I’m having a hard time processing how I’m feeling. I feel as though I should be panicked, terrified, and afraid. Yet I feel a sense of calm. As I watched coworkers get ready to work from home, and I see everyone sharing articles/stories (which by the way I have not read as it is overwhelming to say the least) - rather than give into the hysteria, I have decided to limit what and when I read news articles and waited for a while before I began to work from home myself.
I sometimes wonder if anxiety is a friend to me at this time. I know it must sound so strange to hear. What I mean is that I am used to racing thoughts and being in the state of fright, flight, or freeze on any given day. But for the average person who does not have anxiety and had a pretty normal life before everything was thrown into disarray. Before school was cancelled, before you had to start working from home, or were forced to not work all, before you had to self-isolate (if you had travelled), and before you had ever heard of the term ‘social distancing’ (I prefer ‘physical distancing’), this must be the most difficult thing you’ve ever encountered. Difficult because you don’t know when it will end. Difficult because this wasn’t in the plan.
During this time I have fallen back on what has served me well in managing my symptoms: staying in the moment, taking time for myself (walks, yoga, meditation), and exercise (walks, yoga, online classes/apps).
It is my hope you can find something that will serve you well.
It has dawned on me, I don’t think I have ever really told my whole story. I have kept it inside for so long. My memory is fading. My heart has healed.
I think I was likely depressed in elementary school (the later years). I have not processed this and it would take therapy to really dig into it. For now this is what I am able to share.
My story begins 10 years ago. I went into a downward spiral after a breakup. At 29 I thought my life was over. I had very little experience with relationships and I thought this was the person God had brought into my life. I laid awake for months on end going over all the things I could have done better, crying myself to sleep. Negative self talk was on repeat in my head. I could not get away from my thoughts: you’re ugly, you’re not good enough, what were you thinking, you’ll never find someone to love you. I was able to work, but it was definitely getting in the way of my productivity. On the weekends I slept all day, ate pretty much nothing, and was lucky if I could muster enough energy to shower. I lost a lot of weight and people noticed. When people would comment on how I looked, I would brush it aside and change the subject to something else.
It took many months for me to seek help. I had been through this once before about two years earlier (although not as severe). At that time my doctor asked if I wanted to go on medication. I said no.
In August (of 2009) I started counselling. It was about that time I also started on medication. This time around I knew I could not do this alone. Talking to someone gave me a different perspective and allowed space for me to cry or stay silent if that was what I needed. The timeframe is a little blurry, but at some point I decided to start sharing my story. I created a blog and would share things I would never tell anyone in person. Somehow writing gave me the freedom I always needed. I was (and still am) very insecure, but having this outlet seemed to help. A couple of years after I started writing, I lost all of my blogs due to not saving them properly. I was devastated at first, but hoped this would help propel me to write from a different (hopefully happy) place. I was starting to feel better, I had stopped seeing my counsellor and I was off (or weaning off my medication).
I’m not exactly sure when the negative thoughts started to creep back in. I told myself I would not get hurt again and so I closed myself off. Attending bridal showers and baby showers was hard (if I could, I made excuses not to go). I isolated myself - only going to work and coaching track. I had no social life. The more I stayed in the easier it was, and the more worthless I felt. When I did reach out to people and they couldn’t hangout or cancelled plans, I told myself more lies: they don’t like me, I’m not their friend, I’m such a loser.
I could not take it anymore and I made my way back to my doctor (2016).
This time we tried a different medication as I had terrible withdrawal symptoms from the medication I had taken previously. She also recommended a psychologist (who thankfully I connected with). I had a not so great experience with another therapist a few months prior and didn’t want to go through that again.
Now in my mid 30s I was coming to grips with the fact that I was going to be single forever. It hurt, my heart hurt, but I just didn’t see any other future for myself. I was still isolating quite a bit and my therapist challenged me on that. She gave me little things to do (as homework) to help me out of my shell. Little by little I was returning to (or more accurately moving towards) the person I am today. I was so tired of being stuck, so tired of the tears, and guilt and shame that comes along with depression.
I surprised myself sometimes through this journey. I was starting to laugh more, and socialize, and not take things personally when someone had to cancel plans. The wall I had build up was beginning to crumble. So much so that I allowed myself to be open to the possibility of letting someone into my heart. It was a sudden change for me. One that ten years ago wasn’t even fathomable.
Today (at the age of 39) I am in a great place. I am dating someone who I didn’t have to fear telling my story to as he saw it first hand - or at least the parts I was willing to share (we have been friends for just over 20 years).
In September 2018 my therapist told me she thought I was doing well enough to stop seeing her (I agreed) and October 25, 2018 was my first day medication free.
Through this journey I have learned: I am not alone, I am worthy, and sharing my story can give others hope.
We’ve all heard it before. What we say matters. What we think matters. What is in our heart matters. Think about it. If we constantly listen to negative rhetoric (whether internal or external), we are going to believe it and become it. On the other-hand listening to the positive (realistic) thoughts can lift us up.
Have you ever looked at someone, who only has negative things to say and wonder how or why they became that way. It did not happen over night. It was gradual, so gradual no one thought to interject. They can’t possibly be happy you think to yourself and swear you will never be that person.
Until you look in the mirror and don’t like what is reflected back. The adult acne or the shape of your body perhaps. (*that most people don’t see, because they see the true beautiful you). You tell yourself ugly lies. And soon you are the one people are looking at wondering how she become that way.
The only way I've found to keep those negative thoughts at bay is to be gentle and kind and loving (towards myself). Soon the noise in my head, turns to a sweet melody that I play on repeat.
Be kind. To yourself, always be kind.
Today: Like most, I'm trying to figure things out. Sometimes that's day by day, moment by moment, and even breath by breath.