Back in Black, as AC/DC might call it

Today I find myself writing again. Each time I feel the urge to write, I wonder why? Why write now? Why skip so many months? What need am I filling with writing, that had previously been filled, but is now empty again?

I finally know: I can’t handle being alone with myself.

I titled this, “Back in Black” because I feel like I’m a sea-saw that’s suspended just above a black ocean, dipping into drowning darkness before swinging back up again. I know I am not bipolar, but I’m pretty sure I have the worst kind of anxiety out there. People with hypochondria or fibromyalgia, their minds seem to convince them that they are affected with every kind of disease and pain. My anxiety convinces me that I’m affected by every kind of mental disorder.

This is why I can’t handle being alone with my thoughts. Being alone means I have no distraction, no one to talk to, no one to help drive my thought pattern in a certain direction. My fiancé went on an overnight trip. I was fine last night, watching TV for, jeez, I don’t know, about 9 hours. Then woke up this morning, sick of myself for watching so much TV. So then it was just me.

And my thoughts.

My brain racks the files of my memory, look for the reason, for why I am feeling the way I do. In this process, my brain pulls out memory after memory, asking, “What about this one? That was pretty bad.” Until I have found every reason that could possibly make me dip back down.
But I am a person who is trying to get healthy, so of course, I google, ‘why can’t I be by myself?’ Turns out 63% of men and 25% of women would rather be electrically shocking themselves.
So here I am writing, because I’m not sure how to rig up an electric therapy shock device at home. The end of the above link pulls us into the inevitable, “this is why people meditate.” Could I just say how tired I am of hearing that? Mediation! Jeez! But they’re right. Meditation would help me practice controlling my thoughts so that I can handle being alone. Writing will have to work for now.
Coping skill #1: Avoidance, through social life, tv, and writing.
Coping skill #2: don’t have one.

Losing track of time…

It’s July and I’ve just updated all my apps, realizing that I haven’t been on WordPress for God-knows-how-long! It’s funny how time flies by, how we forget, how we ask, “Where’d the time go?”
It’s strange that I should do so. In addition to my anxiety, I’ve recently been diagnosed with moderate ADD/ADHD and a little of OCD. I am obsessed with time. (And right one, obsessed with italics as well).
I’m obsessed with being late, being on time, being fashionably late, being too early, what time I’ll fall asleep, how many hours of sleep I’ll get, how many hours I need, how many hours I worked, how many days till whatever, and that’s just the short list. Time is a huge trigger for my anxiety.
But I grew up that way, and wonder how much of my time obsession is anxiety, nurturing, or cultural. Every time and I mean EVERY TIME my parents prepared us for a family outing of any kind, my parents fought. Viciously. Screaming, name calling, sometimes even tears. We left the house each time feeling very anxious about the horrible behavior that we all had just witnessed and arrived to our destination, determined to hide such behavior and act as though no one was upset or negatively impact. Play the ‘happy family’ part. Ugh, horrific!
My fiancé and I engage in somewhat similar behavior, but we realized what we were doing and have been working on it for that last few years. I’m still anxious regardless of how we interact, but my anxiety’s impact on my fiancé is much less. We ‘use our words,’ as he likes to call it. Imagine Anchorman, the movie, and “loud noises.” I usually yell, “I’m feeling anxious!” Followed with, “I need you to give me space for the next 20 minutes. Don’t come into the bathroom!” To which he responds, from downstairs, so he’s yelling, “you’re making me feel anxious and I don’t like it.” It goes back and forth a bit, intermittently, until we either stop talking altogether because we’re not resolving any anxiety or until we’ve both accepted each other’s feelings. It doesn’t always work, but we’re trying. And God knows I don’t want to be like my parents.
In reflection, I think perhaps my lack of writing has nothing to do with time flying by, but has everything to do with my anxiety. “I don’t have time for blogging. What if it makes me better? What do I do then? Does it really matter, is it really making be better? I don’t think so.” That’s my rabbit hole thinking. And another topic altogether.

