Overthinking vs. Reality

As somebody with anxiety and depression, overthinking is something I do on a daily basis. I will play scenarios over in my head wondering where I went wrong. I ask myself why I did whatever it was and why I can never seem to get things right.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m making mistake after mistake at work. It seems like no matter how hard I try to get it right, I mess up and probably disappoint my boss.

She had sought me out for this job almost a year ago. She created a new position for me because she wanted me on her staff. But I feel like now she is likely regretting doing so. I imagine her asking herself why she went out of her way to bring me on when I turned out to be a failure.

I have been worried for weeks that she wants to fire me. That all of my mistakes have piled up too high so it’s time to topple them down on top of me by letting me go. My other coworkers seem to have it all together, that none of them struggle with fucking up like I do.

We all know perfection isn’t attainable. Perfection is a goal that none of us can achieve. I’m fully aware of this but I still can’t help but kick myself for making mistakes. I still want to cry and hide under the covers of my bed when I make an error. I still want to shout at myself in the mirror, asking why I can’t be perfect.

I don’t think the fear of being fired, upsetting others and making mistakes will ever be something I overcome. They may seem silly on the outside but to me they are real, terrifying fears.

What makes all of this extra annoying is that it may all be in my head. Overthinking is my reality but it is not always what is real.

Do you struggle with wanting to be perfect? How do you work through making mistakes? How do you bring yourself back to Earth when you’re overthinking?

Also please leave a comment telling me one good thing that’s happened to you in 2020! ☺️

“Achieving a Goal is not the Only Way to Live a Worthy Life”

Since this quarantine has begun I have felt more pressure from myself to be productive. My depression and anxiety make me feel this way when life is normal but since I’m home almost all of the time, it’s been worse.

My mind has been saying, “Megan, you really should have cleaned the baseboards last month when you said you were going to” and “If you don’t go out and pull those weeds, your yard is going to look so ugly.”

When I get like this, I freeze. I feel so overwhelmed by all of the tasks and activities I “should” be doing that I end up doing nothing at all. I end up cuddling with my animals on the couch while watching YouTube videos.

I had been feeling guilty about how unproductive I’ve been over the last month when some words of wisdom came out of nowhere.

As I’ve stated in posts before, I love BTS and always watch whatever content they put out into the world. Recently the member Suga (aka Min Yoongi) went on the app V Live to answer questions from fans and update everyone with what he’s been up to since their tour has been canceled.

(V Live will add English subtitles to their live streams after a few hours)

I think a fan asked about how they could be more motivated to study or that they didn’t have a dream they were working towards, I can’t exactly remember the context. Suga replied, “achieving a goal is not the only way to live a worthy life.”

Those words touched my heart. I’ve told myself countless times that my value doesn’t come from my level of daily productivity but hearing those words from Suga meant a lot.

He is insanely talented and hard working, his fame didn’t happen overnight. So hearing from him, somebody I see as a productive person, that achieving a goal isn’t the only way to live a worthy life, it made me think that it’s ok to not be productive every moment of the day.

I wanted to share his words with you all in case you’ve been struggling with this as well. I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy in your mind, not just your physical self.

Not related:
Here’s a few songs that Suga wrote and performed that are excellent: “Shadow,” “Seesaw” and “Never mind.”

Depression While in Quarantine

I’ve been working from home for about a month now. As I hope many of you are, I am staying home about 95% of my weeks, the 5% is just to go out for groceries and pick up takeaway orders from some local restaurants.

Being home all of this time has made the voice of  my depression loud and critical. Because I have been depressed, I haven’t felt like doing anything besides laying around. I say to myself that I should do something, even just one thing, but often times that is a fleeting thought.

Depression tells me that during this time at home I should be productive. I should be exercising in some capacity twice a day because I have gained a little weight. I should be cleaning the house and doing home improvements that I have put off instead of playing The Sims 4. I should be posting on my makeup Instagram account or I will lose all of my followers I have worked so hard to get.

On Tuesday it peaked and I had a minor freak out. My boyfriend kept asking what was wrong, I would say nothing and he would reply, you’re lying. I was lying. Saying that nothing is wrong and that I’m ok is my most told lie.

I did open up though. It was hard to express myself in that moment. I’m a writer, I find it difficult to express myself in speech compared to writing it out.

He was supportive of me and said it was ok. That I don’t need to always be productive, that it’s ok to play The Sims.

I know that I would give the same advice to somebody else but I could never tell myself that.

This weekend I hope to get at least a couple things done to quell the demands of my depression. I hope when Saturday arrives I will have the motivation and strength to follow through.

How has your mental health been lately? Are you feeling things for intensely than you normally would or have you become numb to it all?

I Need to Call My Therapist

Today was the peak of my anxious December. Each day I have been getting more and more anxious, little things add up to become huge issues in my head.

A week ago I was nearly in tears because I was overwhelmed by anxiety. I often feel like I need to have a perfectly spotless house. When I’m tired or just want to relax, I sometimes ignore that and keep on cleaning. It becomes too much for me to handle so I crack.

Today I was experiencing a lot of anxiety that I don’t know where it was coming from. I was angry at everyone and everything for no reason. I could feel my muscles tense from the anxiety so I thought I would go to the gym to release it. Sadly it only helped a little bit. I walked back into my house and the stress fell back on to my shoulders.

Anxiety is the freaking worst. For me it is worrying about everything. Anxiety is stress piled up so high on my mind that I cannot see the top. It is being unable to act because I am frozen with anxiety.

On Monday I am calling my therapist to make an appointment. I need to hash out the worries and blockades in my brain that are holding me back.

How has your mental health been? If you struggle with anxiety, are you managing it ok?

Do you ever have a normal day?

Has anyone  ever seen the film I Robot starring Will Smith? It’s based on a story by Isaac Asimov.  Smith plays his  typical action man role with misbehaving robots added.  The ultimate premise of the tale is how does one keep humanity safe – not from sci-fi’s ubiquitous invading aliens, no not even killer robots which someone has to program  – but from itself?   There is a line in the film where a scientist says to Will Smith’s character,  Do you ever have a normal day?  He replies: I did once.

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That is how it feels to be a mental health sufferer.  If you have a normal day you remember it. I shall remember November 18th for that reason because I got three quarters of the way through it before thinking.  Why don’t I feel ill, exhausted, depressed, agitated, fed up, sick?  Perm any one from five thousand, you know how it is.

I’m hoping I can keep this up, this whatever passes for the new normality. Not because I have to save humanity from awry robots, but just so as I can be and do the things I normally want to be and do without it being quite so much effort.

I am writing again which is good news, going out more, protesting about iniquitous politicians and am generally much busier than I was, in a good way of course.  Still it’s necessary to watch the business thing (or ‘busy-ness’ thing) because that can lead back down to the vortex.  But so can sitting about doing nothing I guess.  The trick is  as always  to find a balance.   Sometimes I work 24/7 to save myself from staring down the black hole.

When I get very busy I can feel my brain speeding up telling me now this needs doing, now this, now this, now this!! I start to panic at the overwhelming amount of stuff that I need to get done – and without Will Smith or robotic assistance, there is sadly only me to do it.  This is not helped by the internet and constant online-ness of everything but I do not think that has been the cause.  I have always tried to outrun father time, but he just shakes his head sadly behind my shoulder.

The fragility of being a mere human being.   I’ve been told that this kind of  thinking is a result of lack of confidence – that people who lack confidence in themselves feel that nothing they achieve could ever be enough so they drive on and on and wear themselves to a raveling.  Well I’m no psych person but it sounds logical to me and certainly reflects my life tendencies. The fear inside, the need for an unattainable perfection.  Setting small daily goals helps because it’s valuable to concentrate on what has been achieved rather that thinking of the distance still to run.

