poetry

Acceptance – A Poem on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (“ACT”)

I have been participating in group therapy for people with social anxiety.  It appears to me that the amount I sweat has an uncanny correlation with the social situations I am in.  And I believe the best way to confront social anxiety, is likely within the settings of a social group.

The group focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy, with a particular focus on acceptance.  A main part of the philosophy of the therapy can be found in the book The Happiness Trap – which summarizes the tenants of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (“ACT”).

In short, the theory is premised on the notion that one cannot change their thoughts, but one can defuse them in realization that thoughts are a mere string of words.  After analysis, if a thought is helpful, then pay it mind; if not, then do not fuse with it.  As an “exposure” in my group, I wrote and read aloud this poem:

The Lock In My Mind

If my senses stopped, then I’d stop, in a sense;

From the digging, the wriggling, uncomfortableness

The head wraps and bends, in circles and knots;

Til you wrap your head round, it’s not have but have nots.

The truth is deception, perfection an illusion;

the illusion is perfect, for this world’s delusion.

 

That perfect is real, that it can exist,

Our society of have-nots, yearns for just this;

Tom Brady, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorius,

Their shine and their shimmer can only be glorious.

But even they – they cheated – lies, doping and murder,

So the notion of perfect can’t be more absurder.

 

Yet I return each morning, sobering thoughts of being fallible;

the idea- a shame, the disgust, not palatable.

 

The solution’s acceptance,

Not from others but me,

Stop worrying about others,

and you’ll be halfway free.

Whether they accept me or not, I’ve got what I got;

I’ve been blessed, I’ve been cursed; for better or worse.

 

So like me or don’t, I won’t think much of it; Cuz even if I did, it wouldn’t change shit;

And while this talk comes easy, in practice it’s a bitch.

 

Speaking of which, the other part of the equation,

Accepting yourself, unconditionally,

Knowing from practice, that that is the key;

To the lock in my mind, that won’t accept me.

 

Regardless of success, relationships and wealth;

Regardless if I’m a moron, I stutter and smell;

Regardless of career, material things and debt;

Regardless of anxiety, nervousness and sweat;

Regardless of pain, medication and disillusion;

Regardless acceptance must be the solution.

 

Panic Attacks and Sleepless Nights (Part II)

Falling asleep exhausted at the end of a long day, I’d wake up each night between 1:30 A.M. and 3:30 A.M.  I remained drowsy and fatigued, but my body was running at full tilt, sweating through my pajamas, my sheets, and the comforter.  It almost felt as if, as I went to fall asleep, there was simply no fuel for anxiety to burn…So I passed out.  But then, after a completely inadequate nap, the tank had refilled just enough – not nearly enough to push me through the day, however – to allow my brain to circle back to anxious thoughts.    

That period of time was characterized by exhaustion, concern for my overall physical and mental health, and fear that any given day could be completely shot to shit by a tumultuous pre-dawn panic attack.  Not really clear where to turn or what to do, I wrote this poem in an attempt to convey the feelings I was going through.


Panic Attack

My thoughts squeal racing, banking off the cranium, Nothing I can do to slow them now,

my body’s reacting, the pores slightly cracking, the midnight sweat, kin only to death.

There’s nothing to fear, no threat to existence, unwavering in its ceaseless, determined persistence.

The sea of the mind, can be turbulent at times, I know that well, I’ve seen massive swells.

But oh that’s the irony, represented by the tyranny, of a mind gone rogue, in an otherwise blessed home.

Its walls are now battered, after years of abuse, All from the inside, a calculated ruse.

A Trojan horse, although uninvited, Its developed its strength over the years,

galloping like a thoroughbred overexcited, thumping and violent through mud ponds of tears

and carried along swiftly by a torrent of fears.

UP NEXT: Panic Attacks and Sleepless Nights (Part III)