Monday, September 22, 2014

Getting at the root

Thanks for your comments on the last post. I actually agree with Sarah, that I need to think clearly about what I want and may need to make big changes to achieve that. Defining what I want is harder than it seems. It involves a level of honesty with myself that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Out of necessity to get through the day, and a misguided idea that happiness could be created solely through a positive attitude, I've gotten used to covering up what I really want and feel and there are a lot of layers there.

One of the unifying themes I see in my life is the inability to be where I am, to focus and fully experience my life---whether at work or at home. I am so averse to feeling anything slightly uncomfortable that I quickly distract myself from any anxious or sad feelings. The behaviors that I really want to change are all responses to anxiety.

I have begun to waste a LOT of time on unfulfilling internet sites, online shopping, and stupid games on my phone. As soon as I feel a tiny flicker of anxiety, I pull my phone out of my pocket, or pop open the browser on my computer to just spend a few minutes (which obviously never lasts JUST a few minutes) until the feeling passes. The more I need to get done, of course, the more anxious I get, the more time I waste, the more anxious I feel, the more I need to distract....its an addiction of sorts.

 Before I can get anywhere, I need to figure out a healthier, sustainable way of dealing with my anxiety. I've tried visualization techniques, breathing, meditation---I can't seem to get anything to stick on my own so I know I need help. My recent experience with trying to find a therapist simply by searching through the listings on my insurance website was so frustrating and time-consuming that I'm getting help with that, too. I have an appointment tomorrow AM with my primary care doctor, and I strongly believe she will have some good referrals (because she is incredibly experienced and smart, and always seems to have the right suggestions).

15 comments:

  1. I am so sorry I didn't comment on your last post. I wasn't sure if you were looking for empathy or advice and as I tried to figure out what to say, the hours and days got away from me.

    Figuring out what you want is hard. Really, really hard. I am not sure quite how to do it. In my attempts, I've focused on a few things, just one or two to start and really tried to create a routine around them. Then, after a few months I check in to see if they are helping.

    I usually want to work on too many things at once. Every summer I have a list of 5-7 things I'm GOING TO DO during my six weeks off. In the end I only do one, maybe two if I'm lucky. It took me maybe five years of planning to do all these things and only accomplishing one or two to reconize the pattern, but once I did I was able to honor my limitations and recognize that I'd only do one or two, so I had to choose wisely.

    For me, exercise is a big one because it helps me in so many ways. The most important being it makes me happier and less anxious. It is truly the one thing keeping me sane right now, I'm sure of it. I'm very lucky because I've found a routine that works for me right now. Figuring it out was hard and sticking to it can be difficult but now that I have it, I'll keep doing it.

    As for the rest of my life I'm not sure. I'm trying to see what else I can focus my energies on, but the front runners are writing and friendships. I think those will yield the highest return, but I'd in a few months I see that they aren't, I'll refocus my efforts elsewhere.

    I guess the take away is focus on one thing and really do that one thing, and only that one thing for at least a couple of months and see if it helps. If that one thing is to not play games on your phone, then delete them all and get an app to lock you out of certain websites and figure out what happens next. If it's exercise, make time to exercise. If it's something else, do that other thing. But only focus on one thing for a bit and then see if it's a good change for you. If it is, keep it and add something new. If it's not, scratch it and try something new.

    I didn't read the comments on the other post so I'm sorry if this is repetitive. I hope it's at least helpful.

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    1. Thanks N. (it is SO WEIRD when people change their names, I can't stop wanting to call you E). Exercise is definitely a great thing for stress but I think I need real help (therapy, and it that doesn't work I'll consider meds)

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  2. I had to cold turkey cut out games back in grad school. I get seriously addicted to them and they just make me unhappy. They're deleted and blocked on every computer I have access to.

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (therapy specific to anxiety) totally changed my life for the better. But you have to do the exercises, you have to have time to practice, etc. (I got a good start on it during a school break.) If you end up going that route, be sure to make time for it. Good luck finding a good therapist! Sometimes that takes a few tries too. (My bad therapist actually recommended the good one to me.)

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    1. I did quit games cold turkey by taking everything off my phone, it worked for 2 years, then I downloaded something while stuck in the airport and I've been deleting & reloading it (reload when I'm stressed and itching to play the game, then deleting when I realize its keeping me up at night)
      I just put in two calls to therapists specializing in CBT. I am ready to do this.

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    2. I should totally finish my CBT post. I honestly think it ought to be part of the high school curriculum. It's so USEFUL. And there's no side effects. The worst thing that happens is you don't have time to do the exercises and it doesn't work.

      TBH, one of the reasons I don't have a smartphone is because I'm afraid I'll do something like that. I even had to delete the children's games off DH's ipad because I have no self control. None.

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    3. I had a friend who had depression in college go through CBT. It made such an impression on her, that years later she quit her high-flying job to go back to school to be a therapist.

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    4. I think her mental health issues really affected her life for a while afterwards, and she was finding her job unfulfilling, wanting to give back, etc...

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  3. I get addicted to the internet too--one of the reasons I've all but stopped blogging so much is because I had to give myself less reasons to check the web. No more: has anybody commented on my post, etc. It's frustrating because I like to use the internet as a social tool, but then every time I have a spare moment, I find myself thinking: "I'll just check X site." I'm trying to be better about using the spare moments to put something away instead. Giving myself set times that I can go on the computer and sticking to that.

    Truthfully, it's a rollercoaster thing. I'll be really good for a few weeks, then it'll all go downhill again. Good luck with your own battle.

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    1. I've been wondering where you've been! While I do miss your blog, if stepping away is the right thing for your life, go for it! I actually don't waste too much time on my own blog or even blog-friends. Most of the blogs I read update a few times a week, and I've limited my list---its manageable. Its the sites that are constantly full of new content that get me.

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  4. Can totally relate to this. I felt like this ALL THE TIME during my PhD and the last year of med school. It's a bit better now... but only because I have so much work, my fear of having to stay in the hospital until 10 every night drives me. And the constant phone calls. I still do feel the can't sit still anxious feeling though. When it happens, I try to take a deep breath and push onward. I wonder what that feeling is? It's highly annoying. I wonder if anyone is really able to just sit at their desks and calmly do their work for hours at a time. I'm certainly not built that way.

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    1. Seriously. But some people are so...DEDICATED.

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  5. I totally check FB or blogs when I'm feeling stressed about stuff, as a way to put it out of my mind. I don't think it's entirely a bad thing, because I do need something to get my mind off stressful things. I just try to be aware that I'm doing it and that the stressors themselves aren't going away. Also try to be aware of when I am reaching for my phone out of habit and not because I really want to check.
    Deborah

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    1. Yup, but its one thing to read a 5 minute post from a friend, or scroll FB for a couple of minutes to see some cute pics, another to lose an hour of your life reading stupid stuff. My problem is that I start and just can't seem to stop myself. Its better not to start at all.

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  6. Hi Ana Im new to your blog.
    Have you ever read anything on adult ADD. ADD is not what you think it is you dont have to hyper to have ADD and you dont have to be full blown ADD to have ADD.
    There is a good book called "You mean Im not lazy, stupid or crazy."
    Its written by a woman who was diagnosed with ADD at 45 yrs old. You may just relate a little and it is a good book on helping you focus and take the stress off a little.

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