Breaking Bad Patterns for Mental Health

Hi you guys, thanks for joining me in another blog. (If you’re reading this for a second time, that’s because I tried to add something and lost the last quarter of my blog in the process. Fun fun! So if you’ve already this I recommend you scroll to the new part if you’re curious about my announcement.) Moving on…

I write a lot about my present circumstances which wasn’t really my original intent a few years ago. It didn’t take long though for me realize that mental health topics – as explained in the context of someone’s life – might be better understood than any conventional self-help book that I could write.

I write based off the idea that humans are complicated, delicate and varied. How can I write a textbook if we come with no instruction manual? So I’ve chosen to be here instead, presenting my thoughts, victories and mistakes as honestly as I can. The truth is that I don’t have answers for all of us; I don’t even have the answers for myself! But since I’m definitely not alone in struggling to be human, maybe my journey can help others learn something pertinent to their own. That’s all I can realistically hope for.

Random Project – Potential Metaphor

This is pretty random but nevertheless important to me so I want to share it with you. My organization/cleanup project increased in scope even though I’m working on little pieces at a time. I decided that restoring the rustic window in my room would be a good summer project even if it takes a long time to complete. I’ve been finding it very satisfying and I think it might be symbolic of my own personal growth. Putting effort into restoring the window is like acknowledging that with enough time and care, I can ‘fix’ the rest of my life too. Of course I might be reading way too much into a bit of home repair, but hey. Who knows?

I ran into a major issue with my window the other day that makes my original idea impossible, but that’s ok. I’m somewhat of proud of my consistency, planning, and the research I did to find a new, low-cost way to repair the window. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Reinventing Old Patterns

There are many insulting experiences in life, like repeating a mistake you really thought you’d learned from. This has happened too many times for my liking. Not only was I wrong the first time, I was wrong about it never happening again. Talk about adding insult to injury! I bring this up because steering clear of past mistakes and bad patterns is key to my main goal of stability. (You can find the blog here if you missed it.)

Example Pattern – Cycle

Considering my current dance around the usual landmines, I want to take a look at how we can avoid repeating our mistakes. The mistakes I’m talking about aren’t limited to practical, tangible or logistic errors, if that makes sense. Let’s see what it takes to change patterns that are intertwined with emotional factors.

If you’ve read a few of my blogs, you probably know about my habit of overdoing things. When things are going ok I gradually take on more and more responsibilities. I start to become stressed but the pressure keeps me motivated to continue and succeed. My unstable mood can even result in adding projects that are almost impossible to sustain when I hit a low. The stress becomes too much so I inevitably crash and burn. It takes a while to get out of the crisis but when I do, it isn’t long before I start the cycle all over again.

I don’t want to be doomed to repeating this same pattern my whole life. It’s exhausting and unsustainable: It kills my self-esteem and is the opposite of productive. This vicious circle is probably the main reason I feel so behind in life…but enough about that. I get discouraged enough as it is, so it’s time to break the cycle.

How to Break a Bad Cycle for our Mental Health

Let’s take a closer look at cycles. What are they? How can we recognize negative cycles in our lives so we can break them and move on?!

Well, if the answer were easy there wouldn’t be so many of us feeling ‘stuck in a rut’. That’s why there’s a world of difference between simple and easy. Simple is logical, pragmatic, straightforward. Easy on the other hand infers a lack of effort, challenge or difficulty. Many mental health concepts sound simple while proving themselves far from easy to apply.

To illustrate my point (literally) here’s a crappy stick figure representation of my problems with goal setting:

Problem 1: The unrealistic size of my goals
Problem 2: The unrealistic number of goals I set
Solution: Smaller goals & Fewer goals
Old Me vs. New Me

I did it on purpose to make the diagrams ridiculously simple. Why? (Other than the fact that I couldn’t draw anything better?) Well, to show how close we might be to an obvious solution and still not feel capable of applying it. I’ve been living the pattern of my overload cycle for years and still haven’t changed it!

I’m sure this isn’t news to you but I’ll go ahead anyway: The first step to breaking a bad pattern is recognizing it. How do we recognize it? I might not be the right person to ask! You’ll see why after my next little anecdote.

