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How to Handle the Beast

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The Beast showed up around Christmas last year, and stayed till April.

During those months it was difficult to get anything done, or believe getting things done was a thing I could still do.

You might know the Beast too. It has many forms. The Doom-Anxiety Beast. The Regret Beast. The Despair Beast. The Shame Beast. Psychologists have names for some of them.

Whatever the form, the Beast has certain characteristics. It saps your sense of agency and forward motion. It robs you of what might feel like your birthright: the basic ability to function to society’s standards. You lose the sense that you can steer the boat.

The Beast may stay away for weeks or months or years. Then one Thursday afternoon, when one too many things goes wrong, it darkens your doorway again and you know that life might be different for a while.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s a good thing. Many of you do though. For what it’s worth, I’ll share what I’ve learned about tangling with the Beast.  

As you already know, the Beast especially likes to visit during the holidays, or sometimes just after. It takes advantage of stress, isolation, and any sense of non-belonging you already feel. It wants to reduce you to a robotic pattern of habits and appetites.

However, it can never quite steal that last bit of agency from you. There is always enough wriggle-space beneath it to do small, defiant things. This bit of space is what we will use to handle the Beast.

Assume your full height

Physically, I mean. The Beast can’t stop you from standing up straight, but it sure doesn’t want you to. It wants you to lower your head and drop your shoulders forward, especially in public – otherwise you might start to consider the possibility that you are in some way worthy, or even formidable.

Upright posture doesn’t just symbolize resilience in the face of suffering, it creates the resilience. Be your full height. Return to it again and again.

Remember that the Beast is survivable

The Beast’s presence feels like you’ve been evicted from normal life, at least for now. Nothing is stable, and you can’t do what you need to do. It feels like you can’t possibly live at all until the Beast is gone.

Human history proves this is false. While the Beast can’t be ignored or destroyed, it can be lived with, and it has been. Human beings have cohabited with Beasts forever, often for years at a time. Life still happens during those years. Choices are still made, and good things are still accomplished.

What I’m trying to say is that taking action and finding meaning are possible even while the Beast is present. The conditions are different, but you still have agency. Life is still happening, and it still counts.

Discover the power of small acts of defiance

Whenever you feel the Beast sapping your will, do something – anything – that will improve your situation in even the smallest way. Straighten a crooked picture. Put all your stray pencils into a cup.

The point isn’t so much to get things done, it’s to exercise the small bit agency you do have. One little act of defiance proves to both you and the Beast that it cannot clamp down on you completely. The earlier you do this in a day, the greater the effect.

Anything you do get done can weaken the Beast in a different way. By changing the state of things around you, you may be removing one of the Beast’s handholds, such as the laundry on your floor or the call you are not returning.

Lift things and clean

Physical exertion and cleaning up are the closest thing I’ve found to kryptonite for the Beast. A little of either can change a day’s trajectory, and remove more handholds.

Do a daily movement routine, even if it’s really easy. Even if it’s the equivalent of three pushups. Each one weakens the Beast, because it is an act against gravity. You are exercising your agency indirect opposition to the Beast’s inertia.

Get the house to a tidyish state if you can –- a single room if you can’t — and keep it that way the best you’re able. Clutter is madness congealed.

Talk to people who know the Beast

Nothing has been as helpful for me as getting to know other people who know the Beast and are willing talk about it.

There is tremendous relief to be found just describing your experience to someone:

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”

C.S. Lewis

The goal of talking is not to problem-solve, but to break the illusion that something has gone uniquely wrong for you.

Our species knows the Beast well, but we don’t talk about it much. I suppose that’s because it’s hard to win at the rat race and other public-facing status games when you admit you are suffering. But suffering less is more important.

***

Photo by Rhendi Rukmana

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{ 77 Comments }

Tom December 2, 2020 at 8:49 pm

Mate, I needed this today.

It often strikes me how timely your posts are for me, but this one more than ever.

Thank you.

{ Reply }

edhellos December 3, 2020 at 2:28 am

same with me – how wonderful to receive this now!

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 9:13 am

Best of luck Tom. One thing about tangling with the Beast is that you’re never alone at it.

