Going to Ground

I’m not sure whether it’s a factor of turning another year older, or Mercury in retrograde, or wonky weather messing with the barometer, or just my brain, but it’s been a challenging week so far. I’m on my way up into another manic phase, and thanks to one, some, or all of the aforementioned factors, the mania is manifesting itself as some pretty intense and occasionally paralyzing anxiety. This is particularly frustrating in light of the fact that my ManicBrain wants to DO ALL THE THINGS, but AnxietyBrain is too overwhelmed.

Tuesday morning during my meditative time I was thinking a lot about the need to ground myself amidst the mental chaos. A friend suggested I go through one or more of my tarot decks and pull out a card or two that helped me to feel grounded that I could carry with myself during the day. The cards I have tattooed on my arm actually do a pretty good job of that, but I wanted something else. Which was about the time that I saw, in front of a pile of things my partner had set out to sort, a bag full of rocks I picked up at some point on a trip to Lake Superior…and I thought, if it’s grounding I need, why not carry a literal piece of ground with me?

I am a person of Earth. My roots wind deep into my little daily rituals and my most closely held convictions. I grow in seasons, my greatest sense of purpose comes from providing shelter and shade from life’s storms, and I contain vast capacities for both strength and vulnerability. Much as I love the convenience of living in the city, my soul sings at the sight of trees and wild spaces. Earth is an integral part of who I am.

But sometimes I need an extra little bit of Earth. And that’s when I turn inward, and go to ground, and look for tangible little reminders to stop and breathe and dig in deeply when I feel my brain trying to fly off in a hundred different directions at once – tarot card on my arm, a little river rock in my pocket.

Before you think I’ve gone totally “woo” on you, never fear – there are plenty of other things I do to manage my anxiety, from my regular medications to deep breathing to cutting back on sodium and caffeine so my heart has fewer excuses to race. I try to stick to a schedule, to get enough sleep, and to avoid situations where I know I will feel overstimulated. These are the logical steps to anxiety management.

The trouble is that anxiety so rarely has any sort of connection to logic. It’s visceral. It comes out of the most primal part of the brain.

And when all of my logical options have been exhausted and I still feel like screaming and crying and curling into a ball under my desk, it’s comforting to look down at my arm and be reminded that my body is the home that I have built for myself, or to reach into my pocket and touch that solid little bit of stone.

So when I look at the forecast and see storms predicted every. single. day, instead of caving to the impulse to break down, I’m going to stop, and breathe, and dig my roots into the Earth of my life, and know that somehow, I am going to weather the week.