I learned a lot myself this past week or so regarding my anxiety and how I choose to deal with it and how I can change the way I deal with it. You know to tell you the truth, I get really aggravated by all this self-help non-sense…blogs, books, websites, etc. I have used self-help books and sought comfort from websites and blogs as well but generally my experience has been, “you learn as you go because everyone is different”.
Anyways, I was talking with a co-worker yesterday and we were discussing our different life experiences and how they have shaped who we are and where we are going. We discussed the stigma around mental health diagnosis and how the only way to break down those barriers is through being honest and telling the truth. That is what my intentions had been for this blog; to tell my story and hope others can find little nuggets of truth in it to get through another day. I failed following through with my intention by letting my anxiety guide my writing. I have been fearful of what people “back home” will think if I tell the truth, I have been fearful of people pitying me and saying, “oh, poor thing” or the opposite and saying, “suck it up buttercup your life is not hard”.
I realize, if I am going to help other people like me, I must be honest and open and not let my fears and anxieties about what others think hold me back. Fear and anxiety of others opinions has held me back for 27 years and when I moved across the country with my significant other of almost two years, un-married, without a job or a car and not much money or a plan a month ago that was when I decided I had to stop caring about other people’s opinions.
As a person with anxiety and social anxiety, when a loved one or a friend laid out all the possible scenarios and things that could go wrong if I made this life decision, I really did not need to hear all the negativity because due to my mental illness I have already calculated and EXHAUSTED and WORRIED and OBSESSED about the really terrible things that could happen. Despite the negativity that may arise from moving far from home, without a job, without a plan, with a significant other whom I have not dated for long, and the fear, I made the decision to go anyways. And I would personally like to thank two of my best friends/cousins (you know who you are) who pushed the positive for me and assured me that I should do it and would not regret it. And I would also like to thank my family and friends who wished me luck and happiness and made me feel like my decision was a good one for me. You are my support and the people whom I could not live without…I love you all with my whole heart.
For those of you who are in limbo, who are fearful to take their next step in life, to push outside of your comfort zone, to do things unconventionally, here is my advice: listen to your gut instinct, listen to your very, very, very best friends, and think about what “I” want, not what society or others might think. And just to throw this out there because I am taking a multicultural counseling class for my Master’s right now, this does not necessarily apply to everyone, rugged individualism, leaving behind the familiar and putting your roots down far from your family or leaving behind your family and your family’s culture is a very American/Western ideal so what I’m saying is not a reality or a goal for everyone and this is perfectly understandable.
Anyways, back to my anxiety and being honest, the first week of living in Alaska felt like the longest week of my whole life and I really just wanted it to end so I could move on to the next week and have a clean slate. The second and third week here put me at the end of my emotional and mental rope. I didn’t sleep well, I couldn’t get my mind to stop racing and obsessing, I was lonely, I was uncomfortable, I was in limbo waiting to hear about a job, I was a mess. Life is messy, it always is and it always will be. I was awake at 3 in the morning, freaking out, sitting it my car, balling my eyes out and asking myself, “How did I get myself into a situation like this again?” I was mad at myself, mad at my significant other and blaming other people for my anxiety and unhappiness (which is complete bullshit).
When my life feels like it’s in shambles and I have no control the first thing I want to do is drink, get good and drunk so I can forget what I am so worried about and move on. When I realized how bad I wanted to drink the first thing I did was “find a meeting” (which some of you can relate to). There is something about being surrounded by other people who like to abuse alcohol and other substances that reminds you that you are not alone. What I needed, I found there, after the third meeting….peace of mind that comes from letting go of the control you need so badly and giving it your higher power. I’m not ashamed anymore to admit that I believe in something greater than myself because without my higher power I would still be a “hot mess” and maybe I would have drank again and to drink, for me, is to lose control again.
So, yeah, moving is hard, things get complicated, you don’t get enough sleep and your mental health goes to shit and you forget how to deal but in the end you’re okay. So there is what has been going on with my mental health, honestly. I’ve been a hot mess, but recovery, feeling less anxious/depressed/symptomatic or not feeling that way at all, is possible and doable. We’ve got to make “the best of what’s around” and enjoy the good days. Happy Thursday!
p.s. I did get a full-time job with benefits in the mental health field (using my undergrad degree), I bought a car, and am quite content with the beauty all around me.