“Let’s fix some sandwiches and go down to the park for a picnic.”
Larry didn’t hesitate. He hears “go” in a sentence, and he’s ready.
So we fixed some sandwiches and chips, added some drinks and drove to the park. Our town has several parks, but we always visit the one by the Staunton River.
It was a cold and windy Sunday. The temperatures were in the 50s, but the wind made it pretty chilly.
That didn’t stop us. We just put on our jackets, sat close together on the bench by the river, and ate our food.
Larry likes to go. Me? Less so. But on Sunday, I needed to go.
Some things are happening that have upset both Larry and me. The things don’t affect Larry and me directly, but they might affect our community. We’ve both felt a lot of shock and anger.
I can’t be specific about it here. And the specifics don’t change the effects on me.
When things upset me, it’s hard for me to let go. Whether it’s my OCD or depression or the generalized anxiety, negative thoughts lead to more negative thoughts, going around and around.
Thoughts about the situation followed me Friday night into Saturday morning. I woke up often, and every time I did, my thoughts went back to the anger.
I played the “what if” game. I imagined scenarios that only made me angrier.
I felt jumpy and irritable. The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome flared.
Worst of all, I felt the beginnings of hopelessness, which scares me particularly because it’s a hallmark of my depression.
That got my attention.
I will not let what others choose to do or say affect my mental health.
So I’ve tried different things to counteract the anxiety.
I’ve prayed the Serenity Prayer. I’ve reminded myself of things I can do nothing about.
I’ve also concentrated on what’s most important to me: God, Larry, my cats and my writing. I’ve used visualization as I’ve thought of them.
On Saturday, Larry had a day-long class, so I was home alone. I did some chores, looked after the kitties, took a nap.
I had another spell of anxiety in the evening. I wanted to go outside and run, or at least walk really fast.
I couldn’t do that. But I wanted to do something. I wanted to go somewhere. I wanted to get away from myself.
The picnic helped tremendously. After we ate, we walked around the area, taking photos. We rode back into the newly developed area of the park so I could get some shots of the railroad trestle and some other interesting sights.
Despite the chilliness, the wind felt good. It metaphorically blew away the negative thoughts and replaced them with fun, the beauty of nature and the joy of being with Larry.
And then we went for ice cream.
This will not be an easy week. But when the thoughts creep in again, I’m going to imagine being in the park by the river with Larry, in the wind and the coolness, among the green grasses and the wildflowers. I will imagine the wind lifting me above those thoughts.
What do you do when you can’t get your mind off of a worrisome subject?