10 Lessons Learned

Sharing with you some of my most critical pieces of information I learned in therapy during my journey to mental health:

  1. Find a specialist. I put this as number 1 because it truly is the number 1 thing to do! I accredit all my success to my therapist now who knew how to tackle what I was struggling with. She really allowed my strength to show, and helped me to find ME.
  2. Celebrate the days and times you do things well. There were times I celebrated falling asleep when staying over at a friends’ house or saying no to going out when I simply didn’t want to, despite my fear of judgement. Each step you take is a step to be acknowledged and celebrated so, as silly as it can seem, do it!
  3. I did to a partner what I sometimes do to my own family. Due to self protection against fears I have as well as being a pretty independent person who was able to be strong when I needed to, I practiced behaviors that walled people off. Through practice and awareness, I now notice certain feelings and behaviors and will lean into the discomfort, resisting the desire to withdraw, and often expressing how I feel.
  4. I drew a lot of conclusions from simple, anxious thoughts without addressing where the thoughts were coming from and how realistic they were. This is called catastrophizing and this process will ruin a lot of situations by creating fake scenarios that feel real and touch on deeper fears.
    1. If I don’t feel X, Y, Z right now then I am broken and will never feel X, Y, Z
    2. Simple agreement of someone being good looking when in a relationship turned into a cascade of anxious thoughts of being with the wrong person and needing to change my entire life and question everything, whereas an acknowledgement does not mean anything except an acknowledgement
    3. Not hearing back from someone whether friend or professionally, turned into I am not good enough and they don’t like me, or I don’t belong and don’t deserve the opportunity anyways
  5. My core never changed. I still held the same values as I always did and that is what made all of this so much more painful. Not being able to express things that I truly wanted to and held to such high regards was hard, but challenging these thoughts and really digging deep, has allowed me to trust in my values and really be able to let them show.
  6. I need a balance of things to stimulate many different parts of my brain. I have a lot of different interests and skills that I was giving up trying to be perfect in one thing as a way of comparing my self worth to others. When I add balance, I add fun and a bit of freedom into maintaining the lifestyle I value.
  7. Be cautious of the “what-ifs” and “shoulds.” These are the most dangerous things. If you are “what if”ing and “should”ing then they are usually anxious thoughts and will not serve you in any way. These thoughts set you up to feel less than and distract you from who you are at the core.
  8. I can feel-I did feel and I still feel. With anxiety, it is very common to feel numb and unable to feel certain emotions. This can be very demoralizing and depressing. Our body is in such panic and survival mode all the time that all other processes and emotions shut down. Once lifted, and I did experience these times although fleeting, you will feel. I learned through my struggles, that I did feel love and joy and passion. It was often overtaken by anxiety, depression, and doubt which made life challenging, but learning that I could express and feel these things was heart warming and critical to moving forward.
  9. Let go of who you should be to be who you are! People will have their own ideas of who you are, who they want you to be, and who you should be but I challenge you to think of where that is coming from within the person speaking. These words can destroy us if we start to believe them, and can really send us on a path we were never meant to follow. Find those who honor you for you and never question that. In a world where there is so much external commentary, it is very difficult to be you, to define you, and to trust that definition but if you do not the only one unhappy is you! Be you and those who are meant to be in your life will be there. Plus it’s hard to be someone different 😉
  10. I have grown up with a fear of loss, judgement, rejection, and abandonment. This has led me to feel less than, isolated, and unloveable, often pushing people away, even people I love, and giving me somewhat of an identity crisis. I have since then worked on realizing when I feel vulnerable and I leaning into it, accepting how I feel and reminding myself where these feelings come from, and redefining myself to fit who I am today.

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