But this is how I see it.  I’ve been given my brain and if it works or if it doesn’t work it’s mine to cope with.  But also it’s mine to use to the best of my ability.  I read somewhere that the average human being (that’s pretty much most of us except for Stephen Hawking RIP and a few others) uses only around 30%  of his/her potential brain power.  Imagine that!  Only one-third. We’ve still got two-thirds to go guys – and there’s a planet to save.

Megan’s Anxiety Raceway

I have a recurring stumbling block that when I trip over that I can’t always get up from right away. When I have upset someone or done something wrong (no matter if it’s major or minor) I can’t function.

If it happens at work, I can’t be productive. I will spin around in my office chair until I can go home to crawl into bed and hope one of my cats joins me.

This morning it happened and I have barely done any work at all.  My mind continues to race around the thought that I upset someone. On repeat I hear, “you upset this person, there’s no way they will love you anymore” and “why are you such an idiot, Megan? Why didn’t/did you do that? So moronic!”

My stomach is in knots. My brain is a scrambled egg.

Even if what I did/didn’t do is minute, I always have this type of reaction. My anxiety jumps into the Subaru Legacy in my brain (that’s the car I drive), revs the engine and speeds around the race track that is my mind. I’m calling it Megan’s Anxiety Raceway.

I can mess up without criticizing myself only if my actions don’t effect someone else. Like if I spill my smoothie on the floor (did it last year, very messy) or misplace my work keys (happened this morning, they were in my office), it doesn’t matter. Knowing someone is hurt, disappointed or flat out angry at me makes my mind shrivel up. I think again and again about how I should have acted differently to prevent whatever happened.

My regrets stick with me because of my anxiety. I am a professional ruminater.

How do you overcome your anxious thoughts? How do you stop ruminating over stuff? Please leave me a comment! I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. While it’s great there’s a month dedicated to this, it should be 365-day year awareness.

I understand suicide can be a touchy subject especially for those who have struggled with it themselves or have lost a loved one to it.

I wanted to share my personal story with suicide because that was something I struggled with for a long time.

I was 14 years old when I started getting suicidal thoughts. I was in high school and was completely miserable. I was living in an abusive household suffering abuse from my mom on a daily basis. It was physical, verbal, & psychological abuse. Living in such a toxic environment and experiencing that abuse on a regular basis caused me to go into a severe depression.

I would spend hours locked in my room crying myself to sleep. I would always question God asking him “why me?”

“Why was this happening to me?”

“Why did I have to get a mom who treated me so terribly?”

It wasn’t much longer when I started to get suicidal thoughts on a regular basis.

My mom told me so many lies on a regular basis that it was hard for me to not believe them. She convinced me I was a burden to others & that I shouldn’t be on this earth. She told me things that no child or person should ever here. She told me she wished I were never born and that she wished she had me aborted when she had the chance. These are things I wish I could say never happened, but those were all lies she told me.

My thoughts started to become more negative and darker as the days went on. I started to lose feelings of happiness and forgot what happiness felt like. I started to feel numb & empty on the inside not feeling any emotions but sadness. I started to cope with self-harm when I was 14 years old. I believed it was the only way for me to feel something besides emptiness & sadness so I turned to self-harm.

That’s when the suicidal thoughts started to creep in and became more frequent. I started to believe the lies my mom and my depression told me. I believed I was a burden to others and that the world would be a better place without me in it. I wanted out of the world so bad that I came up with a plan when I was 15 years old to end my life. I had been prescribed pain medication from a dentist visit when I had to get a root canal and researched that medication and found that if I took all of the pills in the bottle I could never wake up again. That was my plan.

It was like playing tug o war in my mind though, there was that part of me that believed I was a burden and that I should just leave the world now, but there was another part of me that wanted to keep fighting. It told me to keep pushing through that those negative thoughts were lies and I could beat them.

I confided in my high school’s guidance counselor and he helped me push through the suicidal thoughts. I didn’t seek out treatment for my depression at the time even though I should have. Throughout high school I still struggled with depression and being active in sports helped me manage it.

After high school and when I went away to University the suicidal thoughts started to creep in again. I thought it was just homesickness since I was going to school on the other side of the country, but it was much deeper than that for me.

