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For some people one of the hardest things to do is to accept yourself exactly how you are. We have grown up in a society that puts a certain life style a certain look ahead of others. When we do this we place them on to a pedestal that in most cases we can never be. We compare ourselves to what others have and how they look.
For those that are not on that pedestal we see ourselves as being flawed. We feel we are not good looking enough. We don’t make enough money. Eventually we start telling us that we are not good enough. We slowly start to despise and hate ourselves. We find it hard to even look at ourselves in the mirror because we detest what we feel we have become.
I can speak from personal experience of looking at someone else life and wanting and dreaming of having a different life. I can even recall spending countless hours praying for something else and then feeling forsaken because of not receiving it.
Growing up my whole life I have always fought with stomach disorders. I have seen that disorder become a major part of my life as well as a major part of relationships. For some it can be hard to be in a relationship with one that is unable to do certain things. When we go through turbulent times from heart break or down on our luck it becomes natural for us to either fight it or run from it.
Growing up I always found it easier to run from it. Why address it head on? Why bring on more pain? We can always just escape our lives or our realities if we want to. What I didn’t know at the time was that no matter how hard I wanted to run and how far I wanted to go. There was nowhere to run to that was away from myself. For wherever I went I was still there. We can only ignore something for so long before it eventually catches up to us.
For me that catching up was the realization that my life was not a happy one. I had always hoped that if I ignored life then life would ignore me. Unfortunately life is going to happen regardless if we want it to or not. I had always hoped that I could change who I was and be someone else. Reality was I could only be this one person; the person who I am.
The biggest moment of peace came to me when I had the realization that this is who I am and there was no changing that. The acceptance of me as who I am as an individual was the start of inner peace and happiness.
The acceptance of ourselves as who we are does not mean we cannot become something more. Those, like myself, that do not have the best health at times. We can seek out treatment and ways to live a better life. We just have the inner peace of mind with knowing that while we do look for treatment even if we cannot find any treatment that we are great just the way we are with knowing that this is a part of us. Will it always be a part of us? Only time can tell the answer to that question.
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” — Nathaniel Branden
One of the hardest things about anxiety, depression, and the like, is that eventually one starts to hate themselves. They start to hate that they feel this way, or that their body does this or that. They hate that they are not normal like everyone else. When they start down that path they start to not have love for themselves. When you start to not love yourself it is very hard to have happiness and be happy in life. They say one can not love another until they love themselves. Learning to love myself was a very, very hard thing to do. I have learned that it is hard to face these challenges in life if one can not love themselves because they can not have confidence in themselves. So everything becomes so much harder for them.
Self love is one of the most important types of love a person can have in their life, yet so many lacks this type of love.
A lack of self love will create all types of problems within oneself. Those problems can have a long lasting effect on a person’s mind and body. The problems can be anything from low self esteem, negative thinking, to having feelings of inadequacy, feelings of not being good enough.
Low levels of self love, for the most part, stem from poor self image that someone else has created for you or that we create for ourselves. Being told one was not good enough, one was not attractive enough. They lead to low levels of self love, low self esteem, and poor self consciousness.
Many of us when looking upon ourselves only see disgust, and see faults within. At times we can be our own worst critic, and judge ourselves too harshly. It also doesn’t help when we compare ourselves to others, and when we place high ideals upon what we “think” we should look like. As well as what outside sources tell us we should look like, or what media uses to represent what beauty is.
The first step to breaking free of its grip we must learn to accept ourselves. We must accept everything about us, from our head to our toes. We must accept the good as well as the bad. We must forgive ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made, and will probably make again. Each and every decision we make in our lives. We make with the knowledge that we possessed at the time. That decision made us who we are, and brought us to where we are in our lives. If we felt that the decision was not the best decision, or that we could make a better decision, we must accept the one we made. We then take the knowledge we have from our error and use it to not make that mistake again.
Let it go. Let it all go… Is what most people would tell you. But when you live with anxiety, as I do, it’s not that simple for us.
For us the past can have such a tight grip on you, sticking its big nose where it does not belong. In your life. Messing things up. If we could easily just let it go, throw it all in the trash, we wouldn’t all be faced with anxiety. We wouldn’t get anxiety attacks. It would be a stress free world for us. The worst part about it all, is we have a tendency to hold onto not just events and experiences, but the people that caused those bad experiences for us. The irony being we hold the bad stuff and prevent ourselves from finding and allowing new stuff in our lives. Our fears of the bad stuff prevents us from allowing stuff that can be so much better for us to enter our lives.
