My best friend, Ladyface E, tells me she wishes there was a button in my head I could simply push to make unnecessary worries go away, or that there was a negative chip which could just be removed.
I have been inspired by a post over at Sofa and the City to be honest today. My brain, at its best, is quick, alert, imaginative and innovative. At worst, it kicks the shit out of me.
I put myself through such utter turmoil. Often I simply cannot enjoy the present moment because I am worrying it might be taken away or ruined somehow, or I’ve just done or said something wrong or bad to ruin it myself! And I am so super scared of getting hurt. Being lied to, or cheated on, or abandoned. Scared that I’ll lose the things that make me happy.
I’ve had my fair share of bad stuff, and having had depression last year I am uber-protective of myself now, but sometimes it is completely unnecessary. My brain scans any meaningful experience or relationship for any possible negative outcome or hurtful scenario so that I cannot be taken by surprise if something bad happens. I will at least be able to say “I saw you coming, you didn’t take me for a fool”.
So I put a dampener on things from the start. And when life is being really sucky, I can feel myself slip into hopelessness, all my good efforts become undone, my grip on my equilibrium becomes shaky and quick as a flash out come the insecurities stronger than ever to taunt me and suddenly there’s clues all around me that indeed I am being lied to, or that I am going to get hurt.
And then, as though that’s not enough, I bully myself. I call myself stupid for doing it, I clobber myself with guilt that anyone else may have suffered from my actions, because I am not a stronger person, and I torture myself with paranoia that said others may just about have had enough of me this time.
Recognition is the first leap in the road to recovery and once you know what your silly brain is up to, you can work on taking ownership for your thoughts. You can catch the unhelpful thought in the act, and then refuse to give it credence. Often when you sit down with a bad thought and ask it where it comes from and whether it would care to justify itself, it looks a bit embarrassed and woefully admits that actually it has no basis in logic or fact but is either totally imagined, or a defence mechanism from a long-ago event which it has been clinging onto for lack of reevaluation.
But if you’re going to eradicate these bad thoughts, you need to do it genuinely. Not, as I sometimes do, just bottle it up and hope it wanders off on its own accord. My emotions read all over my face so pretending I’m fine when I have a bad thought or anxiety in my head never, ever works. It is hard to change the way you think, and it frustrates me how quick my brain is and how slow I am to catch it.
But it takes as long as it takes. The key is understanding where it comes from, then questioning whether it is actually true or relevant, and then giving yourself added support in the area that feels lacking so the ill-guided defense mechanism is no longer needed.
In writing all this, while I am still wishing I didn’t have such a powerful force to grapple with, I can also see the good it has accomplished and the knowledge I have acquired in a year. I have become a friend to myself. My self esteem has improved. I have made myself a priority. I have made big steps towards trusting others.