This is the first in a series of posts that will track my progress in a mindfulness-based-cognitive-therapy class.
Mindfulness is not positive thinking. That was music to my ears to hear in the first mindfulness-based-cognitive-therapy class I've enrolled in (I don't do well with positive thinking). That, and the reassurance that it is ok for your mind to wander, but notice when it does. To not make value judgements. Let go of expectations. After the first class, I have high hopes (no, not expectations) for how mindfulness can help me.
The sporadic feeling of imminent doom washes over me regularly since I finished treatment two years ago. Some weeks, I perform everyday tasks consumed with a deep, unspoken fear. It comes in the form of a pit lodged in the bottom of my stomach, reminding me constantly that something terrible could happen. I could fail at my job. I could upset my partner. I could disappoint a friend. I could miss an opportunity. I might not be living the way I want to be.
I could relapse.
That's what experience does. It grabs at naive innocence, benign hope, and demands that you expect the worst and be prepared for it. Thoughts can change after such an experience, and adapt to lookout for hurt, disappointment and failure rather than happiness, pleasure and success.
So, why mindfulness? What sold me was learning from my (newly adopted) psychiatrist that mindfulness has been shown to prevent depressive relapse. It also helps with stress reduction, relaxation, focus, 'chemo brain', anxiety, pain, trauma but to be honest, you had me at prevention of depressive relapse.
I have had two depressions in my life. The likelihood of a third is high. My hope is for mindfulness to be a part of a larger plan to help me manage my depression and anxiety my own way. To be a cancer survivor who thrives off of experience rather than one who cowers from it.
And guess what? You can join me on this journey! I'll be sharing my experiences in this class with you regularly through a series of posts. Next week's class is called 'Getting Out of Your Head', which will be an interesting feat considering that's where any blogger spends most of his/her time.