It was the summer of 2014 when I was home from University that I sought out treatment for my depression. I struggled with an alcohol addiction and one day when I had way too much to drink I couldn’t control the suicidal thoughts. I knew that if I didn’t seek out help that night, I would have harmed myself and may not be alive today. I had my best friend’s boyfriend drive me to the mental hospital and drop me off. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this and I told him yes I knew if I didn’t get help I was only going to get worse.

I spent three days in the crisis unit of the mental hospital. I was put on Zoloft and anxiety medication that helped ease my anxiety while I was there. I wish I could say going on Zoloft helped with my depression, but it actually made things worse for me. At the time I was diagnosed with depression and didn’t know I had bipolar disorder. When I was on Zoloft I felt like a zombie I was so out of it and numb, I hated it. I didn’t realize that for those who have bipolar disorder, anti-depressants could cause you to go into mania, which it did for me.

When I was back at University that semester I was a wreck. I was in and out of depressive episodes along with being in manic episodes. My alcohol problem was out of control and my behavior was reckless. I was failing all of my classes and was drinking on a daily basis. I started to struggle with self-harm again and the suicidal thoughts again. I knew that if I didn’t leave University and get myself out of that environment things were only going to get worse for me. That’s when I withdrew from University and moved back home to Florida.

I wish I could say everything got better for me when I got back home to Florida, but my depression grew worse. The psychiatrist I was seeing was no help at all to me and didn’t listen to my problems. He didn’t care to give me a proper psych evaluation and just wrote me a script for the next anti-depressant out there. I continued to struggle with self-harm and battled the suicidal thoughts daily.

I was empty & numb living in an endless cycle of my depression.

It wasn’t until the end of 2016 when I finally found a psychiatrist who gave me a proper psych evaluation and diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Getting on the proper medication and changing my lifestyle to healthier habits, put an end to the suicidal thoughts. It was like the fog had finally been lifted and I could see clearly again. I started to see a therapist for a few months as well that helped me work through some of the issues from my past.

I’m happy to say that I am stable now and have not harmed myself in over three years now. I still find myself going into depressive episodes every now and then and will catch the suicidal thoughts creeping into my mind. I’ve become a lot stronger than I was three years ago and can fight off the thoughts much better than before.

I know living with a mental illness will be a life long battle for me. I’ve spent over ten years now fighting the demons and while it can be exhausting, I know I will survive the fight.

For those of you that have experienced something similar or going through a tough time please never hesitate to seek out help. There are so many resources available out there today and remember you are not a burden to others. Your life matters and you are never alone in this fight.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Confronting Your Shadow Self

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection.” – Carl Jung

This last month I stumbled upon something new called shadow work. It was something I’ve never heard of before and it intrigued me. Shadow work is when you take a closer look within yourself at the parts of yourself that you hide. The “dark side” of your personality; the negative parts you might be ashamed of, fearful around, or feel guilt around. It’s something we all have inside of ourselves, but it can be hard to acknowledge and address it.

The psychologist Carl Jung was the one who coined the term “personal shadow.” This is the part of the psyche a lot of people tend to neglect and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Even when you pretend it doesn’t exist your personal shadow can operate on it’s own without us being fully aware. It’s when the unconscious mind assumes control while our conscious self goes on autopilot. The longer you repress your shadow the more you start to see those qualities in the others around you.

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to work on my self-awareness and to heal myself from within. I spent the last three years focusing on my physical health; I didn’t spend as much time on my mental health and inner work as I should have. Something I’ve learned through my journey is that the mental transformation is just as powerful if not more powerful than a physical transformation.

Shadow work is for everyone, as humans we all have parts of ourselves we like to hide or feel embarrassed to share with others about. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I’ve had to overcome numerous obstacles like the abuse my mom put me through for almost 18 years. All of those painful memories & experiences I had growing up, I pushed so far back in my head wanting to never think about them again.

