My definition of “escape” is not a faraway vacation or adventure, a trip to a beach or a mountain or a country across the globe. For me, escape is a state of mind.
My world tends to be narrowed down to confines of my cranium. I’m always analyzing, feeling, then analyzing those feelings, worrying, making mental lists, judging, obsessing. I spend more time alone in my head than a bird does in a cage.
When my depression is being managed well, this isn’t so much of an issue – I am more apt to engage with the world outside my mind and leave the constant ticker-tape flow of thoughts and worries behind me.
But when I feel trapped, I know that there are certain things I can do to break out of my brain – escape – even for a little while. Reading is always a good way out. Getting an intense work out is, too. When I exercise, all my mind can do is focus on getting through the next set of reps, try to remember the correct sequence of breaths for a sun salutation, and wonder, “Seriously, Jillian? You’ve got to be joking.”
Singing and practicing singing is an immediate way to punt my brain out of any rut it’s in. I have to mentally “land” in my own body and concentrate fully on sensation and sound. I sing a phrase, then breathe, focus, and repeat. Time never flies by so quickly as when I’m in front of my keyboard with a sheaf of music in my hands.
But there is one physical place I can think of that brings me mental escape. It’s here:
This is my psychiatrist’s office. Neat, huh? This is the one place where I am actually supposed to vocalize all the thoughts in my head – purge them, get them out in the open air to be heard by someone other than myself. Because I pay my doctor, and she’s good at her job, she has yet to call me crazy, no matter what I’ve said in there.
I can curse, cry, wonder out loud, discover new things hiding in my brain that can only be found by speaking my thoughts aloud – all within arms-length of a person trained to help me pick through these thoughts and get a new perspective on them. And unlike when I ruminate on my mind’s workings alone, in this room there is no judgement or condemnation. Trust me, I’ve said some off-the-wall shit in here, and the worst I’ve ever received is a look from my doctor that says, “I’m trying to get where you’re coming from. I’m trying to meet you, here.”
Even though this place doesn’t take my mind off my obsessive or sad thoughts like my other escape activities do, I feel free in this office. I don’t pay an armload per session to sit and have the doctor guess what’s going on in my head. I get to open the floodgates, and let my thoughts roll out, unfettered, as they escape the solitary confinement of my mind and enter the world.