A Walking Declaration of Everything I Couldn’t Get Right

Am I going to be in therapy my entire life?  I have been going on and off for 17 years, and although there are things about me I have a much better understanding of, I don’t feel any better, anymore confident, any less anxious, any more mature.  I still cry.  I still take everything personally.  I still lash out.

I feel like I haven’t found that one underlying reason that I am the way I am.  EMDR has helped with specific phobias and fears like vomit and letting other people drive me, but this self-loathing, inability to make a decision, fear of abandonment never gets resolved.

Do I just live with it?  Is there a magic formula?  Is it truly day by day?  Will I never wake up one day and realize that I get it, and now everything will be great?  Am I meant to?

Is this where I practice acceptance?  Is this where I take the concept of no positive or negative?  Things just are what they are with no value, no judgement.  Sometimes that sounds so depressing, so boring, so just existing.

I am going to a workshop on cultivating contentment in July, so maybe that will provide some guidance.  I worry, though, about contentment turning into complacency.  I told my current counselor that I am worried that if I become content and accepting of myself, that I will stop trying which will lead to backsliding.  Backsliding into what?  Gaining more weight than I already have?  Becoming more of a selfish bitch?

My mom, friends, and counselor tell me that I need to relax more, but the thing is that I really don’t do as much as I could.  I let my anxiety overwhelm me to the point of exhaustion, and then I get lazy.  When I do accomplish things, I do it in a hypomanic frenzy because I don’t know how long I’ll have the motivation or energy to complete tasks which is often what people see which leads them to believe I can’t relax.  They don’t see all the time I sit on my phone while my 2-year-old watches Bubble Guppies or check Facebook at work.  I could spend more of my lunch breaks taking walks to increase my exercise.  I could create more interactive activities for me and my daughter that will help her learn and cultivate her own creativity, but more often than not I take her to playground and just watch her or put on Bubble Guppies.

Is that the anxiety speaking?  See, it’s cyclical.  I worry too much, and then don’t do anything.  I am paralyzed by the fear of doing something wrong and then the exhaustion that comes from my brain never turning off.

So back to therapy I go.  Back to rubbing on essential oils and yoga (when I don’t make an excuse not to go) and meditation (if I can stop my brain from analyzing whether or not I’m doing it right).

There’s Always Some Reason to Feel Not Good Enough, and It’s Hard at the End of the Day

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shift-mind/201307/low-self-esteem-missed-diagnosis

I have very little confidence and very low self-esteem.  I wonder if this is due to the anxiety, life experiences, or how I was raised.  So what does a good little anxiety-ridden girl do?  I Googled it, of course.  The article above poses the question in reverse.  Are we as a society over diagnosing anxiety when it’s our low self-worth that is manifesting as anxiety, depression, etc, instead of the anxiety causing low self-esteem?  The author of the article thinks so:

“I often see anxiety and depression occurring as a consequence of low self-value as well. A confident and secure relationship with your own self makes it less likely that you’ll suffer from these conditions (but, of course, doesn’t guarantee it). These afflictions can certainly exacerbate low self-esteem and mask the genuine source of the disorder, as they take center stage”

In the author’s scenario of the young man with social anxiety I see a lot of myself.  I don’t feel good enough most of the time.  I don’t like answering the phone or the door.  I rarely call people.  I’m not at the extreme this young man was, but I tend to isolate when my self-worth gets really low.

So what do we do?  EMDR to challenge our beliefs about ourselves?  Meditation for acceptance?

On another note, if because I know I overreact and feel easily hurt, do I give people more leeway than I should?  Do I doubt my instincts and initial reaction and therefore let people treat me in a way that makes me feel even more worthless?  I know I don’t end relationships.  I’m always afraid I’m giving up before I should or being too something.  Too selfish?  Too emotional?  Too dramatic?  So I stay in relationships that drain me rather than provide me with energy.  I stay friends with people that I dread talking to.  Then I feel worse.  Then I feel bitter.  Then I feel like I’m not good enough to have happy friends.  Friends that are fun.  Friends that want to hang out with me because I’M fun.  Because at this point I’m not fun.  I have become a friend that drains rather than provides energy.  It’s a downward spiral.  Everything with anxiety and depression leads to a downward spiral.

What does it take to get us to stand up for ourselves?  To have the self-worth TO stand up for ourselves?  Why don’t we believe we’re good enough?

Take no more. She practices her speech as he opens the door.

*I use “her” and “she” because I’m a girl.

How many of you feel like your partner doesn’t understand you?  How often do you and your partner argue because your partner tells you that you’re overreacting or that you need to “chill?”  How many of you feel hurt much of the time?  Worry that you’re paranoid?  Analyze every situation for fear of being caught off-guard by something unpleasant?

