‘Woman with folded arms’, Pablo Picasso, 1902

this is going to be one of my scrapbook posts, in which I record thoughts and writings other than my own which have been helpful to me, primarily to make them more concrete for myself, but also in case they may help others too.

the title to this post is a quote from a fantastic Since Right Now podcast, ‘Don’t Panic’, in which the hosts, Jeff, Matt and Chris, discuss anxiety and depression and in particular an anxiety episode which Matt had just been going through. If you have ever been subject to persistent negative thinking patterns, rumination, over-thinking, or anxiety spirals, I would very highly recommend listening to the episode. You can find links here to listen to it on iTunes, or Soundcloud, or whatever suits you best.

Matt has been in recovery since April 2014, so coming up for three years soon. Jeff and Chris both have even longer sober time. So these are guys who are well into long term recovery, talking about dealing with one of the most difficult thought patterns.

I’ve listened to this episode several times. the first time I was just blown away by the acuity of Matt’s descriptions – epitomised in this post title – of what it is like to be in the middle of an anxiety spiral. in subsequent listenings I have been enormously helped by the perspective of the other speakers, Jeff and Chris, and their willingness to help Matt understand how he reached such a point and to appreciate the universality of such intense feelings.

understanding that universality has been a HUGE thing for me, and I am enormously grateful for all those whom I read and to whom I listen, who constantly show me that I am never alone, even in my very darkest moments.

I should hastily say here that I am not at a low point myself right at this moment. life is pretty damn good, though work and family are both hectic. however I recognise this description very well from my own past experience and still feel a pull towards it at times, which I am learning increasingly to recognise and head off at the pass before it overwhelms me.

another concept I’ve discovered recently which I’ve found really helpful on this front is the concept of the amygdala hijack, aΒ term coined by Daniel Goleman.

when I think of a hijacker, my brain conjures up an image of an aeroplane filled with terrified passengers and a wild-eyed hijacker waving a machine gun around and demanding that the plane be taken where HE wants to go. all that hi-jacker wants is to feel safe, and that is what our amygdala is trying to achieve for us, by fair means or foul.

the counter to the amygdala hijack is to re-engage our prefrontal cortices, which is shown brilliantly in this Dan Siegel Youtube video, where he uses a hand as model of the brain and shows how to avoid ‘flipping your lid’. I’ve linked to this video several times before on this blog, but I seemed to need to remind myself of it today πŸ˜‰

one last piece for the scrapbook – I came across a new-to-me idea about interrupting negative thought patterns, and now I can’t find where it came from! so if you recognise it, please do let me know so I can link.

it’s called the BUT strategy.Β when you find yourself mentally reciting negative thoughts, you interrupt them with a BUT and then add a more positive end to the sentence. eg

“I’m terrible at parallel parking BUT I will go slowly and make sure I and everyone around me stays safe.” or

“I don’t think I can handle this dinner party without drinking BUT I will tell the hostess beforehand that I won’t be drinking tonight and bring something delicious and non-alcoholic for me to drink.”

and finally, to continue the butt theme, and because it’s Sunday afternoon, and I love you all so much, here’s a link to an article showing detailed naked footage of the 24 best man-butts in Hollywood. my vote goes to no 6, Hugh Jackman, but I think you’d better check (cheek?!) for yourself πŸ™‚

Have a great week, sober peeps! Prim xx