Control… My Imperfection

My Imperfection – My Need for Control

yung-chang-108329-unsplash.jpgFor those that follow my regular blog posts, I often talk about control–or more to the point when I lose control when my anxiety spirals into a panic attack.

It is the worst feeling in the world for me because I crave control in all things in this life. It is my imperfection, and sometimes I wish that my life was more perfect (I am a perfectionist as well, but lately I have relinquished some of those feelings. Those seconds, minutes, and even hours where I lose control of myself during a panic attack is what I describe as the worst thing to live through in my mind. Many people say give into the anxiety and relinquish the control. I wish life were that easy.

I have always been this way. When I worked on my bachelor’s degree, I had to be the best in the class. It is a type of control I crave. When you’re the smartest person in the class, it means a lot–at least in my mind. I was like that in everything in this life, but the bad parts of being this way are what always got me into trouble. When things go wrong in my life, it brings me down, and I had to learn through therapy.

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Working This Out in Therapy

When talking to my therapist it the idea of “control” often comes up in my sessions. In truth, it feels like it comes up in every session at times. I need a set schedule each moment from the time I open my eyes. My days are generally planned, and I go into a major panic mode when people ask me to go outside my usual comfort zone and do things on a whim. I am not a whimsical human being. I think my need to control is why I do better in individual therapy over group because there I have no control. With my therapist, I can decide where the conversation goes and often my therapist that “You’re too hard on yourself James.”

That is where working on yourself comes into play. I am still struggling with the “need” to have control, but I have been working on it. I think as humans we get caught up in our imperfections because they make you feel good. It is an area that you believe that makes you stronger, and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Still, it can also hinder you because when things go wrong, it could lead to a dangerous spiral into depression or anxiety. Therapy helps.

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Makings of Real Change

What got me back on track was earlier this year in the middle of a bad depression cycle that lasted from March to early May.

I could feel myself losing control of all the parts of my life. As I spiraled it helped to write here on my blog and I could see the trend. Instead of continuing to get down on myself I sought out help from my therapist. I realized that wanting control was making me spiral and I gave up when life got too hard (not completely, I was still in school but I was doing just enough to get by.) Things really changed after that and while I still hate losing control during a panic attack I have somewhat learned to accept it. That something I can work on in the coming year.

What are things that you struggle with or consider imperfections, and how does it affect your mental health?

Stay strong my friends.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Patryk Grądys

Yung Chang

Kira auf der Heide

Jonathan Rados

When panic attacks, this is how I regain control

My anxiety has this charming habit where it can completely derail my life when it’s in the mood, but, today I wanted to share some pretty neat ways that I calm the Anxiety Monster when it throws a tantrum.

They definitely don’t completely rid me of my panic, but, they do help me regain control over my mind, and that really speeds up the process of recovering from crippling anxiety to being able to get on with my life – because that doesn’t wait for us when our mental illnesses are having a go at us.

These are pretty effective for run-of-the-mill stress, and if you’re a pro-Worrier like me, then these are (I hope) really helpful.

If you decide to try any of these, even when you’re just feeling a little stressed, I would love to know if it helped!

The Can-and-Can’t Controllables

When faced with an immediate and triggering situation, I make lists with two columns: “Things I Cannot Control” and “Things I Can Control”

The root of all stress (a certain trigger for my anxiety) is our perception of control over a the outcome of a situation. We often don’t realize how significant our abject horror is at the fact that we can’t control everything, and how much it can exacerbate our already-prone-to-panic minds.

Today, my panic attacks were triggered by the sudden news that I have to find a new apartment in 2 weeks, so my list looked kind of this:

Things I Cannot Control

  • The price of property
  • The fact that I have to move

Things I Can Control

  • Where I will live
  • How much information I have about my options

I know it seems slightly silly, but when you have a full list of things you CAN control, highlighted with colorful lines and exclamation points reminding you to only focus on those, you also have a list of stuff on the “can’t control” list that you now recognize have no business being worried about, because – well, you can’t control them.

List of stuff you’re allowed to worry about

This is a habitual reminder. Before you label this as way-too-obvious, it’s very powerful for someone with heavy control issues like me. I am a firm believer that we can engrain stuff into our brains and make them part of our lifestyles, and this list is an attempt at just that. It lists the things in the world, my life, and my character that I am responsible for, and is stuck up next to mirror, so that every morning I read the following:

“Stuff I’m Responsible for/Can Control

  • My choices and actions
  • My attitudes and priorities
  • With whom, where, and on what I spend my time, money, labour, and resources

If the thing you’re worrying about is not on THIS list, STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT!”

I love lists – maybe a bit too much. My psychology textbook says people with over controlling, A Type tendencies (like me) are more prone to illness, and even Coronary Heart Disease (yikes).

But, even though I’m trying to lighten up on the whole totally-mortified-at-the-chaotic-consequences-of-losing-total-control thing, I also think my list-making is a way of making affirmations and it’s necessary step to regaining control over my mind when anxiety pushes it off the rails.

Maybe lists and being obsessed with what I can control can be detrimental if overdone, but, in the case of using these controllable vs. uncontrollable lists as a GPS for my brain when Generalized Anxiety throws it into the wild, I think it’s a helpful habit.

If you don’t make lists, are there any other ways that help you regain control over your mind when panic strikes? If so, I’d love to hear them!

– Steph