This week, a young family member unexpectedly ended up in hospital.
That mundane and regular rhythm of routine completely upended, as life becomes centred around literal survival.
Sometimes it's our physical body that comes under fire, other times, it's something a lot more dangerous, scary and unpredictable...
Our own mind.
World's WORST Radio Station
Let's clear up a BIG myth: It's not only people with depression, schizophrenia or other mental health issues that are susceptible to the highly critical voice in their head.
I'm not getting anywhere! Whatever I do, it's never good enough. I should be handling things better. Why can't I be more like [fill-in the blank]. Things would be better if I had...
I've not yet met a person who doesn't have the same crappy internal radio program, titled "Everything That's Wrong With Me & My Life" playing on repeat.
For most people, this random running dialogue in your head can seem relatively harmless.
We've become so accustomed to this low-level white noise playing in the background that a lot of the time it goes completely undetected by us, and it doesn't seem to cause any obvious outward harm.
And then...you have a crappy day at work, you don't get enough sleep, you have a fight with your partner or child, you forget to pick up milk on your way home, you receive a text from a difficult family member or someone flushes the toilet while you're in the shower.
A cascade of small, unrelated events can cause a vicious descent into mental quicksand.
If you're "lucky," it's short-lived: hot tears, fiery rants 'n' raves, bursts of anger or lulls of sadness.
Other times, it becomes a FULL-BLOWN egoic attack.
Dealer of Fear
An egoic attack is when the voice in your head turns the volume WAY UP, getting louder, more brutal and scathing.
No one understands me. I'm all alone. Everything is sh*t. I'm useless and pathetic. I'm a failure and a loser.
It doesn't seem to matter how much you know or how far you've come, you feel like you're completely at the mercy of it.
A practitioner friend once compared the ultra-critical voice in our head to a card dealer, dealing out every one of our innermost fears, insecurities, doubts, hurts, grievances and worries.
One after the other, fear after fear, after fear.
I've Been There Too
For me, an egoic attack feels like a grey, dark filter is put across my eyes and my entire life situation.
Nothing feels right, everything is askew; and I feel totally helpless to change any of it.
Every little self-criticism or outward judgement becomes amplified and distorted. And no one can reach me.
It's a journey into darkness. I can't hear the birds or feel the sun.
The negative thoughts gain such a fierce momentum, hungrily feeding on each other and snowballing.
Once it reaches that point, no life tool or breathing technique can help; I surrender to the dark.
Darkness To Dawn
Throughout it all, there's a quiet awareness who knows this is not me; who knows this is not real.
That's my anchor in the storm, that's my speck of light in the dark.
I know this will not last. I know I will "wake-up" and I will be stronger, wiser, more self-aware for it.
Sensitives, Intuitives & Empaths
For others though - particularly people who are energetically sensitive, psychic or highly aware of other people's emotional states - it's not so much a journeying through the darkness as a cyclical sinking down.
What's your best defence against this aspect of yourself?
Knowing yourself; knowing what's truly you and what masquerades as you.
The most helpful, awareness-expanding books and life-resources I've found are:
I've had these books bedside on/off for the last 7 years, and I delve into them regularly. Either I'm a slow learner :-) or it's an indication of just how much we need to be reminded of who we truly are.
Much love and strength.