Today Is Not Your Day…Tomorrow Doesn’t Look Good Either

I can remember complaining to my mom when I was little, maybe 12 years old, about the bad day I was having. She responded by yelling, somewhat overreacting, with, “So what? You might have a bad day, a bad week, or a bad month. You might even have a bad year. So what?” Her reaction horrified me and stays with me to this day.

Today was a bad day. I woke up late, my work day was crap, I wasted my time, and got nothing of worth accomplished. On my way home, I felt like crying and then later crawling into a hole to die. That’s how quick my thought cycle went. Shitty day = death. Then, knowing that suicide wasn’t a real option, I began racking my brain, looking for something to get a grip on. That’s when I thought of what my mom had screeched at me that day. I had a bad day, and yeah, it was probably going to be a shit week. But seriously, though, so what? So what I had a bad day? Does it really matter? So what I woke up late, right? Is it really the end of the world? So what if today fucks up my entire week. Those people in the Philippines are having a super shitty week.

I had a bad day, so what….that means is I had a bad day and I’m in a bad mood from feeling like a failure. That doesn’t mean tomorrow has to be bad. A bad day just means the day’s events went much worse than what I had planned on. A bad day doesn’t mean I’m an epic failure or that this day has power over tomorrow or the rest of my life. I can make different decisions tonight to make tomorrow unaffected from today as much as possible.

But let’s say tomorrow turns out to be shit and so does the rest of the week. I have three big projects to get done this week and right now, there’s no way I’ll be able to get them all in on time. But, so what? I won’t get fired. I can turn the projects in late. My boss won’t be pissed, she’ll understand. She knows I’ve taken on gargantuan tasks this year in order to develop myself professionally and she’s cool with cutting me some slack because of it.

Let’s say I do my best and the rest of December still turns out to be shit. Well, work is what makes my day shit and I have a two week vacation coming at the end of December. So I can just try again next year. It is what it is. I have had bad days, weeks, months, and even the last two years have been shit. But having a bad day doesn’t mean I’ve had a day without progress. I don’t have to chalk up a bad day as a wasted day, but could take it as a lesson learned.

This is my coping method: minimizing my experience of my bad day. In all reality though, in the big scheme of things, having a bad day doesn’t really matter. World peace, ending hunger – those things matter. Having people who love me -that matters. Sometimes, I imagine that aliens or God or whoever can watch earth like a reality tv show. I think about how bored they must be to consider my silly human life made up of 9 to 5s, taxes, laundry, and dog walking. And then I feel better.

Breaking Out of the Depression Cycle

I googled this post’s title yesterday and it motivated me to write. I have a mix of depression and anxiety and probably a few other things. It doesn’t really matter what I have, but how I get better.
I have spent most of the weekend lying in bed or on the couch or on the living room floor, avoiding all of the things I need to get done and agonizing over the consequences of my choice to be lazy. I know, technically, that I’m not being lazy. But I have this thing about being perfect and if I’m not being productive, then the obvious opposite is being lazy. So, I’m laying on the living room floor, in my bathrobe, stretching out the acceptable morning laziness into the afternoon, knowing that I’m in the middle of a depression dump, and literally thinking, “oh well.” Nonchalance is natural characterization of my depression. Most of the time, I really just don’t care. But later, when the situation disallows me from being stuck in the thick of things (such as work), I’m kicking myself for not using my time more wisely and get things accomplished.
1st step of cycle: I don’t give a shit. I don’t feel like doing anything and it’s okay to just watch tv for a little while.
2nd step of cycle: I’ve been watching tv for four hours now….is that bad? Maybe I should get dressed and do something. Naw. I shouldn’t make myself feel bad.
3rd step of cycle: fuuuuuuuuccckkkk…..all I’ve done today and yesterday and last weekend is watch tv. I’m going to have a shit week at work now. Maybe I need to quit half of the jobs I’m doing.
4th step of cycle: try to kick myself into gear. This usually doesn’t work, then Monday morning comes, I go to work, and the self hate cycle starts all over.

