Tuesday, December 10

Chewing like a Cow

Recently, I was told by a doctor that I have a long history of excessive rumination. It was something very new to me. I didn't even know how to spell it. The doctor asked me to Google it, and this is one article that I found to be useful. I found it tremendously helpful and realized immediately how I am caught up in cycles of thinking about illogical things to no end,... which can't be switched "off".

And because I found it helpful, I thought that other people may want to know too. So "rumination is something that cows do. They chew their food over and over again and the process repeats itself since they have 4 stomachs. This is completely fine for a cow. But not for a human being when they are doing this with their thoughts.

Firstly, chewing on one's thoughts (in this case negative ones) will not give you nutrients. Secondly, humans only have one brain...although I can't quite draw the comparison between a brain and a stomach. Thirdly, Cows poop in the end of the process, but rumination in the human mind?...The closest comparison I can think of is constipation. And finally, it uses up energy which could have otherwise been used for better cognitive activities. The list can go on, on how bad ruminating is for humans, but since cows have 4 stomachs, I'll stop at 4 reasons.

On a personal note, my rumination began since childhood. And my current level of rumination goes back all the way to ruminating about things that happened decades ago. It is completely and highly exhausting. But I always thought that I was just analyzing things that happened. And maybe, just maybe if I analysed hard enough, I might find the answers to the many why's I have in the present.

Initially, I had a hard time trying to accept that what I have deemed as a fairly logical coping mechanism to me all these years turns out to be nothing close to logical and analytic. But soon, it made sense that it was holding me back from moving forward in so many ways. It was, as the doctor said, fueling my anxiety and depression. It was food for my insomnia, and definitely cause for my sleep reversals. And it was taking me to places (in my head) that I wanted to avoid in real life. In every way, it was very very illogical. And for the record, revisiting my past can't change what happened no matter how much I wanted it to.

So when I started to learn more about it, it gave me hope. There are ways to cope with rumination. And this article HERE gives some pointers. But I thought that I should share some things that I've been doing to keep me from even starting to ruminate. I am aware that it is going to be a long and challenging journey in order to be free from rumination. But I think I am quite pleased with my strategies for now.

So here's what I have in my ammunition:

FOR times when I am awake in the DAY and alone :

  • I am obsessed with words, so I got myself a thesaurus. It has been a long time past-time of mine when I was growing up. Reading the thesaurus and dictionaries. 
  • I got myself a Word Search Puzzle bumper issue
  • also, a Sudoku bumper pack. I am not very good with numbers particularly, but pattern recognition seems to be the key in Sudoku plus I don't have to count more than 10 or even make any numerical equations. It's definitely challenging enough for me to prevent me from thinking about anything else but the puzzle.
  • A circle of people whom I have identified as logical in nature, and honest even at the risk of offending me, who understand where I come from and will refute my illogical thoughts. I talk to them when I am alone. (I am the type that ruminates silently in my head, with no one to refute me, so talking to people with the above characteristics seems to help me so far. However, I am not sure if it will be worse if you are a verbal "ruminator")
  • Getting out of the house and doing something with friends or my husband!
   FOR times when I am awake in the NIGHT and alone :
  • Prior to my knowledge about ruminating, I had a dear friend and also an Aunt who would tell me to commit Scripture to memory and recite them whenever I had bouts of anxiety attacks. So I did exactly that. My friend specifically said PSALMS 23. And I everytime I find myself awake in the night, starting to think of some unpleasant things, I say it over and over in my head. I especially like verse 3 "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
  • Praying for others. (If I pray about my own worries when I am about to ruminate, ...I think you get the point)
I have so much more to say, about how life has been since my last blog post. But I shall leave you with this for the moment. I hope that what I have written here will help someone out there. 

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