Thursday 15 August 2019

The Clocks Are Still Ticking

The greatest comfort of all is knowing that even when you feel your life is falling apart, its walls of sanity crumbling to rubble, the rest of the world is still moving. The Earth is still rotating; the clocks are still ticking. The sun will still rise, and set, and rise, and set again. Everything will stay just how it was before. 

During challenging moments, you must firmly ground yourself and recognise stability, even when it seems non-existent. Put on your pair of rose-coloured glasses. Make a daisy chain for good measure. It’s easier said than done, and I know this first-hand.

I'm an overthinker. A dramatic overthinker. Although I know the sky won't fall down anytime soon, (well, fingers crossed), my mind constantly bunny hops from worry to worry and I simply lose control. It feels as if life itself has placed me in its palm, spent a while deciding what to do with me, and then tossed me head-first towards a traumatic situation. It's even worse when a situation changes in a split-second. I halt both mentally and physically - I'll just freeze.

The last time this happened, I was having a driving lesson. A middle-aged cyclist, dressed up like some Power Ranger in his too-tight lycra and chunky red helmet, appeared out of nowhere and nearly clipped my wing mirror. I had no idea what to do. So, I did nothing. Quite literally, not one thing. If it weren’t for the dual controls and my exceptionally-calm instructor who later told me, ‘no, Charlotte, you can’t just lift your feet off the pedals and hope for the best’, I can’t bear imagining what could’ve happened. My lightning-quick reaction to not react at all serves to be proof that sometimes, we just cannot control what avenue our body hurtles down when trying to protect us. It’s the fight or flight mechanism - a raw and animalistic function embedded within our cores. We cannot suppress it.

Once the cyclist had vanished, and I saw the other cars humming past and the dog walkers with their mackintoshes and the gardeners shearing the street-lining evergreens, I was surprised to see that everything was normal. I’m not sure what else I was expecting. My mind had sent me to this outer-worldly dimension of irrationality, and I needed to (kindly) get a grip.

Everyone possesses their own toolbox of recovery remedies, but if a specific method has failed to bring about improvement, it could be time to shake things up a little. I'll use myself as an example. Months ago, amid a storm of panic and paranoia, I tended to trap myself in my bedroom, staring at nothing but my laptop screen and the four walls around me. I really was pressing the 'self-destruct' button without even knowing it.

Now, whenever I encounter a slight obstacle, I’ll go anywhere but my bedroom. I want to be out in the open and surrounded by fresh air, or I’ll gravitate towards busy environments, where my natural curiosity towards everything around me steals my attention. Subtle people-watching, (for innocent purposes, mind), can encourage you to live in the present - always be mindful of your surroundings and ground yourself among them. Noticing little details can help ease that mad frenzy, but recognise things on a larger scale, too. Put your problem into perspective. Ask yourself, will the world end because of this?

Distraction works wonders temporarily, but suppressing your emotions will only make that inevitable explosion ten times bigger. Because of this, I’ll lend my destructive thoughts a few moments of awareness, rather than ignore them completely. If I told you to think of anything but a pink elephant, what’s the first thing you’d picture? Exactly. A pink elephant. The more you tell yourself not to think of something, you’re immediately giving it priority in your mind. Don’t give it that privilege. It doesn’t deserve it. 

Throughout our lives, our hearts don’t stop beating and our lungs don’t stop breathing because we’re supposed to be alive. That’s our purpose. If we were to stop in our tracks every time something went wrong, we’d barely move. We’d be slower than Southern Rail. 

Of course, there are many occasions when we need time out; time to just be. Focusing on the present and firmly grounding yourself is vital. As humans, we're tiny, tiny cogs in an extremely large machine - this machine is life, and it's constantly in motion and moving forward. So, we must move with it. We have no other option.


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