A friend kept telling, “You can’t self-diagnose. Ever.” I respect his views and agree with him, but how far did I have to keep going before getting the point of saying “It may be anxiety”? I have felt as if something was ‘off’ for a long time now, and then in the past few weeks, it has aggravated. With all that was happening, it was unfortunate that I could not get the help I knew I needed. Trying all I could, I found some through resources specifically meant for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. So, maybe it is not GAD at all. But did I have the option to visit a professional and go through a battery of tests to disapprove that? I do not think so.
So what should you do if you think (or know) you need help but because of some reason, cannot gain access to healthcare? (I obviously recommend seeking medical help, but when you can’t here is a list.)
These were some of the tips that I followed:
Decided that I had to get better: It is easy to let days pass by as we worry and worry about not making any real progress. If it’s depression, it can be worse. No one has the strength to get out of bed when it hits, then how do you expect us to make an effort to feel better when life seems futile, right? Well, maybe for a while. But do you assume that a therapist would be able to treat you if you do not want to be treated? The same principle can be applied here. Until you find a therapist who can work with you, you need to do it for yourself. And remember, you’re never alone. There are a lot of people who care about you. You may not see them around, but they do exist. If you still need someone to talk to, shoot me an email and we’ll have a chat. I love meeting new people! Of course, I will not be able to offer any professional help but will try my best to be a good friend.
Accepted that I cannot control everything and that it’s okay: Anxiety can eat you up if you let it feed on your thoughts. I can get anxious about almost everything because almost everything is uncertain. It is important to realize that no matter how hard we try, we would never be able to control everything. So there really is no point being anxious. Though I am by no means good at it yet, I strive to be a better, a little more unafraid, version of myself every day. So no, I am not yet the smiling happy-dancing girl on the block with the widest smile ever. Just that now I believe it is not impossible for me to her on some joyous days. Just having the possibility to be happy is more freeing than I can tell.
Started a worry diary and journal: This one is especially for all the anxious folks out there. I mentioned using a worry diary (it is used to note down the things that worry you. Check out an example sheet here) in a previous post. It helps tons and lets you understand what your worries are really about. Sometimes when I am done writing, I actually look down at it and laugh at myself a little for worrying about something so impractical. It only sounds worrisome in your head. Period. When you put it down to paper, its significance decreases and your mind starts looking for solutions instead of focussing on the problem. A journal can be helpful for anyone to sort out their thoughts, and it can be an incredible companion if you suffer from a mental health issue. It works wonders. Even the time spent filing the pages in the binder, writing in the calendars, making to-do lists, or just writing down the things that inspire me, makes me feel much better. I believe a journal gives my mind something simple yet goal-oriented things to do when it feels scattered and worrisome. I use a six ring binder which makes it easier to shuffle the pages and add ones that speak to me. You can find one here.
Focussed on something productive: This blog, my self-publishing business, and daily reading. These three things have given me something to look forward to every morning. To look forward to without worry. I still worry if my business would provide the returns I expect, or if this blog will someday stop helping me with solving problems, and so much more. But there is more optimism than worry, and it makes me very happy. I was killing myself everyday working overtime for the last five months, and probably the only thing I learned worth remembering is the importance of self-care. That is what the reading time and this blog are for.
Do you have any tips to keep the mean reds away? (Yes, I love Breakfast at Tiffany’s.)
Yesterday while trying to publish my first book I realized something. I wasted two months (maybe more) on figuring out a process that I could have completed in 15 minutes. That’s >60 days of futile effort and procrastination because I could not figure out how to take the next step. After thinking I was an idiot for a couple of minutes, I moved on to regret, and now I feel a little wiser, a little regretful still.
But now what?
Often the thought of having ‘wasted’ time keeps me from moving forward. I still sometimes think of all the ‘shoulda woulda coulda’-s. For example, How great it would have been if I had started working from 10th grade when I had so much free time, or how amazing would life have been if I were a thousand miles away from where I currently am, or how great if would have been if I had just clicked a button two months ago instead of yesterday!
