Again sorry for the late post, I have been away and had 101 things to sort out when I got back.
I was going to do a post on D.P, but have decided to cover another subject that comes up regular on here and something I struggled with in the latter part of my recovery. Which is I could not seem to shake the attention of myself, as though my mind would not stop reverting back to me and how I felt.
Most here know that this comes through months and in a lot of cases years of being bothered about how we feel, looking in, monitoring our symptoms and spending hours trying to do something about them. I was a master at this for many years, always looking and searching in my mind for that magic cure or sentence that would stop the hell. In my day there was no internet to look through or find information, I found the medical world a waste of time and was just shoved from pillar to post and given more useless pills.
I was in such a lonely place, a place where I lived 2 lives. One was trying to figure out this hell, just existing through the day, like an empty walking shell with little interest in the outside world and my surroundings and the other person was the one that had to act through the day, trying to appear normal, smile in the right places, try and hold some sort of conversation, when all I wanted to do was run away. It truly was a living hell and one I was falling deeper and deeper into. The more I thought and worried about me, the more isolated I felt, so I thought and worried about me even more, it was a terrible cycle. I even recall walking to work one day where I felt so self aware and so out of touch with my surroundings that I had to count cars on the way, just something to try and connect with the world arround me, I was so wore down with it all.
Many people go through this feeling of detachment for a few months and then are able to find the right help and come through this stage pretty easy as habits have not really been ingrained as of yet. Just like the person who has lost someone close and appears in a world of their own for a few weeks, eventually time heals and they can connect quite easy with the outside world and their surroundings. But the reason is the same, they are consumed with grief and their own feelings, they have little time for the outside world and what is going on around them, hence while they seem lost and distant. Someone may even lose their job and be like this for 2/3 days, they are just so concerned with a subject they can take nothing else in. That certainly relates to most people who suffer with anxiety and our main reason is that we don’t understand and become more and more concerned with how we are feeling and how to get better.
For many like myself though, this habit can seem to be ingrained and hard to shake off. Well I went through this for years and was able to love the outside world again, feel part of it, no longer care about how I felt. Of course one of the stages was an understanding of why I felt the way I did, if I understood it there was no need to waste my time going over it, so it did improve and certainly stopped the cycle, but this self awareness still hung around to a degree.
In the past we have covered the usual points of finding hobbies and keeping busy, not sitting around with too much time on our hands feeling sorry for ourselves. Allowing ourselves to feel odd and strange without caring or being alarmed by it. This are 2 very important points that have been covered before, but I wanted to add a few more points and ideas as looking through posts people do tend to struggle with this self awareness.
Firstly a lot of people may think, ‘Right that’s me done with the subject, I am not looking it up anymore or reading about it, no from tomorrow I am never thinking about it or concerning myself with it again’. What they end up doing is, trying to push the subject away and ignore it, this ends up a battle in itself, as they have thought and spoke about it so often they can’t just turn it off like a tap. Building your knowledge up with anxiety is fine and there is no need to avoid the subject, I am involved in it and probably will be all my life and it certainly does not have me feeling lost and self aware again. The reason being is that I don’t spend too much time on it, I have a healthy social life that keeps me very busy and the subject is just a part of my life, not my life, like it used to be. There are plenty of other things that take my attention though the week and my life is healthy and my mind is stimulated. So don’t think you have to ‘not’ think about the subject, it’s fine to come here when you need a boost or you feel you need something answering. The problem can occur though when sites/forums, or whatever it maybe, becomes your day/week. Switching the computer on and spending your day trying to find more answers, looking, reading, going from one site to another trying to find something to make you feel better, something you have missed, when the real tonic for that day would be to have your breakfast and go about your day however you felt, for once don’t be concerned about how you feel or how to make it better, just live your life. You can never hope to be part of the outside world again if you don’t involve yourself in it.
One point I really want to add to the above, is to finally trust yourself to go it alone and not rely on this place as a crutch, to drop all the safety behaviours you have. I don’t think you ever stop learning about anxiety, but there comes a point when you understand enough to say ‘I am not using the blog as a comfort blanket anymore’, I will still read up now and again, as it helps me at my lowest points and sometimes I do feel stuck at times, but I need to trust in myself more and move forward. And when I say trust in yourself, I mean don’t feel the need to repeat sayings to yourself through the day, trying to remember what so and so said to help in this situation, reminding yourself how to get through this, what to say etc. I mean to let that go, to be completely empty handed of all sayings and techniques, to completely trust in yourself without any outside crutch or sayings.
I also did this, it was like a military situation when I went anywhere, I would feel anxious and repeat mantras of ‘It’s OK, it is just adrenalin’ ‘Accept it Paul’, next the oddness would descend and I would be trying to scramble back to what I had learnt about this ‘Erm OK this is just my tired mind, me focusing on myself for so long, it will pass’ Then it would be hang on I have accepted it and it is not passing, ‘erm what else can I say? I must cope with this’, I would then try another saying, then it would be ‘Have I done anything wrong, this is not getting any easier or better?’
Can you see what I was doing? I was back on me all day long and trying to find ways to cope, no wonder I felt odd and anxious. I realised in time that I just had to go it alone, I could not rely on sayings or safety behaviours to get me through the day, I had to fully trust in my mind and body, the greatest healers in the world, they did not need me to keep interfering, I just needed my ‘whatever’ attitude and nothing else.
After the realisation that if I just let go of all these sayings and safety behaviours I could cope fine, it was a massive step forward for me. Don’t get me wrong, some days were still hellish and I could feel hyper aware, but I would just go straight through it, live that day with the oddness and strangeness with little concern and not run away from it or try and make it better, but to just go straight through it.
This was the final stage in me losing my awareness of me and it was that true feeling of believing I now had the tools to move forward without a crutch or the need to remind myself of what to do. Trust me, you never lose what you have learnt, it is all stored up there fine. It is like learning to drive, you don’t have to remind yourself anymore of moving the gears, pressing the clutch, you don’t have to take a new lesson each week, you have learnt enough and it became automatic in time. And this is how it eventually comes with getting through your day. So don’t be afraid to put down your tools and safety behaviours, drop your sayings and just go it alone, trust me you will be fine.