(me in my natural habitat) Things have been a bit quiet over here on the blog front (in no way a reflection of life slowing down!) I left New York four months ago now and I really believed that since I was doing so well there, I wouldn't have any problem with a move. Unfortunately I forgot that one of the main things that helps me is a routine and good habits. After a month of arriving and the excitement wore off, my anxiety roared its ugly head pretty forcefully. I had spiraled down and was having some extreme panic attacks. What once felt exciting to be able to look for a new job and my calligraphy work really taking off became too much to handle. It manifests in different ways--the main being a hatred for my body. I taught myself this mechanism in my teens. I dealt with stress by talking about how fat I am and how I need to stop eating so many donuts and burritos and wish I worked out more. I didn't want to go to yoga because I was afraid to spend the money & instead of cooking healthy meals, I preferred to go to the taco stands that are at every corner.
Anyway, I am so lucky to have people who love me around me and they were just not going to put up with my behavior. One day I realized that I was not doing those things that are most important for my mental health. Here is what I did:
1) I took my daily vitamins. I have this incredible aunt who has made a personalized plan for me in what supplements I need to balance me and even buys them for me and I was being too lazy to open the cabinet each day to take them.
2) I signed up for yoga. I didn't like the first studio that was closest to me, so I tried another a bit further away and I love it. I try to go 3-6 times a week. At first it seemed silly to pay $96 a month when I didn't have a job, but then I realized that I would never be able to get a job if I didn't calm down & move my body. I also started riding my bike again. I started taking little trips to yoga and now I'll ride even if it's going to take me thirty minutes to get there.
3) I took my anxiety medicine. Sometimes I get so mad about having to take it that I don't. Which is never a good idea.
4) I started eating better again. Cut down on sugar intake & ate lots of whole foods.
4) I did this Advent exercise at the end of each day where I looked at what amazed me in the day, what I was grateful for that day, where I saw God's hand in my life & where I needed to invite Him into my hardships. Within a few days I couldn't believe the change in my attitude. I was so anxious about not finding a job that I totally overlooked all of the AMAZING things I have been given. I mean come on, I have this perfect house with the best roommates, close to friends, making new friends, working at a place a few days a week that was my "dream job" within my first week of getting here, I'm easily able to drive to my parents' house in six hours, and THE SUN SHINES ALL THE TIME. I stopped focusing on what was lacking and started focusing on the blessings.
5) I have a support system and I used it. I made a ton of friends there and throw myself into recovery.
6) I went to Mass a few days a week and I prayed every day that I may know and that I may do His will.
Seriously, I'm back to feeling myself and managing this anxiety. However, I still get this voice in my head that says "look! you're fine." and I slack on a few things. Sure enough a few days later, the anxiety creeps up. Luckily I can catch it with a clear mind. Tell myself it won't last, get back on track and feel better.
My next step is to get more fully into service. I always feel better when I am serving someone else. Finding a volunteer opportunity is almost as hard as finding a job, as it turns out!
Have you ever struggled with anxiety/depression? What are the things you have to do to manage it? (I'm also reading this really amazing book that I'm going to share soon!)
Be a Heart,