It has officially been 18 months since my life turned sour and 6 months since it officially bellied upside down. As do others I’m sure, I often wonder how I ended up here. What did I do wrong? What could I have done? I recently moved back to a country I also associate as home, but while everyone and everything is where I left it, somehow nothing is the same. I left a different person, in different circumstances under a different situation, coming back to none of that is not only disconcerting but has a tendency to make you think you have nothing. I know I have achieved a lot, that I should be grateful for what I do have, but I can’t help slip into a pit of self-wallowing. I keep thinking of the things I don’t have any more and analysing every possible thing I could do to overcome that, the anxiety that comes throttling towards with these feelings is drowning. I can’t sleep, I can’t stop thinking and most importantly I don’t know how to love myself. I’m scared of being alone or by myself, because even a minute of idleness means my mind kicks into overdrive and not only culminates into doubting everything about myself, whether I’m smart, whether I’m pretty, whether anyone likes me, but it is physically taking a toll on my body.
A photo posted by Beth Evans (@bethdrawsthings) on Jul 22, 2016 at 9:48am PDT
(Image taken from https://www.instagram.com/p/BIK8edJDRh8/?taken-by=bethdrawsthings)
I don’t think anyone in this world ever wants to suffer from anxiety or depression but it’s our body’s defence mechanism to fight against all the injustices we’ve seen. Add unrequited love and unemployment to the list of things breaking your soul down and you’re left with nothing but a shell of a person. I do want to fight this. I do want to escape. I do want people to remember me as someone strong. But it’s a long journey, one that I’m not sure I can muster the energy to jump on. Someone recently recommended a few therapy tips that I’m going to share.
- First and foremost, make a routine. I’m currently unemployed, which is another element throwing fuel to my worrying fire, making me doubt my credentials and experience. But making a routine, waking up on time, doing something even if it isn’t that productive will make you happier. Make time for some physical exercise, I don’t sleep well at all, a more apt way to say this is that I literally don’t sleep, I’m up till 7am and then I struggle to sleep even till 11am at times. But by exerting myself a little, I not only feel a little healthy (thank you endorphins) but I do feel a little tired which helps.
- Secondly, eat healthy. I also feel fat and ugly, it’s not something I ever thought about myself before even when I weighed more than I do now, but it’s just another shallow thought that I need to power through. Eating the right food will help and boost your energy levels.
- Stand in front of the mirror every morning and tell yourself that you are worth it, that you’re amazing, and that you are lovable. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t started this yet, I find it silly to look at myself and say these things that I don’t believe in, but apparently if I say it enough I will start to believe it too.
While this may be a rant, I just want to emphasise, I do have some good hours or even some brilliant days entirely. There are deafening thoughts which make me feel worthless but I’m trying to find new ways, meet new people, indulge in new activities that help me have some good times too. I’m sure you already know the ways to help yourself, but internalising them is where we get stuck, I’m trying, and I just want you to as well.
Aside from the several gazillion studies that describe how writing improves psychological health, I can personally vouch for the fact that writing is one of the best therapeutic tools you actually have control over. Expressing how you feel or how you perceived a traumatic and emotional experience won’t rid the incident from your system but somehow being able to voice your deepest thoughts helps you move forward; even if it’s just a millimetre and that too at snail speed, you will move forward.
I can’t say I write every single day; the unhappier the days are the more I remember to need to pull myself together, which just happens to be through writing. You don’t need to be missing a strong support system to turn to yourself through writing; you could have the closest friends and people to turn to but there are still times when I don’t even know how I feel until I actually jot it down. Contrary to popular belief, I am not a closed book; I’m just scared of what the other person might think of what I feel or the things that are ‘real’ to me. As sad as that seems I just don’t open up to everyone but if at some level I manage to connect with you, then trust me you’re in for a ride because I will attach myself to you like a leech and refuse to let go. That also just happens to be why people like me end up feeling more isolated than normal, because if that one person you want to talk to is no longer available, then you no longer know what to do with yourself. This is where writing for you takes on a critical role.
It doesn’t have to be a diary or some structured blog; you could scribble on a sticky note and very well just tear it up immediately after. It’s not supposed to be a piece of literary art, it’s supposed to be for your eyes only, no one is going to check your grammar or the use of flowery language and no one is going to judge you for what you write. That’s the entire purpose of this tiny action, you discover the underlying emotional expression you’re feeling, you can scream and shout without the associated guilt of what the subject of your anger or hurt or even envy might think of you for saying those things. This form of self-reflection unburdens you, if only by a little from the stress of holding on to your feelings.
If you’ve lost someone, write to them, whether that’s someone who unfortunately passed away or a relationship that ended. Say anything and everything you want, whether that’s a confessional of sorts, an apology or a justification for what you may have done, an emotional outburst of the hurt you’re feeling or just a list of questions surrounding your very real existential crisis, and then just tuck it away somewhere safe for yourself. Trust me when I say you’ll be able to let go of some of the things you’re feeling easier than you have ever been able to before. By giving a sanctuary to the writer within you, you help yourself achieve whatever level of catharsis you can, whether that’s a mountain or a mole hill, it’ll still be therapeutic and there’s no undermining that.
While I don’t condone drugs, under the circumstances with the right conditions, you sometimes need what I’d like to refer to as happy pills. No these are not what you think, rather they’re prescribed anti-depressants or anti-anxiety tablets; my only objection against this is that they place a temporary lid on the pot of issues, they don’t manage them and they certainly don’t teach you how to deal.
I recently met someone who shared the following quote by a Nobel laureate. It really got to me because while we may not believe it, as we trudge along our baggage of insecurities, the only one holding ourselves back is truly ourselves.
I’m a great proponent of therapy, I don’t think they’re fluffy, they teach you basic coping mechanisms which help you in your daily life, for someone like me who at times can’t function as the anxious bundle that I become, you need these life lessons to be able to live. For some whose level of anxiety and panic is limited to exams or teenage relationship issues (no judgement whatsoever), you may not understand the darkness that envelopes you and the level of self loathing that comes with it. For those who do understand or are struggling to find a way, just read through some of the ways you can deal, trust me these are tried and tested, I am in no way claiming that I’ve healed, but without them I assure you life is much more miserable.