Saturday, November 15, 2014

When the Swamp Clouds my Mind

I forgot to post last night. Now, I could do a normal Swamped post. I could try to spit out a Rewind post really quickly and then get to homework. Instead, I think I'll share some of what I've been pondering and writing lately. I started writing this earlier this week, and sharing it will help me feel accountable to follow up with action.

You've seen me say "I'm swamped" before. But that's becoming more than a figure of speech, and turning into a perfect analogy for my muddied state of mind (more muddied than usual, I mean). Thus, I need some self-examination.

I nearly marathoned Meganebu!, Daily Lives of High School Boys, and a dark reverse harem over the space of a few days. I reminded myself of my last two years of high school, when I watched well over two month's worth of anime. Those were dark years for multiple reasons, and I felt an echo of them when I cuddled in bed, ignoring homework and my messy room as I binge-watched anime that made me laugh… and anime that made me feel horror.

From the end of Daily Lives of High School Boys, episode 12. This
is their take on the running-late-to-school-with-toast-in-your-mouth
trope. Personally, I prefer microwavable breakfast sandwiches or, if
I'm really even later than usual, a spoonful of peanut butter.

It’s one thing to take a break from responsibilities for a bit, to refresh. But, just like in high school, I was seeking joy and freedom in the wrong place. The "joy" I find watching Daily Lives didn't help me in my own daily life. So when I looked up from homework and realized the beautiful weather stirred nothing but cynicism, I stopped what I was doing and grabbed my journal.

I’m feeling echoes of how I was four years ago. Thankfully, I’m more aware of myself now. I have a little Squad of Depression Monitors in me. They often team up with the Anxiety Patrol. My lethargy, binge-watching, and melancholy feelings set off some quiet alarms, and the Anti-Depression Squad set out to investigate.

Am I depressed? No. But I’m not so proud as to believe I’m immune from depression just because we beat it in the past. And my habits are becoming less healthy. I can’t brush it off as “typical college student” behavior and expect to be okay. So when my Anti-Depression Squad recognized gateway signs, it also advised a change of action.

First, I examined my emotional balance. Was there an unusual amount of melancholy? There was, so I examined it before dismissing it. Dismissing an emotion without finding its source is like plucking the head off a weed and leaving the root: the weed will still live, its roots taking over the soil while the head grows back, stronger than ever. This time, the root of my melancholy didn't go too deep. But it was worth looking into.

Second, I read Psalm 136, my favorite psalm. My perspective on life was getting dark and twisted. The sun, which usually makes me smile and thank the Lord, didn't help this time. When I examined my mood and what was going on in my life, I realized that what I felt did not sync with reality. The best remedy? Read truth. So I turned to the Psalms. When I finished reading and praying, I felt a little more in sync with the world.

Honestly, I have not been journalling and reading my Bible as much as I should. I'm not saying this just because daily devotions are the "good Christian thing" to do. I'm saying this because the swamp in my schedule is flooding my mind and heart. Journalling helps me organize and clean my mind. It forces me to look at the root of my anxious or melancholy feelings and keep them from becoming destructive. If my thoughts are getting twisted or out of sync with reality, journalling exposes that. And reading the Bible helps me replace twisted thinking with true thinking. Praying is an important element, too, because I can't keep myself healthy or grow spiritually without God's help (plus, I can tell him anything without worrying what he thinks, so it's always good to spend time with him).

So, once I've posted this, I'm going to get out my journal and make sure my head's on straight. I don't have time or mental energy for much, but any time writing and praying is better than none. Then, it's off to homework, and hopefully some cleaning and exercise. When I step away from the anime and TV, I realize that my life is out of balance. My journal is not the only thing I've neglected between homework and computer time, and it's starting to affect me in more ways than one.

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