Reality Bites was on TV the other night. I haven’t seen it since 1994. At one point, Wynona Ryder’s character, Leilana, hit rock bottom. Her career seemed to be going nowhere and Troy (Ethan Hawke) bailed the morning after they slept together. She spent days lying on the couch, and racked up a $600 bill calling a 1-900 psychic hotline.
I had a moment when I hit rock bottom last year. One Saturday, my mom saw me hunched over my computer and asked, “What are you doing?” I told her I was on this soap message board
debating discussing General Hospital (GH). This other member was insisting that Patrick should choose Sabrina over Robin Scorpio, who is obviously the heart and soul of GH! I’ve watched Kimberly McCullough since she came on GH in 1985. My mom gave me this pitiful look like, Really Jessica? You’re arguing with a stranger about a soap?
TV and Hitting Rock Bottom
Being chronically ill, I have spent a lot of time in bed watching TV. Sometimes, it was a good thing. At the same time, sometimes it became mindless. Honestly, there have been times I binge-watched TV shows I hated just because they were on. When bad things happened to my favorite characters, I got depressed because these were the only people I saw on a regular basis, especially during flu season. Spending so much time at home avoiding germs, coughing customers at restaurants and stores, and being tired and in pain, I had little face to face interaction. I became too attached to characters. The media we expose ourselves to–be it the news or dramas or reality TV–can affect our moods.
Carving Out Time To Meditate
When I was initially diagnosed with Myasthenia and after I got home from the hospital, I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and studying philosophy…when I wasn’t sleeping, drinking Ensure, and watching the same story five times in one day on CNN. But when you’re sick for many years and running a race with no finish line (which is what chronic illness is), it’s hard to be a philosopher. It can be hard to read even though I want to. My eyes and body are aching. And I fight chronic fatigue as a consequence of having Myasthenia Gravis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Sometimes, when I’m depressed, I can’t read. (I have bipolar 2.) But recently, I realized that I have to carve out time for emotional or spiritual fulfillment, even if it’s only 15 minutes.
Meditation Comes In Different Forms
My cousins gave me Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, for Christmas. She talks about mindfulness, which helps us live in the moment and drown out white noise. I never thought meditation was for me. The closest thing I had was Pilates, which I can’t do everyday. But Huffington said there are different kinds of meditation for people of different backgrounds and creeds. As a Christian, I related to the method used by Quakers and I modified it. For fifteen minutes a day, I have been meditating. I focus on a concept with my eyes closed. (I set my alarm so I don’t fall asleep, which has happened twice.) I focus on something like thankfulness or God’s ability to provide for my needs. I remember times in my life when God strengthened me or funny, happy memories. My therapist said that focusing on happy memories is an effective coping tool. When my thoughts wander to my to-do list and current stressors, I bring my mind back to the concept. These are two verses that have helped me:
2 Corinthians 5:7, ‘We walk by faith and not by sight.’
Hebrews 11:1, ‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’
Has meditation ever helped you?
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno