Some days I look at my problems and the lyrics to a Paul Simon song pop into my head:
“The problem is all inside your head,” she said to me.
I’m a pretty put together person. I know who and what I am, and I’m in control of my life as much as anyone ever is. So those moments where I’m not in control of my own head are terrifying to behold.
Depression and spirals of despair and fear and angst are things that most of us in the world can’t control. It’s similar to when you can’t sleep. Oh, you lie down in bed, your body is tired and it feels soooooo good and comfortable. Maybe you have a cat curled up on you, doing that cat mojo. And your brain, your stupid brain, smiles at you. “You wanted to sleep?” it says. “Remember when you were 6 and you stole a candy bar?” And then, no matter what you do, the brain just runs on it’s own rails and there when your attempt to sleep tonight.
If you’ve ever had that feeling, then you actually know what it’s like to be depressed (actual medical depression), or why people suffer from impostor syndrome.
There are times when your brain is outside your control, for any reason. Some people have medical reasons why they can’t control it. Actually I suspect most reasons are medical by nature, but to say “I have medical depression” is terrifying in our world. Harder to say that than “I’m gay” for a lot of people, because at this point, gay is just a thing, but depression means you’re admitting something is ‘wrong’ in your brain. There was a time when gay meant that too, of course.
If we were always able to be in charge of our bodies, we’d never have those moments when your foot randomly cramps while you’re sitting on the couch. And we’d never have to pee while rocketing down the highway, because we would be able to force it when we stopped at the last rest stop, 50 miles ago. You’d never be surprised by anything your body did.
But we’re not. We can’t be. Just like some people are addicted to food or drugs, or are chronic nail biters or hair chewers, some have depression. It’s just a part of their brain where they don’t always get to be in charge of what’s going on. For many people with these problems, medication helps. Some people need therapy. Some people need more vitamin D absorbed through their skin. Some need more adrenaline (aka exercise).
The point is that our brains sometimes make us not in charge of our selves.
It’s hard to understand and accept that a smart, capable, savvy, together person can be not in charge of their own brain sometimes, that thoughts can race and spiral out of control faster than their ability to cope, but it’s just what life brings us sometimes.
Some of us are depressed. Some of us have massive mood swings. Some of us have panic attacks. Some of us are perfectly fine in our own small world and experience abject terror outside. Some of us can’t deal with small spaces.
The problem is all inside our heads. That doesn’t mean the problem is easy to solve, logically or not.