On Mental Health

Updates From The Anxiety Trenches

I’m still doing a good job at keeping my beer drinking at a “safe” level which I started addressing back in May after the first two months of the pandemic sent me, let’s say…MUCH BEYOND THE SAFE LEVEL. Not only does drinking exacerbate depression and anxiety (which I definitely noticed those first few months of lockdown), I have a family history of alcoholism so there’s always a part of me keeping an eye out on concerning behavior around addictive substances and I’m happy to report that I’ve definitely adjust back to “safe” consumption.

Unfortunately, the frustrating part of my personality is that sometimes I self-sabotage. Like, I’m supposed to be doing a daily 5-minute mindfulness practice. It can be guided meditation or just sitting in silence. My psychiatrist loves meditation but hates the connotations around the word so he’s very quick to reassure me that guided meditations that keep me focused on breathing or that guide me through relaxing my body are okay.

But have I been doing it? Nope.

Part of it is that I want the perfect moment for this mindfulness. I mean, how am I supposed to be mindful when there’s a sink full of dishes? The other part is I’m constantly at least 2-3 hours away from another task that requires me leaving the house. Maybe walking Mom’s dog, maybe taking Mom to dialysis, maybe soccer or school pickups…something is constantly looming ahead. And so my brain does this thing where it’s like, “I have to pick up the kids in 2 hours, I can’t really take 5 minutes to meditate.”

I also do it with creative outlets and going for walks and reading. All of the things are good for treating my anxiety, I somehow convince myself I don’t have time to do because there’s this task looming two hours away. It’s like my anxiety over my schedule and the fact that there’s never a big chunk of “free time” keeps me from doing any of the things that would treat my anxiety about my schedule.

See? It’s very sabotaging, I know.

But I’m not beating myself up about it.

(Fun fact: Periodically someone will read my posts here or on Facebook or on Twitter and say, “You are too hard on yourself, give yourself a break!” and do you know what that does? MAKES ME BEAT MYSELF UP ABOUT BEING TOO HARD ON MYSELF.)

Because honestly? I’m still very proud about the reduction in drinking achievement. I also stopped buying Diet Coke for the house! And while I often buy one in the middle of the day to keep the headaches at bay, not having them in the house is HUGE.

I did also join a walking challenge and that’s motivating me out more often. I’m also trying to step foot on every trail on the Land Trust behind my house which is really good motivation because it combines my favorite things: 1) Being in the woods and 2) Marking things off lists.

So I’m celebrating the good and making note of the things that I still need to work on so that I don’t need to increase my anxiety meds. No beating myself up around here! Nothing but radical self love for the girl who is doing what she can to manage her poor mental health in a world on fire.

2 thoughts on “Updates From The Anxiety Trenches”

  1. I am right there with you. I need/want to exercise more. I need/want to just sit and relax more. I want to color more. But what do I do…..put up a new ceiling fan, do a load of laundry, wash dishes, etc. Doh!

    Oh, LOVE your Land Trust challenge!

  2. I totally get the mindfulness and wanting the perfect peaceful moment. Ha – only when does that happen?! And when I find one you are more likely going to see me reading a book 🙂 One thing I’ve found that helps me (so you know grain of salt, take or leave all that jazz) is to try to turn some of my chores into mindfulness moments. Like when I’m cooking I like to think about what the ingredients are for – nourishing those I love – and I imagine what they will be able to do, with full bellies and how it will make me feel to see them happy/content/active. Or when I’m washing the floors or folding laundry – think about the clothes and memories they bring or I hope for them to bring. The people I love who walk on those floors. I do t know, I’m sure it sounds super cheesy – but it brings me into the moment and helps me appreciate for myself the small things I do. They are like little spells – for myself , for my family … all these acts that have to happen and often go unnoticed and are often the parts of my day I fly through because I’m busy thinking about the million others things. But when I just take that moment I’m doing this thing, to think about why, or how … it brings me a minute to slow down and calm down and be present.

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