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Heather December 3, 2020 at 9:27 am

me three, great timing. Thank you David.

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Kaz December 3, 2020 at 12:03 am

This deeply resonates with me, like many of your posts. It astonishes me that the Beast still continues to visit you, even after you have basically got your life together and seem to be living your ‘best life’! But I guess that just goes to show, the Beast can visit anyone… “It feels like you can’t possibly live at all until the Beast is gone.” – I really felt this. Thanks David.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 9:16 am

I love my life but it has not been an easy one. What I post here isn’t exactly a random sample of my experiences, it’s the insights that I think will be interesting/helpful to people. So I understand it might create an impression that I have everything figured out. I definitely don’t!

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Kaz December 3, 2020 at 6:20 pm

Fair enough! I guess no one has everything figured out or is 100% ‘together’. I just meant, you seem to have a lot more of it figured out than the average person, because you tackle these sort of “life” issues head-on and actively make progress.

I definitely don’t think your life has been easy! That’s what makes your content so relatable – we have all experienced some of those struggles you so eloquently write about, and it gives us hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

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Ron December 3, 2020 at 2:28 am

“Action is the antidote to despair.”
– Joan Baez

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Nancy December 3, 2020 at 6:00 am

I like this.

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Kristie December 8, 2020 at 4:07 am

Thank you so much. I have been wrestling with the beast recently after having not seen or heard from it in over a decade and it has hit me very hard. I’ve forgotten not only what the beast can do, but also what I do in response. I needed this and a friend who knows my current struggle directed me to this reading. You have given me such a different perspective of the beast and reminded me that I can live with, without and even survive the best!

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Havu December 3, 2020 at 2:50 am

Thanks, David. Words of consolation and wisdom, as always.

I’m also thinking of the things that fuel the Beast, and avoiding them as an act of resistance. I find that consuming social media & other media is one of the major boosts for the Beast (all those people who are Getting Things Done and Achieving). And because the Beast so easily reduces me “to a robotic pattern of habits and appetites”, it makes me gravitate to my phone. A vicious circle.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 9:21 am

I have been focusing a lot on the many inputs that help/hinder the Beast, and which are most important to maintain or avoid. It’s working well for me because there’s always something you can do to improve the inputs. A *huge* one for me is to not look at social media when I wake up. The difference is incredible. Different people will find different causes and effects, but a small change can remove a major handhold for the Beast and its minions.

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Anne December 3, 2020 at 2:51 am

A broken wrist during lockdown has left me feeling alone and struggling. I’ve found that keeping my surroundings tidy has made a huge difference to my mood. Tidying up says that I think I deserve a calm and orderly environment, and the physical effort needed is helpful. I try to be mindful and focused while I clear up, which grounds me in the moment, rather than allowing myself to drift into futile thoughts of the past or a theoretical future.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 9:32 am

One of the strangest characteristics of adult human beings is that our default object of attention isn’t what’s happening, it’s what might happen. We can bring it back though, if it occurs to us, and we try.

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Mark December 18, 2020 at 12:25 pm

Yes, I’m reminded of one of Mark Twain’s great quotes:

“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

As an INTJ type planner, I can definitely relate to this. I’ve been working to live more in the moment, but it can be a challenge.

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Andrea December 3, 2020 at 2:53 am

Thank you David, for sharing your heart!
I workout the beast by cleaning. I encourage my daughter to do the same whenever she has any negative emotions. Cleaning is mindlessly meditational. Afterwards, we burn some sage, thank the beast for coming, open all the windows, and invite them to leave.
xo Andrea

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Erling December 3, 2020 at 3:04 am

Thank you David. The small, good things, we keep going. And then one day we are back.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 9:35 am

That is one of the surprising things. One day, you notice the Beast has gone.

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Discovered Joys December 3, 2020 at 3:05 am

If you look on Wikipedia for Acedia you will find that a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one’s position or condition in the world, has a long history. It struck me that The Beast and Acedia are kennel mates even if not completely identical. Perhaps alongside the Black Dog of depression (Wikipedia again).

