Black Holes and Such

Okay, I don’t mean literal black holes, those things in space that suck everything in and are always used in sci-fi movies (which I love, because I mean so much fun). I mean that sinking feel of anxiety. That giant ball of evil energy that sucks you in because it’s so hard to escape from. That creepy version of yourself that stands next to you and shouts untruths that feel very true in your ear. Whatever form you want to give your anxiety, that’s what I’m talking about.

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How do you make it go away? Can you make it go away? Can you be aware for when it’s going to happen or does it just sneak up on you? My last major attack of anxiety came in the middle of the night. I had been asleep but was actually woken up by physical pain. In my uncomfortableness and inability to fall back asleep, that black hole appeared. Telling me I’m worthless, I’m going to be poor, friendless, loveless and in pain forever. Even though it’s doubtful that any of this is or will ever be true, it’s hard to escape from in the moment.

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So what are some ways we can lessen it? Because no one can rid themselves of anxiety forever. There’s no magical way to tell it to go away and never come back. Anxiety is a human experience. It happens to everyone. My therapist and I were discussing anxiety a lot during our session today. What she suggested (and I like this suggestion so I’m going to try it) is that it’s important to remind yourself, in those moment where the black hole appears spewing it’s lies, of the things that contradict what it’s saying. You’re poor – no, I have money in savings, I’m getting rid of my car. You’re friendless – no, I have friends, we’ve all been busy with our lives lately. You’re loveless – I’m happy being single and there is someone out there for me. You’ll be in pain forever – I have medication and a whole health care team dedicated to making sure that doesn’t happen. You’re worthless – not to all the people who love me. It’s so easy in retrospect. The key is to be able to pull this information when you need it. Not to make the black hole disappear, but just to make it smaller and less intense.

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It doesn’t have to consume us. Black holes in space might. But this isn’t some distant spot in the universe. We can action it. At the very least we have to try, because we have to live.

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