Archive for the coping Category

The Art of Doing Something.

Posted in anxiety, anxiety disorder, coping, coping strategies, depression, mental health, mental illness, panic attacks, recovery with tags , , on July 9, 2013 by Trace

The thing about depression and anxiety flare-ups is they often creep up on you. At first, it’s just random, self-defeating thoughts, such as:

You’ll never be able to handle this, why are you even trying?

You’ll ruin everyone’s day if you go out with them.

And then the thoughts get progressively worse, the longer you let it keep going. And it will keep going. I don’t know about anyone else’s brain, but it’s a little like lassoing an enraged animal. You let it keep rampaging and it runs around breaking precious things until you get it under control and back where it should be. Sometimes the animal is a tiny, angry dog. Other times the animal is a bull elephant.

Either way, there is damage that happens. In terms of emotions and depression, that damage can be a lot of things – a complete lack of self-esteem and self-worth, the inability to live a normal life, the blackest feeling of despair you wouldn’t wish on anyone. You sit in your room and cry and then get angry at yourself for crying. You bemoan not being able to be normal and then that wanting to be normal compounds the depression you feel. Eventually, at least for me, it leaves me finding it hard to do much of anything but go through the motions.

Your body has a way of keeping you from doing things you want to do. I’ve noticed the pattern, after almost ten years of this garbage. What’s the pattern?

Depression/anxiety > Wallowing > Pushing self out of wallowing > Getting motivated and feeling better

…and it repeats, over and over. The motivation is the best feeling in the world when you’ve been under gray clouds for ages, but eventually that sunshine starts to fade under the clouds again. Thoughts like ‘well this won’t last long’ becomes something you need to constantly combat. If you’re me and have health anxiety issues, suddenly the things you’ve felt you finally got under control is going haywire again. The motivation slowly sinks back to depression and anxiety, and you’re left with vague memories of all the moments you thought you were finally okay.

Trust me, your brain records your every failure to repeat back at you when you’re at your best when depression is part of your life. It’s never that time you overcame your fear when the bad feelings start coming back, not automatically at least. No, you need to actively seek out the positive thoughts before it drowns under the negativity your brain loves to hold onto. It beats you over and over and, just for good measure, the injuries it inflicts on you are invisible just so the people in your life wonder why you can’t just pull yourself together.

I’m still in one of my downward spirals. It crops up every so often, often when my body decides to do something that scares me (remember, health anxiety). Simple aches and pains are blown out of portion the second they happen. Sometimes, I can push them aside quickly enough. Other times you have where I am now, where fear dictates everything. I know the what I need to do to pull myself out of this, but it’s the initial push that’s the hardest. And what is the first step, you ask? What is the secret first step I have found to be the start of every recovery period for me?

Do something.

Simple, right? Really vague, right? There’s a reason for that. The ‘something’ is different for each person. It also pluralizes itself as you take steps to improve things. When you hit rock bottom like I’ve been, where getting up and taking care of myself feels insurmountable, that’s my something. Showering, making myself meals instead of just eating junk, keeping myself and my surroundings neat, go to therapy even when I don’t want to go outside – these are all small things, but recovery is a lot of stepping stones to getting better. Sometimes you trip on the stones, but getting up and pushing forward is the best thing you can do for yourself. I think what I need to learn now is to always keep my eye on the road instead of letting myself slack, because when I start sliding back into old habits, the cycle starts again. Doing something and continuing to do something, whatever that something is, is difficult but in the end is the best thing you can do for yourself. It may not ‘fix’ you, but it may make things just a little better than it was before. Those falls start not lasting as long as they lasted before.  

I hope you all find your ‘something’ to get you started on feeling better, too.Go_For_It

 

As an aside, if you feel you are to the point of needing professional help and don’t know where to turn and want getting help to be your ‘something’, there’s a good list of ways to seek help for anyone looking for it here.

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On haircuts and anxiety.

Posted in anxiety, anxiety disorder, coping, mental health with tags , , , , , , on May 31, 2013 by Trace

Getting my hair cut has always been a harrowing experience for me, especially post-anxiety.

regular-haircut-1aReading that sentence, I realize someone without anxiety would question what that even means. For most people, the worst part about haircuts are worrying your hairdresser/barber might mess up the cut? For me, it’s a litany of what if scenarios. There’s a sensation of being trapped, of not being able to get away without looking like you’re crazy in front of your hairdresser. I have an extra layer of fear because of an unpredictable nervous stomach – one that just loves reacting to any tiny bit of stress with cramps and general non-great feelings.

Add in not being great at small talk and you have a miserable hour or so to contend with. Don’t get me wrong, I do like my hairdresser. She’s a nice Polish woman, probably around the age of my older sister, with two kids and a husband she clearly adores. She asks polite questions of me, and I try my best to interact well even when I’m nervous, but I always feel like I come off as a little stand-offish. In all likelihood, she probably doesn’t think that at all – I’m sure she has customers who completely ignore her, whereas I try to engage in conversation to the best of my ability. The worry is always there, though, and it made me think a bit today about how people view me as a person and how I view my own worth.

I hide my anxiety well. Around people I’m comfortable with, I’m a little better at being open about how I’m feeling, but around strangers – well, let’s just say bathroom breaks were common when I was at my worst. About a year ago I met up with an old friend from college for coffee, and she was stunned when I mentioned I was going through a lot with my anxiety.

‘I never would’ve guessed,’ she admitted, and she actually looked like she felt bad. ‘You always seemed so chill.’

In that moment, I honestly felt bad for not trusting people with the information. I certainly never plan to shout it from the rooftops – not because I’m ashamed, but because I don’t want anxiety to define me as a person – but I do realize now that there were a lot of times I should’ve said something but didn’t. That I don’t give people credit because I assume the worse. That I didn’t think people would find me worth hanging out with if they knew I could potentially have an anxiety attack that might halt the entire night. It’s because of all those doubts I closed myself off from situations and people instead of giving them a chance to understand. Instead of showing them my ‘weakness’, I hid away like I was some sort of deformed beast that no one would want to hang out with anyway because I was such a mess. Even in the situation with the hairdresser, my worst case scenarios were so silly – what if my stomach acted up? What if I had an anxiety attack? Surely my hairdresser would not care if I got up to go to the bathroom for a minute or two, but for some reason, the very idea was mortifying to me.

They say people make mountains out of molehills. I make the tallest kinds of mountains in my mind. It doesn’t happen as often as it used to, and I’ve put a lot of rationalization into work, but it still happens.

Everything went fine, by the way. I got my haircut, I had my eyebrows ripped off (the joys of being a girl!), and while it was the usual awkward hairdresser/client conversation, we got through it okay and there weren’t too many lulls of silence. All those things that nearly made me cancel my appointment up to the very last minute didn’t happen. My stomach ‘magically’ stopped being a pain in the butt and it hasn’t made a peep since, when it’d been a problem all morning. It’s just another reminder that I can let anxiety keep me away from people or accept it exists and not let the ‘what if’s stop me. And every time I don’t let anxiety keep me from my day, I’m almost always rewarded with something good. Today’s reward? Lookin’ pretty rockin’ in this new haircut. I mean, look at this:

Pretty rocking, right?

Aw yeah lookin’ good, amirite?