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Look sharply after your
thoughts, They come unlooked for, like a new bird seen in your trees,
and, if you turn to your usual task, disappear.
I also have the added burden of waking most mornings with a headache, sometimes severe, which may transform into migraine. Sometimes it is less severe but most mornings it is there added to by aches and pains which are more severe upon waking and which I am told are caused by depression and stress but which I believe are caused by fibromyalgia. These illnesses whatever one wishes to call them are a dismal start to the morning and invariably my heart is filled with the heavy weight of despair.
My solution is to get up unless the hour is extremely early. Lying in bed simply is impossible for me as the aches and pains are just too severe and gradually upon rising they subside to more tolerable levels. However even without such aches or pains lying in bed with ones head full of negative and frightening thoughts and ones heart leaden with depression simply gives room for the escalation of such symptoms as the mind is unoccupied and before we even realise it the mind is embroiled in one disaster scenario or another as intrusive thoughts crowd the mind with increasing rapidity.
Having finally got out of bed, which can be no easy matter when one is depressed or fatigued, it is than beneficial to pursue some distracting occupation. Those with OCD should try not to become too involved with rituals and compulsions but instead save these inevitable parts of our lives until later. Or if such rituals are not too time consuming or complicated get them over with first than try to do something that occupies the mind something that you enjoy or at least glean some satisfaction from. I personally work on the computer starting with the Internet and than go on to whatever project I am involved in, such as this website, most of which was created during the first two or three hours after rising. Yes obsessions and compulsions get in the way even when using the computer such as those mentioned in My Story but try to have a couple of hours or even just half an hour to do something that distracts from your illnesses and keeps your mind occupied before getting involved in ones compulsions or pursuing the mundane chores of the coming day.
Meditation in the
early hours of the morning can also be beneficial even for OCD
sufferers. Yes strange as it seems, at least in my personal experience,
when one is formally meditating the mind seems less prone to intrusive
thoughts of an OCD nature. Other thoughts and images intrude as every
one who takes up meditation knows but these are fleeting and fragmentary
albeit persistent, but rarely if at all I have been affected by
significant OCD thoughts during meditation. Meditation can have a
claming effect upon ones tired and distraught mind and this is excellent
for those with GAD, PTSD. Panic Disorder and for sufferers of
free-floating anxiety - a symptom of anxiety disorders which seems more
prevalent first thing in the morning.
Yes it is all very well for me to advocate such positive but possibly some potentially difficult endeavours for those of us with the problems mentioned above, and yes I am not always up to the task, often either too depressed or too burdened with anxiety. I had at one time practiced Tai chi each morning for 15 minutes to music and it was helpful. It made me feel that at least for those 15 minutes I was doing something beneficial, not only for the duration of the practice but also something that may help my mood and consequently my ability to cope better in the long term. However in recent months I have been very remiss and let an increase in depression due to the continuation of trying circumstances, not only with my illnesses but with an inability to cope with an increasingly difficult life, prevent me from doing my early morning Tai Chi, and I have dropped this regular practice. Furthermore at this time in my life it would be impossible to take a walk alone because of my OCD just to mention a few of the possible difficulties we may encounter. There are many reasons why for some of us this advice may not be suitable as we are all different and sufferer in varying degrees from our respective illnesses. And there is nothing worse than having some well meaning person give a lot of advice which can be impossible for us to follow and indeed such can be exasperating and we feel that this person does really have no idea what it is like to suffer in the way that we do.
You may think: how can I practice Tai Chi or exercise when I can barely rise from my bed overwhelmed perhaps by the benumbed immobile feelings of lethargy often experienced when one is profoundly depressed or when anxious, when every effort is a major undertaking. Or how can I sit and read or work on the computer when I have so many OCD rituals that make it impossible to do such things. Again see My Story or my memoir. I do know what it is like and continues to be like. I have suffered for years and know that what works for me may be impossible for another or what worked for me last week is not workable this week.
Its a case of finding a distraction suitable for how one feels at a particular time in ones life if it is all possible, but not to feel hopeless if we cannot do anything at all at this point in our lives as things will change. At one time I could not read at all because of an obsession with a certain number, so at this time I could not read as a distraction, however this problem is easier now although others have taken its place. Perhaps at this time you may be too depressed or stressed to concentrate, after all learning Tai Chi needs some concentration but in time this may change. As already mentioned in My Story I can get headaches from the practice of meditation and occasionally Tai Chi, however this will not happen with everyone and from what I understand such an occurrence is not usual. Everyone is different and if headaches are not your problem and you feel that your depression or stress will not seriously impair your ability to practice than meditation and Tai Chi really do have beneficial effects upon ones mood long after the formal practice is over. At the moment I canít practice or learn the next form in Tai Chi, my brain simply cannot recall the movements even though I can manage to construct a website, the brain does not always work the way we expect it and stress can effect how we concentrate: what we were able to do at one time may not be possible at another. Hopefully this will change, do as much or as little as you can and this goes for all our activities and endeavours to lead a normal life at any time of the day not just the mornings. I continue to go to my Tai Chi classes and do my best and wave my hands around, it does not matter if I cannot recall what to do because my mind canít take it in right now maybe later on this will change. So its a case of finding the right thing at the right time.
But if you are too ill, and believe me I have been there when all I could do was cling to my husband in a state of utter dread and fear, to do anything much requiring concentration or effort than try to find something less demanding even if its only watch TV or listen to the radio. Do not let people tell you that such pastimes are a waste of time; someone once remarked that she would rather watch paint dry than watch daytime TV when I had told her that that was all I could do with my headaches. Surely watching daytime TV even if it tends to be rather limited, or the films are ancient, or the programmes are not what we would normally watch is still better than doing nothing and having to lie down with a pounding head or a mind swarming with horrifying and depressing thoughts. Yes I hear you say how can you watch TV or use a computer with chronic headaches? Believe it or not unless I have a migraine I can do these things and they provide distraction I even go to the cinema with a headache! Again we are all different, this simply illustrates the point that we are all individuals and what works for one person may not work for another and therefore we need to do what we feel we can do at a certain time in our lives. I used to find that listening to talk radio programs where viewers ring in to discuss issues with the the presenter was a good distraction when I was so ill with either OCD or headaches to do anything other than sit. Also chatting to a friend or family member if such is available can help to alleviate that early morning misery. Often my sister would telephone when she was overwhelmed with free floating anxiety in the morning or there was a particular ordeal to face that day and I would do likewise and for a time we gained from one another a more normal perspective and for a while the pronounced early mornings fears seemed a little less ominous.
Lastly I find it
helpful, at least for a while, to change my environment from time to
time so when I wake I am not greeted by the same old surroundings which
have become associated with previous miseries. I came across this advice many
years ago, I think it was from one of Claire Weeks' books