Saturday, 4 January 2014

Nike Slogan Does it for Me...

Change is hard.  It is particularly difficult when you are recovering from anxiety and depression.  Your old self, old habits, old mistaken beliefs, sit beside you in therapy looking like a comfortable blanket to throw over your raw, wounded self. It is easy to go back to what you know.  Putting yourself out there; being vulnerable and open to change; that is the hard stuff.

In group therapy, I listened to people often lamented that they just wanted to go back to being who they were. That is exactly what I didn’t want. 

Before each of my breakdowns (yes, there were two) my daily habits included not taking lunch breaks, working while I was sick, isolating myself, gossiping at work to fuel the fire of injustices (imaged and real), doing for everyone until I was so exhausted there was no time left for myself, then being resentful and wearing exhaustion like a badge of honor.

That is what landed me in the hospital…..twice in 15 years.  Clearly this pattern was not serving me well.  Behind each habit was a core belief that if I just do more, I will have value….people will love me….people will need me.

A little over a year out from my breakdown, I feel like I am in a better place.  I continue to work on my core beliefs that drive my inner voice.  I think about the messages I give myself.  I challenge my thinking.  I see a good therapist.
I have created new habits. 
I now take time for meditation.  I write almost every day.  I have become a Reiki master. I spend time with an old friend on meaningful conversations and giddy girl talk. I am attending classes at the gym.  I have joined a women’s group where we cook, eat and meditate once a week in a bond of sisterhood (I never knew how much I craved the company of other women; and how lovely it feels to be embraced and accepted for just being me).
It’s a lot.  But again, that is me and there are parts of me I have to embrace because they are at my very core.  I am a type A personality so I now throw my energy at being a better me.
There is a secret that worked for me and while it may sound trite and simplistic (I actually thought it was a cop out the group therapists used to avoid answering the question “HOW DO I FIX THIS?”) it will work if you are brave enough to try it.
Simply, it is Just Do It.
When you suffer from anxiety and depression, your automatic negative thoughts are your worst enemy.  So you shut them down.  Early in recovery it is impossible to see a future where things are better.  You are in the now, and the now is miserable.  Any thoughts of adding something new to your list, like going to the gym, or taking a five minute walk each day feel like herculean effort that will drag you under. You have already developed habits of sleeping until 2 PM, watching TV and going back to sleep.
So for me, the best I could do was just shut it off.  No talk, no judgment, no chatter. 
Yoga class on Monday.  I will go.  I will not think about it before hand.  When Monday at 10:00 AM gets here I will pack up my gym clothes and go.  I will not make any judgment on how I feel or what finding parking will be like or how I may or may not be able to do this class.  I will just do it.
Sometimes I had to “do it” several times, but every new thing I tried; every new thing I reserved judgment on and “just did” I was rewiring my brain and creating positive new habits.
I have yet to return to work. That is coming in the spring and will be the biggest test of all; quieting the inner mean girl voices in my head and “just doing it”.  My new soul nurturing habits will be what I lean on to balance out what I do with who I am.
So what have you got to lose? Pick something.  Don’t think. Don’t evaluate, judge, critique, dismiss or shake your head (I see you!)---just go and do. 

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