Letting go of things and people is something I am working on in my life. I can even be a pack rat at times keeping papers and documents I no longer need. Under the false guise that I could need it again. The things we tell ourselves to do things. I swear sometimes having a brain is a bad thing. Is a lobotomy an outpatient procedure?
I will learn to let go. I will allow the past to be the past. I will allow myself to live in the present. I will let go. I will live freely.
It is such a simple thing the ability to go out places. Yet for someone like me, with anxiety, it’s the hardest thing ever. They say it’s because our brains are hard wired differently, or the chemistry in the brain is not regulated properly.
You never really know how to appreciate life and the simple things until you can not appreciate them because you can not experience them. Those words have never been more true to me. You never really think of how difficult or trying it can be to just go out some place. Until you find that it’s hard to go out because of anxiety. Something that most people take for granted their ability to go out somewhere at the drop of a hat or spontaneously.
As I am working on healing myself and getting to that place of being able to do that. I had the idea of creating a wall of achievements. Where I write down what I did so I am able to look at it on a constant basis to reaffirm that I can do this. I can do that. In the hopes of seeing it and doing it more helps make it easier to do. Instead of just run away from it all. Perhaps this idea can help you overcome your anxiety as well.
Each small achievement can help give you the courage and confidence to keep going. When we want to just quit and run away and hide under the covers.
Make it fun, and go gentle on yourself. Part of mine looks like;
- Went to the movies with brother. (I drove.)
- Took my boss to another town, 35 mins away, to pick up a car. (That was huge for me. In the car with my boss.)
- Went to the comic shop with a friend. (Drove again.)
This seems like small things to most, yet to me it was challenging. I am proud to say I survived them all with no incident. They are leading to my biggest challenge to date at the end of this month when I go on vacation, which will have a three hour car drive. I have not taken a vacation where I went somewhere in 11 years. The last time I went on one was with family and it was a terrible anxious time for me and have not gone on vacation since. I am both excited and terrified by this. I am hopeful to get through this experience even though I want to just cancel it and say no to it. Like I always did in the past. I am choosing a better life. And I hope you do to.
One of the worst things that I have had the pleasure or displeasure of facing in my life was anxiety. Anxiety can be a crippling thing that can keep us from enjoying our life. In extreme cases anxiety can lead to us not leaving our houses.
For me I would get anxious around my health. For me foods can travel through me and want to get out of me very quickly where I need to find a bathroom as quick as humanly possible. There are some days where humanly possible is not quick enough.
This is where the anxiety would start to happen. Can I go out? Will I be able to make it to the bathroom? Will I get there fast enough? Should I eat before hand? Should I eat there or should I wait to eat until I get home? There would be the thoughts that would be traveling through my mind before I did anything. Just the idea of going someplace would create these thoughts. After these thoughts are starting in my head the next train of thoughts are the deadly “what ifs.” What if I can’t find a bathroom? What if I get sick? What if I don’t make it? What if? What if?
To some the solution would be the simple one. Don’t go out. This was my solution. Just stay in. Don’t go anywhere. Outside bad! Inside Good. Stay home. I only went out, sparingly, and when I needed to. As easy as that would be it then creates a life that is devoid of much in it. No going out. No doing this. No doing that. Sure, it is easier that way. Is that a life one really wants to live?
That option was not something I could just do all the time for my life. My job requires me to travel 100%. When you are traveling for a living there is no option to not go out. You have to go out. It is what you signed up to do. For someone like me, having a job where I needed to travel, was one of the hardest things ever. Trying to get to work some days, was like walking on a floor of fire. I have no idea what that would be like, actually. Walking on fire could be a pleasant thing and feel much better than a day with anxiety. I’d probably take walking on fire than an anxiety attack truth be told.
What does one do in such a situation?