The reassuring thing is that such periods of low mood have been and are very common and not suffering especially chosen for you. Plus, of course, your own advice that doing simple activities can push the Pack away.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 9:50 am

I think you have mentioned acedia before! I suppose it is the spiritual wing of the Beast. I didn’t used to see the world this way, but I think we are experiencing a worldwide crisis of acedia. We need something to believe in. It doesn’t have to be anything supernatural but it needs to be something more meaningful than money or survival.

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Brenda December 3, 2020 at 3:27 am

Thank you for this timely message – it so perfectly describes the struggle. Depression used to drop on me like an anvil. It was paralyzing. I have decades of experience with it now and the strategies you describe absolutely work to neutralize the Beast, or at least shrink it to a manageable size. The Beast would have you think nothing will work, nothing will change. It overcomplicates everything, it lies. Relatively small actions are consistently effective in outmaneuvering the darkness. It’s a relief when I find myself on the dark road and then remember I can change course. For so long I simply did not know this.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 9:54 am

That’s another fact we should talk about more: prolonged experience with anxiety, depression, or other Beast forms leaves you with some serious skills for dealing with them. In the past two years I’ve experienced more anxiety than in the entire rest of my life, and I can see how I am becoming a black belt at living with it. It used to send me into a panic, but now I can literally sit with it and feel it openly. It feels horrible, but not unbearable.

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Barb December 3, 2020 at 3:55 am

Thank you for this. Those small actions, no matter how seemingly insignificant, have saved me. Especially lately. May we all lay the Beast to rest.

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Peter Burton December 3, 2020 at 3:58 am

I’m echoing the timeliness as well as the resonance of your post, David. Once again! The weather outside my window here in the south of the UK matches what you have written and what I’m with today.
My worldview links my mood to the current astrological events. Shedding long standing roles is leaving me feeling empty. I know this is a temporary but vital process as a prelude to new growth.
Trusting and keeping faith with that is not easy but important. Maybe like others, a saving grace is the knowledge that I’ve been here before. Like a territory and terrain that I visit from time to time. The wilderness.

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Ina December 3, 2020 at 4:07 am

This is good and helpful, thank you.
What struck me as a little odd is that the word depression is never explicitly mentioned, even though I feel it should be right next to the words anxiety, shame etc. The Beast isn’t always clinical depression of course, but very often. I wonder if not calling the Beast by its most prominent name was intentional or not, but I think it’s important to explicitly name depression when we’re talking about depression in order to help destroy the stigma around it.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 10:10 am

I understand what you’re saying. The exclusion of the word depression was intentional in this case. I wanted to refer to something more general that more people would identify with. For example, I suffer from horrendous episodes of shame and anxiety, but my experience doesn’t seem to match the rubric for depression.

I also wanted to avoid clinical names for forms of the Beast. Grouping symptoms into named conditions can be immensely helpful for the purposes of treatment, support, and communication. But there are unintended consequences to it. A person can be suffering tremendously and be dismissed because they do not meet clinical criteria for a known condition. It can lend itself to gatekeeping, and an unhelpful sort of identitarianism surrounding mental health diagnoses.

All this to say I think there are times to employ clinical words when talking about mental suffering and times to avoid doing so.

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Stefano December 3, 2020 at 4:28 am

Wonderful writing, thank you my friend, it just came at the right time :)

I also love to tidy up my room and clean when I can. It really helps to calm the mind and to see that things are under your radar and control. I also recently bought some church incense online and when I light it and the room fills up with its aroma, it’s a spiritual experience, especially after cleaning the room.

Unfortunately I am still living with my parents and unfortunately they are not tidy and clean as I am… quite the opposite, actually…. they are messy… this makes me suffer because I would love to see the whole house tidy and clean, not just my bedroom… and they often get angry at me when I start cleaning or tidying up the living room or the kitchen. It’s really frustrating.

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Betty December 3, 2020 at 4:47 am

Thank you for all your wonderful posts. Receiving your email with a new post once in a while is like opening a gift for my soul. It always give me a moment to step back from my daily hassle and get inspired, in the middle of this chaotic world.

