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I felt like killing myself last night.

I was a little surprised, as I hadn’t felt that way since I’d arrived in Country X. I’ve been here a month now.

So, I went to bed thinking, “Now what set that off?”

I don’t know what did even now. I had some strange dreams, but nothing answered the question. I’m not even sure that trying to sort through my day and my thoughts for what set off my reaction is an effective approach. I have started to think it just keeps my focus on everything that might be wrong, including problems I hadn’t noticed before, and I end up with much more to be anxious about.

But I do feel anxious today. Almost debilitatingly so. I mean, I got through the day, but I didn’t buy cilantro today at the vegetable market because I’d never done that before, and each new thing I need to do makes me even more anxious.

I have spent a lot of years trying to find ways to soothe anxiety. Most of them have not made any noticeable difference. But I realized this afternoon that that is definitely the wrong approach. Trying to conquer anxiety is like trying not to think about white bears. The harder you try, the worse it gets. Anxiety is something else just to roll with. Now, maybe that isn’t the answer for everyone. But I think it’s the answer for me.

On the one hand, integration is about acceptance. Acceptance involves feeling what is there to feel—whether the feeling is pleasant or unpleasant.

And on the other, fear is something I could not afford to feel as a child. If I felt it, I might show it, and you can’t let a sociopath see your fear. Then he knows all the more clearly how to torture you. So fear is something that was taken away from me as a child: it is a part of the human experience I lost. Of course, I did feel fear, but that needed to be carefully shuttered off from my awareness. Part of being a person is being afraid sometimes, so today I feel afraid. It isn’t such a great feeling, but it’s mine.

Addendum: I wrote this the day before yesterday, and I do know now what set of my suicidal thoughts Fatigue, it turns out, is an important trigger for this kind of thinking for me. There are other triggers, but fatigue is a big one. It’s essentially a flashback to moments in my childhood when I just wanted to give up and let my father’s torture kill me.

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