Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last week I posted: Depression hits. Now What? = Love Yourself! I discuss the importance of self-love and the ability to treat and love yourself like you would a child or your best friend. This week I want share some of the strategies which help me with coping with certain fears, thus, often removing the feeling of overwhelm when I begin a new task. Overwhelm, really makes everything bigger in perspective, so I need to break down tasks into smaller steps.
Dealing with depression and anxiety has been a challenge and a huge awakening at the same time. (see: Let The Truth Be Known: I Suffer from Depression) I realize, after some great reflection that depression, anxiety and panic have been part of my life since my early 20’s, maybe even earlier (according to my therapist) However, with this latest onset, I have discovered self-loving ways to overcome some of the challenges I face. These self-loving ways are things I didn’t do in past recoveries.. I mean yes, I started, however, I never took them as serious as I do now. There is the little voice inside of me (which I call my higher self) which guides me through. This “voice” is beginning to replace the “negative voice” which ruled my life for 20 years. These following strategies helped me “unlearn” the old and experience new and loving ways to be gentle with myself.
The two (2) things I needed to work on (huge mountains) were: 1. Self-care (Taking care of my body and showering) and 2. Going out / socializing. These 2 things, if I didn’t pay attention to them, could send me into a deep downward spiral. Think about it.. Looking yucky would lead to more self-hate, and not seeking support or running errands would lead me to feel alone and my kids wouldn’t have food to eat. So, during my treatment, these two areas of my life need to have some sort of plan. A flexible plan.. but a plan.
Remember, if you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns! ~Allison Gappa Bottke
Plans help me shape my world. I for one, was never really good a making plans and sticking to them. Even with the post today, I had a plan to find some terrific article to back up my post, however, I cannot find a single thing which I find “inspiring”. Being too rigid does not work either. “Go with the flow within guidelines” is my new motto! If I were to stick strictly to adding “facts” from an outside source, it just wouldn’t work. This gives me some control over certain situations and help me feel safe. Just like one would devise an “escape plan” in case of fire, I devise an escape plan in certain situations. Take going out for example:
Lets say I must take a bus to go to an appointment. Taking the bus is quite scary, because this means I am going to be far away from “home base”. Home base, is my safe zone. So I usually devise a plan before I leave giving me a 100% right to change my mind at any time. Meaning, I give myself permission to return to home base.
The first thing I do is to make sure I have my cell phone on me. Then, I stash a $20.00 in my purse. This allows me to take a taxi home if ever panic really strikes. Then as I walk out of the house… I talk to myself. I give myself support throughout the journey. Last week, I had to do this and I told myself I had permission to get off at every stop. This permission allowed me to go all the way!! Get it! When I know I have a choice.. it eases my anxiety.
Choices, we all have. Giving ourselves the right to choose differently allows for freedom. So in the end, I always end up where I wanted to go, or do what I planned to do, because I had a choice! I didn’t feel like I was choking on “I must” or “I have to”.. I felt alleviated with “I can, but I can change my mind at any time”…
As for taking a shower, I now get in the bath! I prepare everything around me. I may even break out a few candles and some bubble bath. I wash my hair with clean water from the tap and rince. Giving myself this “motherly” love is exactly what I need!
You can Google “Anxiety busters” or Depression Strategies to find tons of strategies which will work for you.
Yet, the message here is. Give yourself choices. In most instances, you’ll stick to the plan. However, if one day you don’t, that is ok too.. since it is part of trusting yourself, you can take yourself back home. Just like a mom who promises her child she will pick him/her up right after the first day of school, keep those promises to yourself too! I know I did, and it makes things easier.
Its going out and taking a shower still difficult for me; OH YES! However, now that I have “escape plans” and “mothering techniques” these tasks are much more manageable..and will get even more manageable as my recovery continues.
Keep on moving and smile!