I was deeply saddened this week to hear of a few suicides. Some people may view this as a ‘cop out’ or a selfish act. For me, it is a reminder of how extremely crippled I felt when I had an anxiety disorder. How, although thankfully just the thought of self-harm was terrifying for me, I can see why anyone would feel that this would be the only way to escape the sheer hell that one feels.
It’s difficult to fathom how debilitating depression or chronic anxiety can be. How much of a changed person you feel you have become. How it totally affects your behaviour, your words, and crushes your sense of self. And how just living day to day, going to work, placing one step in front of the other can be an enormous effort.
You feel lonely and isolated. You feel hopeless and DIFFERENT to everyone else. We think others are allowed to have these illnesses and we can empathise with them and “forgive” them.. but us… no this is not us… we are “stronger” that that.
Continuously denying your experience, no matter how horrid it is, is the very thing that keeps it there... and then makes it worse. Accepting that this is you for now is the first key to recovery. No-one needs to live like this. It is not meant to be a way of being nor is it just part of a person’s make. You should no longer say “this is just the way I am” or “I’ve learned to live with it.”
It is dis-ease of mind and emotions. And it doesn’t matter what brought you to this time (from life stresses to life challenges), anxiety can be a sign that something is amiss in your life. That Enough is Enough. That your thought pattern is unhealthy or destructive. It maybe highlighting that you need to put yourself first for once.
Perhaps you are trying too hard to do everything perfectly or trying too hard to be all things to all people. Do you see yourself as the “go to” person, the one that fixes everything, or do you place upon yourself unreasonable responsibility or guilt?
These are usually the ones that suffer the most. The ones that have been too strong for too long.
Let this be your year for change.
In my experience a good reliable therapist is paramount for support in recovery. Find one. And take back the power
I had no intention of writing. I certainly didn’t ‘feel’ like it.
When I was suffering from an anxiety disorder, part of the recovery process was to try and find ‘me’... through the realisation of a passion or dream that perhaps I had previously felt unable to reach for. I mentioned to my therapist that I enjoyed writing when I was younger, back when I dreamed of writing a novel. I was told to start with that, to look into a writing course, or just simply pick up a pen and write.
I didn’t feel like it. There was nothing stopping me other than the fact that I hadn’t written for so long and I felt that I didn’t know if I could. I felt unskilled and I wasn’t even excited by the thought. But one thing I knew, was that back then, I loved it.
So I enrolled in an evening course and on the first day, I became lost getting there, was almost an hour late; and when I did find the place, I called my husband from the carpark and told him I wanted to come home. He encouraged me to stay.
I entered the classroom late, feeling left out from the class that had bonded in previous courses, brought the wrong writing tools and I vowed that I would see the night out and never return.
I did return and when given writing tasks for homework, I felt burdened by them. But over time, I felt that I was enjoying it again, and slowly it was becoming more exciting for me rather than just a feeling that I had to do it. The old passion came back and I’m so very grateful that I pushed through.
If I waited until I ‘felt’ like I wanted to write, I would never have done so. Sometimes we need to give it a nudge.
So how do you know then, what goal to reach when it is not a clear yearning or perfect ‘feeling?’ It was suggested to me in this case, then go for a wish or a dream that you had when you were young (because really that’s when the best dreams were, before we knew ‘too much’) Or go towards that little inkling or tiny voice inside. It doesn’t need to be strong. It just needs to be soft enough to dust off those thoughts that weigh you and that dream down. And if it’s not your thing in the end, then at least you know you gave it a go, and that in itself is a great thing 🌺
I was asked this the other day by a terrified person who was struggling with her consuming anxiety.
I know I used to be concerned about this myself back then, and had my fears put at ease once it was explained to me.
The good news is that in the medical world, there is no such thing as a ‘nervous breakdown’ any longer. As crappy as one can feel when all consumed with anxiety and depression, the good news is that what they’re feeling is as bad as it gets.
Nervous breakdown is a term that was once used to refer to a wide variety of mental illnesses, an easy way to blanket over these issues when even the medical world was shaking its head.
People fear the term because they perhaps picture themselves in a psychotic state or hunched over and rocking forward and backwards, losing all sense of reality. I know I had that image!! The breakdown of your nerves is pretty much what happens when you have an anxiety disorder or suffer from acute anxiety. The constant fear of anxiety is a highly stressed state that can fray nerves, leading to heart palpitations or light headedness or knots in stomachs or any other of the many many symptoms. This leads to the anxious thoughts leading to more anxious feelings and the vicious cycle continues.
That’s it. It’s not great. But that’s it. There is no other big bad breakdown around the corner waiting to get to you.
I hear this is a common fear so I hope that this can be comforting to those who fear the anxiety is going to seize them whole. I put this in the other basket of fearful thoughts that are common ‘what if I go crazy... drop dead... lose control...” None of this ever happens from anxiety. You are hundred percent in control (which can itself be the problem), and too smart for your own good. It’s all still there, including your mind, you just need to learn how to work with the logical part of it.
This is why it is important to ask questions and educate yourself about what is happening.
Your knowledge about mental illnesses is absolute power here and will be your saving grace.
If you know that this is as bad as it gets (as terrible as it is for now) then you can take those steps forward to begin healing