When a person has anxiety and her brain never stops thinking, she can never decide if the hurt she feels is warranted.  If she has been actually wronged or if it’s just her anxiety catastrophizing the situation.  She wants to be able to “just chill,” but for some reason she was specially picked by genetics or some higher power to have a brain that is in constant go mode.  Her brain MUST consider every option before making a decision for fear of missing something.  And even on that rare occasion that she can make a decision, she will still worry that she missed something and not be able to stop perseverating (I love that word) over “what if…”

I wonder if women that stay in abusive relationships have pre-existing anxiety or depressive disorders.  If one of the reasons they don’t leave is the consuming fear that they’re overreacting and will regret the decision because they’ve been told over and over that they make no sense, that they’re irrational.  I often find myself in situations (in various aspects of my life) that I think I should leave, but I don’t because I’m waiting for that one clear sign that is objectively, definitively wrong.  That no one could deny is wrong.  I rarely find anything objectively and definitively wrong.  Do we with anxiety put up with more assholish behavior because we worry that we’re overreacting?  Do some of the people in our lives know we’ll put up with it and act more like assholes because of it?  Do they know they’re hurting us?  Do they mean to hurt us?  I hope not.

I have no great wisdom. I have no answers.  So right now I do nothing, make no decisions, feel weak and worthless.  I re-post other, more inspiring blogs and listen to a lot of late 90’s/early 2000’s angsty female rock.

There’s So Much Left To Learn And No One Left To Fight

Keep in mind while reading this that I am fully aware of how absurd and totally counterproductive my thoughts are.

Last week I had a mini heart to heart with someone, and for the first time in a long time truly felt understood and not judged.  I was reviewing a case with my supervisor, and multiple times he commented that I was unusually quiet and wondered if something was wrong.  I denied anything being wrong.  After the case review we were randomly chatting, and he asked again if something was bothering me.  I stated that I felt that I can be annoying to my coworkers by talking too much and therefore was currently choosing to keep to myself unless someone wanted or needed to talk to me.  He stated he understood, but historically speaking, that strategy doesn’t work long for “someone like me.”  Someone like me being, in his words, a happy, bubbly person.  I may attempt to portray this personality to others, but, as my husband has told me, I am a very angry, resentful person.

Anyway, my boss basically said that attempting to keep to myself would most likely backfire on me because that’s not the type of person I am, and I was letting my fear of being disliked by my coworkers negatively impact my behavior and thoughts.  What we eventually got around to is that in my attempt to control my environment, I subconsciously yet purposely sabotage events and relationships essentially making everything I fear a reality.  When I said that I’m constantly trying to control situations because I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, he pointed out that most times there is no other shoe.  What’s more, if there is another shoe, am the one pushing it off the shelf.

I’m so worried that I’ll be caught off guard by something bad that I almost make it happen so that I have the control.  I’ll hurt me before you can hurt me.  Because if you hurt me, that will prove to me that I’m not good enough and I’m not worth NOT hurting.  So I sabotage everything good because of the paralyzing fear that it will go bad anyway.  Because I’m broken.  Or so I think.

But the thing is, I’m not.  Tonight while conducting a counseling session with a client very similar to me (anxious, self-sabotaging, belief of not being good enough) I had a mini epiphany. (Notice everything is “mini.”  Why is that?)  I’ve had this epiphany before, and I’m positive I’ll have it many times again.  I’m not broken.  None of us are really broken.  We may have flawed thinking.  We’re insecure, and we make mistakes, but none of these traits equate to brokenness.  They simply mean we are human.  As such, we are not perfect.  That is what it means to be human.

I am no less “good” than anyone else.  I may have a different thought process, a different work process, a different approach to life, but that in no way means that that other person is any better or any more “right” than I am.  In grad school I saw classmates stressing about papers and midterms.  I worried that I was not worried enough about these things.  My husband asked what my grades were.  When I told him my grades were A’s, he said, “Then I think you’re doing it right.  Did you ever think that the people who are so stressed are the ones that should change their approach?”  This doesn’t mean that my classmates were wrong.  It just means that I wasn’t wrong either.

Everyone is different, and everyone’s the same.  We all struggle just in innumerably different ways.  I will continue to make mistakes.  I will have many more moments of self-doubt, even self-loathing.  I will continue to drive my husband to the brink of lunacy with my clinginess and need for reassurance.

But I am not broken.  I am human.  And so are you.  And we are wonderful.

