“I’ve Been Here Before”

I’ve been here before.

This is what I thought last night as I struggled with anxiety. I thought about how I was tired of ending up in the same situation – feeling both sad and weak due to my anxiety. I thought about how I wish I could go back to doing simple things without feeling anxious.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I never feel hopeless and downtrodden, because I do. I hate feeling burdened with anxiety; feeling like its in control. Believe it or not, I used to be someone who loved to go out shopping, hang out with friends, and be able to do things without much stress. I still like doing those things, but I don’t feel like they’re easy anymore. I hate that feeling.

As I sat struggling last night, I wondered how and if I’d ever get through my anxiety. After all, I’ve been going through it for so long, how can I be sure it will ever be a thing of the past? I don’t think this is a totally unreasonable question. It’s hard to have faith sometimes when you constantly see yourself suffering.

The thing that we all have to remember, is that many of us have made progress. Many of us have faced our fears and succeeded – I know I have. Just because we may have bad days or moments, does not mean that we haven’t experienced times of achievement or that we’re not on the road to recovery. All it means is that we have to work harder on a more consistent basis. We will get through our anxiety and over our other obstacles!

So if you’re wondering how you’re supposed to believe in yourself, you’re not alone. I think many people feel this way. It’s okay to sometimes feel less than 100% confident, you’re only human. What’s not okay is to allow these doubts to take control, to give them credence. We are stronger than our obstacles!

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Stop Beating Yourself Up!

Stop beating yourself up! Easily said, easily done, right? Not so much. I’m always trying to explain that just because one may struggle with something or not get something done at the same pace as someone else, that it doesn’t make them pathetic or a failure. I believe this, I really do, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when I don’t find myself thinking how pathetic I must be to struggle the way I do.

I’m not proud of this – but these are the facts. I don’t have a job right now, I still live at home with my family, and anxiety still effects me a great deal. I hate struggling with anxiety, I truly do, but that’s how it is right now. I try hard on a daily basis to get better and I hope that one day, anxiety will no longer hold me back from accomplishing all that I want to do.

Society tells us that if we don’t all do things at the same time, then we must be pathetic or that something must be wrong with us. THIS IS NOT TRUE! This should not be used an excuse not to try our hardest to overcome our obstacles, but we should not think ourselves pathetic or abnormal for not always meeting society’s standards. We all deal with different things and we all accomplish our goals at different times. What’s important is that we always try our hardest to get through whatever it is that’s holding us back and that we NEVER GIVE UP!

As I was lying down this morning, feeling pathetic, I realized something. I want to work, I want to be more independent, I want to get through my anxiety. The reason for me not having a job is not out of laziness or not wanting to do something more with my life, but because my anxiety is so severe. Also, it’s not as if I’m not trying to get better. I’m trying every single day! Also, I’ve made progress and I’m not useless – none of us are! I am a freelance writer for a great website, I’ve written and published two books and am currently working on my third, and I’ve made and am continuing to make progress when it comes to getting through my anxiety. All of these things are important! All of these things matter!

So remember, it doesn’t necessarily matter if you’re meeting society’s standards and expectations. What matters is that you’re trying your hardest to overcome your obstacles. No one but you knows exactly what you’re struggling with, no one but you can make your life all it can be. If you’re trying your hardest to get through what’s holding you back and if you refuse to give up on your goals, that’s what’s important!

 

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Progress Is Progress – Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise!

Maybe every time you’ve ever shared your progress with someone else, they’ve commended you. Maybe you’ve never had someone question how the progress you’ve made can really be labeled as such. I think that’s great. However, I know that I, for one, have experienced otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, many times when I share my progress with someone, they are proud of me and express those feelings of pride. They understand that if I’m doing something that I previously struggled with – no matter what it is – that it matters. Even if the step towards success may seem small, they see that it’s important.

On the opposite end, I’ve had people question my progress. I’ve mentioned that I did something that I usually back away from and instead of hearing their praise or that they think I did well, they just ask how it’s a big deal; how it qualifies as progress. I’m not going to lie – it hurts. I’m not saying that I constantly need recognition, but the last thing a person wants when they share their accomplishments with you, is to feel belittled or shut down. Any of us who have ever struggled with anything, know how difficult it can be to overcome our obstacles. We also know how good and refreshing it feels when it’s clear that they we stronger than what is holding us back. We want to be built up by ourselves and the ones we love, not torn down.

