Friday, July 25, 2014

The year so far

It's funny how time can go so slowly and so fast at the same time. I know that sounds weird but the days go so slowly...and before I know it, it's July and 2014 is more than half over. Statistically speaking, my anxiety and panic has been chronic/disabling since November but culminated in a breakdown right before the year began, after the holidays. The last fun and stress free day ie remember is December 26. And the road has been full of twists and turns as I navigate the journey through my head and try to return to a stronger sense of self. 

I've gone from trying to find out WHY this happened to finally accepting that it HAPPENED and there is no one reason why. I hit a will emotionally. I hit my limit. I grew tired of doing things I didn't want to do and being places I didn't want to be when I saw so many people around me (many of them close to me) just doing their thing and living their life without apology. Over the past few years, I've gotten into a bad habit of living my life for other people, self-shaming anytime I created boundaries. and completely neglecting myself. Studies show women are more prone to being like this. But in any case, I still find myself doing it, as old habits tend to die hard.

One of the many beautiful things that came out of this event (of which I believe I am on the other side of, even on the worst days) was the care I received from individuals I didn't expect to receive support from. In spite of my agoraphobia, I "came out" regarding my illness on Facebook and through this blog. I utilized social media to reconnect with old high school, college and post-grad friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, just these folks' kindness and the encouragement helps. Others have shared their own stories of struggle and triumph and hearing those gives me hope that, when the time is right, I'll feel like my "old self." My best friend's husband very eloquently stated that my recovery will happen when it happens/how it's supposed to happen. It's that simple. And slowly, I am steering myself into thinking more positively. Which fatigues my mind and my body when dealing with such intense depression and illogical anxiety. But I'm keepin' on keepin' on. :)

The one thing I find disheartening is that I expected levels of support from sources that I assumed to be one particular person, just in general. Don't get me wrong. Everyone, including me, has their own life to live. I don't expect to be at the center of anyone's universe- I'm not even at the center of my own world. Anxiety and depression are lonely, misunderstood and invisible illnesses. And it's easy for others, when they're happy and life is good, to develop new routines and ways of life that no longer include Lauren. I can't place blame because I don't even know where I fit in my own life sometimes. I'm trying to figure out who I am, what I am comfortable with and what I like because for so long it was on the back burner as I worked to please friends, family members, bosses, you name it. I spent many years celebrating the life choices of others while receiving very little support as I went through some pretty heavy shit, pardon my French. Had I let people in more, it may have been different. It's just hard to feel so intensely for and love others and not have it reciprocated when you need it most. Sometimes we build up walls unintentionally and whoever breaks through and stays with you is worth having around, 

Some people that I least expected have demonstrated great compassion and understanding and I've been humbled by their prayers and inspired to be more spiritual myself. But I wish more people understood the life of someone who suffers from chronic anxiety. I want hugs and love more than ever now, but even taking a shower or getting through my work load can be painful on some days, so it's hard to be around others. But I'm trying. Please be patient, try to understand what I (and so many others) deal with and don't forget about me or give up on me. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Time for a redirect

For anyone that is a Facebook friend of mine, you may have noticed over the last fw days that I am working to make a conscious effort to redirect my ways of thinking. I am wired naturally to be a realist at best and focus on the what-ifs. Those always lead to the play-out of worst-case scenarios in my head, and then the anxiety/depression/panic/you name it soon follows.

I have been making an effort to live in the present - rather than focus on what COULD happen IF, I try to think about what IS happening NOW. This has helped prevent me from going into full-blown panic mode on many occasions, but I am not perfect and give myself the grace to have bad, ugly, panicky days. Because I am human.

While that's all good and true, I also think that throwing too much of a pity party when I'm feeling bad is detrimental. I have been obsessing for months wondering WHAT caused my breakdown. WHY do I panic? WHERE am I most prone to panic? WHEN will this hell end? And I am slowly accepting that those thought processes are leading me nowhere except down the road of old painful experiences and over-thinking scenarios I've already grieved, processed and moved on from. It also causes me to feel anxious about things I used to look forward to (vacations, social outings, buying a house someday, etc,). Needless to say, something's gotta give.

So, I am trying to intentionally focus on the things I do like in my life rather than obsess about all of the bad stuff. I really don't want to live my life as a recluse and want to get better. Positive vibes and a sense of spirituality has to help me - it just has to. Medicine has worked wonders, but I need to do some of the work on my own.

My therapy going forward will focus less on the "talk therapy" and dredging up old hurts and will instead help me learn techniques for how to deal with the bad feelings. The feelings will always be there - but I can sowly learn how to control my reaction to those feelings.

That is the goal. More to come at a later date. For anyone else suffering through this too, I feel for you, I really do. I am truly sorry for anyone that has to feel like a prisoner in their own mind.