Originally written in July 2017
As I’m writing this blog post, I am suffering from anxiety. The last couple of weeks have been a minefield of emotions, ranging from sobbing uncontrollably to going off my nut over the tiniest thing. My heart has been racing and my stomach has been churning. I’m restless and unmotivated. I’m making dumb mistakes. I’m forgetful, resentful and full of drama. We all go through times like these and although I’ve had a lot of practice building up strength in my mind, it’s still happening to me.
So how to you crawl out of this emotional hole? Guys, at the moment it’s hard for me to even comprehend but let’s give this a crack.
My very logical and practical, farm-raised mechanic of a husband, is the one that really planted this in my mind. I am in control of my own thoughts. It’s as simple as that. But very very difficult to put into practice.
For years, probably most of our life, we’ve thought about things a certain way and the neurological pathways have been paved. It’s like a well-trodden path out in nature. It’s easy to walk down that path, you don’t even have to think about it. But what if that path became dangerous? You still want to go that way because it’s the way you’ve been before, it’s familiar. Other ways could be riskier than this path. This is a simple way of explaining neurological pathways. They’re formed in your brain when same thought process happens a few times. But we can create new pathways, we can change the way our brain works and which direction our minds can go in certain situations.
My darling, if you’ve been telling yourself your muffin tops are disgusting or you’re not attractive enough to pull off a pixie cut, how does that make you feel? Shaming ourselves into action NEVER works. If anything, you feel even more shit about yourself and then you go and eat that dessert. You’ve convinced yourself that you’re not good enough with one fleeting thought. Have you ever heard that saying, “if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself”? Would you ever tell someone you loved, that their ass is getting seriously fat? That hurt my heart just writing it and thinking about if someone had said that to me.
How I’ve worked around this terrible habit of talking down to myself is to literally stop the thought in its tracks. As I’m looking in the mirror and that little niggle in the side of my brain is saying “ew….”, I imagine a large stop sign in my head is pushing that niggly little thought away. It sounds f***ing weird I know, but it works for me. Once I realised my thoughts aren’t law, aren’t always correct, sometimes not even close… that’s when I was able to detach from them. We make up a lot of stories about why things are the way they are.
I’ll tell you mine, I only figured it out in the last couple of months. I’ve never felt like “enough”; funny enough, skinny enough, smart enough, all of the above. And I think I’ve put it down to one thing. I was an only child until I was 7. Mum had a few miscarriages between me and my sister. I feel like I wasn’t enough for them so they just kept trying despite the fact that they kept miscarrying. That is absolute horse shit. Sorry but what a story?! Can you see what I did there? The frontal lobe of my brain made up a story, which has always been in the back of my mind “that I wasn’t enough”. I love my sister, and my little brother who came after that. And I love being a big sister. I even wanted them and begged my parents for a little sister. But our minds remember things to suit the story we’ve made up. To back up our own theories. Just like a scientist can sway any study to prove his or her theory. I had forgotten that I begged for a sibling. I honestly don't even think anything happened, nothing was said to me to make me believe this story. It is literally a figment of my imagination.
Now I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve completely worked through this story, I’m still fixing that brain pathway. It’s very hard to convince yourself that you’re enough. And maybe that’s not the only story I’ve told myself to back up that claim. It’s just the only one I’ve uncovered. And the fact that I’m trying to fix this, and that I have a lot going on, is causing my anxiety. It’s fear-based and I know it. Anxiety is almost always about the future. Depression is almost always about the past. I’ve been visiting both lately. My other tip here is not to ignore your feelings, not at all. They’re there for a reason. Go and visit them, see what’s going on and why. But don’t unpack your bags and stay. Bawl your eyes out, feel those feelings, and then pull yourself back. You’re in control. You might have to go back and visit, that’s okay.
It will take some practice. And you mustn’t be too hard on yourself; you’re allowed to feel powerless, miserable, frustrated, whatever it is that’s going on for you. Don’t ignore things that are coming up. Give yourself space and room to move. Sometimes things must get messier before we can clean them up again. You will come out stronger if you just practice this. Be kind to yourself and relax. No judgement here. The more you shame or push yourself to feel better, the harder it will be and I promise, it will take longer.
If you’re looking for some help shifting your focus to the good, I would love to help you.
If you’re feeling like this is bigger than you and deeper than you can go alone, I’d recommend seeing a psychologist or counsellor. And let me point out that this no longer means you're sick or abnormal like it did in the past. They can help you with coping mechanisms or even prescribe something to bring you back up to a level where you can see more clearly.
Full Disclosure: I wrote this in July 2017. The last few weeks my self belief has gone down the crapper. Anxiety has reared its' ugly head, and along with it comes depression for me. My point is that this is a constant work-in-progress. And that's okay. I'm so glad I read through this blog post for the reminder that I am capable of development and growth. I am very nervous putting this one out there, I don't know why, I'm a private person I guess. But not in a deceptive way, just don't like to let everyone know my stuff.
Comment below or Like this post if you've ever felt down or anxious. Share if you feel like this is a topic that's not spoken about enough.