So here’s what I’ve gleaned from dr. Google this week (minus the go exercise, eat better, sleep more crap solutions):
1. When you’re depressed, it’s OK to “behave as if you are enthused and stop saying how difficult everything is,” Bea says. I don’t know who Bea is, but she’s on WebMD, so she must be great…either way, I know I can’t stop complaining and focusing in how hard everything is. I’m stuck between ignoring the difficult things and potentially avoiding my stressors, or ignoring the difficult things and just faking it till I’m making it. It’s the overwhelming feeling of “I can’t do this” that is so hard to fight. And I only feel better about my insane to-do list when I’m angry…not really the best path to take. But I can definitely try to stop bitching, at least at work.
2. Denise Mann, WebMD, “When you are in the throes of depression, it’s hard to summon the energy to do just about anything, especially exercising, re-connecting with friends and family, and eating a healthy diet. Even taking your medication may feel like a chore.” This statement just feels good to have my feelings acknowledged, even if it is inadvertently. It also helps take the guilt away a bit. This isn’t me being lazy, this is depression. What I’m feeling isn’t irrational, it’s a symptom. When I can separate myself from what I’m feeling and let go of the responsibility of feeling this way, it’s easier for me to take on a solution. I know it sounds a little like a “I’m not the problem, it’s someone else’s fault” type of attitude….but who cares at this point? The solution is all that matters.
3. I found a website with thought exercises -http://www.depressionisachoice.com/depressionisachoice/exercises/seeit.html. I’m not too interested in these right now, but maybe I will be later. It’s hard to give it the good old college try when you feel like everything is bullshit.

The internet doesn’t really help me feel better, but the act of searching for an idea or help and then the response of “this is dumb” is a little self-motivating for me. It makes me not want to be who “they” are referring to; isn’t it annoying how almost all of the resources on depression are talking about you, rather than with you? Ugh, I hate it. So in an act of rebellion, I’m going to go take a shower and leave the house to do something semi productive. Wish me luck!

To Socialize or Not To Socialize

I haven’t written for a month, even though I know for a fact that blogging helps with my anxiety and depression. I most often find myself blogging when my boyfriend/fiancé has decided to work late. That’s when I’m all by myself. Being alone in a room with myself really sucks.
My thoughts creep in, so I turn on the tv to see if I can distract myself, but I can’t. I only analyze and re-analyze my character flaws, going over social interactions in my head over and over. I’m pretty sure ALL of my depression and anxiety is related to my insecurities around socializing. What the hell? Where did that come from?
I think I might’ve grown up socially retarded. Seriously. I practically lived under a rock. I grew up in a town of about five hundred people, with about ten kids in my grade. So, you can imagine, when you only have one option for a group of friends…you make it work. But people in small towns are never the world’s most socially adept. Small towns typically consist of really old school farmers, or the descendants of farmers, the type of people who come from a time before there were large cities. And then there are the other people in town: the ones that society kicked out, the ones dodging the cops, the ones who couldn’t make it on welfare alone, so they had to venture out to the boondocks where rent is near free. Which am I? Well, shit, I lucked out! I’m a combo of both.
My mom and stepdad were primarily responsible for raising me and I lived with them most of my childhood. My mom- on the welfare side of things. Sad to think about, but it was the life of hard knocks for her. My stepdad on the other hand- I don’t think his mom, or grandma or any great grandparent ever lived in a city. They’re very much the type of people who “go into town” on Saturday to buy groceries. Just like something outta a Laura Ingalls Wilder book.
So, life in a vacuum, with playmates from the Island of Unwanted Toys, living to our own social codes and rules. And now I’m a grown up, living in a city of almost 75,000, near Seattle, WA. And I’m socially retarded.
I agonize over every potential interaction: will they talk to me? What should I say? Do I have to talk to them? Why won’t they talk to me? I try to bring my crunch of a boyfriend to social events, but I think that promotes my ineptness even more. My therapist has told me that the therapist she shares an office with is extremely antisocial. Well, she doesn’t use those words, she says that the woman ‘prefers to be with her flowers.’ That this woman never attends a social event in her life. (Now I’m wondering if my therapist is lying to help me see my antisocial feelings as socially acceptable).
So much of my time is spent thinking about what other people think of me! Do they think I’m a failure? Do they like me? Do they think I’m good at my job? Do they think I’m a good friend? Gahhhhhh!
I’m on the highest dose of Wellbutrin, and have Xanax on tap. I love my Xanax a little too much, so I avoid it 99% of the time. But how wonderful would it be to feel good, all of the time? Or at least most of the time?
Boyfriend’s home, adios!