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LAURA December 3, 2020 at 8:05 am

Agreed.

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Stefano Pesenti December 3, 2020 at 4:53 am

I would love to say that one thing that has helped me with the Beast is focusing on the present moment, realizing all the things that surround you (you arm stretching to reach the glass, your five fingers coordinating to grab the glass, your the warm clothes you are wearing, the sofa you are sitting on, the cup of tea you are holding, the books on your shelf, the carpet in your room, the window letting daylight in, the lamp providing you with artificial light, etc…) were created to make your life easier and more comfortable and to help you in some way. So be thankful for that, for all those things you take for granted.

Also recently, thanks to the lockdown, having more free time and empty moments for myself, I am trying not to do things in an automatic, mechanical way. I try to be mindful, really appreciating the present moment, seeing all these seconds of life fleeting away as a gift when doing some action. Even if the action is apparently meaningless, like watching the street from the window or brushing my teeth…

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 10:14 am

For sure. The physicality of the present moment, if you can contact it, is a counterpoint to virtually any abstract thought about the future. It’s real in a way that proves the content of your thoughts isn’t. Without mindfulness practice, I don’t know where I’d be.

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Rocky December 3, 2020 at 5:11 am

This is some really great advice for people wrestling with a Beast problem.
Tidying up is a brilliant place to start. It’s a small step, but a step anyone can take at anytime. Talking about it is also huge, for both the one doing the talking and the one doing the listening.
I find that if I exercise a little compassion with people who are struggling, it does wonders for my own mental health.
“ Clutter is madness congealed.”
I love that ! Thanks David

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 10:15 am

I just love the word “congealed”

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Denny December 3, 2020 at 5:50 am

This is a great article! It took me a long time to realize that doing SOMETHING let light in. I like the idea of physical posture in defiance of the beast. I agree that doing ONE thing is helpful. Keep that beast away!

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Nancy December 3, 2020 at 6:07 am

I find it is helpful to read these kinds of articles (this article in particular will now become part of my regular rotation of reminder reading) when we are not facing the beast. When we are feeling good, it is easy to forget how downtrodden we felt and how that feeling can so easily come again. What you have offered here — ways of “tangling with the beast” — is very helpful and bears repeating in good times as well as when the beast comes knocking. Thank you.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 10:17 am

Good point. I remember being a kid and having similar thoughts — when I feel bad I would pine for the times of feeling good, vowing to appreciate them when they were there. There were even times I remembered to do it.

As an adult, my mindfulness habits remind me constantly. They help me appreciate ordinariness, nothing-wrong-ness, and I’m so grateful for that.

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Lois December 3, 2020 at 6:42 am

I really appreciated reading this post. I know exactly what you mean when you talk about the beast. It goes into hiding sometimes and I am able to pretend to myself and others that I am a normal person, but then it rears its ugly self and I am back to feeling like a lesser being.
There is very good advice in your message for escaping the grip and I will try to keep it in mind when I am getting crushed. Holidays, middle of the night, and any major life change be it expected or worse, unexpected helps the beast to make it’s presence known. Thanks again for a great massage!

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Sally December 3, 2020 at 6:44 am

Hi David, I don’t know this Beast (yet) but I have seen others in its company. Talking about it surely helps everyone – thank you. Be well.

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Maryellen December 3, 2020 at 7:15 am

I know the Beast. You are right, David, even a small exercise of agency saps the strength of the Beast and builds up our strength for the next exercise of agency.

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Joey Torkildson December 3, 2020 at 7:22 am

Freaking amazing David! Thank you for sharing! I’m very familiar with the Beast! In fact lately I’ve been rolling a D20 against the beast and getting somewhere between a 2 and a 10. The last week I’ve rolled a couple 20s and it’s felt good to whoop the beast’s ass a couple times! It’s an ongoing battle and this post shined a nice light on things. As always, I appreciate you!

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 10:20 am

It feels great to score a critical hit against the Beast!

