Spiritual Disciplines

In My Solitude

Some backstory: my friends (and now my blog readers) know that I struggle with depression. This summer, with all the rains we had here in Tampa Bay, was especially not good for me, so my doctor and I thought it might be time to tweak my meds. But instead of just upping my dose (since there are unpleasant side effects when the dose gets too high), we added something else on top of what I usually take. And it’s worked wonderfully for the depression. But it also wakes me up between two and four o’clock every morning. And not just “roll over and go back to sleep” wakes-me-up. Wide awake type wakes me up.

So I’ve been puttering around the house a lot in the middle of the night, trying to be productive, but trying to stay quiet too. I’ve also spent a lot of time just sitting. And I’ve learned a good bit about solitude this last month or so.

  1. I like it! Actually, that’s not quite right. I already knew I was the kind of person who liked and needed alone time. But what’s been surprising is that I go to bed looking forward to getting up at 3 AM. That I like it that much.
  2. You have to prepare for it. It doesn’t really matter what time I go to bed; I’m still waking up around the same time. And I still need to get a decent amount sleep. This means I have to go to bed earlier than I’m used to.  And when there’s a good ball game or movie or whatever, I do sometimes have to remind myself of #1.
  3. Dogs do not understand it. Seriously, I love my dogs. But they don’t understand that just because Dad is up at two in the morning, doesn’t mean it’s time to play and bark at the neighbors. So we’re still navigating how to handle my furry companions.
  4. The biggest distraction to well-used solitude has always been me. Even when the dogs settle down, and house is quiet, and I should be able to sit and just be, too often I can’t. I can’t shut off the internal monologue. But when I do — usually around four — it’s very rewarding sitting here in the library, with just me and my tinnitus. It is peace.

So I encourage you, if you can, to disconnect and try to find solitude once in a while. It is rejuvenating. Even if the dogs are still annoying.

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