness within. Getting out of my head, doing something good for my body, stills my mind long enough to catch my breath.

Somedays, when I’m stuck on the spin cycle, a break is the kindest thing I can do for myself.


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