Anxious, Depressed? Do you want to be well? Hell yes!

Of course I want to be well.  But why is that just when I was starting to make real progress I ended up with depression?  If I’m brutally honest, I’m frightened of being well.  For about 30 years I’ve been anxious (all my teenage and adult life) and I’ve had a few bouts of depression of various degrees.  I also don’t really have a picture of what it would like to be well, so I can’t work out how to get there.

It reminds me of when I was a dancer and was trying to learn to do a grand jete en tournant.  Big leap turning round and ending with leg up, like so…[by marijntje19, YouTube]

I was making a hash of all attempts and then told my teacher that I did not have a picture of what I was trying to do. She then gave me two pictures of the first and second part of the movement and I could then start to learn (though I have to say I was never quite as good as the dancer above!)

This balletic metaphor also applies to beating anxiety and depression. How can you be well if you don’t know what well is? And even if a bit of you does know how to be well wouldn’t it be scary to leave the familiar cosy ways of being, even if they are difficult sometimes? I recently read a book quote on the Depression Alliance website which applies as well to anxiety as it does depression:

“I’m convinced that the major reason why people with depression stay depressed despite therapy, medication and support from loved ones is that we are simply unable to imagine an alternative. We know how to do depression….Depression becomes for us a set of habits, behaviours, thought processes, assumptions and feelings that seem very much like our core self; you can’t give them up without something to replace them..’

Undoing Depression, Richard O’Connor PhD, Souvenir Press

The above quote is about depression, but equally applies to anxiety.  How easy it is to underestimate the size of change.  It is sometimes said (glibly)

‘One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.’ Andre Gide (1869 – 1951)

It’s so easy to say, but actually loosing sight of all that is familiar is rather more difficult to do.  Which is why I have come to the conclusion that change for me needs time and gentleness.  Time to learn new ways of being to try things out and to make mistakes but learn that mistakes aren’t terminal. It is probably a rather long time since watching Bambi, (which belongs to Disney) but here is a clip from YouTube which might appeal to the more playful bit of our natures.

I wonder if you actually allowed yourself four whole minutes off worrying to watch it? Do we want to be well? Hell yes, but gradually.

Anxiety and Depression, Overcoming it All!

Photo: Sigurd Decroos

Welcome to this site, which aims to share ideas and actions that have helped myself and others on the road to overcoming anxiety.  This is a chronological account and recently I’ve been a bit depressed, so there are some recent posts about that.  If your looking for info on anxiety you might like to try some of the most popular pages:

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Beating anxiety, one day at a time

Photo: Steve Knight, stock.xchng

Time for another progress update… looking over the last month I’ve realised that there have been lots of helpful new things, although at times it’s been difficult.  I continue to find writing this blog is helpful, because when the going gets tough I can look back and see what I’ve learnt. Here is a summary of the things the things that have helped recently:

  1. Worrying less means a big change, and that takes courage and perseverance.  At times it feels like an uphill battle so can help to look back and remember the steps you have taken.
  2. Reassurance from other people can stop you getting better, but in my experience it helps to reduce it gradually and with professional support.
  3. If you have intrusive thoughts (frightening/abusive thoughts that pop into your head unbidden), it’s suggested they tend to be about thoughts that you think are acceptable.  For me being kind to myself about things that might frighten me has meant that most of my intrusive thoughts have been banished.
  4. I’ve learned that much of my worry is because I find it difficult to tolerate uncertainty.  However, I am beginning to develop a capacity to be more comfortable with uncertainty, but gently allowing myself to plan less in advance and make more spontaneous choices.

So onward to the next changes!

The crossroads: beat anxiety or give up?

Photo: Rore_d, stock.xchng

I’ve been working to beat my worry for five months now, and have made real progress, my generalized anxiety disorder scores have halved, which should be great.  The trouble is that there is now a hole in my life where the worry was, it’s full of strong negative emotions, particularly fear and sadness.  So now how have a diagnosis of depression too!  I am very fearful of depression for two reasons: my father died having been depressed and my own mood, which seems sometimes to plummet downwards at an alarming rate.

So what next? Shall I go back to worrying because it is better than being depressed?  It’s a case of being caught between a rock and a hard place.  At the weekend I had a bit of a crisis and was not sure how to carry on, my mood was so low; but I held on my finger nails.  Here the things that helped me handle depression, in case it strikes again:

  1. Keep a picture of those who you love near you, it doesn’t matter how bad you feel, they still do love you
  2. Tell people you trust how bad you feel (accept help)
  3. Go and see the Dr and if he says more meds give it a go
  4. Be very, very kind to yourself
  5. Ignore all plans and things you ‘ought’ to do
  6. Put make-up on and don’t wear black or grey
  7. Eat chocolate, especially as a reward for doing something
  8. Take up gardening, preferably planting something beautiful
  9. Be outside, go for a walk, or just stand in the fresh air for a while

As ever, this list is not advice, some people with phobias about being outside, or those who don’t like chocolate would definitely not find the above helpful. But if you do have things that help you when things are tough do post them below.  I think the most helpful advice I’ve had is simply to be kind to yourself.

I once went on a leadership course in which there was a seminar on transformational change (that is a total change of state, rather than a gradual incremental change). One of the things that struck me, was that if you embark on transformational change, at some point you will want to give up.  It’s part of the process.  Beating generalized anxiety disorder, which is all-pervasive is asking for true transformation and, therefore, it’s no wonder that I should want to give up. But somehow I’m not going to.

‘When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.’ Franklin D. Roosevelt

[I looked for a quote to reference the ideas about transformational change, but couldn’t find one, so if you do know it please do post it – many thanks]

Riding out the worry storm

Photo: Bethany Carlson, stock.xchng

Currently having a melt-down. I’ve discovered that my anxiety has somehow put a lid on some difficult emotions. I’m hanging on in there in the (faint) hope that if I don’t give up I will find a better more healthy way of being.

In the mean time if you would like to read about how helpful cognitive behavioural therapy had been hitherto, please do check out my new page,  which is rather cool.  If you want to click on it lots of times, that will make me happy!