On the Topic of Sleeping….here’s a funny story

I sleep like crap. You name it, that’s how I sleep it. Along with my hypochondriactic addiction to google, I’m pretty sure I have a number of sleep disorders! some of which are directly caused by my anxiety. And yes, hypchondriactic isn’t a word, but you get my point.
I might be a bit obsessive with my sleep, but it is the first to be attacked when my mental health goes arris. Not only am I somewhere between tired and exhausted at all times, I am also acutely aware of how much sleep I got the night before and how much sleep I’ll get later that night.
I wake up tired, I go to bed wide awake. I’ve always been a night owl, but now that I have a real job which is impacted by the quality of sleep I get, I worry about my inability to just get to sleep and then to actually get good sleep. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve slept through the night. Literally. From my time immemorium, I have maybe had one or two nights of sleep a year where I didn’t wake up at least once.
From the time I was toilet trained to third grade, I would wet the bed (I’m sure anxiety played a part somewhere in that). So my mom got into the habit of waking me up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. After third grade or so, I figured it out on my own and now my bladder is like clockwork: I wake up every night, at least once, to use the bathroom. When I ignore myself, I have anxious dreams about having to use dirty public restrooms. Yuck. But that’s not the funny part. At least, not in my opinion.
I’ve also always had night terrors and nightmares. Nightmares have subsided after I quit watching scary movies, but my night terrors have played a pretty regular role in my life. My most documented cases have been during my elementary years (my parents were keeping a better watch on my sleeping habits at this time and were more aware of what I did at night) and my current years/ mid-twenties (since I’ve lived with my boyfriend, who’s been able to witness most of my episodes). According to my parents, I used to scream bloody murder, run down our stairs, and race around the first floor of our house. I used to wake up sleeping on my parents’ bedroom floor quite a bit. Sleeping over at relatives’ was a handful as well. My grandma once told me that I woke up screaming that there were bugs on my little cousin Brock (“Bugs on Brock! Bugs on Brock!”) who had been sharing the camper bed with me. She told me she frantically searched for bugs all over my little cousin, only to find nothing and then to see me passed back out, silent and asleep.

My most recent episode scared the crap out of me, as I had thought that my night terror status has de-escalated itself down to just sleep talking. My boyfriend and I have just bought a house two months ago and it’s more than twice the size of our apartment. Two stories, two entrances, in a development neighborhood, blah blah blah. My boyfriend has told me most of this, as I don’t remember the majority, if any, of these events. I remember feeling terrified, but I don’t remember anything I said or did. So apparently I sat up straight in bed, eyes wide open, terrified look, and woke up my boyfriend, telling him that someone was in the house. He said I told him this repeatedly name and said that we needed to hide in the master bathroom. He was half asleep and didn’t know what the hell was going on, so he did what I said. After getting us both into the bathroom, me crouched down, I told him repeatedly to lock the door. There isn’t a lock on the master bath, he told me, so I then said that we would have to hide in our master clost, which extends off of the back of the bathroom. I hid it the closet, trying to get him to come in and lock the door. It was at this point that he decided I had no clue in hell and he told me there wasn’t a lock on the closet, and that there wasn’t anyone in the house. He crawled back into bed and I guess I followed suit. He didn’t remember to tell me until two nights later, when I tried to pull the same shenanigan.
That was the funny part.
I know night terrors are directly related to anxiety and sleeping problems are directly related to depression. But it seems like even on my good days, I still have crappy sleep. My short term anxiety manifests itself during the day, but I’ll always have long term anxiety, which seems to manifest itself at night. All sleep aides aside, is a good night’s slept really too much to ask?
Sweet dreams!

