What do you do when you find yourself stuck in what Lovecraft calls the “hellish black mire”? Life is moving along at its usual pace and then something triggers your anxiety or depression. It happens to all of us. Depending on your level of sensitivity, it could be as simple as a misunderstood conversation, a car accident, an upcoming test, a layoff notice, or a misplaced accusation. Then again, it could be life threatening: some form of abuse, a diagnosis, the end of a relationship, the loss of a child. The mire does not discriminate. It reaches out and swallows you whole.
We know all the things we “should” do to shift moods. We’ve heard them all before. But when you’re mired to your thighs, movement seems impossible.
I’ve been wrestling with this the last few days and have attempted to halt the perseveration, the self-doubt, the auto-rewind conversations in my head, the haunting images, the insomnia, the constant urge to weep. To some degree my techniques worked. I’ve reached a place where today I can write. What brought me here is not of consequence; the way out is what’s important. I’ll share what I’ve tried.
Change genres: I love mysteries and thrillers, but when you start getting triggered by what you’re reading or watching, switch. Avoid conspiracy theories and feeding the drama. Don’t watch the news. Don’t read horror stories on social media. Go light. Go comedy.
Meditation: This is difficult at the best of times and nigh impossible when you’re perseverating; however it’s worth the work. Count each breath, use your favourite music or sound effects as background, and/or combine with visualization. Create a place in your mind where you feel safe, secure, and comfortable, and stay there as long as possible. I crawl into the branches of a massive willow tree. I love her. Another technique I just learned is to bundle your problems or fears into a sack and toss it off a bridge. Watch it sink to the river bottom and then continue on your wilderness walk. I’m considering actually writing words on rocks and tossing them into the ocean.
Tapping: I’ve never done this before though my friend, who is a counsellor, often talks about using it with her clients. I googled a how-to last night and tried it. The first thing you are asked to do is define the problem. What I discovered in doing this was that the incident that brought me here was triggered by a lifelong fear. That actually helped. I wasn’t able to tap myself from 10 to 0 (the idea is to verbalize the problem as you tap through various points) but I felt lighter afterwards, so some shifting occurred. I’ll continue to tap.
Go out: I am a highly sensitive introvert so going out is stressful for me (unless I’m near a traditional pub in Ireland). However, when you’re stuck in the mire, you cannot halt the internal dialogue without distractions. I went to my garden plot and then for a walk around the ocean. Being in nature is always healing for me. Passing people on the trail forced me to smile at times and cut into the constant negative imagining. Watch children play or go to a dog park. As Frankie says, “golden retrievers are living hugs”.
Work with the elements: Last night I went outside in the dark and stared at the full moon. When I awoke at 2am I took my crystals outside and left them to be bathed in the moonlight. Also try candlelit baths, sweats, walking in the wind, camping, or earthing.
Talk to a friend you love and trust: Very important. Holding all that misery inside gives it power. You want to diminish the hold so you can make a shift. On the same note, avoid feeding the anxiety by talking it up. Resist telling everyone your story. Instead, hang out with friends who distract you with laughter. You know who you are.
Do something physical: We sit in the centre of Emotion, Mind, Spirit, and Body, so must hit all four elements. Stand up and move–walk, run, bike, swim, clean your house, plant flowers, do yoga, put on music and dance, turn up the tunes and sing, cook and comfort yourself with food. Just be careful with alcohol and drugs. As Lovecraft discovered in “Dagon” drugs will suck you deeper into the mire.
Go spiritual. Whatever that is for you. Smudging with sage always brings me comfort and clarity. As well, I watched a Kyle Grey angel video on youtube last night and visualized myself being rocked in the loving arms of my angel. This sparked an epiphany. I realized that LOVE is what’s important here–receiving love and sending love–and as hard as that seemed I was able to do that. I think this moment of compassion may have created the greatest shift of all. This morning I went to church, played the drum, sang, and listened to the sermon. Oddly enough, the priest said, “celebrate and dance”.
What do you do when you feel stuck in the “hellish black mire”? Do you have any techniques that work in the moment? Any advice for pulling yourself out of the quicksand?