But none of it has happened. Yet, it does not mean it is essentially hindering my future. I am still working and blessed to be doing it now instead of starting out a year later. I am free and can choose to go wherever I want by myself. I figured out the right button to click yesterday so I am a bit better than I was at this. All this time spent wondering has not been really lost when you really think about it. It has just helped, minute by minute, to lead me to this moment. And in this moment, I am thankful.
Leaving regrets behind is perhaps the best thing we can do. Some science for you: In a 2010 study done by Xiuping Li and her colleagues at Singapore’s National University a control group was asked to write their regrets on a piece of paper (thus testing the effect of writing-it-down to help ease the worry) and another group was asked to write and seal these ‘regrets’ in an envelope- providing a literal meaning to the metaphorical ‘closure’. The group that sealed off the worries had a measurable upliftment in their mood compared to the group that just wrote its worries down. Li implies that it could be because these worries have been put “out of reach” once sealed.
It does seem like a great thing to do once your worries get too much, doesn’t it?
As mentioned in the previous post, I have been suffering from anxiety for quite some time now. It came to be one morning after a call with a friend. First there were continual sobs, then an agonizing pain that inevitably led to cries, and then shaking, breathlessness, and the urgent need to escape as my body felt it wasn’t under my control anymore. I was crying but had no control, I felt numb. I felt like I was dying. Things flashed in front of my eyes, all things that I did and did not do mixed with a cascade of fears overpowered my senses. It was bad. I promised myself that I would not let it happen again, and I kept the promise, until the next morning.
It happened again, and again, and again. I do not know for sure if these are panic attacks. I do not know for sure if it is anxiety I suffer from. But after trying my best to convince my family that I think I need medical help, I have given up because they think that I am just naive. If it is anxiety it seems to be Genralized Anxiety Disorder to me. Here is a list of the things I am trying to keep anxiety at a managable level:
Worry Diary: I have started keeping a ‘worry diary’ but I sadly do not record my worries enough in it. I need to maintain a schedule. Click here to see the format that I am currently using. CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy includes using a worry diary (as far as I could understand) and even if I do not use it enough, it has helped me.
Journal/Planner: Having a plan has always helped me tackle my days more effeciently, and currently I feel like I need a planner (and to stick to the plan more than ever). I am starting to make plans before I sleep, but I usually have these ‘anxiety explosions’ in the morning so it has been difficult to stick by them.
A Morning Routine: Still working on it. Will update the post as soon as I find a good one.
Reading: I used to be an avid reader before I hopped on the lets-make-more-money-by-working-as-hard-as-I-humanly-can wagon. I am slowly trying to pick up the habit again.
Alone Time: Anxiety makes me want to surround myself with people, I think it has always had. When alone I feel like the walls will close on me, I start feeling suffocated. But I realize that keeping/ wanting people with me all the time is the best way to ruin relationships. So I have started to spend some time time alone, other than when I am working too, as a way to like my own company again.
I believe in the end it is all about loving yourself and feeling good. It is hard in the state I am currently in, but what other options do I have?
I did not work on my “book” for a long time, actually, I just finished it a week ago. It’s still not out there, and I have no expectations from it. Also, I messed up big time, in work and in life. I no longer have the jobs I had (there were three), presently I just have one, which doesn’t pay me enough and the work is less. (I quit a week ago when I had my first anxiety attack in months.) I thought I was dying and that I needed to escape, this was the only form my escape could take.
I read the previous posts before writing this, they suck. The only reason I am not deleting them is to remind myself of the masks I will no longer wear. The optimism and the go-getter attitude were a little too fake, and perhaps not relatable at all. At least not to me.
I still have the same goal in mind though it has already been 4 months since I first thought of it. I regret not being fast enough about it. But now the problem is, I have to be. A number of things are associated with me working for myself. I have asked a three month time period from my father to let me work on this, that’s why I supposedly left the two jobs. Right now I have no other option than to publish the books and keep working.
I am tired of losing to anxiety and procrastination, and now, I can’t afford to.
Will update when the book is out, but unfortunately, cannot link to it as I am publishing under a pen name.
I only have until August. I pray this works out well.