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Brian December 3, 2020 at 7:40 am

Don’t feed the Beast. The Beast loves sugar and processed foods. Eat whole foods, drink lots of water or decaf non-sweetened beverages. Don’t drug the beast. Alcohol and drugs don’t dull the Beast, they dull you. The Beast loves the darkness. Get outside during the day, especially if it’s sunny. Smile, laugh, chuckle: watch funny movies or Youtube clips. The Beast hates it when you smile. Don’t fight the Beast: the Beast is part of you. The Beast is energized by your attempts to struggle with it. Surrender. You can have the Beast, don’t let the Beast have you. It’s all good.

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Tara December 3, 2020 at 7:44 am

It is 5:30am. I have been awake for an hour and a half. The Beast steals my rest, shatters my self confidence, makes me want to crawl into a hole and die. I’ve been fighting with it for most of this year. Even though I know it’s all in my head and my life is objectively not that bad, I feel like it’s wrestling me to the floor and beating me, wanting me to give up. But I know that some day I will overcome the inertia and find my way back to a sense of equilibrium, because I am 54 and have been down this road many times. Cleaning is good, exercise is good, forcing myself to eat a healthy meal and brush my teeth are all small victories. Today I’m going to work outside in the yard. Every day I must get one thing done, no matter what, even if it’s just getting showered and dressed in real clothes and walking the dog.

Thank you for posting this message today and reminding me that I am not the only one suffering. I have no one to talk to about this pain who truly understands.

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LAURA December 3, 2020 at 7:58 am

So many hugs to you. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. I will be thinking of you today as I too force myself to just start.

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Sharon Hanna December 3, 2020 at 9:30 am

Hey Tara. Maybe look into a Somatic Experiencing-trained therapist. It sure worked for me. And….there’s an old saying “What you resist, persists”. Easy for me to say at this point in my ‘recovery from the Beast’ but….in my experience (I am 72) not resisting but allowing the feelings to pass through you – seems to work for many people. An excellent and kind therapist can help!! Don’t despair….and you have a dog which is wonderful. Love and hugs to you, Tara.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 10:27 am

This is why I think the Beast metaphor is so helpful. It really does seem to have a personality, and a strategy. It wants you to forget what works, and to help it do its job. It wants you to blame yourself, and believe you will always feel this way. We can learn its tricks over time though, and get better at undermining them.

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LAURA December 3, 2020 at 7:55 am

Wow! A really hopeful and encouraging post on such a difficult subject. Thank you so much for your insight.

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Amanda December 3, 2020 at 8:46 am

“It wants to reduce you to a robotic pattern of habits and appetites”.
This describes how the Beast gets me.
It slowly chips away at my spontaneity and free will until one day (yesterday being the most recent day) I realize I’m falling into a pattern again that I don’t own. Food choices, alcohol consumption, couch sitting, etc.. I slowly allowed the appetite for comfort at the start of the pandemic create a robotic cycle of these habits. All of which feed the Beast and chip away at my own agency. Clarity I received yesterday coupled with waking up to this article has given me the gift of “a moment to act”. Thank you.

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vikki brandstetter December 3, 2020 at 8:34 am

This precisely describes depression. Thanks so much.

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Brenda December 3, 2020 at 8:51 am

Brian, thank you for this perspective. It resonates deeply- not letting the beast have you, and not struggling with it. So true…fighting depression is so much more difficult than allowing it to be what it is and using simple steps to swim out of the riptide. It’s the panic about the impending depression that so often overwhelms and exacerbates the problem. I imagine myself like Siegfried & Roy. I have this pet tiger that could have killed me….and still could kill me if a perfect storm of adversity happened at just the wrong time, but I’m not afraid of it. I don’t dread it. I allow it to come and be what it is, so it goes away faster. One rule I follow is to never stay in bed. I get up and I make the bed. That simple act helps redirect my energies. The are myriad other little acts that are salvation.

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Elaine December 3, 2020 at 8:56 am

Such a good article and relatable feeling at this time of year, and in this particular year. Even though I feel like I’ve made some good habit changes this year, I’m also starting to accept this feeling will always be with me, and it’s just a matter of recognizing and taking small acts of agency, as you so beautifully describe.

