I’ve spent the last 3 months on assignment, if you will. My mission? Get through the reading my therapist strongly recommended. The goal? Well, of course the goal is to continue to manage my anxiety and beat back what becomes a crippling depression during Sad Season. The results?
Today, I’d label them outstanding.
Have you ever done something repeatedly— gone through the same steps, sought out the proper help, followed all the right prescriptions, listened to all the good wisdom— and then one day after years of following this pattern and not improving at all, it all gels together in one huge click of understanding that completely changes your world?
It’s been like that.
There were days that were so tough I thought I might not have it in me to keep going.
There were days so freeing that I thought maybe I was “done” for good this time.
Both of those thoughts were and continue to be untrue. The truth is I can and will keep going, and I most likely will have to develop some new mental health maintenance maneuvers to keep myself from slipping back into old patterns.
I’ve had a lot of help obviously. Here’s some things that I’ve heard, read, or said in the past few months that have helped me turn this corner:
Did you know that your FEELINGS and your BEHAVIOR are two separate parts of you?
45 years down this road and this is the first time I’ve understood this concept. Furthermore, I’m a grown-ass adult woman who can totally control her behavior even if there is a swirling vortex of suck going on in my emotional space. Admittedly, sometimes the proper behavior response to the vortex really should be some quality alone time processing that junk (crying, journaling, praying… my usual method). But I’m getting so good at recognizing that lately! For the run-of-the-mill crap-think that hits me, I’ve learned that it’s not as exhausting as I’ve previously believed to challenge my default reactions and adjust my behavior accordingly.
“If your default reaction is making it worse, TRY DOING THE OPPOSITE.” -my therapist.
We’ve all heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. (Or stupidity, I’ve heard it that way too) Well, I’ve been acting insanely stupid because for some reason it just didn’t click that I was the one DOING, and I could stop and CHOOSE to DO a different thing. This has helped tremendously in the dynamic between me and some of the difficult people in my life (side-eye to the preteen, several people at work, and the ex). And what do you know? Interactions that once spun out of control become non-events to both parties. #Win
For someone who values honestly so highly, my ability to lie to myself is astonishingly well developed.
I have spent my adult life telling myself the lie that I will never live without the triplets: Depression, Grief, and Anxiety. Or, the lie that I am getting what I deserved when people treat me in ways I don’t like. OR, THAT I AM IN CONTROL OF AND RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY DAMN THING. Or, that it’s my job alone to fix it, whatever IT happens to be broken at the moment. All of these lies made it impossible for me to have any real, lasting peace. Or, if there was a time where I was at peace, I was always expecting it to get crushed by another emotional emergency feeding off this type of deceit. No more. I’m telling myself the truthiest truths I know these days.
I mentioned in my last post that I am beginning. I am a living good start, a walking do-over. I have decided the ways that my life needs to change, and I am actively working to bring about those changes. I am packing away my sackcloth and I’m sweeping away the ashes. I’m clumsily testing out the strength of my ownership over my life, and finding it a hell of a lot stronger than I’d ever dreamed.
I’m learning that the swirly mess sometimes displays a beautiful kaleidescope of hope.