My how to's for dealing with personal struggles - to be edited
What up. I recently shared a super personal piece about my struggles with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. I've been working for over a year on overcoming these things, and I'm not there yet. I am IN NO WAY a professional or even someone you should really listen to at all on this topic, but these are some of the things that have helped me, and are continuing to help me, in case you are interested.
This has "to be edited" in the title because I'm always learning what works for me and what doesn't, what to pay attention to and what to throw away. This a life long journey of learning and self-love.
I've found that sharing my story and at least attempting to help others is not only therapeutic, but fulfilling in my life, at least today.
So here we are.
My how to's for dealing with personal struggles (mostly ed, anxiety, dep):
1. You have a choice.
I'm not saying mental health can be dealt with on your own or that just because you decide you want to get better you magically will. What I'm saying is you DO have a choice to fight. You might lose, you might fail — but you have a choice to take the steps, successes, and failures in order to live a free life. It's hard, but it's worth it. Be honest with yourself. Actively choose to do things you know will make you happier — even when you don't want to. Happiness is a privilege, not a promise. Actually, happiness is a choice. (Please note, I'm talking from personal experience and not all types/levels/magnitudes of mental illnesses).
2. Take a step back, are you focusing on the right things?
Are you more worried about your looks than your character? Your clothes than your skills? Your city than your friends? Focus on the right things, not the wrong ones.
3. Don't regret, it wasn't your time.
I spent a lot of time, and still do — thinking about where I would be or what could have happened had I not gone through what I did. My mom said it best, "let it go — it wasn't the right time."
4. Grab some resources, but know when enough is enough.
I've found sanctuary in lots of podcasts and reading on recovery and different topics. It's very beneficial in helping me to relate to others and find tools for coping. One thing to note, however, is that you need to know when enough is enough. Don't force yourself to listen to a podcast on anxiety every day — do it when you feel you need it.
5. There's not one right way.
Health can be at any pant size, success can be at any income level. There is not one right way to live life, and I'm tired of thinking otherwise.
6. No shame in your game.
Go to therapy, talk about your problems with friends — own what you're going through because there is no shame in your game.
7. This is something that happened/happens to you, it is not you.
Something that has helped me a lot is disconnecting from my problems. What I mean, is acknowledging my different struggles for what they are, not as a part of me that I hate, but as something that tries to beat me sometimes and sometimes wins, but sometimes fails.
When it comes on, acknowledge it and catch it before it catches you. It is not you, it is something that happens to you.
8. Find your "why" for working on it.
This is rather specific, but I realized that my "why" for getting through this is for the look on my Dad's face when he tells his friends about me — the look where I can tell he's proud. When people ask him how I'm doing, I don't want want him to have to say, "she struggles with herself a lot." I want him to be able to say, "she's happy." On a larger scale, I guess this means I'm doing it for all the people in my life — because they deserve it, as do I.
10. Ignore comparison - unplug and let go of trying to be someone else.
Self-explanatory. You are you your whole life, you might as well learn to love it and stop trying to be someone else. You are enough.
11. Accept yourself for you who you are — flaws included.
Once again, you are you your whole life. You are the only person you will live with. Learn to love yourself. Love what you've gone through and the mistakes you've made — they are making you a better, deeper person that will be able to connect with and help others in the end.
12. When you go to do something self-sabatoging, ask yourself, "why?"
Do you need to feel? Are you lonely? Anxious? What is going on and why do you want to turn to bad habits?
13. Let yourself feel emotions — you deserve it.
Don't be scared of your emotions and turn to your unhealthy coping mechanisms to numb yourself. Because the truth is, even though tough emotions sting like crazy, and there is no pain like it — good emotions are a part of life, too. And you deserve to feel it all — the ups, the downs, the everything in between.
Once you start numbing yourself to the bad emotions in life, you will eventually numb yourself to the good ones, too.
14. Find different coping mechanisms that work for you.
I've learned to write or call loved ones when I'm having a tough time. When I would have normally turned to food or shopping or some other ploy at feeling "better," I now know what to do. I feel, I write, I listen to good music, I talk.
15. Even if it will take longer, do it the right way.
One of the reasons this has taken me so long to heal, is because I can't seem to accept the lesson life is trying to teach me. My issues made me gain a little weight, and all I've ever wanted is to be "skinny and perfect." As you can imagine, this makes it difficult to let my diet and workout plans go. For over a year I've tried to put myself back on plans and failed, keeping me RIGHT where I am rather than moving forward. It will take longer for me to get to where I want to be through balance, but in the long run, this will lead me to my truth, freedom, and happiness. Not only this, but I am changing my vision of "health" to not how I look, but how I feel.
16. Find support groups and/or make sure you are not alone with your problems.
Share your story. No, you don't need to be obnoxious and write a blog like me — but share with a loved one or find a group of similar people going through similar things. Sitting alone with this makes all of it worse — trust me.
And give the people in your life some credit — I've found people to be nothing but supportive even though I was scared for so long.
17. Spend time (years) finding the root of your issues - you will constantly think you have found it, but you might have to keep going after failing time and time again.
Dig into why you are this way and what has led you here. It took me years to realize that perfectionism and anxiety were my root. Keep digging and forgive yourself when you forget time and time again.
18. Learn to be present and grateful, and authentic.
When you are present, you are living. You are grateful for who you are and what you have, you are not yearning, you are not in your own head — you are here, right now.
Be your authentic self. In your career, your relationships — your life. If you feel you are not, take the slow steps to get where you want to be and forgive yourself for not being there yet.
19. Realize your struggles are valid.
For a long time I didn't think what I was going through was that big of a deal. I thought it was normal because lots of people have body image issues and struggle. My life was so good, so this wasn't that bad, right?
You know the magnitude of what you're going through, and all of your struggles and emotions are valid.
That being said, there comes a time when it is important to not play victim to your demons and realize you are much stronger and deserve a free, fun life. Try your best to stop fixating on it, and go live.
20. Realize that not everyone is going to "get it."
Honestly, most people in your life might not get it, and thank god — because that means they haven't lived it. It's critical to realize it is okay that they don't get it, and to not punish them for this. If they are there, on the other end of the phone — they are supportive, they are trying, and they are enough.
21. Understand that you will "think" you've found it time and time again.
I can't even tell you the amount of times I've had epiphanies and think, "this is it," only to fall back to my old ways the next day — the next hour. This is normal (lol I think), forgive yourself and move forward.
22. Just be.
Most importantly, just be. Let it go. Breathe. Don't think too much. Ignore this blog, for all I care. Live your life.
23. And finally...
Don't beat yourself up because you didn't understand all of this in the first place or because you are having to re-learn how to live. I have no good explanation for why this happens, but for some of us, it just does.
It's all going to be okay in the end — if it's not okay, it's not the end (someone once said).