Recently I had an unwanted visitor show up. You may know her, Depression's neurotic cousin? One minute I was merrily going about my business, the next - there she was in all her full glory, & bringing with her an instantly recognisable tight ball of worry in my stomach & a sense of dread & impending doom.
Oh, how I hate her. Loud & obnoxious, she has no social graces. Where Depression settles in quietly, like an old familiar friend, even comforting at first (deceptively so), she is desperate to make her presence known like an overbearing, opinionated relative, all 'Look at me! Look at me!!' And while Depression sits lethargic & unfeeling, she is a constant state of restlessness and agitation - all OCD and ADHD & some Tourette's thrown in for good measure. & I'm not talking about the mildly inconvenient fluttering of the eyelids or the slightly distracting twitch of the nose. No, I'm talking about full-blown 'copropraxia' and 'coprolalia' which render their victim helpless against obscene gestures & a torrent of offensive language. And the incessant chatter!! 'Are you really going to eat that? Salmonella poisoning!! You'll wish you were dead!', 'you're taking the kids for a swim in the SEA? They don't even know how to swim, they could end up drowning!!' The unsubtle stage whispers, 'that rash - hello? Meningitis?' & 'everything's going a little TOO well if you ask me.'
Like the irritating relative, she is notoriously hard to get rid of. Worse, you actually find yourself being caught up in the wild perplexity, the sense of foreboding, the apprehension, anguish & distress. And there's NOTHING YOU CAN DO!!!!! . . .
Actually there is something you can do. Well some THINGS I have learned to do. Now I'm no expert, well, I kind of am, having spent a significant amount of time with her in the past, but I've learned a few ways to distance myself from that impetuous, headstrong witch.
Distraction. When she's screaming in your ear about all the perils of swimming in the ocean, or keeps nagging about how the meat in that chicken pie tasted more like fish & 'the food poisoning is going to hit any moment now', you need to find something to distract you & her. The last time she showed up, I was on holiday. It was amazing how going for a walk in unfamiliar surroundings or forcing myself to play in the ocean (the ocean!!) with my kids brought a wonderful sense of calm & stillness inside.
Talk to someone. If you are really successful at pretending you have all your proverbial 'shit together' then this may be an incredibly hard step to take. I wouldn't know, I've never even been able to pretend that I have my act together so talking to a trusted friend isn't as hard as I once thought it might be. Take a risk, they might surprise you with empathy & the offer of prayer.
And finally, talk back. My mum taught me this one when I was 14. Counter the thinly veiled lies with the plain, solid truth. Any time you feel the familiar twinges & niggles, use your sternest teacher voice & repeat after me,
2 Timothy 1:7 - 'For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.'
1 John 4 v 18a - 'There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear . . . '
Isaiah 26:3 - 'You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.'
Philippians 4:6-7 - 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'
There is power in those words that will silence THE loudest, THE most obnoxious. I promise.