Getting Out of a Funk

I’m in a funk. My therapist thinks I’m depressed. I’m not really sad or anything, not more than usual. I just am either tired of EVERYTHING or really neutral about everything.
I feel like I’m manic right now, but my therapist says I’m not. Every session we have, she has to reassure me that I don’t have some other mental illness. Right now, I’m just banking on anxiety, whose best friend is depression and sometimes they play together.
Almost everyone is my family has a mental disorder. I say almost because I’m hoping there’s someone who doesn’t have a mental issue. My cousin is schizophrenic, my aunt bipolar, my two other aunts, grandma, and mom are all clinically depressed. And these are just the official diagnoses. Each of my aunts and my mom had addicts/alcoholics for the first husbands. The list goes on. So every now and then, I wonder which boat I’m in.
Back to the funk: I have so much to do! I am a highly productive person, I’ve piled on all these great things for work this year and instead of hitting the ground running, I more just fell off the back of the truck and laid in the mud….and didn’t care that I’ve been dirty, laying in mud for awhile.
Do you ever get those days? You get to work, thinking I’m gonna get so much done today, and then you kind of feel like, “Fuck it…it’s not really that important.” Then I get home and dishes and laundry are everywhere and I think, “yeah, fuck that too.” No motivation whatsoever! I mean, I want to get all of this stuff done, but more in an alla-ka-zoo-bibbidi-bobbidi-boo kind of way. Those fairies in sleeping beauty and the godmother in Cinderella really messed me up!
So I don’t really know what to do. My therapist wants me to up my dose of Wellbutrin for the third or fourth time or have me switch altogether. She said my body could be used to the meds and they might not work anymore. I’m not so excited about meds to begin with. I tried the following not medicated coping skills: got my nails done Monday, made a schedule out on Tuesday for the week with a to do list, went for a walk on Tuesday, went to bed at a decent time, woke up at a normal time, ate normal healthy food, and today I’m trying the over-caffeinated approach. The sleep/healthy food thing seems to be helping my mood, but not motivation. The manicure just helped me feel pretty and expensive. The walk just reminded me of how lazy I am and how the rest of America is a bunch of jocks. And the schedule just reminded me of what I didn’t get done that day.
Man, am I negative Nancy or what? The coffee helps a ton, but, as I’m sure we all know, increases my anxiety as it motivates me energy-wise. I feel like I’m at a catch 22: have anxiety and get all my shit done and together or feel neutral and let shit be. Both are impossibly unbearable. Ugh! Any ideas?

When Progress Doesn’t Feel Like Progress….

A year ago I started therapy. In session number one, my therapist immediately identified my extreme anxiety. I would describe my anxiety as my inability to cope with potential future events, due to my lack of ability to let go of past events. Depression deals with what has happened in the past, while anxiety plays a What If game with my head repeatedly.

Per my therapist’s recommendation, I started medication 9 months ago. I’m on Wellbutrin if you’d like to know; it works pretty well for me in terms a side effects. Also due to my therapist’s recommendation, I started blogging about 4 months (ish) ago. And then I sort of quit blogging for the past month or two. : /

So, I’ve been working on getting my shit sorted out for a year. And last night, I felt like I was back to square one, right on ground zero. I did the whole crying bit for an hour or two before passing out from exhaustion.

Not so ironically, yesterday was also my official first day back at work. (I’m a teacher). One of my best friends is on my grade level team, so I can go into his room and openly cry without feeling embarrassed. He knows about my therapy, but just realized that the one and only reason I’m even in therapy is because of my work. Granted, I’m responsible for my emotions, blah, blah, blah. But I realized yesterday, my career thus far has been killing off my mental health. Here’s a snaps shot:

Year 1: obsessively worrying about my students’ welfare. Talking about them nonstop at home. Having the student from hell that year, whose mother took complete advantage of me because I was willing to bend over backwards. Dumb rookie mistake. Also, I had one teammate (not my good friend from the previous paragraph) who was competitive with me to a fault and gossiped about me so much that other teachers reported it to me.

Year 2: going head to head with this other teacher. She was an insane, mean teacher after I got promoted above her. I spent the whole year dealing with her bullshit as I tried to lead our meetings with her arguing with every word I said. And, oh yeah, she kept talking about me behind my back. I had one difficult student who was beyond my year two skills and the two of us had a miserable year together.