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Peggy December 3, 2020 at 9:08 am

“Clutter is madness congealed.” Isn’t that the truth…
Wonderful, timely post.

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Brad December 3, 2020 at 9:24 am

David, Thank you for your post and personal transparency. A few things that have been helpful for me in transiting a very heavy period for about a year now are: Work on healing the underlying trauma which is often the cause of depression, anxiety and dread. We’ve all suffered traumas. As the poet Rumi said; “The cure for the pain is the pain.” Try going into it on a felt-sense basis without adding a mental story. All kinds of somatic (body) work can be helpful. Learn to increasingly inhabit the body. We “civilized” people are mostly disembodied (dissociated) and live in our heads. The beast can be tamed over time with these and other practices. Best wishes to all.

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Sharon Hanna December 3, 2020 at 9:27 am

Wow another bit of synchronicity – Brad! Somatic stuff. Was just posting and you had posted just minutes before….

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Sharon Hanna December 3, 2020 at 9:25 am

Wow David. This morning (around 5) I had a….premonition (?) or flash that you’d post something this morning and you did! I too have struggled with The Beast…..for years and years, sometimes the crippling variety where I couldn’t get out of bed. It finally went away for various reasons; now it seems Somatic Experiencing-type stuff makes a huge difference – body-based rather than head. Also of course, having animals. Right now my Siamese cat is keeping me relatively sane and level in this Covid unreality….In any case, thank you so much. I immediately cleared two cluttered shelves in my kitchen and cleaned them!! Your work makes such a difference with people. More decluttering coming up.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 11:10 am

I get the sense that pets are doing a lot for people’s mental health right now. I have made a new dog friend this year and that has been no small thing

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Elizabeth M. December 3, 2020 at 9:28 am

Many members of my family suffered from depression, so my heart goes out to all of you who do. I am blessed with an automatic reset button, which wipes the slate clean most every morning.

A few habits reinforce my equanimity: a walk every day; light, whether it is a nap in a sunny spot or tiny little fairy lights around my window on winter nights; hot meals that are full of nutrition; staying physically warm in winter; staying hydrated without excessive rules about it; regularly clearing things in my life that are toxic, limiting people who want me to be different or deleting social media channels that preach; allowing humor to seep into my life and point of view without offending people who just aren’t seeing it; and to do my best to stay away from slippery slopes of all kinds.

My best to everyone here. May you all stay on level ground.

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Sarah December 3, 2020 at 9:41 am

Thank you, David. This post is poignant and resonant as always. I’ve been thinking of you with Manitoba being in lockdown. I am quite familiar with the Beast, particularly recently. Today before even reading this, I emptied the dishwasher and put the dirty dishes piled on the counter in. It felt good.

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Gregory December 3, 2020 at 9:44 am

Thank you David for this important message. I have been tangling with the beast for the last couple of months and with Christmas coming on I have been dreading what will come in the next months. As you say, it is good just to know that I am not alone in my battle. Take care my friend.

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David Cain December 3, 2020 at 11:12 am

That’s one thing we can always know for sure, and take comfort in: we’re never alone in dealing with the Beast.

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Bob Bramwell December 3, 2020 at 9:51 am

Oh, yeah! Too bad you didn’t write this 30 years ago: it would have saved me a lot time figuring it out for myself :-) Thanks, and good luck with your own beast-management program.

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Letícia December 3, 2020 at 10:47 am

I have bipolar disorder. This reminded me of the decades I spent white knuckling life. When I got my diagnosis I was outraged. Since then I figured out how much easier life is with proper medication and support. Sometimes the beast is mental disease and that deserves acknowledging and treating.

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David Cain December 4, 2020 at 9:21 am

Definitely. I left out clinical terms from this post because not all varieties of human suffering will end up corresponding to a DSM entry and having known treatments, but they are still real and have to be met and managed in some way. When we don’t know what’s wrong, there’s not much we can do beyond white-knuckling it. If we conceptualize it in some way, we can begin to develop strategies, even if there is no clinical diagnosis or treatment.