When I stumbled upon shadow work it made me realize that I need to stop pretending that the memories don’t exist. Yes they are painful and I’m embarrassed about some of them, but they are going to resurface at some point in time so I can fully move on and continue my growth. Diving into the shadow work and committing to the process was a little scary for me. What scared me the most was fully addressing all those memories & allowing myself come to terms with them.

One of the first steps of shadow work is addressing the memories or emotions you’ve hid from for so long. You also must figure out and identify possible triggers that cause certain emotions with those memories. When you’ve identified the memories & triggers you can start to work on moving on from those to create new beliefs that will bring positive light into your life.

For me this is just the beginning of my own shadow work and bringing awareness to those dark parts so I can bring in new light. If this is something that does intrigue you I encourage you to look more into it as well. It’s something that everyone can benefit from and will only bring in more positivity in the long run.

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How to Break the Cycle of Abuse Within Your Own Mind

I am really good at not being good to myself.

“Most of your class is smarter than you.” “No one wants to be your friend.” “Of course you didn’t win.”

Throughout my childhood, I taught myself to have no self pride. At all. Despite being decently intelligent and skilled; I could never accept a compliment. If I didn’t win the very best at a contest, the voices inside told me why. If I happened to do well; they reminded me of how many other people were better, or of how there weren’t many competitors.

I’d love to say things have gotten better, but they haven’t.

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“Look, see: that person says she likes that person, but doesn’t even look at you when you’re walking by.” “There you go, dummy; forgetting everything again.” “Well, who would want to be your friend?”

I could blame the internet, exposing me and millions of others TO millions of others. But if I’m being honest, my negative self would be able to beat me up even without bringing the rest of the world into the comparisons.

When I’ve addressed this problem with self-meditation, self-medication (usually chocolate), and the occasional session with a therapist; I …can’t actually address it. I’m so good at not being good to me that I jump right in to sabotage any sort of progress.

Me: “Well, when someone compliments me, I feel like they probably don’t know the whole picture.”

Also Me: Justifying “I’m not that good at cooking/writing/being a friend/etc. That person is just really nice. She tells the off-key 8-year-olds at church that they sang beautifully.”

I’m so good at not being good that I claim my conclusions are LOGICAL. I bring outside evidence to back the negativity up, disguise rudeness as truth, and name-calling as accurate titles.

And I don’t see this as wrong.

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If I had a friend (See? If I had a friend? -so mean!) -anyway- If I had a friend whose boyfriend were saying that crap to her, I’d immediately tell her it was abusive behavior. If someone at school were telling these things to my son, I’d advise him to stand up for himself and even talk to his teacher about it. If I were reading a book or watching a movie and heard the things that play in my head all day; I would recognize the character as a petty, selfish bully.

Living with me all day every day, however, I do not. As you may have guessed, I tell myself that negativity is exactly what I deserve.

…Which makes breaking out of the cycle of abuse that much more difficult. And yes, it is a cycle of abuse.

As such, the actually LOGICAL steps to getting out would be to follow professional advice for leaving an abuser. The internet may be providing fodder for my inaccurate comparisons, but it also has a lot of information to help save me from them. In fact, there is even a wikiHow on breaking an abusive cycle.

Since we’re dealing with an internal abuser, I’ve taken their list and modified it:

