Sailing through Life

Sailboat in a Storm.jpg

Our lives are supposed to have a purpose. Or so the experts tell us. I’ve been looking for my purpose for most of my life and I haven’t found it yet.

I’m sailing through life with no clear direction waiting to find my purpose, my passion, my mission. Dealing with depression and anxiety, my goal most days is to get through the day being somewhat productive. Some days I succeed and some days I fail miserably.

If life is like the sea than I’ve had my share of storms. Waves so high I thought I would be swept away forever. Long periods of time where every day was another storm to be endured. Days that turned into weeks and weeks into months of relentless storms. Weak and battered all I wanted to do was lay down and die. I had no strength left to fight.

But I wasn’t alone in my battle. My children lived in the shadow of my pain, fearful of what would happen to them if I left them. Changing them for the rest of their days. I clung to my life raft with an intensity only a mother understands. Cold, wet and beaten down I hung on screaming into the darkness.

When the storm was over I was thankful to be alive. The sea calmed and the skies brightened. I was going to make it.

Maybe, my purpose is simply to survive and carry on. Living a simple life. Staying alive to show my children that no matter how messy life gets we can get through anything.

 

 

Too Anxious to Commit

When I Can't Do Something

Committing to anything is difficult for me. After almost 20 years of dealing with depression and anxiety, I’ve learned a great deal about myself and what level of commitment I can make.

Too many times I’ve committed to a social function only to call and cancel. The dread, although irrational, was very real to me. I was unable to cope. Caught in a vicious cycle of committing and cancelling my self-esteem suffered.

I’ve lost friends because I can’t commit. An unfortunate side-effect of depression and anxiety. But I am fortunate to have a large group of supportive friends and family who understand. They are quick to forgive me when I cancel.

Now that I’m older and wiser I’m slow to make social commitments. I know what I’m comfortable attending and what I’m not. And I no longer feel guilty for saying no.

The secret, I find, is to know my limits and work within them. This is a good thing and I something I can truly commit to.

 

Try the ‘Grounding Technique’, the Next Time You Panic

Having an anxiety or panic attack? So overwhelmed you can’t think straight?

This ‘Grounding Technique’ takes your focus off the panic attack, so you can calm down.

 

Anxiety SymptomsTo ground yourself, pay attention to:

What you see

What you hear

What you feel physically

Speaking out loud, say to yourself:

5 things you see

5 things you hear

5 things you feel physically

Continue by listing 4 things, then 3, 2 and 1.

If you become confused about which number you are on, start over. The goal is to keep the focus off the panic.

Using the Grounding Technique gives you some control, when you feel so overwhelmed you can’t think straight.

What coping strategies do you use? I would love to hear from you!

Fear, Self-loathing and Suicide

DarknessI knew you were back, your whispers stirring up anxiety and self-doubt. I make plans with every intention of following through, and I look forward to my plans with trepidation and excitement. But then you show up whispering doubts in my ear. All the what-ifs and the questions about my ability to cope.

Your name is Fear, you are relentless in your pursuit to bring me down, and you almost always win. By the time you leave me I’m sick with worry, wondering why I made plans in the first place.

I wish it stopped there but you can only do so much, so you hand me over to Self-loathing. Self-loathing and I go back a long way, so far back I don’t remember a life without her. She shows up after I realize that I will cancel, I will disappoint and then I will retreat from the world.

Self-loathing is ruthless, scornful and condescending. She knew I couldn’t do it, she knew I would give up. She tells me I am weak and stupid and worthless. I will never amount to anything because I’m too lazy, I don’t have the drive and I’m a failure. Yea, I’m a failure alright, a big one. My life is proof of that, my marriage ruined and my children growing up with a mother whom was barely present. Self-loathing always leaves me broken, at the edge of the abyss, a bottomless, dark hole of despair.

Suicide has impeccable timing, waiting and watching to step in. She likes to come to me when I have nothing left, so I’m an easy target for her taunts. Her voice is hypnotic almost soothing as she asks me if life is really worth living. After all I’ve destroyed, wouldn’t it be a better world without me in it?

My children won’t have to worry about me anymore, they could get on with their lives. Seriously, it’s not like I was a good mother, I caused them so much heartache. Am I doing anything important with my life? Am I making the world a better place? Hardly. My kids, my friends and family will miss me but there’s a lot they won’t miss. Suicide lulls me with her promise of peace, but somehow I manage to allude her.

I can pull myself back from the abyss, lick my wounds and wait to heal. Mental illness is sly, never revealing more than it has to In one afternoon my three tormentors can visit me and leave me for dead, without anyone knowing they stopped by to see me. When I feel strong again, I’ll show my face, and no one will be the wiser. I’ll be back to the happy, smiling me, the face I show to the world.

Life goes on and so do I, like so many others in my mental club. We carry our scars on the inside and we carry on the best way we know how.  I have a lot of time to make up for, but first I have to make amends.

Note to my loved ones: I am OK and not in danger of hurting myself. Today, I only had to deal with fear and self-loathing.