Sure you can just quit your job and find an easier one. That could be something to do. You could also just live in your house and never go out. Without your job you won’t be able to afford you house, pay your bills, or able to get food for yourself. Your relationships may start to fall apart. Which is what happened to me. How many people can give up their way of living, and what they want out of life, for another that can not? Those that are not in these shoes, can not truly understand. They know of it, and may be sympathetic to you, but they truly can not understand what it is like. To be so crippled by anxiety, and fear. That is overpowers you and controls your life. That is the biggest thing with anxiety you have no control. You have no say in what will happen. And with my stomach, the unpredictability of it all, it put me into a place where I had no control over my stomach and what would happen. Could I go here, or there, what if I eat this and it does not agree with me? Without that control one does not feel like they have stability in their life.
It can be hard to be in a relationship with one that is able to enjoy things in life. I have seen relationships fall apart in my own life because of not doing much or really enjoying life.
So what does one do?
They work on healing that anxiety that is preventing them from living their life. To heal the anxiety one needs to understand how anxiety works. Anxiety and anxious thoughts are thoughts that our mind creates based on the circumstances that we have faced in the past and are creating a future that we see based on those experiences that we have already faced and endured.
In other words when things have happened to us that we see as bad or dangerous our mind hold onto it and paints that as the probable outcome in the future. As far as we know we know that to be true. We know what happened as being the only thing that can happen and will happen. That in essence is our anxiety. We become anxious that yesterday will be today and will turn into tomorrow.
It seems simple enough. To stop the anxiety we have to stop the thoughts that are creating the anxiety. How do we just turn off those thoughts? In my experience it is not as simple as just turning them off. For me I learned that those thoughts that get created in our mind do not need to stay in our mind. They can be let go and we can watch as they leave our minds.
How do we just let them go then? For me the first step in letting them go was in the acceptance of what has happened has already happened. Those times of “failure” had already happened. There was nothing I can do to change that. There was another piece of information that I learned in accepting the past. That was the fact that the future does not have to be the past. In other words what happened in the past does not mean it will happen now.
That was a powerful little piece of information to have. The past does not have to be now. What that meant was I had the knowledge that today can and will be different from yesterday and I could mold tomorrow into something better than.
It is a liberating thought to have. Does that mean those thoughts never exist for me? No, I can not say that. I wish I could. But even today, as I talked about yesterday, those thoughts and feelings still exist within me. Anxiety is a vicious thing once it takes root within the mind. Even with many triumphs I have had over the years, anxiety can keep feeding itself within me, because of that one or two times where it didn’t go my way. Even if 200 times did go my way.
There are other things that we can do to help us combat our anxiety and be free from it. Those things are planning what we are doing so we are ready for all contingencies if need be. For me just knowing that today will be different is not the only thing that needs to be done. Because of my health there are other steps that I need to make to help ease the anxiety. Those steps are planning my day out to know what I need for the day.
I cannot plan when my stomach will act up. I can do the things that I need to so I am prepared in case. Such as knowing the route I am going to take. Knowing where I can stop if I need to.
There are other things you can do such as making sure you have a plan or action when going about to help give you peace of mind. When they tell you about ”in case of emergency packages” you can create one for yourself as well for the situations that are in your life. Being prepared helps you to not have the anxious thoughts because you are ready and equipped to face and tackle them.
Then there are other important things that one can do for themselves, and have been what I have been working on for the past couple months. That is changing my life. Changing the foods I eat and consume, eating foods that are more proper for my body, that has drastically changed my life and is helping me get my life back for the first time in 30 plus years. In a later post I will talk more about the change to my diet that I have done and how it has and is helping me live better and be better.
Living with anxiety is not a fun thing. I would not wish anxiety or depression on my worst enemies. It can be a vicious thing. It creates vicious circles that keep feeding itself over and over again.
For me, most of my anxiety is the result of my body, my stomach, and its unpredictability. It is something I have faced for a long, long time. As long as I can remember now. It’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t have it. I am still living with it now, even with my health improving. This blog is not just about how far I’ve come, but in my continuous journey to finding better health and better life.
One of the hard things about having a stomach that you can not control you don’t want to be in a car for an extended amount of time. Which also means you don’t want to be in the car with other people at the same time. As you don’t want them around you when things go poorly for you. For me, I prefer being alone when it happens. I wouldn’t want someone to see it happen, or me loose myself, or worse. I prefer it to be my me. I can stop if I need to, I can do my own thing. But when it has to happen, where someone needs to be with you for whatever reason, your brain and you go into overdrive.
It’s such a simple thing, riding in the car with others. Yet for one that has anxiety, panic attacks, it becomes one of the hardest things ever for them to do.
