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?

My Fight with Anxiety (Updated)

Addendum: The only other thought I have to add right now is this notion of getting out in front of my anxiety. Anticipating it in order to limit it instead of succumbing to it because it is there and it is strong. And sometimes feels stronger than me though it is not. I need to put something else in its place. Self-love and the desire for loving relationships with family and friends is a start. Activities that bring satisfaction and joy like donating goods to Goodwill or giving a friend who is a teacher extra art supplies for her classroom. I do not need anxiety to run my life. I am perfectly capable of running my life without it.

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I have bipolar disorder / mixed states which means highs and lows may simultaneously occur. For me this manifests in anxiety.

I have tried to tell my MD that I would like to go on a new med specifically for the purpose of anxiety reduction but he thinks I have been stable on clozapine – no need to bother since that track record is good.

I am thinking about going to another doctor for a second opinion but have not yet decided to do that.

Anyway, the topic for me today is anxiety and how to limit it. I wake up almost 7 days out of 7 with something I am worried about. My therapist says this is normal as when we sleep we are tapping into the collective unconscious and that that transition is difficult to manage in the waking hours.

I am going then to try something new. I am going to try to acknowledge the fact that I start my day with anxiety but that anxiety is just a thought or a manifestation of sleep tapping into the unconscious. I am going to seek to limit the time I allow for my anxiety to disrupt my day for the first hour or two of the day while I am having my morning coffee. That one to two hours of the day is all I seek to allow anxiety to infiltrate my thoughts.

I am getting older in my late fifties and my husband is in his early sixties. There is only so much time to make good memories together and to have a joyous time together. This includes an evolving relationship with joyous memories with my college freshman daughter as well.

Anxiety robs you of making good memories. It robs you from having special moments with family and friends. It gets in the way of new and renewing relationships.

I do not want anxiety to run my life. Quite aptly put I would like my life to run my anxiety.

So far, I don’t have a very sophisticated plan for accomplishing this, but at least I have my resolve and that is half the battle. So far my plan includes self-talk that anxiety may exist for me but it will not dominate me. It also includes affirmations that say I deserve good times and I deserve good memories. No illness can rob me of that. Also, critic talk is to be ignored. I do not need my internal critic saying I don’t deserve happiness since I have not been fully the wife or mother or sister or daughter I would have preferred. No more critic talk! I should be praising myself for being a strong presence in the lives of my loved ones and asking for forgiveness of self in the times I did not or could not do this.

I don’t know if this plan to limit anxiety will work. I welcome any suggestions you may have. I will also plan to update this post several times to talk about the ins and outs of this new relationship with my anxiety as it moves forward. Hopefully, as it progresses.