Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Mindful Monday: A Bad Case of the What Ifs

posted by Beyond Blue

Loaves fishes tilapia002.jpg
I woke up this morning–okay and every morning for the last 8 days–with a bad case of the “What If?”s. I’m feeling the familiar adrenaline run through my veins. It’s fear, of course. Of what could happen. Tomorrow. Next year. In ten years. The primitive, ape-like part of my brain that feeds on fear has handcuffed the sophisticated neo-cortex of my brain, so that with every new challenge, I’m hearing a “let’s get the hell out of here” reaction.

 

It started with Beyond Blue, the book. What if it doesn’t sell enough copies? Then we will have to sell our house and pull our kids from Catholic school. And I’ll never be able to get another book contract. And it will be the end of my writing career. Back to staying home full time with the kids, posting notices of a playgroup at my house at the local coffee shop and every house with a stroller outside because I was so lonely.

Then it morphed into parenting fears. A group of friends were talking about how catty girls get starting in second grade. “They make each other’s life hell!” one said. The friend with a 17-year-old chimed in, “That’s nothing compared to the drama in high school.” And she’s a good parent, a much better parent than me, at least I’ve always thought. “Little people, little problems,” I remembered someone saying to me when I was pregnant (Thanks for that!), “big people, big problems.” And that makes me panic because the first years of parenting were excruciating for me. With a kid who screamed bloody murder every three minutes for five years, I could never regain my composure. I was a mess. A complete, neurotic mess. And those are supposedly the easy years??????

But notice none of those things are happening right NOW. The sleep deprivation is, I hope, in the past. The teenage trials … they are ten years out. So I tell my ape brain to try and help me focus on the present, the only place where I can find peace. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the mindfulness expert and author of “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” writes this about staying in the now:

Jon Kabat Zinn.jpg

It is all too easy to remain on something of a fog-enshrouded, slippery slope right into our graves; or, in the fog-dispelling clarity which on occasion precedes the moment of death, to wake up and realize that what we had thought all those years about how life was to be lived and what was important were at best unexamined half-truths based on fear or ignorance, only our own life-limiting ideas, and not the truth or the way our life had to be at all.

What has helped me the most with this acute case of what-ifs has been two miracles stories I always forget about, but that were brought to my attention at the right time. In the miracle of the loaves and fish, the disciples were in a bit of a jam. They have to make two fish and five loaves of bread feed thousands of people. Jesus took the fish and loaves, blessed them, and the miracle happened: it fed upwards of 12,000 people (if you take into consideration the children and women with the 5,000 men).

In his first miracle at Cana, the wedding hosts run out of wine. Mary says, “Do whatever Jesus says,” and when the servers fill some jugs with water, what they taste a few minutes later is no hydrogen oxygen combination (H20). They guzzle down wine that’s finer than the stuff they ran out of.

What does all this say to me?

Chill out. Breathe deeply. Just concentrate on the moment before you. You can’t know what’s ahead, and even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to see how it will work out. You’ll be okay. Trust that you’ll be okay.

Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.



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Jean

posted February 1, 2010 at 10:28 am


My students are reading Children of the Longhouse and one of my favorite lines in the book is, “He will not be any safer if you worry about him”



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Mary

posted February 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm


Therese, this post really spoke to me. And, I’m sure, to so many others, as so many of your posts and other writings do. So no, I don’t think you should call a realtor just yet, or return to trawling for play dates.
I too, despite recent breakthroughs, am waking up edgy these days, nervous about what menaces lurk ahead. Meditating mutes the feeling, but by itself isn’t enough. I have been telling my son, who shares my genetic predisposition to this red-alert state, that it is just the free-floating anxiety in our brains and bodies that is constantly scanning for material to work with. I’m trying to learn to give my inner calmness—which I have to trust is there too, somewhere—something to work with as well. Reminding myself of the things in my life that have worked out, and that are good now—my own miracles—helps.
With all your fears, I aspire to be as truly fearless as you are.



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M

posted February 1, 2010 at 12:27 pm


Oh Therese, I often go right to dread too. Keep reminding us that God is still in the miracle business and that our worry about ‘what if’, is truly a waste of time.
Your article in Guidepost is so good. I’m glad they published you. It will reach a lot of people, especially those who don’t have a computer, but still love to read uplifting stories. Great pictures of you and yours also.



