I am a relatively healthy person, apart from having anxiety and the physical symptoms associated with it. I'm lucky. Like a lot of people, I take my physical health for granted. Sure, I try to eat right and exercise almost daily, but on the whole, I go about my days, assuming my health will continue to serve me as it has. Very recently, however, I heard from my doctor that I need a special test where cancer is suspected. Managing my anxiety while waiting for my upcoming appointment has become my latest challenge.
As of this writing, I basically live alone. My family is scattered around the country, and though I have a good amount of friends, none live close. For a while, I've been debating whether or not this living situation is healthy or sustainable in the long run but deciding where to live is stressing me out.
I never really had a hobby, per se. I married young and had three kids. That, plus a full-time job, left little time for me, let alone hobbies. I write—this blog, for instance—and read, but I don't consider either of these hobbies. As a creative outlet, and with the hope that I could channel my thoughts and energy into something that wasn't all about my trauma and residual anxieties, I decided it was time to pursue a hobby.
In a recent blog post, I talked a little about the fact that I restarted therapy for the first time in many years. Specifically, I spoke about how it was a lot more difficult than I imagined it would be.
Late last summer, I went through weeks of acute panic and anxiety. I was very sick, and the mental and physical symptoms I endured were traumatic. I am in treatment to address those traumas, including the guilt and shame I felt from being sick and the residual guilt and shame I feel to this day.
I've never been good at talking about my mental health with others, even those who I've known for years. In the past, I didn't have enough self-knowledge to be able to talk about it with anyone in an adequate way. That time has long since passed, and yet I still hesitate to bring it up with anyone outside of my immediate family. I want to use the rest of this post to try and figure out why I find it hard to talk about my mental health with others.
"I am innocent of the illness that befell me." "I am strong. I am brave." "I am worthy of self-compassion." These are a few of my positive affirmations, said aloud or in silence, to help (re)train my brain. When I started therapy to treat trauma-induced anxiety and panic, these words were hollow and represented nothing more than wishful thinking. As my treatment progresses, adaptive thoughts, similar to my affirmations, are integrating themselves into what I believe about myself.
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, a little over two years ago, I survived a catastrophic apartment fire. Among other things, the experience left me with the fear that something bad will happen to me in the future. I have not been able to shake that feeling. In this post, I want to briefly discuss that.
A little while ago I wrote about my experience with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. I had never heard of EMDR until my therapist, who specializes in trauma therapy, introduced it to me as a way to treat the panic and anxiety I experience associated with a trauma I recently suffered. Now, I'd like to share how I feel immediately following an EMDR session.
I have aphantasia, a neurodiversity (a different way of thinking), whereby I am unable to visualize. Most of you reading this now can easily imagine a sunset, a calm lake, or fluffy white clouds against a crisp, blue sky. I simply cannot conjure images. Having a blind imagination, as it's sometimes called, used to trigger my anxiety insomuch as my inability to visualize used to cause frustration, anger, confusion, shame, and a feeling of failure.