Hi there! How are you? I’m writing outside because there probably won’t be many more opportunities to do so. I can feel the chill in the air, warning us of what’s to come. But I won’t focus on Winter… I’ll remain in the moment by enjoying the beauty of Autumn. The idea of being in the moment ties in pretty well with my blog topic actually.
Redefining my Mental Health
I’ve been really looking forward to sharing what’s been helping me and what I’ve been discovering for myself. At the same time I’ve almost been afraid to jinx my progress somehow. Anyway, the time has come for sharing. Please bear in mind while you read this that it, like all of my writings, are from a personal view. I won’t ever pretend to have a universal cure, but I do hope to inspire.
I’ve been having a very productive time since leaving the hospital, which I’m very happy about. After getting my courses back I achieved my goal of finishing the assignments before Chemistry starts. Registering for that was another task I accomplished. I start this coming Tuesday. I’m also in the process of registering for 2 other classes with the online cegep.
It’s been 6 days since I started this blog. I’ve been having a hard time fitting in the time to work on it unfortunately. Now is my chance though; I’m waiting for my car which is getting a wheel alignment and rear brake job. My wallet is in tears but at least it’ll be done before winter.
Back to what I was saying… it’s been very productive. Since writing last I completed my first 3 day week of chemistry and successfully registered for 2 new online classes. This made me happy but pretty anxious about my 2 previous courses which had the exams left. I did one of them yesterday after chemistry to lessen my anxiety.
To give you an idea of the tasks I’ve been juggling, here’s a list:
• Final exams
• Registration appointments
• Procuring legal documents
• Mia’s training
• My unemployment insurance fiasco
• Consolidating my debts (which are ridiculously scary)
• Psychology and dental appointments
• Car repairs
So I’ve been trying to keep up with a fair number of things which has been giving me a high level of anxiety. What’s new this time and really superb is that I’m coping with the high anxiety. I’m finally learning to live with it without letting it consume me. I can tell that this level of anxiety would normally send me into a tailspin and yet here I am, embracing the challenges with seemingly renewed vigour. It’s not a walk on the beach – not by a long shot – but I’m succeeding. Every day I succeed in spite of my obstacles gives me a little more confidence.
What are my tricks?
• Firstly, MEDITATION! I wouldn’t be where I am without having made a habit of it for a month and a half. I’m speaking specifically of chakra meditation which is allowing me to repair and restore what has long been blocked, bottled up and disfunctional. I cannot overstate its power… focussing on my first chakra of safety and stability has been of particular importance. I’m fairly certain that it’s the main reason I haven’t fallen down the rabbit hole with this tremendous anxiety. I never could’ve done this before.
• Doing what I’m most scared of first, along with what I feel the least like doing. This is such a good recipe for success both on the achievement side and mental health side. Pushing off what I’m anxious about only makes me more so, as well as guilty. What I’ve been doing instead is tackling the harder things first regardless of how I feel. If I’m really not into it I’ll give myself just half an hour. When I’m done I can either stop or choose to continue; either way I win and most often I decide to continue.
• I’m also making effective use out of my to-do list, calendar and reminders. These three keep me on track and help me focused on the task at hand since I won’t forget anything important. Ticking things off also gives me a sense of accomplishment.
• Speaking of a sense of accomplishment, I’m trying to valorize myself. When I finish or achieve something, even if it’s not huge, I try to give myself credit. Anything like that is a step in the right direction so I’m doing to start encouraging it.
• Taking things one minute at a time. I won’t pretend to be good at this but I can say that I’m improving. When I have something to do I’m trying to focus only on that and put the rest aside. Even if I’m worried, what I’ll do is ask myself if there’s something I can do in the moment to work on the issue. If not, I’ve been trying to let it go.
Here’s the biggest thing I wanted to write about though.
I’m learning to accept my situation and its mood consequences. If at first that seems sad, I know, I thought so too. Now however I’m realizing that it’s actually empowering. It took years to absorb the fact that ‘making friends’ with my issues is probably more helpful than my mix of avoidance and resistance.
By this I don’t mean that I’ve given up. No. I’m simply being more strategic. I’ve been very afraid of how I feel. Afraid to look at it… afraid to sit down and let myself experience whatever it is. If I thought running around worked, I was mostly mistaken. All I’ve been doing is giving my issues more power over me. That has lead to feelings of helplessness – as if I have no control over what happens. Only recently have I been learning that the key lies in maintaining my agency.
The truth is, I have a set of circumstances that make certain things extra challenging for me. I can see this as a lifelong prison sentence, or, I can find a way to work WITH my nature. There’s no purpose in asking “why me?”. It just is and we ALL have our ‘demons’. I may be particularly sensitive, but that’s ok. It’s time for me to truly live up to the title of my blog ‘I Will Not BE My Mental Illness’. I am not it and it is not me. We coexist and it definitely shapes much of my life, but I think I can reduce that. I’ve given in to its mechanisms thinking it would be easier. Heads up: It’s not! I think the key is to let go – to allow the unpleasantness to be felt because it demands that much.
What I CAN do differently is distance myself from the unwanted by observing and releasing it. Maybe I don’t have to be so scared of my head anymore. I can decide my actions and whether to allow my demons to have significant influence. They’ve stopped paying rent and it’s time to get rid of the squatters. I have to believe that I’m strong enough to go through the pain, emptiness or whatever it is at the time without resorting to self-destructive behaviour. I’m trying my best and I think I’m finally on the right road. I don’t always feel so confident, but I’ll take each hour as it comes. I can now say that I have more hope than usual!