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Steph December 3, 2020 at 2:29 pm

Clean, clean, clean. If your apartment or house is spotless, clean up your neighborhood park or playground. It’s activity, it makes you feel better, it tires you out so you can sleep, and it improves your environment.
Thank you David for always writing the right thing at the right time.

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Rose December 3, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Love this post! “Clutter is madness congealed” was my favorite line.

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Alexa Fleckenstein December 3, 2020 at 9:38 pm

This is wonderful, David! So simple. So true. So helpful.

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Michael Shaw December 4, 2020 at 3:28 am

The fact that physically ‘putting things in order’ does so much to bring peace of mind means it must have some evolutionary significance. I wonder what it is.

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Elizabeth December 4, 2020 at 7:57 am

I am 64 and have survived a number of life traumas. As an introvert with a number of house and craft projects to keep me busy I thought I would handle the pandemic isolation with ease. I wasn’t aware until it was too late that the beast had laid down beside me. I couldn’t get out of bed and I cried constantly for the myself and the world. I got through it, using most of the strategies you suggest, but it was a long haul and I stay vigilant.

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Mana December 4, 2020 at 10:44 am

One thing I have found to be helpful is to be grateful for what you are, have, know, feel. Realise that you are multi layered and having struggles is only part of who you are.

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Peter December 5, 2020 at 3:38 am

Hi David,
I would like to start my own blog because I am inspired by your own blog and postings over the years. What platform or software do you use to create
raptitude? Thanks for any info you can give me to assist.

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Pax December 5, 2020 at 12:15 pm

David, as is so often the case, your post gives me reassurance that I’m not alone. It was sitting in ‘unread’ until this morning, when the time just seemed right to read it, to brave the vulnerability of accessing my emotions. For two weeks, the black wave had enveloped me, the stinking thinking chattering in my head. It got to the point that I talked to my therapist about signs of suicidal ideation.
Talking helped. I got up yesterday and started with the little tasks, one by one, ignoring those that involved thought or planning. Bit by bit my mood improved, my horizon expanded.
When I read your post this morning, it gave me courage to carry on. To broaden the horizon to more complex tasks (can I make it as far as the trash cans?).
Last but not least, I’m sorry that the Beast attacked you. Your writings help us so much, and I hope you can remember that there’s a worldwide community full of appreciation that can make the wriggle-space grow against the dark.

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Pat Maurer December 7, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Thank you for this insightful post <3 If you haven't heard it, Josh Groban has a song that is the perfect accompaniment, called "Weeping" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNoWlc5seBo

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KP December 8, 2020 at 11:15 pm

To personify these feelings as a Beast was the visual I needed today. It has had me down for awhile. I decided to resist it by caring for myself as tenderly and firmly as I care for my young children (time for bed! here’s a nutritious breakfast!), and that has helped a bit though it feels deep down like it will be here to stay longer yet. Sometimes a switch just flips and it comes and goes. Thank you for this writing.

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K December 8, 2020 at 11:15 pm

To personify these feelings as a Beast was the visual I needed today. It has had me down for awhile. I decided to resist it by caring for myself as tenderly and firmly as I care for my young children (time for bed! here’s a nutritious breakfast!), and that has helped a bit though it feels deep down like it will be here to stay longer yet. Sometimes a switch just flips and it comes and goes. Thank you for this writing.

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Pax December 8, 2020 at 11:51 pm

It’s funny that you should mention avoidng social media in the mornings: a few months ago, in order to reduce my ‘doomsurfing’, I set my browser’s home page to this site. Even if I don’t read anything, I am reminded that the Beast isn’t a personalized hell.

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Chris December 9, 2020 at 5:23 am

This article and its comments have yet again helped me to understand the feelings of someone I love and live with. My son lives with mental health concerns but finds it so difficult to talk. Your writing has given me insight to a much bigger picture, empathy and much, much more patience than I would have otherwise have had. It lifts me personally when our situation feels unfair and stagnant. Thank you, thank you.

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Joe Murphy December 29, 2020 at 8:29 pm

I have been depressed for a couple years now with some breaks here of there. What helps me the most is doing yoga. It’s kind of magic. Staying sober also helps

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