The First Step in Any Adventure is to Set Up Camp

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I talk a lot about anxiety and depression. Being something that I struggle with a lot myself, and something that I know is a huge issue in our world today, I kind of think that it’s worth tackling. There’s so much that goes into the two topics. I could probably spend most of my life covering these things and still not tackle all there is to talk about. However, today I’m not going to spend more time discussing how sucky it is, but rather, how to deal with it when it happens. Granted, that’s a rather large topic in and of itself, so I’m going to stick to the basics: how to set up camp.

Both depression and anxiety make you feel unsafe. You feel overwhelmed, trapped, lost within everything else without any means of escape, and completely drowned out. You can’t drag yourself out of it, you can’t fix anything – you have to just wallow in your own feelings of misery until they (hopefully) go away.

Yeah, that’s the way it goes. So instead of letting those feelings overwhelm us, let’s take a moment to step back and create a safe space for ourselves. 

We so often have the desire to run away. If I can escape everything and just start over, you say, things will be better. And maybe they would! So I’m here to tell you how to create a ‘camp,’ or a safe spot for you when the rest of the world seems terrible.

Close your eyes. You’re sitting in a tent. This is your place, and we’re going to create it in a way that works for you, alright? All I ask is that you bare with me for a bit, give me the benefit of the doubt here, and use your imagination. 

So let’s picture this tent. What does it look like? How big is it? How high is the ceiling? What colours decorate it? What’s the lighting like? What does it feel like when you’re in there? Mine looks more like a blanket fort. The entire bottom of the tent is decorated in pillows and blankets – oranges and purples and all sorts of fall colours. The ceiling is high, the room is small without feeling claustrophobic, and everything is warm and cozy and snuggly.

Before we move on, do you have your tent clearly in your mind?

Now it’s time to explore your tent. Look around – what sort of things do you have there? Camps are filled with things that bring you joy, things that make you safe, so make a point of placing your safe things around you in this tent you’re in. For example, I’ve got lots of tea. I’ve got my sketch book for doodling and writing, plenty of video games, and a way to chat with each of my amazing and supportive friends.

Take a moment to sit in your room. How do you feel in this place? 

Your tent is completely separate from the outside world, and nothing can get in except for you. You’re completely safe, the walls are impenetrable, and not a single thing can touch you when you’re in your place.

Basically, you’ve run away. You’ve stepped into your camp. You’re outside of the world and all its struggles. Nothing can harm you when you’re here. 

Awesome.

But the best thing about this safe place? It exists inside of you. It doesn’t depend on what’s happening around you, what circumstances you find yourself in, or how miserable you’re feeling. It exists no matter what. It’s not some place you can only get to with large amounts of money, not a house that you can only retreat to on occasion, or a room where you can still receive interruptions – you carry your safety inside you. And the more time you spend in your there, the more you explore it and develop it, the more real it becomes.

You can exist in the world and still be okay, because your safety and security is within you all the time. 

I get really scared. I get terrified. I get anxious to the point I’m puking in the toilet, and I get so depressed I have no idea how I’m going to make it through the next few minutes, much less the whole day. I’m often miserable, sick, dying, bleeding out my entire soul, and everything more than that.

But I know there’s always somewhere I can go – there’s always safety that can be found within me, no matter where I am or what’s going on. And if I choose to remain in that instead of focusing so much on the world and it’s terrors, I know I’m going to be okay. Not to say that I’m not going to be feeling any better, not saying that any of this is easy, but sometimes, when the world gets to be too much, creating a safety for yourself within your own head is the best you’re going to get, and it’s a coping mechanism that I’ve been using probably my entire life.

We are not beings made to live in the harsh realities of this world. We were not intended for stress or depression, not for anxiety or boring work or pain – we’re intended for freedom, safety, love, and goodness. And if we can’t find those things within ourselves first, we’re never going to be able to find them out in the world. We’re going to continue to base ourselves and our own lives off the situations happening around us. Take it from someone who knows – that’s a really short and quick path to insanity. 

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