Year 3: my friend got hired on as my teammate (we became friends after). He was great and helped me cope with our third crazy teammate. While her drama became the back burner of my stress, I had two parents who became my worst nightmares last year and I believe they did it intentionally. One parent was mad because I didn’t worship her “celebrity” son. The other was convinced that her son was being bullied by another boy (not the case), because her son was a great manipulator. He convinced me that his mom was abusing him on the first day. I do not miss those people at all.

Year 4: this year. My crazy mean teammate is gone. Those nightmare parents have disappeared out of my life, hopefully forever. And yet, I still got upset yesterday. My principal called me into her office to let me know that when one of my students found out she has me as a teacher, she bawled her eyes out. My principal said fix it now and cited the nightmare parents from last year. (Teaching very much has the “parent is alway right” mentality, whether we like it or not). Of course I made it right immediately, the girl adores me now (her parents wrote me a note saying so).
But I felt so torn apart when I heard this. I cried in my friend’s classroom for 45 minutes. I was so embarrassed. I felt so horrible, like the world’s worst teacher.

I am about to make my point here, so bless you if you’re still reading. 🙂
Long story short: no matter where I go, there I am. I can’t escape myself. I can’t handle any slight sign of failure or shortcoming. I obsess over whether or not people will “find out” I’m a horrible teacher. I obsess over what they’re thinking about me. Yes, I am a perfectionist. Yes, I’ve been criticized before and I handled it with grace. But for some reason, now that I’m in my career, I can’t cope with any mistake I might make.
This is my fourth year, with a full year of therapy behind my back. Why am I still crying hysterically over what people think of me?
I know I’ve made progress. But it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.

Falling Off the Wagon: The Game Everybody Plays

Everybody falls off the wagon and the last month has been my turn to be drug behind it. This phrase typically refers to addicts, but aren’t addicts just people trying to change a difficult, unwanted behavior? Be it mental health disorders, weird personality quirks, or addiction to drugs and alcohol, all of us have in common the fact that variable X has cemented semi-permanent pathways in our brains that consistently lead us down the path towards the unwanted behavior.
I googled a great article to get me up and running for this post and found some very relatable points. This post ends up being much more scholarly than I intended, but oh well, it’s a learning experience.

The director of Addictive Behaviors Research Center at UW is Alan Marlatt and he’s coined a medical term for falling off the wagon: abstinence-violation effect. Marlatt defines this effect as, “a form of black-and-white thinking. You blame [your failure] on internal factors that you consider beyond your control.” He also defines abstinence-violation effect as the Fuck It Effect.

Hmmm, well, that sounds about right. Although I knew consistent journaling helped my anxiety, once I missed a few days, I thought, “Fuck it.” Although I know exercise is scientifically proven to decrease my levels of anxiety, when I don’t run every day, I think fuck it. Fuck it, I’m a failure and I’m not going to get any better at this. Screw it, I can’t do anything about how I feel or how I look. My brain is messed up and there’s nothing I can do to control it.

Marlatt goes on to say that addicts (or in my case, anxiety addicts) believe that a drink equals a drunk. For me, a tiny amount of failure equals a complete failure. Here’s a stupid example: if a piece of paper has a small crinkle in it, I won’t use it because I think that the whole paper is ruined now. How’s that for exaggerated thinking? Why does my extreme black and white thinking lead me to saying screw you guys, I’m going home?

I don’t know the answer to that question. I can only assume that after spending years and years thinking that way, my brain is most comfortable driving in autopilot down the same familiar, well-worn path. It seems the logical, but difficult, solution would be to repave the way down new roads where I can handle my anxiety and my problems in a healthy way.

So when I fall off the wagon, instead of laying in the mud thinking how much a failure I am for relapsing into my old unhealthy ways, Marlatt suggests, “For starters, don’t berate yourself for being weak. Instead, tell yourself, “I made a mistake. What can I do differently next time? How can I learn from this?” This happens to almost everybody. It’s not just you.”

Don’t berate yourself for being weak: I usually fall into the thought pattern of “I’m never going to get any better, this will never go away, I might as well just cave in because I don’t have the strength to commit to the work it takes to get healthy.” If you had these thoughts and shared them with me, I would tell you that no one succeeds cold turkey. No one can commit to doing the same thing every day. The work to get healthy shouldn’t be an obsessive daily regimen; this method, in fact, is really unhealthy and only strengthens your brain’s resolve to stay on autopilot.

