I love the feeling mindfulness gives me when I’m out for a walk and I realize that my mind is wandering and suddenly I’m present and noticing trees and colours that feel like they’ve never been seen by my eyes before. It’s even more amazing when I can sit with my family and soak up their loving awesomeness without being focused on what ‘work’ I need to be doing.
The first psychologist I saw told me all about mindfulness on our first visit. Over the next couple of months he told me to accept my feelings and be more mindful in my everyday life. The pressure of doing this, and the feelings of failure that came from me “not doing it properly” (his words) led to me being curled up on a vinyl chair in Urgent Care with hallucinations and uncontrollable crying. I just couldn’t do it. It was too much. I couldn’t be mindful of my suicidal thoughts without wanting to act on them.
Six months after my “crisis,” I’ve learned that mindfulness is a useful tool that I use daily to check-in with myself, especially if I’m feeling angry, nervous, sad, or even content. But I learned after a trial run off of my anti-depressant that I can’t be mindful when I can’t concentrate. And since my depression often causes trouble concentrating, I think that telling someone with depression to be mindful is like telling a fish to fry an egg. “Just do it, you’re not trying hard enough!” Off of my medication, I couldn’t sit still long enough to do any sort of meditation. My legs were restless, and my mind jumped from thought to thought so quickly that I couldn’t read, write, or even focus on what my son might be saying (“Mum! Pay attention!”). Now that I’m back on medication, and have been for a few weeks, I realize that my inability to concentrate has nothing to do with how hard I’m trying. I wish I could go back to tell myself that I’m not a failure for not being able to be mindful – I just needed more help than mindfulness alone could provide.