Today was just such a case. I was going out to the store to pick up groceries, and was taking a friend of a friend with me. Naturally I was nervous and anxious at this idea. But I needed to power through it and work through it, if I ever want to live a better life. They say to conquer fear one needs to confront it head on. I’ve never been a fan of that approach. Guess I’ve always been too scared to I guess. I have been forcing myself out more and more lately. It is helping. Still a long ways to go.
I am happy to report I was able to go out there to the store with no issues. I even stopped to talk to someone that liked my Zelda shirt I was wearing. Did I mention I am huge nerd?
Today was a good day. Another triumph for me. Here’s to many more.
That is the question I have asked myself over and over and over again over the years. What do you do when your stomach doesn’t work properly and nothing seems to help it work better? When you see doctor after doctor and they can not help you, and others tell you it’s all in your head. It’s all in your head, one of the worst things to hear, when you go through things, or when you have anxiety. It cuts so deep. Maybe on some level it maybe true, but it’s not the words you want to hear. You want people to believe you, and support you. Not make you feel like a loon that is bonkers. My other favorite, just do it this one time. Go out this one time. Do it this one time, as if there is a giant switch that I can flip to make myself “normal” for the night. I guess they don’t think to themselves, had their had been a switch, I would have broken it into the on position long ago.
The most frustrating thing of it all is when you can not get any answers so you can not really get any help. All you can do is just take this pill, or take that pill, or take this other pill. Maybe if we up the dosage of the first pill it will work. What the pill doesn’t make you feel good, well it’s just you. The pill doesn’t do that… Yes, that is sadly a true experience. I’ve had multiple tests, I’ve had things shoved in places they probably shouldn’t be shoved in. And even worse, after they shove it in, they never call you the next day. It’s like wam, bam, thank you ma’am. Typical. I was never diagnosed with anything. I had symptoms that are similar to many things. I knew someone with Crohn’s and we were similar with what we go through. Yet, I never got that diagnosis. Never got told I had colitis. After many more pills, they were going to do a third colonoscopy, I guess the first two were so much fun for me, that they wanted to do it third time… Before I would decide to either live with it, accept there is nothing I can do about it, or take things into my own hands.
What exactly is a “body that doesn’t work?” (This part will be a little graphic and you may not want to read it. I am putting it in for those that have also gone through it, or may one day. ) Well for me for my entire life, I suffered when I would eat foods. Foods would cause terrible bloat, give me gas, and send me to the bathroom multiple times in a day. Sometimes with return trips after just leaving the bathroom. So imagine living like that and then being out places. Where you are wondering where all the bathrooms are and will there be enough time to make it to the bathroom. Not wanting to be in the car for extended amounts of time because it takes you away from the bathroom if you needed to be. Which is now creating and giving you anxiety about how your stomach will be, and what happens when you are somewhere not home or near the bathroom. Eventually agoraphobia starts to kick in and you don’t want to be anywhere. If you are in the car you don’t want anyone in the car with you. In case something were to happen and you couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. Being there is full of anxiety, so much so, where the idea of being somewhere causes you to be sick to your stomach and gets you throwing up. It would cause full blown panic attacks. Needless to say all types of relationships suffer from it. From personal romantic ones, to family relationships, where you start to miss out on all family functions and events. Sadly, I have missed many family events because of the way my body works.
So back to where I started, what do you do, when your body doesn’t work? To me there was nothing that I wouldn’t do, or try. Desperation starts to kick in, and you will do what you must. I have tried many, many things over the years. I’ve talked to countless doctors, tried even more pills than I could imagine. I prayed, oh boy, did I pray. That I would be lucky and fortunate to have a miracle occur and my body would be miraculously cured. And I could be “normal” like everyone else.
Then one day, this past Summer when I was so low, a place some call the dark night of the soul, I would decide this was it. I had had enough of living like this. I wanted more out of my life. I wanted to make something of my life. I wanted to live life. I wanted to love life. Up until this point I was starting to hate life. And hate myself. I would decide it was time to make changes to my life. Make changes to me. I had ballooned up to 255 pounds. I had sleep apnea, heartburn, suffered from terrible headaches, had no energy, could barely get up in the morning, and was having difficulty breathing fully at time. The only way to get anywhere was to change my life. Everything about my life. And that is exactly what I did.
I changed my life. More on that in a later post.