Things can get better

Sometimes I find it hard to believe how much progress I have made over the years since being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I have two things that have happened over the past few days that I want to talk about.

Dave received a Facebook message from someone I have not been friends with for nearly 3 years a few evenings ago. I have spoken about this person. She was one of my bridesmaids when Dave and I got married. But when I was at my lowest, she made my life even worse. She made me feel guilty, didn't respect my boundaries and only cared about herself.

I made the decision that I did not want or need this person in my life. So I was surprised to find out this person messaged Dave acting as if nothing was wrong, asking how we were and congratulating us as she (somehow) knew I was pregnant.

Dave worried so much how I would react that he got in touch with my sister. She reassured Dave that I am stronger then a lot of people realise.

My first response when Dave told me was to laugh. I can honestly say that I have not once missed the friendship. I questioned the motives behind her getting in touch in the first place. Plus, the message acted if nothing had happened when it was quite the opposite.

Dave and I both agreed to ignore the message and that he would block her on Facebook. I am so happy with the people in my life. My family have always been amazing. I have the nicest and supportive friends. I didn't see the point in trying to be friends with someone who made me more ill and turned out to be an awful friend when I needed them the most.

I know for a fact that this message would have triggered my anxiety and depression when I was still struggling. I would not have been able to stop ruminating about it, quite possibly had a panic attack and it would have made my mood come crashing down. I would have brought it up continuously with Dave. It has been quite the opposite. We have not talked about it since Dave received the message.

Yesterday I went for afternoon tea for a friend's hen do. In the past, I would have automatically said no to something like this. I used to actively avoid situations like this; too many people, being with people I didn't know, a busy place etc. The only person I knew was the bride. But I went and had a good time. I chatted away to people I didn't know and they were all lovely.

To think there was a time that I was suicidal, struggled to leave the house and was constantly anxious and my mood was low is hard to believe right now. I am proud of how far I have come. I want to stress how it has not been easy to get to this point. There have been a lot of tears, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and being honest with myself and others when it is not always easy. I can recognise if I am starting to struggle and do things to help myself feel better.

Chester Bennington

Like so many people, I was shocked and saddened to hear that Chester Bennington, singer of Linkin Park had committed suicide. 

For those who are into rock/metal music, we all have that one band that got you hooked. The band that opened your eyes and ears to music that completely speaks to you. For me, it was Linkin Park. 

When I first discovered Linkin Park they had only just released Hybrid Theory. At the time, I was a teenager. I was struggling back then with feeling of low confidence, doubts and anxiety. I know now it was more than your average teen angst. 

Finding Linkin Park helped me feel a sense of belonging; that other people felt like me, that someone could captivate perfectly my own thoughts and feelings. I was fortunate enough to have seen Linkin Park live on a number of occasions. It’s hard to describe what it was like singing your heart out with thousands of other people. It was beyond magical. 

I have been in that deep, dark place that Chester must have been. It feels neverending. At my worst, I would spend hours researching ways to kill myself including where I would do it. It was all consuming. I didn’t see a way that the darkness would leave. I really wanted it all to end as it was unbearable. 

I can’t remember how or when, but I decided that I couldn’t go on feeling like this. I felt I was just surviving, not living. Thanks to my amazing family and friends who supported me I got the help I needed. It was not easy. Addressing the deep rooted issues in my head is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. At times, I had to take myself out of my comfort zone and trust my therapist. It was scary and exhausting. 

I am not saying that life is now a bed of roses for me. It isn’t. But I can identify triggers or when I am starting to decline. I am more open with my family and friends when things are hard. For years, I hid my difficulties which I now know made things so much more worse for me. 

Things can get better. If someone had told me a few years ago how my life would be now, I would never have believed them. No one should feel like Chester, that suicide is the only option. Please find someone to talk to if you are struggling. 

I hope Chester is at peace now. My thoughts are with his family and friends. I am sure I am not the only one who is grateful to have found Linkin Park. Chester’s voice spoke to a generation and helped us during our worst moments. It is such a shame that he didn’t feel able to continue living when he had so much more to give. 


I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m close to something real. 
I wanna find something I’ve wanted all along. 

Somewhere I belong 

Linkin Park, Somewhere I belong

It’s still here

I haven’t been to the gym for nearly a week. The paranoid, self conscious part in my head is overwhelming. It gives me so many reasons to not bother going the gym. I know that retreating from the world makes my anxiety and depression worse. But it is so hard to find the strength to just get changed for the gym, let alone to actually go there. 

Being around people is draining. Yet I am not sleeping properly at night. My diet has gone to shit. My appetite isn’t great and I just eat whatever is easy rather than cook something nutritious. 

Coming to the end of my CBT has brought some horrible things that happened to me to come to the surface. Something I had repressed many years ago is in the forefront of my mind. I can’t think of anything that has happened for me to remember this event. But I do wonder if this is the root to a lot of the issues I have. 

I feel like an incredibly selfish person for being like this. Especially as my grandad is so ill. 

Social anxiety

For as long as I can remember, I have found that I struggle in social situations. A lot of people would find this hard to believe; I come across as chatty, outgoing and confident. But the majority of the time this is a mask. 