  1. Leave.
    I can’t exactly leave my own head, but see that my substance abuse and attempts to disassociate are a lot like telling an abusive spouse I’m leaving, but not actually packing bags and arranging for another place to live.
    I feel that I don’t know where to go or what to pack yet, but maybe I can start asking around and collecting a few moving boxes.
  2. Don’t dismiss, justify, or accept the abuse.
    Frankly, I need to stop agreeing with the Meany-Head in my head. I can probably, sort-of, start talking back to it like a stubborn 3-year-old. According to professionals, that’s healthier than allowing it.
  3. Look out for the honeymoon phase.
    I didn’t think self-abuse had this, but it does. I have days or even weeks of letting up on myself. I smile without reminding myself that poor children in Africa have little to smile about. I accept a compliment and don’t downplay it.
  4. Don’t fall for that break in abuse!!
    I can’t let my guard down and assume everything’s better if there is little or no meanness.
    When I went on a successful diet one time, I mentally associated sugars and refined flour with fat gain. Those two became repulsive to me and I had no appetite to eat them.
    Similarly, I’ve got to put a no-acceptance-at-all mental block on the negative talk. Like Susan said in her article, I’ve got to respond right away with positivity.
  5. Unearth your superpower.
    The wikiHow articles says, “One reason individuals stay in abusive relationships is because they feel powerless and unable to act.” Boy, is that ever true. I feel overwhelmed at the idea of finding strength within myself.
    BUT, there are times that I am motivated to act -no matter how depressed or beaten-down I feel. Those times include: if someone I love is in danger, if injustice is raising its ugly head, and when things pile up so much that I simply cannot tolerate any more.
    If I can find strength even in the darkest despair, I can fight this abuse.
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  6. Go get help.
    I think this is my favorite of the steps, because I often suffer from Analysis Paralysis. I don’t know the ‘right’ direction to go, so stand and stare at the different options until I get frustrated and give up.
    With a counselor, therapist, psychologist, trained friend, or even a small reminder to literally choose to be positive; I can get GPS instructions for which way to start walking.

So, what am I waiting for? Honestly, I’m waiting for it to be easier. I’m waiting for the ‘right’ motivation. I’m probably waiting for the chocolate to kick in.

But I have a list. I have a goal. I want to Keep Fighting instead of keep bending over backwards and feeling worthless.

So, let’s do this thing. Who’s with me?

Photo Credit:
Andrei Lazarev
Siavash Ghanbari
Philipp Wüthrich
Gabriela Braga

©2019 Chelsea Owens

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Finding Joy … in Jelly

red sweet jam strawberries

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

Last week was what seemed like an impossible week.  Working to come down from weeks of mania we got aggressive (be aggressive, be be aggressive!) and it took a toll on my body.  I could barely function, but I was too stubborn to take time off work due to an upcoming vacation that now is just around the corner.

I worked my hardest to exist, and then I worked ten times harder to try and do my job in some sort of a capacity that resembled my normal fashion.

News Alert!! I barely passed.  And today I have been dealing with all the piles of crap that I left unfinished, semi-finished, and barely attempted in a scattered, “a tornado just blew through here” fashion.  I have been picking up the pieces all day, shaking my head, asking myself what the hell was I thinking and being quite embarrassed for what I did and did not do.

Saying that it is hard to co-habitat with a mental illness is clearly an understatement.  At this point, I will need to redo most of what I did last week.  I had an uber important meeting this morning and in my mind, it was my worst ever.  It took everything in me to not sink down in my chair, hide under the table and when no one was looking crawl out the door and run to my car and cry.

But I had a whole day left, a day full of tasks to complete and there was no time for a melt down and the pity party was really getting lame.  I messed up.  The reality of the situation is that I did the best I could with the tools that I had to work with, which happened to be a pretty sedated brain coming down from an extended manic episode.

It was made clear today that I cannot be, and I am not perfect.  AND no one ever asked me to be.  It was only ever asked that I try and do my best.

Some days are more challenging than others.  There are days that zip by and I end the day with a giant smile on my face, while others tip toe through the seconds of the day painfully and I dread every second.  I am still learning how to cohabitate with Bipolar Disorder.  I think I have it and then there’s a twist, a turn and a somersault and I realize that I have no clue what I am doing, I get scared and I freeze.

Other days, like this morning, I get immense, immense joy from something so incredibly simple it is silly, like for example, eating a buttered jelly piece of toast.  I had no idea I was going to have a day from hell, that I was going to mentally beat myself to a pulp and I was going to be held accountable for the actions of the side effects of the mental illness that I suffer from.  Yet, this morning, I had joy.  And that was simply amazing.  So when I look back on this day, I am going to ignore all the crap and I am going to focus on the fact that I felt joy today, pure uninterrupted joy, and that’s something that has not happened in sometime, and for this I am beyond thankful.

Sprinkles and Cupcakes,

Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com