I had a better day yesterday than on Saturday or Sunday. I met with my therapist last night, and we talked about my depression over the weekend. I told her how the voices affected me and made me sad. We discussed mindfulness for a little while. I had started doing research online about mindfulness, but I didn’t get a very clear idea of what it was. She told me it is about staying focused and in the moment. Sometimes I have a million thoughts going through my head, and I can’t keep my mind focused on what I am doing. It takes a lot of effort. Julie also suggested that I not pay attention to the voices, but rather focus on my own thoughts, and how they affect my emotions and my behavior. I keep moving forward and try not to get caught up in what they are saying. If I do, it’s like I’m falling into a trap, a swirling vortex that goes nowhere.
This morning while I was filling out some paperwork, I heard someone say, We want you to be truthful about it. I think they were referring to the paperwork I was filling out. I noticed that my voices start a lot of their sentences with that phrase: We want. In the past, they have said things like: We want you to give up on it, we want you to give up on your life with your husband, we want you to take responsibility for it, we want you to give up on your Buddhist practice, we want you to give up on your book, we want you to tell your psychiatrist you don’t have schizoaffective disorder, we want you to go through this alone, and the list goes on. I have no intention of living my life according to what they want. So far, I haven’t actually done anything they’ve wanted me to do except I stopped chanting for about a month after I was in the hospital in May. It didn’t change anything. There was also the time I tried to make an agreement with them. I said I would only chant for half an hour a day, and they were supposed to stop threatening me and my husband (they were always saying they were going to kill John if I didn’t stop chanting). That didn’t work either. I still heard threats.
I chant for courage, wisdom, and compassion. I need the wisdom to make the right decisions, courage to achieve my goals and conquer my illness, and compassion for other people. My husband and I were watching the movie Evan Almighty a few days ago where Morgan Freeman plays God and tells Steve Carell to build an ark. Toward the end of the movie, Evan is talking with God. Even tells God how he prayed for his family to grow closer together, and for courage. God tells him to think about how his prayers were answered. God didn’t magically bestow him with courage or his family with love. Instead, he gave Evan the opportunity to be courageous, and he gave his family the opportunity to grow closer together through their experience building the ark.
I like that perspective. Rather than our prayers somehow magically transforming us, life gives us the opportunity to demonstrate and develop the qualities we are praying for. I am praying for courage, wisdom, and compassion. My own life experiences are the opportunities I have to develop these qualities, and encourage others. Thanks Evan!