When The Walls Close In

This weekend I made a poor decision: I went to the department store Sunday morning. My daughter had a birthday party to attend after church and needed a gift. We were up early and in need of a few staples, so I grabbed my bags and we headed out so I could cross one of the jobs off my list. Sometimes it feels good to get a head start on the day.

Sometimes it’s just foolish. Our little mother-daughter shopping date turned into a race against time – a race I knew I was going to lose by the time we hit the self-checkout. Frantic-mommy whispers escaped as my sweet daughter tried to help.

Just stay BACK! Stop doing that! Move! I HATE coming here!

She looked at me and backed off. I can only imagine what was going through her head: “What happened to the kind mommy who held my hand as we walked in?”

I carried that irritable energy with me through most of the day. When I had a few quiet moments, I took a step back and recalled something I said in my talk to a mom’s group last week.

I didn’t realize I was depressed because for two years I covered my sadness with irritability. Sadness was under all of that frustration.

I’m not depressed right now, but I certainly have my irritable days. I don’t want them to multiply and become the norm for me again, so I intentionally work to discern irritability’s cause.

In this quiet moment I asked: What is sad about this situation?

I felt the walls of the store closing in on me. I felt pressure. The competing pressures to be on time and accomplish my tasks pressed in on me in the store. I generally seem to be able to handle one without the other, but when there is a time crunch on my to-do list, I feel trapped.

That’s the thing about pressure. Unless there are actual walls closing in on me, pressure is an illusion – just like this picture. There was no real danger.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

The objective reality was that I mismanaged my time and there were going to be natural consequences for that. I was going to be the reason we would walk into church late. None of us like being late and I don’t like to miss any music at the beginning of the service. I felt like I was letting my family down. And that was sad to me.

But I wasn’t going to change the sad consequence at the self-checkout, so what did I do? I redistributed the pressure I felt and placed it on Amelia. Brilliant.

Managing time is not my forte. I’m going to mess up again. But I hope next time I will take a breath and choose to reject the perception of pressure, accept the consequences that follow and live with kindness in the moment.

Because finding sadness under my irritability can relieve pressure and release me to love.

For more on my experience with depression, check out my series: 

When I Should Feel Joy & 11 Tips for Preventing and Fighting Depression

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2 thoughts on “When The Walls Close In

  1. Andrea, I hope writing about this experience is helping you sort out what’s important. My husband hates that I’m late about half the time (getting better) but honestly … I say to myself, better late than not showing up & hope you can adopt that idea sometime.

    • Writing certainly offers time for introspection and accountability for following up on the insights gained through experiences like this.

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