Karting Job Opportunity

This is going to seem unrelated at first, but please bear with me. My boyfriend and I went karting which was super exciting. I really miss it and hope to go more often this summer. Driving is a passion; one of the few things that make me feel alive and don’t involve self-harm or recklessness. Anyway while we were there I thought I’d take the chance to ask if they’re hiring. I would love to be in that environment! Long story short, I ended up having a surprise interview that I think went pretty well.

At the time I really thought I could keep my hours at the pet store and add this job for when I’m staying with my boyfriend. This idea was dashed as soon as I got the July work schedule for the pet store. My hours would be in major conflict and I respect/appreciate my current boss too much to mess up her needs. (Especially last minute like this!) My coworkers have their vacations and I want to be dependable. It also wouldn’t be fair to the potential boss since I can’t work when she would really need me. All in all, withdrawing my application is most fair for everyone.

It’s best for me too, even though I wish I could work both jobs at the same time. If it hadn’t been for the obvious conflict, I probably would have run myself into the ground again by taking on too many hours and too much travel time.

This is why I’m not the best authority on recognizing bad patterns; despite actively trying to avoid my pattern of overdoing things – voila – so close to diving down the rabbit hole!

If things are going to change, I have to be the one to change them.

-Me, having a lightbulb moment. No one has ever said this.

Let Me Save You Some Time

I’ve been working for a while now with what’s proven to be a faulty strategy. I thought that the best way to handle my drastic mood variations was to adjust my productivity accordingly. When I’m low it’s difficult to do or feel capable of anything, and when I’m high I want to and feel capable of everything. My semi-solution to what I call the light-switch effect, (the sudden and inexplicable change from a high to a low or vice-versa), was to use my highs to accomplish as much as possible before the inevitable low.

Let me save you some time: Don’t do this! It’s a band-aid at best and only works short-term. My latest interpretation is that the more you lean into the high, the harder the crash. I think the trick is to make high periods and low periods resemble each other as much as possible. That way we can minimize the contrast to whatever weird stuff is going on upstairs in our brain.

Given my history, I’m trying to avoid committing to a rigid career path; I’m afraid of wasting time, failing…a lot of things. But in my quest to carefully pursue interests that have endured longer than most, a new avenue has presented itself.

Seeking a New Pattern

I enjoy working on the marketing aspect of my job at the pet store. I’ve been doing it for a substantial amount of time and I’d like to learn more so I can increase my capabilities. What if I develop skills as a marketing consultant with the eventual goal of obtaining multiple contracts? If I succeed, maybe I can create my own hours as well as work from a distance. This could support me while I also work on my biggest purpose: this blog.

These ideas motivated me to do some research; I found a Social Media Marketing course that gives you a certificate if successfully completed. Despite the course not being a degree, it provides key knowledge and adds credibility. Even though I’m only at week three, I find the material is thorough and well-presented. They also include templates of important documents one would need to work in the field, which I really appreciate!

This Social Media Marketing course is one of many subjects offered by the ‘International Association of Career Colleges’. (IAP College for short.) The courses are entirely online and mostly at your own rhythm. For example my course takes between four and six weeks. There are review questions after each week to make sure you understand, as well as a designated tutor with whom you can discuss anything about the material.

Why am I explaining so much about the program? Well, speaking of marketing, I’ve decided to dabble with affiliate marketing. Before you hate me or think I’m a sell-out, please let me explain why:

  • I’m broke!
  • Writing blogs is my passion and I really hope they help people. The only problem is that I don’t make money from them. I have a separate job but it’s still very difficult to make ends meet.
  • I write about many things, and sometimes a product or service may come up in connection to the blog topic. If you happen to be interested, maybe you’ll go on to purchase whatever that thing may be. The only difference is that now, at no extra cost to you, I would make a small commission from having referred you. (If you use my link, of course.)

That said, here comes my first ever affiliate link. If you’re interested in furthering your knowledge in a subject and boosting your CV, you should check out the IAP College.

I’m going to republish this blog now because losing a part of my work really pissed me off and I’ve lost the thread of where I was headed. Instead I’ll work on my blog about setting priorities for our mental health. I wish you all a wonderful week!

What's YOUR take?