Control

“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.” – Charles C. Noble

We all have a desire to control our lives. We feel helpless when we feel like our lives are not in control, and the problem comes when we can’t let go of that control. The only thing we can control is our behaviors and actions. We can’t control other people, certain situations and their behaviors. Anxiety comes from the worry that we have because of the uncertainty of our situations. By letting go of our need for control, we can find some peace within our lives.

We have a number of choices when it comes to letting go of control. We can accept people as they are and let go of our need to ‘fix’ them. We can let go of the ‘victim’ role within relationships. Be strong enough to get your emotional needs met. Let go of your ‘shoulds’ for people and yourself. Should implies guilt and shame. Read more about Should here. See other people as having wounds, not faults. Realize that the only ‘failed’ relationship is one that you didn’t learn from. Often failed relationships are helpful life lessons. Choose to see the love and the good in other people and yourself. We also need to let go of a thirst for approval, super competitive-comparative mode (comparing yourself to others) and relying too much on other people.

You can understand more about yourself and where your need for control comes into play, by asking yourself two questions. What are three unhealthy habits in your life? And what are you willing to do to break these habits?

In the end, you have to remember that all we can change is ourselves. “It is as it is.” So if you’re having trouble remembering this, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. How much control do I have? What is outside my control?
  2. “It is as it is”. I’m not agreeing with or giving up on it, but I can let it go for now
  3. If I can’t change the situation, can I change the way I think or do about it?
  4. What can I do that is within my control?

 

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My Social Environment

I don’t do well in social environments in fact, I downright suck at them. I always feel awkward, like I don’t fit in. I never feel like I’m part of the group, but just hanging on by my fingertips.

Social environments have always been hard for me. I didn’t thrive, socially, in school. I usually had one or two close friends and many acquaintances. I remember times when I would be chasing after the popular group of girls, wanting them to accept me but never being accepted. This hurt, but I never considered it to be my fault. When I was younger, I just accepted it as status quo and I was ok with that. I had friends elsewhere and I never had to worry about having friends to hang out with.

As I grew older and entered high school, I never found my niche. I was involved, with my classes, with choir and theater, but I never quite fit in. It was the same story, feeling like I was on the outside looking in. I was never invited to events unless it was a group thing and while this bugged me every once and awhile, I was too busy for the most part to care. I may not have felt like I fit in but I was involved enough not to care.

College was a disaster for me. Everyone thought I would thrive in a college environment, at this point, I feel like I did everything but thrive. I feel like I crashed and burned. I had many issues with roommates and by the time I left college 3 years in, I hadn’t made any serious friends. In fact, the only thing I had done throughout college was lose friends. As I said, not a good experience for me.

Today, I have 2 friends, one of which is an ex-boyfriend while the other is my current boyfriend. I don’t know what they see that no one else can be I’m grateful that they do. My social environment still sucks. I don’t really get out, but then again I don’t enjoy doing the things normal 20-year-olds do, like drinking every weekend. But I do want to have fun. I want to hang out with people and do things, I just can’t find the people to do things with and I don’t even know how to go about meeting people at this point. I wish I could make friends but my depression makes that nearly impossible, so maybe if I get better, my social environment will change for the better.

100th Post

This is my 100th post.

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who reads this blog. While this blog is therapy for me, it is also written to inform and educate others regarding mental illness. Without you, this blog wouldn’t have a purpose.

Secondly, I would like to give some background on where I was when this blog was started versus where I am now. When I first started this blog, I was freshly graduated from outpatient treatment. I was writing not only as therapy, but because I was inspired. I wanted to inform and educate others. I wanted to share my personal experiences and take the stigma away from mental illness. And while there was some rockiness in regards to this blog (my two year absence), I have come so much further. I have learned so much and made great strides in my personal life.

While I should never have stopped writing, it was a necessary break for me. I need the time to separate from the friend who started the blog with me. The friend who walked away.

I hope to continue writing and educating others on this blog as I continue my own journey through depression and anxiety. I hope this blog has helped you and I continue to encourage you in your own journey with mental illness. I know it’s a difficult path, however you can make it through. Know that I am here for you and I am rooting for you just as I hope you are rooting for me.

Please note that for the future, because of time restraints I will be posting only once a week.

The Trouble with Psychiatrists & Doctors

Until my stint in outpatient treatment, I had my fair share of struggles with psychiatrists. I often felt like they weren’t listening to what I was saying. And out of the 3 that I had seen, the 5 different medications they had prescribed hadn’t worked.

With the initial psychiatrists I had seen, I felt ignored. You walked in for a 15 minute session, perhaps a 30 minute initial session and you talk to them. They ask you how you feel, and you give them some background history on your mental illness. At the end of that 15 minutes, they either up your dose, change your medication or tell you to continue taking it. This often frustrated me, because I would be told to continue taking something that I felt wasn’t working.

I’ll admit that a psychiatrist’s job isn’t easy. There are no tests that they can perform to find out exactly what medication you need to take for your illness. It’s all guess work based on what you tell them; trying to figure out which receptors in your brain are working overtime or are not working at all. But it’s still frustrating trying different types of medications and having them not work or getting viciously sick on them because of the way they are interacting with your body.

My previous therapist had heard so many complaints about psychiatrists and medication that she decided to go back to school to become an APN, or nurse practitioner. She felt that because she saw her clients weekly, it would be easier for her to prescribe a medication that would work for them. I think this is admirable because at the age of 50, she is going back to school and getting her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate to become a nurse practitioner.