As you are aware, I have anxiety and depression. But until today, it never really occurred to me how anxious social situations make me. In other words, I suffer with social anxiety. Before today, I hadn’t really thought about my anxiety in this way. 

It was only during my CBT session this morning that I realised how high my anxiety is in regards to social situations. I brought up the issues I discussed in my last post about friends. I always worry before any social situation. Given the choice, I would actively avoid socialising altogether. The anxiety surrounding social situations has such a negative impact on my emotional wellbeing. My anxiety will tell me that I will make a fool of myself, that people don’t like me and will make fun of me/talk about me. I also get anxious in shops or talking on the phone. In my head, I am constantly telling myself what to say in these situations. I will then tell myself off if I feel that something has gone ‘wrong’ in a social situation.

I was shown a similar quote to this during my CBT session this morning:

  
I think this is true about me. I endeavour to make sure everyone else is happy and well. As a result, I end up feeling lonely. The mask I wear makes me appear guarded to my family and friends. It is so ingrained for me to appear on the outside that all is well with me. So is it any wonder that others don’t always check how I am or assume that I am doing ok? 

My mood has still been low. I would go as far as to say that it is probably even lower now. I worry that I am coming across as overly happy to compensate for my low mood. It’s just one worry after another…

New challenges

It was lovely to see my family on Saturday. My Mum, Dave and I took Walter to the park near my parents house in the afternoon.  Although it was cold, we had a nice time. In the evening, we went to a favourite Indian restaurant of ours. It was delicious!

My anxiety levels continue to be low and my mood has been ok. The focus during my CBT sessions is now on how I perceive myself. Incase I haven’t mentioned, I don’t like myself. This impacts on how I react in social situations. I regularly feel paranoid and continously analyse myself when out. I don’t like the way I look, I regularly engage in negative self talk, I am convinced that people don’t like me and I worry that I have made a fool of myself in social situations. 

Addressing these issues is proving more challenging than I thought it would. It is really pushing me outside my comfort zone. Due to my work commitments and my therapist having time off, I don’t have another CBT session until the end of the month. I have some work to be doing around the issues mentioned. I don’t feel confident in working on this without my therapist’s input. She has said to get in touch if I need to but I don’t feel confident enough to. 

On Tuesday, my latest blog post was posted on Defying Shadows. You can check it out here. I have another one due to be posted early next week that I am currently working on. 

A group of us from my gym are going to be doing an obstacle course challenge called Rough Runner in October. It looks like a right laugh. My gym instructor friend is going to do it with us, so I am going to ask her about the best way to train for it. I am also going to start being more strict with my diet too. 

As much as I love working with Faith, I do not love the early get ups. Next week she is off school as it’s half term, which means a week when I can get a few extra hours sleep 🙂 It will be strange though, as I will be going the gym in the evening instead of the day. But it does give me the chance to try the latest Bodyattack release. 

First Defying Shadows Post

This morning my first post was uploaded to Defying Shadows. You can read it here. It wasn’t an easy topic to write about, but I am glad that I did. 

My CBT sessions are going well. I have been keeping a diary of my days with a rating system for each activity and the pleasure I get from it. This has been useful in identifying situations that can trigger my anxiety. Last week I was asked to also make a note of when I feel anxious, what made me feel anxious and to rate it out of 10. It was interesting to see that most of my anxieties stem from future worries. I tend to feel anxious about things happening in the future, whether it is going the gym or spending time with friend. 

So this week’s challenge is to set aside an hour each day to worry. Instead of worrying throughout the day, I need to use one of my many distraction techniques if I start to feel anxious and worry about the issue during my set worry time for that day. 

I was highly skeptical of doing this. It was safe to say that I was anxious about doing it. But so far, my anxiety has been noticeably decreased! 

Not much else to update on really. The past two Saturdays Dave and I have spent time with friends, which has been nice. We are going out for an Indian with my family this upcoming Saturday. I am looking forward to it as we haven’t seen them for a few weeks. 

Friends

As much as CBT is helping, it is also bringing things to the surface that I am finding hard to deal with. 

During yesterday’s session, we looked at how I can cope with my extreme lows and suicidal thoughts. My therapist asked who I would get in touch with. This was a struggle to answer because I wouldn’t reach out to anyone in particular. Dave is the only one who knows about my suicidal thoughts. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. 

It then got me thinking. My friendships seem to consist of me being the shoulder to cry on during times of difficulty. When I meet up with friends it has usually been instigated as a result of a problem my friend is dealing with. I am more than happy to be there for my friends through ny difficult times. But it just seems that when things are going well for them, they don’t make much of an effort. It’s as if my only purpose is to be a listening, sympathetic ear. 

An example of this is a friend who has recently been having a tough time at work. She knows about my anxiety and depression so I understand why she has been opening up to me. We met up for coffee on Friday. She spent the entire time talking about herself and her situation. 

I know how difficult life can be. But even when things have been truly awful for me, I would always make sure to show my friends that I still cared about them. 

I know my friends don’t probably want to make me feel like this. But I feel like they use me. I don’t feel like I have many friends as it is. Surely a friend would want to spend time with me whenever, not just when things aren’t going so well? 

I wish I wasn’t so sensitive…