If you’ve experienced what I have – that some people aren’t understanding or kind when it comes to our struggles and hearing about our progress – then here is my advice. I recommend trying to save sharing your progress for the people who will actually appreciate and respect it. I know it’s hard not to want to shout your progress from the rooftop, but sometimes lending your happiness to others is a risky concept. Not everyone will be supportive and instead of showing you the respect you deserve, some will simply share harsh or careless words.

Again, and this is important to remember, there are people who will support, respect, and care for you. There are people who will go out of their way to cheer you on and to make you feel as special as you truly are. These are the people you want to allow into your lives and share both your good and bad times with. Don’t allow others to take away your sense of pride and accomplishment. No one can take away your progress, no one!

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Do It For You!

Due to health reasons, my therapist of about three years recently retired. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of months, but I had planned to return when I found out that he would no longer be seeing patients. To say the least, I was upset. I truly believe that he was the best therapist that I have ever seen. He was kind, caring, and in my opinion, had the best methods for helping me get through my anxiety. I could tell that he genuinely wanted to see me get better. I will miss him dearly.

For now, and I think at least for a while, I don’t plan on seeing anyone else. I know what I have to do to make the progress that I want to make – I have to face my fears in small, manageable steps on a consistent basis. I have to continue to work hard.

I have to admit that it’s strange not seeing my therapist anymore, but not just because of the usual reasons. Not only am I not physically going to his office as much anymore (I’m still seeing my psychiatrist), but I was regularly sending progress reports of how I was working daily to get through my anxiety. It’s strange not sending these reports on a daily basis. When I first decided to stop sending the reports (I was never told to stop, but out of respect for my therapist, I decided it would be best), it felt weird not reporting to him about my progress. It almost felt unnatural.

The thing is though, that I was never working hard to gain my therapist’s approval in the first place. Sure, there may have been some days where I didn’t feel like doing anything productive, but I did in order to look like I was trying (I know that sounds awful, but I’m only human), but I never once tried my hardest to get better for merely my therapist’s sake. I want to get through my anxiety for myself – so I can enjoy my life to the fullest and do things with the people I love, along with being more independent.

I realized that just because my therapist retired and I wouldn’t be sending him emails citing my progress, did not mean that I couldn’t and shouldn’t still be recording said progress. Every step that I take in order to get through my anxiety is important and in order to remind myself that I am strong enough to conquer my fears, I should be writing down the progress I make – not for my therapist, but for myself. After all, I am working hard so that I can be happy with my life, not so that someone else can be satisfied.

The point is this: you should be trying your hardest to get through your anxiety and over your other obstacles for yourself – not for anyone else. If you want to keep track of your progress, don’t just do so because you’re told to do so, do it because it’s beneficial for you. I understand the desire to want to get better so that you can spend time with the ones you love and that’s fine, but your main reason for getting better should be so that you can improve your life!

*Please know that I am not trying to state that if your therapist retires, that you shouldn’t search for a new one if you believe you should keep going to therapy. I may eventually see someone again for my anxiety, it’s just that at the moment, I think I need to simply utilize the tools I was given – to work hard on a consistent basis to get through my anxiety!

 

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Society’s Standards

Over the years, standards have been set. You should have a job, have your own living quarters, and heck, even have sex at a certain age according to society. I can understand how some of these standards have become expected, but I think that for them to be set in stone and expected to be followed by every individual is simply wrong.

I can understand why certain standards are set – I can. People should try hard to find employment and their own living quarters by a certain point in their life. I don’t, however, think it’s necessarily up to us to decide when that point should be for others.

I think that when people feel they are ready to do something, that is when they should. While people shouldn’t use this way of thinking to shirk their responsibilities or not work hard, I do think that it’s okay that not everyone does everything at the same time. We’re all different and sometimes things are harder for some of us than they are for others. This does not mean that we give up or don’t keep trying our hardest to accomplish our goals, but rather that we don’t constantly beat ourselves up for not always meeting society’s standards.

