Lately, my youngest child has been really frustrated with eating bananas.
He’s always loved bananas, so it’s confusing. He asks for a banana, and seems to want to eat it, but once it’s peeled, he becomes very upset. He cries, he screams, and he furiously tries to reattach the peel. He puts it all back together and holds it at the top, as if somehow keeping it in his tight little fist will reseal it. He holds it up to me like a trophy of aggravation while he screams for me to help him.
While this makes him a pretty neurotypical two year-old, it got me thinking. How many times do we figuratively try to put a banana back together? Take back words that were said, worry about our future, obsess about our past, about mistakes we made or things that were done to us? Anxiety and depression are nagging voices in our minds that try to keep our minds anywhere but the present moment. Anxiety and depression enjoy watching us spin our wheels with frustration and misery.
I’ve heard people say that depression is sadness about the past, and anxiety is worry of the future. To some extent, I agree with this, and further, it’s mostly out of our hands. We can’t help how we feel, and even if there are tangible things that are contributing to our mood, they may or may not be things we can or even want to change. And how do we even know if we should change them, or if we just see it that way because we’re depressed? It’s very hard to tease out.
My son is learning about cause and effect, and the consequences of his choices. Similarly, we can learn from our past. Let’s all agree that we can forgive ourselves our mistakes, forgive others who have wronged us, and not worry about what is to come. Instead, let’s try to keep our minds in this day, and this moment. Do not allow depression to drag your mind backward, and instead focus on what you can do right now that might help. If you think the answer is “nothing”- try it. Try anything that is healthy, healing, and does not bring you harm. Be open to the possibility that while you can’t put the banana peel back together, you still have choices right now regardless of the past. Despite what depression will tell you, mistakes do not make you less of a person- they make you a whole one. You are still in control of your behaviors and your plan from this moment forward. We know that how we think about things can help or hurt our mood, and our behaviors can follow. Our bodies will follow our minds, whether or not we realize it.
My son might just need a little more time to be mad before he decides to do anything differently, and I can’t fault him for that. We all get there in our own time, and he will learn about his choices just like the rest of us. Make sure you’re learning something that’s fair and kind- not what depression and anxiety try to say. Do not let them convince you that you are not whole, because you are.