Recovery Is Not About “Getting Over Your Issues”

I used to think that if I could just “get over my issues,” I would be happy.

๐๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ’๐ฌ ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž “๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ ๐š๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ” ๐ฆ๐ฒ๐ญ๐ก ๐ข๐ง ๐š ๐๐ข๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ฆ. โฃโ € โฃโ €

Plus, my interpretation of ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด looked like stuffing them down inside and ploughing ahead, hiding my limping mental health. โฃโ € โฃ

I say ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ because if I had *actually* been limping physically, I would have stopped to rest and assess. โฃโ € โฃโ €

Not so with mental health. โฃโ € โฃ

Today, I no longer think it’s ๐˜ฆ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ/๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ. It’s not “either you have issues, ๐จ๐ซ you are happy.” It’s not “either you get over your issues, ๐จ๐ซ you remain unhappy.”โฃโ € โฃโ €

The two are not mutually exclusive, nor does one guarantee the other.โฃโ € โฃ

Overcoming ๐˜ฆ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ/๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ, ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ-๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ-๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ is an ongoing part of the recovery process, for me. โฃโ € โฃโ €

Thanks for reading. xoxoโฃโ € โฃโ €

P.S. ๐˜’๐˜ฎ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฌ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ-๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ want ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜จ๐˜ฐ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฅ. ๐˜’๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜’๐˜ฎ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜บ.

I’d like to share a post by fellow mental health blogger Megan, because she has echoed a lot of what I’m experiencing from an anxiety perspective: Mental Health Monday: 7 Tips for Having Hard Conversations About Race When Youโ€™re White and Have Anxiety

I will end with this thought, which is imperfect, but my understanding of everything that’s going on is just as imperfect and constantly evolving:

I Am Not Social Anxiety (And Neither Are You) โฃ

I am not social anxiety, but I accept it as part of my life.

I’m still working in the direction of “recovery,” but I’ve made space for a lot of nuance in what I think that looks like. โฃ

I think I used to equate recovery with “cure,” and I used to think “cured” meant no longer socially anxious or held back by “shyness” or “introversion” at all. โฃ

But that mindset came from a place of unnecessary and hurtful self-rejection. โฃ

Self-acceptance

I had to shift to a place of self-acceptance before any recovery could really take place. โฃAnd there have been some other changes, too:

  • I stopped viewing shyness or introversion negatively once I realized they weren’t the same thing as social anxiety (or as one another).
  • I’ve started to see social anxiety disorder as the thing that makes me censor myself from the world. โฃEven from myself sometimes. Recovery has meant learning to turn down the censor and let the real me emerge. โฃ
  • Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that self-shame is just not a useful tool for recovery.

Not broken

I’m learning to accept that who I am inside is ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต the problem. And that recovery doesn’t mean “fixing” the real me within.

I’m not broken.

Please don’t beat yourself up if you experience social anxiety. You’re not bad or weak or broken.

You are not social anxiety.

xoxo

Anxious Thoughts #3: How To Work Through Anxious Thoughts

As a follow-up to my posts on cognitive distortions and how to challenge them, I went back through my therapy notes (from almost 2 years ago) and found the following example that I wrote down.

Looking back, I’m a little surprised at how anxious I got in the situation. I wonder how I would handle a similar situation if it came up now.

Here’s the situation:

As I walked into daycare one morning, the supervisor asked if I could come by her office after dropping off the kids in their rooms. At the time I was already in peak social anxiety mode and easily triggerable.

BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT WHY WHY WHY WHAT
Photo by Henda Watani from Pexels

STEP 1 Here are the automatic anxious thoughts I had in the moment*:

*(as recorded in my anxiety journal afterwards)

  1. She’s going to tell me I’m too irregular with drop-off and pick-up times. [I was self-conscious about this at the time.]
  2. She thinks I’m flakey and don’t provide enough stability to my children.
  3. She feels inconvenienced by my erratic drop-off times.
  4. My children will never learn structure or time management and will become bridge-dwelling, axe-wielding serial killers. [Obviously I was exaggerating for effect. OR WAS I.]
Photo by AleksKuprFilmz from Pexels

STEP 2 Here’s how I broke down and labelled the distortions:

  1. She’s going to tell me I’m too irregular with drop-off and pick-up times: probability overestimation
  2. She thinks I’m flakey and don’t provide enough stability to my children: mind reading
  3. She feels inconvenienced by my erratic drop-off times: mind reading
  4. My children will never learn structure or time management and will become bridge-dwelling, axe-wielding serial killers: catastrophizing

STEP 3 And here’s how I countered those distortions:

  1. She’s going to tell me I’m too irregular with drop-off and pick-up times = Maybe she just needs to talk about something benign and administrative.
  2. She thinks I’m flakey and don’t provide enough stability to my children = Maybe she thinks I’m a great mom (if she even gives more than a passing thought about me as a mom at all, which she may not). And I can’t be the only parent who doesn’t do drop-off and pick-up like clockwork.
  3. She feels inconvenienced by my erratic drop-off times = The daycare is open from 7:30 am to 6 pm. I’m sure it’s fine if sometimes I come at 8:30 am and sometimes I come at 9:30 am.
  4. My children will never learn structure or time management and will become bridge-dwelling, axe-wielding serial killers = It is probably not likely that BOTH of my kids will become bridge-dwellers AND axe-wielders AND serial killers.

The actual outcome?

The supervisor needed to check something benign about the postdated cheque I had given her. I think I had dated it for the Monday instead of the Friday or something.

Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

Anxious energy clearly well spent.

15 Things I Want You to Know About Anxiety Recovery

My brain is a wee bit battered and fried after today’s therapy session, so I thought I would try my hand at a list-type post and see what you think. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are 15 of the many things I’ve learned on my mental health journey. I hope they help, and feel free to ask questions in the comments!

  1. Progress is possible.
  2. Everyone progresses at their own pace.
  3. Everyone has different areas of focus.
  4. Regarding therapy, you donโ€™t have to know what you need help with before you seek support. (Itโ€™s their job to help you figure that out.)
  5. Feeling anxious doesnโ€™t necessarily mean that youโ€™re doing something wrong or that something is wrong around you. It doesnโ€™t mean you have to do anything to “fix” or “police” the situation.
  6. Try not to judge your insides based on someone else’s outsides. (This one comes from my mother-in-law, actually.)
  7. Think about the incredibly high standards you have for yourself. Who do they truly benefit? What would happen if you lowered the bar and let yourself breathe?
  8. You can be anxious and have fun at the same time. Anxiety can coexist with positive emotions and experiences.
  9. A lapse is not the same as a relapse. You’re never truly back to where you started, because that’s in the past and you aren’t a time traveller. (Or are you?)
  10. Don’t beat yourself up if you do stumble. Self-condemnation is toxic and is more likely to undo healing than it is to โ€œpush youโ€ to greater success.
  11. Progress is about learning to tolerate feelings of anxiety so that those feelings become less powerful. Itโ€™s about learning to say, “Hey there, anxiety, I see you. You’re not in charge anymore, but I’m not going to pretend I don’t see you.” Anxiety doesnโ€™t go away by pretending itโ€™s not there.
  12. Itโ€™s not about reaching some โ€œperfectโ€ fantasy version of yourself. Itโ€™s about learning how to accept yourself as a whole package. I couldnโ€™t truly progress until I shed the belief that I was โ€œbad until better.โ€
  13. You are not bad. You are not weak. You are not alone.
  14. You deserve support.
  15. It’s never too late to feel better inside.

I hope you find these encouraging as your tackle you own anxiety or mental health mountains (and molehills, because those are tricky too sometimes, especially if you are a mole who is also lost in the mountains).