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Julie

posted February 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm


i read your blog daily, but this is the first time i’ve commented. i’m recovering from a major breakdown and depression that had me in hospital for almost 6 months. now that i’m out of hospital and trying to recover and move forward, my BIGGEST challenge is staying ‘in the moment’. worrying only about this day, and letting the future worry about itself. so this post really spoke to me. i’m working on it, and reminders like yours are always helpful!! in fact, i consider you posting about this very subject at a time when i’m REALLY struggling with it to be a ‘sign from the universe’. so thank you :)



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JOHN

posted February 1, 2010 at 5:33 pm


THE “WHAT IFS” CAN KILL ME, I AM A RECOVERING DRUG ADDICT, 24 DAYS CLEAN AFTER 35 YEARS OF USE, I HAVE LOST MY WIFE, MY BEST, FRIEND MY LOVER, EVEN MY DOG. I HAVE FOUND NA, AND BLUE, NA THROUGH ITS GROUP, OF SUPPORTING, WONDERFUL FRIENDS, I HAVE,NOW, KEEP ME SAFE. MY NEW FRIENDS DONT WANT DRUGS OR MONEY OR MY SOUL,THEY HELP, THEY STAND BY ME. I HAVE LOST MY WIFE, OR AM LOOSING HER, AND SHE IS OUT THERE”, I CANT TALK TO HER BECASUE OF LEAGLE ISSUES, AND I GET STUCK IN THE WHAT IF’S.” THIS WEB SITE, HAS SAVED ME I DONT KNOW HOW MANY TIMES, RATHER THEN USING, I READ, I READ HOPE, PROMISE, SUPPORT, LOVE, HELP, AND ITS GREAT. THIS WEB SITE, YOUR COLUMNS, HAVE KEPT ME MORE THEN ONCE FROM USING, IT IS MY LIFE, I COME HOME FROM NA, ALONE, WANTING MY WIFE, I MISS HER SO, WE WERE NEVER APART MORE THEN 10 IN SIX YEARS. IT IS MY BELIEF SHE PUSHED ME HERE, TO THIS, AND I LOVE HER FOR IT, WE ALWAYS TALKED OF THIS, AND ITS HERE, I AM SO HAPPY, SO READY, SO GREATFUL, BUT SO LONELY, I MISS HER SO, MY HEART ACHES FOR HER. I MISS THE WAY WE SLEPT, WE HELD, WE LOVED, FOR ALL THE LIES I TOLD, I NEVER LIED ABOUT MY LOVBE FOR HER, I WILL STAY, I WILL WAIT, I KNOW SHE IS COMMING, WHEN GOD IS READY, I JUST HOPE ITS SOON. BUT TILL THEN YOU HAVE SAVED ME, I WILL NEVER FORGET, NEVER , I AM A TRUE BELIVER, YOU KNOW YOUR SHIT, AND IM IN LOVE, WITH ME GOD, AND BLUE……….GOD BLESS



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Michael

posted February 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm


Good blog today Therese about the “what ifs” I found the quote about not knowing what is ahead or how it will work out to be uplifting. I think it all comes down to faith that God is working his plan on his schedule. The what ifs can be like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering momentum and size with each revelation. Part of coping with Depression is having tools to stop that snowball before it runs over you.



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crackbaby

posted February 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm


Dear Ms. Borchard,
I appreciate your perspective on depression and the useful suggestions you offer to your readers. As a guy who has had bouts of depression since highschool, I can say that many of your suggestions have been helpful to me.
For those who have seasonal depression, light therapy combined with concentrated Omega-3, B-complex, Vitamin D and two herbs, Cordyceps and Holy Basil can help. To maximize its’ effectiveness, get a light with at least 12000 – 14,000 lux and place it in a location where it shines down from a slightly elevated position, not directly at the face. The efficacy is dependent on the intensity of light reaching the retina. It is not dependent on the spectrum, only the intensity.
Treatments consist of spending 20-30 min. under the lamp (about 15 inches away depending on lamp). Again, to maximize effectiveness, treatments should be done within two hours of waking up.
After about a week of ongoing light therapy, you’ll notice several mood shifts,accompanied by physiological shifts. The most obvious physiological change that occurs after treatment starts is a change in appetite. You’ll want more salads and fresh fruits and fewer bacon double-cheeseburger pizza dippers and cheesefries and entire loaves of french bread with stick of butter….
Try it and stick with it, it works.



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Anne McGinley

posted February 2, 2010 at 7:59 am


I too have a bad case of the what ifs this AM. I am a teacher, and it started yesterday when my projector broke AGAIN. It just returned from the company after 4 months. As a science teacher, I am dependent upon images to get my point across, and I was so excited to get it back. It worked for four days and then quit. Now I have to go back to mediocre teaching again.
As far as daughters go, I would say don’t listen to the negative moms. I try to enjoy both my kids no matter what, and I let them make their own mistakes and support them with their solutions. I want to believe that having a depressed mom has only made them stronger. Enjoy them at every stage, and they will give back so much in return. Just be there.



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Sharon baker

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:07 am


If your writing career did end, you would still be way ahead of most of us whose writing careers have never begun.



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Your Name

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:12 am


Therese, What a great, helpful post. I do the “What Ifs”, too. Your new book is helping me immensely. I’m on my second reading and have bought a copy to donate to our NAMI affiliate. Thank you so much!!! The first thing I look for in my email is your blog. Don’t ever doubt that you are doing so much good in the world.



