Hiatus

I haven’t posted to my blog for a while, it’s a shame because I kind of got into a groove with it last year. I’ve been feeling quite depressed about my life and not knowing what to do, or how to cope with my anxiety.

Isn’t it strange that you can have all of the coping strategies in the world, but you still manage to forget them all when you’re struggling. I don’t know if that’s just a human thing or a ‘me’ thing. But today I’ve reassessed where I’m at and what I need to do to (try) and get out of my sadness.

I find that the act of walking is great for thinking things over and making decisions. I don’t know why – maybe it’s something from our hunter gatherer days… and when I got home I felt inspired to write a poem, which I haven’t done for ages. I didn’t really know what else to post so here it is:

The restless halls of my mind are spinning.

Weaving hope into existence.

With every footstep,

I tread towards a far-off goal,

It turns to dust when I’m alone.

But out in the shimmering world,

People are laughing and shapeshifting.

I try to peek at the pages of their stories.

I turn the key to my front door

The furniture is motionless as it was before,

Everything is as I left it.

Yet everything is changed.

Some thoughts on resilience

My brain is feeling like a load of goop at the moment, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been having a flare up of my misophonia and feeling rather stressed in general.

I feel claustrophobic at home and wish I could move somewhere with my own four walls (away from neighbours), which unfortunately isn’t an option at the moment. So instead, I’ve been keeping busy, but it’s a restless busy-ness. I still place quite a lot of value on what other people think and worry about being seen as lazy.

Feeling so low has caused me to question whether going to university is the right thing for me after all. I spoke to my therapist about it, and she questioned if it’s something I really want to do or something I feel I should do. Which is a difficult question for someone like me, who frequently changes their mind. I think it’s a bit of both.

At the core of everything, I’d like to be able to help other people, and be able to earn a living while doing it. And if I’m honest with myself, it will need to be on a part time basis to fit around my health. I think I’m going to aim to train as a counsellor instead, there’s an evening class ‘introduction to counselling’ that’s starting in September that I’d like to try.

Resilience

It’s good to have something to aim for. I’m trying to believe in myself instead of expecting anxiety to sabotage anything I ever try. It always comes back to resilience (which I don’t have a lot of!)

I’ve been reading a book called The Choice by Dr Edith Eger. Dr Eger is a holocaust survivor and was sent to Auschwitz at the age of 16 with her parents and sister. Her parents were immediately sent to the gas chamber, while she was told they were ‘going for a shower.’ Later, a guard callously points to a chimney and tells her that they’re burning there and she should get used to referring to them in the past tense. As you can imagine, she goes through hell and only narrowly survives her ordeal. I can’t get my head around such barbarity and my heart aches for the people who had to live through it.

Dr Eger is an incredible woman, and says she made it through those awful times by realising that no-one could take away the freedom she had in her mind. While she was imprisoned all of her energy was spent on surviving, and it was after she was liberated that the trauma and emotion kicked in. It sounds ridiculous, but I hadn’t considered what happened people after they were freed, and how they ever processed what had happened to them.

Feeling your emotions


A theme I’m finding crop up again and again in various books is the importance of recognising trauma in your body. Dr Eger found that she could only begin to process her experiences when she allowed herself to feel her emotions. She said by keeping her ordeal a secret it became another imprisonment. This is something I relate to, because I tend to supress my emotions a lot, sometimes without even realising it.

She immigrated to the US, where life wasn’t exactly plain sailing for her there either, but she went on to become a psychologist specialising in post-traumatic stress. She’s becoming a real hero of mine, and I highly recommend you check out The Choice, as well as some of her interviews which can be found on YouTube.

In no way am I comparing myself or my issues to hers (in her interviews she says neither does she with her patients, as all emotional suffering is still suffering), but she gives me hope that I have a bit of resilience in me to get through my own mental health struggles. I really would like to do some good in the world.

That was quite heavy, but I think there are a lot of important lessons in what she says, particularly to those of us who are going through tough times.

“We cannot choose to have a life free of hurt. But we can choose to be free, to escape the past, no matter what befalls us, and to embrace the possible.” Dr Edith Eger.


Struggling with motivation

I’m not feeling great. And when I don’t feel great, I want to withdraw, and much of my motivation goes out of the window. Ordinarily I’d give in to feeling crap and so wouldn’t bother writing this post, but I’m trying to improve my resilience.

I listen to a lot of podcasts with successful people, and many of them say that the secret to that success is to carry on when most people give up. I think there’s a lot of truth in that, as everybody has times where they feel rubbish and can’t be bothered – it’s the showing up that counts.

The thing is, I hold myself up against these people which only leads to me feeling unhappy. There might be thousands of people just like me, but I feel sad because I don’t have the get up and go of some motivational speaker! I know that I have a lot of potential, which winds me up even more because I never achieve the things I want to because I’m scared.

I’m scared of how anxiety makes me feel, and the sensations of discomfort that I experience. I’m scared that I won’t have the energy as I always seem to be tired. Sadly, the course of recovery doesn’t always run smoothly. I have a folder full of printouts of techniques I could try, but it’s having the ability to do them. Sometimes that feeling of progress and motivation is there and others it seems to slip through my fingers like sand.

I know that I’m hard of myself. It’s difficult not to be, because I’ve had other people be hard on me too. We live in a culture where it matters what we do and how we contribute to society, and so It hurts that I can’t seem to find a place for myself.

If I come back down to earth for a moment, I know that I have the therapeutic tools that I need to feel better, and that this dark cloud will pass, but it’s still hard in this moment. The joys of being human!

Why is it so hard to follow your own advice?

Do you ever feel bad that you can’t seem to follow your own advice? Then you’re not alone! I’ve blogged about several different topics and given advice that I sometimes struggle to follow myself. I might know what I need to do, but the problem is getting started, or even completely forgetting things when I’m in the moment!

Pesky emotions

One reason I think it’s so difficult, is that we’re often too close to our own problems. After all, we aren’t completely rational creatures – we experience emotions that can be overwhelming. Take fear, for example. It keeps you alive by alerting you to danger, so it makes sense that it would get in the way of your problem solving! It takes an iron will to push through fear, even if your rational mind knows that there’s no real threat.

Perhaps you feel guilty when you need to prioritise yourself in certain situations. If you’re a people-pleaser, then looking after number one can feel strange, or even selfish.

And it’s not even just ‘negative’ emotions. For me personally it can be hard to pass up the instant gratification of avoiding things, even though I know they might be good for me in the future. I have been known to avoid a social gathering in order to go shopping by myself!

Driven to distraction

Sometimes life just gets in the way. There’s a whole list of essential things to think about. Work, family life, education, and household chores can take up a lot of time and energy, so it’s understandable that our problems can end up on the back burner. We can be so busy that it’s not always clear what our problems are, let alone how to fix them.

You’re not in the right place yet

It’s easy to judge yourself harshly, but the truth is you may not be in a position to follow your own advice. Perhaps you’re ill, busy or you don’t feel strong enough to deal with things right now. Whatever the reason, try to be kind to yourself, with help you can get there.

So, when you think about it, it’s easy to see the basics of someone else’s life and give them advice. The hard bit is navigating it all by yourself and turning advice into action. This is where I think a therapist, mental health professional, or even a trusted friend can guide you. It’s great to listen to your inner wisdom, but don’t feel bad if you need help, you’re only human.