My name’s Jason. I’m 42 years old and I’ve suffered from issues with depression and anxiety for the last twenty-two years. A few months ago I was hospitalised in a mental institution because the suicidal impulses I was experiencing were becoming stronger and more uncontrollable. I’ve been out of work from my warehouse job for the past three months. This is the third time I’ve had to take a leave of absence from work due to my mental illness in the past three years. I have to take five different medications to help me deal with life. I’m filing for bankruptcy because I quit a high paying job last year because I couldn’t handle the stress. I write about depression and anxiety for a blog from England.
That is my story. One version of it at least. And every last miserable little bit of it is true.
But I’ve been thinking about stories lately – I’m a writer, that’s what we do. And I’ve been thinking about my story in particular. I’ve been looking at ways I can change it, things I might do to make it happier. Make me feel like I’m going somewhere. So I thought about it and thought about it. Typed some stuff on the computer and then held down the backspace key. I did that a lot of times.
I thought about it some more, read some older stuff I’d written, and then it hit me. I don’t have to change my story, I just have to change the way I look at it. So let’s try this again.
Hi, I’m Jason. 42, married for fifteen years, father to three beautiful girls. I’m a writer. I write a couple of times a week for a new and growing website, www.dailyzen.co.uk, and I’m also in the process of writing a book based on my experiences with depression and anxiety, from which I’m currently in recovery, but things are going pretty well. I just went to my first-ever comic-con last weekend with my wife and kids and we had a blast. This weekend I’ll be running a 5K race with them and I’m excited about that, too. We’re in the process of getting ready to move, we’re filing for bankruptcy to get a clean start from all my issues. The new place is nice, it’s closer to my full-time gig which I’m returning to next week. We’re going to save for a few years and then move again, so my kids can graduate from the high school we want them to. We’ve got a lot of opportunities going our way, and I’m excited about the future.
That, too, is my story. Every bit of it is also true. But it sounds like a whole different person talking, doesn’t it?
All it takes is a shift in your perspective to help you change your story. I didn’t make wholesale changes to my life, I didn’t change my religion or become a vegan. I just changed where I was standing in the room.
Shifting perspectives of myself allowed me to change my focus from the sad, depressive facts about myself to the energetic and opportunistic facts about myself. That change in focus changes the story that I’m telling myself about myself. If I choose to look at all the negative aspects of my life all the time, I’m going to have a pretty negative story to tell about myself. If I choose to look at what’s positive in my life, I’m going to have a much prettier picture of myself in my mind.
Whether we realize it or not, we’re constantly telling the story of ourselves to ourselves. How we identify ourselves (depressed vs. writer), what we talk about (medical history vs. current events) and how we address change (quit job vs. clean start) all play a role in the pictures we paint of ourselves.
Shifting perspectives also makes it easier to make major life changes. Instead of saying, “I have to go on a diet,” we can say, “I’m choosing to eat healthier foods.” Making a change your choice is a very powerful thing for a person to do.
So, choosing to change your perspective on yourself can be a powerful tool in changing your story. It has helped me overcome a great deal of anxiety and anguish over my struggles of the past few months and of the bankruptcy process. It hasn’t changed any of the facts, but it has helped me take control of the situation and my attitude toward it and myself.
That, in itself, has been life-changing for me.
Author Bio – Jason has suffered from depression and anxiety for over twenty years. He is a regular writer over at www.DailyZen.co.uk and can be contacted at: https://www.facebook.com/jason.large.12?fref=nf