We Believed That We Could Change Ourselves, The Past Could Be Undone

I have this incessant need to have people like me. I insinuate myself into situations in order to have the most exposure to others, especially coworkers and friends of friends. I am annoying. I annoy myself. I worry that when two or more coworkers are talking in a whisper or low tone, they’re talking about me. I think often that I am purposefully excluded from work social happenings or friendships.
I have minimally attempted to leave people alone, keep to myself, only speak when spoken to or when I have a question or concern. Basically not try so hard to be liked. The adult me knows that if I just “chill out” ( as the hubs tells me daily) and stop trying so hard, life will be much easier and more enjoyable. Not everyone has to like me. And, better yet, it’s totally okay if some people don’t like me. “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” But needy teenager me is highly sensitive to and paranoid about rejection.
I was somewhat bullied in high school, except that’s not what it was called back then. It was just called high school. For most people, high school kinda sucks, but those people get over it. I’m a big girl now. I SHOULD be past that. I’m a married woman with a Master’s degree, a house, and a car. I have some good friends. I SHOULD NOT care about high school or coworkers or whether or not people like or include me. But I do. And, as my mother-in-law’s pastor once said, there is not a Book of Should.
So what do I do? How do I get adult me to have more influence over my behavior and thoughts than needy teenager me? I have no clue. I don’t believe in one ultimate solution or answer. So I meditate. I go to yoga. I take my meds. I try to keep to myself (mostly doesn’t work). I tell myself over and over that people don’t have to like me, and maybe if I stop trying so hard, more people will want to spend time with me. I stop seeking acceptance from others when I know I don’t totally accept myself. I stop believing that the decisions other people make have anything to do with me because I am not the center of anyone’s life except my own. I stop expecting unreasonable responses from people I know will never deliver, and I accept who they are because I want them to accept that this is how I am.
I have tons of self-help books that I’ve only partially read, but I hear they are good. One of them is “I Need Your Love. Is That True?” I attempt to implement the strategies I HAVE read in that book (about 4 chapters). But it’s a good question. Do I need your love? Probably not. I need MY love of myself. I need the love of my higher power, which I know I have. Before others can love and accept me, I have to love and accept myself. ALL of me.
We are human. Our neediness, clinginess, flaws, moods, mistakes, they are what makes us wonderful and beautiful. We are perfectly imperfect. Now as soon as I figure out how to start believing that, I’ll let you know.
P.S. As another example of seeking acceptance, I have my husband read most of my blogs before I post them.  I want him to read them and finally “get it.”  But he doesn’t, or more accurately he doesn’t get it the way I want him to.  And he won’t because that’s not who he is.  And I have to accept that and stop expecting him to suddenly be someone he is not.

God Help Me. Am I the Only One Who’s Ever Felt This Way?

I don’t remember the last time (if ever) I was able to focus on one thing at a time.  I’m sitting in a very useful training for my job, and the trainer is very good, but I’m also thinking about this blog, wondering if my coworker like me, figuring out the best route to the vet after work, and worrying that my eye sight is getting worse.  My brain never stops, even during meditation and hypnosis.  This is probably why I constantly have to pee so much at night, because my brain needs something on which to focus, and that’s the only thing on which it can focus.

This leads me to wonder how many people with OCD and Anxiety Disorders have co-occurring AD/HD.  How many of you have felt this way?  Have you felt that you couldn’t pay attention to one thing at a time?  Have you gotten distractedly fidgety in meetings no matter how interesting or important the topic was?

Because when a question pops into my head, I have to figure out the answer, I Googled OCD and AD/HD.  I found a really interesting article by Amitai Abramovitch, PhD, & Andrew Mittelman that after reading had me going, “duh.”  The biggest thing that I believe should have occurred to me being a Professional Counselor is that OCD is a disorder of Compulsivity while AD/HD is a disorder of Impulsivity.  This being said, the article states that 21% of children and 8.5% of adults have both.

So go here and read this article and let me know your thoughts and if/how you’ve experienced this:http://ocfoundation.org/default.aspx?id=3043  

What Helps? What Doesn’t?

So in the past seventeen years I have tried a myriad of therapy and self-soothing techniques to effectively live with the symptoms of anxiety.  In this blog I’m asking you to comment on what you’ve tried, what’s worked, and what’s been utterly useless in your journey to wellness.

The most effective strategies I’ve experienced have been EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and to some extent hypnotherapy.  I also take Pristiq 100mg which has been the most effective anti-depressant I’ve been prescribed.  I know many people that don’t believe that Pristiq works at all, but it works for me.

Strategies that have been less than effective have been regular talk therapy, couples therapy, Zoloft & Paxil, and distraction & avoidance.

So my hopes are that this post and its comments can be a forum for sharing our strategies in the spirit of helping each other.  We do not exist in isolation.  We are not “other”.  We are not weird.  We are not broken.  Please share, and let me know if this is helpful.