Now that I’ve finally found a medication that works, I feel better. I’m not so down anymore. I’m glad I followed my doctor’s directives at the outpatient center and I’m glad that I’ve found someone who listens to me.

If you don’t feel like your doctor is listening to you or if a treatment plan isn’t working, speak up. Try and explain to them how you feel or, look for another doctor. You’re allowed to see other doctors. Find a fit that works for you and will provide the best treatment so that you can recover. Be proactive, it’s your health that’s at risk.

A Black and White World

Why do we view the world in black and white when there is so much beautiful grey?

This is a question I recently posed to myself. Oftentimes we look at things as good or bad, dangerous or safe, real or fake. Why do we have to put such black and white labels on things? Why can’t something just be; just exist?

There are times when the world can be seen as black and white, but most of the time the world is filled with grey and it’s that grey that we need to embrace. One suggestion is to attempt to rate  something on a 1-10 scale rather than call it good or bad. In this world, we have a need to neatly label something into a box and put it away. We can’t just let things be; there has to be reasoning or justification

I often find myself viewing my world in black and white. In fact, I find myself viewing my world in mostly black. I have a very negative outlook on my life and on things that happen in my life. When I get into a mood, everything becomes bad and I have a very hard time seeing the good or the positive. Even when my friends are pointing out the good in life, I’m knocking it down with something bad.

I don’t know why I view life that way. It’s a hard way to live your life, always being negative, but I don’t seem to know any other way. I need to learn to see the grey in life and maybe I’ll even start seeing the good. My life isn’t all good or all bad, in fact it’s mostly grey but I insist on treating it like it’s black. Hopefully I can one day get rid of this negative cognitive distortion.

Until then I just have to remember that we don’t have to pick sides. Life can be a little good and a little bad.

Trust

I have a hard time trusting people. I’ve watched so many people walk away from me that it’s hard for me to trust that friends are going to stay in my life. I wonder if it’s something wrong with me that makes people walk away. As I’ve been told, there can’t be something wrong with the entire rest of the world, so it has to be me. There has to be something wrong with me. Too bad I can’t figure out what it is.

Maybe my standards are too high. I think that friends should be there for each other no matter what. I’ve answered the phone before at 3 o’clock in the morning because a friend needed me. Why can’t someone do that for me? I think that friends should stand by each other through thick and thin. I only have two friends that I can count on, and even then I’m hesitant to do so. A part of me thinks that if I push too hard, or make too many demands, they’ll walk away and then I’ll be left with no one.

Maybe, a part of me pushes at people because I don’t expect them to stay. It’s almost like I’m pushing them to see where their breaking point is. Because I expect them to leave, I push until they do. Unfortunately, I’m still disappointed and upset when they do. I’m not sure why I push at people. I wish I wouldn’t though. I would like to have more than 2 friends.

I wish I could trust people, but they haven’t given me any reason to believe that I can. In many ‘friendships’ I feel like I have to do all of the work. I’m the one reaching out to them and trying to plan things. That seems to be something that they don’t reciprocate, so what’s the point of trying when they won’t do the same for you? I wish I could believe that my friends wouldn’t walk away from me, but so many have left me that it’s impossible to believe that. I wish I could figure out what the problem is, then maybe I’d have friends.

Reprogramming Me: My Issues & My Struggles

According to the doctors, I have ingrained personality traits that are causing my depression. This means that I have learned certain ways of thinking and doing things that are actually part of the problem. This basically means that I have to learn how to reprogram my ways of thinking and my outlook on the world. Here are a couple of things they believe I need to work on:

  1. Mindfulness
    1. I’m not very mindful. I’m constantly reviewing the past or worrying about the future, so I have a very hard time being present. I need to learn to stay in the moment and be mindful, to pay attention to what is going on around me and to what I am doing in the moment.
  2. Quick Fix
    1. I want a quick fix to everything. I don’t want to have to struggle for answers or solutions to problems, I just want them fixed immediately.
  3. Catastrophize
    1. This is one of a couple cognitive distortions that I have. I tend to view situations in the worst possible light and look for the worst possible situation to occur. You can read about Cognitive Distortions here.
  4. Avoidance and Fixations
    1. I tend to avoid situations that I don’t want to deal with and fixate on things I shouldn’t.
  5. Negative outlook and worst case scenario
    1. I tend to have a negative outlook on life and believe that the worst possible scenario will occur.
  6. Expectation for things to go my way, or the way I plan.
    1. I have an expectation for things to go the way I plan and for everything to work out exactly as I specify. This is often not the case, and I can get extremely upset when the plans I have made go awry.
  7. Fixation on connection.
    1. Because of a lack of friendships, I have a fixation on connection. I yearn to connect with people and make friends. Oftentimes this connection causes me more harm because I form connections quickly and often believe I have a close friendship with someone who may only consider me as a passing friend.
  8. I also need to explore why group social settings are so uncomfortable
    1. Despite my need for connection, I have a hard time thriving in a group social setting. I need to explore why this is the case. I yearn for connection, but feel uncomfortable in group settings. Why?

I also have issues with my primary support group (my family) which I have discussed here and problems related to social environment which I will be discussing in a later post.

Some of the ways the doctors and therapists have suggested that I work on these issues is by focusing on and accepting myself. I’m holding onto ideals and an old relationship with myself that is only hurting me now. By focusing on myself, something I’m not very good at, I can form a new relationship and connection with myself that will make me a stronger person, and help me fight depression

All of these problems are works in progress and I will continue to update you on my progress in my journey to mental healthiness.