I made a mistake: these words don’t typically cross my mind. Instead, I’m thinking I screwed up completely because of my inability to succeed. If I’m walking and I trip on the curb (which happens often), I don’t say, “Oh, dammit! I can’t walk! Somebody get me a wheel chair!” Why can’t mistakes related to mental illness healing be considered in the same light? If you said to me, “I had another anxiety attack, I’ve been working so hard on controlling my anxiety and it didn’t work,” I would ask for a before and after picture. Before working on your anxiety, you probably had problems with it multiple times a day. And now that you’ve been working on it, your anxiety is only getting the best of you once or twice a day. That is progress and moving forward instead of backward is always a good sign of recovery.

What can I do differently next time? I had told myself that I was going to blog every day, work out every day, meditate every day, and a bunch of others things every day. That is so overly ambitious that I’m instantly setting myself up for failure. When I made those goals, my thinking was, I know I’ll be succeeding if I do all of these things every day. A little to much of that all or nothing thinking. My goals need to allow room for flexibility, room for slow, scaffolded growth. So, this next time around, perhaps my goals can be to accomplish one thing on my list a day.

How can I learn from this? Well, now I know that falling off the wagon is something that will happen, I should expect it to. But just because I fell off, it doesn’t mean that I have to lay there, moping about my inadequacy. It means I get the opportunity to find what triggers me to fall off the wagon and either steer clear of that trigger next time or hold on tight when it comes around again.

This happens to almost everybody. It’s not just you. Knowing that now makes me realize that falling off the wagon is part of the healing process. In order to get better, I need to fall off the wagon a few times. Falling off the wagon teaches me more about my anxiety and how to control it than staying in the wagon ever could.

Imagine that: a path towards mental health that entails you doing a perfect job the whole time. Would you even need to pursue coping skills and therapy if you could do it perfect to begin with? If you were doing it perfect, then you wouldn’t be here. And “here” is a good spot. Here is where you’re making yourself a better person, where you’re carving out true character made up of the ability to overcome.

So, I hope that the both of us fall off the wagon a few more times, just for the sake of learning how to get back on.

The article that I used in this post can be found at:

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1868965,00.html

Dr. Google and Little Ol Me!

I am writing today because even though blogging is on my to do list, I would much rather spend time with Dr. Google and find out if I have borderline personality disorder. Just a disclaimer: the rest of this post may purely be my hypochondriac brain/anxiety speaking or I may be completely rational in my explanation of my relationship with Dr. Google.

I watched an episode of “Obsessed” a few weeks ago about this women who wouldn’t leave her house because she was afraid she would get sick or die. She spent her days online, googling symptoms and trying to find out what illnesses she might have had. Her therapist reported that this woman’s form of OCD was obsessive thoughts about sickness.

Two A-ha’s/Oh Shit’s: 1. I guess I’m not the only one who likes to google and diagnose themselves instead of going to the doctor. 2. I guess my therapist was correct when she said I have OCD tendencies that could get out of hand if I didn’t get it under wraps. I didn’t realize the obsessive compulsions could just be thoughts.

This got me wondering how many other people with anxiety or other health issues worry incessantly about their health, be it mental or physical. I don’t know why I do this exactly. Maybe it is because the mental health world is still pretty new and vague in their diagnoses that I’m afraid I may be misdiagnosed. Maybe it is the way most therapy plays out, where they don’t tell you what you have. I don’t know. Maybe I’m worried about being different.

Anyways, I spend a lot of time googling different symptoms. For instance, and this may be TMI, I found a freckle in a certain spot and googled it…..then 30 minutes later I felt like maybe I should go into the doctor to see if I have vulva cancer. My boyfriend laughed at my suggestion, and because he is a good judge of when to freak out, I followed his lead. But then again, don’t people speak out about their cancer so that other people can get early detection? So, that pretty much sums up my obsessive sickness thought cycle.

I think I will still google borderline personality disorder though. Wish me luck! 🙂