Hey guys, it’s 2019! I KNOW. I can’t believe it, either. We made it. Go us.
I am one of those people who likes resolutions. I like the annual reset button, and the commitment to building better habits, stronger relationships, and healthier outlooks. I’ve been a poor planner most of my life, and the lack of structure has routinely caused me both anxiety and depression. The anxiety arose from the lack of control and direction - the unknowing.
A hefty portion of my ongoing therapy has focused on my understanding that nothing is in my control, but that’s another post for another day.
So, I suppose I’m talking more about perceived control. Like, I have a map, I know what is on the calendar for when I get there, I’ve packed the proper clothes and brought along what I need once I arrive wherever. and I have a dinstinct plan for getting from Point A to Point B. If the car breaks down or there’s a massive storm or I get a speeding ticket, that’s clearly something that I won’t know in advance. However, I know there’s a destination. I know I’m going somewhere specific. That gives me comfort.
When I have no mental destination, it’s like I’ve been dropped in the middle of rural nowhere with no instructions on where to go, when I should be there, and what I need to do once I arrive. That is a set-up for failure for a person living with anxiety (well, for me it is). My mind leaps to ALL the conclusions and the result is cut to me: hugging my knees and sitting in the backseat of this imaginary car, crying and hoping to fall asleep, thus blocking out the situation through losing consciousness. Oh, and the negative self-talk. It would be deafening.
The depression revolves around my inner dialogue. If I’ve set no goals, or haven’t prepared for something properly, the shame and blame launch their simultaneous attacks. Of course I won’t accomplish anything. I’m too lazy. I’m too out of shape. I’m too disorganized. I’m too old. I lack focus. I let people down. I’m not smart enough. I don’t have the tools to be successful.
If I’d been responsible, I would have planned ahead. Obviously this lack of direction is my fault, no surprise there, and I’ve failed. Again. Nobody who knows me is surprised by this. I shouldn’t feel defeated, because it’s just the pattern of failure repeating itself. New year? Still a loser. Quit trying. You’ll never follow through, anyway. You never developed the self-discipline to do anything significant.
It sucks, right? And, for me, it is so easy to beat myself up about the fact that I “allow” these thoughts to creep into my head in the first place. That’s not in the slightest bit helpful, by the way. I wouldn’t recommend it.
So, that brings us back to resolutions. I don’t do super well with finite goals, or, at least, I don’t yet. It’s one thing to run a marathon. It’s another thing to run a marathon in four hours.
Without further ado! My mental health resolutions for 2019:
Giving myself more credit for when I notice my brain has gone to a dark place. Awareness is a big deal.
Trying harder to speak to myself as I would my friends, or my daughter. Foster a gentleness with myself. Give myself a break every once in a while. Offset the negative self-talk.
Journal for myself regularly. Get it out. I’ve referred to my personal writing as “vomit journaling” for the longest time. Last night, I watched “Love, Gilda” (that’s an entire blog for another day), and learned she referred to her first tries at writing sketches as “vomit drafts.” I felt connected to her when I heard that. She understood.
More time spent outdoors this year. I don’t even care what it is I’m doing. I want my feet on the ground. On the grass, on the trail, on the sidewalk. Outside.
Gratitudes for what I can do, what I’ve done, and what I’ve overcome. Me-focused gratitudes. I have an app on my phone which I use daily, and 99% of the time I’m adding that I’m grateful for my friends, my cats, a clean car, a good meal, something that made me laugh, etc. I want to turn those gratitudes inward. I can hear my previous therapist suggesting this years ago. I’m ready; it’s time.
So, there you have it. What are you planning to do for yourself in 2019? Let’s focus on helping each other out more as we move through the mental sludge this year. There’s always hope.