This week drew a close to the CBT that I have been lucky enough to receive at least fortnightly since January. For almost half a year, I met with my therapist to try and put an end to the horrible OCD thoughts, anxiety and depression by learning new tips and techniques.
This evening, I received a text from my best friend. She told me she was feeling low about herself and unattractive. That she didn’t feel that people ever looked at her and thought, wow, she’s beautiful.
Whilst we know that ‘beauty’ is only skin deep, it got me thinking about how unkind my friend was being to herself, and how we all do it to ourselves all the time. I couldn’t ever imagine telling my friend she was unattractive and that nobody thought she was beautiful. So why is she saying it to herself?
Sometimes we feel anxious when we think about the future. We worry that something will go wrong, or that something terrible could happen, and we do whatever we can to prevent those things from happening. When we feel that we can’t prevent these things that we don’t want to happen, we panic, and things become a downward spiral, and we become anxious and irritable… then we just don’t do whatever it is that is causing the worry.
I have found that it is not always enough to just put off the things that are worrying me. The problems are still going to be there and most of the problems are things that are just out of my control. When I explained to my therapist that I often get anxious about things I can’t do anything about, she told me to try and bring myself back to the ‘now’ to help ease the anxiety for the time being. I spend a lot of my time worrying about tomorrow, even though really I know that it’s going to be okay in the end. That doesn’t stop the shaky, irritable body sensations and my brain telling me awful things that make me want to cancel everything in my schedule and just stay in bed. So now I have to try and experience the ‘now’. And this is how she told me to do it.
At the beginning of the week, I wrote a post about making your own personal goals. (Read it here.) So, that’s just what I did. I have been off work due to Easter break and this week had to spend it alone, which is something I find difficult to do. So, every day this week, I wrote a list of things that I wanted to get done and also in order, so that I had a structure for my day and something to achieve. Some items on the lists were small and others were larger jobs. I was going to add a photograph of them but I feel it’ll be much neater if I type them out (though I have added an image of them at the end, to show you how I did it)!
It is part of human nature to protect ourselves. We have adrenalin which triggers the fight or flight mode in our bodies, so when we feel that we are in danger, we can make a quick reaction to get back to safety. This is a normal reaction, but in some cases, we find that we encounter this in situations that other people would not find a problem, otherwise known as a panic attack. This can often come from catastrophising scenarios in our head.
My problem is that I catastrophise (I don’t know if I am spelling this correctly, my computer says I’m not, but hey…). Before any social event, or simply going to work, my mind thinks up scenarios that may or may not happen, which lead me to feel very anxious about them. In some cases, I feel terrible enough that I will simply cancel and I won’t go. Instantly, my panic eases and I don’t feel anxious anymore.
Today I woke up and I didn’t want to get out of bed.
I was giving into my compulsions to check, getting more and more anxious each time. (Even as I write this, my anxiety is consuming me, but I do not want to let it win!)
I felt like I was taking a step backwards, which I didn’t want to be doing. I didn’t want to get sucked back into the dark hole where nothing good ever came of anything. After all, I have so much to be thankful for that should stop that from happening.
Recovery is like a rollercoaster. When I posted yesterday about anxiety being like a rollercoaster, it got me thinking how recovery is the same. And remember that rollercoasters keep on going, they don’t stop, they go up, down, round and round, then there is a moment of calm until it goes back around the track all over again. That’s how I feel my life is; one minute I feel okay and content, the next I am low, then I come back up again. Every now and then I feel calm.
The whole point of what I am posting now is to show that it’s completely fine to have ups and downs in your recovery. There is no miracle cure, you’re not going to wake up tomorrow and all is right with the world. Today I have curled up a little on the sofa, watched some TV, read other people’s blogs and tried my best not to give into my compulsions. Tomorrow I may have a better day where I get my to-do list done. We’ll see!
Sometimes in life we have to do things we don’t want to do. Sometimes we have to face demons that we don’t want to face. It’s easy to hide away, close the curtains and shut off the entire world. That’s a safe place; trust me, I know. Sometimes I need a day (or week!) in my safe place. But do we ever feel better for it? Does it just make the anxiety about facing reality worse?
Recently, I found myself in a bad place where I didn’t want to be with anyone or leave the house. I wanted to close the curtains and just scour the internet for SOMETHING that would make me feel better about the situation I was in. So, I did just that. I took a whole week to just do nothing because I couldn’t bare to face the world. To everyone else, I was just feeling unwell. I suppose really, I was unwell, but mentally rather than physically.