A word that I really don’t like is ‘pathetic’. So many people who are less than understanding throw this word at people when society’s standards are not met. No one is perfect and people struggle – struggling is difficult and no one enjoys it.

It may be hard to see at times, but even those who struggle are often trying their best. Things may not be as easy for some of us as for others, but this does not mean that we’re not putting our best foot forward.

If you find yourself struggling and comparing yourself to others, remember this: no one is perfect! You are not alone. You don’t have to meet society’s standards. All you have to do is try your hardest and never give up on becoming the best you can be!

 

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Doing Your Best

Anxiety sucks for countless reasons – seriously. I hate how there are so many things that I want to do yet don’t because anxiety gets in the way. I also hate how pathetic my anxiety makes me feel and, while I hate to admit it, how embarrassing my anxiety can be.

Today I was reflecting on how there was a time, when I didn’t over-think so much and I did things without thinking twice. I used to go shopping, go to school, and hang out with friends without worrying like I do now. Now, I need help doing things and to be honest, there are times when I feel utterly pathetic.

While I’d love to say that I never get embarrassed by my anxiety – I do. I get embarrassed when someone sees me struggling with simple things and I can’t help thinking, “Man I must look pathetic!”. I know that it’s possible that sometimes I’m too hard on myself, but it’s hard not to be when I’m not always proud of how I act. Plus, I know deep down that I’m able to do these things with ease and that it’s just my anxiety trying to convince me otherwise.

I think what’s important is that we try our hardest to do our best and focus on the positive. I know it may not always seem like there’s anything positive to focus on, but there is. Today I felt pathetic because my anxiety made me feel slightly dependent – a feeling that I hate. However, at the same time, I stayed where I was the entire time and didn’t leave, something that I easily could have done if I wanted. Heck, I didn’t even have to make the effort to go where I did in the first place, but I did. That’s progress.

I still must admit though that I hated the way anxiety made me look today. Anxiety has a way of making the strong look weak and the intelligent look stupid. I usually consider myself quite mature but sometimes when anxiety hits, I feel the exact opposite.

We have to hold on to the positive though and remember who we really are. I’m not my anxiety. In the past (though I’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time), there were times when I did the things that are now difficult, with ease. I know that there is nothing physically wrong with me and that the reason I struggle is just because of anxiety. We cannot let anxiety take over or make us feel bad about ourselves!

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Please Forgive Me

I know I talk a lot about judging others and how we should all try our hardest to avoid it. I have to admit though, that even I’m guilty of judging. Every time I hear someone say how they struggle with anxiety, I can’t help wondering how true it is – especially when there are no outward signs of them struggling.

I know this sounds horrible and many of you may never want to read this blog again. I’m not going to make excuses for myself. Yes I’m a human being and I think as human beings, we all have moments where we judge others, but that’s doesn’t make it okay.

First let me say that I’m not doubting anyone who says they suffer from anxiety. Rather, as a person who suffers from anxiety so much that it shows, I tend to wonder how bad a person’s anxiety can really be if I see no sign of it. Right away when they say they struggle, I sometimes think how I must struggle even more.

I’m not proud of this thought process. In fact, I’m embarrassed of it and ashamed to admit that I sometimes think this way. I know that some people are simply better at hiding their feelings and, really, whether or not there are outward signs of your anxiety has no bearing on how much you’re really struggling.

Still, I feel the need to apologize for these thoughts. Why? Because it’s not right to compare my struggles with others’. We all struggle in different ways and just because you may be able to tell that I struggle, doesn’t make my anxiety any worse or more real than yours. We all process things differently and we all have different symptoms.

I also want to add that whether your anxiety is something that others notice or not, it does not mean that you are weaker or stronger than others around you. Like I said, anxiety manifests for different people in different ways. Don’t feel like your anxiety or how you deal with it makes you weak. You are strong – far stronger than your fears!

P.S. Please understand that I know that just because you may hide your anxiety or be better at not showing it, does not mean that your anxiety is not as bad as mine or the anxiety of others. I merely meant that I can sometimes, like many others, be quick to judge and that I am truly sorry.

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