The Mid-Year Assessment

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Has anybody else noticed that it’s already almost July??? Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday I started this blog, but I’ve come a long way already. Now that we’re six months into 2013 with six months left to go, this is the perfect time to assess where I’ve come from, where I am now and where I’m headed in the future.

When I decided to start this blog, I was looking for a forum to express myself; to be open and honest and raw and -possibly- even relatable. I was also in a bad place. I was in an even worse place when I revealed the true story behind some of my depression and was called out by certain acquaintances and family members for “pointing the finger” at others. On that note, I have never blamed anybody else for my problems. My problems are my own and mine only. But other people affect us… That’s a fact of life. The people I have alluded to in this blog are people who have affected me, good or bad, in one way or another. Nothing more, and nothing less. In either case, I got a ton of support, but I also got enough negative feedback and “hate mail” to send my anxiety through the roof and my depression spiralling towards a very rocky crash landing. My father almost disowned me, other family members were upset that I had gone public with my story, friends of friends were outraged that I had spoken truths about people who would have rather kept them secret, and still others told me I should stop writing altogether. Even though I still stand by my blog and my decision to go public, I did go through a very dark period shortly after I began writing where I felt horrible about what I had done and felt guilty and selfish and worthless. On my lowest day, I resorted to phoning a crisis line to be talked out of suicidal thoughts. And then, slowly, the dark clouds above me began to lift.

Over the past six months, my life has had its ups and downs, naturally. Living with mental illness is never easy, and although my depression has improved drastically since last winter, the feeling of anxiety choking me -my blood pressure high, my heart beating fast for no reason, my shoulders and jaw constantly tense and my breaths short and shallow- has continued. It has become so much a part of my daily life that rather than manage it I have almost learned to adapt to living with it. But consciously, I refuse to live with it. I can’t say I have done everything in my power to overcome it, because I have not always made the best decisions for myself. I have still bitten off more than I can chew many times over, making my stress levels soar and my anxiety worsen. I still worry constantly about my relationships with others and I still fret over people’s perceptions of me. And I do not meditate or take time out or exercise or breathe deeply as much as I should. What can I say… I’m only human.

I have made some very positive changes though, an I do feel as if I’m on the right track to beating this horrible affliction. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, patience with myself and with outside circumstances is key. It is a long road but I am prepared to walk it still. Currently I am attending a Generalized Anxiety Disorder group therapy session, once a week for ten weeks. I am about half way through now, and while I admit I am not the most diligent student when it comes to doing my homework, meeting with a group of like-minded individuals has done wonders for my self-esteem. It has helped me to realize just how normal my “problem” is, and how normal most people are who suffer from it. The people in my group come from all walks of life: men, women, teenagers, seniors, and all different races. We each have different triggers that send us spiralling, but for once it feels like I am not alone in my fight. I highly recommend group therapy to anybody suffering from any sort of mental illness. My particular group focuses on cognitive behaviour: we meditate during each session, examine the root cause of our anxieties, learn about the psychology behind our disorder and share our ups and downs with each other. We even get to do yoga and have free access to acupuncture therapy (which I have yet to take advantage of). All in all it is an incredibly supportive and non-judgmental group and has done wonders for me.

I have also adopted one particular mantra that I picked up during my group sessions: Thoughts are not facts. This has helped me immensely lately. Whenever my mind starts wandering and I start cringing about myself, my (self-perceived) negative behaviour, what others think about me, etc… I remind myself that thoughts are not facts; Just because I think something and convince myself of its validity and send myself into an anxious panic attack does not make it true. Sometimes I feel as if the whole world is disappointed in me and is talking behind my back and as if I am a bad person who will never amount to anything. But then I remember that just because I think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. It is just a though, not a fact. That helps me breathe easier.

Other areas of my life have improved as well. My relationship with my family has improved and prioritizing friends and family over trivial matters has become increasingly more important to me. Oh, and my dad decided not to disown me, and instead our relationship is probably the best it has ever been. We speak and see each other regularly and he’s even meeting me once a week to teach me how to golf right now. I don’t think our relationship will ever be what I always wished it could be, but it’s a far cry from what it was.

I have come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. For the next six months I want to focus on my own physical and mental health, which means simplifying other areas of my life that have become too draining. This is the reason I decided to step down from my editing position at Hush Magazine. I continue to write for them, but being responsible for editing and publishing my own work as well as the work of others became too much of a burden for me (especially because I don’t get paid and so I also have to maintain another job on top of school and a never-ending slew of other commitments). I am still working on simplifying my life, but it is a difficult task for someone like me who is used to taking on more than she can comfortably handle all at once all the time. But I commend myself for making baby steps. After all, it doesn’t matter how small the steps, as long as they are pointed in the right direction I will get there eventually.

So here I am at the mid-way mark, neither here nor there. But I am confident that I am on the right path. Some days I make more progress than others and some days it’s one step forward, five steps back. But when I do have bad days, I remind myself that to date in my life, there has never been a day I didn’t make it through, and I am confident I will make it through many more.

Thanks again to all of the support I’ve received from so many of my readers. If it weren’t for you I might not have come this far already. And to anybody going through a similar struggle, hold on. It gets better, and some days it gets worse, but like me, you have made it through every day of your life so far, and you will continue to make it through.

Until next time.

Xx

 
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