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Yasma S. Reid

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:22 am


I am facing so many fears, beacause I never had to solely depend on my self to take care of myself. My so-called friend left me with a load of bills, and just up and left after being together and raising my children for 10 years. Noone is working but my daughter, and that is too much on a 22 yr old. I’m always looking for a job, and all of us including my 19yr. old son is in school. I am waiting for my unemploymentt extension to kick back in. But every morning I wake up scared to death thinking when will they come with the eviction notice, when will the lights get turned off, so many questions wake me up every morning leaving me nervous throughout the day. Of cousrse I pray all the time, but I’m just tired of waking up with this feeling



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TAMMY T.

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:34 am


HOW IRONIC , I WOKE UP JUST THIS MORNING WITH THE WHAT IFS… AGAIN. I’M 47 AND I HAVE BEEN DWELLING ON MY FUTURE ALOT LATELY. THANK YOU FOR THE ARTICLE, IT WAS A BLESSING.I WILL BE FOCUSED MORE ON THE HERE AND NOW FROM NOW ON.GOD’S BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOURS. :)



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Jami Carson

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:34 am


I have had the what if’s for the last 4 years because of my health issues. I seen over 65 doctors in last 4 years after I was told that I had endometrious. I had surgery for the endometrious back in 2006 and it didn’t work. I have tried everything. Finally one of the doctors I seen sent me to U OF M in Ann Arbor Michigan in 2009. The OBGYN went ahead and did another surgery for the endometrious and to do some investing. After the surgery I was told that everything came back normal. I thought to myself what if these doctors can’t figure out what is going on with me? What am I going to do now? The doctor sent me to a GI doctor and when I went to see the GI doctor I thought what if this doctor can’t do anything for me then what? The GI doctor sent me to a Nerve specialist. I thought the same thing “What if he can’t do anything for me then what?” The nerve doctor finally helped me and I was told that I had Fibomyalgia and all these symtoms I was having was all Fibomyalgia related and that was back in September of 2009. During all of this I was depressed, angury, sad, unhappy, and just plain worried. I even made myself sick because all I would do is worry about my health issues. Since then I have been a lot better and I am getting the help I need to control the Fibomyaligia. But I do know what the “What if” statement is. Do give up something has to come out good sooner or later just don’t make yourself sick over What ifs!!!!



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A. Mckinnon

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:39 am


I look forward to your posts everyday. Knowing there are people who share my fears and disorders helps me to put one foot in front of the other when I just do not have the strengh to do it. I purchased your book and cried through most of it because it was a reflection of myself. ( I have also convinced several others to buy it) Please remember your message is being heard.



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goldenacres

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:46 am


As always Therese, thanks for posting. Today it reminds me to be grateful that today I did NOT wake with the “what ifs” on my mind. I attended a group self help meeting last night, with a little push (shove) from a caring coworker/friend. Listening & learning that there are different coping mechanisms I can utilize to change my thinking, and ultimately deflect the emotions that cause symptoms which make me suffer, gave me great hope that I CAN DO THIS



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destiny

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:57 am


I have been on my own after 25 yrs of marraige for the last 6 years… I woke each day to crying in the shower before work worrying how I was gonna make it WITH TWO TEENAGERS. Had to leave my husband due to his head injury 10 yrs prior. He became crazy and beat me, he now is in an assisted living facility… He continues to try and make me feel bad, through our children.. But it wasn’t until this year that I finally found myself. I had been job hunting for over two years, now I am employed in my career field, and that has made me feel whole again. I have realized that YOU MUST BE HAPPY WITH YOURSELF FIRST, THEN EVERYTHING IS EASIER. Yes, I get very lonely, and hope that one day, I will be married again, and feel that security, but for now… I am just happy being me!



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"Lee"

posted February 2, 2010 at 11:10 am


What if helps if I’m writing a story, but it can swallow me up and pour me out like a lethal dose of arsenic–’er something. What if can cause me to break-up and break-off friendships and relationships and partnerships because of fear. I can what if myself to death. Is it worth it? Of course, not. Do I believe it isn’t? Of course, I do. Then why do I still do it every time someone really good and true and important to me comes into my life? What if I’m not good enough for him (usually a him, but can be a her). What if he decides he really doesn’t accept me after all? What if he won’t hire me? What if he fails me? What if wants to dance and I can’t dance? What if he makes love to me, and I soon discover, he doesn’t care? What if I scare the new friend away because I don’t know when to stop worrying so much about the new relationship and just let it evolve? Why do I have to be in control of everything? There are no guarantees, and if I can’t be free, then what’s the point? Thanks. This really feels good now. See? We can talk ourselves out of worrying and fretting and just letting go and paying attention without fear, but with wonder and curiosity. Never lose myself for fear of losing someone else.



