Following on from my earlier post: I have meditated, and disentangled some of the strands of the knot I’d tied myself in.
I have diagnoses of general anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. These two conditions do not define me, but have had a great and negative impact on my life, particularly this year. The ways my mental health have impacted on my life recently include lengthy hospitalizations, dramatic weight gain, loss of livelihood, and the disappointment of watching a cherished project fall apart (my business).
Sadness / Grief – for the losses mentioned above
Guilt – about not emailing my friend; about being ashamed to share parts of my life with her
Anger – that my life has been so adversely affected
A sense of failure – especially connected to my business
Shame – at having ‘failed’ in my business; at getting tied up in today’s emotional crisis in the first place
Disgust – at being so fat and unfit
Judgmental – towards myself for my many and various failings
Puzzled – at this outburst of self-stigmatization
That I “should” keep in touch with my friend; that I “should” tell her everything that has been going on in my life, without glossing over details; that I “should” not feel ashamed about being anxious and depressed; that I “should” not feel sad about the things which have happened in my life because of my mental health.
To retreat into myself for the rest of the day; to eat, for comfort; to not do the rest of the things on today’s “To Do” list, as a form of ‘taking care of myself’; to either engage deeply in self-critical thinking, or to deliberately ‘not-think’ (e.g. watch TV, read) for the rest of the day.
More Helpful Behaviours
Instead of giving in to my urges, some of which would lead to maladaptive behaviours, I will:
- Neither judge nor not-judge my emotional state, but simply allow it some “corner space” inside my head
- Continue to work through my “To Do” list, because completing it will not only make me feel great but also be good, in and of itself
- Choose not to eat (or over eat!) but instead find other way to self-sooth through negative emotions
- Postpone making a decision on whether to email my friend or not until tomorrow, and consciously put off all thinking on that matter until tomorrow
- Reward myself with an episode of my favourite TV show when my “To Do” list is completed.
Finally, tongue firmly in cheek: This post is dedicated to all the hospital therapists who ran all the workshops I attended on “Challenging Unhelpful Thoughts”.
My strict anonymity policy does not allow me to share the content of this post with you directly, but I’m sure you might be pleased to see the analysis of thoughts, feelings, urges and behaviours above! And I did it all without one of those bloody sheets. (We all grew heartily sick and tired of the “Challenging Unhelpful Thoughts” worksheets.)