I Have Never Had Much Luck with Self-Talk Until Now

I have a 35 years plus history of bipolar illness and I have never had much luck with self-talk. It used to feel like I was just putting a drop in the proverbial bucket when I would tell myself that my anxiety was destructive and not needed and I could do without.

Then somehow something changed quite recently and I don’t know precisely what that was or is.

Up to a week or so ago, I have decided not to let waking thoughts of anxiety over-influence my day. I have given myself (as a goal) coffee time and coffee time alone as the time when I can feel anxious. After that hour or so, I have told myself and keep telling myself there is no more room for anxiety.

Also during this time I have begun to get a two mile walk in almost every day of the week with my husband and my puppy. The two mile walk is also helping a great deal with the anxiety.

In terms of telling myself there is no room for anxiety in my day I have also had somewhat of a revelation (for me). The more time I feel being anxious the less time I spend enjoying life and the relationships in my life. The more I let anxiety in the less room there is for building relationships and experiencing pleasure and joy in my life. There is only so much I can experience in a day. If I am experiencing anxiety, I am not experiencing love, joy, companionship, well-being or success.

That said, it is easier for me to accept self-talk when I am replacing one behavior or one thought with another. Not sure why? I have never really been able to do away with a negative thought before it occurs (or after it occurs). But I find if I can substitute a new thought for an old thought, my self-talk is that much more effective. Instead of wishing anxiety away, I am trying to replace anxiety with the thought that I am not getting any younger and my days to live in love and joy are limited. If I allow anxiety to be infinite and all-encompassing I am robbing myself of love and of life.

And I am not getting any younger. At fifty-nine I feel like I am coming to terms with my own mortality and am more able to tell myself, this (life full of anxiety) is not how you want to live out the rest of your days. This (life full of anxiety) is not the legacy you wish to leave your child or your family. Even if the change away from anxiety is small, it makes a huge difference in my life and in the lives of others. I don’t need anxiety to rob me of my good days. Not any more.

For whatever reasons, this self-talk appears to be working now and has not really worked that well in the past over the years. I think it does have something to do with confronting my own mortality and realizing the time for feeling anxious is over. It is time to feel love and joy. I also think the two-mile walk most days of the week is helping tremendously. Hoorah for high energy pups needing a walk!

How does self-talk work for you? How does regular exercise work for you? If self-talk hasn’t worked that well in the past, do you feel it might work if you try substituting the old thought or the old behavior with a new one? What might help you to start or keep at an exercise regime?

This is a work in progress regarding depression and anxiety

In this post, I am exploring the relationship between anxiety and depression. I originally thought that most people either experience anxiety OR depression, but I have been corrected that this is not always the case. A large percentage of people with depression also experience anxiety.

My therapist has told me in her opinion anxiety and depression are often two sides of the same coin. I am using this post to explore that concept. This post is a work in progress.

Since becoming an empty nester in the last several weeks, I find my old friend depression to be creeping in. I have been wondering how this depression relates to chronic anxiety. As an FYI, I manage bipolar illness and have for more than half of my life.

Yesterday, my husband and I catalogued and bundled five or six huge garbage bags of my daughter’s old clothes. Going through them and bundling them for GoodWill felt both depressing and productive at the same time. The process reminded me of going through belongings after my father died. It was a time of great loss and also a time to look forward to a better day as he had been ill for quite some time.

I suppose getting my daughter’s items together for GoodWill meant that a part of my relationship with her was going away forever. That is the Mom role taking care of all the details for my daughter. There is loss associated with letting go of the hovering Mom even though I am 100% sure it is the healthy thing for me to do as well as what is healthy for her. She is soon to be 19 and very able to manage things in her life that I used to (and still do at times) worry about.

The idea that all these sweaters, and pants and shirts and skirts will have a second life at GoodWill once purchased by a new owner is a reminder to me that my daughter also is embarking on a new chapter in her life. As her belongings move to new owners, so too is her life migrating to a new phase where she and I will continue to relate but relate differently. I will not manage her life so much as support her emotionally and financially. I am learning to do this but am not a pro at it yet (at all). Perhaps as I experience the loss, there will be more room for experiencing the joy of her moving forward in her life with this critical milestone.

The depression I feel is that I am losing the child I have worked so hard to raise. There is sadness in letting go. There is anxiety in letting go. I need to let myself experience the sadness and the sorrow and the anxiety of her moving from one phase in her life – childhood – to another phase in her life – young adulthood.

Clearly there are related joys and moments of extreme happiness that also accompany this transition. My daughter is embarking on a journey of higher education, deliberate self-management and self-initiated problem solving as she maneuvers these first several weeks and months in college. My husband and I are in effect setting her free.

However, I am not quite feeling celebratory yet. I am still in the remembering and experiencing the loss phase of things.

I think perhaps loss can be attributed to a child leaving home for the first time. There is a kind of loss that is similar to loss when someone dies though not so dire and not so extreme. I believe that if I can learn to grieve that loss, I will be more able to embrace the positive developments and positives sides of this lifetime transition. There is also this issue of abandonment. I suffer abandonment issues as a child of divorce. I have bent over backwards so my daughter will not experience abandonment issues – if anything I have overdone it with my hovering Mom role.

So how does all this relate to my chronic anxiety? Is it possible that the anxiety is a symptom or manifestation of the depression I feel in letting go of my daughter’s life details? If I am able to let myself experience the sadness associated with this change, will that allow me to free up or tackle some of my anxious thoughts and give room to feelings of joy, pride, love and support for my daughter and her pending journey of self discovery?

Finally, does anyone else experience depression and anxiety as being related? Do you believe that if you allow yourself to mourn the loss of a prior mode of relationship that that will free you up to embrace the new phase or mode of that relationship? Or might this give less room to feelings of anxiety?

Sorry to ramble on. I am clearly still exploring and processing these thoughts and feelings.

I play matchmaker in my thoughts from time to time…

Since I was a little girl I have had thoughts of matching couples together. This is likely due to an inner child of 6 years – which is probably about the time I was first abused and was before my parents decided to give up on their marriage and divorce. They divorced when I was about ten years old.

As any six-year-old I was prone to magical thinking and often extended that feeling in myself by matching so and so with so and so. Most times that remained a thought in my brain. On occasion I would share that information. But for the most part, it would just be a cycle of thought inside myself that was nice to consider.

I tend to continue to do this today from time to time. Call it the magical thoughts of a six-year-old? Or just the desire that everyone I care about is in a relationship where they can love and be loved, appreciated and understood?

Does anyone else have the tendency to match people who they know but may not know each other?

Poem for the day – Resilience

There is a day not quite on the horizon where we can see what will become of us.

We know between then and now we are resilient.  We are strong.

In time, waves will wash ashore whispering

With every lap upon the sand this too has passed

While trees will bend to the wind without breaking

And sunshine will fill us with redemption.

Those dear to us will come closer once again and we will see

All God’s beauty shaken perhaps but not dismayed.

We will learn what it means to protect this tiny sphere

We call home.  We will nurture her and protect her and love her.

As we love those around us, neighbors near and far.