Thinking Your Way Out of a Paper Bag

Some times you just need to pull yourself out.

Some times you just need to pull yourself out. Photo copyright Rory Stark.

You know that point you reach, when you’ve thought yourself into a corner, and you can’t get out? Anxiety, re-play, flashbacks, paranoia; they all make us do it sometimes. I call this “thinking your way into a paper bag.” Yesterday, two of my friends thought themselves into tears, via flashbacks and anxiety. It left me with the distinct feeling that sometimes, our collective ability to be creative, our drive, our very intelligence is our downfall. When you can imagine the very, very worst, who can convince you that it’s not a possibility? And when your brain is at an extraordinary level of intelligence, what better tool does mental illness have than the very brain it is occupying?

Case in point: My ex used to just hide in the bedroom until all the problems went away. Just sleep, medication, and ignoring problems. This will never help any individual address their own needs, or help them confront their inner demons. It will just lower their self-esteem, reinforce whatever ammunition said inner demons may possess, and leave that person less able to cope. But there are some people, who, just through sheer will, make it through to the other side.

Yesterday, a very good friend of mine could not leave her house because of flashbacks. This is a common, mostly healthy response, given her situation. However, she took it a step further. She grabbed the situation with both hands, and wrote it all down. Very clinically, very directly, with little emphasis on why she reacted the way she did, or what her exact feelings were, and she shared with her friends exactly why her life had been interrupted so abruptly. I cannot tell you how proud I am of her for putting herself out there like that. She gave herself some closure, and took steps towards reducing a fear that could potentially be emotionally crippling. She also did the most important thing of all: She opened herself to the encouragement and understanding of those that love her. I am so glad I was able to be one of those people, because she knows that I have been where she is standing, and that we were, for just a brief moment, able to commune in a new way as friends.

So, I want you to take her example. If you have thought yourself into a paper bag: Accept the challenge, and find your way out. Talk to someone, put yourself in a safe place, or just write it down, and tuck it away, even if you can’t share it with others. It just might give you some closure for yourself.

If you need some guidance, check out some books on self-coaching.

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  1. Deana

    Aye, we are our own worst enemies, my friend. I am thankful you have been there for me. It takes a lot to just let others into what is going. It is a braver thing to do than to ‘keep on carrying on’. . . .

    • All too true. And thank you Deana, for being there for me in the past, and for letting me be there for you. That kind of trust means so much to me.

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