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Debbie

posted February 2, 2010 at 11:18 am


You mean the What If’s are not a part of every day living?????? Well for goodness sakes,,,,, LoL I thought that was how it was to be?
I wake, with an anxiety attack, have to run to the restroom, that’s just the first 10 minutes of my day.
Then it’s…… oh no, husband is leaving for work,,,, I won’t make it until he comes back, or WAIT is that or was that a pain, I have something wrong with me.
Frankly, that is how my day starts, then I remember when you get an Attack, you Distract. Think about the beauty of the day, read your Bible, talk and pray to God, and Believe it can happen.
I know everyday will or could be a trial. It’s what I do with it.
I know we have a wonderful Lord, who cares more than we will ever know, and we don’t deserve his Love, but he gives it everyday. See his Beauty, maybe a song of a bird, a cloud, or the sun.
I know just to hang on. I do see a Doctor, and it helps a bit.
Just hang on. I am trying. You can too.



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Rowanoak

posted February 2, 2010 at 11:21 am


I now know what to call that feeling I’ve had for my entire lifetime…I’ve always thought of the “what ifs” as my “personal doom cloud” that follows me around. I’ve read Kabat-Zinn’s books and they are very helpful.



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Jill

posted February 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm


I’m feeling that way about getting into this community college by my house (applying and getting in is easy) but I have to take SIX math classes! I am so afraid that they’ll be difficult like they were when I was at a normal college. I have to get through them though if I want to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology! :S
P.S. My fiance assures me that community college is a lot different and easier than regular, plus I’ll be home with him because I would only go (I believe) 2x a week for 3 or 4 hours at a time (i.e. Tues night 5-8pm, Thurs 4-8pm) and we can work on my homework together and just generally be together ALWAYS instead of me being over 4 hours away living on campus!
I’ll have him to come home to EVERY night instead of the slim chance that he could make the trip down on the weekends (though he had made it every weekend many times)
Thanks for letting me get my fear out here, Therese. :)



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Your Name

posted February 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm


What if we were to realize that we don’t really have ape brains, but human. To realize that is to begin to understand that we were created above all animals and because of that alone, we have a greater purpose than just existing. What if our greatest desire in life was to get to know the One who gave us life so that we would come to understand that this life is not really about ourselves, but how we help one another. What if our first thought each morning was not all about how we feel, but how can I help someone else have a better day today? What if?



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eileen

posted February 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm


Thank you for this post and the spot-on term “What ifs.” I’ve also heard it referred to as future tripping which sounds less concrete to me, more like an acid-fueled romp. I’ve often said that I’d be OK, great even, if I just knew how it was going to end (besides that I will die.) It’s so good to hear that we can’t no the future and even if we did it wouldn’t make much difference because life is the journey and the daily moments. This is it, right now. Wow. Thank you, Therese, and thank you for your blog.



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Anne

posted February 2, 2010 at 2:13 pm


great timing for this. Another 47 year old who just had a bad night and the what-if’s are swimming around my head. Thank you for thi



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Sonia

posted February 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm


I am a 46 year old woman moving to california, i have a 27 year old son and 2 grand children i will be leaving behind, and i keep thinking WHATIF i leave and they forget me or need me in some way,it’s like you said all fear.



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johnalene

posted February 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm


Hi. This has nothing to do with this post but I didnt know where else to send it. First and Foremost I really enjoy your articles you right I read them everyday. I am now reading your book,, which has been really good, but there are a couple of things that kind of bothered me. I have suffered from major depression and anxiety for 25 years. I worked for 20 years until I couldnt stand the stress any more. You made a comment in your book about people that were drawing Disability. Well I am one of them so the comment in the book really bothered me. Not all of us have the opportunity to go to a hospital like John Hopkins to ask for help so in order for me not too worry about bills and all my medical bills I applied for disability and was accepted. So anyway just a thought .



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Your Name

posted February 3, 2010 at 5:52 am


I cast away what if’s in my life,in Jesus name,amen.



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Lost

posted February 3, 2010 at 12:54 pm


Your book is fantastic. As I’ve said before I wish I had this book when I was growing up. It was so hard. You will do fine – you are a fantastic writer.



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Tess

posted February 4, 2010 at 2:54 am


Thank you. Timing is perfect as I was in the middle of a panic attack.
I have a dental procedure tomorrow that has me upset and scared. I am going to stay in the moment and trust that I will be ok. Now to get sleep.



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Nancy Roberts

posted February 9, 2010 at 5:51 pm


I will have to find your book. It sounds really helpful. YOu are describing me in your columns. I am an untreated nervous person who too worked for about 27 years before the stress just ate me up! I am on a different plane with a different set of problems. It is the same old fears that are grinding away at my psych. I will continue to read and try to get some kind of help. Thanks so much.



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