Sunday, June 29, 2014

...and one step back

The hallmark of having generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder with agoraphobia (in my experience anyway) is that I take two steps forward in my recovery progress, and when I experience a perceived setback in my recovery. it hits hard. Even though I know I'm not back at Square One (i.e. January and being afraid to leave the house and speak to anyone), setback rattle my core in a way I can't articulate and perhaps it's something that only an anxiety sufferer will fully understand. Note: experiencing moderate levels of stress, even for an extended time period, is not the same thing as having a chronic anxiety and panic disorder. It doesn't define me as a person, but it's always been there in the background in one way or another since high school. For those that never read before..long story short is that I experienced a nervous breakdown shortly after Christmas. No one factor that led to it - just a lot of stress and change over the course of a three-year period. Heavy stuff. So for a while, I couldn't handle any stimuli, good or bad. Lost the butterfly feeling for things I once loved (good food, double dates with friends, family visits, etc). Still struggling with that to this day. But I found a job that is flexible enough to complement my recovery and I have an amazing support system and some very effective medicine that I do believe saved me. So functioning again, just experiencing the highs and lows that come with perceived victories and setbacks.

So last week, I had a great therapy appointment. I also spent 20 minutes on the phone setting up a life insurance policy for myself (ah, the joys of self-employment). Being that I was petrified of the phone and most human contact in January, huge victories. But I have a nasty habit of pushing myself just too far when I am on an upswing. So after getting off the phone with Metlife, I took a trip to Target (a store I finally felt comfortable in again with Mike) to buy some shopping list items, none of which were super essential. I knew going into the store that I was overwhelmed, but I couldn't just listen to my body and mind. I pushed myself. And set myself up to fail. And the past few days have been wracked with guilt over that. And guilt over not seeing my family or friends as much because I am just not ready. I went out this weekend and even set foot in the very Target store where my near-attack occurred. Victorious to the outside world. But I can't shake the fear that the breakdown I had and the setbacks that happen have ultimately changed me as a person.

No external factor is to blame for these feelings of self-loathing and guilt; I need to learn how to have self-compassion. But how does one do that? How do I give myself the grace I talked about in my last post? I am really all ears and open to suggestions, because this level of vulnerability is something I m very unaccustomed to. I firmly believe there's beauty in the breakdown (yep, a song lyric from Frou Frou's "Let Go," featured in the movie "Garden State") but the breakdown in itself and the subsequent recovery...well it's very hard. I find incredible difficulty in getting motivated to exercise, meditate and do the things that I know may help along with the medicine and therapy. And it's lonely. I miss my loved ones. I'm just not ready to be all "out there" yet like the Myers-Briggs ESTJ I used to be.

And I wish I knew how to love myself. Hopefully, all in good time.


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