I was finally able to get a little sleep myself last night. Despite having been awake for 40 hours straight, it still took a milligram of xanax and a good meditation podcast before I was able to drift off. My mind was on fire in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever felt. And siting here now, I know I’m going to need be cautious and smart to manage this anxiety that is creeping up on me, pulling me back into myself, saying “You’ll never be able to do this and you’ll go crazy trying.” Because, while as I’ve already admitted that I’m worried I am being foolish in posting these journal entries out here for no one to read, with the way my thoughts are starting to slam up against each other in the stirring up and gushing out these posts have started, I’m also becoming a little worried I might drown in them.
One day last year my therapist has suggested that finding a way to “vault” my thoughts will help me stop ruminating and spiraling and liberate me to think new thoughts or to think nothing at all. She explained that, in order to vault a thought, I should imagine a place where the thoughts could go, be kept safe and could at any time be easily accessed again. And having settled on my mental vault and developed a strong mental image of it, when I felt myself obsessing about one of my racing thoughts in particular or if I had an “Aha!” moment and started obsessing about the worry I might forget what I had figured out, I should visualize myself taking the thought and placing it within my mental vault and closing it, telling myself the thought would be safe and waiting for me when I needed to think about it again.
Now, before I go any further in this particular story, I’m not sure if you’ve ever spent any significant amount of time under a mental health professional’s care, but if you have you probably already know this. But just in case you aren’t a professional couch rider like I have become, let me share with you something I have learned that I never imagined would be true. I spent a lot of years burning through counselors before I found Jan (my current therapist) and Dr. Mary (my psychologist before Jan) because it is really hard to find mental health professionals who are willing to put in the hard work and help someone find out what is really going on in their minds. Most of them, for a reason I’ve never quite been able to figure out other than laziness, wait until the hear someone say the right combination of words to justify a DSM diagnosis for which some psychotropic medication can be prescribed and off you go to the pharmacy.
After a while with both Jan and Dr Mary, I was able to start unquestioningly trust, through my own experiences in following their suggestions, that they really did know what they were doing and that if they told me something would work I could count on it working. That day Jan told me I might benefit from learning how to vault my thoughts in order to find some quiet in my mind, I was struggling so significantly and feeling so utterly edge of meltdown bitchy that if anyone else in the world had told me I could make it all better by simply pretending I was putting my tortuous thoughts into something so they couldn’t bother me anymore, it probably wouldn’t have gone well.
But coming from Jan, the idea vault sounded easy and lovely, so I immediately started really trying to conjure up something right there in her office while she was still talking about it. She said it could be anything I wanted it to be, no matter how big or little, but it needed to be something that would have a door or a lid “that seals well.” Well as soon as she that, my 1970’s brain yanked up the obvious solution for a container that seals well. Tupperware.
So fully committed to the idea of saving myself by emptying my mind into my mental Tupperware, I spent the next few days really thinking and considering how a piece of Tupperware feels in my hands, how it feels on my fingertips to pull the lid open and the mechanics of my hands and wrists in placing the lid on the container and pressing it down to seal it. I decided I’d imagine my thoughts being printed microscopically on fortune cookie paper and I imagined them flying in the opaque rounded-square container (with the mint green lid) in flocks. Once I felt I had imagined everything I needed in order to start vaulting my thoughts and I really did expect my thoughts to cooperate in codifying themselves into text and riding the little imaginary pieces of paper as they flew into my the perfect little vault I had set up for them. But my thoughts, in addition to being relentless, are ungrateful and didn’t even slow down to look at what I had created for them and the vault in my mind was no more.
Feeling discouraged but not wanting to give up on the idea of vaulting my thoughts altogether, I started thinking of more tangible ways to accomplish the same thing as imagining a sealable vault in my mind. Taking the vault out of my head by focusing on a real piece of Tupperware wouldn’t work because just like I couldn’t convince my thoughts to become interested in my imagined vault, I wasn’t going to be able to imagine thoughts being stored in a physical container, so I considered writing the thoughts down and putting them into something lockable or hidden and that brought up a whole new set of concerns about having someone else finding and seeing my thoughts and no, just no. Nope.
So having been given a solution to help slow my racing thoughts that I felt fairly confident would work for me if I could figure out how to do it, I found myself unable to figure out how to do it. And not being to figure out how to vault my racing thoughts became a racing thought itself for a while until one day I decided maybe I could set up an email account that I never logged into and just start sending my thoughts as emails to that email address; not giving my thoughts a choice in whether or not the go, but instead taking them out mind, cutting them up into little 0’s and 1’s and sending them off into the ether. To make it even easier for myself, I set up a contact in my phone with the new email address and the name “Tupper Ware” as a nod to my imaginary vault and I launched Operation Thought Vault. And that same day I sent my very first thought to be vaulted…
“Okay, Google. Send email to Tupper Ware… Being a complete slut for most of my life isn’t the reason I have always felt like damaged goods. Feeling like damaged goods is the reason I have been a complete slut.”
I don’t know if you’re an android or iPhone user, but did you know that if you use voice command to send an email to someone named Tupper Ware, despite that name being in your phone contacts and having an email address assigned to it, Google Assistant will assume you are wanting to send your message to the Tupperware Brands Corporation?
Yeah….it came as a surprise to me, too.