I’m struggling with anxiety and depression and my life has been turned upside down.
I feel vulnerable and I don’t know what to do with it.
I’m a guy. I’ve been raised to be in control and in charge. And right now, I’m neither.
I don’t trust myself. I’m missing work, I’m not doing anything productive at home. No good to my wife or my kids.
So I talked to my wife, told her what was going on with me. And she helped me come up with a plan. I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to fix this.
This is what she helped me come up with:
Be present. I’m not going to let myself get carried away with my racing thoughts and pitiful feelings. My focus is going to stay on the present moment.
In the present moment, I can only do what is right in front of me. My thoughts and feelings are going to come and go and I can’t do anything about that.
What I can do is pay attention to where I’m at – if I’m home with the family, then I should be present with the family. If I’m at work, then I will be present at work.
If I’m mindful and present with everything I do, I won’t have the time to dwell on the thoughts and feelings that have been haunting me.
Do something. When I’m at work, this part isn’t all that difficult. At home it gets a little trickier.
It’s easy to get sucked into what’s on tv, even easier to sit on the laptop scrolling through Facebook for hours, “trying” to keep my mind off things.
Finding something to engage with, whether it’s doing some writing, reading a book, or helping out around the house, is the healthier way to get through the day.
Thoughts and feelings never stop, but I don’t have to pay attention to them. Staying active can help me do that.
Compartmentalize. I’m real good at dwelling on how I’m feeling. I can spend hours on end just thinking about how I’m doing, how I’m feeling.
By compartmentalizing my thoughts, by restricting myself on how much I can consciously think about the way I’m feeling, I can limit how much exposure I have to my negative thoughts and feelings.
Doing this will require a good deal of mindfulness work, but I have done it before and been successful with it.
When a negative thought or feeling surfaces, I need to ask myself, “What is this?” The answer to that question goes something like this, “It’s just a thought, a feeling, and it will pass.”
By consciously questioning and redirecting myself, I can remain in a place where I am observing my thoughts and feelings, but not attaching to them.
Make no judgements. What happens is just what happens. I don’t have to assign judgement or feelings or anything to it.
Attaching a story to an event makes it stick in my head in a different way. It becomes part of the story I tell myself about myself.
That means if I’m associating the way I’m feeling lately with the idea that I’m getting worse again, I’m more likely to keep thinking I’m getting worse. That idea freaks me out, which would cause me more anxiety, and could easily start a downward spiral.
Keeping judgement out of my thought process will help keep me more level-headed and grounded.
I’ve used all of these tools at one time or another in the past – and they’ve helped. So I’m stepping back out into the world armed with these tools again…and this time I’m going to use them all together.
I’m determined not to let anxiety and depression keep me down. With my wife’s support and this plan in place, I’m confident that I’m taking steps in the right direction.
Author Bio – Jason has suffered from depression and anxiety for over twenty years. He writes to bring light to mental illness and the ways that those who suffer from mental illness can work to improve their lives. You can reach Jason via Facebook.